Thursday, November 26, 2009

Binge Cooking

Being in pain makes mealtime a challenge.

My boyfriend tends to eat whatever is easiest, and that is too often burritos from the supermarket next door. While I am grateful that we have a market so close, the proximity does make it hard to resist the temptations of an easy meal when my head is throbbing and I keep crying at the latest talking baby commercial. (I don't know why.) We've had this mealtime problem, and subsequent argument many times. I say we can't afford to be buying burritos for every meal and he retorts that no one wants to eat ramen all the time. I remind him of the stove, fridge, pots and pans just a room away. If he accepts my challenge, he will use every dish and utensil in the house making spaghetti (True story.) and then regale me with tall tales of adversity and bravery in the face of boiling noodles. Between mouthfuls he details every ingredient and stirring technique that his genius probably invented on the spot. Once he's finished his gourmet meal he lays back on the couch and promises to do the dishes later. Which never happens. Seriously. We've had standoffs. I am possibly pathologically stubborn and he is the poster boy for adult ADHD. This has led to our kitchen being a angry hazardous waste zone for weeks until one of us finally caves/focuses long enough to get it done.

But there's good news! We've grown as people and are tired of tantruming at each other. We agree that I cook more logically and consistently well, but can't be counted on to shower every day, let alone cook a healthy meal. Thus the concept of binge cooking was born.

Cooking large meals and freezing liberally has proven to be the easiest way for us to eat healthily. My kitchen adventures usually start the same way: what ingredients do we have, and what could we get for cheap? Once I have my "recipe" and ingredients list, I organize. The more prep I do, the easier it is on my body come cooking day. A few days preceding the day I plan to cook I make lists, double-check the pantry, reference allrecipes and recipezaar, and make sure all the supplies I need are clean and where I expect them to be. The actual day of cooking is never set in stone, though, I always give myself a range of days to choose from, and plan ahead of time. Then, if I wake up on a possible cooking day with a killer migraine, it's not a big deal if I do nothing in the kitchen all day but refill my water glass. And if I have a surprisingly good day a day or two before I had planned to get my hands dirty, I push it up! Can't waste those spoons, now can we?!

The cooking takes anywhere from three to eight hours, the cleanup and packing another two or so. By the end of the night my head is throbbing, my back is aching and I feel a little delusional from the effort. This last binge, I fell asleep with a migraine that night, it woke me a few times, which was new, and I woke with it in the morning, which is really rare for me. But I rolled with it that next day: rocked the ice packs and spent the next 18 hours focused intently on hulu to keep from freaking out over the pain.

These cooking binges always hurt, but I don't mind the pain as much when I've got something to show for it. Not having to cook for the next two weeks is worth it. I try to keep the fridge and freezer stocked with lasagna, chili, bread, casseroles, enchiladas and anything else my little brain can dream up and google.

Binge cooking has saved our relationship, and my sanity. That and the dishwasher.

I'm going to continue this post, focusing more on the economic reasons behind cooking in bulk and even a recipe or two over at Focusing on Reality, my non-head blog that I largely neglect. See you there!

Friday, November 20, 2009


This morning my sheets smelled like evil. About the time I went to bed, My boyfriend went to get a rubdown from our local massage therapist. (Like, super local. Next door. It's odd how many times we've ended up living with or near massage therapists. Has there been a migration in the past few years?) He came back home, pleasantly sore and blissfully ignorant of the danger that clung to his skin. He took a quick (and admittedly careless) shower and got into bed, just barely rousing me from my deep sleep. I was just awake enough to mumble-boss him to get his own blanket as I could still smell the massage lotion on him. I covered my face with my own blanket and fell back into sleep, temporarily shielded from the scent of liniment and lavender. I woke with my face buried in my pillow and as soon as I moved, I smelled it.

It made me gag, though a part of me could recognize that it was faint. It was making me feel sick, angry, and very sensitive. Lights got brighter, noises were sharper, I felt hot and stifled, but my feet were freezing. It was the standard buildup for me. My boyfriend is really getting used to my patterns because when I flipped out at him for something silly, he asked me what the real problem was. "Well let me give you some context!" I spat, all righteous with my bad self. And after a minute of nagging and rambling on about missing forks, soap not being on the wire rack where it goes, and other petty things of this nature, I finally got to it, "...and the bed SMELLS!" His face instantly went from annoyed to sympathetic and I started to cry, relieved that I had finally gotten to the point and that he understood. He immediately helped me form a plan of action for cleaning all of the bedding without having a working washing machine. (It broke a few days ago. It's a problem.) He reassured me that if it all went terribly wrong, if my head exploded and all of my spoons fell out, he would carry it all to the laundromat himself if he had to, through the snow, uphill, both ways. Then he hugged me until I let go. He's a really great guy.

There really is no moral to the story. It's just another anecdote about how easily my day can go wrong, and how lucky I am to have someone to help me bring it back around to right. The last comforter is in the dryer now. I'm tired. But I'll sleep in a clean, unscented bed tonight and maybe tomorrow will be better.


Monday, November 16, 2009

A Glimpse into my World on a Bad Day

Today is a day in which I constantly fight off the urge to smash something. First, my head hurts. I don't really want to get into detail about it. Every time I try, I end up pounding on the keyboard in frustration. Nothing has changed. Besides my entire life. I think I'm going backwards through the stages of grief and have landed back on anger.

We're having computer issues. We have two laptops, one is MINE and the other is an asshole. MY laptop refuses to install and use our new internet source, which means I've been forced to use the asshole lately. The asshole seems fine. It starts up quickly, installs and runs programs easily and plays multi-media like a dream. HOWEVER, the asshole has a few keys that are totally non-responsive. Like P. And tab, the left shift and 90% of the number keys. Using the on-screen keyboard provided by windows, I have full functionality on the asshole, it's just extremely irritating to break the rhythm of my typing groove to have to whip out the onscreen keyboard, or to use the arrow keys and delete instead of backspace when I make the inevitable typo. I tried powering through it and fixing mistakes later. It made me feel totally unbalanced, to look at my paragraphs of half-formed words underlined angrily in red. I've started probably ten different posts on the past few days and deleted them all, in or close to tears, totally unable to focus on whatever subject I was on for all of the typos and interruptions in train of thought.

So, I've pulled out MY computer and a usb drive. I'm typing this up, gonna slap in on the drive, plug in into the asshole, connect to the internet and behold: A blog post!

I've also taken some valium.

I've been checking out some new blogs lately. I'm branching out a bit from the headache and migraine crowd and exploring the world of chronic pain and disability. I've made some additions to my blogroll, but am hungrily looking for more. So, if you know of someone or something that I'm missing, let me know.

I'm getting more irritated with the superficial, materialistic, mass hysteria-like consumerism that has infected this country. Also, ableism is really pissing me off. Britain has admitted to kidnapping children. Other dog owners at the park have taught their animals no manners. I live in the middle of a big city, and I have sensory sensitivities. Today is leaf-blower day. I'm having holiday anxiety already. I keep taking it personally when I hear someone say that they think there shouldn't be a public option, as if they are telling me that I, personally, do not deserve medical care. I really hate these bathtub commercials on tv all the time that are supposed to be more accessible (the ones with no step to get in and a door). I can't stop thinking about what would happen if the tub clogged and wouldn't drain. I haven't bothered to research whether they have a contigency plan for just such an event, I'm just being blindly irritated at this point.

It's one of those days, like I said.

My clothes washer is broken. No word yet on how long it'll take to be fixed. Luckily my parents' house is not far, and they have issued an open invite to launder with them.

I've already declared to all interested parties that I am not doing any kind of formal Thanksgiving dinner. I have relatives who will be attending who wear heavy perfumes in spite of my issues. I have suggested a quiet brunch with my parents on the morning of, since my mom has a sentimental thing with holidays. I'll be back home long before football starts. If I'm feeling good enough, maybe we'll hit the dog park, or take a walk. Holidays are a great time to do mundane things, because everyone else is too busy cooking and family-ing to get in my way and make everything all crowded and noisy.

I just started crying for no reason. Sobbing, really. I think it may have been the leaf blowers that triggered it.

Aaaah... The valium is kicking in. I think I'll switch over to editing a more cheerful post, since my rage is slowly draining away.


Thursday, November 12, 2009


I may have finally found acceptance. I've spent my life looking for it, silently wishing for it from my parents, jumping through hoops to get it from friends, striving and crying for it with lovers, needing it desperately from anyone who looked my way. Only now, having gone through the stages of grief of losing my former life and dealing with the limitations and reality of my new, somewhat more painful one, have I realized that the only place I am ever going to find true acceptance is from myself.

Not to mislead: I am surrounded by love. Family and friends, my partner and my dog, I have no shortage of hugs, supportive words or affection when I need it. But this is not the same as acceptance. Acceptance is non-judging, without condition and has no need for justifications. Acceptance suggests trust, approval, and belief. To ask another person to give me their total acceptance is absolutely not fair. People are unpredictable, mysterious, never say everything they think and usually have motives that they do not share with the rest of the class, if even with themselves. None of these are bad, just human. We protect ourselves by keeping our secret thoughts secret, our actions and words are defined by our experiences, which no one else has had and can therefore never truly understand, and our biological functions, like blood sugar, pain level and hormones, can change our moods and minds so easily it makes me wonder how in control of ourselves we really are. (At all? Are we just walking impulses? Road rage, elopements, drug addiction and love tell me that we are. But that's another blog post.)

To seek acceptance from a fellow human is an exercise in futility. We accept the parts of others that we like, and reject or ignore what we don't. We can be accepting; tolerant and friendly, supportive and giving, but we always (ALWAYS) hold something back. There are many reasons for the lack of acceptance in the world. Some of us are judgmental, we have preconceptions and immovable ideals on which we can not compromise. Some of us have experience that tells us that acceptance is dangerous: we've been hurt before or have seen others hurt as a result of being too open. Some of it is simply lack of understanding, we don't know what acceptance is because we have never had it, or we just don't know how to truly accept another without reservation. People are inherently selfish, we live in our own heads, never really knowing another perspective besides our own, and everything we do is coated in massive varnish of ME. We rarely do anything purely unselfishly. Even charity work comes with a feeling of goodwill and a tax write off. Is my cynicism showing?

I do experience measures of acceptance in my life. From my partner to my dog, my mother, my cousins, and my friends all love me and wish for my happiness, but they do not accept me fully. We have differing religious or political beliefs, which some simply can't abide, so we ignore it (at best). My illness is difficult for people to accept, as their true acceptance would require lifestyle changes on their part. Respecting my need for a quiet, dimly lit environment without a single synthetic smell is something that not a soul in my life has been able to completely do. It's unintentional for many (but not all) to disregard my needs, they simply forget that they'll be seeing me when they splash on the perfume or they think I'm being dramatic about the noise level of the music blaring from the speakers. It's not for me to judge why I am not accepted. It's for me to accept it. I have to accept the lack of acceptance in my world. Confused? Yeah, that's why I'm typing it all out. When I say it out loud it makes even less sense.

To sum up: to thine own self be true. Don't depend on others to give you what you can best give yourself. And do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The end.


Friday, November 6, 2009


Having arguments with my boyfriend has become a challenge. We have always fought: over messes, money and miscommunications. Our disagreements have ranged from laughter-filled to screaming and throwing things, sometimes simultaneously. We've had some fights that have become famous amongst our friends for their silliness, passion or pure hilarity. Our arguing is an outlet for us, and used to end with a long, deep selves-evaluating conversation, awesome pig out sessions and/or sex. Preferably and.

But our arguments have been less than fun lately. Talking in abundance really hurts, so asserting my opinion has become more frustrating. When I got fired up I used to get a little yelly without a second thought, but no more; now I have to control myself or suffer immediate consequences of soul-searing pain. Same goes for the boyfriend, if he gets a little impassioned in even his everyday speech, I clap my hands to my ears and plead with him to "stop yelling at me." If he doesn't immediately comply, my rage usually takes over and I lose my shit. My hands stay firmly attached to my ears as I scream at him and tantrum my way right into a migraine, so hurt and insulted am I by his carelessness that I drive myself into worse pain than almost any outside noise could. It's stupid and childish and self-destructive and weak. I need to learn to control my emotions, a task that has proven harder for me than any other with chronic pain. It's not an excuse for my behavior, self control is a mandatory quality for me and I am horrified by myself even as I am sobbing about how much I hate hate hate hate hate rage anger hate. (Not a direct quote, but close enough.) We can converse, discuss, and even debate, but once we head into fighting territory it's all hidden landmines and kamikaze nuclear warfare.

I could just let things go. So what if he leaves his shoes in the middle of the floor and I trip on them? There are worse things. And if he leaves dishes encrusted with food for weeks on end, does anybody really suffer? And honestly, the circumcision debate we've been having for the past nine and a half years? We are not even close to spawning, and while I feel like ranting so the whole world knows exactly how anti I am about it, maybe I should just leave it alone until it matters, like when the hypothetical future sonogram shows a penis.

I have not yet mastered this obscure technique my mother keeps mentioning to me called "picking my battles". I only rarely remember to try. I'm a fighter by nature, maybe. I stand my ground firmly and brave the onslaught of the enemy with such unforeseen strength that future generations will probably erect a statue in my honor and the poets will sing of my virtues in battle. Or maybe I'm a little big headed and impatient and think I am right all the time.

Since my pain has lessened my self-control and rendered me nearly incapable of going a day without crying, my sweet boyfriend has just been backing off. He's learning when to fight with me and when to let it go, and he's getting good at ending the fight without bloodshed.

I think I am very lucky that my boyfriend knows chronic pain. And that he knew me before migraines took over my life. He seems to have an endless supply of empathy and understanding. I get so impatient and tired of myself having such limitations and he's right there, pissed off with me, but in the next breath he's suggesting we go for a walk with the camera or that the dog needs some quality wrestle time or that an awesome show is waiting in my hulu queue or that maybe a hot shower and some tea would be nice. His optimism is inspiring and his love for me is humbling. (I have a sudden urge to hug him, brb.)

I am pretty sure that a lot of my unbridled emotion while arguing is coming from a desperate need to control my life again. I am still pretty newly disabled, and I am working very hard to accept my new way of life, but it is sad and frustrating and it makes me want to rage against the dying of the light. The light being my future, which I am having trouble seeing through the fog of pain.

So, I win more fights lately, because my very loving boyfriend doesn't want me to totally destroy myself. These victories are empty and without honor, though, so I get no pleasure from their spoils.