Monday, February 28, 2011

Time For Distractions

I've had a rough few days here with a migraine that I just haven't been able to get on top of. It made me glad that I hadn't taken many rescue meds earlier in the month so I was able to take 4 over the past 4 days. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to make it through today with just the Ibuprofen as I come out of the worst of my period.

I was up early this morning to get my husband to the airport. He is headed to St Louis for a second interview and to scout out rentals in case he gets an offer. We are very encouraged by this 2nd interview that they have flown him out for. He is being more cautious in his optimism than I am, probably because he is the one being interviewed. But I am so hoping that this will be our ticket back home to the Mid-West. We had sort of begun to lose hope when the first part of their interviewing process took 2 weeks longer than they had predicted, but now with things back on track I'm getting excited again about the possibility of a move in our near future.

All of this is totally out of my control so I'm doing my best here to just go with the flow. I'm bracing myself while we wait for the final verdict about the job, going through all the motions of my household duties. All the while thinking to myself and making plans for how I will attack the job of packing up and cleaning for the move. You could say that I'm going with the flow on the outside, but inside I'm all hopes and nerves.

Time for some distractions, I think. Let's see. I have some great things on Netflix I can watch. I've started a new book that is very engaging. There is some cleaning I can do...maybe some deep breathing. I'll spend lots of time giving our dog extra attention. She gets so sad when her pack isn't all together. It won't sink in for her until he doesn't come home tonight as usual. She'll start waiting for him around 5:30 and will keep a vigil at the door for about 3 or 4 hours before she'll start clinging to me, hoping to convince me not to leave her too.

Friday, February 25, 2011

It Just Doesn't Make Sense

For the past year I've been choosing to purchase food items like flour, pasta, breads, sugars and such that are less processed. For example instead of white bleached flour I'm using whole grain unbleached flour, or brown rice flour (whatever is cheapest on that day). Instead of the potato bread I used to buy, I'm not purchasing the store brand whole grain bread that claims to have 1 whole grain serving per slice. Instead of regular pasta, I've been using whole wheat pasta. What got me started doing this is that I learned our bodies actually process these kinds of starches as if they were sugars. Apparently the process used to make regular noodles or white breads, flours, rices and such takes foods and strips them most of their nutrients, bleaches them to make them white and basically they end up adding to our addiction of sugar.

I've noticed a real difference since making this switch. These foods that don't go through as much processing are healthier and they fill me up quicker because of the higher fiber content. They don't taste exactly the same and it took me a few weeks to really adjust to the taste but now, on the rare occasion when we go out to eat and I eat regular pasta or something I find myself not being satisfied.

What I don't understand is how food companies justify charging more money for the foods that are less processed. It doesn't cost as much to make them because they require fewer steps and less energy. Why are they so much more expensive? I have tried so hard to do this as inexpensively as possible. I always buy the store brand when they offer a healthy product. I always evaluate the cost and content to find the best value. Often this has required shopping in more than one section for the same type of product. For example the whole wheat flour is $3 more for a smaller amount in the health food section than it is in the baking section. Same health content.

This is just one of the numerous ways our culture has made healthy living more difficult than necessary. There is no good reason that eating healthy should cost so much more than eating poorly. There is a reason but it is not a good one.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grocery Bags

I'm always looking for ways to be kinder to the environment and a few years back I decided to start using reusable grocery bags because I found myself getting groceries from a store that didn't offer paper bags. The store sold these reusable bags for just $1 each and I really never needed more than 4 at any one time. A good amount of time passes and I felt good about the change I made until I saw a news story about these reusable bags.

Apparently the groceries that are carried in there can leave behind all kinds of nasty bacterias that just multiply over time. The bags are not made of cloth, in fact it is hard to tell what it is made of. There is no label explaining the material but if feels like it might be some kind of plastic derivative. The only info on the label is instructions to clean any dirt off with a wet cloth.

I don't know why it never occurred to me that these bags would become safe havens for bacteria. I knew that grocery stores were dirty places and I knew there was no way to disinfect the bags I bought. At first I thought I could solve the problem by purchasing some of the much smaller canvas bags the store sold for $15 but I didn't want to spend that kind of money on something like this. That's when I saw the plastic bag recycle bin just inside the grocery store entrance. I could use the plastic bags and just bring them back to be made into more plastic bags.

So now I'm able to cut down on the spread of bacteria and still feel like I'm being responsible. But I can't help but wonder if I'm overlooking something, the way I was with the cheap reusable bags. What do you think? Should I just ask for canvas bags for my birthday this year?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Doctor Appointment Reflections

I saw my neurologist today. Before heading out for my appointments with her I always check in with my statistics that I keep about my head. I don't like to watch my numbers very closely because I don't want to spend too much time thinking about how many migraines and other symptoms I have. Staying distracted as much as possible from my pain just feels like the right thing to do. So I just go ahead and dedicate a minute each day to writing down my symptoms from the day, giving it a rating and recording whatever rescue meds I may have taken. Then when I need to know them I can simply pull out my tracking sheets and make the tally.

Turns out I had 16 migraines in January but only took 6 triptan rescue meds. In these first 22 days of February I've only had 5 migraines, and have treated each of them with the triptans. The month is not over and I will be getting my period today or tomorrow, which will translate into migraines. But even if I have a migraine every day for the rest of the month that still makes for a lighter than normal migraine count for the short month of February. Now my numbers also reflect that this has happened before. I have had months with fewer migraines than average, months that get evened out with really bad pain months. For now, I'm just going to wait and see what the next couple months bring.

I'm still having 3 types of days: horrible, bad and pretty good. I don't feel like the good days have increased since their onset in late December but I'm very encouraged by the 5 pounds I've put on since the start of the new year. I've been attributing it to my increased appetite but my doc said that it could also be a side effect from the Amitriptyline. Either way I'm thrilled. I've lost so much weight since my migraines got out of control 5 years ago or so. When I gain and lose weight it all happens in my estrogen dependent areas (hips, butt and boobs) so you can see how it is pretty exciting to be getting those back. While my husband knows better than to comment either way, I can see that he likes to my assets growing too.

This is my first weight gain since I've been in my 30s and I can see that it is coming on with less tone than it had in my 20s. So, I think it is now time to step up my level of exercise. I used to be very physically active before all of this and up until now I've been limiting my activity to the basics; walking, light dumbbell work for my arms and my physical therapy exercises and stretches. I think I'll start today by adding more leg work, stepping up my arm reps and doing more core exercises.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Veggie Enchiladas

I love cheese enchiladas. Ever since I was a child I would use every visit to a Mexican restaurant as a chance to enjoy 2 cheese enchiladas. Yum! Since becoming a vegetarian I assumed this yummy indulgence would still be something I could enjoy, but I've been wrong. The trouble around here is that the restaurants have added tiny bits of ground beef to their enchilada sauce and there is just no way to get all that crap scraped off. Sigh

I finally found a fantastic set of recipes for a vegetarian enchiladas. I say set because there is one recipe for the enchilada sauce, one for refried beans and then one for some sauted veggies and the assembly of the actual enchiladas.

I had previously attempted to make enchiladas with sauce and refried beans purchased at the grocery store. The sauce had such a high concentration of sodium it just wasn't something I could stomach and the refried beans were like trying to eat a can of cat food. So so gross! Just when I thought my days of enjoying enchiladas were over I came across these recipes in one of my vegan cookbooks - and they were perfect as written.

Last week I went ahead and made all three recipes in one evening. This proved to be a huge mistake as it took 2 1/2 hours. By the time I was actually enjoying the enchiladas my body was fighting back. My neck was in all kinds of pain and beginning to spasm as a result of standing and looking down at the counter for so long. The nerves in my hands and arms were throbbing from all the chopping and stirring and washing. And, of course, my posture wasn't great during this time so my back hurt as well. Next time I make this I'll have to make the sauce and beans one day and the actual enchiladas the next.

I wanted to share these great recipes with you all.

Enchilada Sauce

1/4 C Chili Powder
1 T Paprika
1 t Garlic powder
1 t Ground Cumin
1/4 t Instant Espresso Powder

1/4 t Chipotle Powder or Chipotle sauce (which is much much cheaper)
3 T Canola or other veg oil
2 T Flour
1 Can tomato Sauce (15 oz)
1 1/2 C Veggie broth

Combine chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, espresso powder and chipotle sauce - and set aside.
Heat oil over med/high heat. Add flour and stir until smooth, bubbly and beginning to brown.
Stir in spices, tomato sauce and broth - stir
Heat until it starts to get bubbly then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 min.

Refried Beans
2 T Butter
2 Shallots
1 T minced garlic
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t dried oregano
2 cans pinto or black beans with liquid

Chop the shallots, mince the garlic and measure out the spices. Melt butter in large frying pan or cast iron and add the shallots and garlic and saute them until brown (3-5 min).

Stir in spices and cook for 1 min. Add beans with their liquid from the cans and heat until bubbly. Reduce heat to med/low and simmer uncovered for 15 min - stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and beat until desire chunkiness. You can mash them by hand if you wish but using a hand mixer makes much lighter work.
Veggie Enchiladas

Cooking Spray

2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 oz sliced mushrooms

1 Red bell pepper - diced

2 Shallots - chopped

1T garlic - minced

1/4 t ground cumin

1/4 t dried oregano

1/4 t black pepper
12 corn tortillas
refried beans
12 oz Mexican mix shredded cheese
enchiladas sauce
20 slices of jarred nacho style jalapenos (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, coat a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray. Slice the mushrooms, red bell pepper and shallots. Mince the garlic and measure out the spices. Heat oil in a frying pan over med/high heat. Add the mushrooms, bell peppers, shallots and garlic and saute for 10-12 min.
Stir in cumin, oregano & black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside. Add desired amount of beans, cheese and veggie mixture of the center of the tortillas. Roll up the tortillas and place them seam down in the baking dish. Spread enchilada sauce evenly on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle cheese on top and jalapenos if you want.
Bake for 30 min.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some Thoughts On Water

I love to drink water. Occasionally in a restaurant I'll order lemonade, or make hot chocolate or tea for myself at home, but mostly I drink water. More specifically, I drink filtered water at room temperature. This has been the case ever since I weened myself off a very entrenched soda addiction during my high school years. In the 16 years since I kicked my soda addiction I've become a bit of a water connoisseur; mostly motivated by my desire to not taste the water I drink. I can tell the difference between tap, spring, soft, bottled, and a number of other differences.

For example, soft water has many benefits to pipes, soap usage and such but it is made soft by treating the water with salt and that means it doesn't taste good. I really can't handle the taste of salt and unfortunately a glass of room temperature soft water has enough salt to make it hard for me to drink. It's easy to hide this kind of fairly subtle flavors by simply drinking it very cold. Unfortunately, a cold glass of water tempers quickly and as soon as that process has begun the flavor begins to return. I'm the kind of person who has a glass of water by my side so I need water that has no flavor no matter how warm the room gets.

Tap water is alright but it does have a small hint of flavor, which is why I filter the tap water through a Pur water filter. I keep a pitcher full of it in the refrigerator for my husband or anyone else who might visit but I drink the water from the filtered pitcher that sits on the counter. Perfect, tasteless, room-temperature water. Just the way I like it.

Water is so vitally important to all aspects of life. Living in USA during modern times it is easy to take it for granted. There has never been a time when I haven't been able to shower, or flush a toilet, or wash my clothes, or pour a drink of water whenever I wanted. Water is easy to access in the corner of the world that I've grown up in. It is always clean and safe and seemingly infinite in supply. In my adult years I've become aware that water is not as infinite as it appears from where I sit. So many people around the world struggle daily to obtain safe drinking water. Not to mention the lack of water for crops and livestock. It's so hard to wrap my mind around these struggles because it is so very different from what I'm experiencing. I'm trying to do what I can to cut down on my water usage but it feels like it is no use for me to do so. I don't have to go far to see water being wasted on a massive scale. Is what I'm doing to conserve going to amount to anything more than a drop in the bucket when our culture is hell bent on excess in all it's forms?
As important as water is I feel strongly that the bottled water industry is a mostly a giant fraud. These huge corporations are mining water for free and selling it to people at ridiculous prices. The bottle themselves not only bleed toxins into the water they contain but once thrown away most of them end up in landfills or in bodies of water. A plastic bottle will never decompose - never. That's crazy. Think of all the bottles of water, heck even sodas and whatnot that are consumed every day. We will never be able to get rid of them. I'm not comfortable with this kind of price for convenience. Additionally many of these waters that are bottled come from a public water source, which is code for tap water. That right, instead of turning on the faucet and trapping some safe, clean, tested water is a reusable container to take with you when you go someplace we would rather buy a bottle of the same water at an incredibly high mark-up and throw it away when finished.

These industries have done an incredible marketing job. They have managed to convince the masses of people that bottled water is somehow more safe and pure than tap water. Plus it's so very convenient. There is nothing to wash or carry around any longer than you want. Just drink it on the go and toss the bottle after. I hate to admit there was a time when I bought into all this hype. I'll go downtown with my husband and after an hour or so walking around we are both crazy thirsty and end up buying a small 8oz bottle of water for $3. Can you imagine $3 for 8oz of water, that's 1 measured cup of water. But in the moment, we are both so thirsty and we need to drink so we pay. Bottles of water are so available everywhere that I simply stopped planning ahead to have enough water to drink when I'm out and about. But planning ahead and bringing water with is so easy. It doesn't take much time and it isn't difficult. I have a nice BPA free, reusable plastic container that I fill with water when I know I'll be out of the house for a while.

Sure the container costs more than a regular reusable plastic bottle but by making this investment in a safe container, which is paid by not buying just 4 disposable bottles of water, I'm providing myself a light and easy way to stay hydrated that will ultimately save me lots of money. I love to drink water.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Complex Migraines In The News

So you may have heard about the reporter who was slurring her speech during an on-air spot she was doing after the Grammy Awards. Today it is being reported that she was actually suffering from migraine symptoms. If you haven't seen the story here is the link.

I love that this story is getting so much coverage because so many people (doctors included) don't understand that migraines can be so much more than the common pain and nausea. I was excited to share the story on my facebook page, I guess I'm feeling a little validated. My experience with migraines have been complex and somewhat atypical. I remember going to the ER when my migraines were first getting seriously out of control and they were certain my symptoms were a sinus infection so I went home with antibiotics. A week later I was back, same symptoms and was told it is a bad sinus infection and I should do a more rigorous and longer antibiotic treatment. So, I'm taking these drugs and still experiencing all my symptoms and then had the added upset digestive system from the drugs. Turns out my symptoms were not an infection, just migraines. The docs were certain, even when I suggested it could be my migraines.

I understand that many many people suffer from migraines and that serious pain and nausea are typical experiences for many. But I want everybody, especially every doctor, to understand that it can be so much more. When our brains are under attack, all kinds of crazy things can happen. Hopefully the coverage of this woman's complex migraine will be the start of a more common understanding the the spectrum of migraines.

Have any of you had the same feeling of validation after hearing this report?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recipe Searches

I have many pet peves surrounding food industries. One of them is concerning recipes. I have several cookbooks that I've collected over the years. When I first started cooking I thought that if I got one big cookbook like Fannie Farmer or Joy of Cooking all I would need to do is follow them and I would have great food to eat. I quickly learned that just wasn't the case.

A recipe should spell out what ingredients to use and how to prepare them to create a dish. It has been my experience that most recipes in most cookbooks are not good recipes. By that I mean if you follow the instructions exactly as written you will not have a dish that tastes good and/or a dish that works. For example I recently tried making a turtle cheesecake I found in one of my cookbooks. It did taste good but the recipe didn't work because the layer of caramel never solidified. It was supposed to set in the refrigerator but it remained liquid so when you cut into it the caramel just spilled all over. It just didn't work.

I'm left to assume that most of these recipes are either not tested or that the author doesn't know how to write instructions correctly. My bet would be on a lack of testing. They want a recipe book of soups or pastas or whatever but the time is not taken to really scrutinize the recipes. You never know when you pick up a cookbook if the recipes will really be good or not until you get it home and start making them.

These days I look through cookbooks to get good ideas. I'm getting better at looking at a recipe and imagining the taste somewhat accurately. I then take out parts that I don't like and add in things that I think will work better. Then I try the recipe and evaluate what works and what doesn't. Then I modify it again if necessary and rank it on a scale; fair, good or great. If it just doesn't work at all it gets a bad rating and is thrown away.

Once I get enough of them in my recipe box I'm thinking about putting together a small binder with pictures and all of the recipes that are good with detailed instructions. Might be a fun project down the road.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Don't Know Jack

My husband and I watched You Don't Know Jack over the weekend. Apparently it was an HBO special in 2010 that I heard about watching the Golden Globes earlier in the year. Al Pacino plays Jack Kevorkian. I think they would have had to try pretty hard to make this a bad film because the topics of doctor assisted suicide and euthanasia are complicated and intriguing.

On the one hand, if you are in constant agony and have no quality of life left and there is no chance or improvement it seems humane to allow that person a choice in how they die. Inmates sentenced to death often get a choice in how they die. We find it humane to end the suffering of animals when nothing more can be done. It makes sense on many levels.

On the other hand, something feels wrong about it. Most of our lives we spend fighting for life. We fight against diseases, we try to control the dangers around us, if someone or something threatens our lives we instinctively fight against it. Suicide is so contrary to that. But there is no shortage of serious, seemingly insurmountable mental and physical challenges. I've certainly had deeply dark days, as I'm sure all of you have as well. Still I find it so hard to imagine choosing to end my life before my body or someone else's body imposes it on me. But that doesn't necessarily mean others shouldn't be able to come to a different conclusion and be able to carry out their decision under the safety and supervision of a caring doctor. But then I think about all the shitty doctors I've run into in my life and I can't help but be kind of fearful about what that means for physician assisted suicide. But that could be applied to anything, Shitty doctors can perform surgeries poorly but that doesn't mean none of us should ever have surgery.

I also wonder if allowing this sort of thing could become a slippery slope. One of the arguments against Jack's methods in the film was that it could become a cost cutting measure instead of intended purpose of being a humane and dignified end to life. What if doctors were inclined to identify someone as being terminal and start pushing these sorts of life ending options. It would save a great deal of money if someone were to choose death over life. Those with means and strong family support could easily prevent this from happening to them, but what about all the people with neither. The people who don't have access to preventive care and can't pay the ER bills they incur. It would be naive to believe this wouldn't impact those living in poverty differently than it would impact the wealthy. Plus, doctors simply can't always know for certain who can recover from what.

But shouldn't we be allowed to choose to save that money, just as we are allowed to choose whether or not we want to be resuscitated or put on life support if anything should happen. It seems sort of arbitrary that we are allowed to make that life ending choice but not the other. Abortion is legal, is that really all that different? Just because technology and modern medicine can keep us artificially alive doesn't mean that it is always the right thing to do. Or is it? Should we always do what we can?

It can't be wrong to let people die who are dying, can it?. No matter what we do, we are all going to die eventually. It is just as natural as breathing. These issues are so complicated. The toughest part about choosing a side is that both sides are right and both sides are wrong - so nether side is right and neither side is wrong. How can we ever possibly expect the courts or the legislature to regulate this.

I don't have the answers but the discussion is fascinating. Have you seen the movie? What do you think of all of this?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Lament

It's Valentine's Day but it's also Monday so my husband and I decided to celebrate this past Saturday. He got some free tickets to see The Capital Steps, a musical political parody group, and we had dinner at one of our favorite places in the area. The musical thing was a lot of fun but of course was very loud. My head was relieved when it was over and I certainly paid the price the next day.

We don't exchange gifts for this Hallmark holiday but we still do cards. I had gone to the CVS down the road to pick up a V Day card for him and a wedding card for a friend of mine whose getting married that first week of March. Every V Day card I picked up was $4 to $7. And these were not extravagant cards with lace, music, or 3-D effects. I'm talking about a piece of thin cardboard folded in half with an imagine on the front and some writing inside. So then I went to pick out a wedding card and they were gorgeous. All kinds of lace, ribbons, and 3-D images adorned these festive cards. And, they were all $2 to $3.

This shouldn't have been a surprise, after all it is well know that flowers, candy, balloons, valentine foods and the like are all more expensive around Valentine's Day. Of course, cards are also going to be more expensive as well. You could say that it is a matter of supply and demand but I don't buy it. Why do we do this? There is so much pressure on people this time of year. If you're unattached on this day it feels like everything is conspiring to make you feel lonely. If you're attached then you are obligated to get gifts, cards, flowers. You must have a romantic dinner and romantic after dinner plans.

Don't' get me wrong, I'm all for celebrating love, setting aside a time to express and enjoy your love. But the thing is, if you are attached then you already have a day to celebrate your love. It's call an anniversary. So this appears to simply be a chance for retails and restaurants to cash in by creating an obligation. If you love someone then when Valentine's Day arrives you must buy them stuff. And, as most imply, the amount of money you spend is in direct proportion to how much you love your valentine. But $5 for a piece of folded cardboard - Are you kidding me! Waiting for an hour to get seated in a overly crowded restaurant because literally everyone else is going out to eat too. No thanks.

I'm done with it. I've decided that from now on my husband and I will make valentine's day cards for each other and there will be no going out to eat. There will be no grand gestures or extravagant gifts. We will no longer be forced into a romantic celebration simply because it is the 14th of February.

Headache Blog Carnival

The February Headache Blog Carnival is now available here.
This month's topic is all about love.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tahini Orange Cookies

My husband worked from home yesterday so I couldn't get my pictures uploaded until this morning. Sorry for the delay on the Tahini Orange Cookies. For those who don't know, tahini is made from crushed sesame seeds, sort of like a nut butter. It can be kind of spendy so this isn't something I make very often, but boy what a wonderful treat. Sesame seeds are super concentrated with protein and even have some fiber so tahini has all those benefits. Like all other nut butters it does have a fair amount of fat but it is the good unsaturated fat that our bodies really need.

This is a vegan recipe that I tried last year when I went vegan for a couple months (before realizing I needed dairy products to get enough calories). I'm always trying to put more weight on. Anyway, I wanted to try this one because it didn't call for an egg substitute. The tahini is pretty sticky so it doesn't even need a separate binding agent. Plus it has a really unique taste.

Tahini Orange Cookies
1 cup tahini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup raw sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown rice flower
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl whisk together the tahini, vanilla, syrup, sugar and zest.
In a separate bowl mix together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips
combine wet and dry ingredients and refrigerate for an hour or so. Bake for 6-10 minutes. Every oven is so different.

By using pure maple syrup, raw sugar and brown rice flower you can make this a fairly healthy treat that doesn't cause a big swing in your blood sugar levels; but Mrs. Butterworth, white sugar and bleached all-purpose flour work too. Cheaper too :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Different Kind of Romance

Many of the emotions and internal dialogues I have regarding my chronic pain are contrary to romance. When I feel sad, guilty, frustrated, overwhelmed and/or helpless it can be very hard to then feel sexy or romantic. When I'm really nauseous or in a lot of pain it's hard to even think about anything beyond trying to manage my symptoms.

But romance and sex are so important. Not only is it enjoyable but it also has so many mental and physical benefits. Despite my frequent chronic migraines and muscle spasms I've decided to really make both sex and romance a priority in my marriage. This is not always easy but then again, nothing is these days.

These days it's all about the details. We have made Friday nights our stay date night. We are living in a very small one bedroom apartment with a house full of stuff. Living space is pretty limited so one of the things we are doing without right now is a dining table, which means we eat most of our meals on the couch in front of the TV. Not romantic. But on Friday nights we set up a folding table and chairs to sit down for a proper meal. Then after dinner we play games. We can't afford to do much going out and such but this change up in routine is nice, plus it gives us a nice chance to talk, unwind from the week and starts our weekends off on a positive note. If feels romantic because it is a specially set aside time each week.

We also try to have a date outside of the apartment every week or so. Still watching the spending we do things like go get tea at Panera, take the dog to the park (when weather permits), go downtown to take in free attractions (plenty of those in DC), or eat out (not often).

During the week my husband is very busy and occupied both mentally and physically with his work so we try to carve out a little time each day to watch something together. We have things that we only watch together like 24, SNL, or Big Bang Theory. Even if it's only a little time to veg, it's really nice to snuggle together on the couch and just be entertained together. It's not exactly what we think of when we think romantic but all of this stuff helps me to feel connected with my husband so whenever I'm not in bad pain, or when I can treat my pain, this kind of thing can lead to more intimate contact and sex.

The thing is that even when he or I are just not in a very sexual place that doesn't mean we can't be romantic or close. Having physical contact with someone you're close to always feels good. Holding hands, kissing, hugging, snuggling, rubbing each other's feet or back or even doing a task together like washing the dog or preparing dinner can really go a long way towards feeling close and connected. While planning a candle-lit dinner and covering the bed with rose pedals and toasting with wine in front of a fireplace might be what comes to mind when we think of romance (thank you very much Hollywood) in real life I've found that romance can be found in the most average or mundane times.

Whenever I've tried to choreograph one of these Hollywood romantic evenings it usually was ruined by a sleepless night, a bad migraine, unexpected traffic delays or other annoyances. I've come to believe that this Hollywood brand of romance is really reserved for people who are dating or who have a lot of money. When I was dating it was much easier to plan your run of the mill romantic evening. I was able to prepare for the evening in the privacy of my home and have complete control over the presentation. There was always a sense of surprise and excitement. That's what dating was like for me.

Married couples on a budget need to create romance that is more specific to their relationship. Let's face it, this is not easy to do. For one, we live together so we see each other when we just wake up, messy hair, morning breath and all. When we go out on a date we see each other getting ready and neither of us bother taking a second shower to be at our freshest for the date anymore. The mystery is gone. And afterwards we come home and there is always work waiting for one or both of us - the business of life. When dating it's so easy to put everything else on the back burner for a time but that's not sustainable long-term. And when the business of life gets woven into a couple's time the Hollywood ideal of romance becomes much more difficult to achieve.

It's different now and that doesn't mean that it's worse. We are simply in a different stage with different benefits than when we were dating. Romance is not more effort but the efforts are invested in different areas. Thanks to my migraines right now, most of my romantic efforts are spent preparing my head for our time together. If I have a migraine I'll make sure to treat it early and avoid anything that could irritate it. I focus on just letting go and enjoying our time together doing whatever we want and plan for recovery time afterwards. I imagine someday in the future we will have to again redefine romance.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thanks Ladies

I'm so excited that you-all are so open to any and all topics here. I'm putting batteries in my camera today as I prepare to make some tahini orange cookies.

I never could have imagined how much blogging would mean to me. I have found so many wonderful and inspiring women with great blogs and have received so much encouragement and support from you all. I have so appreciated being part of a community of women who can relate to a life altered by pain.

Thanks Ladies!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Head Scratcher

I've been seriously considering starting a food blog. I'm having so much fun trying new recipes and altering ones I already have to be healthier and more based in whole unprocessed foods. Part of me wants to talk more and more about food, health, and saving money but part of me thinks that maybe this is not something you ladies are looking for when you read my blog. I can't help but wonder if I spend too much time here talking about food and such here. But this kind of thing occupies a good amount of my brain during the day. Perhaps the thing to do is just start another blog...

If I do that then I would want to open it up to my family and friends, which means I could use my real name. You see, I'm doing this blog anonymously so that I can feel totaly free to be brutally honest about what I'm going through without having these struggles tied to my name if/when I start feeling better and need to find work. I also don't want my friends and family to know all the gorey details. They all know some of what I go through (my husband knows the most) but some of this I don't want to have to rehash with everyone. You ladies understand, right?

This blog is for me to share with and get support from others like me or curious strangers. That's the only way I can do this. If I were to start another blog I would want to connect the migraine blog with the health/food/frugle blog but not vice versa. I don't want my friends and family to connect to the migraine blog. But then if the migraine blog is connected to it and thus connected to my name then again potential employers could potentially figure it out anyway.

I don't know, maybe I could do both blogs and not use my real name with either blog, and/or just not have this one connected to the other one. It's a real head scratcher.

What do you ladies think? Do I talk about food, health, saving money too much? Would any of you like me to seperate it out into another blog? Am I even making sense here?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Winter Blahs

I meant to have a submission for this upcoming ChronicBabe Blog Carnival, not realizing I had missed the deadline on Friday. Even though I won't be able to participate in the carnival I did like the topic so I'm going to go ahead and cover it today: Getting Through The Heart Of The Winter Blahs.

I never fully realize how deep my winter blahs are until spring arrives with a jolt of energy and desires to clean and even let a little more light into my living space (temporarily). I start wanting to get out more and do more stuff. Of course spring isn't quite as energizing and inspiring as it was pre-migraines but that's a whole different topic.
Basically I don't mind any of the winter stuff until after the start of the new year. Then when the holidays are over and Spring is still a ways away there is all this time of cold and snow that just drags on. It doesn't take long to get really sick of bundling up every time you go outside, scraping and preheating your car and right about now I start getting sick of my winter wardrobe. This winter has been even tougher than usual due to the high volume of stuff in our small apartment. Here's a list of what I'm doing to keep myself in somewhat good spirits until Spring.
1. Regularly making a short list of what I'm thankful for helps me to keep things in perspective.

2. Watch great shows on TV. By having shows to regularly look forward to (or anything to regularly look forward to) helps the time to move a little faster, especially comedies - love to laugh!

3. Get out into the world. Sometimes I'll spend some time at Ikea just to get out of the house (I love Ikea), or my husband and I will go on a date - stuff like that.

4. New this year, I'm really enjoying cooking and baking great winter goodies. Everything from soups and casseroles to sweet potato pies and banana bread. Preparing food was something I had to do until my appetite started coming back. Now that I have some nausea free days, I'm really enjoying all the cooking and baking. Once it gets really hot and humid I won't want to turn the oven on as much as I am right now.

5. Allow myself some time to wallow. Inevitably there are some really hard days, migraine wise and emotionally. Suddenly none of the tricks work and I'm wallowing in my pain, or nausea, PMS. I try not to be really hard on myself during these times and just let myself feel what I'm feeling. It will pass, I will feel differently over time and that's okay. Easier said than done - I'm working on it though.

What do you do to beat the winter blahs?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another Day, Another Migraine

I'm in another bad stretch again - lots and lots of pain that I can't seem to get on top of. I'm pretty much just hunkered down trying to just be kind to my head. What a poignant reminder that my pain is far from under control, despite the excitement I've been feeling over the introduction of some good days. *sigh*

I hate being stuck inside on an unusually nice cloudy 50 degree winter day. Apartment living has sucked most of the fun out of being outside but I do love taking our dog for nice long walks when the weather permits. Most the time when it is super cold or super hot neither of us want to stay out more than 10 minutes. The nearby military base is conducting some kind artillery practices that are shaking the apartment and creating muffled booming sounds - much like distant thunder. This all scares our dog, who is now taking refuge under my legs. Poor thing.

On the other hand I love being inside with room darkening curtains protecting me from most of the daylight. I'm super thankful that I can create as much darkness as my head requires on any given day. I can adjust the brightness level and volume on the TV to suit my migraine induced sensitives and simply enjoy the distraction. Today the curtains are fully drawn and both the TV brightness and volume are very low.
Another day, another migraine.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


My husband and I have been anxiously waiting for a job opportunity to arise in the St. Louis area for him. The midwest is home for both of us and after more than 2 years in the DC area (more than 4 years on the east coast) we are more than ready to go back. Since closing our storage unit this past fall our small 1 bedroom apartment became even smaller. The internal stress the crowded space is creating has been a huge motivating factor for my husband to really focus on the job hunting process whenever he is not working.

There is no way to time such things just right, so we went ahead and signed a lease at our apartment that will end in November of 2011. The goal is to be out of here by then. Yesterday my husband actually had a phone interview for a company in St. Louis. It actually sounds like a great opportunity and he is just perfect for the job. I'm trying so hard not to get my hopes up, but they are up...I just couldn't help it. The company is looking to fill this position by the end of February which means if he did get the job we would be moving really soon. Sounds like they will be doing 2nd interviews in person within the next couple weeks. Fingers crossed...

I had braced myself for an unknown amount of time in this apartment, in this crowded, dirty, careless place. Now I'm looking around and getting excited about packing up and finding a small house to rent. I'm looking forward to making an appointment with Dr Garza at Mayo for my Botox trial (since my neuro here won't be offering it again until April-she only does it quarterly). I'm looking forward to more space, friendly people and a social life.

I just can't seem to stop myself from getting excited about the possibility to moving closer to home. I hope I'm not being set up for a big disappointment if he doesn't get this job and we return to a holding pattern. I can hardly wait to find out...