Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

I'm a big fan of South Park and even more so a fan of Butters. Here is a great clip of sweet little Butters transforming into Professor Chaos.

Have a great day!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Encountering Unexpected Understanding About Migraines

The Good, The Bad, The Scary
We've been in our new house for just over 4 months now but the neighborhood has only just begun to come alive in the past month or so. As we all emerge from the long harsh winter and start tending to our yards, exercising and playing, hubby and I are finally getting to know our neighborhood and our neighbors.

Our backyard. 
There is much to love. I love that it is a small closed off neighborhood (47 lots) not far from the highway but still removed from the hustle and bustle. It is quiet and surrounded by trees on one side and farm land on the other. We see a variety of wildlife in our yard and in the neighborhood. The residents are a diverse bunch, which is not characteristic of the area but how I prefer things. The houses are aesthetic and seem to be well cared for. The architecture of the homes are also diverse as two different developers have worked on the neighborhood. Best of all, everyone we have encountered has been friendly.

Of course, some of what I love about the neighborhood is also what bothers me about the neighborhood. For example, the quiet and beauty of building a new home on previously undeveloped land means that we get to see wildlife but we also have encroached on land previously occupied by some big wolf spiders, mice and other creepy crawlers. I have quite a phobia of such things so we've already signed up for regular visits from a pest control company.

As nice as new construction is, the fact that the neighborhood is still being developed means that we will be dealing with the noise, dirt, nails and rocks in the street and rude construction workers for however long it takes them to sell and build on the remaining lots. Some days I feel like a babysitter, having to tell them not to cut through our yard, not park in front of our mail box, getting them to pick up their trash that blows into our yard... I will be so glad when it's all finished.

The neighbors we have been most concerned with are the ones that occupy the same cul-de-sac we live in. There are only 3 other homes. One is still under construction and we suspect it will be the new model home. It will be a while before we get to learn anything about this future neighbor. One of the homeowners are super shy so we have not actually had a chance to introduce ourselves, which is fine. They are super quiet and keep to themselves, as far as we're concerned great neighbors. The couple who moved into the old model home across the way are really nice. They are more outdoorsy and social than we are but they are easy to get along with and are the type of people who are very aware of what is going on around them. Again, great qualities for neighbors.

All of this to say:
I hemmed and hawed a fair amount over if, when and how much to disclose to our neighbors about my migraines. I always do when I know I'm going to be encountering new people. At some point occupations always become a topic and since I don't have one some level of disclosure is usually necessary. To my delight this couple was already familiar with migraines and even articulated an understanding that it is much more than headaches. The pool of people who understand migraines AND are not uncomfortable around people like me who live with chronic pain is so small. I could just cry that they live right by us.

We might actually be developing a friendship with this couple.

Dare I even hope? How wonderful would it be to have neighbors we could hang out with sometimes? How wonderful would it be to have a new friend? Developing new friendships can be so tricky when you live with chronic migraines, fibromyalgia and are introverted. I feel quite lucky that we ended up so close to people with such high potential for friendship. We have things in common, their children are almost out of college so they have time, they know about migraines and it doesn't seem to make them uncomfortable, all 4 of us sort of hit it off... Hubby and I have never had a friendship with another couple. We've gone out with other couples but they are usually his friends or my friends. We've never hit it off with the spouses of each other's friends. I'm so excited!

I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. Only time will tell if we end up as friends or just friendly neighbors. Either way, is okay. But this is the first time in years that I've seen potential for a new friendship and I'm not going to pretend it is anything other than a thrill.

Friday, April 25, 2014

April PFAM Blog Carnival Now Available

The April Patients For A Moment Blog Carnival is now available. This month's the prompt was to write a letter to your pre-illness self. Check out these great posts.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

I am blown away by the amount of time that must go into a project like this. Love this so much.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Attempt To Find A Pattern To My Migraines

As I begin my 2nd day of recovery from the busy holiday weekend with my family I'm spending some time thinking about how my body did. Despite having a migraine on Saturday that took me out about two hours into our party, I did surprisingly well. As much as I would like to think it was due to my advance preparations, I think the fact that so far April has been a relatively "good" month in terms of migraines frequency is probably the actual reason.

While these "good" months are not all that frequent they do happen at least once a year for reasons completely unknown to me. I'm not doing anything different, it doesn't happen on the same month or at consistent intervals, but each time it happens I am filled with a renewed hope that the tide is turning and better days are ahead. Of course, it never does last. Again, for reasons completely unknown to me my migraines always return to their usual frequency. Then there are the months that are especially bad, feeding my fears that my migraines are getting worse and I'm not managing them well at all. Funny how fickle the emotional side of chronic illness can be.


As hard as I've worked over the past 4 years since I started tracking my migraines, to figure out a pattern, none have emerged. At times it seems like a pattern is developing but as soon as that happens it changes. This consistent inconsistency leads me to believe in the complexity of chronic migraines. There must be more than one cause and multiple complicating factors. No wonder it is so hard to manage and nearly impossible to prevent.

The mystery continues, as does the tracking and the hope that some day I will figure out what the heck is going on. If nothing else, the puzzle can only serve to help keep my mind sharp.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Preparing Myself for a Busy Holiday Weekend

Lists are made and items are being checked off. Things look (and feel) a bit chaotic but are slowly coming together. I'm exhausted. My hands and legs are flaring - that pesky fibromyalgia pain. My muscles tension has kicked up several gears and has turned painful. My migraine has been waxing and waning for the last week or so - more waxing than waning over the past couple of days.
All of this to say, I'm getting ready for house guests. With several family members in town for the holiday weekend we are going to be having a party Saturday night to show everyone the new house and enjoy the company of one another. I absolutely love, love gathering with my family. They are a fun bunch and it has been a long time since I've seen many of them. 

As you can imagine, no matter how much I love being with my family and how much I'm looking forward to it, I have my health to consider as I prepare to host a party for 12 and hopefully participate in the big Sunday brunch and be a good host to my mom, who will be staying at our house. Here are the precautions I'm taking in hopes of maximizing my ability to function and enjoy this time. 

1. We're going to just order pizza on Saturday night. I can't commit to cooking for 12 and then expect to function at all the rest of the night, let alone be up for activities on Sunday. Plus I don't have seating for 12 people for a proper dinner party. Pizza is finger food that can be easily consumed from the couch or wherever. 

2. I've been slowly accomplishing things on my to-do-list for more than a week now so that I wouldn't have to try (and certainly fail) to get it all done in the final couple days.

3. I will have a couple things on my list for Friday but I'm going to do everything I can to rest as much as possible during the day before my mom arrives. I know I need that down time to prepare my body for the noise, activity and excitement of the weekend. 

4. When my mom leaves on Monday I'm planning to just crash. It doesn't matter if I'm having fun or not, that much activity is going to take me out. All of my fingers and toes are crossed that it won't take me out until after everyone has left. I don't have any plans for the following week so I can take as much time as needed to recover. 

5. I'm going to remember to stay hydrated and listen to my body as much as possible. If I'm not up to something I know my mom will help out - gladly. I must remember that everyone will understand if I have to excuse myself from the festivities. My mantra is: No matter how things go with my health - it will be okay. I say it to myself 3 times every time I start to get anxious about all the ways my body can fail me and ruin my fun. 

Now I must get back to my to-do-list. 
Happy Easter to you all!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

If you ever watched Full House back in the day, you'll get a kick out of this slam poem performed by Tom Hanks.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Imagine Chronic Migraines and Fibromyalgia in the 1950s

This morning on the Today Show I saw this story about an 8th grader, Maya Van Wagenen, who spent a year following a 1950's guide called Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide. She wore the clothes (including a girdle) and followed all the advice about proper grooming and behavior as an experiment and then wrote her own book about it called Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek.

The concept is incredibly interesting, so much so that I actually want to read both books and consume every little detail. This time in history has always fascinated me - that early sound of rock n roll, the dresses, the hats, the hair, the interiors, the architecture, the projection of that ideal "modern" family. I am speaking only of the images and not of the reality, of course.

When I think about the expectations put on women of that time I can't help but wonder how I would have managed if I was living back then. Living in a time when nobody had ever even heard of fibromyalgia and migraines were considered nothing more than something that happened to women who couldn't manage their stress or who were overreacting. I can't even imagine what people would have thought about a woman suffering from chronic migraines.

Women were expected to be fully pulled together at all times, hair done, make-up perfect, dressed up and wearing nice shoes (aka uncomfortable shoes). They were expected to keep a perfect house, do all the cooking and manage the children, while maintaining that perfect attire.
The Donna Reed Show -

As a kid watching the Donna Reed Show it all looked very idyllic but as an adult suffering from chronic pain I can't help but feel overwhelmed at the very notion of trying to manage my illnesses back then. Sure, there are some aspects of the time that would have worked in my favor. For example, women were expected to get married and stay at home taking care of everything - so I would never have to explain why I don't work outside of the home to anyone.

But, mostly I just see additional challenges. I can't imagine being in slacks or a dress all day every day. I wouldn't be able to go to the grocery store in sweats. I wouldn't be able to be the perfect hostess and throw a fancy dinner party. I wouldn't be able to keep a perfect house. Our house most likely wouldn't have air conditioning. I wouldn't have any rescue meds or my muscle relaxers, which help me to function at the low level I do now. I doubt I would have found a husband who was so understanding of my limitations and willing to put up with me being a very imperfect housewife. There was no internet back then, no online support systems or information exchanges. I wouldn't even know that there are others out there like me. Basically my quality of life would be terrible.

As much as it sucks to live with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia, it would have been so much worse back in the day. I sure hope future generations will think the same thing about our this time now as that would mean we have found better ways to treat and prevent the worst of these illnesses.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April Migraine Blog Carnival Now Available

The April edition of the Headache Disorder and Migraine Blog carnival is now available. This month there wasn't a specific theme but rather participants submitted their favorite migraine related blog posts since the last carnival. Check out all the great posts and get information on how you can participate in next month's carnival.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My First Wall Collage

One thing I was certain of even before we moved into our new house - I knew I wanted the walls of our living space to be exclusively adorned with VanGogh prints. Not only is he a fellow migraineur  but I could spend hours on end looking at his paintings, in fact I have. I never tire of their presence.

I put these two on the wall shortly after moving in, simply to have something up on that wall. Nothing worse than white walls with nothing hanging.

I'm talking about the two images on the far wall - they clearly don't belong on this wall and don't belong next to each other. With some time I also came to realize that they actually don't even belong in this room. This is when I decided that I wanted to do a collection of images on this wall. Years ago I had picked up a book of frameable VanGogh prints in anticipation of the day I would want to hang them. That day has come.

Being a complete newbie to wall collages I was feeling pretty intimidated at first. What does a type A personality do in such situations? The answer is simple - lots of careful thought and planning. Here are the steps I took: 

1st - I picked out the images I wanted to use.
2nd - I bought one frame and one mat and framed one of the images to make sure I liked it.
3rd - I used this frame to create 6 paper templates of the exact right size.
4th - I then taped the paper templates to the wall and moved them around until I felt like I had found the perfect layout. 

5th - Now certain about the whole idea I bought the rest of the frames and mats. 
6th - While placing the images behind the mats I discovered that a couple of my images were too small to fit into the mat opening so I had to switch them out for other images. Thankfully I love all of the VanGogh prints so it was no big deal to switch them out. However, I was pretty surprised that since all the images were in the same book that they were not more uniform. 
7th - I then spent hours measuring, marking, checking and double checking to make sure everything was level as I hung them. You see each frame required two nails and the little tabs that they hung from were not all in the same place so it hanging them took A LOT of time.

Well worth it. I love how it draws your eye upward and helps to showcase the vaulted ceiling. One of the images needs to be moved about 1/4" to the right but I haven't yet decided if it bothers me enough to try and fix it. My husband says that he doesn't notice it and doubts others will. I guess I'll find out next weekend when we have some family over.

Now I don't feel like it is quite complete. A big part of me thinks adding one more horizontal image as an offshoot to the right of the collage would make the whole thing feel a little more complete. That space above the TV needs the attention, don't you think? For now this will have to do. I need some time to recover from yesterday's lengthy hanging session. Plus, other projects need my attention as I prepare for visitors. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

I'm a big Big Bang Theory fan. As much as I liked the show from the start, the addition of Amy has really taken it to a  whole new level. Have a great day!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Accessorizing For My Chronic Pain

Design is important. Okay, so it's not as important as food, shelter and safety but it certainly plays a big role in how we feel and the way we react to objects and our environment. As my thoughts have turned to decorating the interior of our new house I've run into a bit of a dilemma. You see, I subscribe to the notion that a well accessorized room can really make a big difference. It adds visual interest and is the finishing touch that makes a nice room look amazing.

No doubt the books, vases, plants, pillows and other collected items add a great deal of interest in this picture. I love it. I really do. But as I think about what sort of accessorizing I want to do in the various rooms around my house I'm really torn between my love of accessorizing and my desire to live more simply so that I can better manage maintaining our home as a person living with chronic pain.

For example. Our master bathroom is likely to be the first room I tackle. Right now it is very basic. There is a vanity, mirror, one towel rack, tub and toilet. I would like to add another towel rack and some shelves. I would like to accessorize the shelves with pretty soaps, bath salts, body sponges and other pretty bath like items. I would also like to place a vase with some eucalyptus on the vanity - I love eucalyptus.

I get this pretty picture in my head of how I want it to look and almost as quickly as the image appears I start thinking about what a pain in the butt it will be to try to keep all this crap dusted and clean. After all I barely have the energy, even on the best of days, to do the basic cleaning stuff. Part of me fears that I won't be able to keep it all looking nice.

Further complicating my thoughts on the matter is my desire to really simplify. As much as I believe beauty for the sake of beauty is worth while, I feel this inner desire to just keep things simple. I want to accessorize with items that have utility and find a way to beautify the everyday items around the house and coordinate them with the larger space. No sooner do I feel this desire and suddenly I remember how comforting and pleasant it is to be around items that are just beautiful.

Some Final Thoughts
Design magazines, books and shows tend to accessorize using generic things like empty boxes, vases, books with fancy covers that nobody is going to read, statues and trays with a random collection of stuff on them. While this can make for beautiful pictures I don't know that it takes into account the living that happens in a home. It makes no sense to me to place a tray of random stuff on a bench or at the foot of my bed just because it looks nice there. IF you have a bench at the foot of your bed or in your entryway then keep it clear so that it can be used as a bench. Otherwise, why bother with the bench at all?

Whatever the accessories end up being, I want my home to be personal and specific to us. That means taking into account our taste, our lifestyle and even my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. It's official, there is not a single part of my life that isn't effected by living with chronic pain.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What I Didn't Know About Being Online

Source: Chappatte, International Herald Tribune
I want to get a rain barrel or two to collect rain water from the downspouts around the house. I love the idea of conserving water for later use on the lawn and in our future garden. Being curious about how it works and what it might cost I went online and searched several sights. Later that day I logged onto facebook and to my surprise my newsfeed contained an ad for rain barrels. What the what?!?! How did facebook know that I was just searching for rain barrels?


I know that companies are doing everything they can these days to target their advertisements to the right people. Sounds reasonable to me and maybe even mutually beneficial. In that spirit I understand why I get ads for master's degree social work programs on facebook, because I told facebook about my bachelor degree in social work. What really surprised me was that, while signed out of facebook, my Google search was somehow tracked or recorded and accessed by facebook. How did they do it?

I'm not exactly doing nefarious things online and don't really have anything to hide. It's not terrible to see ads for items or services you might want to buy. BUT I don't know how I feel about all of this level of shared information. If facebook can access it, who else can? I may not mind companies using this to personalize the ads I see but what other info is being collected, by who and for what purpose? It seems like it could be a slippery slope.

Clearly I don't even know who all has access to what I'm doing online. As someone who spends a great deal of time online, this bothers me. I tend to be very careful about my online behavior. I don't click on random links or shop online or store personal data. I use anti-virus and spyware protections. I always keep my computer's camera covered when I'm not using it. I never e-file my taxes. Frankly, the precautions I take might sound a bit extreme to the general population but I just want to limit my exposure to violations. That being said, it's pretty darn hard to protect yourself against violations that you can't even imagine.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

Here are some cat clips to make you smile and maybe even laugh a little on this Wednesday. Have a great day!