Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Cups Runneth Over

Hand-washing the dishes has changed how I do things lately. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and some thoughtful planning goes a long way in increasing efficiency. Like life!

When our dishwasher first broke, I was pretty distressed. I hadn't hand washed a dish in a while, was out of practice, and resented that it was MY job to wash the dishes when I'm not the one using every single cup in the house every single day. Then, I remembered that I'm 32 years old, and getting pissy over who does the dishes is a little childish, especially when the compulsive cup user does a lot of stuff for me with minimal complaint. So, I started doing the dishes without complaining. Without stomping or clanging things extra loudly (which, hey, not a good idea when you're migraining, anyway) or grumbling or feeling like I was being forced into doing something for which I would never be repaid. I just washed the dishes. Like a grownup. Go me.

And I made a routine out of it. With the dishwasher, filling and running it depended entirely on how many, and which, dishes we had used. It's not the same with hand washing at all, and that threw me at first, as silly as it sounds. Instead of waiting for the sink to fill, which was about when the dishwasher would be full, I now wash the dishes once or twice a day, regardless of how many there are. If I let it go longer than that, then I have to wash them in shifts because I can't stand there more than half an hour without some repercussions.

But even after I got my rhythm, it was a rare day that I could get all of the dishes done and on the drying rack in one shot. Even saving space as well as I could, I'd often fill the dish rack before I was even halfway done emptying the sink. I could have called over the Excessive Cup User* to do some drying and putting away while I finished the washing, and sometimes I did, but usually he wasn't available and I'd have to stop washing and switch to drying and putting away and then back again to washing, which, NO. Washing dishes (standing, holding and not dropping, soaping, inspecting for particles, leaning) and putting them away (reaching and bending) are very different head triggers and can NOT be done together because that is a recipe for pain. I need a sit to reset everything in between, or better yet, I do one and someone else does the other.

So, the dishes were never really DONE done, for a few months there. I might be able to get all the dishes clean, but I just couldn't put them away for a day. Or I'd have most of them done but would have to stop because migraine symptoms were flaring. Learning how to manage the dishes with chronic migraines is a lesson in patience, in compromise and in acceptance.

Other life lessons I've learned from my dirty dishes: Great feats can be accomplished step by plodding step, working with limitations can still produce results, and not everything has to be done right now. These lessons are good for me, sometimes I really need to let go of my expectations.

But a happy solution to my dishwashing dilemma was found a few weeks ago when my mom cleaned out some old storage in their house and discovered TWO dish racks, both bigger than the one I had. I pretty much pounced on top of them and growled at anyone who looked at my preciouses, then ran home with them and put one on either side of the sink and did a dance of glee.

I can almost always get all of the dishes done in one standing now (it's unfortunately not a sitting), even if I leave them for a day. Which I did yesterday. Which is why I'm typing up this ode to dish racks because I am TIRED now, y'all, but all of my dishes are clean!

*If you've seen the last Harry Potter movie, imagine my dirty cup problem to be reminiscent of that certain scene in the vault. Shudder.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lately and Michele Bachmann

Did I mention that my bike was stolen? People suck.

The weather cooled off a little this week and I've been wanting to celebrate by trying not to fall off a bike again, but since we have no money, we can't afford to get me another one. My boyfriend is going to try to cobble one together, he's got some junk parts and an old frame he thinks he can use, but I really wish I could get a bike that fit me. Even my last one, I had to lean forward too far and it made my neck and shoulders cramp up. Not only did I feel every bump through my butt, but so much of my weight was on my hands, any jolts also traveled straight up my arms, and bored into the back of my head. I really want bike riding to be fun.

I had a migraine last night that was low on the overall pain, but I kept having these spikes that felt like my brain was dry heaving. Each heave was triggered directly by sound, and each sound would trigger several heaves. It was almost like a painful orgasm in my head. And though I quickly sequestered myself in near-silence, a feeling of tense fuzziness continued to shroud my skull, and I knew those heaves could be triggered again, easily. So, I typed quieter. But, hey, brain heave. That's kind of new. I think I've felt it before, but it was always accompanied by other brain feelings, like stabbing and throbbing. And the stabbing is an attention hog, let me tell you.

I've been getting into fermentation. I've successfully made sauerkraut and yogurt, and now I'm giving kombucha a good up-and-down and may I say, it's looking mighty enticing. I hear improved gut health can also improve migraine health and it's worth a shot when I already love sauerkraut and yogurt and haven't tried kombucha yet, but darn if I'm not fascinated by the whole thing.

Oh, and we got our food stamps reinstated, but they cut our benefits by almost $100. It's like they hate me. BUT, I finally found a farmer's market nearby that takes the stamps, AND they'll give me $5 for every $10 I spend, making my dollar go so much further! I'm really excited to try it out, alas, I have to wait two weeks until they refill the card. I hate wait.

Michele Bachmann's migraines and the resulting media frenzy of ableism and sexism has been filling up my blogroll all week. My response is to concur with Jon Stewart, who said on the Daily Show:

"Of all my issues with Michele Bachmann's brain, migraines- not even in the top 20."

I kind of want that on a t-shirt.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Today Was Good

I walked to my parents' house this morning.

They live about three quarters of a mile away, crossing two busy streets and three residential. It was very warm, already well into the 80's at noon. The sun was high and hot, and I carried an umbrella as shelter. My head started throbbing with every step only halfway into the walk, so I stopped and sat on some benches to rest. The heat can wear me down fast. I medicated with marijuana and drank water. Caught my breath. When my head had settled down a bit, about ten minutes later, I resumed walking, but at a slightly slower pace.

As I meandered, I looked at everything around me, trying to absorb the moments. I have weeks when I can't leave the house alone, so every second of independence is precious lately. I read the posters on the utility poles, admired the front-yard gardens, took pictures of flowers and things on the street, and generally tried to be of the world. My head was nagging at me, I felt weighed down, nauseous and still had mild head pain with every heel-strike, but the moments distracted me.

I saw someone walking toward me in the distance. I stared as they approached, trying to make out the figure. Is it a man? Nope, don't have to worry about being street harassed, at least. OH, she's smoking. SHIT. Crossed the street, passed the smoker, crossed back. Caught a whiff anyway, but at least I didn't have to suffer a toxic cloud. Turning my head to check for cars triggered some short-lived wooziness. Someone else approached, but they looked safe. I couldn't have anticipated the haze of cologne that surrounded the teenage boy. I went dizzy, ill and a little gray around the edges immediately, and I held my breathe in a panicky bid for survival. He passed, I exhaled and tried to regain my composure before I fell over from the brain overwhelm. The world slowly came back into focus, over a few seconds, and I continued on.

I arrived at the house without further incident and plopped into a shaded, breezy chair in the backyard. A walk in the heat is always taxing, and this one was a little worse than usual. My nerves were fried and I felt irritated by the playful shrieks of nearby children. I was sweaty and achy-tired and still vaguely nauseous, so I took another toke and drank some more water while my body cooled itself down. Luckily, after about twenty minutes of quiet and water, the bad mood lifted and my symptoms died back down.

It was a long, relaxed visit. I talked with my mom about our lives, joked with my brother about Doctor Who, laughed a little too hard more than once and looked at the lights a few too many times.

I medicated with an iced coffee (seriously) a few hours in. The caffeine made me hyper, which can be dangerous. In my chemically-induced fits of activity, I can easily hurt myself and not really feel the effect until later. Caution is my friend with caffeine.

I used the coffee buzz to do some light, mostly seated, gardening. Still, it knocked my head up a few points, so I needed another long, quiet sit with water and marijuana. Then we baked. They baked, really, I only assisted a little, and was starting to feel rather confused and nauseous again, after only a few minutes of hand-mixer whirring.

I got a ride home not too much later. I was very thankful for it, since I could hardly walk straight at this point. I could medicate some more, but overdoing it can trigger repercussions, so I opted to hold off until I could be back home, in my comfies, with minimal triggers undoing all the magic the pot can do.

Upon arriving home, however, I realized the dog needed a walk. Not giving my brain the time to protest, I grabbed the leash and a baggie and headed back out the door, followed by the happiest little dog you'll ever see. It was a short walk, but still spoon-sucking. Bend to attach the leash, walk down the stairs, walkwalkwalk, bend to pick up poop, walkwalkwalkwalk, back up the stairs, bend to detach the leash. It sounds easier than it is, despite my yoga-inspired bending techniques.

Back in the house, and safely in my comfies, I'm bone-tired, but cheerful, in pain but coping. A good day can go a long way for pain management.

Now, a shower and some light yoga to keep my body from curling up into one big fetal-shaped cramp. My head will hurt for the rest of the night, I'll sleep with an icepack as a pillow, and might wake with a migrainy hangover that could bloom into something really spectacular if I happen to catch the morning rays wrong, or if our neighbor walks past my window smoking a cigarette (AGAIN).

But it's just another day in my head.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Winner! And I Went To The Beach!

The turnout was small on this giveaway, but the stakes were high! (Hee, I love all this drama.) And the winner is...

... HEATHER from War on Headaches! Congratulations and I hope you enjoy your care package, courtesy of the lovely Jessica, of Painfully Speaking. Thanks again Jess!


I went to the beach recently. It was a cloudy day, leaning towards fog, and cool. It was perfect. I was on the sand only for a few hours, but I relished every moment. I was surrounded by kind and interesting people and we talked and laughed and ate, but when they all took off for a Long Walk Down the Shore, I cheerfully declined and was left to my own devices. So, the dog and I wandered, sat on some driftwood, and took in the waves, the feel of the mist and the soothing sounds of beach life. I regained some strength that day. And I took a few pictures! I'll be cross-posting most of these to Focusing On Reality at some point, but the beach was so durn good for my head and my soul, they need to be here, too.



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TV of Late

When my head hurts and I can't do anything else, I turn to tv. On the internet, of course.

Nurse Jackie, because Edie Falco is wonderful and the rest of the cast ain't bad either (ZOEY!). The writing is quick and interesting and the storylines are believable and surprising.

Doctor Who. I love sci-fi, comedy and drama, but put them all together in one show and I'm addicted.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's so funny and sad and scary and brilliant all at the same time, I've watched the series through at least five times over the years, and I'm still captivated.

Game of Thrones. This one is rather depressing, but it's good for some drama, if you don't mind adult themes, violence and nudity. I really have to be in the right mood.

The Daily Show. Jon Stewart is one of my favorite people right now. The regular news is depressing, and rarely shows stories that I want to see, in a manner that makes sense to me. The Daily Show picks apart mainstream media, politics, and international affairs with such insightful humor that I'm able to learn about the world without feeling like we're all heading for a Thunderdome situation. But wouldn't Tina Turner make an interesting presidential candidate?

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. A famous chef is trying to change the way Americans eat, and this (the second) season is focused on the Los Angeles School District.

Xena: Warrior Princess. I never watched this when it first aired, but now I'm seeing what all the hub-bub was about. It's silly and campy and funny and still manages to stay light while dealing with the heavy issues that come with being a warrior princess, forged in the heat of battle. No, really.

And last, but not nearly least, Torchwood. I JUST watched the first episode of the new season and it looks pretty good. I saw a preview that said Lauren Ambrose (Claire, from Six Feet Under) will be in several of the 10 episode season. YAY!

I really would much prefer to go outside, but summer is kicking my ass. So instead, I sit in front of my fan, and soak up the streaming video. What are y'all watching?

PS: The giveaway deadline is fast approaching!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Validation is Awesome! Now, Some Coverage?

I've been hesitant to jump back into the pharmaceutical abyss, which means I haven't gone back to the super special specialist and have still not come anywhere close to agreeing to that hospital stay.

I've had some guilt over it, as if I'm not doing enough to make myself better, and some anxiety, because while I have personal issues with doctors and hospitals, I want so badly to be free again, I can't just let it go.

So when this article popped up in my reader, it made me feel a little better. For the link phobic, the article is entitled, "Behavioral Techniques a Better Value for Chronic Migraine Than Meds: Study", with a succinct subheading of, "Over time, relaxation training, hypnosis, biofeedback more cost-effective than drugs".

It's pretty much where I want to go with my treatment right now, and I was hoping that the super special specialist would be more open to trying alternative treatments, or would, at least, know of them and have recommendations as to how and where to get things done. But there is none of that. It's hospital or you fail, pills or you're not trying.

Biofeedback, acupuncture, massage, hypnotherapy, that weird magnet therapy, craniosacral therapy, or really, any kind of pt, does NOT appear to be covered by medicare for chronic migraines.

So, it's pretty great that medical journals are publishing articles that make me feel better about my treatment priorities... but I'm still screwed.

PS: Giveaway!


Monday, July 4, 2011

I'll Be Under the Bed

I have a long history with the 4th of July. Mostly that I hate it.

As a child, I could rarely be calmed from my shrieks of terror at the thunderous noise of fireworks. I would cower and hide my face in my mother's shirt. Each explosion would vibrate my entire body, it had to be that we would all die. I was probably tired from a long, hot day of summer fun, overloaded by all of the stimulation, and sugar-crashing from too much cotton candy, but it took me until near puberty to be able to sit and watch a fireworks show calmly. And even then.

I went to a 4th of July party several years ago. It was a good time, until the men got together and decided to blow something up. Everyone was gravitating to the front yard, slowly funneling through a gate, drinks in hand. When the small crowd was assembled, several of the men walked into the middle of the street with a globe. They hooked up a container and I was distracted by someone saying something about acetylene. I was trying to work out what that meant exactly when the boys dropped the globe and scattered. When it hit the ground, it threw up a small mushroom cloud of fire and the accompanying boom jolted me so hard I thought I might vomit. I dropped to a crouch and bolted back through the gate, into the backyard and sat back down on the wicker chaise lounge, only to stop myself from running behind it and hiding. My fight or flight was high, I couldn't relax and drink anymore, and my friend and I ended up leaving early.

And now there are migraines. The sound sensitivity is tenfold, and I have no desire at all to look up** at the flashing** sparkling** lights, however pretty they may be. Those asterisks represent triggers, and fireworks are decidedly too triggery to be messed with. I wish I could go somewhere remote, or even another country for the weekend. I mean, yay America! but also, my dog is freaking out. She's been under the bed most of the weekend, and while she's not whimpering or panting, she is shaking off and on, and it's sad.

I wish it was Halloween already.

PS: Don't forget to enter the giveaway I'm hosting with Jessica from Painfully Speaking! Care packages are awesome!


Friday, July 1, 2011

A Giveaway!

I recently got a care package in the mail from a fellow migraineur and blogger, Jessica, over at Painfully Speaking. And there will be presents to celebrate!

Oh, there's a special delight that comes with receiving packages in the mail. The postal carrier is no longer an everyday background drone going about his business, nearly invisible to the naked eye. Suddenly, that busy man in blue is Santa Claus walking down my street. (Taking his time. Stopping to talk to neighbors. HURRY MAN U HAZ MAH PREZZIES!)

And I relished the opening of the box. Unpacking slowly, I examined each item, and tasted more than one. There were several familiar items, but a few new, and I was plum giddy with the thrill of presents.

Can you believe this haul? Let me detail. I'll start with the familiar products. The Benadryl is for the allergies that can make my head explode via vicious machine-gun sneeze attacks. Visine is for the red, dry eyes that can come with allergies, but are more predominately a side effect of medication. The chamomile teas are for relaxation, sleep, and just because tea is good. The tiger balm is for a minty saturation vacation, it feels good on sore neck and back muscles, and my head loves the menthol.

The nose spray is another useful tool for hay fever battles, almost a portable neti pot! Maybe I'll make it through this allergy season after all! The Burt's Bees lip balm is one of my favorite things, it's nicely mentholated and soothing, and is theoretically made with more natural ingredients than your average chapstick. That icepack is a good one. We have a few of those plastic, drug-store ones, but they bust on us after only a few months, so this one will be super useful, and will last much longer.

As for the products I've never tried before, there's a roll-on vial of a product called Head Clear, it's meant to be soothing on the temples during a headache and it is pretty nice. A homeopathic spray called 911 Stress Control is another new one, directions say to spray it three times on the tongue during times of stress, repeating as necessary. I've used this a few times, and I can say with confidence, it didn't hurt anything.

The Moon Drops are a homeopathic remedy for sleeplessness. I'm usually a good sleeper, but it takes just one night of rough sleep to cause an avalanche of migraine activity, so it's been nice to have these. I've used them a handful of times, and haven't had any prolonged sleeplessness lately. So far, so good!

The ginger chews are SO good! My nausea's been pretty mild lately, but I had to try one just for the taste. So yummy! I'll have trouble leaving these alone until I *need* them.

Jessica is obviously really good at this care package thing. When I was done poring over every item, and trying everything at least once, I emailed Jess, gushing over her picks. She emailed me back, and blew my mind by offering to make up a box for one of you! I'm so happy to host this giveaway. Getting that package that day, a day that was not good in any other way, made it a little happier. It eased the hurt and made me smile. Good on you, Jess, for spreading smiles around.

To enter to win your very own custom made box o' goodies (contents totally at Jessica's discretion), comment on this post with your email and tell us what products you'd include in a care package to a chronically ill friend. Enter by or on July 15th, one entry per person, please. On July 16th, I'll do one of those randomizer doodads and will announce a winner on my blog. The winner will then be contacted by email by Jessica herself to arrange delivery of their very own care package. Are you excited? I'm SO excited!

This giveaway is limited to the contiguous 48.

Good luck!

This giveaway is closed. Thanks!