Monday, December 30, 2013

TV For Free!

We've been in the new house two weeks today and it is just yesterday that we started getting TV channels. Two weeks without any news, late night talk shows or even my guilty pleasure - Young and the Restless. Sure we've had our DVDs and streaming Netflix but I've really missed watching regular TV. I've always known that it's a big part of my morning and evening routines, for better or for worse, so being without it was difficult. Especially when I wasn't feeling well or couldn't sleep - two things that happen frequently. 

Initially we tried to get our TV for free through the antenna but since it was unsuccessful we started searching for alternative solutions. There are plenty of options available between the cable companies and satellite companies but none of them were reasonably priced. All we want are those basic channels that are offered for free to anyone whose antenna can pick up the signal - ABC, NBC CBS, FOX, and PBS. 

I tend to think that these big TV providers have a seriously outdated business model. Nobody is watching 300 channels but their packages are all set up so that you are forced to pay for a bunch of stuff you will never watch. At the same time you can go online and watch almost anything you want for free. And the handful of programming that isn't available for free will be available on one of the streaming services (Netflix, HULU Plus, etc.) for less than $10/month. 

I do believe that watching what you want, when you want and paying a la carte for it is the future of TV. I don't have a whole lot of faith that the big providers will be flexible enough to keep up. Hubby and I are already conditioned to the alternative viewing options - unable to return to cable or satellite, with their fees and overpriced packages. No thanks.

Unwilling to pay out the nose for these channels we decided to revisit the antenna. Long story short, we got a more powerful antenna, which was enough to pick up the signals. It took us a couple weeks but we are back in business and for that I am thankful.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Window Coverings for Migraines

As all of you who suffer from chronic migraines know, window coverings are very important. The minute we decided on which model of house we were building, I started thinking about how I was going to cover the windows.

The 2 spare bedrooms in the front of the house were easy. We bought and installed blinds, that was plenty for now. I really just wanted to keep prying outside eyes from looking in. 

The back of the house is all windows. Two in the master bedroom, two in the living area and a big sliding glass door in the dining area. For these windows I turned to Eclipse Blackout Curtains. I've been using these for years with some degree of success. Normally I buy them at Target but finding just what you want is always kind of a crap shoot in the stores around here. Plus I needed to make sure that I could get 8 of the exact same panel so I went online. The results were thrilling. Not only were the panels half the price being charged in the stores but they also sold them in the 95" length, which gives floor to ceiling coverage. I was able to get 8 panels for just $80 and the shipping was free.

While comparison shopping at Target I discovered that they now sell a quality, aesthetic curtain rod that wraps in toward the wall allowing the curtains to block out more of the light. In the past I have used the cheap white rods that wrap around but had wanted something nicer for the new house. The best part is that rods were cheaper than most of the other regular rods and even came in sizes large enough to cover the sliding glass door, something the white rods never did without sagging in the center.

The only trouble is that these curtains don't block out as much of the light as the ones I have bought in the past. Though I am fairly confident that once we install some blinds behind the curtains the light blockage will be complete. In the past I've always used them over blinds and didn't have all this light come through.
UPDATE: Even with the blinds installed there is still too much light coming through.

The one trouble spot has been the front door. We have one of those long narrow windows that runs beside the door. The door leads into a long wide hall that opens up into the main living space and hits the side of our couch. Even though the sun never shines directly into this window due to the position of the house and the overhang of the porch, it is a bright spot in the corner of my eye whenever I am on the couch or walking from the living area into the kitchen. Basically there is no avoiding it.

While curtains are made for these small windows, they are all white, sheer or made of lace. That would do nothing to solve the bright problem that is this window.

Again turning online I found that Home Depot actually makes an easy to install window film designed to block out light. The best part it that it was another inexpensive solution.

A little cutting

A little smoothing out

Some trimming along the edges

Presto! What a difference!

It is like the difference between going outside with dark sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat vs. just going out with no protection. We can still see out but it is not bright by any means AND now it's really hard for people to see in, which is great on a day like today when the Mormons are out ringing doorbells. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

'Tis The Season For Self Abuse?

'Tis the season to judge yourself harshly, compare yourself to others and basically feel bad about your shortcomings. Oh wait, NO IT'S NOT! Nevertheless, that is exactly what I did. This holiday season has been especially difficult due to the big move and the move has been especially difficult for me because of my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia.

In all the craziness I didn't bake a single holiday treat, I didn't have the chance to get my husband a gift in time for his 40th birthday (just days before Christmas), I didn't bake him a cake or make him a special meal, I still haven't found a couple of the Christmas gifts I bought before the move so not everyone got to open their gifts from us yet, I had to leave one of our holiday gatherings early, the house is a mess and there is little I can do about it because I'm exhausted and in pain. I've been stressed out and on edge.

I can blame it on my type A personality, or on the general feelings of inadequacy that have resulted from years of living with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia, but the blaming doesn't help me move past this terrible self abuse I heap on myself when I can't keep up. I watch as the people around me manage to still get everything done even when something big happens to disrupt life. Heck, I remember when I used to be able to do that. Despite knowing that I can't, knowing that it's not my fault, and knowing that this doesn't make me weak or lazy I struggle to accept the reality of my limitations.

I don't want to be this way. I don't want to rest when there is work to be done. I don't want to constantly be falling behind. I don't want to be judged by others. I don't want to keep comparing myself to my old self or to the healthy people around me.

None of the stuff that went awry was a big deal. Everyone knows about my health situation and they all know we are right in the middle of a move. It's okay if some gifts are late. It doesn't even matter a little that I didn't do any baking. We can still celebrate hubby's birthday when things calm down. The house will come together in time...

What I should be doing is celebrating all the things that went well. After all, there were lots of victories this season. We moved into our new house. We managed to get our Christmas cards out - we like to do something fun each year with Photoshop for our cards. We attended two parties. We got to talk and laugh with family. Nothing terrible happened. This will be a season we will look back on and chuckle about the craziness.

Monday, December 23, 2013

New PFAM Blog Carnival Is Up

This month's Patient for a Moment Blog Carnival is now available. The topic is thoughts on the holiday season. I wasn't able to participate because of the move but there are lots of great posts for your reading pleasure.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Just Days Away From Christmas

Christmas is now just 5 days away. Even though I spent the last 4 days unpacking it looks like I've only scratched the surface.

With all this work staring me in the face I can't stand thinking about all the shopping and wrapping left to do. Then we have two big family gatherings to attend, both of which we will need to bring a dish to pass. I'm thinking we'll be bringing store bought food instead of home cooking. That should save me lots of time and stress.

Hubby had the wonderful idea of putting up our decorations this past weekend before the movers came, knowing there would be no time to do it after. I love sitting in the dark and looking at the tree. So far the only thing Santa has brought us is a little bunny rabbit. Honestly, he is much cuter than any wrapped package could be.

As much as I wish we had more time to prepare, the holidays are all but here and I am determined to enjoy them as much as possible. AND this year I'm determined not to overdo it. I know, I know, I've said it all before. But this year I'm betting that the sheer exhaustion of the move will work in my favor. I just don't have the energy to put on much of a brave act. That being said, all my fingers are crossed that migraine pain won't keep me at home through the festivities. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Big Move

Oh the madness, the sheer exhaustion, the stress and the joy. This has been one crazy week. Let me get you caught up. 

Just prior to our final walk through of the new house, a well meaning but not terribly bright worker decided it would be nice to power wash our driveway. The problem, the temperature was only in the 20s. Not only was the driveway and the front walk a skating rink but there was also a 2 foot wide, 3-4 inch thick strip of ice running from the garage to the street. Sand was generously applied and ready to be tracked into the house. Great. 

Two days later (Friday) we are at closing. Just as we wrap up the rain begins. It rained, a heavy, blowing, just above freezing rain until about 6 or 7 that night. At that time the temperature dropped enough to turn the rain to sleet and within another hour the sleet turned to snow, the heavy wet variety. The snow then continued all night, finally stopping at about 9:00 am Saturday. 

Now we have no means and no time to really clear the driveway before our appliances are to be delivered but the delivery won't happen unless it is cleared. Hubby rushes out to get a shovel but with all the existing ice, including the thick patch running down the drive, clearing it is not possible. That top layer of snow was the only form of traction and with that gone it was back to being a skating rink. 

To make matters worse the delivery guys had to bring the fridge in through the front door and we didn't have enough towels and such to lay to protect our brand new wood floors. I had expected that they would have stuff that they lay down since this is what they do all day but apparently they just track snow, sand, salt and dirt into houses every day - no big deal to them. 

Monday was the big move. We hired movers to do the heavy lifting, which was wonderful but they too were ill prepared and certainly not even slightly concerned about the condition of our floors. For some two hours our doors were wide open while they tracked what felt like an entire beach worth of sand into the house. It was cold, my head was hurting, our dog was shaking and we were all exhausted. 

Since then we've had the flooring repair guy and an appliance repair guy out and we are still waiting on the cabinet guy, the lock smith and the cable guy. Even though I've managed to unpack the kitchen boxes and get most of our clothes and bathroom stuff put away, everything else is still in boxes. 

Yes indeed, it has been a pretty crazy week. I'm exhausted and in a good deal of pain. Still, I'm so excited to  finally be settling into our new home. And now that the worst of it is over I'm able to resume some of my normal routine - like blogging. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Crazy Side Effects from Imitrex

For years now I've taken Imitrex and the generic version Sumatriptan Succinate to help manage my migraine pain. In that time I've noticed lots of crazy side effects. Since I was taking so many other medications I was never sure if these were side effects from this medication or a reaction with my other medications. Now that I've discontinued and detoxed from most of the medications I was taking, I've finally discovered that these side effects are from the Sumatriptan.

Like all drugs Summatriptan Succinate comes with a long list of side effects and certainly some of the side effects I experience are covered in the handouts like chest/neck/jaw tightness, dizziness, tiredness and weakness. But I also experience other side effects that are not listed. Here is a list of some of the things that happen:

- my pain will get worse for an hour or two before starting to get better
- my blood sugar will plummet and I'll get super weak and shaky until I load up on sugar
- my nose will get runny
- I'll have an increase in urine
- it makes my breath super foul for up to 2 days

Now these side effects don't all occur every time I take my Sumatriptan but they happen more often than not and are annoying enough that they discourage me from wanting to take them. Not so bad that I would consider not taking them but it makes rationing them easier. Frankly, I can't imagine my life without my migraine rescue meds.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Note To All My Wonderful Readers

In an effort to try to manage my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia the best I can over these next couple of weeks leading up to the big move, I won't be able to blog as frequently as usual. I'll do what I can when I can but it is getting to be crunch time here leaving me with little time and energy for much else. I'm sorry for this slow down but I know you all understand.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanks Migraine

I made a series of bad decisions on Thanksgiving, which made for a rough holiday weekend.

Our Thanksgiving dinner plans at my in-laws were scheduled for 5pm. The bad decisions started at about 3pm when, despite being certain that I was NOT up to a big holiday gathering, I decided to attend anyway. If it hadn't been a holiday I would have stayed home but for some reason I felt like I had to tough it out. To make matters worse, I felt compelled to be a "good" guest and not ask for the accommodations that I really needed.

I should have asked that the painfully bright light above the table be turned down.
I should have excused myself after dinner to lay down in a quiet room instead of participating in post dinner conversations.
I should have taken my rescue med well before we made the 30 minute drive out to the in-laws.
I should have admitted to my husband just how bad I was doing so that we could have left earlier.
I should NOT have ever left the house.

Instead I did the exact opposite. I pretended I was doing okay until I was about collapse from the pain and nausea and then I had to endure a torturous 30 minute drive home. It was too bright, too loud, too far from home and I was clearly not up for any of it.

I have got to find a way to stop putting all this pressure on myself to appear "normal". It's never easy for me to cancel plans or bow out of gathering, but for some reason it is so much harder to do during the holidays.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

If you are traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones this year, be sure to remember this sage travel advice from Bugs Bunny:

Have a great day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Packing Up Again

It's that time AGAIN. With moving day just under 3 weeks away the big pack up has begun. Shelves and drawers are emptying out. Pictures are coming off the walls, leaving behind lonely nails. Moving containers are taking over our living space as I slowly fill them with our belongings.

I'm doing what I can to pace myself through the packing but it's a big job so no matter what I will end up overdoing it. Already a muscle spasm has set into my right shoulder and neck.

After months of anticipation, the packing has made the upcoming move feel more real. It has become the light at the end of a very long, frustrating tunnel. My lengthy to-do-list is almost complete. With that, the excitement that was so present at the start of this process is beginning to take hold again.

This move is going to be my 6th in the last 7 years. I'm weary of it all: the work, the stress, the expenses, learning my way around a new area. Not to mention the severe disruption of my routine, which always makes managing my symptoms and treating my pain more difficult. The only comfort in it this time is knowing that it will be our last move for a very very long time. I can't wait to settle in and start growing some roots.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some Thoughts on Luck

I've been thinking a lot about luck over the past couple of weeks.

Highly successful people tend to say things like, "you make your own luck", which basically discounts the existence of luck entirely. Implying that your success, or lack of success, in life is due entirely to your actions. Even though I believe that we all have the ability to impact the direction of our lives, I totally reject the idea that luck has no role. In fact, I believe luck plays a rather large role.

Luck, good or bad, begins with the family you are born into. There is no way to deny that our access to education, opportunity, nutrition, nurturing, support and even love is largely dependent on the parents who created us and each of these elements are crucial to a child's development. Being born to educated, loving family with a comfortable income is lucky. Being born to a drug addicted prostitute is decidedly unlucky. We have no say in who our parents are and what genes they give us. Being born healthy and robust is lucky. Being born with a physical or mental disability is unlucky. Both situation are completely beyond our control and have a huge impact on an individuals life.

While people can overcome terribly unlucky disadvantages from their start (Barak Obama and Oprah come to mind), their ability to do so is also PARTLY attributable to luck. The ones who are able to overcome are born with the right kind of personality type, they are specially equipped with focus, drive and are internally motivated toward a specific direction. Not everyone is born with the ability to overcome an unlucky start and that is not always their fault. Sure some people are lazy, some are cons but I believe most people are doing the best they can with the hand they have been dealt.

I'm not at all suggesting that luck is the only determining factor in our lives but I am suggesting that it is a major player. I get so frustrated when people try to blame the poor and the sick for being sick and poor. Doing so makes it easy to disregard our collective responsibility to take care of the disadvantaged in our society, easier to not see the humanity we all share. This blame serves to make us all more vulnerable than we already are.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

This is my all time favorite clip from the Animal Planet show Bad Dog. Here is the story of Lucky:

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

#Migraines and Muscle Relaxers

From South Park
The first neurologist I was treated by, when my migraines turned chronic, started me on a muscle relaxer called Bachlofen from Watson Pharmaceuticals. Taking this drug interrupted the 24/7 migraine that I had for a few months prior.

You see, my muscles have been out of control for a very long time. They are constantly active and tense even when I'm sleeping. By taking this wonderful drug my body was forced to relax and that stopped my muscles from retriggering a migraine before my prior migraine had a chance to conclude. Plus, calming my muscles helped me to sleep at night. Despite many years, many doctors, many other drugs, nothing else has had the kind of impact that this particular drug from this particular manufacturer has had.

Then one day Watson Pharmaceuticals decided to stop making Bachlofen. I tried not to freak out. I tried fruitlessly to seek help from my then PCP. But for more than a year now I've been taking Bachlofen from various other manufacturers and it is clearly not working. I have more discomfort and spasms in my muscles. I frequently wake up sore from all the muscle activity that is going on while I'm "sleeping". I frequently have nights when I can't get to sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep because I can't quiet my muscles.

I'm still better off with the Bachlofen than without but my quality of life has suffered because of this change. I've frequently thought that if I could just find a doctor who had a better understanding of these drugs and could help me find another muscle relaxer that could work as well as my old Watson Bachlofen that I would be all set.

Then it occurred to me that I might be able to actually impact my muscle tension on my own through meditation, and relaxation practices. Obviously, this is not a solution that will be easy or quick. I had abandoned my earlier practices of meditation and relaxation because I was struggling with it so much. But I still believe in the power of the mind and I still believe that I can get better if I stick with it.

I love the idea of being in control of my muscles. That really is the goal here. Obtaining that goal will certainly be difficult as my muscle issues predate my chronic migraines (perhaps it even contributed to transforming them from episodic to chronic). Dare I even dream of a day when I no longer even need a muscle relaxer?


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Hormonal Beast

My body has been invaded by some unseen beast, who has been torturing me since late Sunday morning. This is not the usual torture from my chronic migraines or fibromyalgia. I suspect the culprit here is actually hormones. My skin is crawling, I'm too hot despite the cold late-Fall weather, there is this extreme discomfort that has permeated every bit of me and no matter what I do I can't escape it.

This isn't the first time my body has had this experience. In fact it has happened several times in the past year. Part of me just wants to scream - I mean come on - don't I have enough physical challenges to deal with?!? Another part of me just wants to crawl into a ball and hibernate until it passes. While I recognize that neither are productive options, I simply don't know how to manage this particular beast.

I suppose a trip to the doctor would be a prudent move to see if it really is a hormonal issue and figure out what can be done about it. Although, right now I'm still feeling some intense doctor fatigue so this is the last thing I want to actually do. Right now I'm just full of apologies to my poor hubby who has to deal with me in this state.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Patients For A Moment Blog Carnival

The November Patients For A Moment Blog Carnival is now available. This month the topic is: What do you do when you can't keep up. Check out all the great posts.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Strategies For Coping During Crazy Times

Things come up. Life has a way of being unpredictable and crazy at the most inopportune times. That's why we have sayings like "when it rains it pours". Because life is this way, I often find myself overwhelmed by times when it pours. You see, chronic migraines and fibromyalgia impact every aspect of my life, every single day, making it difficult to keep up.

My best ability to function is dependent upon things being just so. I need to sleep enough. I need to eat well and stay hydrated. I need to ration my activity so that I don't overdo it. I need to keep my stress low. I need to do my gentle exercises. Basically, I need my routine so that I can do all the things that help me to manage my symptoms. This is in direct conflict with the craziness of life.

When life gets crazy and I find myself overwhelmed or unable to keep up I always experience an increase in my symptoms and a crash. I don't know how to avoid it but here are a few things I do to help cope with it.
1. Ask for help.
2. Let go of tasks that can wait for calmer times.
3. Hold on and remember things always quiet down again.
4. Find something to laugh about - every day needs laughs - especially when things get crazy.
5. Snuggle with hubby and our dog Gypsy.
6. Try not to judge myself too harshly because I can't keep up with all the healthy people around me. This one is the toughest. I can be rather harsh on myself.

In the years since chronic pain took over my life, I've found the concept of coping to be liquid. Sometimes it is easier than other times. Something I do better, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I don't think I can keep working so hard at it, then I realize I just have to. Sometimes I even feel like I've got the hang of it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

A little old school hip hop for this Wednesday. 

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November Migraine Blog Carnival

The November Migraine Blog Carnival is now available, the topic is favorite blog posts from November. Check out all the great posts and get information about the December edition.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Night Out, Migraine Not Invited

An invitation to a family dinner party to celebrate my cousin's birthday was extended to hubby and I early last week. The invitation was followed by an absolutely horrible migraine that went on Tuesday night, all day Wednesday, Thursday and most of Friday. Each day I set the intention in my head that my body would cooperate so that I could actually go. The pain lingered and each day I had serious doubts that things would work out.

I woke up on Saturday feeling not good, not terrible either, but not good. My head was very threatening, I was tired and my body was sore all over leaving me still unsure if I would be able to pull it together in time for the shindig. Part of me really wanted to just call and say that I wasn't feeling up to it but a bigger part of me was desperate to go. Desperate for a night out.

Honestly I don't remember the last time hubby and I had a night out. A night when we dressed nice (nothing fancy but something other than the comfy clothes that are my normal uniform). A night when my hair and make-up are as done (well, as done as I can muster). A night of socializing, stories and group laughter. It is on nights like that, when I'm pretending to be normal, that I actually forget that I'm not for a short period of time.

These moments of normality are priceless. So glad for this one over the weekend - I needed it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The End of Blockbuster

Through my entire childhood and much of my 20s movie watching required a trip to the video store, where I would walk slowly up and down seemingly endless isles of video tapes trying to decide what I was in the mood for. After paying $4.00 to rent a movie I would have to return to the video store the very next day to avoid late fees. Remember the hassle?  I always resented the video store for the outrageous rental fees and I hated having to make a return trip.

When the video stores switched from VHS tapes to DVDs I was forced to buy a DVD player. At the time Best Buy was giving away a free trial of Netflix with each player. The salesman explained that for just $10 a month I could get unlimited DVD rentals. Frankly it sounded too good to be true. I was paying more than twice that each month in rental fees at the video store - but it was a free trial so there was nothing to lose. I was instantly hooked and never returned to the offensively high cost of video rentals.

As much as I loved my Netflix subscription back in the day, it has become a lifeline since the onset of my chronic migraines. Not having to go out to rent and return movies makes my life so much easier. Plus now they have the streaming service so I can watch all kinds great programming instantly. Netflix has provided great service year after year and remains reasonably priced.

With the recent announcement that Blockbuster is closing their remaining stores I have to admit I'm not surprised. After years of overcharging us all, they were arrogantly slow to respond to the competition that was both forward thinking and reasonably priced. Then came Red Box, conveniently located in every grocery, gas and drug store, offering cheap DVD rentals. Essentially providing an excellent alternative to those without computer access in their homes. Blockbuster will always hold a place in history but they no longer have a role to play in our lives.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stress and Food Cravings

The second half of December promises to be crazy. We'll be closing on our house, moving, dealing with the holidays, plus hubby's birthday, his mom's birthday and his dad's birthday. I'm doing what I can this month to be prepared but when you add all that on top of trying to deal with my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia there is no avoiding the fact that this is a stressful time.

Accompanying this stress has been a good amount of food cravings. I'm craving all kinds of stuff I don't normally crave and, of course, it's all really unhealthy stuff. Every food commercial I see makes my mouth water, suddenly I really want those chips, fries, burgers, cookies, cakes, etc. Every whiff of deep fried goodness emanating from restaurants beckons me. I find myself wanting to just eat fried sugary crap all day. It's so unlike me.

Thankfully I have a good amount of self control.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Wild cats, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Hamm...what more could you want?


Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Smokers in our House

We had it all planned. The drywall was scheduled to be put up on Monday so hubby and I put together a couple pictures and wrote a note to future owners of our house so we could place it in the framing to be encapsulated by said drywall over the weekend. We were going to take lots of pictures and even some video.

When we arrived at the house on Sunday afternoon the garage door was all jacked up and there were workmen in the house putting up the drywall and SMOKING IN OUR HOUSE!! They were not scheduled to work on Sunday. Since everyone at the builders office was off (because it was Sunday) there was no one in charge. There was no one to call and demand that this be dealt with right away. 

Instead these thugs spent the day smoking all over our insulation and drywall. Both of these soft surfaces are now covered with a layer of sticky tar. I'm furious. The project manager insist that they do not allow smoking in the houses as they get built and promise it won't happen again. This is of zero comfort. After all he didn't even know the dry wall guys were there on Sunday. He certainly is not watching their contractors very close and they clearly need close supervision. Plus, damage is already done. 

He tried to pass it off like it will be no big deal, as if once the paint and finishes are installed I won't be able to smell the smoke. While it's certainly true that the paint will be the stronger smell, when that wears off and the heat of summer starts warming the house that smoke and tar could break through and by then the builder will be long gone. The thing is, I can smell someone smoking in their car, 3 cars away with all my windows closed. Even if nobody else can smell it, I still do. 

Between my super-ability to smell things and my extreme sensitivity to smoke this is a big deal. It might not seem like a big deal to the healthy people with a regular sense of smell but for someone like me it is. Thankfully the company took things much more seriously than the project manager. I needed to hear that there was a plan to take care of the damage done and prevent it in the future. The smoker has been fired and they are taking several steps to take care of the damage done, allowing my nose to be the judge if further action needs to be taken. I hope it works.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Digging Deep

I overdid it this week. Again.

I give my body credit for hanging with it as long as it did. I knew I was pushing things and it was only a matter of time before my migraines and fibromyalgia knocked me out. Sure enough. Today is all about coping. Both my head and my body are in lots of pain, my stomach is upset enough that I don't want to eat yet I'm rather hungry, my blood sugar dropped when I took my rescue med so I had to eat things that upset my stomach more, I feel weak, shaky, tired and my fingers are numb.

Yep, today my only goal is to hang in, rest and distract myself with mindless TV. I've lost more days than I can count like this. So much so that it actually seems a bit routine. I have my water, remote, blanket, pillows and pills within reach from my spot on the couch. At some point I'll need to dig deep and find the internal motivation to get up and at least do my stretches no matter how much I don't feel up to it. Doesn't sound like much but on days like today it takes a surprisingly deep dig. For that reason, I'm always a little proud of myself when I can make it happen.

Today might be a real difficult day, but it is only on days like this that I get the opportunity to dig deep and feel a sense of accomplishment about it. I won't go so far as to say that I'm lucky to have so many of these opportunity filled days but I like to think these days are not total losses.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

In honor of Halloween here is the full Thriller video:

Hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sifting Through The Hype

The great appliance hunt has begun. I've been dreading this since the day we signed the paperwork on our house. Making a big purchase is always stressful for me because the stakes are so high. You want to buy a quality product so you don't end up wasting large sums of money. At the same time you don't want to overpay unnecessarily. Trying to sift through sales pitches, hype and cool features to find the truth can be difficult. Just walking into the stores and being confronted by rows of appliances makes me want to just shut down and go home.

BUT, appliances must be purchased so I'm out and about doing my due diligence. So far the process has me feeling like a cranky old woman, too set in my ways to be comfortable with modern technology. And, except for the old part, that might be accurate. Appliances have changed so much over the past several years and I'm not so sure that is a good thing.

The washers and dryers are almost all the high efficiency ones. Sure, they do have a couple of the "old-fashioned" machines tucked in the back or in the corner where they are hard to find but, between the disparaging way the salespeople speak about these old machines and the lack of inventory, it is hard not to feel like buying an HE machine is the only way to go. Besides, who doesn't want the energy efficiency and water savings, right?

Yet, there I am listening to the salespeople tell me about how the washing machine will tell the dryer what kind of load it is washing so the dryer knows exactly what setting to dry the coming load on, or how I can connect the machine to my smart phone and control it remotely and all I can think about is how each of these features is just another opportunity for something to go wrong. It's like I can hear the cha-ching of an old-fashioned cash register in my head just thinking about how much it would cost to repair this high technology. What's worse is that, outside of the efficiency feature, every other feature is unnecessary.

Then we have the refrigerators. The 2 or 3 old-fashioned fridge models they do carry, you know the ones with a simple freezer on top, are banished to the dark corners with their washer/dryer counterparts. Now the fridge must be stainless, it must be huge, it must have doors that open in the center and the freezers are drawers at the bottom. I'm standing there in front of rows of these beasts, all of which look almost exactly the same, and I honestly can't tell the difference between the $3000 one and $1200 one.

Suddenly, I feel as if this is not just about getting a quality product for the best price possible. It has also become a search for what our actual needs are. A search for appliances that can meet our rather simple needs and no more. I don't want to buy the old-fashioned appliances just because they are familiar and I don't I want to buy the modern appliances just because they are modern and fancy. This may take a while.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chromecast To The Rescue

Our Netflix streaming device died this past week. It was a quick death - early on in the week it stopped communicating with our wireless router, but we were able to wire it to our internet connection and continue to use it. Within a few days it could no longer play anything. It was dead and we needed to figure something else out. After all, we watch Netflix every day.

These streaming devices are great when they work. I love that we have the option to watch all kinds of great content on our TV without paying the extremely high cost of cable. As much as I've loved having this capability, this is the second streaming device that has died on us in the span of about 4 years.

The first one we got was a Roku and it died before it reached the age of two. We then got a Sony Media Player because Roku now requires you to give them your credit card number in case you some day want to purchase programming from them. Yeah, that's not gonna happen. I expected the Sony to last longer because it is a company with a great reputation (or at least, used to have a great rep.) and I guess technically it did but only 4 or 5 months longer.

We stopped by Best Buy to look into getting a new device but were a bit shocked by how much more expensive they are now compared to two years ago when we picked up our last one. They still had a Roku available for $70 but again I'm not giving away my credit card number when I'm not buying anything. The other streaming players were well over $100 - the replacement for our $80 player was now $120. Umm, no.

We decided to go a different route. Google came out with an alternative earlier this year called Chromecast. It's just a small HDMI plug that goes into your TV and communicates wirelessly with your smart phone or laptop to play Netflix or Youtube content. I had some concerns going in but there was no arguing with the price so we decided to give it a try after confirming we could return it if it didn't work.

We were blown away. The picture was great, it didn't drain my phone battery, there is no box or remote control to mess with and it was cheap. So far so good. The only remaining question is: How long will this one last? The good news is, if we have to replace it after a couple years, it will at least be affordable.

I was a Google fan before but I have to admit that I'm an even bigger fan now. Netflix is my main source of distraction when I'm feeling bad and our main source of media consumption as a couple. Google is now allowing me to access all this content for a fraction of the ever increasing price demanded by the competitors.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Next Step In My Treatment

I've been thinking a great deal about what the next step in my treatment should be. The decision was made back in May to get off the medication roller coaster that I've been on for the last 7 years. I had that conversation with my migraine specialist in mid-July when I learned he agreed that I was unlikely to respond to any medications at this point.

Moving forward the idea is to focus on pain management techniques like meditation, exercise, acupuncture, therapy, which I can finally do thanks to my new health insurance plan. In addition to this new approach to treatment I also need to find a new doctor since my migraine specialist won't be able to provide me with my rescue meds and muscle relaxers now that I'm not being treated by him.

My head has just swimming with questions. What kind of doctor do I need? How do I find the right doc? What area should I tackle first? How do I coordinate all the areas of care? You get the idea.

Finding my way through these details has been complicated by the amount of time, energy and stress that has been dedicated to the house hunt and now the house build. I keep thinking I have a good plan in my head and then I get distracted by the house. When I return to thinking about my next step in treatment I have doubts about that plan so I develop a new one. Then I get distracted by the house again and the cycle starts over.

When it comes down to it, I'm both intimidated by the scope and a little nervous about going it alone. Neither are good reasons to delay moving forward so it is time to suck it up and just do something. All this fuss over what to do first and attempts to plan it out perfectly is actually what has lead me to my first step: seeking therapy. I believe the rest will fall into place as I'm ready for it. So, the search has begun for a good therapist and, just like that, a little weight has been lifted.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Today the whimsy is cats stealing dogs' beds.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wonderment Ahead

The winter comforter is on the bed. The t-shirts and Capri pants have been replaced by sweaters and turtle necks. Flip flops replaced by socks and slippers. Scarves and gloves are ready by the door. There is a sweet potato pie in the oven. The leaves have all begun to turn and fall. The air conditioner has been off for a couple weeks and soon the heat will need to be turned on.

Fall is here! Wonderful, colorful, beautiful, crisp Fall has arrived with all its festivities in tow. This is my favorite time of year, now through the end of the year. Even though this fall and winter are filled with more stress than usual and we won't be able to do any holiday decorating, I'm determined to enjoy as much as I can. Actually, it sort of works out that the worst of the year's stress is happening during my favorite time of year. The way I see it, the timing can only serve to help me better manage through it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Living "Small"




I love these micro homes. The idea of living so simply, with so few possessions, with such small costs is just incredibly appealing. The idea is appealing but I don't know that I could ever actually do it. So often these homes aren't big enough to have ovens, washers, dryers, full sized fridges, dishwashers, tubs... Plus, I don't want to part with all my Christmas decorations, or my books (I'm strangely attached to my books), or all my photographs. No, I would never chose to live in a micro home. 

Despite these shortcomings, micro homes have a lot going for them and as we build our small home I am inspired by these assets:
-they are energy efficient
-well organized
-designed to take full advantage of every inch of space
-easy to clean 
-no formal spaces or unused rooms

All the moving we've done over the past 5 years has pushed us to get rid of a good amount of superfluous junk that we've both amassed. Yet, I feel like we still have some stuff that could go. As much as I've hated all the moving we've done, each move's junk purge has left me feeling more free and energized. Somehow, having less stuff and living "small" has allowed me to focus more of my energy on my health and on my family. With this final move on the horizon I'm looking forward to one more purge and the additional benefits that will follow.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Don't Believe My Diagnosis is Fannie Mae's Business

With our future house in the process of being built we have been in the process of securing a mortgage and locking in an interest rate. The process is a long and fairly involved one, especially since we are building instead of buying an existing home. Obviously proving our income is a big part of it, which is where things have become muddy. You see I'm on disability and while I can (and have) easily show them my award letter and bank statements that reflect what my disability income is, they want more. They want me to provide proof that I will be getting this income for at least the next 3 years.

I can't prove that I'll be getting disability for the next 3 years. Hell, the program is scheduled to run out of money in that time frame. Okay, so let us just assume congress will act and the program will exist, we'll even assume that my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia will persist (that's a pretty safe assumption), that doesn't mean I will continue to receive disability. My award letter didn't make any time frame promise and I doubt that anyone receives such  promises in writing. I explained this fact to the mortgage agent and she said that I can use the letter my doctor wrote on my behalf that allowed me to get disability.

Now I don't know if she just doesn't understand how disability works or if it used to work differently but my doctor didn't write a letter to the disability office on my behalf. I gave them some 500 pages of medical records and they ordered the records I didn't have from my doctor's office directly. They then sent me to their own doctors to be evaluated and made the determination based on all that. I explained all this to the mortgage agent and she said that I should provide them with something from my doctor stating what my condition is and that it isn't likely to improve for the next 3 years.

I have plenty of medical records that state my diagnosis and I offered to provide a page as long as I could eliminate the personal information from my records that don't apply. She told me no. Apparently Fannie Mae will only accept records that have not been altered.

The thing is, I don't believe my medical conditions are any of Fannie Mae's business. I'm on disability right now. It may or may not continue. It is what it is. I don't feel like they have the right to even ask for my diagnosis and I'm certainly not comfortable providing it. As of right now, we're going to try to get the mortgage without my income and see what happens. But the whole thing has got me riled.

Have any of you encountered this before when applying for a mortgage? How do you feel about it?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

I'm a big Big Bang Theory fan. Big. Here is one of my many favorite scenes.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 14, 2013

An Anniversary Respite

So Sunday was our anniversary. Despite a bit of a stomach bug and super low energy we managed to carve out a few hours of quality fall fun. First, we went to our future home for our weekly visit and picture taking session. After 5 weeks of looking at a hole in the ground we were thrilled to see all the walls framed out.

This will be where I sleep

As you can see, it's awful sunny in the house as the roof didn't go up until today (just in time for rain tonight and tomorrow). Having stupidly forgotten my hat, the sun sent me on a quick path to pain and fatigue. In other words, that was all the fun I could handle for one day.

Still wanting to enjoy some outdoor fall fun and since hubby had the day off, we decided to explore one of big area parks this afternoon. Having remembered my hat and with plenty of cloud cover overhead we were able to to enjoy and explore to our heart's content. 

I just treasure these moments, these simple moments outside with hubby. They always require that rare convergence of cooperating weather and pain low enough to allow me to venture out. When it happens, wow, what a wonderful respite.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Monster Inside Me

The October Migraine Blog Carnival topic is: migraine horror story, how has living with migraine changed you? I can come up with a rather lengthy list of all the ways living with chronic migraines has changed my life but when it comes to how it changed me, well that's a bit trickier. As I sat and thought about it, I came up with a few changes, all of which are rather unflattering.

I'm now a rather fearful person. I worry about things I never used to worry about. Part of that is because my illnesses have created more worries but mostly I worry more because I feel so vulnerable and so fragile.

I smile and put up a "brave" front when people ask me about how I'm doing. I say things that minimize my experience to help them avoid feeling too uncomfortable around me. The unintended consequence of that is I feel minimized by my own "bravery".

I'm always fighting with my sadness. Even though I do a pretty good job of keeping my spirits up most of the time, I'm easily pushed back into the sadness by unkind words or judgments by others.

So there it is. With Halloween fast approaching, you now know about the monster inside me. The monster that living with chronic migraines has brought into my life. Fortunately just because this is how things are today, doesn't mean this is how they must be tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Because I'm still in desperate need of comic relief over the continued government shutdown, here are more great clips from Stewart and Colbert. They are all well worth a viewing.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Perils at the Salon

Constant vigilance is required of me because of my chronic pain. Today was a great example of that. I went to get my haircut, my yearly cut to clean up the ends as I continue to grow it. As soon as I sat down I explained to the woman about my sensitivities. I told her that beyond shampoo and conditioner I didn't want her to use any products. I just needed a simple cut and dry. She agreed.

The hair salon is a gauntlet of triggers, lots of bright florescent lights, even more products and scents, someone else tugging on my hair and scalp... Most certainly a place for high vigilance. Unfortunately, for some reason I allowed myself to relax during the hair drying process. This proved to be a terrible mistake. Before I knew what was happening the stylist had put down the dryer and was spraying my hair with stinky, sticky hair spray. It happened so quickly and because I dropped my guard for a minute  I wasn't able to stop her before she started spraying. She apologized but the damage was done.

I had to come straight home and rewash my hair. Even after washing and drying the smell remains. I just can't wash it again today, my head won't have it. I guess this is the price I have to pay for my lack of vigilance. Lesson learned. Again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Am Who I Am

It's not how I was brought up. It's not very modern. It's not the feminist way. But the truth is I don't have any desire to be in charge, to climb any kind of corporate ladder, or even be an entrepreneur. Chronic pain or no, I am just not built that way. Deep inside I am a supporter. I am at my best when I am the woman behind the scenes, organizing, coordinating, dotting i's and crossing t's. Don't get me wrong, I do like to have some control and autonomy but in a supportive role.

The jobs that have been the most fulfilling for me is when supporting others was central to my work. That's probably why I spent so many years working for nonprofit organizations. And I imagine that's why I've found so much fulfillment from my unexpected role as a housewife. Who better to support and build up than my wonderful husband and fur babies?

This line of thinking is taboo in my family and so it's not something I have ever expressed. In fact I spent years trying to deny it and trying to be something I wasn't. Despite knowing it in my heart, I've only really admitted it myself openly for the past few months. I feel liberated standing in this truth. More than that, I feel like it gives me a sense of calm about the future. Come what may, at least now I am fully aware of what I need from my work, no matter if that work is at home or out in the world.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

More Whimsy Wednesday

The Daily Show videos about the government shut down are now available. Here they are:

The Daily Show clip 1

The Daily Show clip 2

The Daily Show clip 3

Hope you had a good laugh.

Whimsy Wednesday

I'm feeling like a little whimsy is exactly what I need in light of our government shutdown. I find that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report can provide great levity in times like these. Unfortunately The Daily Show clips are unavailable at the moment for some unknown reason but here are 3 great clips from The Colbert Report on the subject of the shutdown. 

Colbert clip 1

Colbert clip 2

Colbert clip 3

Enjoy and have a great day!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fibromyalgia Frustrations

I'm going about my day, doing whatever tasks I can manage. Inevitably, I come into direct physical contact with something completely benign: someone taps on my arm, or my 9 1/2 pound dog steps on me, or I lightly bump into a handle in the kitchen, or I run into the side of one of our super soft chairs with my get the idea. A moment later, the part of my body that was touched flares up with pain. A pain that has absolutely no business existing considering the nature of the touch. But there it is. Fibromyalgia.

I wake up and as I come to I become aware that both my arms and hands hurt. A pain deep inside my limbs that exists even when they are completely still. A pain that intensifies greatly with even the simplest action such as picking up a glass of water. A pain that makes me uncertain about my ability to hang onto anything without dropping it, therefore requiring vigilance. A pain that can't be soothed with heat, ice or Advil. I'm rarely sure what exactly I've done to bring it it on, but there it is. Fibromyalgia.

The pains sucks, the other symptoms suck. BUT the worst part about these fibromyalgia pains is that they don't make sense. This lack of reason and common sense about them open me up to ridicule. Nobody believes a light tap on the arm is painful. It shouldn't be. It isn't for everyone else. I must be making it up. I must be exaggerating. I am being dramatic. It's laughable so people laugh. It's just not believable to anyone who hasn't experienced it. Even those closest to me, who know the facts about Fibromyalgia, clearly don't take the reality of those facts seriously.

As a result, my feelings get hurt, my experiences get invalidated, I get angry and there is nothing I can do to make them understand what is going on and how they are hurting me. They know I have fibromyalgia. I've explained how pain can be caused by non-painful stimuli or flare up for no apparently reason. That's all I can do. I can't force anyone to be sensitive to my fibro pains but I'm becoming increasingly intolerant of the insensitivity. Don't I have enough to deal with here?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Golden Age Indeed

During this year's Emmy celebrations the question has been posed over and over: Are we in the middle of a new golden age of television? I think the answer is clearly yes. In fact I would suggest that it is the first golden age of television but that's an entirely different discussion. 

There is certainly a whole lot of truly terrible crap on TV but mixed in with all the crap are some amazing gems. Shows that are smart, creative, funny, scary, nail biters, beautiful and overall just well done. Shows that don't follow the same old formula that has been fed to us year after year. 

Hubby and I don't spend nearly as much time watching movies as we do watching our favorite TV series. Movies are frequently a disappointment. Every year a few stick out but most of them feel like a waste of time. But those series... Season after season, hour after hour, we just grow more attached to the characters, more enthralled in the story, more excited to see what comes next. And it's not just one or two shows. We have a long list of series that we love.

In addition to these wonderful gems there are a plenty of entertaining, fun shows that make me laugh and keep me distracted from my pain and other symptoms. Plus, we can't forget about all the wonderful home and design shows that draw me in, give me great ideas and inspire me to create beautiful spaces of my own. 

I sincerely hope that this is just the beginning.