What’s in my bag as someone with Cushing’s disease?
7 things that help me manage my illness on the go
Managing an illness while living a normal life can be draining. To keep up with both, I keep a backpack full of helpful items with me at all times. Some of these tools simply help me feel better, while others offer physical support.
Since I was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in 2020, I’ve always kept my little health bag on me. I used it during an all-day bachelorette party, where I pushed myself too hard and ended up vomiting outside the club. I needed it when I visited my brother in Michigan and was so worn out I could barely walk.
Before creating my bag, I’d been diagnosed with agoraphobia by my therapist. I was scared of going outside, scared of having an adverse health episode and being alone. This bag has since become my security blanket; I always feel better with it laced over my back, and it’s allowed me to leave my apartment more comfortably.
Following are the items I never go without:
1. Foldable cane
Cushing’s disease has led to muscle weakness and bone density issues for me, and these symptoms severely affect my mobility. To ensure I can get around, I picked out a foldable cane online. It comes apart easily, allowing me to pack it in my backpack, and reassembles quickly. I simply grab the handle and flick it, and voila! I have a cane. That’s important because sometimes I’ll go out feeling just fine, but end up needing my mobility aid within a few hours.
2. Alcohol prep pads and a plastic bag
I often experience nausea as a result of my illness and medications. When I feel a bout of it coming on, I open a small alcohol prep pad and lift it to my nose. That usually helps minimize the nausea, but I also keep a plastic bag with me in case I do need to throw up.
3. Gauze and wrapping
I have slow-healing wounds and thin skin because of Cushing’s disease, so I constantly have about a hundred different cuts and burns on my body, and I anticipate getting more most days. For that reason, I always bring Band-Aids or other bandages, wrapping tape, and gauze with me — everything I might need to care for my wounds while I’m out and about.
4. Water bottle
My medications make me incredibly thirsty, so I always keep water and ice in my bag (reusable ice cubes for the win!). Water helps me avoid dehydration, and ice can help with pain and migraines in a pinch.
5. Pain relief
Pain is an ever-present part of my daily life with Cushing’s disease. I can’t get rid of it completely, but I can manage it. I use pain medications when my pain level is an 8 out of 10 or higher. For less severe pain, I have portable heating pads. I can stick them on my skin, and they’re easy to hide. I also keep a portable hand massager with me to work out the kinks in my muscles when the pain is too great for heat to help.
Cushing’s has made my skin dry, sometimes to the point that it chaps and bleeds. I always carry Aquaphor, hand cream, Blistex, and Pond’s cream with me in little refillable bottles. These moisturizing products make my life easier and keep my skin nourished.
7. Emergency medications and lists
As much as I hope that a medical emergency will never happen, I’d be naive not to prepare for one. I always keep my emergency medications, including hydrocortisone, with me in case my cortisol dips too low, which can send me into an adrenal crisis. Signs of this include dizziness, vomiting, and fainting.
I also carry a list of my emergency contacts and specific instructions for how to administer my medications. In the event of an emergency, I can hand these lists to strangers so they can make a call, or even administer my medications if needed.
My health bag is my lifeline, and it’s helped me time and time again. If you decide to add any of these items to your bag, I hope it helps you manage your chronic illness with more ease.
Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.