Google Searching Through a Lupus Lens: NLO Chrome Browser Extension Review

Happy Friday, blog fam!

Over almost 8 years of blogging, it’s been exciting to see more and more online support networks and resources for people living with lupus. That being said, the web can feel like an information jungle, draining and time-consuming to navigate, especially when you’re trying to conserve energy during a flare. What if there was a way to get the lupus-related info you want, all in one place, with little effort?

In early June, New Life Outlook will be launching their new Google Chrome browser extension. As a member of their NLO – Lupus writing team, I was given a special preview, which I will be sharing with you today!

So, what is a browser extension, you ask? Browser extensions extend a web browser with additional features, modify web pages, and integrate a browser with other services. If you’re a visual person like me, your first reaction to reading that was probably, “say what??” Don’t worry, I took screen shots!

New Life Outlook provides support for a spectrum of conditions, so when you set up the extension, you can choose the type of information you want to see featured on your browser page.

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You can also choose specific health news providers:

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When you are done the initial set up, your Google Chrome home page will look like this:

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The home page includes the time, date, temperature and the latest New Life Outlook article recommendation, which happens to be my latest article on lupus stigma!

The left side column is your navigation panel for your browser. When you click the “nlo” circle, it slides open the health news panel:

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You have three tabs to explore: News, articles, and inspiration. You can also “favourite” any articles you want to save for later, change your background pic, etc.

Visually, I think it looks great – it’s simple and clean with lots of personalization options. Right now, they don’t give the option of uploading your own background pic, which I think would be a desirable add-on. I also think it would be great to add blogger posts as a newsfeed tab on their news panel.

That being said, I love what NLO is trying to do with the development of this browser extension! What are your first impressions? Would you try it?

If you are curious, check the chrome web store and NLO’s step-by-step instructional video on how to set up the extension!

Sick is Not Weak

Shifting sharply away from the mournful, sentimental tone of traditional healthcare campaigns, the SickKids Foundation completely blew me away with their incredibly powerful new video, “VS.

Sick is not weak. Sick is fighting back.

No matter your age or illness, this video reminds us that perspective is everything and that yes, YOU ARE BRAVE. Yes, you are strong as hell and YES, tell whatever you are battling that THIS FIGHT IS ON.

Constant P Revelation

When I think of all the medications I’ve taken over the last 15 years, I imagine every pill and IV drip stacked on top of each other, row upon row of every colour and size like gleaming, sterile fingers rising higher with every dose. I like to speculate that it would fill a small room, one that I could peer into, then say to my body with mixed awe and concern, “damn, girl, you took ALL THAT and you’re still here?”

I don’t actually think there would be enough to fill a room, but it feels like that sometimes.  I’m sure my liver would agree.

Plaquenil, my ever “Constant P,” was the first medication prescribed to me in 2001, and if I’ve done my math correctly, I’ve taken approximately 10, 950 doses. Also called hydroxychloroquine, this anti-malarial is used in lupus patients for long-term care. According to Molly’s Fund:

Anti-malarials are a sort of “lupus life insurance,” a disease modifier that  decreases pain and swelling, and prevents joint damage and disability. Studies have shown that patients on anti-malarials live longer than those who are not.

Some of the side effects are also lupus symptoms, so I’ve never been 100% sure if I’ve had any.  A few months ago, I noticed the pigmentation of some of my toe/ finger nails had changed. A nail bed would have one or two long, black, vertical lines.

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I looked it up and was disturbed to discover that this type of nail discolouration can be an indicator of skin cancer. I went to the walk-in immediately, and was referred to a dermatologist. To my relief, she concluded that I have longitudinal melonychia, which can be physiologic due to darker skin, or due to prolonged use of Plaquenil. She explained that my lines were light black and did not run into the skin, and therefore, not a sign of cancer. If the lines are solid black and continue into the skin, then there is reason for concern. Since I have darker skin, I’m not entirely sure if the pigmentation was due to Plaquenil, but I knew I had to spread the word that it could be in others. So, to all you long-term “Constant P” users, keep an eye on your fingers and toes! Plaquenil induced longitudinal melonychia is harmless, but it’s good to be aware of medication induced changes to your body. It’s definitely something you should bring up to your rheumatologist at your next appointment and if you think it may be cancer related, visit your GP right away.

And lastly, if you haven’t checked them out already, here are two of my articles now available for viewing on the New Life Outlook – Lupus site. I have an article due next week on pain management options, so I’m excited to share that with you soon!

  1. How to Combat Morning Lupus Stiffness – Combating morning lupus stiffness is a proactive battle that happens throughout the day, not just in the morning. Take these steps to fight stiffness today.
  2. Staying Positive with Lupus – It’s normal to be frustrated with your condition, but staying positive with lupus is important for both our mental and physical health.

 

Indoor UV Effects (& Light Filter Giveaway!)

When I was working long hours in an office, I would squint suspiciously at the harsh fluorescent lighting above me. According to Molly’s Fund, 40-70% of those with lupus will notice an increase in lupus symptoms or the severity of symptoms after exposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays. This can come from both natural and artificial lighting – like fluorescent bulbs.

These days, I work out of my home, so when Make Great Light offered me an opportunity to try their fluorescent light filters, I didn’t have the right kind of lighting to test it out. Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of Make Great Light, I’m able to offer a special giveaway for one lucky reader to try it for themselves!

Make Great Light‘s fluorescent light filters convert harsh fluorescent light to full spectrum lighting, filter out UV, and eliminate glare. Here is a fun, short video that explains how they work:

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Make Great Light’s Tube Filters

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Make Great Light’s Overlay Panels

So, how does the giveaway work, you ask? Simply comment by clicking the speech bubble at the top of the post and tell me how fluorescent light affects you and where you would use your fluorescent filter if you won it. The winner will be drawn on December 9th, so you have one week to get your comment in. And if you don’t win the draw, Make Great Light happens to be a big supporter of their local lupus foundation chapter and offers a 20%  discount to anyone with lupus!

The giveaway starts now, so get your comments in for an awesome chance to try Make Great Light‘s fluorescent filters for free!