Tuesday, April 30, 2013

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Kale Pesto Pasta

My favorite new recipe: a kale pesto on pasta. Kale gets all kinds of great press these days for its many health benefits. I've had my eye out for great kale recipes and this one certainly fits the bill.

Kale Pesto Pasta
4 cups stemmed chopped kale (approximately 1 bunch)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup nuts
2 garlic cloves
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 box pasta of your choice

First wash, remove stems and chop kale.
 Next, you will want to blanch the kale. To blanch you will need a prep by boiling a large pot of water and setting a bowl of ice water nearby. Add the kale to the boiling water for just 3 minutes and then use tongs to quickly transfer the kale to the bowl of ice water for 3 minutes. This will stop the cooking and seal in all the wonderful nutrients.
 Then you want to wring the water out of your kale. That's right, wring it out like you would a wet rag. Put the wrung kale and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and blend.
 It quickly turns into this wonderful kale pesto.
 Now you can put this pesto sauce over any pasta you want. I chose this new veggie pasta that is made with some pureed veggies. Anything to try to squeeze in more veggies.
A couple things to keep in mind: the pesto tastes better when it is allowed to sit for a bit so I went ahead and made it during the day and just refrigerated it until dinner time. Then I just cooked the pasta, drained and returned it to the original pot where I added the cold pesto. The hot pot and pasta was sufficient to heat the pesto. I then topped it with some more Parmesan Cheese. Yum!

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Chronic Pain Service Dog

I have an ongoing fantasy that my sweet little Chihuahua, Gypsy, would become a service dog. Her service, to keep me calm and happy when out and about. I would buy a dog purse to carry her in and she could just come with me everywhere I go.

*Disclaimer* Gypsy AND I are waiting in our running car while my husband pops into the store. She has never been left in a parked car alone. 

She's a great little traveler and I even think a strong argument could be made that her presence helps to release good brain chemicals, thus helping me better manage my pain levels.  However, I don't imagine she would actually do very well as a service dog because she is not good with strangers. She isn't interested in being pet or cooed over by anyone but me and my husband, and that's conditional with my husband. She's quick to bark at anyone who dares approach us. 

Really, she would only enjoy herself if she could just be there by my side with everyone else ignoring her. But come on, who could ignore this face? Those giant ears, big tear filled eyes, and cute little round head... You can see why I want to be with her all the time.

Have you ever had this fantasy with your pets? 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thank You Thursday

Dear Morning TV Crowd ,

Thank you for getting up early to stand outside the NBC and ABC studios, you crack me up. Many of you have made signs in an effort to either say hello to people back home or bring attention to an event in your life (birthday, anniversary, newly pregnant,etc.). Unfortunately, many of them are unreadable due to thin fonts or poorly chosen color combinations. But what's really entertaining is when you get so excited by the presence of the cameras you start to scream, jump up and down and shake your signs rendering even the readable ones unreadable. Yes indeed, you just crack me up.

Dear Sweet-Tooth,

Thank you for keeping me on my toes. You have been tempting me for weeks now with all kinds of unhealthy treats. You keep asking my brain to remember how good a Ghirardelli brownie topped with milk chocolate frosting is, or gooey butter cake, or carrot cake...the list goes on and on. And my brain is happy to produce a very clear memory or each and every taste you ask for.

I suspect you are doing this because sweet potato pie season came to an end and with it the amount of regular sugar I consume each day. Whatever the reason, you certainly have tested my will-power and have even reminded me how cool the brain is.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

On days like today when my body is torturing me, I like to laugh at Liz Lemon pretending to be crazy so people leave her alone. Enjoy.

Wouldn't this be fun to do  for a day or two?

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Value of Sacrifice

Let's not underestimate the the great lessons and rewards of waiting and working for the things you most want. The world is moving so fast and between our more is better, give me now culture and the easy credit that has made it possible I feel like we're losing sight of all the positive benefits of waiting, working, sacrifice and the like. Worse, we are also getting increasingly confused (as a people) about what we really want and what we can expect from the items we buy. 

Over the years I've bought into the notion that many a product would make my life better or solve some problem that never existed in the first place. Companies and advertisers work very hard to use just the right language and images to make us feel/think this way so we buy their crap. The reality is that, for the most part, they are not out to solve our problems or make our lives easier. They are not interested in being good stewards of the environment or the consumer. They want to make their crap as cheap as possible and sell it for as much as possible. They want to make money and lots of it. Period. 

I like to think that I've become a wiser consumer as I've gotten older. So much of the stuff I have does nothing to enhance my life. I just want to be rid of these things so I can focus more of my time and energy on that which is actually important to me. Doing this requires quite a bit of vigilance. Whenever I'm at the store or being exposed to any kind of advertisement I have to put up my defenses so I won't fall victim to the consumer desires that get so expertly stirred, threatening to divert me from my goals. It's exhausting to this Migrainista.

When free from those things I find that we (hubby and I) can actually focus on working towards creating the life we really want for ourselves. We want to buy a home, grow more of our own fruits and veggies. We want to save for retirement and enjoy quality time with loved ones. We want to provide a good home for our animals and for ourselves. We want to be healthy. And we are working hard to achieve these goals. 

The last several years have been full of sacrifices to that end. We've been living in crappy apartments, sharing walls, halls and parking lots with terrible neighbors. We've not been taking vacations or keeping up with the Jones'. We've lived frugally and put lots of thought and discussion into all our financial decisions. We've had to make a lot of tough choices. 

Now that we are within a year of achieving one of those goals (buying a house) I already feel a sense of reward for all the hard work we've put in. A feeling that, no doubt, is only possible because of the years of sacrifice we've invested. Despite knowing that the sacrifices must continue for our home purchase (and other goals) to actually come true, I'm excited about the years ahead and the growing sense of accomplishment that will result.  

I believe it is the hard times of preparation and sacrifice that truly make achievement something of value. 

Living with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia have certainly required both of us to sacrifice a great deal outside of all the regular circumstances of life. Without highlighting all the details of that, let me just say I feel that having to make those additionally sacrifices is only going to enhance the value of each of our achievements. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

How Chronic Pain Made Me An Introvert

My mom used to say "there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are energized by groups of people and those who are drained by groups of people." In other words there are introverts and extroverts. Despite being very shy as a child I always enjoyed large gatherings. Before my migraines got out of control I was actively involved in church, doing theatre, volunteering at fundraisers, working, hosting girl's night...I filled my days with as much activity as possible. It was as if the more I did, the more I could do.

Traits like these simply are. We are born tending to be one or the other. At least that's what I always thought. However, slowly over the past 7 years, chronic pain has turned me into an introvert. Or so it appears. I have had to alter my behavior and my approach to all activity. Large groups are now overwhelming and absolutely exhausting. I can only spend small bits of time with other people (even if only one person) before needing to retreat to the quiet comfort of home. Hosting people at home now just makes me uncomfortable because I can't control the length of time the way I can if I go out. I need my alone time. I need to have large chunks of time when I'm simply not responsible for presenting myself a certain way or worrying about anyone else. Managing my symptoms is very taxing on my time and energy. I simply can no longer manage my old extroverted ways.

The question then becomes, has chronic pain actually turned me into an introvert or does it just appear that way? I don't have the answers. All I know for sure is that I've changed. Chronic pain has changed me. Ultimately, what we call it doesn't matter.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thank You Thursday

Dear Express Scripts,

Thank you for making getting my rescue medication more complicated and time consuming than I ever could have imagined. I don't know how you have managed to make something as easy as filling prescriptions this hard. Not only is your process needlessly complicated but you also managed to screw up at
each and every step along the way. I've had to spend a ridiculous amount of time on the phone with you and with my doctor's office trying to get it all squared away because on top of all this incompetence you refuse to be in direct contact with them. You are forcing me to literally play telephone in addition to forcing me to use your mail order pharmacy.

You would think after two weeks of trying to get this simple prescription filled properly my work would be done. But no. Apparently you are determined to drag this hassle out over the next couple of weeks. Leaving me with little hope that you can actually get this simple task accomplished.

And look at what you sent me. Come on!! That scraggly strip of paper barely attached to this mangled box  is actually the prescription label. Seriously?!?! WTF!?!?!? If I had any choice at all I would drop you like the piece of smelly hot s#&^ that you are. Thanks for nothing!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Today's whimsy comes from the Wayne's World and Queen. That's right, it's Bohemian Rhapsody:

Okay, so it is rather melancholy in the beginning but by the end you're having a good time :) Enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Patient for a Moment Blog Carnival

Love the topic of this month's Patient for a Moment Blog Carnival: The Stresses of Chronic Illnesses. Check out all the great posts at Oh My Aches and Pains.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Migraines, Weekends, and Me

It all started on Wednesday. A big storm rolled through, the power went out, candles were lit and they flickered. The flickering triggered a nasty migraine, which continues to this very moment. My edges are frayed and I'm filling with anxiety about the coming weekend. We're supposed to go visit my in-laws on Saturday and we have another ballroom dance class on Sunday.

I want to do both but am fairly certain things won't turn around in time. I've had to bow out of the last couple of family get togethers so I feel like I can't do so again. Besides this is a very small gathering, just us and his parents. I can probably manage despite the pain with heavy medication, sunglasses and a hat. There won't be much recovery time on the other side because of that class on Sunday, which will require me to be on my feet and moving...

This is one of those times when it doesn't matter much what I do one day or the other. Chances are, no matter what, I'm just in the middle of a string of bad days. I could stay home all weekend and still just be soaking in this miserable pain. So I'll give it a try. Take it easy on myself but attempt to do whatever I can.

See, now I've worked it out logically in my brain. No matter, somehow I've managed to hang onto the anxious feeling...and while I'm not entirely sure how to shake it I've come up with a plan to try. See, the more time I spend focusing on what I know to be true the less time I have to obsess and feel anxious about all the what ifs and worst case scenarios of my imagination. So every time I begin to get anxious about it all I'm going to redirect myself to the knowledge that I've got this - no matter what happens I can manage this. If I have to leave early, or take it easy, or wear a ball cap to ballroom dance...I got this.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Having woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning I am especially glad to enjoy a little whimsy from Family Guy.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dr Oz Perpetuates Migraine Myths

Is anyone else hopping mad about yesterday's Dr Oz? More specifically, the segment he did with Iyanla Vanzant helping a woman who reports to be suffering from migraines by addressing her emotions surrounding her struggling marriage.

I just spent the last half hour trying to find the video segment on the Dr Oz Show website so I could post it here for anyone who missed it. The website always includes videos of show segments. I guess someone over there had enough sense to leave this segment out.

Since I can't provide you with the video let me tell you what happened. First, for those of you who don't know, Iyanla Vanzant is a famous life-coach and author, basically a self-help guru. She used to be on Oprah frequently and has had a couple of self-help-like shows of her own over the years. In general, I'm a fan, tending to believe that we have tremendous power in our mind to hinder or help our situations. Learning how to harness this power is a great skill and she is a great teacher.


Her assertion with Dr Oz was that she could help heal physical ailments that were connected to these emotional barriers in our lives. So Dr Oz brought on a woman who he said had one of the conditions he hears a lot about from women, migraines. Cut to her pre-recorded video segment where she talks about having increasing stressors and the correspondingly increasing frequency of her migraines. She talks about going to the doctor and being told there is nothing they can do for her.

Now we're back live and Iyanla asks the woman to tell her what she is most afraid of people finding out about her. She says it is something to the effect that her marriage isn't so strong anymore. Iyanla has her tap her hand and repeat some words. The emotions are brought to the surface and the woman feels heard and recognized probably for the first time in years. No doubt that was a healing moment for her emotionally.


Migraines are actually a real neurological disease and CANNOT be healed by improving emotional health. The fact that Dr Oz chose a woman who reports to have migraines for this segment because, as he pointed out, this is a condition he hears a lot about from women, makes me mad. If he's hearing a lot about migraines then maybe he should do an actual segment about the facts surrounding migraines instead of perpetuating the myth that it is nothing more than a by-product of a woman not dealing with her stress well enough.

Beyond that, I have a lot of questions. Who is this doctor this woman went to who told her there is nothing that can be done about migraines? Did she actually get diagnosed with migraines or is that her word to describe her bad headache? How could Dr Oz bring this woman on and never address her medical condition from a medical stand point? Shame, shame, shame.

The last thing the migraine community needs is a famous, high profile medical professional out there making the job of understanding and educating others about this disease more difficult.

Am I the only one out there who is hopping mad?

Monday, April 8, 2013

April Migraine Blog Carnival

The April Migraine Blog Carnival is now available. This month's topic is all about the unexpected blessings.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

I've recently discovered something very cool that I wanted to share with you-all. I first saw it on Pinterest several weeks ago and was drawn to it because of it was so cheap and so simple: homemade microwave popcorn. 

I'm a big fan of popcorn but decided several years ago to get rid of the big old air popping machine that I had been using since the early '90s. It still popped corn but it also still threw kernels everywhere and took up a lot of space. Then I turned to store bought microwave popcorn. It was quick, it was easy and it even taste good. Heck I even continued to eat it despite learning about all the terrible chemicals in it. I was primed and ready for an easy healthy alternative when this one fell into my lap.

It couldn't be more simple. All you need is one paper lunch bag and a 1/4 cup of kernels.

I folded the top of the bag over a couple time to close it up and popped it into the microwave (pun intended:) for 2 minutes.

Perfectly popped corn and nothing more. Of course, plain popcorn doesn't have a fabulous taste so you can add in anything you want. I like to add garlic powder and paprika or turmeric. 

I was sincerely surprised when I tried this and it worked. I guess a lifetimes of seeing popcorn come from machines at home, at movie theaters, bars and fairs just had me convinced it had to be that way. Never again.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Remember this oldie? I bet it makes you smile.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Unexpected Blessings

Living with chronic pain has changed all aspects of my life. While the vast majority of those changes have been negative, some have turned out to be unexpected blessings. 

Blessing 1: I'm now a housewife. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I never would have chosen to stay home as a childless woman. Chronic pain may have forced my hand but it turns out I get a good amount of satisfaction from my role as a homemaker. It also eliminated the stress caused by my husbands complete lack of basic domestic skills and inability to even recognize a mess. As an added bonus he appreciates not having to deal with these kinds of tasks. 

Blessing 2: I've been motivated by my health situation to change how I eat. Becoming a vegetarian and learning how to prepare healthy meals has been a great thing for both of us. I'm continually reworking new recipes to suit our tastes. Now, it's certainly possible I would have wanted to do this eventually even if I never had chronic migraines but I wouldn't have had the time and energy if I was still working. 

Blessing 3: I know that our sweet little Chihuahua is thrilled that I'm home with her all day. We will never be a multiple dog household but dogs are pack animals who don't want to be alone. This may be especially true of little lap dogs who become super attached to their humans. Super attached is the perfect way to describe our relationship. She wants nothing more than to snuggle up to me all day, every day. I love her dearly and am pleased that she doesn't have to spend much time alone. 

Really I'll use any excuse to show pictures of her. 

Have you experienced any unexpected blessings as a result of your chronic pain?

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Confidence for "No"

I'm so programmed to be agreeable, to say "yes" and go with the flow. That is the polite, lady-like thing to do, right? Over the years I've come to realize that I wasted a great deal of time and energy doing things that distracted and detracted from the path I was on. I figured out that saying "no" was an important thing to learn to do. If only it was that simple.
The stakes have never been higher and implementation has never been harder ever since chronic pain became part of my life. I must pace myself in order to optimize my ability to function. I have to say no to some invitations. I have to bow out from time to time. Heck, I even have to say no to myself when I get overly confident on a not-so-bad day. The thing is, it's still hard every single time I have to do it. 

Take yesterday, for example. my husband and I had accepted an invitation to go to his cousin's house for Easter lunch. Neither of us had been to her house before but we knew her husband was a smoker. We knew  it was going to be a very big group that included young children so it was going to be loud. And we knew that it would be an hour there and back on a bright sunny day. 

A migraine took hold early in the day and I loaded up on my rescue meds in hopes that I could pull it together and go. BUT, as it got closer and the meds had only helped a little, the last thing I wanted to do was be in a loud (possibly smokey) place trying to force my foggy migraine brain to carry on conversations with a bunch of people. The pain was exhausting enough, I just didn't have the energy to really invest in trying to be a "normal" person. The consequences to attending would have been high.

In my brain I knew the right thing to do was to stay home and let my husband go alone. Thankfully, he knew it as well and encouraged me to stay. Telling me things like,"everyone would understand". Still, I beat myself up about it. It made me mad that I couldn't make my body cooperate, that I had to bow out of yet another activity. It feels like I've had to do that more in the last year and a half than in years past but I know that's only because now we live close to family and friends. Before I wasn't bowing out of plans because we didn't have plans with anyone but each other. 

I didn't go and that was the exact right decision. I know it's true. So why was it such a hard decision to make? Why did I have to beat myself up about it? And most importantly, how do I gain confidence and strength for the necessary "noes" in my life?