'Nora...your lips' I have heard this phrase in different iterations oft repeated by my friends and loved ones in the months since my transplant. I wish there was something I could do about how dry they are but it's honestly as if they have a life of their own. It's true that I've always had an unhealthy relationship with lip balm and I've always slept with it under my pillow and had about 20 tubes on hand at any given time which some might categorize as unhealthy but I think it's just good storage and common sense. So it is most likely I am not really helping anything by constantly applying all sorts of things to my lips to help but really just creating a small dehydrated desert over the small amount of real estate on my lips. This article on The Guardian website doesn't make me feel better.
As I've said before, a big problem for me since transplant is dryness. In fact, I went to a dermatologist just yesterday due to a poor choice made at my work commissary and resulting hives. The fun just keeps coming and coming and coming! Turns out, there is a reason why they make you cook your turkey to a certain degree in a frying pan before eating it (when you do this, the turkey gets chewy and disgusting and is not worth eating anyways so I don't even see the point). When I told the dermatologist this, she said 'Oh, that's funny you mention turkey, a lot of people get hives from it.' Well, people with good immune systems do not seem to get hives (just saying hey to my old hearty immune system) from eating a turkey sandwich, but I guess I do. Or people who are prone to hives. It's also bizarre that I would react with allergens from turkey and not a foodborne illness but I'll keep it as a head-scratcher because I like to have answers sometimes. I don't know I'm not a doctor stop questioning me. All I know is that I had never had a reaction like that to food. I have photos but I'll spare you, they are wild. She also said 'You're clearly very dry' (pointing at my bare arm) 'So I recommend moisturizing twice a day.' Ohhhhh, thank you so much, no I never thought of that. I'm just bitter because my arms are like little raisins baked in the sun in the Arctic circle, because they are definitely not tanned. There is not enough body oil in the world to reverse it. I could bathe in body oil and I still think I would be a bit dry. Also I tend to think if you're not coming in for Botox to a dermatologist appointment you're worthless to them and so they'll fix you up with some creams, antihistamine and a prescription for moisturizer and send you packing. So I'm working on finding something to combat how dry my skin has become that's permanently effective and also resisting urges to eat turkey sandwiches in my company's cafeteria. The learning curve is steep and also doesn't seem to have a directly linear path. I'm also a TOTAL DAREDEVIL AND I WANTED A FUCKING TURKEY SANDWICH OK. But, for anyone who is immunosuppressed, take it from me -- not worth it. Turkey is kind of gross anyway and there is also some debate on whether it makes you sleepy so why you would choose to eat it for lunch when you're at work is beyond me, Nora of days gone by.
Back to my lips. My lips are a total freak show right now and I've been choosing to largely ignore it. I am not fishing for compliments here nor am I hoping that some friendly lip Samaritan comments in the comments section (below: you just click comment and then type in your comment it's super easy in case you wanted to know) writes something like 'But no, Nora, you look ravishing, your lips are like an angel's bottom.' No I'm not hoping for that. I'm fine with it and I'm pretty sure they will get better with time. They are super chapped though and I have tried a lot of different ways to try to combat this. Before all this happened, I definitely used too much lip balm and they would get chapped in the winter because I used too much of the sweet nectar. Now I have the added pleasure of medication mixed in with a compulsion for lip balm and I'm up the creek without a paddle, and the creek has been emptied because it's the apocalypse and there is no water left on earth. My friend Layla has suggested I try using a toothbrush to buff my lips and then put lip balm on before I go to bed. Which is actually helpful and stopped me from looking like I had just done a four day bender in the Sahara Desert at any given time. I also started making my own lip balm, which is also a work in progress but I'm perfecting the recipe, and it avoids using any products with toxins that might dry my lips even further. For now, here is my recipe I've been using so far. I got it originally from this book: and have now modified it for my own use and enjoyment. It's very moisturizing and heals cracks. If you get the ingredients they will last you for months on end, and it's a minimal investment for months of gifts. I can't say if you'll be as quaint and crafty as me, but you can try.
Lip Balm Recipe
3 tbs beeswax
2 tbs cocoa butter
3 tbs unrefined coconut oil
2 tbs sweet almond oil
3 tbs Calendula oil
8 drops Vitamin E Oil
10 drops lavender essential oil (lavender is calming and a stress reliever. But there are SOO many other amazing essential oils you can add to your lippy)
I throw in Geranium or Peppermint oil sometimes. You can use whatever other essential oil you might enjoy. Then you just mixy mixy and you're done. Nope. Wish it was that easy. You could do this but you'd just have a big crumbly, oily mess and it wouldn't resemble lip balm even closely. It wouldn't even be cousins with lip balm. This does take minimal effort but you still have to put your back into it, this is not Pinterest things do not just magically empty into mason jars on their own by magical fairies in the forest.
Take a double boiler (if you are fancy and own one of those) or do bain-marie (just sticking a metal bowl in a pot of boiling water) and melt the beeswax, cocoa butter and coconut oil. This is a very delicate process, you have to pay attention otherwise the beeswax will HARDEN before you throw in the other ingredients which you do NOT want.
Then just stir in the sweet almond oil, Vitamin E oil, Calendula oil and the essential oils (in the same bowl or pan) and put into packaging of your choice. I put them in metal tins because they look the cutest and most quaint (and most eco-friendly) but you can also order the tubes off Amazon. Then please let cool for half an hour before closing. THEN comes the fun part, you can make labels for them and give them away or use all the lip balm you want like the lip balm hoarder I hope you are. This is where I get my essential oils, cocoa butter, Calendula oil and Sweet Almond Oil, they're a one stop shop for everything and you can be sure that they aren't trying to swindle you: Mountain Rose Herbs.