Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hospital Fear

So, everyone is pulling for me to do this hospital stay. I understand why, and part of me is totally gung ho. But there's this other part of me that won't be silenced and that part of me is having fits of panicky fear every time I try to logic it all out.

I'm trying to think of ways to make it less scary. Researching the facility I'd be staying in, finding out the specifics, might help. Will I have my own room? What kind of food will they serve? Will I be conscious? If I'm unconscious, how does the staff then treat me? Do they continue to run tests and administer treatment or do we wait for my consent? Can I go outside? Can my boyfriend stay with me? What's the policy on electronic devices?

But I have a history with hospitals. And really, no matter how many questions they answer, that history is telling me that only bad things will happen.

However, in the past week, I've had two children of facebook friends go into surgery, one requiring about a week-long stay in the hospital. So, that feels a little like the universe telling me to bootstrap up.

If the doctor ends up recommending it, which, it really looks like he will, I'll probably go for it. I'm terrified, but I can't just stand still and hope my head fixes itself.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Jerry Brown is Stressing Me Out

It seems like every six months I get the itch to go back to school, and then something comes up to derail the process before I get very far. The car catches on fire, or we have to move two or three times in as many months or I'm just soooo busy with my job and social life, or I'm laid out by migraines all the time. Excuses, excuses.

So, it's not really any kind of a big deal, but I filled out a fafsa and submitted it to the community college I attended a hundred years ago. I've filled the thing out probably half a dozen times since I dropped out of school. What I've never done until ten minutes ago is email the disabilities coordinator and ask for more information. I'm hoping that they'll be able to guide me through the process, and hook me up with a counselor who can help me figure out the best course of action for me. They have a pretty full online schedule and a decent looking disability section of their website, so I was feeling optimistic. Cross your fingers for me, y'all.

We're low on food and funds again. We have beans, a few veggies and some leftovers that we should be able to make stretch until our next check, and if we get desperate my parents aren't that far. I'm lucky that way. But still, hunger is scary. I've been seeing this campaign on tv for battling "food insecurity" in our communities. The ads are peppered with sad looking kids and older people, with a few everyday joes thrown in for the "it could be you" factor. It's all very well meaning, but I really wish they wouldn't call it food insecurity. I mean, sure, I'm definitely insecure about where my next meal is coming from, I worry about getting enough nutrition when I can't afford fresh produce, but that's not the main problem. The real issue is that I'm hungry and can't afford healthy food. Why don't we get us all fed and then we can worry about who's insecure, hmm?

Apparently they changed some rules again with the public assistance and there's a rumor that we might qualify. I'm not getting my hopes up, but we're applying for food stamps, housing assistance and for a few hours of in-home care a week. If our new governor doesn't cut all of the programs before I can get any help, that is.

(Dear Jerry Brown,

Please don't take away what little the elderly and disabled have. We need help. Raise taxes. If someone should be paying, it should be those who can afford it.

Thanks, steph (a woman with a disability who relies on the services you are planning to cut))

In other news, I've pinched something in my back (as we say in my family), a little more than halfway down my spine on the right side. It's making it hard to walk, bend, move, and a sudden sneezing fit brought me to my knees this morning. It's so bad, I've resorted to narcotics. (I mean, barely, I'm such a lightweight that 1/2 a soma and 1/2 a vicodin on a full stomach had me feeling drunk as a skunk.) And, of course, my head is already showing signs of displeasure at my choice of medication, but you know what, head? I could hardly move without crying out. And my back? Responds to drugs! Not like you, asshole, I've yet to find anything to shut you the hell up, so you know what? Bring it on! Beat me all about the head as much as you want, you'd probably be doing it anyway. Jerk.

I should go to bed.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Specialist and Walking

So, I finally got in with a bonified headache guy.

Our first appointment was rather anticlimactic. We went over my history, I described the last almost four years as best as I could and a tentative diagnosis of ndph/chronic migraines was mentioned. They didn't have all of my records yet, so I have to go back when that gets squared away, which was pretty frustrating. The doctor is an hour away by car, which we borrowed from my mom, and next time it may be a two hour train and bus ride. I was already barely functional at the end of this appointment, I can't imagine adding four hours of buses, trains, people, and walking to that. Ugh.

It was also suggested that we might kick off my treatment with a 5-day hospital stay, with dihydroergotamine as a feature player. This terrifies me, for reasons that I can't even articulate. Every time I try to talk about it with my boyfriend, I have to struggle not to panic and cry. In fact, I have to stop writing about this right now, I'm getting too upset just writing about thinking about talking about a hospital stay. Sheesh.

On a happier note, I've been really good about exercising! In the past thirty days, I've walked outside or on my treadmill TWENTY days! It was when I started thinking of it as physical therapy that I started walking more regularly. I can get up to a decent clip on the treadmill now, and it's nice to break a sweat and get my heart rate going. When I walk outside, I go a lot slower, and often stop totally when the noise or sunshine or cigarette smoke or perfume of passing teenagers overcomes me. I don't worry about my heart rate on these walks, it's all about being outside, walking the dog, taking photos, being present and making it back home. Sometimes the exercise triggers my head, but it's worth the risk because my stamina is really obviously improving. and the better my body feels, the better my head feels. Usually.

Hopefully my work will pay off and by the time that next appointment comes up, I won't even feel the commute. Here's to wishful thinking.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Obstinance and Pain

**Trigger Warning** The following story includes bullying and physical abuse.

Somewhere around fourth grade, a seemingly normal group of kids I went to school with started hurting each other. Punching in the arm, indian burns (is there a non-racist term for this?), hair pulling, pushing, and that awful hand-slapping game where it's a race to see who flinches or misses first. These hurting games were not organized games, obviously, nor were they teacher sanctioned. I remember one boy being the main initiator of these games, walking up to each of us in turn and punching us in the arm (or pinching, etc). If you cried, you totally lost the game and everyone's respect. But if you withstood the pain, you'd get a smirk of approval and you'd be in the inner circle of ten-year-old badassery, for a little while.

Maybe this is a normal thing that kids do, it seems horrible looking back on it. There was only one reason that I stuck around for my turn to be injured: I had a crush on the ringleader. Besides being a possible psychopath, he was cute and smart and funny. The sadistic thing was not part of the attraction.

So, this one recess, that creepy little boy initiated a game in which he could demonstrate the pressure points on the human body. Three kids in a row he took down with something that looked like the vulcan death grip. He approached me smiling, he was always smiling just a little, and squeezed my neck in a place that I had no idea held so much pain. My eyes squinted and teared up, my knees went weak, it was hard to breathe. My obstinance held me up. He squeezed that spot as hard as he could and never took his eyes off my face. I stared back and he grabbed my arm with his other hand, squeezed my elbow and made me gasp. I regained my composure as quickly as I could, shoved the pain aside. It hurt more than anything I had felt before, but my satisfaction at not bending to his twisted little will was the best anesthetic I've ever had. And his frustration showed, like he hoped my suffering would. He glared at me, moved closer and tried to get better leverage. I could see his anger at my refusal to be beaten. At this moment, with his hands on me and meanness on his face, when I saw him for what he really was: a twisted-up little boy who liked to prey on the weak, he went from my first crush to my first adversary.

Once my mind made that flip he didn't stand a chance. I would never back down. I remember willfully ignoring the pain. Turning it around and using it for strength. The more he hurt me, the stronger I stood and the tougher I became. I remember sneering at him, "Psh. It barely even hurts", which enraged him After a minute or so, he finally let go and stomped off, disgusted. I had bruises for a week, but he never touched me again.

And when I say he became my first adversary, I mean that I became a sort of tanbark sheriff after that. If I saw him gathering up some weaker kids, I'd stride right over and ask him, all friendly-like, what was going on. If I found out that he'd hurt someone, I couldn't stop myself from confronting him, making things right. I told on him a few times, but mostly, it was playground justice and I'd appointed myself the law.

That story is mostly about how I learned to use my stubborn streak, why I can't help but stick up for the little guy and why I get confrontational at the tiniest whiff of bullying. But, it's also about pain. And how, at an early age, I learned to use pain, break through it, ignore it, or ride it out.

On a particularly bad day recently, I remembered this experience and it gave me strength. I was curled up on my bed, miserable, covered with strategically placed heatpads and icepacks and drugged as much as I dared, and that memory made me smile. Pain can be faced, and lived through and even used for the forces of good.

I'll be okay.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Old Navy Just Isn't Very Migraine Friendly

This story really starts after I'd left my local Old Navy storefront in a migraine haze, from the music being pumped in so loud that my industrial earplugs were no match and my head exploded all over the creepy torso mannequins and plastic flip-flops. But, I had gift cards! That needed to be spent! So, I went to the website, signed up for email deals and lo! very shortly thereafter, I got a kickass discount offer that made the dollar minimum for free shipping a lot more reasonable. I spent some time filling up my virtual cart, placed my order, got it a week or two later and then some events transpired that prompted me to write them a letter. Here it is:

Dear Old Navy People,

I recently placed an order online, and it went mostly very well. The transaction was smooth, the items arrived in a timely manner, they were all as described, and the fits were all perfect with plenty of help from reviewer comments. I would be confident in ordering from you again, except for the stink.

I ordered a few items, and they were all wrapped individually in plastic blags. As I started opening the packages, it occurred to me how wasteful all this plastic is. Why does each item need to be individually wrapped? Then, I opened the Floral-Print Chiffon Top and was smacked in the face with cologne.

I have chronic migraines. I'd planned on washing each of the items as soon as I received them anyway, since the normal "new clothes smell" tends to trigger head pain. But this cologne won't wash out. I've used two types of detergent and two vinegar rinses. I've soaked and pleaded. The smell is somewhat faded, but still noxious to me. If this last vinegar soak doesn't help, I just don't know what to do. I've been sick since I got the order, the constant exposure to perfumes is wreaking havoc on me.

So, I have two questions.

1. I have obviously washed the shirt repeatedly. If I am unable to get the stink out, can I still return it?

2. Either the shirt was stinky because someone tried it on or the person who packaged it was saturated. Can we avoid this in the future? This makes me nervous to order again.

Thank you for your time,


They called me a few days later. My boyfriend talked to them, since I don't do phones, and told the rep that I did finally manage to get the stink out of the shirt. My boyfriend also took the opportunity to tell them about the in-store problems I'd had. The rep said that he would make a note of it, or file the complaint or whatever lingo their corporate training suggests. It was a nice gesture, the phone call, and it leaves me hopeful as to what they would have suggested had the stink not come out.

So, Old Navy, I'm not thrilled with the quality of many of your clothes, your history of questionable labor practices, your marketing campaigns or the volume of the music in your stores, but your response to a customer with a complaint wasn't terrible. Way to go!