Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Defense, They're Both Green

So, we've been growing some pot plants in the bedroom bay window and it's been so exciting watching them grow! We staked them, determined sex, were thrilled to see them flower, and then there was the fateful moment when we realized that what we actually had were tomato plants. They grow up so fast. Sniff.

I've never grown pot before. It's legal where I live, with a prescription of course, and it seemed like a solid, money-saving idea. My boyfriend had some seeds to sprout, so we did. And they grew.

You already know the punchline, but it's still pretty funny how we took care of those tomato plants. We marveled over their growth, debated sex organ appearance (hey, we were both wrong!), set up a fluorescent light above them, worried about questionable neighborhood folk spotting them through the window, and joked about how we were now farmers and couldn't wait for the harvest.

When the first yellow flowers appeared, I was confused. No yellow flowers were mentioned anywhere in anything I'd read, except for one questionable page that said I might have a hermaphrodite on my hands. But, I've grown tomatoes before, and my gut recognized those flowers (and the leaves! I have no idea how I didn't recognize them earlier). But I left the final say up to my boyfriend and yesterday, he told me. They're tomatoes, steph, I'm sorry.

Aw. It's ok, boyfriend. I like tomatoes, too!

This morning, I moved them out to the porch, since we no longer have the probably irrational fear of someone breaking in and stealing our prized tomato plants. Sigh.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Celebratory Stove Cleaning

I locked myself out of my house today.

I was wearing a flimsy housedress, flip-flops and sunglasses. I stepped out onto the porch for only a minute, to water my garden, and realized my error the moment the door shut. That click is unmistakeable. I had no earplugs, no hat, no water (other than a fertilizer-tainted pitcherful for the plants), I was barely dressed, neither my boyfriend nor our landlord was home to let me back in, and the dog isn't tall enough.

I sat on the porch for a minute and thought about crying. I was feeling a little panicky; I had no idea how long anyone would be gone, I had no phone, and it was already 80-something degrees at 11 am. There weren't any tears, but there was definite throat-tightening and maybe even an anticipatory sniffle. My parents live less than a mile away. But it seems further when it's hot, and I'm in flip-flops.

Then, a stroke of genius. I have a neighbor. They're nice enough, but I don't talk to them a lot. Mostly just because I don't talk to anyone a lot. So, I headed over, taking hope at the cars in the driveway. And there were people home, but none had my boyfriend's new phone number (I'll be memorizing it tonight, trust me). However, a short phone call later, we were able to get a message to my man and he heroically swept in within 15 minutes to open the door and carry me over the threshold while we lovingly gazed into each others eyes and Celine Dion sang a soaring soundtrack of love overcoming adversity. Maybe.

But, really, I was back in the house before my head even had a chance to notice. So, I cleaned the stovetop to celebrate and now I'm laying down to recuperate from all that celebrating.

Such a small adventure felt like navigating a foreign land. I'm a very careful person, it's not often that I'm stranded. I feel like I lived through something, which is funny, really, I just sat in my neighbors little courtyard chatting amiably in my housedress for twenty minutes.


My plants haven't changed much, but this is a weird post, so why not share a pic?

I added an aloe to my window.

I got it in the mail through Amazon, and it arrived in perfect condition and has done well for the last month in my window. The price was more than I would have normally paid for an aloe, considering shipping, but I had amazon money from taking surveys, so it was easy to justify the cost at the time.

My strawberries have slowed down, but I noshed on one yesterday and it was pretty perfect. I'll take one perfect strawberry a week to a million too-sour ones. This zen-like strawberry perspective may be partially because I very recently helped my family plant fill a big strawberry planter, I have a feeling that we'll be flush with them soon.

I tried to sprout more mint, but I think these seeds will never be more than groundcover. So, now I'm trying to get my brother's spearmint to root in a pot. I figure if it establishes itself a bit before I cut it, maybe this one will live.

I've been sewing a little lately. Nothing too interesting, a few repairs and one very happy dress to skirt quick fix.

I somehow jacked up the timing on my sewing machine. I was feeling ALL sorry for myself, since my boyfriend hadn't had time to look at it and we certainly can't afford a sewing machine mechanic. Then I remembered how to google and fixed it all by myself! (It was a very simple problem, but I'm having a moment, ok?) Then I finished the project I was working on, which didn't come out awesome, but hey, it was a chance to practice and I feel like a badasskicker because I did something mechanical without someone else holding my hand.

I can die happy now.


Friday, June 17, 2011

It's Been a Rough Week

First, the good news.

I contributed to a migraine blog carnival over at Somebody Heal Me.

Now, the bad news. Unfortunately, this category has several more items.

My dog got sick and I thought she was going to die, mostly because I don't understand how dog sickness works. She's fine now.

Then the food stamp people needed more paperwork all of a sudden? I don't know what happened, but we've been cut off until my boyfriend can get down there to sort it out.

We had some money set aside for food, until we had to spend in all on my dog. It's been a beans and rice week. And we're very nearly out of toilet paper.

My house is a mess and I'm having some anxiety over it. I just can't keep up with my boyfriend's adhd. Having a constantly dirty house is huge stress, and I feel trapped by it.

The bathtub is super slow draining and my landlord is taking his sweet time getting around to snaking it. It grosses me out to shower with water backing up around my feet.

There's some loud machinery across the street that's making me feel like I'm losing my mind.

I need a hug. And some money. And a housekeeper.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Mixed Massages

I've seen several massage therapists, before and after migraines, and it can be an invaluable therapy. But I've found that, for me, personality matters just as much as technique. And of course, I've had a series of uncomfortable moments I'd like to share with the class to support this statement.

The first massage therapist I ever saw was a guy that my employer contracted to come in every other Friday to work on us for 15 minutes increments. I'm not sure what anyone can get out of 15 minutes, but there it was. He had one of those backward chairs, and as soon as I'd rested my face in that suspicious looking hole, he started in on me so rough that I wanted to punch him. Instead, I asked him to soften it up, but he insisted that his way was necessary and continued to knead my (admittedly tense) shoulder muscles so hard that it hurt to move my arms or my head for a week.

I understand that there are several methods of massage that can involve a lot of pain. But I am largely uninterested in those methods. Even if the massage therapist knows that their rougher manner will get results, the needs of the client, aka the PERSON, should always be addressed first. It took me years to even consider trying someone else.

When my back started hurting me a little more regularly, the next man I saw was brilliant. He was gentle and accommodating, intuitive and easygoing. Unfortunately, he was also a friend of mine, and later a housemate, so after just a few sessions, I decided (despite his unfailing professionalism) that it felt too strange to have my friend rubbing my body. That's just me. But he did restore my faith in massage, so when the migraines took over, it was one of the first directions I turned for relief.

My boyfriend suggested someone he'd been seeing for his disc issues, a massage therapist who had a practice with his chiropractor wife. He was a nice person, very respectful and easygoing. His massages were pretty good, and I saw him several times. Until my final visit when he decided to spike the bodywork with a little guided imagery, starring Jesus.


Jesus was a great guy. I certainly appreciate his message of love and acceptance and charity. He seems like someone I could be friends with, he's sort of a socialist hippie! But he's not my personal savior and the last thing that's going to relax me is a soothing soliloquy about how much he loves me. I should have taken that opportunity to say that, but I was naked. And by the time I was dressed, I just wanted to get out of there. I was hesitant to go back, and found excuses not to for a few weeks. His office really was kind of far, and driving really was getting harder for me to do reliably. And then our insurance changed and the coffin, it was nailed shut.

I've seen one more massage therapist since, at a day spa to which I was gifted a trip. I was given a robe and some jasmine tea and I got my feet and hands scrubbed and massaged and that was really lovely, but when it was time for the body massage, I requested unscented oils and she didn't have any. She was baffled and helpless with the problem before her, so I nervously conceded to her using some "lighter" scents. Thankfully, they didn't immediately trigger my head, but I still had to take a shower immediately afterward. My mom (also gifted the trip) was aghast, why would I want to wash off all of the lovely oil? It smells so- ...oh.

That was the last professional I saw. My lower back pain has been getting gradually worse, and more frequent, and when my head is flaring high, my neck and shoulders scrunch themselves tight, my spine feels so stiff it might snap and the muscles on either side become solid, painful rock.

We do have a massage therapist next door. He's a sweet man, and he has a whole studio set up. But I can't do it. First, there are these steep stairs involved, and they trigger me every time; the angle gives me vertigo, the effort of stairs causes pain, and my balance isn't spectacular, so I'm terrified I'm going to fall every time I've used them. Stress and fear aren't the best way to follow-up a massage.

He's also my neighbor, so it's not a purely professional relationship, which I'm finding is very important to me. That kind of intimacy is either Intimate or professional. I just can't get comfortable in between.

And he tends to use a lot of scented products, so just walking into the room is like being hit in the face with a potpourri anvil. The very walls seem saturated with lavender, which would be a pleasant scent, except for the migraine it triggers, like, immediately.

So, I've really become quite the tough customer, with mysterious back pains, chronic migraines, so many sensitivities I get winded explaining them and OH YEAH, allodynia that can make even the lightest touch painful.

I really would like to find a professional to work on me, another massage therapist, maybe even a very gentle chiropractor. But, I am so intimidated. It's such a crapshoot just picking names out of the phonebook, even yelp isn't much help to me, since most other people don't have as many problems as I do.

Also, medicare doesn't cover massage (surprise, surprise), so, I'd have to go out of pocket, and my pockets are empty.

But, I am the luckiest girl in the world, because my boyfriend has been coming through big time. He works on me as often as he can and it makes a big difference. He's never trained professionally, but he's been learning from our neighbor (who he sees regularly), and without his help, I'm sure I'd be stuck in an incessant loop of back pain to migraine and back again.

Thank you, universe, for gifting me a man with strong hands and a generous spirit. I'd lose my mind without his shoulder rubs.


Sunday, June 5, 2011


After three years of all these migraines, I was still never quite sure that the weather ever had any affect. I have head pain and weird neurological symptoms pretty much daily, so it can be harder to pinpoint triggers when everything is blending together. Also, the weather in my area is pretty mild; we don't get snow but once every ten years, and our summers can be hot, but we don't spend much time at all in the triple digits. In August, some, but otherwise it's 75 degrees and sunny more often than not.

However, this spring has brought about a few storms, three in the last two weeks. Nothing too extreme, a few isolated thunderstorms which I didn't hear but the weather people were very insistent that that's what those dark, ominous clouds contained. All I really know is that they carried migraines. Big, dark, oppressive, all-consuming migraines that took away all of my faculties for six to twelve hours at a time. I thought it was coincidental, at first. But, right around the time the rain started, my fog broke, the pain eased, I could walk again without hunching over and could once more tolerate the sound of my boyfriend chewing. Then it happened again with the second storm. And the third. Despite my natural state of skepticism, I can't deny the connection.

It seems like it would be helpful to get some kind of digital barometer or weather gauge. Even if it didn't give me any warning, it would still be interesting to see the different measurements and what exactly is setting me off.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Head's Been Like This

My migraine symptoms wax and wane, depending on what I'm doing, my environment, how medicated I am, and which way the wind is blowing.

The pain changes frequently. There are old standbys; my eyes, temples, jaw, teeth, and occipital area are all pretty consistent with the gnawing or stabbing or throbbing or aching. But often, I'll be surprised by a wallop to the side of my head, or a persistent needling just behind my ear. Sometimes the pain hits me so hard and fast that I recoil from it, as if the baseball bat I imagine is real. There's a fairly constant dull rumble that comes in waves when I move too fast, or laugh too loud. My brain feels like it short circuits and I have to stop. Just sit still and breathe carefully. If I catch it fast enough, it'll often die back down (until the next time I sneeze. Stupid Spring.) If I don't stop and breathe, or if I'm trapped somewhere that's even mildly triggering, things go very badly, very quickly.

And I am still getting migraines that totally bowl me over at least once a week, no matter how careful and quiet I am. Yesterday, I could hardly walk and talk without crying, I kept imagining my brain on a cheese grater. Every word, sssscrape. Every step, ssssscrape. Nausea and dizziness have been down lately, but confusion, aphasia, impaired motor skills and irritability are way up.

Some days are better, so I take a walk with the dog, or destroy some old clothes trying to figure out how to sew.

Today, my brother graduated from middle school. I dressed up a little, even wore makeup, sat in a folding chair for two hours, chit-chatted, withstood perfume, kept my temper, and smiled for pictures. I didn't make it to the celebratory dinner, and feel like I was hit by a truck, but I'm calling this one a success.