Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Realities

The older I get, the more cynical I get about Thanksgiving. The origins of the holiday are total bull, and there are so many people going hungry in this country (in the world) that spending a day stuffing my face in the name of community and gratitude feels a tad hypocritical. And then there's the migraines, so it's not like I'm rushing to the family table where everyone is in their finest and wearing perfume up the whazoo.

Anyway. Today will be spent at home, kind of a normal day save for the menu I'm aiming to cook, if we can get all the food - we have no potatoes at the moment, and if I don't get my mashed tapaytas and mushroom gravy I'll be bummed - and if I can even manage cooking it.

I've still been extraordinarily tired lately, even with supplements and being able to hike again most mornings. Today will be a day for slow and steady progress.

So, if this all works out, it'll be mash and gravy, green beans, a really simple apple, almond, and sweet potato dressing, and maybe some lentil loaf bites.

Tomorrow, we're heading to my parents' house for "leftovers", though knowing my step-dad he may just make a whole new meal.

And I'll just leave this here, because it was informational, funny, and we should all know the truth about our history.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Coming Back

Ok, I seem to be regaining my balance for the moment, so let's stop to catch up, shall we?

I did, indeed, cut my hours at the dog sitters', and after the initial upset I felt at losing something that felt important to me (a sort-of livelihood, people counting on me, awesome dog interaction all the time), I am realizing that I am slowly regaining the energy to do things around the house, and I went on my first hike in two weeks this morning.

I'm really excited about some wool socks I made on a whim yesterday, too. I haven't sewn in ages beyond basic repairs and was feeling super down about my ability, but then I was inspired to demolish an old wool sweater and turn it into the warmest socks I've ever had on my feet. They look completely wonky, as if I perhaps made them with one eye closed and a hand tied behind my back, but they fit and are comfortable and did I mention warm? Warm.

My head continues to torture me every day, and it's been particularly sensitive the past few weeks, I'm guessing due to the weather finally changing. I'm nauseated a lot, but since I haven't been in a car in a while, it's staying under control with minimal ginger. Those anti-nausea pills were a miracle for a while there, but now I'm kind of afraid to take them, since I only recently got my pooper running regularly again. I did get some fiber powder to use in conjunction with it, but I'm still not rushing for it unless I have to. Next car ride, probably.

The IC is still here. I've read anecdotes of people having full remissions but I don't see that happening for me anytime soon. I'm not in an active flare, and I can currently get away with eating very modest amounts of acidic foods and spices, but there are some things that still trigger pain, like onions, caffeine, or tight pants. I can't complain about it though, considering how ridiculously restricted my diet was this time last year, and oh boo hoo I have to wear stretchy pants for the rest of my life, what ever will I do with all this comfort?

Though, it's funny navigating life as a person who doesn't drink alcohol or caffeine, other people's addictions become very apparent very quickly as they loudly proclaim their inability to EVER go without [drug of choice] and how it's the only reason they get through [minorly unpleasant life experience]. Actually, meat eaters do this with me too, but not smokers, interestingly. I think smoking has just enough stigma now that peer pressure isn't cool anymore. I'm still a jerk (apparently) for telling people not to smoke around me, but they are also a jerk for spreading their toxic clouds of cancer all over, so it's less awkward I think. For me, at least, haha.

And I've joined a forum or two to try and forge more connections in this world. I've been too isolated, so I've got to make social interaction part of my self-care routine, whether my introverted self likes it or not.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some Choices Suck

I had to reduce my already measly hours at the dog sitter's and i'm devastated over it.

This feels nothing like when I left my job when I first got sick; that was more like a reclaiming of my life, as if I was taking myself back from the job. But this... I love being with the dogs, and telling the owners that I couldn't be there for them like I'd been trying to feels like a step away from life. I feel like I've lost everything that made me likeable and now I'm just the migraine.

I just feel really lost and sad. That's all.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Supplements and Deep Thoughts

So, I'm taking a bunch of supplements now.

I've been taking Vitamin D and iron for a while, and when I had a bout of constipation I started taking magnesium. I've made a few more additions to the pill pile and now my nightstand looks comically full of bottles. There were a few things that spurred this latest purchase and I'm not terribly pleased to admit that unsolicited advice was one of them.

A man I was meeting in a casual/professional setting conversationally asked why we'd moved to our current residence several years ago and I answered I had chronic migraines and couldn't live in the city anymore. This was the most succinct I'd ever been in response to a question like this so I was feeling pretty good until he replied, "I had chronic migraines and cured them with vitamin E." My face went into awkward smile mode and I managed a, "Interesting," and let it hang in the air. The subject changed naturally after a few beats and I left the interaction pleased that I managed not to be too weird.

Anyway, I'm not going to dismiss his suggestion just because it was ill-timed, and I knew I remembered something about vitamin E, so I googled it and the first few results told me that a study had shown that people with hormonally triggered migraines had seen benefit from a moderate daily dose of E. It's not too pricey, so I got a bottle. Also, my hands have been hurting lately, and my back hurts every day, so I'm trying out a glucosamine, msm, cmo blend that is meant to be a veg version of glucosamine chondroitin. And I'm finally giving st john's wort a solid try because I've been struggling with depression off and on for years now, but still can't see a shrink because poor people don't get mental health care unless they are institutionalized or drug addicted. While I was at it I got some vitamin C because cold and flu season is officially here - CA had its first death of the year today.

I'm just a harbinger of doom today, aren't I? Life's a struggle, then we die. I'm not feeling particularly down at the moment, but life in general is feeling pretty heavy and I don't want to pretend it's easier or prettier than it is. I've been thinking about this girl who was doing the insta model thing for thousands of dollars a post and suddenly quit and came out with all this honesty about body image and advertising and how she realizes now that synthetic representations of life aren't doing anyone any good, least of all herself. And then I told my bf earlier, "We're the most messed up animals on the planet because we're cursed with all this self awareness. It's painful and terrible that we should know our place in the universe and be so helpless and futile, our condition reduces us to violent, self-serving babies. But humor balances it out, doesn't it? That we can laugh at our pain, and turn the horrors of living and dying into something we can not only appreciate as a commonality that creates and destroys us all, but something we find humor in, gives us strength and a sort of power. At least, it gives us power over our own emotions and reactions, which is all we can hope for sometimes.

Someone close to me got a bad diagnosis, so I'm having a lot of feelings right now I guess. Send me and mine good thoughts if you've got any to spare.


Monday, October 12, 2015

The Whims of Doctors

I'm slogging along rather steadily, I think.

I had a dream the other night that I thought was kind of funny when I woke. In the dream I'd painted my nails perfectly, then ruined them. Then I cleaned the kitchen spotlessly, only to find it covered in flour and garbage when I looked back. This is clearly a dream about futility and feeling like I never really get anywhere, but when I woke up, my nails were perfectly painted and my kitchen was pretty darn clean, so it actually made me feel kind of good about myself, instead of anxious or frustrated like one would imagine.

I had some visitors last week, and I am only now recovering, but it was wonderful to see the youngest member of my family (a 2 month old baby girl) and the oldest (my 77 year old grandfather), and a few others whose ages are utterly unremarkable but with whom it was still a pleasure to visit.

The summer heat is waning, we'll have a few more very warm days, but my head is definitely feeling the ease in the intensity of the weather. Not that I'm much more active, but at least my head's not throbbing like a stubbed toe half the day. That kind of pain is exhausting.

I have a health related anecdote of a slightly different nature today, because it's not about me. My boyfriend has chronic back and neck problems. He's had surgeries, shots, adjustments, massages, and he manages the pain with narcotics. The pills aren't great for the body, but being totally sedentary and depressed is worse, so he takes them and gets regular blood tests to keep an eye on how the drugs are affecting his liver, kidneys, etc. He's had a history of doctors giving him a hard time and putting him on "pain contracts" (which is a srsly fucked up name, like we have any control over our pain, it should be called a pill contract, or a "my quality of life is subject to the whims of my doctors" contract). They've accused him of lying and selling his pills, they've cut him off cold turkey, subjected him to endless pee tests, and of course, there's the numbing repetition of having to justify himself to yet another new doctor, or worse, the same doctor at nearly every visit.

It's amazing, however, how little hassle he gets when I come with him to appointments. I sit quietly, only speak up rarely, and am usually half checked-out with my phone or some crochet, but the appointments go faster, he gets less questioning, and I have never, EVER witnessed him being denied drugs for pain. Literally, I accompanied him on his last visit for refills and it was ten minutes and a blood test. The only reason I came with him is because on the one previous, which I did not attend, he was threatened (with withdrawal of care and meds), harassed, and denied his medication for a week.

I don't understand why my presence makes a difference. Sure, I'm a witness to his pain, a second voice to support his; and I suppose I'm also a witness to what happens in the room, an unaffected party whose word might be more weighty in matters of medical negligence. Of course, I could just as easily be his accomplice in the pill scamming trade (I'm not), but maybe I've just got one of those trustworthy faces.

And what's worse, if it's this hard for a nearly 40 year old white dude to get medical care for chronic pain, I can't imagine the struggle people of color are dealing with. Our health care system sucks, you guys. Obamacare made it better, but it's still so lacking.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Update and a Good Decision

Getting back on the vitamin d supplement seems to have perked me up a bit, just enough to be frustrating as all get out when another late summer heat wave comes along and flattens me.

I'm still struggling, but it's gradually getting easier to reclaim my place in the world.

The heat though, ugh it's terrible. Here in the mountains of northern california the weather tends to be mild. Summer daytime temperatures hover between 75 and 90 on our side of the hill while winter daytime temperatures average between 60 and 75. That's not a huge difference, and the changing of the seasons is actually pretty easy on me; because it's slow and gentle my body usually has plenty of time to acclimate before the severe weather comes out. But there isn't enough acclimation in the world to save me on a 90+ degree day and when temperatures get over 100, I can't do a thing but distract myself and wait for sleep.

I am so looking forward to winter, and I can't stop wishing I lived more north, in a colder climate. I worry about dealing with more frequent and severe storms, but what if my daily life was more functional without a hot summer to steal at least 1/4 of every year from me? Dealing with more weather migraines might just be worth it then.

Let's do a symptom round up:

I've got daily nausea going on, but my doc gave me some awesome melt-away pills that really help, and in combination with ginger and that acupuncture point on the inside of the wrist, I'm fairly comfortable.

My head's been pretty good in the mornings, despite the persistent heat-hangover I'm waking with. I've mostly been able to keep up on walks with the pups, which always improves my mood by 99%.

Unfortunately, I'm not getting a whole lot more done than that lately. Bending has been a major trigger, making housework very difficult. I actually paid someone to come help me clean, for the first time in my life, and it was the best decision ever. I needed that money, but I needed my sanity more, so it was a worthy expenditure, even if it does cut into the already tight budget. Ugh, money is the worst.

My back and neck are persistently achy and stiff. My eyeballs are aching right now, but I've been having random stabbing all around my head, more so towards the end of the day. I've still got that twitch. I've been very snappy and that reminds me I need to apologize to my boyfriend.

I'm still very sensitive to loud or grating noise, flashing or bright lights, and strong or chemical smells. I can't stand to be touched on my bed days, which are too often lately.

I've only hit a 10 in pain probably once every three months, maybe less. I end most days at about a 7, though it flows and ebbs and if I'm very, very quiet I can sometimes keep it down to a 3.

Not bad, for summer. I'm so lucky I live in the quiet of the forest, I owe everything I'm able to do to the trees. Redwoods are magic.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Not Great, Bob

I'm struggling, hence my absence here.

I got a cold a few weeks ago, then it was horribly hot, then i got my period, and my head is not dealing well with any of this. Another heat wave is approaching, just as my period is dying down too, so i've got another week of potential misery ahead of me.

My mental health is not great. I'm anxious and depressed, still having dalliances with suicidal thoughts. I talked to my doc about mental health care and basically the system sucks for those of us in it. If I actually attempt suicide they'll 5150 me and then I'll get treatment. But, this is not an option. The idea of hospitalization makes me panicky to the point where I'd rather suffer.

Everything is a mess. Me, my house, my relationships. I feel hopeless.

See, this is why I haven't been updating. It's all awful and now I'm crying. :(


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cardio as Therapy

This is the first time I've had any desire to write in weeks. I'm not thinking great today, but my motivation is sincere, so I going to cobble this post together from a few half-formed drafts and whatever run-on profundities my brain can be bothered to muster.

I've increased my exercise again and now I'm jogging! Jogging! It's a gentle jog, and it's mostly in place while my dogs sniff and poop, but I keep it up on the level bits of my hike and I'm already feeling results. My head now only rarely bothers me while I'm exercising, and the letdown I experience afterwards has decreased a little. My blood pressure at my last doctor's appointment was the lowest it's ever been: 100/60, I'm sleeping better, my back doesn't hurt hardly at all, and my mood is much more stable. In fact, when I feel myself getting fired up about something, I might just go for a quick, hard hike. Exercise really takes the edge off misplaced emotions and and the risk of migrainous consequences is much less than it is for the average outburst. Emotional stress remains a trigger I struggle to tame, but exercise helps.

I really can't believe I'm jogging. It's been what, two years? since I started hiking these hills, and I've had health issues that have set me back months in progress, but actually seeing slow and steady changes is so encouraging and makes me feel so proud of myself and so lucky that I've been able to live somewhere quiet enough to let me heal my body. My neurological system may still be screwy, but my heart, my skin, my bowels, and my joints are like the parts of another person, the change is tremendous.

Also, I've been feeling fatigued/depressed despite my iron levels having returned to normal, but when I was tested they found that my D levels were low again, so I've been prescribed a daily supplement to get back on track.

It seems like a contradiction that I have the energy to jog yet feel fatigued in daily activities, but it's not a physical kind of fatigued, I feel tired of life. Apathetic, bored, tired of trying. I think working out so hard, nearly every day, has kept me from going over the ledge into despair, though. I think this apathy is a low-level version of the intense depression I've been feeling at the end of my periods, and if that's the case, I'll take it. I still washed my hair, I fed myself well, and took care of the dogs. I didn't get any surveys done, nor make any real effort in any of my relationships, and was probably a little too salty with more than one person I care about, but I didn't feel like killing myself, so am I complaining? Nah.

I can't think of a snappy way to end this, so


Friday, June 26, 2015

Summerizing, Because It's Hot

Lately, in my world: I tried a snack delivery service, made a to-go salad worth bragging about, and I've started jogging, a little.

I tried Graze, the snack subscription service, and it was pretty cool. You can customize what kinds of snacks you prefer, or what ingredients you don't like, and they send you boxes weekly, monthly, whatever. I tried it for five weeks and if I had the disposable income, I would keep it, but alas. I do not. I do however have a code for a free box! If you use this code - YFD764WFE - when you sign up, you get your first box free (I also get a free box). You can cancel if you don't like it and there's no charge!

That awesome salad was a perfect storm of inspiration and opportunity. I grabbed a big canning jar out of the cabinet, and dumped a cup of leftover curried couscous in. Then I layered some dry-fried mushrooms, frozen vegetables and almonds, and then as much romaine lettuce as I could stuff in there. Then I smashed it down a bit more to get some lentil sprouts on top. When it was time to eat, I dumped it all out into a large bowl, topped it with a healthy wad of hummus, and had a serious salad party.

I'm been sprouting those lentils myself, and it is super easy! Just add a 1/4 cup of lentils to a jar (or more, but remember that they will grow), rinse and strain with water, then cover. Rinse them every day, and that's it! Sprouts in days! And to make rinsing even easier, I just add water to the jar, shake, then dump it out on the back of a screen strainer, so the lentils/sprouts all stay in the jar neatly. It seriously could not be easier.

And I've started jogging a bit on walks, just in place while the dogs do their thing, or gently on the level bits. Sometimes it hurts my head, but if I've gauged my situation correctly it usually doesn't, and that, my friends, is progress.

The heat of summer has fully arrived to our woods and I'm feeling it. My head hurts more and faster as the day warms up and if I don't get moving early, I may not move at all.

My friend had a dream in which I escaped my headaches by turning into a fish. Honestly, I've heard worse suggestions.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I've Been Cupped

I finally made my way back to the acupuncturists.

It took a while to get back in to see them, but I returned to Five Branches today to get poked for my head and other ailments.

We forgot to mention to the front desk that we were expecting the cheap appointment, and accidentally blew a good chunk of our budget on acupuncture. Oops. But I did get to experience more services, so I guess that's the bright side.

Last time, the guy put some migraine pins in and some menstrual pins. This time, the lady went all migraine.

So, she stabbed me in the top of the head, the ears, the back of my neck (I specified I'm having some nerve pain in my neck and shoulders), and one in each hand and foot. After 10-20 minutes of laying down quietly while stabbed, she gave me a vigorous and awesome neck massage, and then... she cupped me! She did four cups on my upper back, and I have those bizarre-looking marks to prove it. It didn't really hurt, it was more uncomfortable than anything, but one of the four did hurt just a little more than the others and that same spot continues to feel very bruised. Otherwise, it didn't and doesn't feel nearly as bad as it looks! Which is nice because it looks kind of terrible! Google at your own risk!

After my last appointment, I felt no significant changes, but my period was a little easier. Until this moment, I suspected it was because I've been extra-conscious of my diet lately, but now I'm wondering if it was the pins in the belly.

I'm just beat after this session; I took a nap when I got home, and feel like I suffered a thorough pummeling, which I supposed I kind of did. It was the best massage I think I've ever gotten. I'm going to bed soon, and hopefully I'll wake up feeling better, not worse, but y'all know how it is with migraines.