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.