Tuesday, May 29, 2012

For Cute Sake

My brain is on vacation today so I've decided to share more pictures - just for cute sake.
This is Rupert, our little bun. Lately he has taken to laying on his plate of greens.
Even when his greens are gone he still lounges with the plate.

After a big meal he likes to rest.
He tries to fight it but sometimes resting turns into napping.
Look at that little bunny mouth - oh for cute sake!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekend Recovery

This has been one busy busy week. This is an unusually crazy time for us and it is wearing me down; it's wearing both of us down. Yesterday, being the biggest day of them all, really sent me over the edge. We were invited to a Cardinals baseball game by my uncle and his family. It was an offer we just couldn't pass up.

The Cardinals are pretty serious business around here and since this is where my husband grew up h has been a life-long fan. Our finances are such that we really don't go to games and we without cable my husband is forced to follow his beloved Cards online. This was just such a great opportunity for him to see his team with a stadium full of fellow fans. So we went.

A baseball game at Busch Stadium is an all out assault on the senses. Between the volume, the crazy lights, the massive crowds, smells and the heat of summer my body was quite overwhelmed. But our seats were great and   we had fun. After 4 innings my body was starting to struggle but I stuck it out through the top of the 10th so my husband could enjoy this rare treat. It was worth it.

Today my whole body hurts and my brain is just not working so I'm just taking it easy today. I say, as if it was a choice I was making when I actually can't manage anything else. This is my plan for the rest of the holiday weekend. What will you be doing?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Car Shopping

I HATE car shopping. I hate the slick salesmen, spending so much time on the lots out in the elements, negotiating (being lied to) and basically spending a LOT of money to be treated poorly. But when it's time, it's time.


After weeks of online research and shopping the time has come to start visiting lots. The last time I did this was 11 years ago; so much has changed in that time. Back seat leg room in the compact cars have all but disappeared. The amount of technology and connectivity is crazy. I feel like this is just more stuff to break down; hate to think what it will cost to repair all this. The quality of materials has gone down and the prices have gone way up. 

I hate everything about car shopping. Looking forward to it being done. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Research, New Idea

The Today Show did a story this morning about new research showing how your body positions influence a couple hormones that influence perceived power or confidence. I love this concept because it is so simple and it got me thinking about my own physicality.

Since the onset of my chronic pain I've noticed a real difference in how I carry myself, especially when I'm feeling bad. Lets face it, that's most of the time so over time it has become almost habitual. The pain often makes me fold into myself. Meaning my shoulders and back sort of slump forward. My arms and legs often fold or cross (and my muscles tighten cementing the position).

It feels so good to stretch and open up but it only really happens when I consciously decide to do it. I take the time to do stretches and yoga poses and love doing so. Maybe if I were to use this idea to really target the times when I'm beginning to feel bad and maybe even periodically during tough times the hormonal change may help me to cope or, dare I dream, help to lower the level of pain or length of pain experienced.

Okay, so I know I'm making a bit of a leap here. This study was about power and confidence, testosterone and cortisol, not pain or coping. But it makes sense to me that lowering our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) that can have a positive impact on our experience with chronic pain, even if it is only to help us better cope. Best of all, it's not a drug and doesn't cost anything! Worth a try.

Check out the link, I would love to hear what you think of this idea.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Migraines and Muscle Memory

I've spent years of my life super busy. When I was in school, I also worked and volunteered. When I was out of school I still worked, volunteered and also did theater; always maintaining an active social life. I was constantly moving, thinking and doing enjoying every minute of it.

Obviously, living with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia has drastically changed my activity level but it seems my muscles have decided not to follow the slowdown program. I chalk it up to muscle memory. Wonderful muscle memory that allows us to do so many things effortlessly like tie our shoes, ride a bike, crochet, etc. Creating these memories is actually fairly easy, just repeat a motion several times and before long your muscles know what to do on their own.

Despite all my efforts to calm my muscle tensions I haven't been able to convince them to just relax. Through my biofeedback sessions, I've learned that I really can relax them quickly with focused attention. BUT as soon my mind moves on, the muscles tense up again. Most interestingly, I also learned that even though the Botox I received did an excellent job paralyzing my muscles it didn't decrease the electrical activity they were experiencing. Perhaps that is why it hasn't been effective in treating my migraines.

I'm working on my relaxation techniques and such but it isn't until this morning that I started to wonder if there might be additional things I could do to encourage my muscles to establish a new habit of relaxation.

Perhaps it will just take years of practice to undo the years of extremely high activity level.  I hope not because I think unlocking my muscle tensions will make a huge difference in the amount of pain I experience.

Do you supplement your relaxation/biofeedback practices with anything else? What kind of results have you had?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


With yet another move on the horizon a desire is growing inside me to simplify life more by decreasing the amount of stuff we have. This is something I've done each time we've moved, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes out of feeling overwhelmed by possessions. I did it in 2006 when we moved to North Carolina, again in 2008 when we moved to Virginia, again in 2011 when we moved to St Louis. Even though this move is just across town and we've both gotten rid of a lot of superfluous stuff there is still more that can go.

The philosophy with this move is, anything we can fit and use within the space we are moving into doesn't need to be kept. Right now everything we own fits into our apartment but one of our bedrooms is basically just a storage room. Everything in those boxes is not usable stuff simply because we can't get to it when needed. This has been the case for a few years now and I just don't want to do it anymore. 

Simply thinking about how free this will feel has me anticipating this move with excitement. Obviously it is going to be a great deal of work and will take me quite a bit of time to execute and pace myself but it will all be worth it. Besides I really enjoy designing a new space. Each move really forces me to rethink how I view and use my stuff and that's fun. 

We started painting the space this past weekend and will be doing the same thing this coming weekend. The whole place needs to be repainted, badly, there is no getting around it. Four of us worked for 2 hours and got the master bedroom taped and painted. That bit of shared worked completely overwhelmed my body. I'm still paying the price. This weekend I will only do taping and trim work, leaving the rolling to my husband and any helpers we can round up. 

Life sort of feels like a balancing act. No matter how balanced you may feel at any given moment something new or different will always come up and throw things off. Perhaps a sense of happiness or peace comes from our ability to adapt and find our way back to that balance. For me, I think I'll be better able to balance and adjust with fewer possessions and a simpler life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An Exciting Discovery

Recently I've started covering my eyes while practicing my relaxation techniques. Doing so because I was struggling to relax my face even with my eyes closed, laying in a poorly lit room; realizing even very small amounts of dim light is enough to cause the muscles around my eyes to protectively engage. After years of doing so, they seem to now just do it out of habit, needed or not.

The change in sensation that comes from resting a bunched up shirt or blanket over my eyes seems to almost give them permission to take a break. The assurance from these weighted fabrics coupled with some focused attention to relaxing the area has allowed my eyes and forehead a level of rest they haven't experienced in years. It feels great.

I've grown so fond of the feeling that during today's relaxation session I started to fantasize about having that feeling all the time. I started thinking about wearing a really dark eye mask even outside of my designated relaxation times. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love having the sense of sight. Wouldn't want to give it up for anything. I just really want more time away from these ever present tensions. So I've decided to take short breaks throughout the day to lay down, cover my eyes and breathe. Maybe doing this will help my eyes form a new habit of relaxation.

I hope so because if I can make this small change in the eye muscles I can surely find a way to apply this same method to the rest of my muscles, which also suffer from the same habitual tensions.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Migraine Blog Carnival

This month's Migraine Blog Carnival's topic is Advocacy.

Check out all the great posts and find out how you can participate in the June edition.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Right Now

Life is busy. For someone like me who is working with dimished energy, lots of pain and brain fog busy doesn't look the same as it would to the average person. It doesn't even look the same as it did for me 6 years ago. But I feel busy.

Part of that may just be that my muscles are engaged even when I'm "relaxing" and I never really feel rested. But mostly because I almost never can get as much done as I want to. Even if I did get everything done I would pay the price for overdoing it. This leaves me with the constant feeling that I'm behind as there is so much to do.

This ongoing struggle to balance my mind and my body has left little room for things I would like to do. One of those things not getting done is being an advocate for migraines. Sure I sign petitions, fill our surveys and that kind of thing whenever I see someone in the online migraine community posting about it. I'll talk with anyone who wants to about migraines and how they effect my life.

I would like to do a lot more. I would like to spend more time reading materials online and in journals. I would like to build my website. I would like to find a way to be more active as a voice for positive change both legislatively and medically. I would like to fully realize my concept for the Migrainista as a whole person despite chronic migraines and fibromyalgia.

Right now that just isn't happening. Right now I'm just struggling with the daily tasks of life, getting moved again and spending time with my family. Right now I am just a woman with a blog, trying to figure out how to manage the craziness of chronic migraines along with all the other wonderful women doing the same thing online.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Empty Nest

The little bird family my husband and I have been watching for the past couple weeks is now gone. All four eggs hatched becoming the tiniest little birds I've ever seen. Mostly naked they had only a few wisps of tiny feathers, eyes still unopened and quite a bit of trouble picking their heads up. They were so tiny and helpless.

Before the 3rd egg hatched one of the newly hatched birds disappeared. Then around the time the 4th egg hatched another one disappeared. For a little more than a full day we watched in amazement as the remaining two little birds quickly grew. But this morning, when we woke, the nest was empty. 

Not knowing anything about robins or their eggs we went online and read that most eggs never become birds. Apparently they frequently become victims of predators if they hatch at all. Considering how exposed this particular nest is and the large population of birds in the area we think that is likely what happened. 

Whatever the reason we are both sad about it. Watching them was fun and amazing. I couldn't believe how small they were and how quickly they were growing. We were looking forward to our close up view of them turning into full birds (apparently it only takes 2 weeks). Maybe we are more sad about this reality of nature than we normally would have been because we are still in the grieving process.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Evil Advil

Recently I noticed Advil is advertising their OTC migraine medication. Now I'm not sure how long this product has been available but I certainly didn't know about it until a couple weeks ago when I started seeing the ads. Out of curiosity I went online to check out what was in it. My outrage developed when I read that the only active ingredient was Ibuprofen, which is the exact same thing as regular Advil. They claim this is a good product for those suffering from migraines because it is a liquid gel capsule so it will hit your system faster than a dry pill. But regular Advil has been available as a liquid gel for many years as has generic Ibuprofen. All they have really done is slap the word Migraine on their existing product to sell more of it to people who suffer from migraines.

My outrage has continued to grow as I continue to see the ad. I feel like this is a marketing ploy designed to make people think their migraines will be better treated with this product than the significantly cheaper generic Ibuprofen. As a migrainista I am offended at their attempt to exploit migraines and those suffer from them.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bird Watching

A robin built a fine nest and laid four eggs right on the sill of our kitchen window.

I've become rather attached to this random bird family who just happened to pick our window to grow on. I watched the two adults build the nest. I watched the egg count slowly grow from one to four. I check on them throughout the day, keeping watch to make sure there are still 4 eggs when mom leaves to take care of business.

At some point over the past few weeks of watching I started worrying about them during storms. I wished I could build a roof and walls around the nest to keep them more protected from the elements. I started wanting to open the window and provide a nice dish of food for mom to eat so she wouldn't have to worry about going out.

I know they are wild birds and not at all in need of my help so I am just going to keep watching and waiting with excitement for the day the eggs hatch. Thankful for the opportunity to have such a great view of the whole process.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tension Persists

After several months of trying to get my body to release some of the physical tension it carries around continuously, I'm beginning to become discouraged. I've been practicing my relaxation techniques, doing all kinds of breathing exercises, biofeedback and the like but my body insistence on hanging on persists.
Sure, I can relax any part of my body at will - and pretty effectively according to the biofeedback measurements. But the second my focus is turned to something else the tensions return. It is simply impossible to spend the entire day focused only on keeping my muscles relaxed. Even if I could do that I can't focus on the entire body at once so there will always be a part that is tense. 

I'm even tense while sleeping. I wake up curled, twisted and sore throughout the night and then try to focus on relaxing. If that helps me get back to sleep then sure enough my body tenses again. I take a daily muscle relaxer and that allows me to get the "sleep" that I do get but obviously it doesn't help enough. 

I'm going to keep at the relaxation stuff. Maybe one day I'll have a breakthrough and my body will respond more. Maybe in the meantime I'll put this on my list of things to talk about with my neuro doc in August. 

Do you struggle with this kind of thing? What do you do?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Down Three Spots

Can you believe it's May already. Summer is all but here with more heat and humidity than I anyone needs.

Earlier this afternoon I had an appointment with a dermatologist. I had a couple spots I wanted her to check out - she removed 3. The area was well numbed for the actual removal but that has worn off now and all three are very painful - and still bleeding a bit. The blood I'm sure is mostly due to their locations being so active. One is on my toe, one by my ear on the jaw and the final one is on my back.

For my part, I think I just need to sit still and give them some time to calm down. Fortunately, my head hasn't been really bad today.