Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday

A little political humor to help you through your midweek.

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Mall of Migraine Triggers

I had to go to the mall. Despite my efforts to avoid it, I found myself in need of 3 items I just couldn't seem to find at my usual haunts. I knew one stop at the mall and I would have what I needed, but I HATE going to the mall.

The mall is full of migraine triggers. The shoppers and employees wearing way too much perfume. The stores selling candles, scented lotions and the like, wafting into the hallways. The constant assault on the eyes from exposure to florescent lights, spot lights and even sunlight coming in through skylights. The screaming toddlers either having a meltdown or just overexcited in the play area. Trying to avoid and politely decline the gauntlet of kiosk salespeople attempting to get you to try their lotion or straighten your hair. Then in the stores you have to be on guard as the clerks try to determine what brought you in, how they can help and how they can get your personal information in exchange for an occasional coupon or notice of sales.

I only go when absolutely necessary and I always leave feeling frustrated, exhausted and wishing I never had to go back. Then within a couple hours of returning home, a migraine settles in and I start cursing the mall and all the trouble it causes.

It's always the same story despite my efforts of minimize my exposure to triggers. I always go right when the stores open to guarantee a great parking spot and to minimize the crowds, I wear my shades, I wear comfortable shoes, I always know right where I'm going and go directly there and I bring water if I know it will take a while. I do all the right things and that helps but I always still get a migraine and I always have a bad time.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Weapons of a Migrainista

A throw back from March of 2013:

The constant fight that persists between my migraines and me is exhausting. But in the 7 years (10 years now) or so since the fight began my weapons have been sharpened and I've become more adept at using them. I am by no means an expert with them but I get a whole lot of practice. Here are some my weapons I use most frequently:

Darkness: Like so many of us with chronic migraines, light sensitivity is a big issue. I do everything I can to control the kind of light and the level of brightness of all light in the house. We've installed room darkening curtain to control the sunlight. When it comes to lamp light I make sure I have low wattage bulbs and keep them out of my direct line of vision from all the places I sit regularly. The TV and computer screens are both back-lit so adjusting their brightness levels is an easy way to make them kinder on my eyes. In addition, I've found that I need to always have another light on when using these electronics. The contrast between a dark room and the glow of the screens is too harsh and painful.

Comfortable Spot: Having a comfortable spot to rest, recoup or just ride out the worst of my pains is important. For now, this is my spot on the couch. I have a warm blanket, a soft pillow, an ottoman to stretch my legs out, and a table to hold water and pills right next to it. A comfortable spot sounds like such an obvious and simple thing but I like to think of it as my base of operations. It is from this spot that I blog, watch TV, write my grocery list, rest between household tasks and curl up when the pain gets the best of me. 

Laughs: Laughing may do nothing to actually reduce my migraines but it certainly is a great way to take my mind off the pain and all the crap that comes along with it. The remote is my ticket to many laughs. It is through this simple device which I access Family Guy, Saturday Night Live, South Park, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Arrested Development, Burning Love...etc. etc. Our remote even lets me access YouTube on our TV screen. These laughs are great during the day when I'm alone but the best laughs I have are the ones I share with my husband. 

Pet Therapy: I've said it before and I'll say it again, having a devoted furry friend to pet and snuggle with does wonders for me. My sweet little Gypsy wants nothing more than to be with me all the time. She lets me tell her all about whatever is going on. She's always ready to snuggle and hang out. She gets me out of the house and walking regularly. She is so loyal and so loving. I truly feel lucky to have her by my side through all of this. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday

It's been a tough week. Ron from Parks and Rec always makes me smile.

Have a great day!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Extensive Planning so Migraines Don't Ruin My Weekend Getaway

I'm preparing myself for an upcoming wedding weekend. My cousin is getting married and we will be attending. When I look at it, worded so simply, I'm struck by how common it sounds. People get married all the time, and people attend weddings all the time. But, for me, attending a wedding is anything but simple and easy and it's all because of my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia.

For one, the wedding is out of town so we will be away from home for a couple nights. Thankfully, this wedding is only a short drive away. If a plane was required, I wouldn't be able to attend. Still being away from home makes everything tricky when you live with chronic pain. Strange bed, strange place and, of course, no matter how hard you try, there is no way to avoid getting off that all important schedule. 

We've already spent a fair amount of time researching restaurants in the area. Since we are vegetarians and food/timing can be a big trigger for both of us, we want to have a solid plan in place so we know where and when we will be eating. The place we are going is fairly small, so there are not many good meat free options available but I think we have it mostly figured out. I also made sure we got a room with a mini fridge so we could bring some food and eat in the room too.

My mom and my sister both have birthdays right before the wedding so on top of figuring out the wedding gift I also need to plan to have their gifts ready too. 

I found a good dress and am now in the process of planning the rest of my wardrobe for the weekend. There will be a party to attend in addition to the wedding and reception. I still need to find shoes that won't hurt my feet, legs and back. Then, thanks to some very clumsy moments this weeks, will need to buy some tights to cover a couple large bruises on my legs. 

We also must have a good plan in place for the animals back at home. Hubby's cousin is going to be staying at our house and taking care of the little furry ones while we're away. I'm anxious for this to be a good experience so she will want to do it again when we travel north to visit family later in the summer. To that end we are trying to get our dog used to doing things a little different. 

I've been working hard to get things as settled as possible by this week so that I can spend the next two weeks mostly just resting up for what will be a very social wedding weekend. Odd as it may sound, whenever I have plans, I spend weeks setting my intention for the event. I request that my body cooperates and I commit to doing my part to prepare before and set time to recover after. I do this for all plans, even if I'm just going to have breakfast with family. I've actually been setting my intentions for this wedding for months now since it is much more involved than most of what we do. It works, I don't understand how but it does, so I do it.

With almost all of the family attending there will be many people to visit with and so much going on around us. We've made up our minds that we will participate to the degree that we can. We won't be up late partying with everyone. When things get too loud or when lights get all crazy during the reception, we can go elsewhere. We will take the time we need to eat, hydrate and rest. It may mean that we don't spend as much time with everyone as we would like but this is the only way I can survive the event without serious consequences. I've really just given myself permission to take care of myself. 

The prep work has been extensive but totally worth it. I've been looking forward to this for months. I'm looking forward to seeing family I rarely get to see - I love these family weddings. I'm looking forward to dancing with hubby. But most of all I'm looking forward to dressing up with my man and having a couple days uninterrupted by animal care and domestic chores. It has literally been years since I've had any time away from both.

Even though my chronic pain makes everything harder I'm determined to still get away and enjoy some of the festivities with my family. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday

I will really miss this Ben Carson impression on SNL. Thankfully the Bernie impression will continue for now.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It's Time to Put an End to Daylight Saving Time

So can we find a way to stop the absolute madness that is daylight saving time?

There is simply no reason to continue participating in this outdated, dangerous hassle of changing time twice a year. People get all excited because they love the extra hour or daylight. As if by changing all our clocks we actually fool the sun into giving us more daylight. Come on! You simply rob the morning of that hour of sunlight to call it evening sunlight.

In the process, everybody has their sleep schedules messed up. We are a country who can't afford this kind of disruption since we already struggle to get enough quality sleep. It's bad for our health, it makes us all crabby, we make more mistakes, get in more accidents and we do it without any actual justification.

Every year it gets harder and harder to adjust. And it's not just people who are struggling. Our animals have a tough time with it too. We function on a schedule so they know when it's time to eat, time to go outside, time to get up and time to go to bed. Twice a year they are forced to adjust to the new schedule because we can't explain to them that 5pm is now 6pm because of daylight saving time.

Think of all the work involved in changing the time. There is the obvious work of physically turning back clocks. Then there is the work involved in setting computer programs, shift workers who get robbed of an hour, people who are traveling, scheduling...

It's hard on everyone but I feel like it's harder now that I'm living with chronic pain. My schedule is so crutial to my ability to cope and manage my pain conditions.

My frustration with the whole thing grows every year. I just can't understand why we continue to put ourselves through this hassle. If anyone tried to introduce this idea now, it would never be enacted. We would find the very notion crazy. We wouldn't find any benefit worth the logistical nightmare and massive disruption to our lives. But for some reason we continue down this path year after year. Never really even discussing if we should.

It's time to put an end to daylight saving time.

Friday, March 11, 2016

No Matter How it Looks, Every Day is a Struggle

I get an average of 18 migraines per month. A grim statistic that has stood firm since I started tracking my migraines about 8 years ago. This is the number I give my doctors, friends and family. It tells the story of how frequently I have to deal with the head pain of a migraine attack but it doesn't come close to telling the whole story of my pain, or even the whole story of my migraines.

For this reason, I don't think the people in my life really get just how hard every day is for me. I'm never without pain because the migraine pain is just one type of pain I feel. My head always hurts, my body is always sore - this is on top of the 18 days every month I have migraine pain AND the constant, traveling fibro pain. My scalp is always sore to the touch and I also get these terrible ice pick pains around my head. My eyes usually hurt along with frequent ear pain. My back hurts from curling up in pain, which has turned into some sciatica over the past year. Not to mention the immense psychological and emotional pain, which has resulted from my conditions robbing me of so much of my life.

Then there are all of the other symptoms besides pain that I have to deal with every. single. day. The nausea, the difficulty concentrating, the trouble sleeping, the exhaustion, the digestive upset, difficulty bringing words to my mouth, the moods...

I simply cannot spend all my time complaining about my pain and other symptoms. Nobody wants to deal with that, not even me. So instead I pull myself together and do the best I can every moment to participate in life and engage with those around me. I try to be positive and encouraging. I try to inject humor. I try so hard every single day because I feel like it's important to do so, for me and for those around me.

I don't necessarily do a good job of it every day but I always give it my all. I want those around me to feel loved and cared for. I don't want anyone to feel burdened by me. BUT. At the same time, I don't want people to mistake my smiles or my positive attitude and engagement for me feeling good. I guess it doesn't really work that way though. On some level I know I can't have it both ways, yet I can't help but want some recognition from time to time. I just want to feel seen and understood and that has to include my daily struggle. Maybe this is why blogging has been so important to me over the past 6 years. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday

The political season would be intolerable without Saturday Night Live. Here is a funny Trump commercial.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

But I Have a Migraine

I was going to run errands today but...
I wanted to cut fabric today but...
The plants need more light but...
It's lovely outside but...
The garage needs to be swept but...
I was going to make cookies but...
I was going to be a great social worker but...
I was going to be a mother but...

But I have a migraine and another and another...

So much of my life gets put on hold because of my chronic migraines. Little things like errands that will need to wait until I'm not in so much pain and big things like career and family. Doesn't matter what plans I make, or what intentions I have - migraines dictate what I can do.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Trapped by my Prescription Drug Coverage

I'm feeling so trapped by my prescription drug coverage. Our insurance is through my husband's work and the medical coverage is relatively good but we have Optum Rx for our prescription plan. They both administer the plan and provide the drugs through the mail. We are required to get all of our ongoing medications through the mail and because of this, I have no choices.

They are not helpful, they are not flexible, they are clearly cutting corners to save money, there is no care about customer service, there is even less care for quality products and helping address my medical needs, trying to solve problems is nearly impossible and lots of problem come up.

I'm so frustrated and so tired of the constant fight to get the medications I need.

I long for the days when I actually had choices and managing my prescriptions was so much easier.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday

Today feels like a cute babies and cats kind of day. Here is a fun video that I hope will make you smile.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

From Taking Down a Tree to Creating a Comfortable Spare Bedroom, This Winter Had it All

As winter comes to an end, I find myself excited for things to start turning green again. This particular spring promises to be quite eventful, which will likely be a good thing as much as it is a bad thing. But before we get into this spring, let's take a look back at this past winter.

Winter Favorites
The Perfect Dress
I'm attending a wedding next month for the first time in 10 years. With the lone exception of my own wedding about 8 1/2 years ago, I haven't had need of formal attire in a decade. Needless to say, I had to find a new dress for the occasion. I started my search in January because I wanted to give myself plenty of time in case it took a while and because I really wanted to find a dress with sleeves. I don't like going sleeveless, I just don't. For some crazy reason, the vast majority of formal dresses are sleeveless, especially as you approach the spring and summer seasons.

Anyway, before resorting to the mall with all those retail prices I wanted to try some of the discount stores. I started at Ross but didn't have any luck finding sleeves. My next stop was at Marshalls, where I found the absolute perfect dress.

The color is vibrant, it has a 3/4 length sleeve, the hem is at my knee, and while it was a fitted dress it had some gathering detail in the front that makes the look more forgiving in the stomach area. Best of all, it is a well made Ralph Lauren for only $40. A full $100 off the retail price.

I'm so excited to have found the perfect dress and saved so much money in the process. It was a win/win. Now I just need to find shoes to go with it.

Winter Successes
Spare Bedroom
I finally finished putting the spare bedroom together. We've had this crappy twin mattress in our spare room for a long time. I always feel a bit bad making my mom sleep there when she comes to stay. We upgraded to a full size mattress and bought a wood frame at Ikea to go with it. I'll eventually put more on the walls but this will have to do for now.

Tree Removal
We also took down the world's fastest growing maple tree in our front yard. This tree had more than doubled in size in just two growing seasons. It was growing so much faster than all of its counterparts in the neighborhood. Clearly this was going to be a very large tree and it wouldn't be long before it would threaten both the foundation of the house and the buried water pipe, which runs only about 5 feet away from the trunk. Giant trees have no business that close to houses and certainly not that close to pipes.

It can cost $800 to $1200 to cut down a full sized tree. Heck, even trimming a tree can cost $500. So, while the tree was still a manageable size and to prevent any problems, we took advantage of a warm January day to cut down it down. Of course, by we I actually mean hubby. I just took pictures and watched. Clearly, I have no business sawing a tree trunk, no matter how small.

Pillow Covers
I also made 4 more pillow covers. After Christmas I wasn't quite ready brighter colors yet so I made these.

Flannel shirts always make me think of winter so I thought that would be the perfect fabric for our winter pillows. Gypsy seems to like them so I guess it was a success.

Winter Failures
Medication Trouble
I'm having some trouble with the medication I take to control my endometreosis. I started taking this pill back in September to keep my hormones at an even level all the time and eliminate my periods. My body responded perfectly. My periods were gone, not even a little break through bleeding, and the pain was worlds better. I did wonderfully through the entire 3 months of my first shipment. Then when I refilled the prescription things changed. The pills look the same and come from the same manufacturer but I've been spotting every day and with that I'm having more pain and more trouble treating my migraines. This has been going on for 6 weeks now.

Obviously, something is wrong with these pills. They clearly have some hormones in them, otherwise I would have a full period. I suspect they simply don't have as much hormones in them as labeled, or the intergrity of the pills have been compromised somewhere between India, where they were manufactured, and my mailbox.

My doctor says she can't help because it has to be dealt with between my insurance company and the pharmacy. They are one and the same with Optum Rx and so far they have not been helpful. I'm still working on the problem and will continue the frustrating process of dealing with it. But so far it has been one giant failure.

Winter Highlights
Great Weather
This winter has produced plenty of warm days. We were able to make several trips to park with Gypsy in December and were able to do outdoor projects in both January and February.

Can you believe it was this warm in December?

We also got to enjoy some pretty snowfalls.

This black cat decided to get a little mouse hunting in before the snow got too deep.

Wet snow and high winds teamed up to cover all the trees out back.
So pretty!

The other highlight of this winter was finding a new PCP. I haven't been comfortable with a PCP since I left my hometown about 9 years ago. What a pleasure!

Winter Lowlights

Hubby and I were both sick over the holidays and then again in early January. Something about getting sick just seems to make the chronic migraines and the fibromyalgia worse, or at least harder to deal with.