Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chugging for My Health

I have discovered the joy of drinking my veggies. I highly recommend it.

James at Headache and Migraine News posted an item about green smoothies that left me blending in earnest. I had recently been considering my nutritional intake, and how it plummets when I feel bad. I imagine it doesn't improve anything to be borderline anemic and living off of peanut butter and jelly. But what could I do? The worse I feel, the less likely I am to cook for myself and relying on my personal slave, er, boyfriend to create healthy meals and snacks at my every whim seems like a good idea, but he does have a life, and it doesn't revolve around my appetite. Then came James with his green smoothies and a new era was born in my house.

I was instantly hooked. I stand in my kitchen for 10 minutes every morning, washing and chopping as needed, then pouring liquids and dumping in solids, then blending. I concoct based only on my mood and how my body feels. One day it's a metric ton of chard, a super tart apple, some pomegranate juice and a little honey, for a powerful taste. The next day I may go milder with a half-head of romaine, some peppermint tea and orange juice and a handful of strawberries. I like to add yogurt or soymilk to make it a little creamier. I've found that banana can mask even the strongest green taste and that I don't need to add even a half of the amount of fruit that I initially thought, to keep it palateable.

I go to a farmer's market every weekend my head allows. I used to be afraid of getting too much produce. I hate watching food spoil, but when one is surrounded by organic, fragrant fruits and vegetable, it's hard to imagine that they will turn into a murky swamp of badsmell when you've forgotten them in the bottom crisper for two weeks because you've been flat on your back and unable to even open your eyes when the fridge is open, let alone cook something. After this happened a few times, the farmer's market became less of a candy store and more of endless rows of potential fridge-mush. I stopped buying so much produce, just apples (which last forever!) and strawberries (when I felt brave), and maybe some corn or artichokes. (Which wouldn't always get eaten on time, either, but at least they only dry out and don't actually liquefy.)

Things have changed. The farmer's market is a candy store again. I walk out of there struggling under the weight of my cloth bags. And nothing has gone bad for weeks.

You see, not only are the smoothies making it easier for me to get my veggies and fruit, but getting all the nutrients I've been missing for so long is making me feel better. I have more energy, my mood is improved and I feel stronger, mentally and physically. I can cook, clean and socialize more than I could two weeks ago. I read a book for the first time in months yesterday. I went to a family gathering last weekend, cooked for it, and still managed to have a good time.

The improvement is phenomenal, but by no means has drinking my vegetables cured my headaches. In fact, I suspect that the jump in blood sugar may be triggering, a bit. It seems that a few minutes after consuming a smoothie, I get a temporary spike in head pain, which is accompanied by a strange buzzy feeling. It fades within an hour, and then I feel almost normal again. (Normal being relative, of course.) This possible trigger hasn't dissuaded me from my new smoothie kick, since the pros are so heavily outweighing the cons. An hour-long headache? Please. That's a drop in the ocean.

I recommend everyone start blending, or juicing. There are too many options to to be afraid of the taste, and you can't beat the simplicity. If I can blend up a smoothie with a migraine, you can too! (Just don't forget your earplugs!)


Thursday, August 20, 2009


I still don't think I'm saying it right. HomeOpathy? HomeoPATHy? Definitely inflection on the O. What was my point? Oh yeah! I'm giving it a shot, despite being slightly irritated at myself for it. I'm more than a little skeptical.

I've got to try, though. If I don't, I've already failed. I pride myself on having an open mind. I like to play devil's advocate and try to understand things from as many points of view as my little brain can hold. So, homeopathy isn't the most scientific medicine. It's not the most popular, or even the most radical. I think that I realized I had been totally prejudiced against homeopathy when I told a friend I wasn't interested in trying it, and in the next breath said I'd consider surgery. Then, it occurred to me: Why Not? I'm pretty sure it can't hurt me. The worst that can happen is that it doesn't work and I've blown some money. Just because western medicine only acknowledges it as a pseudoscience (at best), doesn't mean it won't work. It just means that science has no idea if it works, or why. I've been an atheist since I was ten years old, but that doesn't mean that there is no god. Despite my personal beliefs, I've accepted blessings on my head in the name of deities and their respective prophets gratefully. Why not? I accept presents from Santa every year, even though I am pretty sure I am way too old to be on either of his lists. Why not give homeopathy a try? So, I bought two different high-ishly rated (and cheap) bottles of homeopathic headache and migraine pills.

I'm trying one at a time, and the first is a concoction of anconite, belladonna, bryonia, gelsenium (or is that gelsemium?), hypericum (st. johns wort), kali phosporicum, and natrum muriaticum (which is, apparently, salt). I googled the ingredients and all, except otherwise noted, are derived from plants of varying toxicity, from "instant death" to "causes skin irritation". The pills cause a very mild stomach upset, which results in a little burping and queasiness. If I eat something with them, I generally don't notice anything.

My inner skeptic is rolling her eyes constantly. So, she'll probably rule out the placebo effect. If the pills have had any effect on my head, I haven't noticed, yet. But, I'm only halfway through the first bottle, so I'll save my final verdict.

I'd be interested to hear about others' experience with homeopathic medicine. Comment or message me if you have any thoughts you'd like to share on the topic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Working It Out

I got a treadmill and it is good. I started a mini-journal, to keep track of how often I use it and how my head and body respond to the introduction of regular exercise. About halfway through, I realized that it wasn't going exactly to plan, but I stuck with it, just to see how it would develop. Without further adieu, I present:

30 days of Having a Treadmill: How Many Days Do You Reckon I Actually Walked on the Thing?

Day 1: So stoked. Walked on lowest speed for 20 minutes.

Day 2: Used all my spoons on dishes and laundry. Sigh.

Day 3: Walked for ten minutes outside.

Day 4: No spoons. Paris Hilton says shopping is her cardio. It certainly was mine, today.

Day 5: Recuperating from day 4.

Day 6: Still recuperating. Too much pain to walk.

Day 7: Costco. No soul (spoons) left to walk.

Day 8: Twenty minutes! My head was displeased afterwards, though.

Day 9: No spoons. Used them all cleaning. Damn responsibility!

Day 10: Nope, not today. A birthday dinner requires me to save the spoons. *Hoards*

Day 11: Sigh. Recuperating from birthday dinner.

Day 12: 15 minute walk with the dog and the camera this morning! It was lovely.

Day 13: Spent the morning cleaning. And the rest of the day horizontal. No walking.

Day 14: Another 15 minute walk outside! Overcast mornings in the summer are such a rare treat.

Day 15: Excessive cleaning yesterday combined with the possibility of little brother bonding is rendering me a sedentary steph. Poor treadmill. It looks sad.

Day 16: Baking half the night has sent me horizontal.

Day 17: 30 minutes on low! Baby steps are still steps.

Day 18: Didn't happen.

Day 19: 30 minutes.

Day 20: Walked on the beach. Beats the treadmill any day.

Day 21: Nope.

Day 22: Still a bad head day.

Day 23: No.

Day 24: Nuh-uh.

Day 25: Don't think so.

Day 26: Having a bad stretch, here, aren't I?

Day 27: 35 minutes! Only stopped when my head started.

Day 28: Walking on the beach.

Day 29: Cooking and cleaning. No walking.

Day 30: 30 minutes, using higher speeds and incline, even! And then my head said stop.

So, in 30 days, I have used my treadmill and grand total of.... six times! Which sounds sad and terrible, but that is six times I've been able to be active when I otherwise would have been stuck inside, on the couch, sulking. Which is a 600% improvement, right?

This makes me happy.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Falling of Pride

If public humiliation builds character, like my mom says, I should be a cartoon.

I recognize my pride. It's not always the prettiest side of me; stubborn, arrogant, and willfull, but it's me. I own it, and more importantly, I'm learning to let it go when I need to. I tend to use humor as a defensive mechanism, so when I'm so doing embarrassing things in public it's not too big of a problem for me. Make a joke, get a laugh, move on. However, the headaches are depleting my intellect so making a quick, clever joke isn't as easy as it used to be. And being in pain has definitely lessened my patience with others, so I'm not laughing quite as hard at my own expense.

For example, whenever I tell someone I have earplugs in, I run a high risk of them signing and mouthing words to me, trying to be funny. It's not really that funny, except to the person doing the lip-synching, but I'll play along, ask "what?" a few times, if I'm feeling good. If not, I'll just stare and wait for them to stop. (Note: THIS IS EFFECTIVE.)

I have some cognitive trouble when I'm in a high-stimulus situation, like a restaurant. This can make ordering a meal difficult. I can always narrow it down to a few choices, being a picky pescatarian helps, there. But sometimes I get stuck. I can't choose. I feel like crying. I stare at the menu and it stops making sense. Then, I turn to my dining companion and ask, "You choose for me, okay?" They don't mind. I usually get a little teasing for this, but losing ones intellect is a sad and scary thing, so we generally don't joke much about it.

It's not just at restaurants, though. With the barrage of stimulus that daily life brings, the pain in my head, and the medication I take to dull it, my brain isn't working as quickly as it once did, which is giving me a bit of the old Flowers for Algernon effect. The loss of faculties is painful and sometimes terrifying, but the humility it's bringing me is good. It's a well-needed reminder that we are fragile, fallible creatures, and we all have an expiration date.

My ultimate downfall may be my limited ability to ask for help. I have a true dislike of asking others to do what I can't or won't. My ever-henpecked boyfriend would argue this point, as I ask (tell) him to do chores and run errands for me all the time. but, I also wash and fold his underwear, so he has his own special category. He is not everyone else. I could use some help, help that I know my family members and friends could provide. But, I don't ask. I don't know how to. I haven't even admitted, except in ironic or joking situations, that I am disabled. That I am unabled. I am mislabeled. I have digital cable. SEE? I can't even say it without making a joke! Pride will be my undoing.

I went to the beach a while back with some friends. I like to collect seaglass and shells for my garden and can happily spend hours walking up and down the beach, bending to inspect every little shine in the sand. Well, my head doesn't allow much of that anymore, bending over gives me a migrainous head rush that leaves me nauseous and tired, almost immediately. That day at the beach, I had picked up only a few shiny bits of pretty before my head ordered me to stop. I was sad, and told my friend what was up, and that we could continue to walk, if he wanted, but that my quest for pretties was over. When he offered to pick things up for me, I couldn't say yes right away. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable; I have a weird guilt complex about asking for help, even for little things. He didn't wait for me to say yes, just started picking things up that I didn't want and offering them to me, which nudged my bossy gland in just the right spot for me to start giving him direction and pointing out what I wanted. But even later, when my hands and pockets were full, I still hesitated to ask him to carry some shells for me. And yes, I can see how ridiculous I am.

I am not greedy or envious. My wrath is kept in check, as are my gluttony and lust. I'm definitely a lazy person (have I mentioned how much I love sleep?), but it's nothing compared to my burning need to hide all weakness. It's the pride, for sure, that'll get me in the end. I'm getting better about it; letting down my guard more, and asking for help more often and with less shame, but I'm a work in progress. I may reject all forms of pity but gratefully welcome your patience.