Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Importance of Sleep.

The past week has really underscored the importance of sleep to my ability to cope and function with my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. Gypsy's recovery has necessitated several nights on the couch and even more nights of interrupted sleep. It has left me excessively tired, incredibly crabby, aches and pains throughout my entire body and plenty of migraines.

Sounds about normal for me when I look at it on the screen and I guess, technically, it is. Heck, even on nights when I sleep all night I still don't feel rested the way I used to. The real trouble is that now all my usual symptoms are being amplified; everything is just harder. Well, that, and I find myself frequently fantasizing about stretching out in bed, surrounded by pillows, sleeping soundly in the dark.

Even under the best of circumstances sleep is a real struggle. Any little curve ball that life decides to throw my way is enough to push me over the edge. But that's just life, you never know what is going to happen next and sometimes sticking to a routine is just not possible - even when it comes to something as important as sleep.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

In honor of the release of the new 4th season of Arrested Development, today's whimsy is the Bluth family version of the chicken dance.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Preparing for Migraine Awareness Month

With hubby back at work today Gypsy and I are on our own. Thankfully, the vet says that today (5 days out) is really a turn around day. Her pain and discomfort should be better and she should have more energy and be more herself. Thankfully, her bruising has gone down, she's not having any fecal incontinence, and she's pooping and peeing each visit outside. All things considered she's doing really well. A week from now she'll be getting those stitches out and soon after life should return to normal - a moment we are all looking forward to.

In the meantime I will be spending the entire week on the couch, keeping a close eye on her and preparing for migraine awareness month, which is just 4 days away. This year I'm going to participate in the blogging challenge AND post articles and facts about migraines on my personal facebook page. You may remember, earlier in the month, my post To Share Or Not To Share, as I considered doing this despite my fears of having my actual identity "publicly" connected to chronic migraines.  Well, I have decided to go ahead with it. 

I'm really looking forward to this year's activities and seeing all the great posts, pictures and articles. Will you be participating in any of the activities this year?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorable Memorial Weekend

Gypsy made it through the surgery with flying colors. What a relief to have her home, safe and sound. Two days out it has become clear that the recovery is going to be a difficult one. She has lots of great pain pills so I think she is doing okay in that department but between being shaved and having stitches she is
very itchy. It is this discomfort that has no solution but time. Time that can't come soon enough for all of us.

She needs constant supervision to keep her from scooting on the floor and messing up her incision. She cries for hours at a time, we think because she can't escape the discomfort. We love her deeply and just hate seeing her like this. I'm just glad this is a long holiday weekend so hubby is home to help me attend to her needs. The lack of sleep, the smells and the constant attention are wreaking havoc on my head and my temper.

I'm sure she'll continue to make small improvements each day and within a few weeks everything will be back to normal. In the meantime I'm just trying to take it moment by moment. This will certainly be a memorable Memorial Weekend.

What are your plans for the long holiday weekend?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gypsy's Surgery

Our sweet chihuahua, Gypsy has struggled with allergies and an overactive anal glands since she first joined our family last summer. We're starting to get a handle on the allergies but the anal gland issue has become much worse in the last 6 weeks to where they spontaneously leak every other day.

If you have never had the uniquely disgusting experience of smelling anal glad fluid, I envy you. It has a putrid rotting fish smell, and it only takes a tiny drop or two to stink up an entire room. Between the leaking that has taken place over the last few weeks on the carpet and the couch there is absolutely no escaping the smell. Couple that with the fact that I can't clean it away means really bad things for me and my migraines. And, as you fellow migrainistas know, chronic migraines have left me with an extremely good sense of smell and strong odors can wreak havoc on my level of pain and nausea.

Before we go replacing the couch and carpets, we need to take care of the anal gland problem. Unfortunately, the only solution is to have them removed. As I type, my sweet little puppy love is in surgery. I know it needs to be done and all but I'm a mess. The thought of her being scared, or in pain, or even a little uncomfortable makes me so sad. I wish I could spend the entire day right by her side. I wish she could wake up in my arms. I can hardly wait for the vet to call to let me know how the surgery went and when I can come back and pick her up. I wish none of this needed to happen.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Whimsey Wednesday

Feeling like a little music today. I love these old music videos.

Hope that you have a great day!

Monday, May 20, 2013

PFAM Blog Carnival Now Available

This month's Patients for a Moment blog carnival is now available. This month's topic: How do you recharge?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Neighborhood Squirrel Problem

Since starting a real garden is still a year away, I decided to try growing a couple veggies in containers out on our condo's small porch. I went with some mint (for tea), some basil (for recipes) and bib lettuce (for our rabbit). We picked them up at Home Depot some 5 weeks ago on a warm Sunday afternoon. What I didn't know was that we were headed to a colder than normal spring and still had a handful of night temps in the low 30s ahead. The mint and the lettuce are pretty hardy but the basil didn't do as well with 2 of the 4 sprouts dying. Just thankful to have any basil left I tended to them all and looked forward to using each as intended.

That's when they came under assault by the neighborhood bully squirrels.

They are diggers, aggressive diggers. I see their handiwork all over the neighborhood landscaping and have even seen them out back digging in the mulch. But I also see that lots of the neighbors have potted plants, flowers and food so I figured my pots had a chance. PLUS, I left the big barrel, that has been here for years, empty so they could have a place to dig.

As you can see they do dig here. What I don't get is why they also have to go dig in my pots. They are not eating the plants and don't seem to be actually burying food. What's worse, I don't know how to stop them. I've never seen this with squirrels before. Potted plants outside is very common this time of year, it's not like squirrels everywhere are assaulting these pots. Just another thing I hate about our current neighborhood.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Getting Off the Medication Rollercoaster

In these next three months before I see my migraine specialist he has me trying yet another new preventative medication: Depakote. Before heading to the pharmacy to pick up my pills I decided to look at the drug information online so I could be better prepared to ask questions of the pharmacist. Yep, I'm one of those people who always reads the drug info before starting a new prescription. I've had some strange reactions to meds in the past and just feel better being aware from the start.

The doc has been exceedingly clear about the seriousness of preventing pregnancy while on on this medication. Now he wasn't comfortable prescribing any preventive medications at all until he knew we were not actively trying to get pregnant, but for this he wanted us to be actively trying to prevent pregnancy. Now that we are doing that, I thought I was ready to give it a try. Until I read the drug info.

The list of side effects is daunting. They are always daunting but this time if feels unacceptable. I'm tired of trying all these meds. It's been 7 years of trying new drugs - 7 years! Not one of them has prevented a damn thing. What they HAVE done is dry my mouth out to the point that I'm regularly getting cavities, make me constipated, scrambled my thinking, cause new pains, make me light headed, make my extremities tingle, made me lethargic, mess with my mental state and who knows what kind of internal damage has been done.

I think I may be done with this.

I don't want to give up but I don't want to keep doing this to myself. I no longer have faith that these medications can offer me any kind of relief from my migraines. Even if they did, they have ALL caused new problems and I don't want to live like that.

I'm sort of feeling like my time and energy would be better focused on meditation, acupuncture, massage and therapy. Maybe if I can get myself to a more centered place I will either feel better or be better prepared to try more medications.

Have any of you ever reached a point where you decided to stop trying new preventative medications?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

You may have seen this on TV in recent days - that's where I first saw it. It made me laugh so I thought I would pass it along to you all.

Have the best day you can have!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Recharging and Getting Back to the Business of Living

My days living with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia are full of lows. Besides all the pain, exhaustion, nausea, brain fog, hypersensitivity to lights/sounds/smells, sleep disturbances, and other physical consequences, I am constantly challenged emotionally and psychologically. Recharging and getting back to the business of living is a real challenge.

Honestly, sometimes it's a matter of waiting until I have a couple of not-so-bad days in a row. Days like that are magically infused with a little extra energy and optimism. This powerful combination always makes me feel recharged and ready to take on the world, which I then have to carefully temper to avoid overdoing it and plunging back into the really bad days. But I don't want my ability to get moving to be completely dependent on the infrequent occurrence of not-so-bad days, so here are 3 things I like to do to create that powerful combination of energy and optimism.

1. Visiting with dear friends is the most reliable method. Even if I leave a visit exhausted and in some pain, I always feel buoyed emotionally and psychologically. They make me feel like me, the me I was before chronic pain. The only challenge is that I live so far away from these dear friends so I rarely get to see them anymore.

2. Taking in great works of art can really be inspiring to me. The best part is that the art can take on many different forms depending on my mood. Whether it's music, paintings, sculptures, poetry, literature, movies or what have you, the whole idea is just to inspire the creativity within myself. Being in a creative state of mind usually helps to get me unstuck from whatever funk I find myself in.

3. Learning to dance with my hubby has been a real surprise recharge method. We've been taking a social ballroom dance class through our local community adult education system. Now 6 weeks in I've seen consistent benefits. I think partly the benefit is that dancing is fun. But I think the larger benefit is that it requires a lot of focus and attention to learn something new and try to coordinate that effort with another person.

How do you recharge and get back to doing?

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Great Baz Version of Gatsby

Today is the day I've been waiting for, The Great Gatsby opens in theaters everywhere. The story alone is reason enough for me to be excited to see it on the big screen. But my excitement goes much deeper than that, for this film version is directed by the much underappreciated Baz Luhrmann. The brilliance of this filmmaker is in his ability to reinterpret a story or a song and present it to the audience with maximum visual and auditory beauty, intensity and passion. The fresh life he breathes into his work is unlike anything I've ever seen before and it stirs my soul.

It is his unique style that makes me love his films so much and, unfortunately, seems to make many others hate them. Perhaps this is why he doesn't get the recognition he deserves. I'm hopeful that his Gatsby will finally be the film that earns him more widespread accolades and, dare I dream, more appreciation for his previous works. Hope that has been born from all the buzz it's received so far. People are already talking about how to get the hair and clothes from the era. Fingers crossed.

Baz has only done 4 films before Gatsby. Strictly Ballroom, Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Australia. It was this last film in which he made a marked departure from his usual interpretive stylized format, which frankly just didn't work for me. Based on the trailers I've seen for The Great Gatsby, it seems Baz has returned to this format for which he is known for. If anyone can make an audience really feel this story it is he. I can hardly wait!

This is the rare film that will drag me away from my usual Netflix routine and into the theaters, assuming I can find it playing somewhere NOT in 3-D.  This 3-D fad can't end fast enough for me. Talk about triggering migraines.

Will you be going to see it?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

3 Ways I Cope With Chronic Pain

I could never have imagined that chronic migraines and fibromyalgia would invade and take over my life the way they have over the last 7 years. They forced their way into every nook and cranny of me, forcing all kinds of unwanted, unwelcome changes. Honestly, I think my coping techniques could use some professional help. Help, which until now, has been just out of reach due to my insurance. That being said, I've done okay on my own up to now with these three techniques.

1. Laughing. Finding things to laugh about has been huge. Funny how something as simple as a laugh can release my built up tensions and put me in a better frame of mind. Both of which are critical to the coping process. These light moments also provide some much needed balance to and respite from my usually heavy thoughts and feelings.

2. Learning. Learning what I can about my conditions helps me to better understand what I'm going through. I need this intellectual component in order to process all this crap. It helps me to feel less alone and less crazy. Part of that therapeutic learning has been learning about my fellow chronic migraine suffers and how they handle all the various aspects of chronic pain.

3. Thinking. It's far too easy for my thoughts to be negative and defeating. I'm working hard these days to keep them calm and positive in an effort to make me feel calm and positive. It's tricky and I certainly have plenty of room for improvement but I know that I have some power over my thoughts and they, in turn, have some power over my ability to cope.

I'm really looking forward to finding a good counselor to help tighten up my coping techniques in the months and years ahead. This is by far the biggest challenge I've ever faced but I am determined to live the best I can despite it all.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Okay, this one is sort of out of the box but in alignment with how I feel today: Basket Case by Green Day. 

Warning: it's loud so you may want to turn your volume down first if a migraine is threatening you. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Speaking Up For Migraines

Why do people use the word migraine so casually? Migraine is not interchangeable with headache. It is not some female response to stress. And it is not the word used to describe a woman's headache. Hearing people use it as such is like nails on a chalk board to me.

My husband and I have been taking a social ballroom dance class once a week. The other day one of the women was looking confused about one of the new steps and sort of put her hand up to her face pinching the bridge of her nose and scrunching her face in frustration. The teacher jokingly said something to the effect that it looked like this was giving her a migraine. Obviously what he meant was that it was giving her a headache. 

Not feeling like it would be appropriate to point out his mistake and severe lack of understanding of what a migraine is, I just cringed. Yet another example of how little the general population knows about this fairly common condition. 

I want the public perception and misconceptions about migraines to change but I don't really know what I can do to make it so. Have I made a mistake by not saying anything? I don't want to be that person who kills the fun by correcting a lighthearted exchange between two other people with dreary facts. Even more, I don't want to be that person who can't have a laugh at myself or at my situation. 

Not to over analyze this specific situation - but in general I simply don't have a handle on if and when and what I should say in terms of educating those around me. Is it ever my place to say something? Being unsure, right now I default to saying nothing.

How do you handle situations like this? What do you think would be the right thing to do?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Breakfast Woes

I'm one of those people who needs breakfast. Waking hungry each morning, I can't go much more than an hour without getting shaky and consumed with thoughts of food. Even after eating something, I'm sure to be hungry again right around 10:00 am. This is the way it's always been. These days, getting that breakfast is doubly important because my migraines can be triggered when I let my body get that super hungry feeling.
Over the past couple of weeks breakfast has become a big problem as I've grown sick of the foods I normally eat. The usual cereal, bagels or toast are just not cutting it. At first, I tried to switch out the cereal I was eating. Unable to find anything that is both healthy-ish and tasty, I tried changing up my bagel toppings. The failure of this effort coupled with my unwillingness to eat meat has left me a bit lost. Eggs are out of the question because I can't handle the smell.  

I need breakfast to remain quick and easy like cereal and bagels. Lunch and dinner are more than enough work for this chronically pained and tired body. I'm considering a couple paths. Path one, rethinking breakfast entirely and eating the same kind of foods I normally eat for lunch and dinner. My concern with this plan is that it will quicken the inevitable tiring of my lunch and dinner fare. The biggest challenge would be the added time and effort needed to prepare. Path two, trying an oatmeal base with varied fruit additions. My concern with this plan is that the heat of oatmeal is hard to even think about during the long hot summer months. The biggest challenge would be getting enough variety in the fruits, especially during the winter months. 

Maybe I'll start with plan two, the oatmeal/fruit first. Unless you have any other suggestions...what do you do for breakfast?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

To Share or Not To Share?

I've been thinking about doing something kinda bold. I'm thinking about taking the month of June to educate my friends and family about chronic migraines. Doesn't exactly sound terribly bold, does it? Here's why I classify it as such. After 7 years of living with chronic migraines basically all my friends and family know I have it but none of them really understand what it is, or how it really impacts my life (except for one unfortunate cousin who has also fallen victim to it). Not wanting to make a big thing of it, I've considered doing regular links on my personal facebook page, throughout the month of June, to great articles and blog posts (not mine) that talk about various aspects of the disease.

I've been very careful throughout the years to keep my real identity separate from my public battle with chronic pain for two reasons. One, I don't want any future potential employers or insurance companies to know about this. Two, I know I wouldn't feel free to be truly honest about the many ugly aspects of living like this if my friends and family were reading. 

For these reasons I'm questioning whether or not this is actually a good idea. As much as I want to share these things I still fear that this could somehow open me up to future discrimination. Then again, I have every reason to believe that these migraines are here to stay so sharing information with people in my world could be a really positive thing. Besides all my facebook settings are for friends only so it's not like just anybody could just look at things I post. Maybe I'm being overly paranoid about this. 

I want to be bold here. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

In honor of my hubby, who had a very Ed Rooney moment a couple days ago when he lost his shoe to a mud puddle. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is just as funny today as it was back in the day. The mark of a great movie.