A first aid kit with a picture of a flame and a red x over it.

What’s in Keegan’s Flare-Up Kit?

Last updated: April 2022

Do you have a flare-up kit? If not, I highly recommend it. We never consciously thought about putting a flare-up kit together. But what I’ve noticed in the last few years is how critical it is when the moment gets tough. For Keegan, my husband with AS, finding ways to alleviate the pain and fatigue is crucial to feeling like he can get through a flare-up. He’s tried so many treatments, coping strategies, medications, etc. and finally, he’s found his go-to items.

First step: make a literal kit

But just because he’s found his go-to items doesn’t make the experience of getting them and storing them fun. Before having a flare-up kit, these items were scattered all over the house. Some of them were in the back of our linen closet. Or somewhere buried underneath our sink. Not a great place to be digging around when back pain is at an all-time high. So, one big piece of advice: make the kit a kit. Like a first aid kit. Put it in a nice bag and keep an eye on it to make sure supplies aren’t running low.

So what’s in his bag?

  1. Lavender Epsom salt: heat and baths help Keegan a lot. Mentally and physically, his pain improves with each bath. He takes a soaking bath daily (if possible) throughout a flare-up.
  2. CBD salve: He's found CBD salve invaluable to give him temporary relief. He's tried other forms of topical medications for arthritis, but CBD salve has helped the most. Plus, it's great to use if I'm giving him a massage!
  3. Salon Pas patches: If you haven't tried them yet, you have to. I read about them in another article here and Keegan finds them to be game-changers.
  4. Extra Tylenol and Aleve: We have Tylenol and Aleve around the house, but if we travel, there's nothing worse than having to find a store to pick some up.
  5. Heating pad: If a bath isn't possible, a heating pad is awesome.
  6. Probiotics: Keegan finds his guts to also suffer during a flare-up. Eating well and taking probiotics help him a lot. Something Keegan noticed was that some probiotics are more effective than others. I'd recommend trying a bunch out to find which ones help the most.

Benefits of a flare-up kit

Since putting this together, it’s so easy now to pack it for a trip. (Keegan often gets flare-ups from traveling.) It also means that it’s always in the same place and he can anticipate that everything he needs is there. There’s nothing worse than worrying if something ran out or not being able to find that one thing you’re looking for and can’t remember where you put it.

I’ll also say this: during the pandemic if something has run out, services like DoorDash and Instacart are lifesavers. I remember during our time at the beach last year having to order more Salon Pas patches and feeling so relieved that I didn’t have to go out and get them with 2 little kids. I used to feel guilty using these services, but now, I feel like it’s my way of asking for help. I give a big tip and let the person know in a message that they’re helping someone who’s going through a really painful episode just to give them a bit of a “thank you!”

What’s in your flare-up kit? How has it helped you cope with AS?

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