November Round-up #1: Medical

13228058_849461041825680_672486022_n (2)November’s been a bit of a weird month, but overall, a productive and positive one. After missing out on really celebrating Samhain on 31st October due to an appointment in London that was then subsequently cancelled (when I was already in London, and with no prior notice…), the month didn’t get off to the best of starts.

Traveling when disabled is never fun and never, ever easy. Let alone when going to London of all places, and not for leisure. It’s one thing to toddle to London for a convention (like Nine Worlds in August… which I realise I never actually posted about properly by writing up part two of the review—oops!) and another thing entirely to trek down for one day. For starters, staying in a hotel for one appointment that’s going to take maybe an hour tops feels a little like extortion, so, it was a there-and-back kind of trip. That would have been fine, had the appointment not been cancelled! Imagine turning up and them, NOPE, sorry, your appointment was cancelled and we didn’t even call, so sorry that you just came all the way here on a train and two taxis only to be told a clinician had called in sick. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty.

That whole thing messed me up pretty badly. It triggered a pain flare and I caught a cold, for starters. Moreover, it really upset me and drained all the spoons I would have needed to pace my month better. So it left me really struggling before the month even started. Fun.

The rescheduled appointment came through a week or so later, for the 1st December. I almost just rearranged it because, honestly, I just don’t have the spoons for this shit! But, I knew it would just be another source of anxiety, so I went ahead and accepted the appointment. Hopefully I can plan my energy better this time now I know that a day in London like that is utterly crushing. It’s also upsetting, you know? London is one of my favourite places and it’s now completely inaccessible for me. I can’t easily go to any of the places I want, having a wheelchair in London is so stressful and now I can’t just hop on the Tube, navigation is a nightmare. I’m usually pretty good at handling all the ways my life has been changed by my chronic illness/disability, but London’s still a sore topic that’s generally left ignored. I can’t fix it, can’t make London magically more accessible to me, and I’m not going to stop loving it any time soon, so really it’s best if we just don’t talk any more.

In other medical news, after being told I needed an intensive course of B12, followed by a course of folic acid (in that order, else nerve damage was a real risk), I needed to schedule in five intramuscular injections with the nurse. I don’t go to my surgery; I’m lucky enough that Dr S comes to see me (in his lunch break) and I can avoid the awkwardness and distress of having to go and be at the surgery. But not this time. Dr S couldn’t do these for me and after a bad experience with the district nurse’s attitude, it was easier for me to just suck it up and go. It wasn’t easy, but at least they’re done, and 3/5 times it was the Nice Nurse instead of the Kinda Bitchy Nurse. Unfortunately, the Nice Nurse hurt when she did the injections.

I wasn’t expecting anything to suddenly change or even improve through the B12 injections—and I wasn’t wrong. No increase in energy, no reduction in pain, no nothing. Sure, my body needs that stuff so that’s a positive, but that’s all that came of it. What I’d like to know more is why my B12 levels were so low in the first place and what we’re doing about tracking it. Buuuut, since it’s one of those things where I expect to have to insist to the Dr that the injections made no difference, it’s not something I’m looking forward to.

Honestly, I’m just really, really tired of trying to approach doctors from a million different angles to get them to listen. And after the rheumatologist said one thing in a letter, another in person and a third, different thing on the phone, it’s hard to know what’s going on or where to start.

The run-up to the holidays is always a mixture of “yay!” and “oh dear sweet gods I’m already exhausted”, but I think that this year I’ll have more of an idea how to pace myself and I know how to prioritise myself and self-care better than I did last year. Aka, last year was the last time I’ll bother celebrating Christmas for the benefit of others, and will just stick to Yule and cut down on any additional stress between then and New Year. It’s frustrating, really, that you only learn how to pace properly, by royally screwing up with pacing to begin with. Because why would this stuff make itself easy, huh?

I’m going to try get into the habit of doing both a monthly round up and a separate monthly round up, hoping that it’ll help me get my thoughts organised about medical stuff and track progress, since I’m pretty terrible at tracking time and sometimes, before I now it, I’ve been meaning to arrange an appointment with the doctor for three months when I think it’s only been a week. Mostly this is because it’s just so damn draining trying to communicate with doctors—especially after the colossal waste of time the rheumatologist proved to be, who then simply left me hanging without even a referral elsewhere or a letter back to Dr S that did any good.

The nicer, fluffier and altogether less irritating update for November will follow soon. (Probably.)

Nine Worlds Geekfest 2016: Part 1

This is part one of my Nine Worlds Geekfest write up, since my experience of any con or event will be be a two-fold thing: accessibility, and general enjoyment. Naturally, these two can heavily coincide, but since Nine Worlds was pretty amazing, with nothing of the former impacting the latter, I’m going to dedicate one whole post to the accessibility of it, since it deserves the notice. Seriously: the accessibility team and the work they did was out of this world. Big, enthusiastic “thumbs up” to the accessibility peeps. They nailed it.

14256347_926923737412743_526412203_nSo I’ve never been to a geek convention like Nine Worlds before. Sure, I’ve vaguely attended anime cons but honestly, they’re not even comparable. (The UK doesn’t really do great anime cons.)

I would have attended this year even if I’d not been aware of the communication system they have in place. But it certainly helped put my anxious mind at ease, knowing that I would, in theory, be able to go around with my big red badge of NOPE and remain off the radar for any well-meaning conversational types looking for a chat or even just a casual passing word.

If I’d only had the anxiety by itself to deal with then I’d have done far more than I did. As it happens, chronic illness doesn’t just go away because you’re trying to have a good time and step out of your comfort zone for once, so there were times I missed stuff because I wasn’t well enough.

Even before arriving at Nine Worlds, it felt different. I don’t have a lot of experience with things like this, but I could just tell that it was open and accessible and that I’d feel safe there being “different” (in my case, disabled, not NT and also queer). Even if you just take into account the fact that I’m horribly introvert and have massive social anxiety to deal with, Nine Worlds presents such a safe space,  by means of their communication system. Not only is the system of coloured badge overlays very simple, but it is also advertised: people can’t miss the fact that this exists. Yes, there was a single time where someone talked to me and I wasn’t happy about it, but, on the whole, the badge system is amazing and it made me feel safe.

It’s also worth adding that you can have pronouns added to a badge, to help with any awkward/upsetting situations that might arise. I had a standard badge without pronouns, but I assume that pronouns are simply written on the blank badge the same way names are (meaning you can have a different name on your badge to any other details you might have needed to give).

Nine Worlds works as hard as it can to be an accessible con, for both visible and invisible disabilities, as well as anything from deafness to sensory overload issues. It really shouldn’t be the case that I’m (in a good way!) singling out a convention or event to say “yes, they care about accessibility and safety”, but the Nine Worlds team really does give a damn. With closed sessions for both PoC and queer peeps, you really get the impression that they know what’s up with the world and with the geek community. They get that there’s work to be done, and they’re willing to do it. Hell, that in itself is enough to make me want to go again, even without the fact that it was also a really, really great convention.

As I said, I’ve not been to one before, so I can’t judge others (outside of the horror stories I see on social media), but there’s something that seems just so inclusive about Nine Worlds. From the accessible seating set aside at various intervals in panel rooms (that’s right – these spaces aren’t just at the front of the room, but spread out amidst the regular seating, too., just as the spaces reserved for wheelchairs are) to a quiet room and the teeny reminder on their accessible seating signs that not all disabilities are visible, Nine Worlds are seriously on point with getting this stuff right.

There was one lift that could have been too small for some wheelchairs, so they advertised this and set up special arrangements to help those whose chairs were too big get around. It’s difficult to think of just what else they could have done!

It’s hard to stress just how much of a difference that red badge made to me. Whilst it didn’t entirely solve my social anxiety issues (which are fairly complex and multi-layered, and I’ll likely cover them in another post soon), it helped immeasurably. Part of my anxiety is related to being seen and so obviously there’s nothing that anything short of a cloak of invisibility could do to help with that–but! That didn’t mean that the knowledge that nobody would talk to me didn’t help. No chance of chit-chat in the lifts; freedom to browse the Expo with nobody trying to hawk anything or start a conversation; no worry about people I know thinking “hey! That’s Leo!” and coming to say hello if I wasn’t ready. All these fears were immediately eliminated.

I can imagine for other people who struggle with social anxiety or peopling, that the idea of being able to wear a badge that keeps you “off limits” is just ridiculously reassuring. Imagine being able to toddle from your hotel room, down into the lift, wearing your big red badge of NOPE, knowing that you might be ferried down through hotel with nary a word spoken to your person, both as you make your way to the panel you’re attending, as well as during, after and for the rest of the convention, if you so wish. Anyone with a red badge is perfectly welcome to initiate conversations with anyone they feel comfortable, but there is absolutely no obligation and neither will there be the fear of being rude if you’re not able to talk or socialise. The badge does all that for you. It’s genius, really.

I’d say it’s worth expecting someone to accidentally speak to you whilst wearing the badge, but it’s difficult to say whether it will happen or not, since the circumstances were so very specific with me, and, though I’m still trying to decide if the person in question recognised me from social media or not, it wasn’t a conversation as much as a passing remark. It wasn’t great, but it didn’t do any harm overall (likely because the person may have realised and shuffled off after the fact, or, because it was intended as a passing remark in any case). Anyone who wants to put their faith in this badge system, can indeed do so. It worked and it felt safe. There’s not a lot more you can ask for, really.



Life in Leoland – The Reboot

2016-05-23 14.18.51So I’ve had this blog for a long time now, but between being diagnosed with chronic illnesses and becoming disabled, I ended up splitting myself between two blogs (Jet Black Ink here, and what was formerly The Secret Life of Fibro Boy). I did this for two reasons: 1) I felt completely out of touch with writing/reviewing, so didn’t want to/couldn’t talk about that and 2) I had the impression that I had to keep my chronic illness posts separate.

Now, I’m not actually terrible at blogging. I like writing, whether it’s conversational blather that nobody (bar me) cares about, reviews, musing, or serious talk about other things. But what I’m not great at, is separating content or keeping up with too many separate projects in different places. The attempt to keep the chronic illness posts away from Jet Black Ink probably resulted in this blog gathering a lot of dust and fading a little into the abyss. Of course, I managed to keep up with some reviews (mostly ARCs, for obvious reasons (mainly the crushing guilt of not reviewing them in a timely fashion, negl)) and so I didn’t completely stop posting, but I certainly wasn’t posting as I wanted to. I wasn’t really blogging.

But then on the other hand, I found that the way I was posting about my chronic illnesses and disability on The Secret Life of Fibro Boy actually started to distress me. Not only did I realise I was keeping these two areas of my life completely separate (which is so, so stupid of me: as if I can separate myself and what I love–writing, books, geeky, nerdy things–from the fact that I’m sick and disabled). This had a negative effect on me that I only noticed afterwards. I’d even separated my Twitter activity into @Leo_Cristea (Me) and @Fibro_Boy (My Illnesses). I was trying to be two different people. It… didn’t work. One of those accounts is now barren and bereft. Guess which one.

Originally I’d chosen “The Secret Life of Fibro Boy” to be a nod towards the fact that my illnesses are invisible, but before long, I think I realised it was more an expression of the fact that I thought I had to be secretive about my disabilities; that I couldn’t talk about those issues alongside the rest of me. That was a pretty damaging mentality.

That’s all out the window now: I’m going to blog every day throughout (Bl)August and aim for at least a weekly roundup of how things are kicking in Leoland thereafter. In the coming weeks I’ll be talking more concisely about chronic illness and Spoonie life, trying to give an insight into how to deal with it without losing yourself or the things you love.

This morning was hard

img_20160519_123929 (2)Today is a perfect example of what living with a disabling chronic illness is like. I now go to the gym 3-4 times a week (day on, day off, day on, etc) in order to try and get some control back. It’s painful, but it helps, physically and mentally. The gym days are easy: endorphins make me feel good, man, and I have more energy immediately afterwards, even if I am also exhausted. Oh, the logic of chronic illness. I’m always in more pain after the gym, but once I learned that life with chronic illness is all swings and roundabouts, you just… get on with things.

Today is an off day for the gym. I don’t like these. It’s harder to get up, because I’ve nothing solid and practical to get up for. I’m paying a subscription for the gym. I know what the gym feels like. Plus, if I don’t go to the gym, I will feel horrible and upset after, so, off I go. The mornings where I don’t head out, are the mornings where the pain and fatigue feel even more crushing and I’ll do anything to just crawl back to bed after breakfast. Anything to just get away from gravity and vertical existence and away, away, away to the soft, safe world of my bed.

Only… if I sleep too late (after 10am—thanks, body) then my chances of sleeping later that night will be greatly reduced. I sleep between 3-4.5 hours a night, so you can see how less sleep is not an appealing option. So, I dragged my sorry, aching butt up and out of bed this morning, struggled through eating breakfast with incredibly sore and painful hands, and managed to only go back to bed for half an hour, during which I didn’t sleep, but rather, rested with an audiobook.

Then, much to my own surprise, I got up, got vaguely dressed (noteworthy when such things are a massive drain on spoons) and even did a little makeup. Mostly just gothic eyes of doom, because I’m fed up of not feeling like myself, even at home. So, when I arrived upstairs, mostly dressed (Captain America loungepants count as real pants, okay) and not looking entirely horrific, I was already so tired it wasn’t even funny.

Less funny when today, being an off-gym day, is supposed to be a few hours of Japanese study. This is when it really begins to sink in that Spoonie accounting is so very cruel. Because I got dressed and took a little more care over my appearance, I found myself with very depleted spoons, even before I loaded up Wani Kani to do my massive bundle of kanji reviews.

I did them, made some ridiculous mistakes on items I already know, and thus demoted about a million items. Altogether, not a good start and it made me feel like a failure. By this point, I already knew that any chance of actually moving onto my textbooks was not going to happen. Great. Way to go, Leo. You messed up. Because I had the audacity to get dressed and try to feel better about myself, I hamstrung myself and screwed up my chances of studying much today. Fabulous. I spend the entirety of my afternoons writing, because that’s what I am. That’s my life.

So I moved onto a few other mostly-manageable tasks, trying to squeeze what time and productivity I could out of the morning’s study session. I use Memrise, went through two small reviews for two courses on there, and then wrote some kanji in a handwriting practise book. By then end of that, I just wanted to cry, because my hands hurt so much. I have an app on my phone for writing kanji, but… it’s not the same. I’m never going to genuinely learn to write these things if I’m never doing it on paper. Bad enough that, because I find that studying is affected by brain fog, I’ve not yet really got deep into my textbooks. It feels like I’m simply not good enough; that it will never be enough.

And Japanese is not the only language I want to learn. Not by half.

So I was upset this morning. Hell, I still am, only I know how to forgive myself. It doesn’t take away the fact that each and every day, I have to make a decision about what I’m okay to not get done, versus what I can let slip. The writing will always, always, always be non-negotiable.

The Japanese is way up on the list… but so is my self-esteem. And if that’s helped, even a little, by wearing Real Person clothes and a heavy sweep of black-as-you-soul eyeliner, then so be it.

I know I push myself hard—too hard. But… what else is there? This is me.

That’s all there is. Me and my ambition and drive and my dreams. Yes, I could benefit from a few days here and there where I just rest, but honestly? I don’t know how to do that. I bore very, very easily. Very easily. I don’t like TV, I don’t play video games and the more I read, the more I want to write. Sure, I’d be able to sit and read for a whole day, but you can bet that the following day, I’d be writing on my phone if my laptop wasn’t in reach or I couldn’t get to my desk.

But that doesn’t mean that being sick, being disabled, doesn’t suck ass. It does suck. It sucks so very fucking hard.

Mostly I get on…I don’t know. Something. Stubbornness, determination. Other things, too, probably. But mostly I think it’s just the fact that there quite literally is nothing else. I would have to fundamentally change parts of myself to become someone who goes easier on himself, someone who rests more and doesn’t end up tired to tears at least once a day. And I wouldn’t even know how to do that.

It felt horrible earlier, making all those mistakes and realising that because I’d chosen one task that uses spoons I’d have to sacrifice another. That’s hard. It sucks and it’s not fair and it’s hard.

But, I could spend my energy being upset with myself, being frustrated with the powerlessness to change any of these circumstances… or I can just take a deep breath, allow myself that single moment of sadness (because I deserve that; it’s mine and I am owed it by myself), before moving on.

It’s not a quick fix and no, it doesn’t take away the pain of it all. Physical or emotional. But it lets me keep moving, and I’ll take that.

Health Update: Blood Test Results & X-Rays

13228058_849461041825680_672486022_n (2)So I’ve been freaking out all last week, knowing that Dr S was going to call. After the blood he took for the tests last week, he said that he would not call if there was nothing new showing in the same tests (plus some more) that I had done when I was first going through the diagnostic process of getting the fibromyalgia as a Thing on my file. He said he would call if there was something.

And I knew he was going to call. I guess I know my body, and so I know that over the past few years, things have been developing in new and different ways. Also, at the time, I barely even knew what chronic illness was, let alone that you could be disabled by it, and so we got the diagnosis of fibro very easily and, due to my severe social anxieties, it was a perfunctory appointment with a specialist (once) that means we probably didn’t discuss things in full and might have ended up with more tests and other avenues to go down. Oh well, that ship sailed and even if we were out at sea for a while, we’re back on another, better boat now.

So, he called my brother (my proxy for life, negl) and he lost the signal due to weird Vodafone blind spot juuuust left of his desk. He said call for a phone appointment in the voicemail, and my anxiety skyrocketed into space. When we made the phone appointment for Thursday at twelve, I knew we’d be out with a friend helping with Operation: Be Yourself, so, my anxiety shot into orbit.

Anyway, he called and there are things happening!

I need to see a rheumatologist again, since the level of this one thing that relates to inflammation in the body used to ring in at a bit of a wishy-washy (but still sliiiightly elevated) 11ish. It’s now 48. Forty-eight. The waiting list for a rheumatologist is as long as the Amazon river. But, because Dr S is fantastic, he looked into a few things and if I get x-rays done within two weeks, I have a referral to an Early Arthritis specialist.

So! I got the x-rays done on Friday, since it was easier than leaving it for days and days and letting me get more and more worked up over the idea. Getting the xr-ays done was kind of a nightmare, when I thought it would be easy. Turns out he wanted my hands, feet, and my most problematic knee done. The hands and feet cooperated, more or less (though holding my hands in the position, flat as possible, turned out to be far more uncomfortable than I’d expected), but it was the knee that decided to cause problems.

I had to hold my knee straight, or “normal”, I suppose. Apparently, that isn’t what my knee does naturally, so, correcting it to that “normal” or “resting” position was very hard, and it triggered such bad pain it’s not even funny. I had a straight on x-ray done and a side-on one done as well. Encouragingly, from what my brother saw of the knee (and the little “oh” of surprise from the nurse) there seems to be something weird going on with my patella. All I know is the pain lasted way, way, way into the evening and night and did not quit for the remainder of the day. I went to sleep with the same excruciating pain triggered by the x-ray.

Which wasn’t great, but hey. The x-rays are now done and will be sent to Dr S, who will do his thing and get me that referral. I am not looking forward to it at all. It means more peopling and I cannot people, so it will be anxiety through the roof, stress skyrocketing, etc, etc. All the good stuff.

Either way, all the fussy parts are done, and I suppose the x-ray experience informed me of two things: the way I hold my knee, which I hadn’t registered before and also, the fact that holding my knee in that position messes with pain around my patella, as well as what feels like nerve pain at the back of my knee. And at this stage, any info to pass on is a bonus.

On the plus side, the nurse was very cute.

Health Update (which may or may not be about 18 months overdue)

So, I’ve not exactly been the best at updating things specifically related to my chronic illnesses, in a sense of: “This is what’s happening with my chronic illnesses opposed to my life with chronic illnesses in general”. So it’s a good time to do just that, since yesterday I had a visit from my (amazingly lovely) GP,  who really does take excellent care of me – when I’m able to let him.

The social anxiety thing makes it difficult to see him and I’ve been especially bad this time. I’ve noticed new/developing symptoms for maybe around eighteen months now (I know, I know!), mostly related to new pains that may or may not be related to the fibromyalgia or the M.E.

But I managed to arrange the appointment (always a home visit, because Dr S is literal stardust formed and shaped into a rather tall young man with knitted jumpers and very little hair) and then subsequently managed not to cancel it.

He’d been needing to do a medication review with me for some time, so we got that out of the way first. I’d already stopped taking Pregabalin, which I’ve now told him. He fiddled with another of my meds, increasing the dose slightly. Then we talked about the things I’ve been dragging around for almost two years (yes, I know).

I’d been hoping that, from this appointment, I’d be able to steer the conversation towards two things: the possibility of at least testing for autoimmune disease, and also, the suggestion of another referral back to a rheumatologist.

Both of these happened, without me needing to prompt the conversation, which is fantastic for my anxiety. We talked about my hands and my hips, but he examined only my hands since he knows touching me is difficult (he tends to leave those  examinations to the specialists so as to spare me a stage of prodding). He agreed that they seemed swelled and uneven.

Then the part I’d been dreading. The autoimmune discussion. I have what I suspect to be a malar rash that has been developing for some time now, and although I’ve read into it and have some ideas of what it might (or might not) be, I’m always very nervous of trying to say things directly to my Dr. I don’t want to seem pushy or know-it-all and communicating with people in this way is hard.

We mentioned the rash, he saw the rash (this was kind of big as I’d been increasingly wondering if I was imagining it or just seeing things that weren’t quite there, so for him to acknowledge it was a Thing was reassuring), and although it could be a side effect of something, it also might not be. So we’re adding blood tests relevant to autoimmune disease to the whole smorgasbord of tests to be done.

He wants a full range of bloods done, since we’re basically starting at the beginning of the diagnostic process to tackle my new symptoms, since he’s not happy with simply saying “It’s your fibro” and having done. That’s exactly what I was worried he would do! I’ve heard so many horror stories of people having one diagnosis and the Dr reusing to consider more.

But then if I tally up how many of these are in America… Well. There we go. Health system from hell and say no more! (Yes, I know there will be similar cases everywhere, but I’ve, only the whole, had excellent experiences with my doctors.)

We’re taking the bloods next week when he comes again, and depending on what they do or do not show, I’ll be referred again to the panic clinic I didn’t manage to attend, as well as/or another specialist clinic that might be more suitable.

I don’t know what I’m expecting to find. I think I have rheumatoid arthritis. But it could just as easily just be the fibro. Of course. But this was a condition ruled out by the first GP I saw, who unfortunately, was shit. Apparently I was “too young”. I expect that millions of spoonies have been told they’re “too young” for all the pain they report. It was never really explored as a possibility.

Well, now all I need to do is get through the blood test visit next week, and then try not to let my poor anxious brain magic up all manner of things that could be wrong, including but not limited to, proof of faerie blood and therefore revelation of my identity, some rare disease apparently contracted from a flying space unicorn that visits on a new moon, or, in fact, anything else outlandish enough that I can think of.

In related news, I’m not going to be well enough to attend an event I ought to have been going to, the Split Worlds Masquerade in Bath. I’m devastated, but I really should have known that an event in May was an oversight. Spring is the very beginning of flare season for me. So, I have three Mundane tickets that need to find new homes.  Naturally I’d rather sell these, even discounted, because they cost £90 for the three, but mostly I just want them to go to people will might use them. (If you are interested, just drop me a message via my contact form, or just Tweet me. Long shot, but eh.)

So, there we have it: new symptoms discussed and noted and thus behind the diagnostic process.

I have my vampire date next week, whereupon I expect to rather dashingly half faint after having gods only know how much blood taken. If last time is anything to go by, there’ll be enough for a vampire’s three course dinner.

[Product review] Leschi Fox Warming Pillow

Item: Leschi Fox Warming Pillow
Colour: Midnight
Purchased: (also available from (please note that this site is in German!)
Price: £24.99
Rating: 4/5

2016-03-06 11.34.43The funniest thing about purchasing a microwaveable warming pillow (though it can be heated in the oven… but this just doesn’t seem a great idea to me!) is that, prior to ordering Noah the City Fox, we didn’t have a microwave. We’ve just never needed one for cooking, so never bothered. But, I can’t deny how useful one will be for heat therapy, and I’m sicksicksick of using bad-for-the-environment Deep Heat patches, etc. So I went on a heat therapy buying spree!

Noah the Fox came first.

I have a lot of issues with pain in my neck and shoulders, so it seemed only logical to get this baby first. I have a couple of other things on the way, but they weren’t on Prime so have yet to arrive. Grr.

I love this pillow! The box is cute and fun and I love when companies try to be friendly and maybe even a little twee about products such as this. It’s nice. The box is obviously recycled cardboard, which makes me happy, and literally nothing in th2016-03-06 11.39.10e package will get chucked in the bin instead of recycled. Furthermore, there is no additional packaging bar the box and a teeny slip of instructions. The box is the perfect size for Noah to curl up in. No wastage whatsoever.

The box is attractive with a pleasing design and the little fox inside is adorable. 2016-03-06 11.35.31I got mine in black because, well, me. The filling is 100% organic wheat, but with no lavender like you’d find in some similar products. I was a little disappointed by this, and that’s the single reason why this got a 4/5 instead of a full 5. When heated, the wheat can smell a little… bakey, I guess. And if you happen to heat Noah up too often, there can be a very wheaty scent lingering in the room for a bit. It’s not really an issue, just something to note if you’re incredibly sensitive to smells and don’t particularly like wheat.2016-03-06 11.35.52

The pillow is light, but sturdy and a very good size for its intended place – draped around your neck and shoulders. One of the best things is that Noah is not too bulky and you can comfortably wear him around your neck for as long you might need. And when he goes cold, just pop in back in the microwave for 2 mins and he’ll be ready to snuggle again. Granted, the heat retention period isn’t super long, but then I don’t have much experience with microwave heatable therapy, so maybe the advised time of 45 mins isn’t so bad?

2016-03-06 11.36.27Our foxy is made of a soft fleecy fabric and feels soft and pleasant. He’s also adorable.

The best thing about the Leschi fox is that he’s so, so light and not big or bulky and therefore slightly unwearable if you’re trying to just get on with your day in spite of the pain. Noah the Fox is good for that.

My only improvement would be to add lavender inside along with the wheat, as this would be a vast and pleasant improvement. Maybe one day I’ll do a little surgery on the poor thing and add some myself.

2016-03-06 11.37.29Overall, I would definitely recommend these for any spoonie who could benefit from heat therapy for their shoulders and neck.

I thought the price was good, too, compared to how much others cost and this one has the benefit of actually being tailored to shape.