Archive for ‘Health and Beauty’


A Crohns Girls Travel Kit.

One of my most difficult, and fraught undertakings is travelling anywhere more than five minutes from home. This is hardly surprising when your bowel control can at best be described as tentative. But there are ways to make travelling that little bit safer, the main one being a small travel kit.

What do I mean by a travel kit? Well that’s a little difficult to explain, as it will vary from person to person, so the best that I can do is give you my travel kit. You can then easily adjust it to fit your exact circumstances.

Spare undies 2 pairs pretty obvious really, but make sure it’s two pairs. If you lose it once there’s a good chance you will again.

Heavy flow sanitary pads – Even when I manage to keep things under control until I get to a toilet, I’ll often find myself passing lots of mucus for hours after. The sort of mucus that you don’t realise is there when you fart and….woops sticky mess. The pads will at the very least keep the mess in check ’til you make it back to the toilet. Also very useful if you have piles that tend to bleed.

Motilium, and Lomotil/Imodium – If your symptoms are anything like mine you’re probably going to feel nausea while you travel. So Motilium or a similar medication to control it is a good thing. Likewise an anti-diarrheal medication is a great idea to have with you.

Small hot-water bottle – Sit on it and you’ll have cramp relief, hold it to the back of your neck and you’ll have some relief from a dehydration headache (But remember to drink that sort of headache is not fun.), and if you, like me, find yourself shaking from cold after a bad attack it’ll help you to get warm again. Most places are very accommodating about filling a small half-litre water bottle if you ask politely.

Mints/chewing gum – To help cure the post vomit bad breathe. Alternatively carry a small fold-able travel toothbrush with a really small tube of toothpaste. If you vomit a lot this is really important to keep your teeth…no not clean, not sparkling, I literally mean to keep them; vomiting is basically enhanced tooth death.

Flushable wet wipes/baby wipes – Not only much gentler for wiping a tender backside, but will help to eliminate any lingering smell. But really do make sure that they’re flushable.

I can, with some creative packing, fit all of those in to a very small handbag, and they really can be a sanity saver for the travelling Crohns Girl.

Any suggestions for things I’m missing out on? Please comment below.


Surviving – Panic attacks.

As most of my readers will know, the past six to eight months have been kind of hellish for me. I’ve gone through, even for me, extreme physical illness, but on top of that so many issues related to my childhood sexual abuse have cropped up, that I have literally feared for my sanity at times.

Without going in to too much gory detail I have been dealing for months with almost constant heightened anxiety, and almost daily panic attacks. This is the first time I’ve had to deal with panic attacks as a whole, and competent adult. And you know what? I’ve learned a lot from them.

I’ve learned just how freaking strong I am; very.

How fragile that strength actually is; also very.

All the different things that trigger waves of anxiety or panic for me; so frikkin many things.

But the most important things I’ve learned are the different tricks which have helped me to at least gain a semblance of control over my own emotions.

Please note; these work well for me, they may or may not help you (though I truly hope they will), but what is lost by trying?

1: Baby powder.

I never would have expected this when I started out trying to find ways to rebalanced myself, but the smell of baby powder has an immensely calming effect on me. I suspect this is because I was well looked after as a baby, and the tiny part of me that remembers something of that time associates the scent of baby powder with being safe. Now, I don’t want to come off as a sales rep for Yankie Candles, but they do baby powder scented candles, and wax tablets. I can not recommend the tablets in particular enough. I make a point of carrying one with me most of the time when I’m out and about, so that if I feel a panic coming on I can take it out, sniff, and have at least a little help.

2: A big ass teddy-bear.

Okay, bear with me on this one…*pauses for moans to stop*…anyway. I live with someone, duh, I mention them all the time on my blog. But even so I have to spend time alone. Work, family, loves, babysitting all eat into my time with my Partner-in-Crime. Which is actually pretty cool most of the time. I like some time to myself, time to do messy projects, or listen to loud obnoxious music, or play XBox. But it also means that often I’m alone when a panic attack hits.

This is a problem, because one of the things that helps me to get through a panic faster is being held. Thing is though, teddy-bears have arms, and legs, and heads. They’re kind of us shaped, and mine is so fluffy I could die!

(I’m just gonna leave this clip right here, it’ll be important in a while.)

And cuddling it when I’m panicking helps, a lot. I feel calmer as soon as I hold Marshmallow (What can I say? He’s big, and fluffy, and soft, and white.), and the tighter I squeeze him the better I feel. Again I think it’s a kiddy thing coming back and calming the ageless emotions lying under an adult mind.

3: Talk to an animal.

I own two doggies, Winter and Lulu-Belle.

They’re soft, warm, fluffy, and smell comforting in that doggy way. They make me feel loved, and wanted, and needed. They look after me when I fall apart. And they’re great listeners, not that they really have much choice. So for me when the choice is between curling into a ball, and shrieking from emotional pain because there’s no humans around, or telling my problems to my loving puppies, I’ll pick the puppies every, single, time.

Thing is it doesn’t have to be your dog, or even a dog, or even alive. Even writing down how you feel is better than not expressing it at all. But I have to say talking it out with Winter when I’m in serious emotional trouble has saved my sanity on many, many days. As my Partner-in-Crime has said many times of late, I’m not sure I would have found the way back up in to the light without them. I’d be lost with out my furry-kids.

4: A happy place, needn’t be a place.

Remember that video above? I said I’d get back to it. It’s from Despicable Me, one of the funniest, and funnest movies I’ve ever seen. And also strangely calming to me. It’s one of my happy places. I can watch it anywhere, and feel safer. It’s not my only happy place, that isn’t a place either. Another two are musical, and pretty kick ass.

My puppies are another. My Partner-in-Crimes arms are another. It takes experimentation to figure them out, but everyone has some, and how you know that they’re real happy places, and not just a gopher-hole to bury your head in is simple. They’re not destructive to you in any way. This is why alcohol isn’t one.

5: Asking for help is a good thing.

I take 10mgs of Amitryptoline twice a day. It’s a tiny dose of a very old fashioned anti-depressant. But it’s just enough to let me view my day-to-day anxieties objectively, and to blunt my panics just a little. I don’t want to have them blanketed by a chemical haze, I want to learn to cope with them, and maybe, eventually, if it’s possible to eliminate them. But I wouldn’t have even that tiny dose of chemical help if I hadn’t asked for help from my GP to start with.

I work with a really good therapist. He’s helped me to recognise some of my triggers, some of my coping mechanisms, but mostly he’s listened to me when I needed an impartial human ear. But again I had to ask for help.

You don’t need to spend every day in anxiety, or panic, or fearful of dreams. There’s help out there if you just let someone know you need it. It’s a good thing, and as far as I’m concerned is the first real step in recovering your stability.


Very short blog today. Mostly a question actually…

I have this idea, that maybe I should record videos of what I’m going through right now. Sort of show people what I’m coping with, what caused it, how it manifests, the stages I go through and how I finally end up dealing with it. Think of it as “This Girls Guide to Surviving PTSD Caused by a History of Childhood Sexual-Abuse.” I’m going through Hell right now, and I want it to be for something, but my getting better doesn’t feel like enough. I sort of feel like there should be something more at the end of all this than just having more peace with myself.

So the question is this, do you as my reader feel that this is something I should do? Straight question so please feel free to give a straight answer. All answers will be read, and replied to. I need to ask this now because for this to be valid if I do it I have to start pretty much today. These videos will be recorded, and dated. But not edited or uploaded for a while, until I feel able to cope with the seething mess of YouTube.

And with that I am off to town for a day with my best friend. Bye, bye.


This week I’m off to sunny…Cork?

Yup Amanda Harper is on the move. It’s time to visit my mom, meet up with a little sister or two, and then come back home relieved to be with my puppies, and my XBox. But packing this morning (Thursday) got me thinking about travel-kits for people who are chronically unwell.

As any regular reader knows by now that in addition to a rather convoluted mess of emotional problems I also have fought with increasingly bad bowel problems for many years. To put it plainly even my diarrhea has diarrhea, and my stomach pains write long eloquent tragic epic poems about the cramps they themselves suffer from. Yes, I spend a lot of time on the toilet, clutching a hot water bottle, with YouTube running on my mobile phone.

But when I want to travel alone for much of any distance I have to assemble a kit. And for the most part its contents are pretty much common sense.

Amanda Harpers travel kit.

Two pairs of spare panties.Two heavy flow sanitary pads. (In case of accidents, they won’t stop a flood, but might just save you from a little squirt.)
Antiseptic wipes.
Antispasmodic medication.
Codeine based painkiller.
Doggy poop bags. (It’s better than nothing to go in, believe me.)
Mouthwash. (To cool the burn.)
Spare cash. (To get my burning ass home.)

Pretty much common sense, right?

Now admittedly I’ve been rather bold lately and haven’t had much of this kit with me when I go out. I should. I know I should. But it kind of started to feel like a ball and chain that I dragged around the place with me. However after the past three days I will be reassembling it in the next week or so, and it will be coming everywhere with me.

Anyway, packing got me thinking about my kit, and wondering if other people with different problems have their own kits. Do for example diabetics have a kit they travel with? Coeliacs? Migraine sufferers? People with mobility problems, or emotional problems? So, I’m asking those of you who have such problems to reply here, and if you use such a kit tell my readers and myself about it. Because when you have bad health even the smallest of things can make a big difference, and information is most definitely one of the not so small things.

And with that I’m off to Cork. Huzzah!


Klean Prep, how I fucking hate you!

Last Friday I was the semi-willing recipient of an Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan, this being just about the only step left open to the doctors who are trying to find my Angry Bowel Pixie and kill the little fucker. I’d never had one of these scans before, so being something of a techie I was, weirdly, kind of looking forward to experiencing it. After all how often do you get stuffed inside an immensely powerful, and expensive magnet…for highly personal medical science!

There’s just one problem with having your innards scanned with an MRI, that being making your innards actually visible to the scanner. However it turns out that medical science has a solution to this, well it’s a suspension actually but…ya I know, bad science joke. That solution is known as Klean Prep. Let me tell you a little about Klean Prep.

Klean Prep is this powder that’s mixed with water. You then drink 1 liter of it per hour, 4 liters in total.

Klean Prep tastes kind of like…well actually I don’t know anything that it tastes like. But I can say this, with the authority of having drank 40 liters of it in the past 10 years, it tastes disgusting. The 1st carafe of it is kind of bearable, but by half way through the 2nd I’m gagging at every taste, and by the time I start the 3rd I’m plotting the horrifically painful murder of the inventor of Klean Prep.

Klean Prep does exactly what the name implies. It cleans out your insides in preparation for some medical procedure. Usually a colonoscopy, or endoscopy, or to put it another way the internal use of a telescope big enough to pick out a single waving Venusian in a parallel universe, but all they actually end up seeing is Uranus. But cleaning, or Kleaning does imply a detergent like effect. And yup, in essence that is precisely what Klean Prep is. It’s an industrial strength detergent for your bowels, which just happens to also make your bowel far more visible to an MRI scanner.

“But Amanda, what’s so bad about that?”

Oh dearest reader, imagine the worst case of the runs you’ve ever suffered through. The cramps, the burning, the raw skin on your tush. Well, this is so much worse that words actually come close to failing me.

First, as I mentioned above, you get that indescribable taste. With it the certain knowledge that by drinking the foul-tasting, liquid bowel blowout you’re in fact setting yourself up for a miserable days living.

Then you start to get the cramps. And these are real cramps, not your namby pamby day-to-day cramps. The type of cramps that leave you lying on the floor sweating, moaning, and wishing for a speedy death.

Then the first gush of diarrhea. And you think to yourself “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.” No burning, no stinging, just “gush” and it’s gone.

By an hour later you’re wishing for death again, yours and your doctors.

By hour 2 and trip 4 or 5 to the toilet your just daydreaming about all the ways you can torture someone in a white coat to death.

By hour 4 and trip…”who the fuck knows?!” to the toilet you’re not thinking anymore. All you can feel, or think about is how much your ass, and bowels hurt.

By the end of hour 5 if you’re lucky you’ve just passed the last of the Klean Prep. Of course it’s been running through you completely clear for the last two hours, which weirdly hurts even more. But those two hours do beg the question. “Why the fuck do you have to drink all of it?”

Anyway, I only had to drink 1 liter for my MRI…lucky me. I still couldn’t have fought off a day old kitten. I still only barely made the toilet 6 times. And I still want 10 minutes alone with the inventor of Klean Prep, with a baseball bat.


Okay I’m burning out.

For most of the past month I’ve been struggling with the worst migraine cluster I’ve had since my teens. As I write this I’m sitting here squinting at the screen through a fog of pain caused by my 17th migraine in 24 days. Even so I’ve mostly managed to keep on top of my blog, my web-comic, and my second novel. Well I can’t anymore. I just can’t.

I’m taking a break. I have to give myself a chance to get over this cluster, and stressing every single day over the work I didn’t get done yesterday simply is not helping. So for the next while I won’t be writing, and any drawing I do will be a huge bonus, not a requirement.

So my blog is going on hiatus until the 9th of April.

My web-comic will probably be updated in that time, but probably not weekly.

I have to apologize for this to my regular readers, but the choice is very nearly between taking a short break now, or keeping going and ending up in a situation where I never want to write, draw or otherwise be creative again. And I so wish that last statement was an exaggeration. Anyway folks, be good, have fun, and I’ll catch you all again when I don’t have a hateful lil git somewhere in my skull stabbing my brain with his pickaxe.


You’re no good for me.

I know you’re bad for me.

No, you’re terrible for me.

When you’re a part of my life my stomach never stops roiling. My chest never stops hurting. My throat is tight.

But when you’re not I long for you, oh Goddesses how I long for you. All I have to do is walk down the street, and see you inside a shop for my heart to skip, or on the street, held by the hands of another woman, a luckier woman. For my chest to tighten. For my mouth to water, for my eyes to sting and well up with never forgotten longing for you my darling.

But last week the stars aligned and you came back into my life, no matter how briefly it was. I held your body in my hands once more. Felt your flesh against my lips. Reveled in the decadence of that same flesh passing through my lips as it slid into my mouth. I still remember how firm, but somehow still so soft your flesh was against my tongue. How you tasted at the same time somehow smokey, but also sweet.

And that moment when I pushed your flesh gently against the roof of my mouth with my tongue, and felt your juices running out, over my tongue and down my throat. The delicious saltiness of it, coating my mouth, my throat. *sigh*

And then you left me again. Back to your other, luckier women.  You left me, even after I licked your juices off of my fingers from where they had ran down over them. A single long slow trickle of thick salty liquid, licked lovingly, lustfully with one long slow lick from the very tip of my tongue.

You left me despite how much I love you.

But as much as it hurts, I can still feel you inside of me.

I can still feel your mass, deep in my body, filling me.

And I can still feel my skin stiffen, tighten, that wondrously odd sensation where your juices escaped my lips to run down over my chin, before dropping to my breasts.

Those are the memories I will carry with me. Because and I say this for the world to hear.

I love you toasted bread, with real butter melted into every pore. I love you! And I’ll miss you for the rest of my life.

(I spent the whole of last week preparing for a coeliac blood test. Which basically meant I had to eat everything that makes me feel sick in anyway. So I did. Anyway my coeliac adopted lil sister, The Kitten, asked me to eat some buttery toast and write up a description of it for her. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.)


So we’ve all survived another year…

…and yet another supposed apocalypse. If you’re reading this then you probably survived Christmas, that or you contracted a zombie flu, in which case congratulations on being one of those very rare intelligent zombies.

Anyway, insanity aside, welcome to the first post of the New Year. Huzzah! It’s 2013 and my Goddesses aren’t we all just frikkin’ delighted to be out of 2012.

Another year of nightmare budgets.

Another year of scandal followed by yet more scandals.

Another year where to rich became richer, while the poor shouldered the cost of this new Great Depression.

And sure there were highlights, the Olympics, the Apocalypse failing to appear again. The Robert Downey Jnr. doing yet another wonderful rendition of himself in Avengers Assemble.Oh and this very blog passing the 40,000 views mark after less than two years in existence.

But I think when the history of 2012 is laid out for posterity it will without any doubt be painted in drab, depressing tones.

But that year is in the past now, time to start looking towards the future. And what does that future hold? I can’t speak for the world but for me personally, well this year’s gonna be something special.

My PC having died about a month ago, combined with my ongoing health problems conspired to put my video blog on hiatus. Well I will, thanks to a little help from some very special people, be receiving a brand new Dell laptop in the next two weeks. A mobile platform at last. So the video blog will be returning with some serious vengeance, and let me tell you folks…I have plans!

That same laptop is the final piece in the puzzle of my long promised webcomic. Very soon the first pages will be online for one and all to enjoy.

With the New Year comes the time that I finally have to settle on one writing project. So with ten chapters written each of two separate novels, I will in the next week decide on which take priority, and aim to have its first draft finished by around my birthday. Of course then I’ll have to get the second done as well. So busy busy.

All that said, my health as I’ve mentioned before is giving me a lot of problems right now. And it’s been joined in the past 24 hours by a dose of flu. So, in the interests of my sanity, I’m now going to take a fortnight’s holiday while I await the arrival of my new electronic baby. I’ll be back with my next post on Thursday the 17th. This is going to be sweet, two weeks of me and my brand new Xbox. I sense much Halo, and Skyrim in my future.

So for now have a Happy New Year. May we all have a better one than the last, though let’s face it, that won’t exactly be a struggle.


Looking to the positive.

For the past ten days I’ve been trapped in a physical hell. My body, which is never exactly robust, has failed me in some particularly unpleasant ways. To put it one way, I’m not entirely sure that I haven’t flushed half my body weight, and 75% of my brains down the toilet. This period in my life has come with all the usual additional nastiness. Severe weakness, bad smells, mind bending levels of pain, joints which don’t want to move properly, and so on. But as bad all those are, it’s the emotional baggage that comes with this type of episode which causes the most damage.

Guilt is the largest part of it. The sicker I feel, the more worthless I feel, simply because those small things I can usually manage to do; light cleaning, bad cooking, making the bed, are now almost impossible. It takes away the little sense of pulling my own weight that I usually struggle to hold on to in day-to-day life. We won’t even get in to how utterly inadequate I feel when I’m struck with a total inability to have any kind of physical relationship.

But, as easy as it is to dwell on the crap that goes with episodes like this, it’s far more important to keep in mind the ways in which life smiles on me.

It’s easy to dwell on the fact that my video blog won’t be up on time, because I physically can’t sit at my PC for long enough to record the video, but less edit it.

But I should be dwelling on the fact that I have the first week of my webcomic drawn, and storyboards done for the next 5. I should be dwelling on the fact that after delays in abundance, I am now on course to finally launch it in the New Year.

It’s so easy to become disheartened when I think of how I’ll probably never get to work with other people again.

On the other hand, here I sit with one novel written, a second on the way. With some 300 articles on this blog, with the are bones of a future video blog series started. So I am hardly idle.

It’s easy to dwell on the fact that I’m too unwell to have a social life of any kind.

I should be keeping in mind that I have great friends, who I know will forgive my absence from life. And I should remember that even as sick as I am, I will get to see my mom on Friday, because my Partner in Crime is driving me down to her.

The easiest of all to dwell on is that I feel lonely right now.

But I keep in mind that when I’m this sick being around people often makes me feel far worse than mere loneliness. Why? Because I feel that I smell, I feel unattractive, and incapable. So being around people in the prime of their lives…well it can hurt. But what really makes it okay is when I remember that I own two very loving, very cuddly puppies.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the key to not ending up in a black pit of depression when you’re sick for prolonged periods of time, is to stick to the positive. And with that I mind, enjoy…


Little Ruminations – 5 Random Things.

Since last Tuesday my stomach problems have been excruciatingly bad. This means that I’ve done little or no writing in a week. It also means that  I’ve run out of the spare articles which I write to stay ahead of myself. That being the case, and my concentration being roughly the same as the average 6 week old puppy, I’m going to be inflicting a series of “Little Ruminations” on you until this period of bad health finally eases off.

Starting today with five random things which I haven’t been able to fit into other posts in the past, and kind of doubt I’ll fit into posts in the future.

  • Do you remember Technical Lego? The stuff from the 90’s for making machines with? You know, back before Lego became dumbed down to a ridiculous degree?Well anyway, as it turns out, that stuff is great for making prototypes. You know for when you need something easy, and quick to assemble, just so you can test a concept. So ya, if you have a big bucket of it somewhere, and you’re the kind of person who builds their own tools, you just might want to hold on to it.
  • It’s surprisingly difficult to learn how to walk in platforms again, when you’ve had a break of two years. This came as a potentially very painful shock to me in the last week. The key seems to be reminding yourself constantly that if you don’t keep your feet facing dead straight ahead, you’ll end up flat on your ass in the street.
  • Apparently a lot of puppies eat other dogs poop. No-one really knows why they do this, but thankfully they see to outgrow it in time. Weird, disgusting, but weird.
  • Crazy Color, the semi-permanent hair dye which I’m addicted to, seem to have changed their recipe. It used to remind me of really weirdly coloured custard. Now it reminds me more of really weirdly coloured semen. Oh, and the colours seem to have been tweaked as well, they’re not quite what they used to be, the Violette for example is a much darker shade.Either that or last time I got a bad batch. Not complaining though my hair looks Funky, the capital “F” is definitely a good thing.

    See? I did say Funky!

  • To my utter shock, airsofters don’t seem to build their own guns, ever. By this I don’t mean that they don’t buy specific internals and casings and put them together to form reasonably unique setups. I mean they don’t seem to build their own externals.As a long time model maker, and someone who has a great love of making props for my own use, this sort of addles me. Anyway, guess whatone of my first projects will be next year? Yup, you guessed it, dieselpunk airsoft rifle!
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