Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eeyore Had The Right Idea

I'm feeling blue today. There isn't likely a direct cause for feeling this way, I think it's just one of those days. You know how sometimes things just pile up? Most of the time you work on being positive and thankful for what you do have but sometimes it all just catches up and there you are, feeling blue. Right now, that's me.

I have decided not to fight it. Instead I'm laying low, indulging in comfort seeking behaviors. I'm curled up on the couch with a warm throw on this chilly, wet spring day. I'm watching daytime TV but not really paying much attention. I'm eating whatever, whenever and sipping tea. It's nice and dark outside due to the rain so I've lit some candles for ambiance. I'm not really worried about getting anything done. I just want to lounge and be blue.

Every have days like these, when you really feel Eeyore had the right idea?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Greek Love

I've been hearing for years now how wonderful Greek yogurt is. It's supposed to be a great ingredient when cooking, it's supposed to be so healthy for you and I've even heard that it tastes great. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was telling myself that yogurt is yogurt. Even though I like it, there is a tertiary taste that has always prevented me from loving yogurt.

When I recently used just 2 tablespoons of it in that brownie thing I decided to go ahead and eat the rest of the small container because I don't like to waste food. I was blown away. I absolutely loved it. I don't what makes it different but it was delightful. I forced my husband to have some and he loved it too.

Now I just wish I had more ways to use it in recipes and such.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Couch Potato

I woke up with a terrible migraine around 5am this morning. I hate waking up this way.

My medications have helped bring the pain down to a very manageable level but I just don't have any get up and go now. I want to stay curled up on the couch distracted by the TV. But I'm also feeling a little guilty about it.

I should clean the bathroom. I should do another load of laundry. I should do some light exercise beyond the usual walk with our dog. I need to make an appointment for an oil change. The apartment could really use a good straightening - you know how things just get a little out of place over the week. This potato needs to get off the couch.

Maybe after Nate...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Learning Patience

Limbo continues as we continue to wait for the final decision about this job my husband has been interviewing for. He sent an email out on Wednesday to get an idea of where things were at and received a message back saying that things were still moving forward, something had come up that needed immediate attention but they should have an "update" for him early this coming week. He didn't indicate a decision, rather an update to be coming. ARG!

On a different note: my appetite has been growing over the past week or so. I've been on the pill now for about a week and since then the bleeding I've had can hardly be considered a period, my basal temperature hasn't gone down and my breasts are still tender. I'm feeling off and am starting to wonder if I may be pregnant. It hardly seems possible but this is all rather unusual for me. I think I'll call my doc on Monday and just see if this can be chalked up to the new med or not.

Why do I always have such wonderings early on a Saturday? I guess I still need to learn patience.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Brownie Bite Cookies

I went on a hunt for a new dessert item earlier this week that I could make. I found this recipe in one of my vegan cookbooks for Brownie Bite Cookies that sounded good. It can be made as cookies or as brownies and I decided to go the brownie route. I went ahead and switched out the vegan butter for regular so it is no longer a vegan recipe.

At first I wasn't that sure about the taste. It had a very unexpected flavor but by the time I was finished with my first piece I decided that I like them - more and more with each piece. They are not really like brownies other than the fact they are baked in the same kind of pan and are brown. I would consider them more like bars as they are fairly thin and not cake-ish like brownies are.

Brownie Bit Cookies
Non-stick cooking spray
1/3 C Butter
1/2 C + 2 T sugar
1 t Vanilla Extract
2 T Greek Vanilla Yogurt
3/4 C Flour
1/4 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/8 t Baking soda
1/4 t Baking powder
1/4 t Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
spray 8" square baking dish
In a large bowl use mixer to cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy.
Stir in vanilla & yogurt.
Sift the four, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda on top of the wet ingredients. Stir.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with mixture and bake for 10 minutes or until the sides start to pull away.
They don't look so great - but it is really tasty. They were gone in less than 24 hours so I'm on my way to make another batch right now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chronic Babe Blog Carnival

The newest ChronicBabe Blog Carnival is up
The topic: I Can Do It!

Watching Cleopatra

With the news of Elizabeth Taylor's death I think I'll settle in and watch Cleopatra on Netflix today. It has always been one of my favorite movies and I've had it in my queue for several months - waiting for a day when I felt like just sitting and watching all day as it is a very long movie.

She made so many great movies and Cleopatra is definitely my favorite. A close second is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This Tennessee Williams play has always been one of my favorite and I didn't think I would like the movie version but her Maggie was so incredible.

She was so stunning, talented and captivating you just couldn't take your eyes off her on screen.
Do you have a favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Now, The Pill

I've been in a major hormonal funk the past few days. I usually go through a fair amount of pain, mood swings, bloating and head to toe feeling of discomfort leading up to my period. This period is a little different as I was to start taking the pill the Sunday after it began, which, as luck would have it, started on Sunday.

A couple days in, my period has been different, I'm having all kinds of strange dreams, and just feeling different from the normal different I feel this time of the month. I'm on edge and very uncomfortable. Last night I made mashed potatoes for dinner. Just mashed potatoes. I intended to do more veggies and stuff but after getting as far as mashing the potatoes I just couldn't rally to do more. Fortunately, if I can even use that word here, my husband was in a funk too and didn't feel like eating more either. So we had some vegan chocolate chip cookies I had made over the weekend because they didn't require any effort.

I spent a good portion of my 20s on the pill and so I wasn't really expecting to notice a difference. Maybe it is simply coincidence that I'm feeling funny now. Or maybe as I'm older and fast approaching 35 when they say you are more likely to experience blood clots and such when on the pill.

The idea here was to treat the endometreosis that claimed my right ovary just over a year ago after an unsuccessful year trying hard to get pregnant. I would very much like to keep my left one but am not sure that the pill is going to be an acceptable long term solution. Fortunately, that is something I shouldn't have to worry about right now so I won't.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Still Waiting

Well we still haven't heard anything about the job my husband has interviewed in Missouri for. A week ago Friday they asked for references, which I figured was a very good sign. But still no final word. Now we wonder if they offered the job to someone else and are just waiting for a response from them before passing down any bad news, or if they are just super slow in making their decision.

To say we are anxious about it would be an understatement. We want to move back home so badly...this waiting for a verdict just gets harder and harder the longer it lasts. He had his first phone interview back in January. But we know he was the first phone interview and the first in-person interview earlier this month so we have been waiting a long time. There is plenty of evidence to support the theory that this whole process is taking a lot more time than they had anticipated-but still.

I'm trying to convince myself that there is still a chance things will work out and that we'll soon be moving but the more time that passes the harder that is. I feel myself settling back in again. I'm not so worried about tailoring my meals based on perishables in the fridge. I'm no longer looking at our stuff as an upcoming logistical issue in preparations for a move. I'm even starting to think about what my husband and I could do to enjoy the area this spring as temps become increasingly more tolerable.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mourning and Celebrating

I'll admit it, I spend too much time lamenting over what I can't do. All the things that I used to do and enjoy that I just can't manage now with all the pain, nausea and brain fog that dominate my days. BUT, that is not helping me to manage my day to day life.

Things are different now and even though I can't do many things I used to, that doesn't mean I can't do anything. I've really been through the ringer these past several years and the reason I know that I can still do things is that I've done them.

Here are some of the things that I CAN do:
- I can make it through each day, hard or not, pain or not, depression or not.
- I can learn things and continue to grow as a person.
- I can manage all my domestic duties.
- I can still exercise and take good care of myself.
- I can make good decisions.
- I can be a good wife and friend for my husband.
- I can blog.
- I can be and have fun.

There really is quite a bit that I can do.

That being said, I can't help but wish I could do more. My days swing between mourning what I can't do and celebrating what I can do.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Disposable World

If you watch any amount of TV you have probably seen the Swiffer commercials. There is the Swiffer Wet Jet, Dry Cloth, even dusters and sweeper vacs.

The commercials go on and on about how much better the Swiffer is than a broom and mop. They say these traditional methods of cleaning the floor simply push dirt around but their product attracts dirt and cleans deep down. They claim it is also is better because mops harbor dirt and germs but the Swiffer has disposable cloth heads so you can throw all the dirt and germs in the trash.
These commercials drive me crazy. This product is not nearly as good as a broom and mop. If you have hard floors anywhere in house and want to use this product you will soon find that it will cost you a small fortune in these disposable cloth heads just to clean your floors once. But the thing is, you will need to keep cleaning your floors week after week, year after year. These small "dirt attracting and locking" cloths become so full of dirt so quickly that they begin to just push dirt around. The very thing they claim to be the problem with brooms and mops.
I picked up one when we were living in our house in North Carolina. The main floor was all hard floors and having never seen a Swiffer in real life I listened to the commercial claims and thought it sounded good. I had no concept of how little those cloths would hold. It took only a few seconds of use to find out that this was nothing but a huge scam and a massive waste of money and products. Since I had already purchased the item I wanted to still be able to use it as a mop. I noticed that the disposable cloths were simply pushed into 4 fastening points on top of the cleaning surface shell. I figured I could use regular washable cotton terry cloths instead of the disposable ones Swiffer sells. For years now I've been using that same Swiffer shell and washing the my own cloths every time I use them.
It's easy, it's green, it's cheap. What more do you want?
I hate that so many products on the market are like the Swiffer. They are wasteful, expensive and try so very hard to convince us that their product address a need that doesn't exist. There is nothing wrong with cleaning floors with a mop. You can go just about anywhere and purchase any kind of broom and a mop with a washable cleaning surface and your floors will be clean. Just as clean as they would get using dozens of those stupid Swiffer cloths.
I've begun to hate the word disposable and how it has invaded our world. Whenever I see it now, I see red flags and start asking myself does this need to be disposable? Often the answer is no. Though I can see how disposable diapers can be a good thing. However, it would be interesting to do a cost analysis on diaper services vs disposable. Since I don't have kids this isn't something I've looked into.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tough Tuesday

I woke up about 3am, unable to fall back asleep after a single useless and random thought got stuck in my head. I fell in and out of sleep for about an hour just before it was time to get up and start the day. And, as you may have been able to guess, the migraine wasn't far behind.

The past 3 weeks I've had so many migraines and I'm not supposed to be taking too many meds so way too many migraines I've had to leave untreated. I think now is time for a list of blessing...

- A washer and dryer so I don't have to go out to do our laundry.

- Smoked Tofurkey slices with Kale and Nayonaise on whole grain break - a tasty lunch indeed.

- Plenty of food and water

- Shelter, electricity and a soft bed

- My husband

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Great Book

A number of months ago I sent out a facebook message asking for great book suggestions from people and got a number of them. I've VERY slowly been making my way through them. Most recently I picked up Keeping the House by Ellen Baker (one of the suggestions) and started in. I was pretty confident that I would like it because of the source of the suggestion but I didn't expect I would like it as much as I have.

I'm almost half way through it, if not for my head forcing me to put it down I wouldn't be able to put it down. Definitely the best book I've read in a long time.

It is a novel that follows the stories of a couple women, living in the same town. One is from the late 1800s and early 1900s and the other is during the 1950s. They were both struggling housewives - well written and very colorful housewives. Being a sort of accidental housewife I find the book both interesting and on some levels relate-able.

I don't know if any of you love to read or are looking for something new, but if you are, I would highly recommend this one.

Headache Blog Carnival

The latest Headache Blog Carnival is available now.
Check it out here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Am I Normal?

I wonder sometimes if my wardrobe habits are atypical. I have casual clothes, jeans, t-shirts and such that I can wear out and about. I have more professional clothes from the days when I had a professional job. I even have a few fancier items for the rare occasion when I have something like a wedding to attend. But every moment I'm not out in public or staying at someone's house I'm in pajamas. I don't wear them to bed but rather they are my house attire.

They're just so darn comfortable what with the soft fabrics and such. I have summer and winter weight materials and some stuff between for all those spring and fall days. I have a variety of colors and patterns to fit various moods. While I used to spend a whole lot less time in them back in the days I was employed, I find that I'm wearing them most of the time these days. Part of me would like to blame the amount of time I spend in my pj on the amount of time I spend in pain but the truth is that even if I was feeling great all the time, I would still spend all my at home time in my pjs, work out clothes and the like. I simply like to maximize my comfort at all times, and time at home is time to be spent in the most comfortable clothes around.

I don't really feel guilty or bad in any way about my comfy wardrobe but I do wonder if I'm in the minority here. I know there may be a generational component at work. My grandparents would never wear their pajamas for anything but sleeping. They spent all of their time not only dressed, but dressed in slacks, blouses, shoes, jewelry - the whole nines, all the time. Even when they were retired and at home most of the day. My parents are generally dressed all the time. Weekends are for jeans and other less formal attire, and pajamas are worn when they are sick or going to bed. But my sister, my husband and me all spend most of our at home time in the comfort of pajamas or work out clothes. I think it's clear that over the past several generations people have become less and less formal. I guess the question is, am I less formal than my peers?

I wouldn't go anywhere in public dressed like I do at home - the line must be drawn somewhere right? But I have seen others at the store in what are clearly pajama bottoms but I just wouldn't feel right about that. I even put my jeans on to walk our dog. So that must be the generation behind me...

I find myself making observations like on TV. The people on Y&R (the soap I watch) are always really dressed up, even at home but I don't think that is an accurate reflection of how most people live these days. Sitcoms and drams seem to reflect people mostly wearing regular casual clothes and occasionally in something more on the side of sweats and tank tops. But it's hard to know how accurate that is because most of the time they are showing situations that are not very realistic. Like Friends, How I Met Your Mother or Seinfeld, I've never known any adult who spends that much time with their friends. A fairly sizable primary group of friends who are together so much they always have access to their friend's place. Does anyone really live like that?

Sometimes I think that maybe I would be dressed more often if I had kids and more people were coming and going from our house. Right now, living so far away from family and friends, it is easy to know when I get up in the morning that nobody will be stopping by. I know if I'll be going out in public and plan accordingly. The people my age who have kids are, for the most part, dressed all day. But then again their days are much busier, driving kids to activities or friend's houses. The kids are so busy, which keeps the parents busy and dressed.

How about you all? Do you, or did you used to, stay dressed all day, even when you are just home? Do you think I'm in the minority here?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tweaking Life for Migraines

Most of the time I feel like my migraines dictate what I can do and when. I've had to develop entirely new methods of going about the activities of life. I've had to fight against the organized control freak in me to become flexible enough to work around my pain. All of which I am not that happy about. Sure part of me knows that learning to be more flexible and forgiving of myself is actually a pretty positive consequence of my migraines, but it is a constant struggle.

I've had to tweak my environment to decrease my exposure to triggers. I got room darkening curtain on the cheap at Target to protect my eyes. I've altered the brightness on the TV and on the computer screen. I have cleaning products that, for the most part, don't have crazy chemical odors. All of the light bulbs in our apartment are of very low wattage. And I keep all of my meds in specific locations so if something happens and I suddenly need my nausea meds, I don't have to turn on lights and search for it. I always know right where it is and can get to it quickly and easily.

I've had to tweak my activity planning. It used to be I could make plans with anyone for any time. These days that doesn't really work. I have to plan preparation time before and recovery time for after. The length of time needed on either end all depends on the kind of activity I'm planning. For example a dinner with friends isn't going to need as much prep and recovery as a wedding or site seeing day. I also keep track of where I am in my cycle as that has some impact on how I feel. For example, I'm more likely to have pain free days from the time I ovulate until the time I get my period. I know that during my period pain is hardest to control. By keeping these times in mind I'm more likely able to make plans on a day that won't be too bad.

I've had to tweak my expectations. There is no escaping the loss these migraines have imposed on my life. While deep down I'm the same me, I've found that many of the qualities I used to attributed to myself have shifted. I used to be so focused and mentally quick and now my migraines and my medications have slowed me down. I used to be very physical and now I have to be careful not to overdo it or spend too much time with my head below my heart. I used to be so dependable. Now I make tentative plans that may need to change if things are out of control. I used to be very active and now I have to pace myself and rest far more than I want. I used to be patient and slow to anger but these days my temper is short and I find myself frustrated and angry more often than I care to admit.

Yeah, things aren't as they once were and that makes me sad. I don't always like the migrainista I've become. At least there is time to keep working on becoming better at living with chronic pain and more forgiving of myself and those around me. I am not bound to any state of being and for that I am thankful.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coupon Woes

I'm a coupon clipper. I shop during sales and use my coupons on top of that. I spend a fair amount of time searching online and through the newspaper inserts for coupons on things I buy anyway. I shop smart, using generic or store brand items whenever possible.

Even so, I can't seem to make coupon clipping work the way the people who are really good at it do. You've probably seen these moms on talk shows who have made a real art of grocery store couponing. They have a system and clearly lots of storage space at home because they can purchase a cart full of stuff for like $10. If I had enough storage space I would do this with paper and other non perishable food items like pasta and such. But for the most part I find that the food I buy doesn't generally have coupons available. At lease not that I've been able to find.

I've never been able to find coupons for fresh produce items and I get a fair amount of produce each week because I cook with lots of whole foods instead of processed or frozen stuff. I've never found coupons for spices, which I use a fair amount of. I've never found coupons for the baking products I use like natural sugars, flours and such. I've never found coupons for beans, lentil or brown rices. I've never found coupons for the whole grain pastas and breads.

Even when I find a coupon for like Reach brand floss, I find that the store brand is even cheaper than the product with the coupon so I just end up doing that. There are lots of coupons for sodas, sugary cereals, white breads, frozen foods and other stuff my husband and I just don't eat. Very frustrating.

A girlfriend of mine from my school days is married with 2 kids, a teenage daughter and a 10 year old son. She's one of these amazing couponers who spends less on groceries for her whole family per month than I do for just my husband and I. I tried to get to the bottom of what she is doing so differently from what I'm doing and it came down to flexibility and cooking. She was making her purchasing decisions based on sales and coupons. She and her family were flexible enough to eat whatever cereal, chips or other foods were the best deal. And neither she nor her husband are able to do much cooking so they rely heavily on pre-perpared foods or quick meals in a box stuff. When I heard this I realized that my husband and I just aren't that flexible. I buy stuff that is as as natural and healthy as possible, rarely buying the processed foods that most frequently show up on coupon databases and in newspapers. And I buy ingredients and cook meals instead of Hamburger Helper for example.

Her way literally costs 1/2 of what my way does. Half! For half the money she is feeding twice the people. I do understand there is a big difference in our approaches and I see how that accounts for the difference in cost. But I still think I can do better. I'm just not sure how yet. I know if I had more room for storage I could take advantage of combining store sales and coupons to always get the best deal on things like toilet paper, Kleenex and pastas. I know I could save money on produce for at least part of the year if I could have a garden to grown some in. But that doesn't help me now and it doesn't address the rest of the stuff I use regularly but never find coupons for.

Do you ladies have any strategies for saving on healthy or whole products?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Veggie Fried Rice

I'm a big fan of rice, all kinds of rice. Most restaurants don't do a good job of putting together a tastey Veggie Fried Rice (VFR). It will be mostly onion and MSG, which isn't great for the belly or for the migraines. You can imagine, then, how excited I was to find a fairly good recipe for VFR that I could modify to suit me.

The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of ground Fennel or Aniseed. I wasn't able to find the ground form of either at the grocery store but I did find whole Fennel seeds that I decided I could grind them myself with my mortar and pestle. I was delighted when I opened the seal on the Fennel Seeds and recognized the smell from the Indian restaurants I grew up going to. Maybe you have had this experience at an Indian restaurant, by the door was always a bowl of candy coated seed that had an almost black licorise taste that you were to scoop into your hands and eat to sort of cleanse the mouth of all the spices. I never knew what they were until I peeled back this seal and was hit with this very distinct smell. This delightful little seed adds a very interesting flavor to the fried rice that I hope you will enjoy.

Veggie Fried Rice
1/4 C canola or other veg oil
1 C Peas
1/2 C Corn
1/2 C Snap Peas
1/2 t ground Fennel or Aniseed
1/8 t Chinese five spice powder
4 C cold, cooked long grain rice (brown basmati is what I use)
2 T soy sauce

Prepare 1 cup of uncooked rice in advanceaccording to package instructions and refridgerate overnight or long enough so you are working with cold rice.
In wok or large frying pan heat 2 T oil over high heat. Add peas, corn, snap peas (or other veggies of your choice). Stir in a pinch of salt, seeds and chinese five spice powder. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Remove the veggies and set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 T oil and stir fry rice for about 2 min. Add the soy sauce and cooked veggies and stir fry for another 2 minutes.

Eat and enjoy

I've been using frozen peas and corn and just buying a couple small handfuls of snap peas but you can really use any veggie you like. Frozen veggies are a great choice because they are very fresh and require no work :)

My favorite part about fried rice in the restaurant is the fried egg they add and I want so badly to incorporate that into this dish. Just one or maybe two eggs, scrambled and fried with a hit of soy sauce would make it a perfect recipe. Lately I've been unable to eat eggs that I prepare. The raw egg smell combined with the imagine in my head of all the dangerous bacteria in uncooked eggs just ruin my appetite for them. I can still eat them if someone else prepares them...I'm working up the courage to add them to this recipe and will let you know if I succeed.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Wonder

Still in a migraine funk...and now I'm convinced that this is what I get for thinking things were turning around. sigh

It is likely going to be another week or two before we hear if my husband got this new job in St. Louis or not. In the meantime I thought I would blog about this Georgetown doc who has developed a procedure for those who respond to occipital nerve blocks.

In the blogs that I follow I've seen that several of you get nerve blocks with a range of effectiveness. I wanted to share an experience that I had with you all because there is a doc around here who is doing something different. But he is not the only one who is addressing the occipital nerve as a way of addressing chronic and persistent headaches. He is just doing it differently.

Dr. Ducic is a plastic surgeon and head of peripheral nerve surgery at Georgetown University Hospital. When I first moved to the DC area I had gone online looking for a headache clinic within a reasonable distance and came across this article:

I phoned his office and was able to get a referral for one of the neurologists in the area who could help me determine if I was qualified for the surgery. That's how I found my neuro. The requirements were simple: have tried but failed to respond to medical preventatives, been under the care of a neuro doc for at least 2 years, and responsive to the nerve block.

The idea here is that the migraine can be induced by neuralgia and the neuralgia can be addressed by these nerve decompression or nerve severings and muscle implantations. He does this procedure on the Occipital nerves and other nerves on the temples, above the eyes and behind the ears. I don't know about you, but I have terrible pressure points on these nerves that are much worse on migraine days so this really sounded good.

When I got the occipital nerve blocks I saw an immediate improvement - like magic. Unfortunately, they were very short lived. By the time I would get home from the doc's office the back of my head was numb and the pain was beginning to return. My neuro and Dr Ducic agreed that as long as I responded - no matter how short in duration - I was a good candidate for the surgery.

After 3 nerve blocks and a consultation with Dr Ducic I was scheduled for the outpatient occipital nerve decompression. I wanted him to go ahead and take care of all the nerves but was told that would be a really tough thing to recover from and insurance was not likely to cover doing it all at once. He made a horizontal incision about 2 1/2 inches in length in the area where the head and neck connect in the hair, which did not have to be shaved. He severed two minor occipital nerves that are close together in the center and implanted them in the surrounding muscle tissue to prevent them from causing pain down the road. Then he moved muscle tissue that surrounds the large occipital nerve branches bilaterally, closed the incision and loaded my head up with serious numbing medications. Serious numbing meds - I didn't feel any pain for about 6 days and when the pain arrived overnight I woke up and vomited for the first time in more than 17 years. The first two week, as with most surgeries, were the toughest and slowly over the course of about 4 or 5 months I was able to regain my strength and energy.

Dr. Ducic has had a tremendously high success rate with this procedure and those who don't find full relief from it but who still qualify can get the main occipital nerve severed or can have the other nerve procedures to address the other pain points. After I recovered I found that I don't have migraine pain in the back of my head the way I used to. But I still have just as much migraine pain. So it was successful and I can get the other procedures and was about to do so before my last visit at Mayo.

Understandably so, the Mayo docs were not confident in this procedure. It has not been part of a study and it is just this guy at Georgetown doing it. Mayo is notoriously conservative and this procedure was developed outside of their watchful eye. I get it. But I see so many studies, sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, that focus on medicines to help those living with chronic persistent migraines and not many focus on just eliminating the problem instead of creating lifetime customers. There is real value to medical research and peer review, but I can't believe that everything outside of that is quackery. I wasn't able to find any evidence that would call Dr Ducic or his procedure into question. And I'm glad that I had the procedure even though it didn't "cure" me.

I wrestle frequently with the idea of having or not having the other procedures. And now as we prepare to leave the DC metro area it looks like I won't have the chance to decide to have it done. Originally I was going to do it a year ago January but then I had this issue with my ovary and had to have it removed. That made 2 surgeries in 6 months and my body was pretty upset about it. Even after I had recovered from the OB surgery I just wasn't ready to do that again - not yet. But then this whole thing came up with my jaw and I decided to go to Mayo in the summer. By the time fall came around I was so sick of all of this. I no longer cared why I was having them I just needed them to stop and these nerve surgeries seemed like the best option. And then I was back in Rochester to look after my mom after her knee replacement. I was having all the trouble with my meds and ended up back at Mayo where Dr Garza told me I wasn't taking my meds correctly - AND here we are. I haven't had the surgeries and I will likely always wonder what if. But I've also learned that I have some other options and who knows, one might actually work.

I also wonder if my response to the nerve block had been longer lasting, if that would have indicated that the occipital nerve decompression would have been enough to take care of all my migraines. As I read about you ladies having nerve blocks and other occipital treatments I always think about Dr. Ducic and these procedures that he has developed. I wish there was some collaboration among those who are addressing these nerves. I wonder how they are similar and how they are different. I wonder if they are different ways of doing the same thing. I wonder if they are unrelated.

Yikes, my head is screaming and my temp is rising. I must stop now.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Troubled By Side Effects

I've been pretty excited over the past few months as I've begun to have some good days. I've written about it several times, the return of my appetite on days when I don't have much migraine stuff going on, the increase in weight as a result... But there is another side to all of this. I think in my zeal over the positive side effects I just wasn't paying close enough attention to the negative side effects. Over the past month I've become more aware of these negatives.

For one, my digestive system has been effected. I'm just not regular like I used to be. I've been a vegetarian for a year now, so I have a fairly high fiber diet between the veggies, and all the whole grains, bean, lentils and such. The only thing that is different is this new medication, which does list this as one of the side effects. I'm trying to counter it with a fiber supplement, but will check with Dr. Garza from Mayo in the next week or so when I call to update him on my progress.

I'm also having a lot of dry mouth issues but it isn't as bad since I changed up my medication schedule and added all kind of Biotene products. I'm not convinced it is as it should be for good oral health but I'll check with the dentist later this month.

The most troubling side effect is cognitive. The migraines and the fog they induce have been something I've been living with for several years now. I'm used to forgetting simple words in the middle of a sentence, or losing my train of thought, or having trouble processing anything remote complicated during the worst of the pain. But lately I've been doing things even I don't normally do. I missed a doctor's appointment. I never miss doctor appointments (in all fairness they did not place a reminder call, which they usually do). It was written on the calendar that I look at every day. I looked right at it and it never occurred to me that it meant something. I'll start preparing a meal that I've done a lot and suddenly I've added something strange or used the wrong pan. I'm also having all kinds of trouble with my grocery list. Normally I keep an ongoing list on the refrigerator and then I just grab it and do the shopping. Lately my mind is overwhelmed by looking at all the stuff and even though I can clearly see what is on my list, my mind is not understanding it. I've had to start rewriting the list in order of where it is within the store and then I have to carry a pen to cross off the stuff I have already gotten and fold the paper over so I don't see it at all. I'm also missing deadlines for blog carnivals. I missed one just yesterday. I have it written down and I look at regularly but my mind is just missing it.

I want the positive side effect so badly but am troubled by what is going on here. I'm going to work on a nice organized list of this stuff for my conversation with Dr Garza before I place the call. Clearly I can't count on my brain.
Have any of you experienced these kinds of side effects from preventative meds?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


It appears last month was more of an anomaly than it was a meaningful decrease in my migraines. I've been struggling with my head basically since I posted about my last neuro appointment and how few migraines I was having in Feb. As if simply putting that hope into words was enough to make it not so. I've managed to not take many rescue meds for several days but this morning's migraine was progressing quickly so I went ahead and took them. More than 3 hours later and I'm still not getting any sort of relief.

I think I'll lay down and try to nap, at least avoiding some of the pain. Plus I'll have to be up much later than normal tonight as my husband's flight is scheduled to land at 11pm. I might do something I never do, take a 2nd triptan later if the pain continues. I never used to do it simply because I needed all 18 insurance allowed triptans just to get through the month. Now, since I'm only allowed to treat up to 9 in a month I can use more than one without penalty.

Starting the month playing the medication rationing game is so discouraging. I want my life back!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wishing Senseless

I saw a woman at the grocery store this morning doing what looked like adjusting the volume on her hearing aid and found myself wishing I could turn down the volume of my hearing too. My body is so sensitive to lights, sounds, smells and movement, especially when I'm in the middle of a string of migraines like I am now. I can hold still when movement is causing me pain and I can use hats, sunglasses and my eye lids to cut down on light but there isn't much I can do to help with sounds.

I certainly can and do avoid loud noises when possible. I don't go for fireworks, I keep the volume low on the TV at home and such, but there just isn't anything I can do about screaming kids at the grocery store, or loud intercoms, or traffic noise or loud public areas....which is why I got to wishing there was a mechanism to control the intake of sounds.

And if I'm wishing here, I'll also wish that I could do the same for smells. I don't know if this is because of my migraines and the many sensitives associated with it, but I have been cursed with a really good sense of smell. Cursed because it is one of many things that can trigger or make my migraines worse. And when I say that I have a really good sense of smell I mean unusually good. There are people like my mom who just don't have a great sense of smell and there are people like my husband who have a good sense of smell, and then there are people like me who can smell the air freshener in the car next to me with my windows up. My husband is always telling me that I should capitalize on my sense of smell. He is certain I can make a living as a sniffer for a food company or something. I might be willing to entertain that kind of an idea if odors didn't cause me so many problems with my head.

Scratch that...if I'm going to wish here, I'm going to wish I didn't have these crazy migraines that have caused my senses to be sources of pain. That's the dream.

On a completely different note, it was one year ago today that I cut out meat and simple sugars/carbohydrates from my diet. When I think about it, I'm a bit surprised that I've been able to maintain this big of a change. It really has required a great deal of work on my part and a huge shift in thinking and behavior patterns that I had developed in my 30 plus years alive.