Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve For Migraineurs

Apparently you are supposed to party on New Year's Eve. At least that's what we are told by people on TV. We should dress up, go out, drink a lot of alcoholic beverages and dance up until 10 seconds before midnight, when we join everyone in the final countdown to the new year. 10, 9, 8...all leading to "Happy New Year", a lip lock and singing of Auld Lang Syne. Does anyone really even know all the words to that song? 

I don't know who has that kind of New Year's Eve but I'm pretty sure none of them have chronic migraines or fibromyalgia. Everything about the traditional NYE celebration is a trigger: big group of people, wearing uncomfortable dress clothes and shoes, alcohol, the din of music/party goers, standing for hour, making small talk with people and staying up past midnight. Sure, sometimes I'm up around midnight but only because I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. 

No, I prefer to treat NYE much like any other night. Hubby and I will eat, cuddle on the couch to watch a movie or some Netflix. We'll both be struggling to stay awake and will likely start our bedtime rituals at some point during the 9pm hour. I will fall asleep well hydrated and looking forward to spending the entire next day with Hubby, who has the day off from work. Much like all other days, my goal is to minimize the amount of pain I'm in. 

The new year will come. I'll see it in the morning and every morning for the following year. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Post Christmas

I hope that you-all had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.

I was lucky enough to emerged from a long stretch of migraines just in time to participate in both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities. Now I need to rest up and prepare to see more family this weekend. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Feeling No Pressure Going Into Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - For Once

With all of our Christmas shopping and wrapping done, hubby and I happily spent the past 3 days celebrating his birthday. Having a birthday just a few days before Christmas can be tough so it's important to me to go out of my way to do special things for him. This year it seemed especially important because last year his big day was almost entirely eclipsed by the move. Then I somehow managed to burn dinner that night - something I never do. I blame it on the new stove and the new pan I was using.
The long weekend was great. There was nothing to do but be together. He didn't have any work or homework. We didn't have any errands to run or projects to do. I made him some baked treats and we just enjoyed ourselves. 

Only, I didn't feel good. With the help of my rescue meds, I managed pretty well through half the day, each day but then had to slow down and stick close to the couch. Thankfully, hubby happily joined me for some Netflix and naps. 

Migraines have intruded on every day for the past 10 days at varying times and with varying severity. Everything worked out pretty well as we celebrated hubby's long birthday weekend but it only worked out as well as it did because we were close to home. We had complete control over what we did and when we did it. With Christmas just 2 days away I'm starting to wonder if this cycle will break in time or not. 

Obviously, I never know from one day to the next how I will feel and at what level I'll be able to function. That's just a given. What I do know is that I won't be able to handle much of our holidays plans if I don't see a change in how I've been feeling for the past 10 days. 

The good news is that I don't really feel much pressure this year to push myself, or to beat myself up about how I feel. This is a first for me. Hubby and I have talked about our plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas and we have agreed that it's not a big deal. We'll go and do what we can but if I'm not doing well, we can leave. He doesn't mind and that truly has freed me. 

Still, I do hope to feel well enough to enjoy the festivities. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chronic Pain In the Movies

You may have seen some of the press for the upcoming movie "Cake" with Jennifer Aniston. She plays a woman who lives with chronic pain and is addicted to painkillers. Now the movie hasn't yet been released in the states but it was seen at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year.

Naturally, I'm pretty curious about the film as I imagine many of you, who live with chronic pain, are. How will Hollywood portray someone like us? Will it be more about her additions than about her pain? How will audiences and critics respond to it? I can hardly wait to find out. Of course, I'll still wait until it comes out on Netflix to actually see it as my chronic migraines make going to the movies difficult.

In the meantime I've been reading the reviews that have been written. Most of what I've read has been negative. People don't like the portrayal, the direction, the story, the main character. As I'm reading all this I can't help but wonder if the critics are saying they don't like these things because it's an accurate presentation of the ugliness of chronic pain and they don't understand that because they don't have chronic pain -OR- if it just isn't well done. I suppose it could go either way. 

Obviously, the hope is that it'll be accurate and raw and honest. That people will see it and, even if only for a few days, have a little more empathy and a better understanding of what living with chronic pain does a person. Even as I write this I am thinking to myself, that's a lot to ask of a Hollywood film. Aw heck, I'll go ahead and hope anyway. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

Another great Christmas clip - this time from Christmas Vacation. The cousin Eddie character is always good for a laugh. 

Have a great day!

Monday, December 15, 2014

How I Plan To Stop Allowing The Judgement Of Others To Poison Me

I think I've stumbled on a common chronic pain hurdle. Somehow over the past few years I've become super aware of how others see me and my chronic pain. I've allowed myself to take in all kinds of fear about being judged, misunderstood and not believed. The truth is all of those things are happening but there is absolutely nothing I can do about it no matter how much I hate it. And trust me, I hate it a whole lot.

The trouble is, being so aware is harming me. I'm suffering 4 times over. First from the chronic pain, then from the judgement, then from being so aware of the judgement, then again as I beat myself up and feel miserable about being judged and such.

When it comes down to it, my life is very different from the norm. Lots of people won't ever get that. I just need to stop allowing myself to be poisoned by how others react to me. No good can come from that. Instead I need to focus on just being me and doing what I need to do to be okay.

Here is how I plan to do that.
1. Catch myself whenever I start taking in judgment from others.
2. Remind myself that this is not reality.
3. Refocus my attention on something more positive.
4. Repeat. I don't know about you, but I tend to recycle negative thoughts in my head so I'm sure I'll have to continually go through the first 3 steps until I get better at letting the negativity of others roll off my back.

I believe in doing this I will be able to let go of the frustration and anger that results from constantly feeling like people are either judging me harshly or completely misunderstanding me and my chronic pain. These feelings are heavy and I'm pretty darn sick of carrying them around all the time.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Power of Positivity

I saw this TED Talk for the first time earlier this week. It's a fast moving 12 minutes of interesting research and thoughts on positivity. The speaker, Shawn Achor, also seems to be talking about happiness but I think it's really more about positivity when you pay close attention.

Anyway, I've watched it a couple times since in an effort to better grasp everything he is saying. Like I said, the whole thing moves pretty fast and is full of jokes that sort of pull focus away from the main points so I needed a second and third viewing.

The whole thing was so interesting I wanted to share it with all of you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

It's a close race for sure but A Christmas Story is my favorite of all the holiday movies. Here's a great scene to get you in the mood. 

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The House is Decked Out For Christmas

Christmas is in full swing around here. After missing out on my usual Christmas festivities last year because of the move, I am especially enthusiastic about our first full holiday season in the new house.

I never met a Christmas tree I didn't love. Everything from the sad little Charlie Brown trees to the fake pink or white trees, from the tall skinny trees to the short stout ones, from the table top trees to the great big yard trees - I love them all. This year I have a total of 6 trees. That number will continue to grow over the years.

#1 Our living room tree.
#2 This little tree on the left is in the main hallway. 
#3, 4 & 5 These three trees in the dining room.
#6 This table top tree is also in the living room.

Can't forget to add a little festive decor to the dining room light fixture.
I'm also a huge fan of nutcrackers. Although seeing him this year I can't help but think he needs two additional nutcracker friends of different sizes to stand stand with him - don't you think?

Our main tree in the living room and the fireplace are my favorite. I always do multi-colored lights - never LED because those hurt my eyes - and decorate with traditional items. I love a themed space and will likely do that in the future in other rooms but not here. I've been slowly growing a collection of ornaments since I first moved out on my own at 18 years of age. Each year I add an ornament that either has some meaning or that I especially love. Some years we've even received them as gifts. Wherever they come from, however mismatched they may be, they are all special to me. I just love sitting in the dark, looking at the glowing tree. 

I added a wreath to this small nook just off the living room.

Gypsy wanted to get in on the photo shoot. She thinks all pictures are better when she is in them. I tend to agree.

We hadn't planned on doing any outdoor decorations this year but then all the other houses in our cul de sac decorated. Feeling some pressure not to look like the area Grinch we put out this wreath. Okay, so this doesn't really rise to the level of our neighbors but we can't exactly invest much in outdoor decorations this year after Gypsy's surgery and such. Maybe next year.

My philosophy has always been to slowly grow my Christmas collection. Now that we are settling into our home for the long haul, I've started making plans for what additions I'd like to make in the years to come. I just love this time of the year so much. The colors, the lights, the smells, the music, the wrapping of gifts and eating the wonderful treats...

Merry Christmas friends!

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 Tips For Surviving The Mall In December With Chronic Pain

On my way to the D.O. yesterday I decided to stop by the mall and pick up some tea. The mall is right on the way and neither are close to our house so combining these trips seemed like the right thing to do. I parked by the entrance closest to the Teavana to minimize the amount of time I would have to spend in the mall - there is no harder time to be at the mall than in December.

I was in and out in about 15 minutes but that was all it took to feel like I had been exposed to every holiday shopping cliche. There was the miserable man sitting with a pile of coats and shopping bags as he waited for his loved ones to shop. There was the kid having a full blown meltdown. There was the confused shopper with too many bags, taking up too much room, unsure of where to go and what to do next. There was the harried woman annoyed at all the obstacles in the busy mall. There was the pushy sales tactics employed by the kiosk workers. There were grown people fighting over the only mall cart in sight. There was the absolute bombardment of sights, smells and sounds that really are the hallmark of the holiday mall experience.

Yep, nothing like bumping around the mall in December. It's a real slice of life.

Thankfully, this was a quick trip to get something very specific so the pain was minimized. Unfortunately, I will need to go back to the mall at some point to pick up a couple Christmas gifts. Over the years I feel like I've gotten better at navigating the holiday mall gauntlet with chronic pain so I thought I would share some tips that I use to help me through:

1. Only attempt it if you are feeling okay. Don't even bother if you are already feeling pretty bad, or if you are hungry, thirsty or tired. The environment is too overwhelming to tackle when you don't have enough spoons, so to speak.

2. Bring some water. Around here it's pretty cold and dry this time of year so keeping hydrated is more of a challenge. Having a little water on hand can make a real difference. Plus, if you find yourself needing to take pills during the trip you'll have your water to help you.

3. Don't forget your sensory blockers - rimmed hat, ear plugs and tinted glasses - to help you cope with the mall environment.

4. Know your mall and go with a plan. These days almost all malls have websites with maps. If you don't already know your way around the mall, you should take the time to plan your trip using the mall's site. Think about the stores you want to go in, figure out where they are, how you want to navigate them and which entrance you want to park near. I promise this will save you time. Ultimately the less time you spend in the mall the better. Note: if you have a lot of shopping to do, you may want to make 2 or 3 trips - tackling different sections of the mall each trip.

5. Plan some recovery time after. No matter what, the mall is going to be crowded, annoying and full of triggers. Just plan on giving yourself plenty of time to rest after.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

You've probably seen the movie Elf with Will Ferrell. Here is a funny clip for your enjoyment. 

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

No Pill Can Do This

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how my music was like a personal time machine. I love how a song can take me right back to whatever time and place that imprinted on it. Wouldn't you know, not a week later I saw a documentary on Netflix about that very phenomena. It was called Alive Inside: A story of Music and Memory. If you have a streaming service from Netflix, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, it is the true story of a social worker who attempts to reach people with Alzheimer's disease using music. He would load one of those tiny ipods with music they used to listen to from back in the day and then let them listen to it. The reactions were stunning. These people were moving their bodies, singing or humming along, some cried, all remembered something. You could see how it transformed even the most sedentary people.

Here is a quick trailer:

As much as it was about the research and the transformative power of music as a form of therapy it was also about humanity, aging and dignity. The music seemed to free these people and give them some control even though their circumstances didn't allow them much choice or control over their lives. It seemed to heal their spirits.

Considering how I feel about my music, I guess I can't say that I'm surprised others have such strong reactions to music. But I was surprised by just how big of an impact it had and how much science exists to explain why this is. If I had known this sooner I would have made sure my grandma had an ipod of her favorite tunes to listen to when she was in the nursing home.

You can bet I'm going to plan to have plenty of music around for hubby and I as we age. I can't help but wonder what other applications exist for this kind of "therapy".

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fall Round Up

For me fall ends on Thanksgiving day. That's when all the orange, yellow and brown fall decorations get replaced by the red, green and silver Christmas decorations. That color change is enough to make the whole world feel like winter to me.

Before I get hung up on winter I wanted to do a quick fall round up. So here we go:

Fall Favorites

While visiting my in-laws a few weeks back, we were introduced to these Terra brand sweet potato chips. They are chips made from actual sweet potatoes - best of all they are not salted. Just wonderful!


Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. If I'm going out to eat, I want it to be for breakfast food. It doesn't even need to be at breakfast time, just so long as it's breakfast foods. Even though this has always been true, it's even more true since becoming a vegetarian. See, restaurants have very few options on lunch and dinner menus for people who don't eat meat. But a breakfast menu always has lots of tasty, meatless delights.

So why am I talking about breakfast in my fall favorites? Because it's in the fall that Denny's does an incredible pumpkin pancake. I know, I know, everyone does a pumpkin pancake in the fall. But nobody does it like Denny's. The pancakes are great alone but then they add a lovely pumpkin flavored sugary whipped cream like dollop on top - well - we spend a fair amount of time at Denny's in the fall specifically for these pancakes.

Fall Successes

I continued to work on projects around the house this fall. This will probably be the case for the next few years as there is so much to do.

I painted this antique wash stand white to match everything else in the master bedroom. We are using it for storage and to hold our bulky, old-fashioned TV.

I still can't decide how I feel about the ripples in the top drawer.

Hubby and I put up shelves and a storage rack in the garage. It was a good first step in an effort to get the garage organized. A small investment and a couple hours of work made such a difference. Projects like this are so satisfying.

I painted this thing. It was something custom made by hubby's grandfather for his sister's stereo back in the day. Somehow it ended up with hubby and we had been using for various things over the years. I did a lighter shade of green on the inside and darker shade on the outside. It's kinda hard to see the different shades in these pictures but either way it's a fun pop of color for the living room.

Lucky duck - you get a little glimpse of some Christmas decorations
With winter quickly approaching I needed to do something about the front entryway. I had spent months looking for just the right bench, table and hooks. The bench needed to be painted and the cushion needed to be recovered.

The mint green and cross stitch flowers just don't work
with our decor.
I did a neutral color and modern print
The table just needed some paint.

Crazy yellow, silver and black chalkboard paint on top
I used the same base color as the bench but
will likely use a green to accent it later.
The big thing was having that shelf below to store hats & gloves.

I added some hooks and decor items. The space isn't finished as I'm still looking for a few specific items but it's much better than it was.

Already making great use of the hooks.

Fall Failures

The big failure of this fall has been all the things I didn't get done. I had wanted to get the living space painted before it was time to decorate for Christmas. I had been waiting for our 10 month visit with our builder (which was supposed to happen in October but didn't happen until November) because we were having problems with our drywall. Since our ceiling is vaulted and we will need to hire someone to paint I wanted to wait until the drywall issues were resolved before we spent the money. Good thing it worked out as it did because Gypsy's time in the pet hospital and subsequent surgery were crazy expensive. The painting will have to wait a while. As will the water softener and all other projects.


The highlight of this fall has been decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving. I won't bore you with more of those pictures but you can check out the links if you want.


Quite easily the lowlight of this fall was Gypsy's bladder surgery and the subsequent recovery, or lack of recovery of her bladder sphincter.

What I am reading. 
I am just about to pick up True Grit by Charles Portis. I saw the most recent movie version when it came out on Netflix and hadn't really planned on reading the book. Generally I don't like to read a book when I've already seen the movie and vice versa but my father-in-law lent it to me and sung its praises. Guess I'll give it a go.

That's about all for my fall. Now let's dive into winter and Christmas.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Medication To The Rescue - Thanksgiving Style

We have finally turned a corner. You may remember from my last post (and my lack of posts) that our precious Chihuahua, Gypsy, had surgery to remove 15 stones from her bladder back on the 17th. After a few days we figured out that she needed to be taken out every hour to hour and 15 minutes. Even at that rate she was still leaking urine multiple times a day. It was like she didn't even know she was doing it. We worked so hard to keep her dry and clean but it was an impossible task. Working around the clock we got very little sleep and when we did sleep it was nothing more than naps. I was doing laundry almost constantly.

Who me? No, I would never cause that much trouble.

It was a nightmare. Hubby and I were both in terrible shape.

When we took her in on the 24th to get her stitches out we expressed our desperation over the complete lack of improvement in her ability to hold her urine and the impact it was having on us. She was bouncing back wonderfully in all other areas but this one - this one critical area. The doc mercifully gave us a prescription for a sphincter tightening medication to help her hold her urine better until it could heal itself.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah - She hasn't leaked since!!!! We've spent this week slowly stretching the length of time between our visits outside - right now we are at 4.5 hours. Honestly, I don't know how long she'll be able to hold it but if we can get to 8 hours I'll be one happy camper. Yesterday we even dismantled our living room campsite and returned to our normal sleeping arrangements. Sure I still had to get up in the middle of the night to take her outside but I only had to do this once so that's a huge improvement.

Maybe if you pet my belly, you will feel better.
I know I will.

Life is not yet back to normal and it will still be a couple months before we know for sure if her sphincter will regain full function but I'm very encouraged at the progress we've seen this week. If not for this medication I wouldn't have been able to go to Thanksgiving dinner and neither of us would be getting 4 hours of sleep at a time.

No doubt, it will take my body and mind a while to recover from this madness. I'm just so thankful the worst of it is over and our beloved fur baby is again charming us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Pet Emergency Has Triggered A Fibro Flare and Migraine

Hello friends. I wanted to give you a quick heads up about what is going on, why I haven't been posting and why it may be another week before I'm able to start doing regular posts again. It's all about our little chihuahua, Gypsy. 

She needed a fairly involved surgery to have 15 stones removed from her bladder on Monday. The surgery went well but she is in lots of pain and can't let her bladder stretch until her incisions have healed. Translation she needs to be taken outside every 2 hours. 

Shortly after returning home. She was
out of it most of the evening.
For the first 24 hours she was crying unless she was sleeping but she slept very little. So between trying to comfort her, take her out, change her bedding, and do almost constant laundry to ensure she always has clean towels and blankets, hubby and I have gotten very little sleep. 

We are camping out in the living room so we
can keep a close watch on her.

After about 12 hours on this schedule a major fibro flare was triggered in my hands, arms and lower legs. A migraine was not far behind. My brain is mush. All I want to do is crawl into bed and just be still and sleep. But that won't be possible for another week. 

Things here are ugly right now so I decided to just excuse myself from my usual blogging schedule until I can start getting some rest. In fact, I've decided I need to excuse myself from everything besides taking care of Gypsy. That's all I can handle under the circumstances. 

Frankly, I'm surprised I'm still functioning at all right now. 


Friday, November 14, 2014

My Own Time Machine

I was listening to some old music yesterday - songs I hadn't heard in many years. Each song was like a 3 minute journey back in time, transporting me to the places, people and experiences that became unintentionally tied to the music.

As I journeyed through my memories on this musical time machine I found myself feeling so thankful. I've had many amazing friends in my life. I filled my youth with adventures and laughter, mistakes and successes. I created a lot of memories and all of them are woven into music. Because of this, I'm able to enjoy the surprisingly vivid feelings of all my memories whenever I want. I will treasure this as long as I have my memory.

Incidentally, this is also why I will always keep all my CDs and always put any digital music I buy on a CD.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

Here are some fun Chihuahua video clips for your amusement.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Relationship Between My Eyes and My Migraines

Lately I've been thinking about the relationship between my eye issues and my migraines. 

I started getting migraines when I was in 3rd grade. Light sensitivity has always been present with all of my migraines but, over the years, I also found myself gravitating toward low light even when I was feeling fine. I didn't even know that was unusual until I was in my mid-20s. 

I remember the exact moment it happened. My grandparents had just moved to Minnesota so we lived right by each other for the first time since I was a baby. My sister and I just happened to show up at the same time to visit with our grandma, while grandpa was away. The three of us were chatting and laughing - it was a cloudy day, the curtains were drawn and only one dim lamp was on - when our mom showed up to visit too. The first thing she did when she arrived was start turning on lights and asking us why we were sitting in the dark. 

The thing is, it never occurred to any of us that we were sitting in the dark. See all three of us had already had spent many years living with episodic migraines. While our mom has had a migraine, that's really about all she has had. She doesn't get migraines and isn't bothered by light. 

For whatever reason, migraines seem to have a lasting impact on how our eyes respond to light, but light sensitivity isn't the only thing that has happened to my eyes as a result of my migraines. 

When I was in my early 20s I started having eye pain and sought out an optometrist for the first time in my life. The doc said my eyes were strong and my eye sight was great but that I had Convergence Inefficiencies. Basically that just means when I'm not trying to look at something specific each of my eyes just relax and look forward. Any time I want to I can make them come together and focus on stuff but it's work. The more time I spend focusing on stuff the more stress it puts on my eyes, resulting in pain. 

Now, I don't know if this is a result of my migraines or if it has contributed to them in some way but my theory is that I started doing this as a way to cope with the well lit world around me. When my eyes relax and go their own way, I can see shapes, colors and movements - basically I get the visual gist of what's going on around me but I don't see any one thing. This relaxed state takes some of the pressure off my eyes and keeps my brain from spending much energy process visual information.

During all stages of a migraine, this issue becomes more pronounced. I can see but I don't really see or process much of anything. Focusing on stuff just becomes so painful and overwhelming that my eyes fight back when I try to. I can still do it for very short periods of time but it's a lot of work and only causes more pain. Even as I'm typing now my eyes are relaxed and not really looking at anything. I'll pull them together to proof read at the end but otherwise I don't really need to focus. 

Whatever the cause, whatever the nature of the relationship between migraines and the eyes, there is no doubt the severity of my eye issues have compounded in the years since my migraines went chronic. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

My First D.O. Appointment

Last week I had my first D.O. appointment. It was a whole different world from the usual factory style practices I've been to before. The office was quiet with pleasant lighting. There was soft ocean sounds being played in the lobby and in the exam room. The doc was relaxed and took his time. We talked about my symptoms and what I've been through up until now. He looked at me when we were talking and appeared to think about his responses before saying anything. Then came the exam.

I want to call the exam a physical exam because that seems like a good description but I feel like that might give you the wrong idea. We've all had physical exams before that include the same old things: looking in the eyes and ears, checking reflexes, walking away from the doc and then toward the know the drill. That is not what this was. He checked all of my major joints and bone structures paying special attention to my head, neck and spine. He did some manipulations that seemed similar to what you might get with a chiropractor but without any popping or sudden twisting motions.

Overall, I feel like it was a good start. I felt like he heard everything I said AND believed what I was telling him. That alone was a relief. He seemed knowledgeable about my conditions and clearly views the body and mind as one big system that works together. He suggested I add a couple simple things to my daily stretches and he ordered a different night guard for me to use when I'm sleeping.

While it's too early to know if this is going to be the right doc for me, this was definitely the best initial appointment I've had in years. The thing is, I don't expect any doc to be perfect. BUT I want one who can listen and work with me. I want to be treated like a human being. I want to be able to question the path I'm on and not have the doc get defensive. I'm optimistic that this new doc meets this basic criteria.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

Here is a funny clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Small Adjustment from Halloween to Thanksgiving

I had my first appointment with the D.O. yesterday afternoon but I'm not quite ready to write about it yet - still processing. In the meantime I thought I would share my Thanksgiving decorations with you. Honestly, around here switching from Halloween to Thanksgiving is not a drastic thing.

Just as a reminder here was the Halloween stuff:

Drum roll please...and Thanksgiving:

My jar lights have already given out and I've
not yet to replaced them.  

I replaced the Halloween banner with Thanksgiving
keeping the Happy.

And turned the jack-o-lantern around
to make it just a pumpkin.
I must confess I've already let myself get excited about switching out the Thanksgiving stuff for the Christmas stuff - just 3 weeks and 2 days to go. Yes, I'm counting.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Is Happiness All That?

Happy. I've come to dislike the word. I want moments of happiness in my life as much as the next person but it just seems like we are expected to become happy, as if it were a destination you arrive at when you get x or achieve y. Seems to me happy is just a short, temporary response to something pleasant. No different than laughing being a response to a funny joke. Enjoy the joke, enjoy the laugh, maybe even retell it to others so they can enjoy it too. Nobody ever expects a joke to change their lives and make everything better so why do we expect so much from happiness?

No doubt, our culture really emphasizes it. Fairy tales all end the same way - the princess and prince get together and they all live happily ever after. As if falling in love and getting married is some finish line beyond which life is happy. Almost every ad campaign centers around products or services designed to make us happy. If only we had the latest and greatest product our lives would be perfect - look how happy the actors are. Heck, even our Declaration of Independence calls the pursuit of happiness an unalienable right. I almost feel like we are obligated to present a happy front in public at all times and that seems to include social media these days.

Now I don't think there some sort of conspiracy to make us feel bad about all our moments that fall short of happy, which describes most moments.  But I do think it's easy these days to lose perspective on the role of happiness. Seems to me happy is nothing more than one of many emotional responses we human being might have to any given situation. I don't want to judge my life based on how much happiness I feel, or how much I think I feel in comparison to those around me. I want to live a life of courage, strength and kindness. That's the goal anyway.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Toll Living With Chronic Migraines and Fibromyalgia Has Taken on My Sense of Self and How It Impacts The Way I Am Treated

October has been tough for me. Any crazy thing that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. I've written about some of the details but won't bore you with all the frustrating happenings. Over the weeks more and more has gone wrong. Simple things that should never go wrong - did; and should have been easy to fix but wasn't. They have been piling up and putting me in a bad place.

I honestly was beginning to wonder if I was starting to lose it a little. How could all of my interactions with the outside world turn out like this? Could it actually be me? Was my mind taking me away from the reality the rest of the world experiences?

I've put a great deal of thought into it and decided that while I can be certain I'm not having a mental break from reality, I can't be certain it's not me. Let me explain myself.

People respond to energy and non-verbals. They do, even if they don't know that they do. You can tell when someone is confident, energetic, peaceful, stressed, tormented, sad, self conscious, etc. Like it or not, the world will treat you differently based on what sort of energy you are projecting. I've seen it in my own life and have even used it in the past to become what I wanted to become. The old "fake it until you make it" philosophy.

When I think about it, I don't feel like the same confident, self-assured, strong, independent woman I used to feel like. It took a while but:
* The years of trying so hard to improve the frequency and/or severity of my migraine and fibromyalgia symptoms only to have every effort fail has taken a toll.
* The years of having medical professionals and others in my life treat me like what was happening to me was either my fault, in my head or being exaggerated has taken a toll.
* All the looks of doubt or pity on the faces of people I encounter have taken a toll.
* The years of being very aware of all the ways in which people are misunderstanding and judging me have taken a toll.
* The years of beating myself up because of all the things I can't do have taken a toll.
* The years of mourning over all my lost abilities and trying to cope with all the ways these losses impact my life have taken a toll.
* The years of continued weight loss have taken a toll.
* The years of feeling vulnerable because I'm can't work have taken a toll.
* The years of brain fog, fatigue, nausea, aches, pains, sensitivities, etc. have taken a toll.
* The years of fighting so hard to just be treated with a little dignity and respect by doctors has taken a toll.
* The years of indignity and struggle have taken a toll.

When I look back on all the troubles of this past month I see everything I just listed above reflected in those experiences. Then I look at how I feel I am and I don't recognize what I see as me but rather some nervous, scared, vulnerable, unsure, weak, angry shell. I hate it. I hate the toll all of this has taken. This is not what I want for my life.

Perhaps this past month things have reached a tipping point internally. Perhaps these negative feelings have grown so out of control that the world is now responding to what I'm projecting. I feel so marginalized that I'm being marginalized, which makes me feel more marginalized. I'm not being heard or seen or taken seriously. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that it's my fault because professionals ALL have an obligation to treat people well and do their jobs at all times even though in reality many don't. BUT, I do think it's possible the people around me were choosing to be lazy, dishonest or uninterested because of the energy I was projecting - at least in some of the cases.

I can't be sure but, if nothing else, the troubles of this past month did inspire this close examination of how I feel about me. The good news is that I really do believe this is something I can change. It won't be easy and will likely take a long time but I can't let this go on. Here and now, I've decided to start myself down a different path.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

A fun Halloween bit from my favorite french cat, Henri.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Is For The Healthy

I've always had a love/hate relationship with Halloween.

As a kid it was fun to dress up and get a big bag of candy but there was always one big problem - we lived in Minnesota. Even if the temps were tolerable during the day, by the time the sun went down it was bitter cold and often raining, sleeting or snowing. I can remember my mom making me wear my winter coat every year. While that was obviously the right thing to do, it always made the costume feel irrelevant. Between the freezing cold temps and my discomfort with the strange adults behind every door commenting on our costumes, the act of trick-or-treating quickly started to feel like a chore. Totally worth the big bag of candy but a chore none-the-less.

I was actually a little relieved when I outgrew the whole thing. Perfectly content to spend my teenage years eating some of the candy my parents bought to hand out to the neighborhood kids. We always had much more candy than we did kids coming by.

In collage Halloween became truly fun. I rediscovered the joy of getting dressed up and doing something fun with make-up. I loved gathering with a bunch of peers, laughing and dancing in our costumes. It was a great excuse to step outside our everyday norms and have a totally silly, wild time. The only tricky part was getting up for class or work the next morning.

These days I don't really do anything for Halloween. Even if I had the energy to pull together a costume and do a bunch of make-up, I certainly wouldn't have any left over for an actual party. Even though my healthy 20-something self loved a good party, my chronic pain 30-something self knows I wouldn't have any fun. Everything about a Halloween party would be a migraine trigger: wearing a bunch of make-up, loud music, big crowd, sugar-filled treats, flashing lights, staying up late. Yikes!

Honestly, the only thing this chronic pain 30-something wants to do on Halloween is decorate and hand out candy (assuming I wasn't in too much pain). But that's not in the cards. I purposely don't do any strictly Halloween themed decorations outside because we don't want anyone to think they can ring our doorbell on Halloween night. Little Gypsy would probably have a nervous breakdown if kids were coming by ringing the bell every few minutes.

Some moments I find myself wishing I could still do the whole Halloween thing. Then I come to my senses and realize that Halloween is for the healthy. It's okay, I'm lucky to have those memories that I can bring to mind and re-experience at will. I may be in a different stage of life but that's not a bad thing.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Want To Be Entertained By Commercials

Commercials - we all hate them. They are loud, obnoxious, annoying interruptions to all the programs we love watching on TV and online. Even short video clips are now attached to commercials. I know they serve some important purposes: providing revenue, informing the public about upcoming events. And they serve some less important purposes: announcing sales, helping to establish brand recognition and letting people know about new products or services. Blah, blah, blah...

When it comes down to it commercials bother me. Every time I sit down to watch a program (except all the wonderful programs on Netflix - oh how I love Netflix) I am forced to endure 18-20 minutes of commercials per hour. Often seeing the same 6 or 7 commercials repeatedly in that time frame. While I'm annoyed by the very interruption, I'm even more annoyed because most commercials are terrible; from the grating political attack ads to those over-the-top local car dealerships ads.

Every now and then a clever or funny commercials makes it into the mix. Here is a Geico ad that's running right now that spoofs horror movies:

I actually don't mind watching this. Even though I've seen it numerous times, it still makes me smile and chuckle to myself. Call me crazy but I want to be entertained by commercials. Life is hard enough. I don't want the added stress of hateful or obnoxious ads. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the ads were light and fun like this one? Do you have a favorite?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is It Me Or Is It Them?

This rabbit hole I've gone down extends beyonds the bottomless pit of f&*% ups with my presciption refill that I told you about earlier. Here let me start at the beginning:

I went in for a trim in an effort to maintain my hair style - a style that lead me to like my hair for the first time in many many years. Since hubby and I needed to get moving on a photo shoot for our Christmas card if we want to get it done in time (we do a rather elaborate card every year), I thought I would have her style my hair to fit our card concept after my trim. That way when I returned home we could jump right into the photo shoot. She did the cut and I noticed it was uneven so I pointed it out and she trimmed the long end and then moved on to styling it. With a lot of product, a hot curing iron and some teasing - poof - turned out pretty close to what I had imagined for the picture:

I cropped the picture so as not to give away the outfit.
I promise I am NOT naked or even dressed inappropriately.

All was right with the world - until the next morning when I washed my hair and discovered when she fixed the uneven cut originally she had actually over-corrected and now the other side was longer. This meant another trip to the salon to get it fixed. My gal only works on weekends so it would have to be fixed by someone else (probably for the best).

So I sat down and explained what had happened and showed the new person exactly where the problem was. He wet my hair and set about correcting the problem. He kept going back and forth between the two sides and cutting more and more hair. When he finished he asked me what I thought and I ran my fingers through - by now it was shorter than I had wanted and not really the same hair style. That's okay - hair grows out. What was important is that it was even - and it did feel even.

There was nobody else in the salon so he asked if he could style it and said it wouldn't cost extra so I let him. When I returned home and pulled it back in my usual stretched out fabric headband (keeps the hair off my face and doesn't put any pressure on my head) I realized it was actually still uneven. When I felt it at the salon my hair was very wet and frankly it felt even but clearly it is not.

Much shorter - especially in the back
and still uneven.
Did he not understand what I was telling him? Did he actually just give me a new style because he thought that was what I was asking for, or does this salon actually have two stylist who can't tell when hair is uneven?

Needless to say I won't be going back to this salon. I'm tempted to just go to the mall and walk around talking to stylist until I find someone who can look at my hair and identify the problem on their own. That way I know they at least have an eye for even hair. It's either that or have hubby try to even it out and just cross my fingers that the next salon and stylist I randomly choose can do a better job. 

I feel like a magnet for incompetence. I don't encounter many people in my life since I don't work but everyone on the small list of professionals I count on to perform tasks for me is screwing up in big way. The doctors, the mail order pharmacy, the dog groomer who trims Gypsy's nails and now my hair stylist. I can feel a measure of cynicism taking hold. 

I used to be such a trusting person.  Is it me?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

Ever wonder why we still celebrate Columbus Day? Here is a funny bit from John Oliver on that very subject. 

Have a great day!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Pumpkin Patch Isn't for Migrainistas

I had it in my head that I wanted to go to a pumpkin patch for the past couple weeks. I thought it would be a fun way to get out and enjoy some fall weather and maybe a great place to pick up some corn stalks and bunches of dried corn on the cob. Certain that pumpkins from the patch would cost more, I had already picked up a couple cheap pumpkins on sale at Lowes.

I had wanted to go last Monday for our anniversary but we were in the middle of a long stretch of cold wet days. But it finally worked out that we had a little time on Saturday afternoon. The weather was ideal and I found a pumpkin patch about 20 miles away that looked promising online.

In my head I pictured a quiet farm where we could walk the field and see the pumpkins. Maybe a couple stands set up where you could pick up some fall stuff like the dried corn on the cob, maybe some fresh fall veggies and, of course, pay for the pumpkins.

That was NOT what this particular pumpkin patch was. It was like going to a county fair. The traffic leading into the farm was horrible, who knew this was such a big deal. We ended up parking quite far and having to walk to the actual farm area, which was packed with kids and costume clad dogs. There was funnel cake and hot dogs, a haunted house and gift shop, rows and rows of overpriced pumpkins laid out by size, hayride and tractor pulls, a live band, a playground for the kids, a maze... It was more fall festival than pumpkin patch.

Obviously, not a good place for this migrainista. We walked around for a few minutes and took a few pictures before making the long walk back to our car. Fun was not had but I learned my lesson.

I don't know if the image I have in my head of a quiet farm experience actually exists but I doubt I will want to pay another visit to a pumpkin patch in the years to come. We would have been better off going for a walk around a nice park - at least then we could have taken our dog, Gypsy, with us. Here are a couple of the pictures we took: