Monday, September 29, 2014

Grocery Shopping Made Difficult For People With Physical Limitations

The list of things that I hate about grocery shopping is a lengthy one. As a matter of fact, there really isn't one thing I like about it. For the most part the things that bother me are not the fault of any given store. Things like screaming kids and people who leave their shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot, can't be controlled by good management. BUT, one thing that I've found at our local store grocery store is bothering me more than the others.

Displays being set up in the aisles. I'm not talking about a few displays scattered throughout the store but rather 3 to 5 displays in EVERY SINGLE AISLE. These displays block merchandise and take up enough room that you can't pass a cart that has been stopped next to one.

Many of the displays are angled to stick out. I assume
they do this so you can get stuff behind it
but look how far that sticks out.

Display after display, all the way down the aisle.

Another aisle, another bunch of crap taking up space.

The bottom three shelves are completely blocked by this display.
Many of the displays are not angled and just flat out block
everything behind it. 

I wouldn't even be able to move this one if I wanted to.

Literally every single aisle!

I don't think any customer should ever have to move a display in order to reach an item they wish to purchase. Plus I don't think anything should be taking up aisle space at all since these aisles are designed to only be wide enough for two shopping carts. That being said, I think there is a larger issue here of access and independence. I have all kinds of pains in my neck, shoulders and upper back. This area is subject to frequent muscle spasms, easily triggered by say, moving something bulky or heavy. What about the elderly and everyone with physical limitations who either can't or could hurt themselves moving these displays?

I called and spoke with the manager about this issue. He was very nice and sounded like he wanted to help. He suggested I should come get him next time I'm in shopping and he can help me move anything that needs to be moved. He also spoke a little about why they have displays (promoting sale items or keeping holiday favorites easy to find, etc). I certainly don't know the first thing about operating a grocery store but I'm not sure that matters. I tend to believe there is no scenario that makes this acceptable. I don't feel like I, or anyone else, should have to add another half hour to an already exhausting trip to the grocery store to seek out help. I shouldn't have to stop shopping to wait in line at the courtesy counter, then wait for the manager to be paged and then take him back into the aisles that are created the problem of the moment.

What surprised me, was when he said I was the only person who has called and said anything about the in-aisle displays. I assume he is telling the truth but I would be willing to bet money I am not the only person who thinks the displays are in the way, annoying or a barrier to purchasing. Hearing this was a little disappointing because I fear it means nothing will be done.

Do any of you encounter this at your grocery store? Do you feel like this is an issue of access?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

MD vs DO - I think I'll try a D.O. Next Time

After the terrible experience I had with the new doc on Tuesday, hubby and I got to talking. We are both pretty frustrated by the current medical machine that doesn't actually seem to support health in any meaningful way and doesn't approach people as indivuals or human beings. Yeah, yeah, I get that docs are well meaning and the the problems are systemic and complex, blah, blah, blah. There is nothing I can do about any of that and frankly, I don't care what the reasons are behind it.

I'm so damn sick of docs typing furiously or searching for referrals online while I'm trying to talk. I'm so damn sick of being asked questions but not being allowed to answer. I'm so damn sick of not being heard. I'm so damn sick of being pushed through appointments and shoved out the door without any actual progress being made. I'm just so sick of doctors. 

Anyway, hubby was telling me about a conversation he had with the trainer who teaches the exercise class he takes at work. See, hubby has been having some pains so the trainer told him about the D.O. he has been to for help with similar issues. 

I've never actually been to a D.O. and didn't really even know how they differ from a M.D. but I found great information about it on the American Osteopathic Association's website. Here is a direct quote from the page that sums up how they are different:

"DOs combine today's medical technology with their ears to listen caringly to their patients, with their eyes to see their patients as whole persons, and with their hands to diagnose and treat patients for injury and illness."

Doesn't that sound nice? Have any of you been to a D.O.?

I've seen quite a few MDs over the years. I think the time has come to give some DOs a try.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

I got such a kick out of this woman last week, I wanted to bring you a second video of her talking about Christmas and Sex for your enjoyment.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another New Doctor, Another Failure

After months of waiting, today was my appointment with a potential new primary care physician (PCP). As usual the entire experience sucked. The women at the check in desk weren't able to answer my questions about what some of the forms were for. The woman who took me back to the exam room and did my vitals was clearly in a bad mood and made me feel like dealing with me was a chore. Then the doc left me waiting there for another 40 minutes.

I arrived super prepared. Before wasting my precious time and energy I wanted to communicate where I was on my journey and where I wanted to go and then determine if she was interested in partnering to tackle my chronic pain. I wrote out what I wanted to say in advance so that my brain couldn't fail me. She let me get about 1/2 way through before she started typing furiously on the computer and asking me questions completely unrelated to topic at hand. Was I boring or did she just not see any value in what I had to say? I guess I'll never know.

She basically told me there is no such thing as a pain management clinic that can provide coordinated multidiciplinary treatment. She said, since I've tried so many things I should just use what I've learned and live my life.

I then arrived home to find my Imitrex refill had arrived but was short 29 pills. Long story short, the mail order pharmacy I'm forced to use skrewed up and won't correct the problem. Being shorted by more than 50% on my rescue meds means the next 3 months are going to be pretty rough.

I'm feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by yet another failed attempt to find the right doc for me. Plus, a bit scared about the many migraines I won't be able to treat. I hate this.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Wish I Could Take a Vacation From My Chronic Pain

Sometimes I just don't have the energy to fight my chronic migraines and fibormyalgia symptoms. Day after day, week after week, year after year I'm working so hard to stay positive, manage my symptoms, take care of household chores and be a good wife. Make no mistake, it is very hard work and it never ends. My symptoms follow me relentlessly everywhere I go, all. the. time.

What I'm saying is that I need a vacation, a respite from the constant work of living with chronic pain. What I wouldn't give to have a week off... 

BUT, there is no vacation. Heck, there isn't even a lunch break or an end of the work day. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Tried To Break-Up With Target

I've been a Target shopper most of my life. My mom used to take us there to get our school supplies. It has always been my go to place for household needs, everything from brooms to toothpaste, Christmas lights to Q-Tips. Target is the sort of place you can go and pick up a wide variety of things you need and find some fun things you never even thought you might want. I've used their pharmacy, bought clothes, gifts, air filters, kitchen gadgets, music, car accessories, food, puzzles and countless other things from them over the years.

It's only in the past 5 years or so that my relationship with Target has become a rocky one, to say the least. During that time, my frustration has grown and grown. Finally reaching a boiling point last week, I decided that I needed to find a way to break-up with Target. Here are the problems:

1. Every time I go, there is at least one thing on my list that I can't get because they are out of what I need. It happens so frequently and often with the same few items. If they are constantly running out of the same things they need a new plan for keeping these items in stock.

2. Every time I go, there is at least one thing on my list that I don't get because the boxes are all managed, opened and/or the item has been otherwise tampered with. This happens most frequently with the kleenex boxes and beauty/cosmetic stuff but I've seen it all over the store. I don't know if this is something that happens during stocking or if other customers are messing with things but I will walk away without my needed item before I buy face lotion that has been tampered with.

3. Target has a designated smoking area for their employees - guess where - RIGHT OUTSIDE THE ONLY PUBLIC ENTRANCE. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to walk through the smoke of a whole group of employees on their break, gathering right outside the only entrance. I've complained and complained about this in the store and in their online surveys. Nothing is changing. Not only does it look terrible to have your employees smoking by the front door but people who are sensitive to it are forced to endure it if they want to shop.

4. For the past 6 months now the Target by our house has been out of one specific item. I've asked about it every month and every month I am told the same thing. Apparently their computer system shows that they still have 7 of them, even though they don't, and so the computer won't order more until they are out. It doesn't matter to anyone there that the computer is wrong and will never show the sale of these 7 items because they don't exist. I have had 5 conversations with the manager about it. I've asked - "at what point do the human beings here step in and override the computer so that you guys actually have this item?" The only answer I ever get is that they will look into it. Obviously they are not looking into it because this is not a problem that takes 6 months to solve.

I can't remember the last time I left Target without feeling frustrated or downright angry. I don't want to turn my back on the store completely but I also don't want to go there 2 or 3 times a month trying to get all the everyday items that we regularly shop for. So here's what I did:

-I made a list of everything we regularly buy from Target (28 items total).
-I went to CVS, Walgreens and Target and wrote down the price of each item at each store.
-Compared the data to see if I could do better elsewhere.

Yes, I'm a total nerd. I won't bore you with all the stats but here was the take away. The vast majority of the items we buy from Target were significantly cheaper than at CVS and Walgreens. Plus, there were 4 items on the list of 28 that just can't be bought at either drug store. I wasn't surprised that Target was cheaper but I was surprised by just how much cheaper they were. With only a handful of exceptions, the things that were cheaper at Target were cheaper by $2.00 or more.

Now, I know that I could find ALL of the 28 items at WalMart but I also know that Walmart has the same issues that Target has with keeping things on the shelves and items being mangled. Plus, this is a place I try to avoid because of their poor treatment of employees. Some of these items can be found at our local grocery store but I already know that they are also much more expensive than at Target.

I'm out of alternatives. As much as it pains me to shop at Target, it would be more painful to pay so much more for all these items we need. I'm sad to say I decided not to break-up with Target after all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

This woman is so funny. I am certain she will make you laugh.
Have a great day!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Feeling Anxious About Not Being Able To Fall Asleep At Night

If only I could sleep as easily and deeply as Gypsy
I love sleeping. Who doesn't? That sensation of giving into the drowsiness, passing over hours seemingly instantaneously, having adventures in dreamland...what's not to love? Well, right now, plenty. 

My sleep is rarely the rejuvenating experience I wish it was. I wake up frequently during the night and by morning I am often quite sore and just as tired as I was before bed. Additionally, I experience a sort of pre-bedtime anxiety. As tired as I am sometimes I lie awake for hours before drifting off or I'll wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to get back to sleep until it's almost time to get up.

When that happens I get out of bed, move to the living room and watch TV until I'm drifting off again. It usually takes hours and always stresses my eyes to the point that the rest of the day is pretty painful. Despite the price I pay for a night like that, it's not really that big of a deal. It's not enjoyable on any level but it's not as bad as day 10 of a migraine. Certainly not worth getting anxious.

Nevertheless, as bedtime approaches I find myself getting anxious about possibly not being able to fall asleep. I always want to put the TV on the sleep timer to distract my mind until I'm drifting off but that makes it difficult for hubby to get to sleep. Logically I know the sleep button is nothing more than a security blanket. For whatever twisted reason I've decided that I'll be able to fall asleep better if I can do it with the TV on. That is simply not true. Either I'm going to fall asleep soon after the light goes out or I'm not. And if I don't, I really just need to relocate to the couch.

The time has come to turn the TV off and just go to bed. It may take a while to figure out how to dial down the anxiety but I can definitely turn the TV off.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Migraines Are More Complex Than Any One Factor

Much to my delight, the last several days have been unseasonably cool in my corner of the world. The furnace is on, we've been wearing socks, the oven is seeing more use, warm blankets are being used and jackets are needed when venturing outside. I know the warm weather is not yet over, but boy it's nice to have a little fall preview. 
Gypsy snuggling under a warm blanket

I'm always excited for the changing of the seasons. Each season has its own feel, its own stlye, its own color palat, its own unique function and benefits. Something about the variety provided by their cyclical rotation makes life feel fresh and hopeful. 

Of course, there is a flip side to that coin. Each season comes with unique migraine triggers. The really cold termperature of winter makes my muscles more tense and stings my eyes, ushering in migraines. The stifling heat and humidity of summer makes everything in my head feel swollen causing a pulsing sensation that can usher in migraines. The pollen of spring inflames my sinuses, which can usher in migraines. The temperature swings of fall causing my head to both overheat then get cold, only to overheat again and get cold again, can usher in migraines. 

As far as my head is concerned, there is no ideal time of year for migraines. You see, migraines are much too complex and, for me, too frequent to be attributed to the seasons or anything weather related. If only everyone could understand this fact about migraines and chronic migraines in particular. Weather can play a role, just as any other environmental factor can it is not the whole story. I just wish people would stop oversimplifying and telling me that it must be this or that. Even if I lived in a bubble of the ideal environement I would still have chronic migraines. 

The world we all live in is dynamic and full of things that cause pain, joy, frustrations, laughter, etc. This is just as true for those of us living with chronic pain as it is for everyone else. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

Here is a funny bit from Saturday Night Live - the most awkward flirting ever. Made hubby and I laugh pretty hard. 

Have a great day!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Pitfalls of Living With an Invisible Illness

I keep saying, I wish people wouldn't judge me or that they could understand just how hard every little thing is for me. That's not very realistic though, is it?

If only my skin could change color to reflect the severity of my various symptoms so they could watch as the longer I am exposed to various triggers and exacerbating factors the worse I feel, then they would know. They would see it. They would believe me. Let's face it, that's not very realistic either.

The very nature of an invisible illness is that it can't be seen and perhaps it's human nature to struggle to believe in something invisible.

On a day when I'm not feeling terrible, with some effort I can pull myself together enough to look and sound normal for a short period of time. By the way, these are the only circumstances under which I leave the house therefore the only circumstances when others see me. When people then ask how I'm doing and I respond by explaining that my symptoms are still out of control, etc. The vast majority of the time the response is still something along the lines of - well you look good.

Yep. There is nothing I can do or say to convince people that I'm telling the truth. Likewise, I can't ever really know for sure how many people in my life actually believe that my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia are debilitating. Maybe if I never covered up the dark circles around my eyes, or left the house wearing anything other than the comfy clothes that have become my chronic pain uniform, then my story might be more believable. Since I have no desire to deprive myself of the tremendous emotional and mental boost I get from pulling myself together, going out into the world and interacting with others when I can, I don't see that happening any time soon.

Just because I'm smiling, laughing and talking doesn't mean I'm not in pain. I'm just putting on a show so that we can all have a pleasant time. I need that. I need to have moments when I'm doing something kinda normal and fun. Nobody sees all the preparations I had to do in advance, or how much effort it takes manage what my body is doing to me during, or the worsening of my symptoms after and the recovery time I will need.

Honestly, I don't want them to see that. But I do want them to know it happens. Does that make sense to anyone out there?

The September Migraine Blog Carnival Is Now Available

The September Migraine and Headache Blog Carnival is now available. The topic this month is all about invisible illness in honor of Invisible Illness Awareness Week, which is going on now. Check out all the great posts and find helpful links about invisible illnesses.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

30 Things You May Not Know About My Invisible Illness

In honor of Invisible Illness Awareness Week and as part of the September Migraine Blog Carnival I'm going to do the meme 30 Things You May Not Know About My Invisible Illness. Let's get started.

1. The illness I live with is Chronic Migraines and Fibromyalgia

2. I was diagnosed with Migraines in 1986, Chronic Migraines in 2006 and Fibromyalgia in 2011

3. But I had symptoms of Chronic Migraines since 2005 and Fibromyalgia since 2007.

4. The biggest adjustment I've had to make is learning to pace myself - not doing too much when I feel okay and still do something even when I don't.

5. Most people assume I'm exaggerating, after all it can't be as bad as I say and I look fine.

6. The hardest part about morning time is waking up feeling like instead of sleeping I was getting beat up during the night - my whole body will hurt but I have things to do.

7. My favorite medical TV show is NY Med.

8. A gadget I couldn't live without is my laptop.

9. The hardest part about night time is being completely exhausted but unable to sleep.

10. Each day I take at least 3 but no more than 6 pills and vitamins. (No comments, please)

11. Regarding alternative treatments, I've tried many and hope to incorporate more into my treatment plan.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness and a visible one I don't know which I would choose. I've never had a visible illness and can't pretend to really understand how that experience would be. I guess if pressed I would choose the devil I know - invisible illness.

13. Regarding working and career, well, my career has been completely derailed due to my conditions. Unable to work a real job, managing things at home and this blog is about all I can do.

14. People would be surprised to know just how much my conditions effect every area of my life.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been all the things I can't do anymore.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness but I did was maintain a blog for any length of time.

17. The commercials about my illness are overly simplistic advertisements for drugs.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is being involved in live theatre.

19. It was really hard to have to give up my career.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is blogging.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal I would travel someplace fun with my husband the day before and then spend my normal day with him, exploring and eating great food and a enjoying a nice glass of wine.

22. My illness has taught me to be strong in a way my life never required of me before.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is "You're so lucky to stay home all day."

24. But I love it when people still want to get together despite my limitations.

25. My favorite motto, quote or scripture that gets me through tough times is "I can't go on, I must go on, I'll go on." By Samuel Beckett.

26. When someone is diagnosed I would like to tell them that they are not alone - there is a fantastic community of support and information available online.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is just how hard it is physically, emotionally and mentally - but still, it is doable.

28. The nicest thing someone has done for me when I wasn't feeling well was make/bring me food and a cold pack.

29. I'm involved with invisible illness week because I think it's important people understand that just because you can't see what someone is going through that doesn't mean it isn't real and significant.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel thankful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday

The great thing about Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm is that he says and does every crazy thing we all want to say and do but never would. Here is a great scene for your enjoyment on this Wednesday.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Summer in a Nutshell

Labor Day is behind us. In my book that means summer is over. Of course, that felt more true back when I lived in Minnesota. Here in Missouri it may be another 4 or 5 weeks until the summer temps and humidity give way to the perfection of Fall. Still, I can't help but call September a Fall month. Old habits die hard.

Thought it might be fun to close out this Summer with a quick round-up, so here it goes:

Summer Favorites

 I've long been a fan of Triscuits (the original) but don't often eat them. Mostly I try to limit the amount of processed foods I eat in general, but Hubby needed something new for his lunches so we gave these a try. Much to my surprise I loved them. Can't get enough of them. The main ingredient is brown rice instead of wheat, which gives it a really nice flavor. Plus. there aren't a ton of things in it. Yum.
Brown Rice Triscuits - Sea Salt and Black Pepper 
Okay, so this one might sound a little crazy. But my other favorite thing from this summer is this handmade goats milk soap that I picked up at this little boutique in this little town on the Mississippi called LaCrosse Wisconsin. That's not the crazy part. This is - the scent is called Earthy Dirt. It's literally dirt scented soap, and I just love it. Generally I like that earthen smell that lingers on fresh picked veggies that have never been sprayed with chemicals, or from hands that have been digging around in the dirt. The scent of the soap captures that essence, it's very subtle and doesn't hang around beyond the hand washing, which makes it ideal for those of us with sensitivities to smell. Plus, these goats milk soaps just feel great on the skin.

Looks like it could be a fancy mint fudge but no, it's dirt scented soap.
Summer Success

I guess the biggest success of the summer is getting some big projects done around the house.

Hubby and his dad built these great storage shelves in the basement. We've already filled them with stuff but the empty shelves look nicer so that's what I'm showing you.

I painted this night stand that I found at the antique store and switched out the drawer pull.

Instead of a nightstand for Hubby's side of the bed I painted this small bookcase - we needed the extra shelf space. Another great antique store find - it was painted black when I bought it.

The final big project we completed was switching the contents of one spare bedroom with the other. Our spare bedroom is now our office/craft room and our office/craft room is now our spare bedroom. I don't really have a picture of either yet since neither is really decorated and ready for viewing. But I'll show you both when they are done.

Summer Failure

The big failure of the summer has been my No Soliciting sign. I bought a piece of wood, painted it and then tried 3 different ways to get the lettering done. Each attempt failed miserably. I finally thought I had figured it out so I started over with a new piece of wood and fresh paint. It still failed but have decided it would do for now. I'll take another stab at it when things quiet down, I'm certain I know how to fix the problem at this point, but for the next several months this mess is going to have to do the job.

The bubbling drives me crazy so I try not to look at it when coming and going


The highlight of the summer really has been making a friend. The first friend I've made since the onset of my chronic pain. It's a big deal for me. Best of all, she lives right next door.


The lowlight really has been my health. Remember all those projects I just mentioned, well it came at a price. I've pushed myself this summer and my body pushed back. Of course, you may also remember from my last post that I've come up with a good plan to help me manage better in the months to come.

What I've been reading

Yet another Dean Koontz book. The last 3 I read have been his. Right now I'm working on one called Breathless. Quite the page turner. You may have noticed it on the picture of the nightstand above.

So, that's my Summer in a nutshell. Now I'm just waiting, somewhat impatiently, for the weather outside to start feeling like Fall - my favorite time of the year.