The Weekly Edit: Waking Up

Jul 8, 2019

Have you ever woken up a little groggy, looked at the clock and realized you have just 20-minutes to get to work?  That mad dash is how I’ve felt all week.

Working the campaign, I had little time for anything else.  From the unwashed dry cleaning that I brought home from Montana in May to the hundreds of wedding decisions that weren’t made, so much was left undone.  It feels a bit overwhelming.

I currently have multiple to-do lists going: the blog list, the newsletter list, the podcast list, the house list, the wedding list, the personal list, etc..  And I just keep reminding myself that all I have to do is cross things off the lists, but it doesn’t feel so simple.

But the biggest thing happening right now is that I’m worried about my Mom.  A few months ago, she developed an unexplained rash.  The rash spread quickly across her body, and since early May, her entire immune system has been in hyper-drive.  She’s miserable — not sleeping, in constant pain, and loaded up with enough steroids to medicate a grizzly bear.  Because while Montana is the best at many things, medical care is not one of them.

So on the off-chance that anyone reading this is a medical professional in dermatology or immunology, reach out.  Because, in true Mom-fashion, she is more worried that she won’t be “wedding ready” and will disappoint me (not possible) than she is that she is sick.

There is just something that feels so comforting about slipping into a pair of pajamas at the end of the day.  As you know, these Nordstrom Lingerie pajamas are my absolute favorite.  But it’s summer, and it’s hot.  So I decided to switch to their shorts and short sleeve set, above.  I also love this dotted J.Crew set that comes in plus-sizes.

For something a little more fun, I like these Flora Nikrooz pjs with the lace trim shorts.  If you’re on the hunt for something cheaper, Nordstrom Rack often has discounted sets like this navy pj or this stripe pair.

Looking for 100% cotton pajamas?  Such a rarity these days.  I found this Pure Cotton pair at Marks & Spencer.

This would qualify more as a “What I’m Waiting to Listen To.”  Conspiracyland is a podcast from Michal Izikoff about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, and how his death turned into a vast conspiracy about Trump, Russia, and the Deep State.  It also looks at how his friends and family are impacted by the false narrative regarding his death, and how an Internet culture that embraces  the idea of dark conspiracies with reckless abandon can imperil any search for the truth.

You can watch the trailer, here.

Every summer, I fight the same battle to keep my feet sandal-ready.  Like many women, I suffer from calluses on my heels.  Pedicures help, but they’re expensive.  So I picked up this bottle of Callus Remover on Amazon.

After soaking my feet in the tub, I apply this gel and wait 10-minutes before rinsing it off.  The, I towel dry, and use my Amope PediPerfect (yes, it works) to take off the loosened skin.  And voila, smooth, soft, callus-free heels.

Baking is a lot of fun in the summer.  Plus, when you have people over for a barbecue, you can force them to take extra dessert home and you don’t get stuck with leftovers.

This no-bake Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie is the solution for all summer dessert needs.  It’s creamy, delicious, and so loaded with calories that your barbecue will need to include a 10k run.   But I promise, it’s worth it.  And since it’s no bake, if you have kiddos, this is a fun dessert to have them help you make.

Also, pro tip: Portion control is your friend with this dessert.   So when I want to make it, I use mini-muffin pans to keep the portion size manageable.


Well, I’m off to make some wedding-related decisions, head to the gym, and try not to think about peanut butter cup pie.  Because my wedding dress is currently a little snug in the hips, and sitting is an important thing.

Also, if you’re the praying type, if you could send one up for my Mom, I would be very grateful.  She can use all the help she can get on this one.

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  1. Jaimee says:

    If your mom has breast implants this could be from them. A number of ladies on my Breast Implant Illness page get unexplained rashes like that.

    • Belle says:

      No. It seems like it may have started with a bug bite on her scalp, that was then exposed to hair color. But we can’t be sure. Good to know about the implants though.

      • C says:

        Have you thought about whether this is a reaction to the steroids? I only say that because my dermatologist prescribed me prednisone after a terrible, terrible allergic reaction from hair dye (like, my eyes swelled shut for 3 days and my head had swelled to the point I looked like an alien). But that was nothing compared to what the prednisone did to me. The symptoms from the prednisone (swelled hands and feet, swelled face and neck, generally just in constant awful pain and exhausted all day) never went away. I was then diagnosed with thyroid disease not long after that and still have my prednisone-induced swelled feet and hands. So…not sure if that’s all connected. But I wish I had never taken the prednisone to begin with. And also wish the FDA regulated hair dye better (especially brown hair dye, which often contains PPD and other chemicals not in lighter dyes).

  2. Bonnie says:

    If your mom is not yet seeing a rheumatologist, I highly recommend starting there. They are experts at auto immune diseases, which is what this sounds like to me, or can lead you to the right place. I had a long road before diagnosis and would hope she gets help sooner rather than later. Thinking of her.

    • Laura says:

      YES great point Bonnie. Not that this is related but my grandmother was in the hospital for weeks being treated for stroke and other neurology issues before they called on a rheumatologist from another hospital who figured out her problems were stemmed from an undiagnosed autoimmune disease. She ended up passing away because when they found it, it was too late and the treatment she had been on for weeks was the opposite of what she actually needed and it further deteriorated her health.

    • Lauren says:

      Seconding Bonnie’s comment–a rheumatologist can do a detailed blood panel to try to pinpoint what your mom has if it is an autoimmune disease. If you both end up in the DC area anytime before the wedding I have a recommendation for a great one since I’m currently undergoing the diagnosis process myself.

      Also even though you’re not sure what is going on, you might want to look up tips for people with autoimmune diseases like lupus, scleroderma, etc. to try to find things that might comfort your mom while she is feeling terrible. I know both of those diseases can cause body-wide rashes. And following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet is supposed to reduce inflammation, which may help.

      Good luck and I hope she feels better soon <3

    • R says:

      Yes! I came here to say the exact same thing! I had years of symptoms before getting diagnosed properly by a rheumatologist. Additional note – steroids can cause a lot of weight fluctuations, so a more forgiving dress for your mom may help reduce a tiny amount of stress on your wedding day. Sending lots of positive thoughts!

    • Erica says:

      Confirming the same thing. Recently a friend was diagnosed with lupus after a similar, body-consuming rash. I’m not a medical professional, but I know that a lot of auto-immune diseases present similar symptoms, so even if it isn’t lupus it would be worth ruling out others, as well.

  3. Jessica says:

    My mom has been dealing with something similar! Twice in the past few years she developed food allergies that materialized the same way – full body rashes. In those cases, it was cinnamon and soy. This summer, she keeps getting a rash on her face – redness around her eyes and mouth like a raccoon. After a quick Google search, I have banned her from using petroleum products (all she is using is Dove and Vanicream) and that seems to have been keeping it at bay. My gut tells me it was something in all the face creams she was using. But i love the rheumatologist idea. Thanks ladies and good luck Mrs. Belke!

  4. Sarah says:

    Would your mom consider going somewhere like Mayo Clinic? Not only do I consider them the masters of diagnosing issues that other practitioners miss entirely or do not diagnose correctly (based on personal experience and the experiences of several friends and family members), but I appreciate they collaborate between multiple doctors in multiple disciplines. The doctors are on salary so they aren’t getting paid to do more procedures. Instead they collaborate and keep at it until they get answers. If you want to email me, please do.

    • Jess says:

      My husband works at Mayo clinic, and if you are at all leaning this way, I’d try to make your appt. now. They can be hard to get into, and it could take some time to get your appt.

    • Laura says:

      Second the high recs for the Mayo Clinic. All the points above are correct and the collaborative approach is like nothing I’ve seen in other healthcare models. My mother lingered for 3.4 weeks in her local hospital without a diagnosis, getting sicker and sicker. Within a day and a half at Mayo, she had a diagnosis and a care plan.

  5. Lea says:

    I second the rheumatology route. A skin biopsy could also help guide a workup further. Ask for punch biopsy, not shaved which might not be deep enough to show immune system infiltrate in the dermis.

  6. Jodi says:


    Have your mom see a rheumatologist. I had similar symptoms after my son was born and it turned out I had Lupus and RA. It took a good rhem to figure it out.

  7. Carolyn says:

    Could your Mom be suffering from Shingles? If she had chickenpox as a child she could be vulnerable to Shingles. It is a spotty rash that can spread across your body, sometimes on faces of older adults. Very painful, with rapid firing nerve endings. I’ve had it and its torture. Was on pain medication for two weeks but mostly had to wait it out. It is usually set on by a lowered immune system and stress.
    Or it could be chiggers/mites? My mom had them after a week at a lake. They are mites that burrow into the skin and create a terrible itchy rash. It spreads very quickly and easily as they lay their eggs right underneath the skin surface. Gross, I know.
    Another option could be eczema, but that tends to be less painful and more itchy.
    Good luck! Sending my prayers!

  8. Becky says:

    My dad developed a whole body rash. Turns out he developed a gluten allergy. He wasn’t allergic in the past. Maybe allergy testing, then rheum. Post neuralgia from shingles is very real and very painful and may also be considered.

    • SC says:

      My dad also got an unexplained rash on his trunk area, and it turned out he’d become allergic to the perfumes/dyes in laundry detergent and soap he’d been using for almost 40 years. He has other allergies so he was maybe predisposed to developing more, but switching to unscented “clean” products (and some hefty doses of benadryl) helped clear it up.

      I hope your mom recovers soon, AB!

  9. Miss Anon says:

    As a veteran of hard-to-diagnose physical issues both for myself and my loved ones, I’d suggest your mom see a doctor affiliated with the Institute for Functional Medicine ( It’s an organization of holistic doctors that has real standards, tests they have to pass to remain affiliated with the organization, etc. In other words, these are folks who treat the whole person, see medicine as interconnected, but aren’t woowoo-ing it with no scientific support. I just did a quick search using their “find a practitioner” section and several came up in Montana.

    Mystery illnesses are scary — I hope your mom gets some relief soon!

  10. Cara says:

    Prayers! And good thoughts.

  11. JoannA says:

    I feel a little silly suggesting this but in the off chance it helps, it could be Lyme disease (from ticks)? My mom has had it twice and it causes all sorts of weird symptoms that are hard to diagnose initially.

    • Jesa says:

      Not silly, this was my first though too.

    • A tick bite was my immediate thought! An unexplained rash is frequently a symptom of not just Lyme, but multiple other tick-borne illnesses. Especially in an out-doorsy place like Montana. Definitely check with a doctor who has experience with tick related illnesses, as many doctors are not well-versed in these increasingly frequently issues.

    • Dana says:

      Came here to say this, not silly at all Joanna!

  12. Anna says:

    Are you and your mom able to travel somewhere else while she figures out what’s going on? I live in a healthcare hub, and it really does make a difference.

  13. KRis says:

    Keeping your Mom in my prayers. What about Lymes disease?

    • Belle says:

      She tested negative for that.

      • Jess says:

        The test is notorious for getting wrong results, especially wrong negative results. It’s also a highly contentious disease in the medical world, so if you think her symptoms line up with Lymes, be ready to push and push hard for antibiotics. You want at least two weeks, but more if they’ll give them to her.

  14. Sally says:

    I am praying for your mom, and for you, as you navigate so many details in your life amid concerns for her.Please keep us posted.

  15. Courtney says:

    Another daughter with on-going mom-full-body-rash issues. We went months with guesses from her regular dermatologist (allergies of all sorts! Adult hand foot and mouth!) which all turned out wrong. Moved up the rungs and found someone who seemed confident in a diagnosis of Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria. Fancy for constant, reoccurring hives. She’s still working through treatment, and why it comes on, but it’s much improved. She’s also seeing a local rheumatologist, but traveling for one too. We’re in a relatively rural part of California and our medical care is lacking. Good luck to both of you!

    • Lacey says:

      I was coming here to say this. I have Severe Chronic Uticaria that started with MONTHS of rashes all over my body. I am currently on four different allergy medications and I also take a monthly shot for hives (xolair). It’s helping. IMO prednisone is the devil and I hope to never have to take it ever again. Prayers for your mom. P.S. It took two dermatologists and two allergists almost 6 months to figure out it was hives.

      • Andrea says:

        My best friend also had Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria, and it sounds a lot like what your mom is dealing with. Xolair helped her tremendously as well, but it took a while to get the right dose and for it to take full effect.

  16. chrissy says:

    Has your mother been checked for shingles? It’s really common among people of a certain age. A lot of doctors will recommend shingles vaccines for older adults.

  17. Anne says:

    I am not a medical professional, but has she asked her doctor if it could be shingles?

  18. A says:

    Have you tried the Baby Foot peel? It’s amazing!

    • Lidia says:

      Dear Abra, About 13 years ago, I developed chronic idiopathic hives/rashes which developed after cleaning out a barn that had rat droppings. Long story shortened, my histamines and IG levels were readjusted by a heavy duty course of anti-histamines for two weeks as prescribed by my dermatologist. If interested, please email me and I will send it to you. Could be worth a try? Hope she is better soon!

  19. MIchelle says:

    In the past I’ve had issues with rashes from things I would suddenly become allergic to that had taken/used in the past. The doctor’s would prescribe me antihistamines and steroids, and tell me I would feel better in 3-4 days. But weeks later I was experiencing all sorts of issues and just felt terrible (mostly due to increased white blood cell count). Turns out my body doesn’t process steroids correctly, so now I just stick to Benadryl. I’m not allergic to steroids so will take those if I am having a life threatening emergency but will stay away from them if possible. Might be worth trying for your mom (getting off the steroids) if it’s ok with the doctors.

  20. Jill says:

    I wish I had useful advice for your mom. I have a friend who developed sudden severe food allergies in middle age, to seafood and onions. She has no idea why. At least she knows what to avoid. I’m mostly vegetarian and get a maddening, deep-seated tingling all over if I don’t take B12. I hope a simple solution presents itself for your mom.

  21. Joy says:

    Hi Abra,

    Very sorry to hear about your mom. I hope you’ve gotten some info/answers, but if not, as an additional idea, she may want to consider meeting with a hematologist. Rheumatologist sounds like a good idea too, but if it’s not auto-immune, and she is otherwise experiencing immunological related issues, a hematologist could look into any blood related causes. My mother-in-law suffered from many similar symptoms for years, most notably immunological issues and rashes before eventually developing leukemia. Not trying to sound the alarm but its better to cross it off the list.

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