Maya's blog.

Peek inside the life of a medical animator and illustrator.

chalazions and what to do about them

A few years ago, I got a mysterious inflamed bump on my eyelid, which I later learned was a "chalazion" - something I had never heard of before.sad eyelid bumpsOuch ouch and ugly and embarrassing!ouch eyelid chalazionI didn't know what it was, I was uninsured, and I was busy stressing about grad school, so I let it grow and then harden into a less-inflamed but more permanent lump. Later, a dear family friend [and doctor] diagnosed me over the phone, and told me to go see somebody. After a few calls, I found somebody who would remove it, talked my parents into funding it, received a small but icky surgery, and was well on my way to healing. But then they started coming back! The second time I went in, I had 3 or 4 removed at once, on both eyes. Not fun. And when I asked how to prevent them, I was told to continue keeping my eyelids clean with some expensive eyewashing pads, but that they would keep coming back anyway since I was prone to them. Frustrating! The next time one started, I went to see an "eyelid specialist" and he told me a similar story. BUT he also said to use hot compresses a lot more and to try washing with baby shampoo as a last resort.

The baby shampoo + washcloth helped. (I have since switched to more natural cleansers, with the same results. Just having fewer chemicals in my life.) But what worked really REALLY well was regular hot water compresses. I want to share my procedure. You can combine this with your surgery if you need one, and also use it for prevention (it will even reverse small new chalazions.)

(First go do all your research about what a chalazion IS, and see your doc if needed.)

1. Do this every time you shower. It's way less messy than over the sink, you get enough water, and it's very easy to remember to shower every day. You can add additional compresses in between but this will give you a base of one great eye-soak every day.

2. Wash your face and gently scrub your eyelids with gentle soap and washcloth. Keep them closed; soap stings. Rinse.

3. Use washcloth to gently rub eyelid back and forth. Imagine trapped oil melting away and your oil glands becoming unclogged along your lash line. Slight eye-rubbing seems very helpful for loosening things, just don't do it with dirty hands.

4. Fold your washcloth into a compress and drench with hot (shower-temperature) water. Soak eyes. Think about life. Repeat (refreshing the hot water) for 5 minutes. One minute is enough if you are just preventing.

washcloth compress for soakingTa-da! Prevented. Whenever I find some eyelid irritation starting, I get more serious about this regimen and it clears right up. No more surgeries for me. I hope this helps you too.

Other things that seem to help are getting sleep, eating healthy foods, and reducing stress... but I know those are easier said than done. Now start soaking!

kidney loves japan

My heart hurts for Japan, so this morning I decided to make a comic and a simple plea. Kidney sends blessings to Japanese tsunami victims.

Please say a prayer or send your love and positive thoughts, and then, please donate through a trusted organization like the Red Cross. Thank you!  -"kidney"

dust mite adventure

Warning: This post contains dust mites! A few days ago I decided that my bed was probably overrun by dust mites. Neither of us has any allergies or sensitivities to them, but a book and the internet told me they were there. Repeatedly. Sometimes I get things into my head and can't get them out until I do something about it. So here is my story of what I did and what I am still going to do about it.Maya imagining the horrors of dust mites.First, I grossed myself out. Dust mites feed on dead human skin flakes and their bodies and poop can possibly affect my respiratory health. And while I am not sure I've had any symptoms personally, I might as well breathe fewer mites and poop! Couldn't hurt! Not to mention sleep in a place with fewer things crawling...

I then thought of my awesome friend Dave and a super-cool drawing he did once, and decided to say hi to him. He pointed out that it was a actually a tick, so I acted like I already knew that. I am sure I did, once, know that, but I hadn't actually looked at the illustration in a while, and hey, ticks and mites look similar.

ticks vs. mitesNext, I read the entire internet.

This included shopping for mattress covers and pillow covers and duvet covers with small enough holes to supposedly keep dust mites out. I will buy some of these items next month.

Today I decided to get serious and I executed my first attack on the bedroom. I removed all the books and papers and vacuumed the room, twice. I carefully removed the bedding, folding it in on itself and got it out of there. Then I vacuumed the mattress with an attachment, beat it, and vacuumed it again using the whole upright vacuum cleaner. That part was fun because I felt like I was breaking lots of rules. After that, I vacuumed the floor AGAIN. I felt very proud of all the mites I must have sucked out of their comfy little mite lifestyle. I heard a "click" and realized I'd worn out the belt and it had snapped. Oh well, good thing I was done with that portion of my project! We'll get a new belt soon.

Happy Maya walking on the bed.After the suck-fest, I washed all the linens in scalding hot water. Then I washed all the clothes I could find in scalding hot water! Then I hopped in the shower to wash myself in scalding hot water! (The hot water didn't last as long as it usually does, though.) This washing-of-everything-at-once is funnier than you think, because usually I don't remember to do ANY laundry, and Clint takes care of it before I realize it. If only he knew 5 years ago what I would be prompted to do because of an invisible mite.

Now the room is bare and clean, the bed is made, and I think the mite count must be reduced, right? I plan on repeating this procedure after I buy the protective covers, along with flipping the mattress and beating/washing the down feather items.

If that isn't enough to ease my mind, I have one more idea:

No humans allowed in the bedroom.

impending holiday

If you are crabby about Valentine's day, I just want to say: I heart you - crab drawing with anatomical heart

Thanks to sis-in-law Emily Chaphalkar for getting me thinking about crabs today! She linked me to this clever designer on etsy, discovered by Chelsea K. For those of you that don't know, crabs are a symbol of... well, something, in my family - and we give crabs to each other out of love. Wow, that sounds terrible! I'm leaving it in, perhaps it will draw some kind of sicko traffic to my blog. We like to dance like crabs and make crab emoticon armies in gmail chat. Here's how one does that: V.v.V

I hope you enjoy my crabs-with-heart, and I hope you have a lovely Valentine's time of year or whatever. I am neither dreading it nor jumping up and down about it. Clint and I will probably go out for dinner next Wednesday or something when all the crowds have died down. We don't feel we need a holiday to remind ourselves that we like each other... but it is a great excuse to go out on a date.

I am so very grateful to have found the love of my life. He plays scrabble and reads with me and he NEVER buys me cheesy jewelry that looks like a pair of diamond-encrusted testicles. (Men, take note!) There is much fun to be had expressing your love this season, but I hope you'll make it personal and meaningful. Remember that it doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't even have to happen on the 14th. Crab!

ginger is awesome

Warning: This post contains female reproductive system themes! ginger makes your uterus less crampy

I've recently learned that ginger helps relieve the pain of cramps. It has been a pretty short trial so far, but comparing the results of ginger, nothing, and naproxen sodium (my old standby, Aleve) over a few months in my test subject (me), I would say that it's pretty effective! I am trying to go drug-free when possible and wondered if there was a natural treatment for this issue, especially since nothing is actually wrong with me, it's just pain. I only wish I had discovered this 15 years ago. Chomp on some raw ginger and drink ginger tea. Even ginger candy helps a little.

Don't have a uterus? Don't feel left out! I hear ginger is good for other kinds of pain relief too.

all about maya

I'm adding webcomics to this blog! It should be a pretty simple format change, with a mix of some comics and some regular entries. That's all I know! Enjoy.