Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lesson: Migraines and Wedding Receptions Don't Mix

Still in full wedding weekend recovery mode, I thought I would take a moment to talk about the important lesson I learned from this event. The very nature of a wedding reception is intolerable for my migraine prone self. I've decided that this was my last wedding reception.

I went into the weekend feeling as prepared as I could have been. With all the family coming into town there were gatherings being planned Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I had made up my mind that I would attend the Saturday and Sunday events, knowing that 4 days of activity was just not going to be possible. That included the wedding, the reception and a small, informal gathering on Sunday afternoon with family who was still in town. 

The wedding went well and after we had some down time to return home to eat, rest and feed our animals before the reception. The rest did me good and the pain medication I took during that time allowed me to pull myself together again and head out to the reception. The reception hall was beautiful and the temperature was perfect. The meal was hot and quite tasty. But the noise, oh my word! The din of the 300+ guests was overwhelming, add in the live band, who played throughout dinner and then got louder for dancing after, and it was just too much. There was no way to mitigate that. 

I was in rough shape after all that and by Sunday I was in even worse shape as my body was still dealing with the fallout. I ended up having to take even more medication that morning to be able to attend the casual Sunday gathering. I knew then that wedding receptions were just something I shouldn't be doing. The price is too great. 

Looking back, I probably should have planned to attend the Friday evening event and the Wedding on Saturday, with the option to attend the casual Sunday thing only if I was up to it. That would have allowed me the opportunity to talk with more family and I could have done it without putting my body through the extreme stress of the reception environment. I can't really do any amount of dancing with my feet pain, I can't really have much conversation in that loud environment and the late night nature of the reception pulls me out of my routine in a pretty significant way. There is almost no benefit and a whole list of detriments.

Healthy, young me always loved wedding receptions. I loved loud music, I loved dancing and all the merriment that surrounds it. I wish I could go, have a great meal, a nice glass of wine and then spend the evening dancing with my husband and laughing it up with all my family. I wish it wasn't all so very painful. I wish I could just have a small vacation from my pain long enough to do something normal like attend a wedding. BUT I can't. This is my truth. It's hard to accept but that is exactly what I need to do. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Preparing for a Big Weekend

A cousin of mine is getting married this weekend. Thankfully, it's a local wedding so we are able to attend. Still, there is much to do to prepare for the festivities and to prepare for house guests. I tried to do as much as I could in advance so that I could spend a fair amount of time just resting this week but much of what needs to be done, needs doing closer to their arrival.

I always enjoy seeing my extended family and I do love weddings. I would love to spend the weekend soaking in as much family and fun as possible. I wish I could press pause on my migraines and fibromyalgia so I could talk, dance, drink, eat and laugh all weekend. Unfortunately, chronic pain doesn't work like that.

I attended another cousin's wedding almost exactly one year ago and learned some important lessons that I hope will help me better navigate this year's event. 

Lesson 1: Bring sweaters. Last year I was so cold through the entire reception, which caused my muscles to become tense, which caused a tidal wave of pains, including a migraine. If I'm cold for more than a few minutes the result is pain 100% of the time. By the time we got through all the various courses of the meal I had been extremely cold for about 3 hours and we had to leave a short time after. This year I'm going to bring a long, thick sweater with me in case the reception hall is cold. I don't even care that I don't have one that matches my dress, I just can't deal with another dinner like that.

Lesson 2: Bring ear plugs. I don't know why I didn't think about this last year but boy did I rue the night. The reception hall was huge and we were up front, right by a giant bay of speakers. It was bad when they made announcements but it was horrible when the music started. Much too loud for this migraineur. This year I will be better prepared with ear plugs. 

Lesson 3: Eat before the reception. Hubby and I are vegetarians so we signed up for the vegetarian option on the RSPV. Last year the RSVP included a description of what the vegetarian meal was and it sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, between the super cold reception hall and the cold plates the meal was served on, our wonderful pasta dinner was cold by the time it reached us. We didn't eat much and I was pretty hungry when we went to bed. Yet another pathway to pain. This year we don't even know what the veg. dish will be so we are going to eat before to ensure we get to eat something good. 

Further preparations include:
- Bringing my own water bottle of room temp water so I don't have to deal with cold, iced water.
- Because of my foot pain, I had to search out a pair of flat, comfortable shoes. I wasn't able to find anything I would classify as formal that fit the comfortable requirement but I found something close enough. Comfortable was the #1 priority. I'm not about to spend the next 3 months recovering from a formal pair of shoes. Nobody I care about will judge me.
- Resting as much as I can in the days and hours leading up to the weekend.

Being so prepared, I'm left with space to just be excited. I'm excited to have my mom and sister staying with us. I'm excited to see a bunch of extended family. I'm excited to get dressed up and attend this wedding. I just hope my pain isn't too intrusive this weekend so I can have more fun than I was able to have last year. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How Is It Only Wednesday?

This has been a tough week so far. I'm still struggling to adjust to the cruel and ridiculous time change. It blows my mind that we have collectively decided to just go along with this madness year after year. Surely we can come together and pass a law abolishing it altogether. Boom problem fixed. sigh

Anyway, during this adjustment our sweet little chihuahua, Gypsy, developed another UTI. She is prone to getting them from time to time and just for fun she got a very severe one yesterday. Between dealing with her symptoms and making the trip to the vet I was in a lot of pain.

Then, just before bed, she threw up. It was more vomit than I could have ever imagined a tiny dog like her could produce. So me and my migraine had to stay up and do some laundry. Then spent the rest of the night checking on Gypsy every couple hours to make sure she didn't need to go outside.

Poor little girl. Her need to snuggle increases when she isn't feeling well so we will be doing little else over the next day or two. That works out well because I need the recovery time as well.

I no longer have any sense of what time it is. My head is in a lot of pain and, despite being extremely fatigued, I can't seem to fall asleep.

At least Gypsy seems to be feeling better today. How is it only Wednesday!?!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lent and the Unintended Migraine Trigger

I've never been a fan of lent. I won't bore you with all the reasons but I do want to talk about why it bothers me as a migraineur. It's all about the stench of rotting fish in the garbage and my sensitivity to smells. For those of you who don't know, one way many people observe lent (the time between ash Wednesday and Easter) is by eating fish on Fridays. The increased fish consumption in homes means there is suddenly all kinds of fish parts and fish soaked trash left to rot in garbage bins.

This is a real problem for people like me, who live with chronic migraines that are easily triggered by smells. It has been more of a problem since we moved into our current neighborhood about 3 years ago because so many people keep their garbage bins outside. Making matters worse, garbage gets collected here on Thursdays so the Friday fish has the whole week to rot and work up a terrible stench. This year has been especially bad because we've also had warmer than usual weather.

It has gotten so bad that I can't stand walking anywhere near what I'm calling the lent houses. That might not sound like a big deal but the daily walking I do with our dog is very important to both of us physically and mentally. Our neighborhood consists of one main road only a few blocks long, with two small cul-de-sacs. The lent houses are at the beginning and the end of our neighborhood, with our house near the middle. Our walking now consists of going a few houses in one direction, turning around and going the other direction a few houses and then back home.

The poor dog doesn't understand why I won't take her on a full walk and the decreased exercise leads to frustration. Even avoiding the worst of the stench I feel like the it follows me back inside the house. I don't know if it gets stuck in my nose or if some of it gets on me. Either way it takes a bit to shake the smell off.

The smell is so bad this year I find it impossible to believe that it doesn't bother people who have a regular sense of smell and no migraines. This year lent doesn't just bother me. Now I rue lent and can't wait for it to be over.

I guess I should just be glad the houses immediately surrounding our house do not do this and that the wind pushes the scent away from our house instead of towards it. At least I'm safe home. That's certainly a plus.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Look Back at a Productive and Trying Winter

Winter wasn't very winter-like this year. We had a couple really cold snaps and a couple snow/ice events but otherwise it wasn't much of a winter. In fact, February has given us so many days in the 60s and 70s that the outdoor plants have already started to grow leaves and the grass is turning green again. It appears spring has already sprung in St. Louis. Let's take a quick look back at the winter that was.

Winter Favorites
My very favorite find of the winter (and of the year) was the Cloudstepper line of shoes by Clarks. I had spent a good portion of fall and early winter looking for shoes with enough cushion and support to help me best cope with the pain that continues to plague my poor feet. I researched online and I tried shoes on in stores. I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the "comfort" shoes brands for their lack of cushioning. Even the "diabetic" shoes brands (made specifically for people with diabetic nerve pain) were surprisingly stiff. They had support but not the softness my feet need.

The Clarks Cloudstepper have plenty of give in the shoe base and also in the inserts, which is what makes them far superior to any of the other shoes I tried on. After all the searching and shopping I had done it was such a relief to put my feet into these shoes. I got a couple pairs and will be going back this spring to get a summer sandal.
Much like this past summer and fall, I've been watching plenty of Netflix and Amazon Prime. I found myself engrossed and entertained more than usual by one show in particular - The Moaning of Life with Karl Pilkington

You may have seen Karl before, he was on The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad. This latest show is one part documentary, one part travel show and one part opinion piece. It follows Karl as he explores what it means to be human, through his own nontraditional perspective. I think what I love so much about watching him is that I relate to him. He doesn't quite fit the norms of present day society. His thinking has a certain logic and simplicity that is fun to watch. The whole show is just Karl being Karl - encountering the world and commenting on it. Doesn't sound like much but it was wonderful!

I also really enjoyed The OA and would recommend that to all you Netflix streamers out there.

Winter successes
The big success story of the winter was finding some measure of relief from the sudden increased pain in my hands and feet with nortriptyline. I had hoped for more relief than I'm getting but any relief is better than none. I'm just so happy that I'm not in as bad of shape as I was prior to starting on this medication.

The other success was the unexpected discovery of the perfect picture to put over our fireplace. When we first moved in here 3 years ago, I put up a good-enough-picture as a place holder until I found one that was just right. The search was passive because I knew one day I would happen upon the right picture and that happened just earlier this month.
Van Gogh is all over our house. I'm a big fan of his work, never growing tired of looking at these paintings. This one was grand enough in size and setting to make it the perfect one for above the fireplace. Plus, I didn't already have this one on any other wall.

Winter failures
The house hunt ended in failure. We were not able to find the right place, in the right area, at the right price. I don't consider the entire ordeal a failure because the outcome was good, but it was unfortunate that we couldn't make it work.

Winter highlight
Spending time with hubby.
We got to spend a little more time together this past December than we usually get to. Plus the warmer February temps have helped us to get out and enjoy some time walking with our fur daughter, Gypsy.
We went to the track at the nearest high school so hubby could run and Gypsy and I could walk. She had a great time prancing around and hanging out on my lap to rest. She seemed to enjoy walking the track much more than the park because she wasn't anxiously looking to cover other dog scents with her own pee. She literally was prancing instead of walking and sniffing like she does at the park. Such fun to watch. Plus, the track was better for me to walk on than the cement and blacktop we walk on at the park.

Winter lowlight
Having our house on the market and house hunting sucked. Ultimately, I'm glad we did it because I feel like it was important to explore what it would like, financially, to make this move. On the surface it looked like we could save big money by relocating across the county but we discovered that wasn't the case. Still - it required a certain amount of time and energy and that was tough.

I've also spent a good deal of time suffering, as always, with my migraines.
Thankfully hubby is always willing to help out when I can't get up, and sweet little Gypsy is always by my side to comfort and protect me. Okay, so I don't actually need protection but she's not convinced of it. Better safe than sorry.

Welcome spring! I'm so glad you're here.