Monday, December 31, 2012

New Idea for the New Year

I don't normally make new year resolutions. It's too easy to forget and/or lose motivation for accomplishing a goal that you decided to set on January 1st. Instead I like to start in on my goals whenever I feel compelled and ready to tackle the work involved in making change. As luck would have it, this New Year's Eve finds me compelled and ready to make a change. 
It all started a few days back when I watched a documentary on Netflix called Chemerical all about the chemicals used in cleaning, beauty and other everyday products. The argument against using these products was compelling from a health, environmental and financial view points. I got to thinking about how much I hate using some of these products because of the smells that bother my head and thought this might be worth a try. Especially when they spoke about how inexpensively they can be made at home. 

Natural products, simple products,'s right up my ally.

I've done some research online and think this seems like a very doable thing for us to implement. Of course, it'll take some time and I'll have to do it slowly over the next several months one product at a time. I think I'm going to start with laundry detergent. I've made a list of items I'll need that I'll go get this week, mix and try. 

I'll keep you-all posted along the way. Who knows, maybe eliminating some or most of the chemicals we use constantly will help me better control my migraine and fibro pains. It can't hurt.

Have you ever tried anything like this? What have your results been?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thank You Thursday

Dear 2012,

As I recovery from all the Christmas hoopla my mind can't help but reflect on your time. Your stay will be up in a few short days but the memories of 2012 will no doubt be with us for a very long time to come. Thank you for ushering us through the vicissitudes quickly and moving us into 2013 without harm.

You were the time in which we moved into this condo, allowing us the opportunity to save some money. The time in which we said a very sad good-bye to our beloved Lucy and hello to the lovely Gypsy. The time in which I really started to discover and accept myself for who I am. The time in which I finally found a level of forgiveness in me for a couple people in my life who hurt me deeply.

Many of your painful days tested my physical and emotional constitution but I'm still here. You have been a time of growth and hope that I am truly grateful for.You won't necessarily be missed but I appreciate you for what you were as I prepare to bid you farewell this coming Monday.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Beauty Mistakes I Make

The craziness of chronic pain touches all aspects of my life. One area that I don't talk about often is beauty. Turns out I'm making all kinds of beauty mistakes because of my migraines and fibromyalgia.

I sleep with my face smashed against my pillow. This causes the skin to be pulled and leads to wrinkles BUT I like to sleep on my stomach, with one side propped up on a pillow. Being comfortable trumps the concern over the wrinkles this is giving me.

I don't spend precious time and energy on my hair or make-up. When necessary I can sort of pull myself together and look presentable like I did yesterday for Christmas. But, the daily cost-benefit analysis I do usually results in me opting to do the bare minimum to make myself feel semi normal. Ultimately, this leaves me looking a little rough, especially when you factor in my comfortable yet pajama looking attire. Thankfully my husband doesn't care what I'm wearing, how my hair looks or if I'm wearing make-up. 

I don't bother with accessories or trends. I never add a belt unless I need it to keep my pants in place. I only wear scarves when I need to keep my neck warm and hats when I need to block out light. Basically, I take a very pragmatic and simplistic approach to my style. Getting properly dressed is tasking enough so adding any extra steps to the process just exacerbates that, plus it's more constricting once on.

I drink lots of hot tea during the winter months, which stains my teeth. As much as I want white teeth I love my hot tea. It's comforting and makes a wonderful ritual.

Even though I'm not the kind of person who is always ready for whatever comes up on a moments notice I have decided that it's okay. I'm taking care of myself and prioritizing what I do with what little energy I have. Most days spending it on beauty just doesn't make much sense.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

New Doc Search

The time has come. I must search for a new primary care physician. I had hoped to avoid doing this, thinking that I could find a way to make things work with my current PCP but after our visit on Thursday I've decided  it's better to just find a new one.

I have been frustrated with her for a while now. She enters the room with her little laptop and a fully formed agenda that usually centers around giving me more pills. She spends the entire time typing furiously and quickly darts away leaving me angry that I haven't been listened to and unconvinced about the plan she has dictated to me. I keep trying to have a conversation with her about this stuff but she just isn't hearing me.

I want to stop taking one of my meds. I told her I wanted to stop because it isn't helping, it interferes with my sleep and it adds to my dry mouth. Her solution was to double my dose. I told her I didn't want to double my dose because it's already making sleeping more difficult than it was already. She said fine but I'm not taking you off it. Then we talked about the new preventative med my headache specialist from Mayo put me on. She asked if it was working and I explained that I have only been on it for 3 weeks and only 1 week at full dosage so it's too early to know if it will work or not. But it is a bp med and my bp was 90/70 so I'm not exactly feeling great. She told me I should cut the dosage in half and start taking a baby aspirin every day. I told her that I wasn't comfortable doing that since this was the recommendation of the headache specialist. She again dismissed it and said well, we can give it another month if you want and then cut it in half and take an aspirin.

I see my job in all of this is to listen to my body and communicate that with my physician. Since she just won't listen there isn't much here to work with. Time to move on. I don't really feel the need to have a conversation with her about this, she won't hear me anyway. After the holidays I'll just have to spend some time researching new docs. I hate this whole process. The searching, the testing out, the paperwork, the time it takes to really establish a relationship. It's just a lot of work, a necessary evil.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

End of the World?

With just over a week to go until Christmas, I feel like I'm moving into the final stretch. A couple gifts have yet to be purchased and wrapped. Some small details have yet to be worked out. My husband has a couple projects that will need to get done. Despite all this I actually feel increasing excitement and decreasing stress about it with each passing day.

First things first. Between now and then is my husband's birthday: December 21st, otherwise known as the winter solstice. This date has gotten more attention this year than usual because of all the whole end-of-the-world prophecies. Now I don't tend to believe that the world or even that the human species will end on Friday.

But I do find myself hoping for a large scale cultural shift. I would like to see us care more about our planet. I would like to see us slow down a bit so we could focus on what's most important in life. I would like to see demand for whole, natural foods become so big that our grocery stores ratios of produce to everything else flips. I would like to see life become simpler.

We may not be on the precipice of any kind of shift. Life and time may simply continue to march forward on the present trajectory. However, something about all the speculation and conversations surrounding the 21st have been fun for me.

What do you think might happen? What do you hope happens?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thank You Thursday

Dear Murphy's Law,

Thank you for showing up just before Christmas. It's as if you knew that getting a cold now is just what I needed. Since my body struggles with basic tasks daily, the smallest illness will dig it's heels in and take me down, lingering longer than it should. I tend to think that my body gets so busy fighting against all the pain, nausea and crap that when a bug comes along it just doesn't have the energy it once did to fight it off quickly.

Whatever the reason, the cold is here and Christmas is less than 2 weeks away. I am determined to get better before my hosting duties on the 25th. But part of me thinks this going to be a life lesson in "perfection is not happiness". Letting go now, letting go now, letting go now.

Dear Honeybaked Ham Co.,

Thank you for shaking some sense into me yesterday. I walked into your store thinking I would make arrangements to buy a ham for Christmas dinner. I walked out thinking there is no way I was going to do that. You tried to make it sound like a perfect solution. You would glaze the ham, bake the ham, even slice the ham for me.

But them came the details. I had to pick it up on the 23rd. You say the ham is fine in the fridge for 7 to 10 days and all I have to do is let is sit on the counter until it reaches room temp. Meat shouldn't be kept in the fridge for more than 2 days, so what have they done to this meat to make it good for 7 to 10 days. And you tell me that heating the meat will only dry it out. I may not be a meat eater myself but still I'm not about to serve 2 day old, over processed, room temperature meat for Christmas. As if all of that wasn't bad enough, you had the nerve to charge $60 for this small ham!

Yeah, I don't think so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Hostess

Looks like my husband and I will be hosting Christmas day festivities at our place this year. The head count will be 9, which isn't a crazy number. It'll be his parents, his sister and her husband, his cousin and her husband and daughter, then us.

As a HUGE fan of Christmas I'm excited at the opportunity to share our take on the holiday and all our decorations. As a migrainista the whole idea of hosting a Christmas party is terrifying on several levels. What if I don't feel good that day? What if my rescue meds don't help? What if I don't feel good enough between now and then to properly prepare? What if our guests are disappointed by our party?

I'm repeating my new mantra over and over in my head: perfection is NOT happiness, perfection is NOT happiness, perfection is NOT happiness. With that frame of mind I see how silly those worries are. These folks are my family and they know about my migraines. They are going to help out as much as I need. I just need to communicate with them.

With just two weeks to go, planning is going to be the key. With a solid plan in place I'm certain, no matter what is going on with me, our guests will be well fed and enjoy their Christmas day.

Have you ever hosted a party with your pain? How did it go? What did you learn? Any advice?

Monday, December 10, 2012

December Migraine Blog Carnival

The December Migraine Blog Carnival is now available. This month's topic is Pets as Therapy. Check out all the great posts here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ode to Our Animals

I can't imagine having to endure these past 6 years or so since the onset of my chronic migraines without the laughter, love and companionship of my pets (aka my babies). I've seen the stats before about how petting an animal helps us to produce positive chemical reactions in our bodies. They can lower stress and help us to increase our activity level. Based on my personal experiences, this is all true. My pets have made a huge difference in the quality of my life.

Ode to Lucy: Lucy was my husband's dog when we first got together. She was the kind of dog who was fiercely loyal to her owner and spent a great deal of time and energy making sure nobody else got too close. Frankly, she didn't care for other people at all. For some reason she liked me from day one. It was like she knew we were going to be a family.

When I had to stop working, Lucy and I grew very close. We were together all the time. She seemed to know that I was fragile and was always very careful with me. She even took it upon herself to make protecting me her number one job. I remember when my mom came to visit after I had surgery a few years back. Lucy was okay with her stopping by but made sure to place herself between my mom and I - getting angry if she got to close. Obviously, I didn't need protection from my mom but everyone agreed they appreciated her level of loyalty.

She was such a sweet dog. So smart. So loyal. So loving. She certainly made all those long hours when my husband was working much brighter. I still miss her. I think I always will.

Ode to Rupert: Rupert is the mini rex rabbit we adopted about a year and a half ago. He's super cute - I mean he's a rabbit. He sits quiet and unassumingly just off to the side of all the activity. If you didn't know better you might think that is all he is. But rabbits are quite intelligent and Rupert is certainly evidence of that. He knows exactly what's going on. He knows what he likes, what he wants, what he doesn't like and what he doesn't want.

Some might say he is high maintenance but I say he's full of personality. He makes me laugh and keeps me challenged. For example, he doesn't like to be picked up but on occasion we have to pick him up to give him medications or clip his nails. Basically you have to figure out a way to trick him and pick him up. But each trick only works once. You just can't fool him twice. Sometimes he figures out what you're up while your just thinking about it. Make no mistake, he doesn't miss a thing. He knows exactly what's going on and he has an opinion about all of it.

Ode to Gypsy: Gypsy joined our family this past summer and quickly wrapped us around her little paw. She is the quintessential lap dog, full of love and oh so very tired. She looks up at you with those great big ears, her big eyes welling up, her little tongue sticking out, her one paw lifted up and your heart just melts. All she wants is to be snuggled up beside me, preferably under a blanket. And that's pretty much how it goes most of the time.

Her constant presence is so comforting. She's there if I want to pet her. She's always willing to snuggle up and nap if I need to lay down. She's so happy to see me when I come home and she's even happier when I just stay home and hang out with her.

She's so small and so cute that everything she does is cute. I love her cute little prancing walk and the way she making little cooing sounds when she's snuggling up. I love the way she twirls when she gets excited and how she bounces with Rupert.

The fact is that our pets are part of our family. We love them. We want them with us wherever we go. They Lift our spirits. They have enriched our lives and have been the best therapy I've tried.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thank You Thursday

Dear Free Market,

Thank you for making nuts so expensive. I can't for the life of me figure out why a 1/4 lb of unsalted cashews could possibly cost $8.00. They are not plated in gold. They are not magic. They don't come with 10 postage stamps. What the heck?!?!

Cashews are not exactly an anomaly here. Pine nuts, almonds, walnuts and others are also crazy expensive. Even when you buy them from bulk bins. They are so tasty and so very healthy, I love them. I just can't get over how expensive they are.

Dear Sweet Potato Pie,

Thank you for being kinda healthy. You are the best kind of sweet treat because you are almost entirely made of wonderful, tasty, sweet potatoes. I feel better about eating so much of you this time of year because of your health factor. Plus, you don't leave me with that woeful heavy feeling many other sweets do.

I'm so very happy your season has just begun as you have been such fun to have around.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Birthdays

December is a busy month for most people. Holiday parties, shopping, decorating, baking and other festivities seem to dictate the entire month. While we don't necessarily have the busy social lives that some have, we do have 3 birthdays to contend with. The birthdays gear up on the 15th with my mother-in-law, then on the 21st with my husband and the 26th with my father-in-law.

That's a lot of birthdays in one family, awful close to Christmas. For some reason I find myself feeling a bit thrown by it all. It's hard to think of two great gifts so close together. Perhaps it would be in the best interest of my sense of sanity if I started thinking about their birthday gifts earlier in the year. Avoid the whole end of the year craziness that catches me a bit unprepared every year.

As for this year, well, I just hope my head cooperates long enough to get me through my lack of preparations.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hot Holiday

It's been downright warm here the past 5 days. I've even had turn the air conditioner back on. As much as I enjoy moderate temps I want the cool air back for the holidays. All this warm air just dampens my holiday spirit and takes all the fun out of Holiday baking. I don't want to be sweating in my short sleeves and sandals as I prepare for Christmas.

Worst of all, the ups and downs take a real toll on my migraines. I'm spending way too much time bogged down in pain, fatigue and brain fog here in the middle of this long run of migraines. Still, I'm sure it'll cool down again before long and the holiday spirit will again come alive in me. In the meantime I'll hang on the couch more, distracting myself with end-of-the-world programming courtesy of the History Channel.