Monday, March 31, 2014

The Challenging Nature of Relationships With Medical Professionals

Last week our sweet little fur baby Gypsy was injured by a vet tech who clearly wasn't properly trained or experienced enough to restrain a dog who is freaking out during a nail trim. The nail trim happened behind closed doors - I don't know why they always insist on taking them away for some care but they do. When it was all done and we returned home Gypsy was clearly not the same. She was jumping at every little sound, she cried out in pain when I picked her up, her posture and movements showed that she was in some pain (especially after a long nap), she was clinging to me more than usual, fearful of sounds and not interested in playing. Several hours later a bright red thumb shaped bruise developed at the base of her sternum. Someplace hands should not have been if she was being properly restrained.
Speaking with the vet who owns the practice was a complete waste of time. He simply refused to believe that the injury she received was the result of mishandling by the vet tech. He made this assessment without seeing her, without seeing the injury and without knowing what happened behind those closed doors. He said that he had never seen a dog bruise as a result of being restrained so he couldn't believe that is what happened here. He completely invalidated my concerns and tried to make it sound like I don't know what I'm talking about.

Apparently he is much more interested in being right than in correcting problems that clearly exist within his practice so these problems will continue and other animals will be mishandled. My hands are tied. Other than leaving bad reviews everywhere I can online there is nothing more I can do and that drives me crazy - on several levels. One thing is for sure, I will never again let one of my pets be taken behind closed doors AND we will go ahead and drive to our old neighborhood to our old vet and nail trimmer for all future care.

Over the past several days as I've kicked this around in my head over and over I can't help but see the similarities between how the owner of this vet clinic treated me and how I've been treated by some doctors when trying to get help with my chronic pain. The defensive nature of how they respond when you try to question or challenge something that is going on. The refusal to believe something is real just because they don't understand or have no experience with it. The blind faith in others in their field and a universal distrust of the patient, using broad generalizations to make assumptions instead of delving into the specific details of the situation. 

It's so maddening. I truly believe most doctors (for animals and humans) want to be healers. These interactions are complex and challenging for all parties involved. Communication is terrible, we don't understand each other. We are not forming partnerships. Insurance companies, bottom lines, time constraints, burn out, frustrations and countless other factors are influencing these relationships. Far too often we end up just failing to make progress. There has got to be a better way. 

How do we even begin to tackle a problem this large in scope and this deeply entrenched?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Does Having a Type A Personality Impact My Chronic Pain?

I'm a pretty structured person.

Being structured has its advantages. Over the years I've put a fair amount of time and effort into developing a system to do just about everything from washing the dishes, opening the curtains, playing various hands of card and even chewing gum. I know this probably makes me sound a little nutty but I have actually found the best way to chew gum. Very little of what I do hasn't been put through various trials and internal analyses. It's just something I've always done, even before I realized what I was doing. It comes as natural to me as walking.

Now I don't actually believe that there is a right and a wrong way to do most things but I find that there is usually one way that is most efficient or produces more consistent positive results so in that way I guess I believe some ways are better than others, assuming you value those outcomes. And I do. You see, I get actual pleasure from doing things in a tried and true manner, by being efficient and taking as much work as possible out of doing work.

I know, I know, it's nutty. But I guess it has come in helpful over the past 8 years that I've been living with chronic pain and struggling to divvy my limited energies into all the various tasks that need to be accomplished. I simply don't have the energy to accomplish everything I want to and often can't even get the things I need to do, done. But I find some comfort in knowing I'm doing all I can to limit the amount of energy each task requires of me. As an added bonus I'm also satisfying the type A beast that resides in me.

As I think about the impact this level of structure has had on me over the years I can't help but wonder if it might actually have contributed to the onset of my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia to any degree and/or if it is possibly making these more difficult to treat. I wonder what percentage of those of us who suffer with chronic pain year after year have a type A personality. I wonder if the added stress I place on myself as a result of being self-critical and competitive has an impact on my susceptibility to the migraine genes I got from my family.

I think it is clear that these traits run contrary to many aspects of chronic pain management like meditation, proper breathing, relaxed muscles and such. I know studies have been done about the impact the different personality traits have on other illness like heart disease and high blood pressure showing relationships do exist. Seems completely possible that it would play a role in chronic pain too. Everything I've found on the subject online has been about the relationship between personality disorders and chronic pain.

I don't have any of the answers but think it would make an interesting study.

I do tend to believe that being Type A has had an impact on my chronic pain even though I might not understand exactly how and to what degree.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

This is a funny bit from from Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Tipping Point

In the past week or so I've seen several stories on TV about tipping etiquette. These stories always stress me out. I never know who all I should be tipping or how much I should tip them. We all know that we're supposed to be tipping waiters and hair stylists but what about the less obvious services. Should I be tipping the person who cuts our dog's nails? What about the person who delivers the newspaper? 

To hear these "experts" talk about everyone who should be tipped regularly and everyone who you should be giving money to at Christmas time, I can't help but feel both overwhelmed and a little annoyed. If I'm paying $14 to have my dog's nails trimmed I don't also want to pay another 15% on top of that to tip the person who did it. If that means I have to pay $16 for to get her nails trimmed then that is what it costs and what I will have to pay. I don't want to have to try to do the math in my head every single time I pay for a service. My migraine brain simply can't handle it. Just tell me what it costs.

I don't want to be put in a situation where I don't know if or what I should be paying in addition to what a service costs. I almost never carry cash with me and I don't want to be forced to in order to tip people. AND I don't think it is appropriate to put the service worker in a position to depend on people knowing if and how to tip appropriately in order to make their wages. I've turned down help I really could have used at airports and hotels on several occasions because I didn't have cash to tip the people who were offering help. But if I'm paying $175 a night to stay in a hotel that employs bellboys I think that fee should include some assistance with my bag. And if I'm going to spend $25 on room service eggs and toast, I think that should include paying the person who delivers it to the room. Why else would it cost so much? The same goes for those annoying tip jars at coffee houses around the country - my $4 cup of tea should cover the 30 seconds worth of work it took the employee to put it together. 

I know for a fact that waiters and waitresses make less than minimum wage and therefore depend on tips to make their money so I always tip them. But I fully believe that tipping is something our culture should do away with entirely. Restaurants need to pay their wait staff regular wages - every company needs to pay ALL of their service workers regular wages. Doing so will ensure that they get paid for the work they do and  help us consumers to know what all of the services we use actually cost so we can better plan and budget. 

Hubby said it best the other day when we were talking about this very thing. He said that tipping essentially forces the consumer into taking on some of the responsibility of an employer. Not only is it inappropriate to make us decide what a person's service is worth but it forces us to do so without the necessary knowledge to make the right decision. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

March PFAM Blog Carnival

The March Patients for a Moment Blog Carnival is now available. The topic this month is: what is your favorite book about illness. Check out the great links and information.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Am I Healthy?

In the past 8 years since the onset of my chronic migraines and subsequent development of fibromyalgia I've heard one thing from doctors and nurses time and time again which doesn't quite sit right with me. They keep calling me healthy. I hear this when dealing with a new doctor or nurse. They will take a history or ask what brings me in today and I will explain what is going on with me. It doesn't seem to matter if I give them the short version or the long version of my health situation the response is always the same: "So you are healthy." When they say this what they actual mean is that I don't present with cancer, diabetes or heart disease. But does that mean I'm healthy? Are these conditions the only real measure of health or lack of health?

Here are the facts. My entire life revolves around my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. I can't function more than half the time because of pain or other bothersome symptoms like confusion. Even on the best of days I can't spend more than 2 or 3 hours at the most doing stuff. I have to rest between activities. Any interruption in my routine will result in a flare up or either or both conditions. I can't spend much time around bright lights, loud noises, smells or activity without triggering a migraine. My nausea is so severe most days it interferes with my ability to eat enough food. Despite crazy fatigue I struggle to sleep and even when I sleep I rarely ever feel rested. My brain frequently fails me when I'm in the middle of a sentence, leaving me unable to say the word I'm thinking. I'm in pain ALL of the time. Even though I spend all of my time trying to manage my symptoms so that I can optimize my ability to function, I don't function well enough to hold a job.

Does that sound like a healthy person?

Living it, I can tell you that I don't feel healthy and I don't see myself as a healthy person. Healthy implies that the body is working the way it is supposed to. My body certainly isn't in that category even though it may look that way to the casual observer. BUT I don't think doctors should be casual observers. Hearing medical professionals declare me healthy makes me think that they don't take my conditions seriously because they don't think it is life threatening. It feels like a brush off. Every time I hear this, it makes me cringe and I feel instantly uncomfortable about the care I am about to receive.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

This is a long video but very funny.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crazy Migraine Cure Claim From Gold's Gym

I'm feeling like a bulls#@* watchdog this week.

Gold's Gym is now running a commercial where the featured person is talking about how, before he had a Gold's Gym membership, he used to suffer from migraines and he no longer does thanks to his workouts (!?!?!). Obviously exercise at Gold's Gym is not going to cure anybody of their migraines. I don't know how they get away with making these kinds of crazy claims. I tried to find the commercial online so that I could share it with you-all but wasn't able to.

Monday, March 17, 2014

More Misinformation on Migraines From Dr. Oz

Dr Oz is at it again - spreading misinformation about migraines. He did a segment on treating chronic pain last week. The first part of the segment he was promoting some natural remedy to treat people who suffer with chronic pain of all sorts. The second part of the segment was on treating migraines. He had a woman there who said that she had 2-3 migraines a week. He then did a quick graphic showing how migraines are caused by the dilation and contraction of the blood vessels in the brain. He then went on to suggest that this woman and all those who suffer from migraines could prevent the migraines by just taking a magnesium supplement. Oh - Dr Oz- SHAME ON YOU!

It is shameful that he would perpetuate this outdated information instead of doing his homework and presenting actual facts on migraines - AGAIN. You may remember I posted about a segment on his show where he perpetuated myths about migraines back in April of 2013. I had wanted to provide a link to his website video of that segment but they didn't post it. Interestingly enough, this latest video segment is also missing from their website. Can't be a coincidence.

This overt lack of accuracy has pushed me over the edge with Dr. Oz. I simply can't put any faith in anything he has to say at this point. Clearly he and his staff are not concerned enough about facts for him to be a trusted resource beyond his specific area of practice as a heart surgeon. I won't be tuning in again.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March Migraine Blog Carnival Now Available

The March Migraine Blog Carnival is now available. This month's topic is Head Above Water. Check out the link to read all the great posts and learn about how to participate in the April carnival.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

You may have seen clips of this Funny or Die video of President Obama and Zach Galifinakis. Here is the full version for your enjoyment. Zach is so funny and Obama is a great sport to play along.

Have a great day!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Some Simple Facts

My plans don't matter to my pain.
My wants don't matter to my pain.
My time doesn't matter to my pain.

I am a mere slave to my pain and the management of it.

My attitude is all I have.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Some Quick Make Up Tricks To Look "Normal"

Way back in June I wrote about the things I do to look like a "normal person" and promised that I would show you pictures. Okay, so it took me WAY to long to follow through but, here I am, keeping my promise.

First, this is me with nothing on my face but lotion. These are not great pictures. It is hard to capture the dark circles and then see them in these small pictures.

The lowest level of the fake is just applying a little bit of eye brightener. I use Revlon eye brightener/primer and put just a little bit under my eyes and on my lids. This quick easy step makes me look more awake and well rested.

The next level of the fake is doing the eye brightener and a little bit of blush. Adding that color is a really subtle addition but I think it helps brighten the face and again make me look healthier. See below.

The final level of the fake is putting on the eye brightener, the blush and a bit of eye liner. I don't want to spend the time putting on mascara and then having to remove it but I find the eye liner to be an quicker, easier way to bring a little pop to my eyes and make me appear a bit more polished. See below.

The difference between the three levels of the fake are subtle (even more subtle in the pictures). I don't have the time, energy, health or desire to fuss with lots of make up. I simply want to employ a trick or two when I actually feel up to going out in the world so I look a little more normal and a little less sick. The whole thing only takes a couple minutes. What's funny is that when I use these tricks before going to see my doctor I always hear "well you look like you are feeling much better" but I never hear that when I don't. For me, that says it all.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Paint Samples Everywhere

I've begun the process of creating a color pallet for our home. Step one consisted of scouring Lowes and Home Depot for all these pain samples. I'm going to be doing grey in the master suite. One of these

And I'm going to be doing a light brown/tan in the main living space. One of these.

Yikes! That's a lot of choices. Now begins the slow process of narrowing them down.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

When I'm Struggling

The prompt for the March Migraine Blog Carnival is about what keeps us going when we're struggling with our migraines. I love this topic because so often I find myself writing about the things I do to cope living with my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia along with the things I do to optimize the "good" times. The distinction between the things I do to cope day to day and the things I do to keep me going when I'm struggling is stark.

The day to day coping strategies I employ are not enough when I'm really struggling either because I'm in the middle of a long stretch of migraine days or because some depression has taken hold of me. This is an opportunity to dig deep and simply hang on until the worst of it passes and my usual coping strategies can be employed again.

Hanging on until things get better isn't a good description of what goes on. Here is what I actually do. I go into my emergency mode. All of my energies (what very little I have at such times) have to be focused on keeping me mentally and physically relaxed so as not to make matters worse by increasing my pain and getting caught up in the inevitable fears and anxieties. In my head I know that if I do this, time will eventually bring me enough relief so that my usual coping techniques will become effective and things can return to "normal".

So what keeps me going? I guess a sense of self preservation and the love of my family.

Loving Hubby
This is my life and when it comes down to it I have many blessings and lots to live for. I am still a person capable of living and loving. That's about all I can ask for in this world.

It's like my favorite playwright, Samuel Beckett wrote: "I can't go on. I must go on. I'll go on."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

I love stories like this. Hope that it brings a smile to your face and some whimsy to your Wednesday.

Have a great day!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Coming and Going of Blogs

For the past 4 years I've been blogging here. I've been sharing my thoughts, my feelings, my ideas and my insights as they happen. I share about my experiences with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. I share recipes, stories about my family and our fur babies and pictures of projects we work on. Basically, I've been sharing my entire life with all of you wonderful readers. I've wanted to paint a full and honest picture of the ups and downs of my journey to live the best I can despite my chronic pain.

As soon as I created Migrainista I went in search of other migraine and chronic pain blogs. Right away I found several strong, courageous women out there blogging about their lives and experiences. Reading these blogs I felt like I got to know these women and found myself learning and growing through their experiences. But, time being time, things have changed over these past 4 years. Most of the bloggers I started following in that first year are no longer blogging. For the most part I don't know why they stopped but I find myself thinking about these women and wondering how they are.

Just as suddenly as some blogs stop, other blogs start up and I find myself getting to know new women and learning from their experiences. I guess in that way the world of blogging is a lot like interacting in the real world. Our lives intersect with the lives of others for a period of time until our journeys take us in different directions. Each intersection being unique and of varied duration.

Now I can't predict just how long I'll be here sharing as the Migrainista but one thing has become clear to me - I love connecting with all of you through this blog. I hope to be here with you for many years to come.