Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Looking Back on March Changes

As March began so did my new healthier eating. I started out wanting to simply cut back on my meat and meat byproducts and introduce some healthier alternatives to my dietary staples. After about 2 weeks I had pretty well cut out all white and processed sugars, milk, eggs, cheese and of course meat. I've spent a great deal of time this month trying new recipes and educating myself about the new foods.

Many challenges have emerged, some I was expecting and others were a bit of a surprise. I expected that relearning how to think about food and grocery shopping would be difficult and it certainly has been. I didn't even know what many of these items were, let alone what to do with them, or where to find them. A month in I still feel like there is so much I don't know. But I'm encouraged by the great progress and increased sense of comfort I've gained in such a short amount of time. I expected giving up cheese would be the most difficult change, but it has actually been sugar that was the biggest challenge. I guess I just didn't realize how many "healthy" products actually have a good amount of sugar in them, like spaghetti sauce and peanut butter. I have been unable to even find a cereal without it. Perhaps the biggest surprise challenge has been in eating out. The area I live in has nothing but big chain restaurants and when my husband and I wanted to go out to eat one night I spent an hour online looking at the menus online. I couldn't believe that many of these places didn't have any options that were both healthy and meat free. I had never really paid much attention to the salad options on menus before but when you really look at what is there, they are not at all healthy. Even if you have them remove the meat, you are still looking at too much salt and calories.

One thing that wasn't a challenge but certainly was surprising is how quickly my body became unaccustomed to these meat products. Last week I had taken my migraine rescue medication one day and (as sometimes happens) an hour later my blood sugar dropped and I needed food like right then. I didn't really have anything ready or easy except my husband's cereal. So I had a bowl of frosted mini-wheats with 1% milk. For the first time ever this cereal tasted ridiculously sweet and the milk made me feel sick to my stomach. I had heard that when you don't normally have meat products and then have some that it will make you sick, but I was surprised that it only took a few weeks for that to happen. Isn't it interesting that you can go years without eating a vegetable, then have one and you are fine. But you can't reintroduce a meat product after only 3 weeks without getting sick.

Overall my body is happy to be consuming such wonderful foods. I have yet to see an impact on my migraines. But my body is happy about these changes so I intend to make the same commitment for April.

Monday, March 29, 2010

This Girl Needs a Chiropractor!

My TMJ pain has been much worse lately. It's to the point where there is no relief from it despite my arsenal of medications. Consequently, I've had almost constant migraine pain; migraines that are continually re-triggered by the TMJ. ARG!!

Petite Pity Party:
Come on!!! Don't I have enough to deal with right now without this? Aren't I in enough pain already? Okay, that's enough of that.

Last time my TMJ was this out of control the only relief came from a few months with a great chiropractor. Since then we've relocated to another state and I don't really know anyone in the area who can recommend someone for me to see. I've learned the hard way just how bad I am at randomly picking professionals. Now I work solely from recommendations, which is tough when you move. Maybe my neurologist will have a name for me, unfortunately I'll have to wait a couple more weeks until I see her.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Calling My Bluff

I woke up this morning with just a bit of head pain. It wasn't a constant pain, but it did persist as the day unfolded. I was faced with the choice, the gamble, of treating what may or may not turn into a migraine. While it's true, I can make a great hypothesis based on some environmental and situational factors, such as the amount of sunshine I am exposed to, ultimately there is no way to know for certain if this is going to turn into a migraine. And, as any migrainista will attest, the earlier you treat the migraine the better you treat the migraine. With the monthly growing price tag of $26 for just one Imitrex you don't want to waste any on a non-migraine.

Today I decided to call my head's bluff...and I won. Of course by win I simply mean my headache didn't turn into a migraine. I still got to feel icky.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some days are just harder than is one of those days. I've had the type of migraines that just doesn't really resolve after taking my rescue medications. I'm left feeling icky from the medications on top of the ickiness of the migraine itself.

I don't want to continue wallowing in said ickiness so I've decided to list 5 things I'm thankful for today.

1. All my basic needs are met and more: I had a warm shower this morning, food to eat, shelter, and a bed to sleep in.

2. The wonderful talk I had with my husband this morning

3. The laptop that allows me to connect with the outside world while in bed

4. The company and love of our dog

5. My rescue medications because even when they don't resolve the pain, they certainly take the edge off

Without these blessings, my day would have been so much worse!

I actually do feel a little better with this shift in focus :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I need to relearn to hear and listen to my inner voice. I believe we are born into a fantastic relationship with ourselves and through the process of growing up and learning social and cultural norms we lose that very precious relationship. When I look back on my years I can see this slow loss.

Recently I was blessed to have my body scream persistently and loudly enough to get my distracted, adult self's attention. This was the impetus for the recent drastic changes to my diet. During the past few weeks as these changes have been implemented I've begun to wonder what else is my body trying to tell me that am I not hearing or just not listening to. And with that a desire is growing within to really know and live my true self.

I'm realizing the way I live today is not in line with who I am. The world is moving so fast and putting so much pressure on us to keep up. And I am have been putting so much pressure on myself to keep up with the world and with my previous healthy self.

I wonder if reconnecting with myself will be the key to getting my migraines under control. Well, I'm hoping.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hateful Taxes

Every year it's the same thing with taxes. We start with piles of documents, full glasses of water, comfortable chairs and several free hours. We then end up frustrated, confused, angry and missing some small pieces of information that will ensure another block of time is needed for completion. Perhaps the process is so hateful because some tax laws just are not equitable and the process doesn't always take a realistic look at what is presently happening to middle class families. Whatever the reasons I can't help but feel a little guilty about my medical needs and the impact this has on our finances.

In my head, of course, I know it's not my fault and blah, blah, blah. I don't really understand why facts don't seem to inform my emotions (I wish they did). Certainly, dealing with chronic pain certainly is stressful enough without adding the guilt.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Ounce of Prevention

Okay, so health insurance companies say they need to continue to raise premium rates so drastically because so many healthy people are choosing not to carry insurance. And this makes sense to me. If all people carried insurance then the cost would be properly spread out, not to mention fewer people would end up being treated in the emergency rooms once their health has become critical. An ounce of prevention and all that jazz. This makes sense to me.

So the question then becomes why don't insurance companies use their powerful lobbyist and even more powerful contribution dollars to push the government towards that end? Why do they choose instead to push them into tax breaks and other policies that serve only their bottom lines. People right now are fearful of the health care bill that is before us. Nobody wants to trust the government with something so important and personal. But I'm more fearful of the insurance companies because it is very clear they are not looking out for any of their customers.

To me this is an issue of humanity. We have decided as a nation that education is important so everyone who pays taxes is contributing to the cost of educating our nation's children regardless if they have any or not. We have decided as a nation that roads are important so everyone who pays taxes is contributing to the construction and maintenance of these roads even if they don't drive on them. I don't understand why we have not decided that health care is important enough to set up a system of coverage and access for everyone. This is an issue of humanity. And It is critically important to the survival of this superpower.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Laughing with Tina Fey

With so much of my time spent dealing with my health stuff I have become ravenous for comedy, the sweet lightness of comedy. One of many comedians who really make me laugh is Tina Fey. I was a big fan when she was on Saturday Night Live, an even bigger fan of 30 Rock, and her Sarah Palin is easily the best impression ever.
Looking forward to seeing her back hosting SNL on April 10th.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Burst Bubble

One of the many curses these migraines have brought into my life is extreme sensitivity to everything. Of course the insult to this injury is in the cyclical nature of it. The migraines make me more sensitive and the sensitivity causes more migraines. Simple annoyances like the sinus pressure that accompanied the cold I caught over the weekend doesn't just give me a headache, it gives me a migraine. The love I once had for sunlight has turned to dread. The high volume I still enjoy with music or movies now can only be tolerated in small amounts and require the high payment of a migraine. Basically anything that puts even the slightest pressure on my head is now a trigger. Of course, sometimes it seems my head doesn't need a reason to launch into migraine mode beyond waking up in the morning. Unfortunately this will rule out a dark, tinted protective bubble as a preventative measure.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Try

Something new to try from my neurologist...lidicaine cream to put over the nerves in my head. It could work...of course this is what I think every time I get something new to try. During quiet moments I sometimes reflect on the years of medications, doctor appointments, hopes raised and let down. I don't want to ask myself, "at what point do I stop trying things and just accept this is what my life is?". Time seems to be clicking by at quite a pace without the relief I crave. Sometimes the hope I cling to seems silly, but I just don't want to let go of it. The memory of the time before all this pain is still lingering in my head - so sweet.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Medical Records

I ask you, what good are medical records that nobody can see?
Medical records are so important, especially for people like me who have relocated twice in the last 3 years with another relocation expected at the end of this year. I need to have copies of everything, complete copies. This is my life here folks, my has been ridiculously hard to obtain copies of the pictures of my latest surgery. The best my doctor's office is willing to offer is xerox copies of the photos. Do you know what happens when you copy pictures? They are black. Not only does the quality render them useless, but color is the most important component to the pictures. What's with trying to give me black and white copies?
On top of it all the price for obtaining these records is just too high. As if every aspect of medicine isn't already outrageously overpriced, now we are to pay $30 for 14 months worth of records. Come on!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oh Leafy Greens

Just look at them. They are so delicate. I don't even know what to do with them. Sure you can put some lettuce or spinach in a salad or on a sandwich, but they are mostly for color, or crunch. After all their composition seems to be largely water. Or so it seems.

Even though I now know and believe they have actual health properties I still don't know what to do with them. Oh sure, I can steam some broccoli or green beans, but then again they are not really leafy greens. Salads are an obvious choice, but I don't like salads without really tasty, unhealthy dressings.

Oh leafy greens how I admire you and how you intimidate me. Perhaps you can come to dinner and we can work it out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My first trip to Trader Joes

Armed with my well researched grocery list I took my first trip to Trader Joe's today. I don't normally spend so much time on my lists but this is all very new to me, and Trader Joe's is not very close to my house. I was pretty crestfallen to pull up and find that this Trader Joe's was very small and I was only able to find a couple of the items I had traveled to get. I'll have to pull myself together for the even longer trip out to Whole Foods later in the week.