Thursday, September 29, 2011

Defending My Eyes

Outside of my home, I wear sunglasses pretty much constantly. So, I'm rather picky about them. They can't be too tight or too heavy, lest they trigger a migraine. They must have large lenses and they must be adequately protective from light. Doesn't sound TOO hard, does it?

I know many of you are rolling your eyes right now, you know what it's like. The cheap sunglasses at the gas station and Target are mostly useless, maybe one of every fifty pairs can be worn for more than ten minutes. Cheap sunglasses are usually cheap for a reason. And even if I do find a good pair, I make up for the monetary savings in migraines, because the acts of donning and removing frames, and looking through different colored lenses, are all very migraine triggery. Head pain, nausea, confusion, dizziness; I don't enjoy shopping for sunglasses one bit.

So, I started looking around on the internet, and saw quite a few interesting possibilities that I couldn't afford. I wanted polarized lenses, but comparing lens size, weight and fit of each pair was impossible. I didn't find a single online sunglass retailer that had this information available on their website. Disappointing.

What I did find was Polaroid Sunglasses. At my inquiry, they sent me a pair of sunglasses to review, free, but rest assured, my opinions are never bought.

A little background on the company: Polaroid Eyewear has been around since 1937, and their first item ever sold was actually not the camera, which is the popular understanding of the company, but sunglasses! Edwin Land, the founder of Polaroid, was also the inventor of polarization, therefore every pair of glasses they produce are polarized. It's widely recognized that polarization protects your eyes, decreases glare and increases visibility. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to give their glasses a try.

Of the many beautiful styles offered by Polaroid, I picked Miriam.

Hello, Miriam.

After I chose my favorite style (it was tough! SO many cute looks!), I was able to choose between two lens colors, and I went with gray over brown. The polarized lenses are really fantastic. My vision is clear, but the light is significantly dimmed. There are days I wish they were darker, but usually they're perfect. The fit is better than average, and they only make my face ache on my worst days. They're comfortable over my ears and are a little tight some days, but a gentle stretching of the arms usually makes them workable. The style is very attractive and I wear them almost every day. I'm amazed that I haven't yet managed to scratch them, and that's a real testament to their durability because I've been using them all summer, have dropped them at least six times and last week I carried them in a pocket with my key ring for a few hours. I'm not saying that they're magic or anything, but... they might be.

The flaws with these sunglasses are few. Like I mentioned, on my bad days they are a little too heavy and can be a little too tight. My arm-stretching technique is often effective, but isn't necessarily sanctioned by Polaroid. And while these aren't nearly the most expensive brand on the market (as of the writing of this review, Miriam is only $50 on the website!), the cost would still require some intensive financial planning and saving on my part.

The pros outweigh the cons, here, and I can definitely recommend these glasses for everyday migraineur use. If I had the cash, I'd try several other styles. Check out these lovelies!




Thanks Polaroid! It's been a pleasure.

All of the above images are courtesy

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall is Coming

This last week or two has been the most active I've probably been in four years, maybe excepting christmastime, but this was all voluntary! I think it's a combination of getting better at anticipating migraine problems and planning for them, and the excitement of new experiences that's making it easier to stay moving. In the past week, I've:

-Gone to my NEW SCHOOL OMG to get my asb card. I keep looking at it. It's just so incredible that I'm finally doing this.

-Traveled to see a cabin in the woods, that I am very likely to be moving into in the next month.

-Picked out some basil and romaine at the home and hardware store, because prices at the end of the season are fantastic. And then I fought off a migraine while sitting in the hot car, waiting for my man to finish finding lumberish things that had nothing to do with me. I stroked my new basil for comfort, and actually recovered when a breeze kicked up. Usually, heat-related migraines knock me down for at least a full day. This was a shock and a thrilling success. I planted my new lovies in their pots when I got home and even walked the dog a little! Amazing!

-Went to the beach! Where the sand meets the sea is my favorite place, and I seemed to be blessed this summer because every time I braved the perilous glare of the shore, the clouds would descend and hide the sun and I was free to frolic in the glorious beachy gloom.

-Set up a cafepress store for my photos! It's still a work in progress but I'm really proud of myself for putting my photography out there. It feels simultaneously scary and fantastic.

The only downside to all of this activity is the huge pile of laundry that's waiting for me, and the dishes I have not done. I've wittled at them frequently, but 10 minutes at a time barely makes a dent when the sink is full. It's a lovely cool day today, so I'm hoping to catch up on home stuff before the heat comes back this week. Fall may be coming, but Summer is the party guest that just won't leave.

So, the migraines have been pretty livable lately, meds and rest reliably bring me back to functional, and I've been hyper-vigilant about my known triggers, way overpacking for every place I go or event I attend. But if it works, I'll lug the kitchen sink around with me. My nausea is back, though, and with a vengeance. Ginger is my best friend. There's also been some dizziness and motor discord, and some difficulty with words when my head starts flaring or I get tired. For the record.

Oh, and here's another bizarre dream I had last week:

I was sitting in a pew in a crowded church. I was supposed to be up at the front, lighting candles, but my head hurt, so Milla Jovovich was standing in for me. She was wearing an aluminum conical asian hat, and a slinky, yet structured white dress that was short on one side and long on the other. She was wearing an earpiece and after lighting a few of the candles (awkwardly, with a bic) she touched her ear and spoke in an urgent whisper, "You guys, is there a bathroom back there? Because I really have to pee."

Story of my life, Milla.


Monday, September 19, 2011

At A Wedding Reception

I made small talk with a cousin of a cousin, an acquaintance since childhood. We hadn't seen each other in years, so she showed me pictures of her kids, and I told her they were cute, as you do. She asked me what I do for work. I really need to plan an answer that doesn't leave the door open for asshat remarks, because when I said that I don't, that I'm disabled by chronic migraines, she straight-up said, "OH. THAT WOULD BE GREAT."

And I was just dumbstruck. It was a wedding reception, hardly the place for a ableist privilege check. I was already in pain and woozy. So, I pretty much just shut down and turned away from her, mid-conversation. But there were plenty of other people to talk to, so I don't know if she even realized what she said and what it meant.

Otherwise, the party was really nice. I was exhausted by the end, all the talking and smiling and 800 trips to the bathroom because I was guzzling water like it was 1000 degrees, and I feel a little hungover today (despite my non-consumption), and a little like I was in a fight with several small but strong children, their vicious little fists seem to have pummeled my back and head while I was sleeping.

But everyone complimented my new haircut, which I cut myself, again, so that was pretty great. And I also got to wear a skirt that I'd made out a pair of my boyfriend's old shorts, and the only person who commented specifically on it was shocked (SHOCKED!) that I had made it. That felt pretty nice.

And then they sent us home with jelly-belly favors. So everything turned out okay in the end.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Busy As A Slow, Quiet Bee That Only Goes Out After Dark

This past week or four has gone by quickly. I've been as busy as a chronic migraineur can be, and have been productive, in my own quiet way.

Cooking has been a prominent activity, as often as I can tolerate the heat required for most projects. I've been making my own yogurt, sauerkraut and veggie broth long enough for them to feel like comfortable habits, and I like being that person who can make these things. I want to learn to make more things.

Which brings me to the sewing. I'm still pretty slow-going in the skill department, sloppy seams (from a bizarrely stubborn refusal to press them before crooked-sewing them down) and ill-conceived necklines abound (I'm in denial about my bust size, apparently) in my projects pile. Every failure is an opportunity to grow, however, so I don't feel too bad about my goofs. And the good news is: I've had successes! Oh, the joy that is the wearing of self-sewn clothing. I LOVE it.

And school is fast approaching. My brain is kind of mean and keeps trying to bully me with taunts of failure. I'm honeybadgering that noise as best I can, but I can't help the flutter of anxiety in my chest every time a facebook friend mentions that they, or their cousin/friend/sister, has started classes. So, I haven't really told anyone. Sort of. Well, you guys know, and my boyfriend, mom and brother know, so my step-dad probably does too, and my closest friend knows and I'm sure he's mentioned it to his boyfriend, so it's not like it's a huge top-secret situation but I've got about 30 other relatives and whoever else I'm friends with on fb who are still in the dark, so it still feels rather undercover. I think I'm scared to tell people because I'm afraid of the shame of failure. I keep saying it out loud, knowing it's self-defeating and ridiculous, hoping it'll lose its power. So far, no dice. Failure is not an opportunity to grow when it's school-related, I guess. Then, it's just terrifying. I swear, once I get the syllabus and can have an organization orgy and micro-manage myself with calendars and reminders and a maybe even more hyper-vigilance with my counselor, I'll feel better. Until then, I'll just have to ignore myself.

I've been getting out with the dog as often as possible. Short walks up and down the block, or longer ones to the shady cool of my parents' backyard, I'm trying to get as much exercise as I can, but I have to be up-and-at-em before the sun starts microwaving my asphalt jungle into an intolerable inferno, and I just can't move that fast every time I want to. I have a good chance on my good days, but too much rushing to beat the heat can trigger head pain and whatnot on its own. However, looking back in my handy-dandy notebook, I'm pleased to see that I've walked the dog 24 days out of the last 30 and 14 of those days were at least a quarter mile. Though the furthest I walked was only two miles, and some days walking the dog was all I did, this is still good, because summer is kicking my ass, in case I hadn't mentioned it. Go me.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Heat, My Head, The Usual

My self-prescribed physical therapy has been so difficult to keep up this summer.

It's too hot and too bright to go outside whenever I please, and when I try, I don't usually last long. I start feeling mentally removed and physically smothered. I can't think, I'm irritable, my skin itches, my clothes are weighted and suffocating, and I start feeling heavier, almost flu-like. I can extend my stamina somewhat by being prepared like I'm going on safari, but all that gathering and carrying is a whole other ball of triggers that I have to do my best to take in stride.

When it's hot, I have to carry water, then maybe extra water, an umbrella, and an extra, wider-brimmed but ugly hat, in addition to my normal bag of migraine supplies. I have to wear stinky sunscreen and even maybe shave my legs. (Maybe. I'm caring less and less about this lately.) I'm working on building up my wardrobe with clothes that are breathable, light, and non-constricting, but it's slow-going when I have effectively no budget for it. (Though, I have successfully made and altered some of my own clothes to suit my needs. I am so happy to have learned this skill, as clumsy as I still am.)

So, exercise is a serious challenge. I walk the dog in the mornings and evenings, when I can, but that's about all I can do when the temps climb higher than 80. Though, I am super lucky to have friends and family who have volunteered their air conditioning to me on the hottest of the hot days, which is a blessing and a half, let me tell you. Even being still in my sweltering little house can knock me down for days, so the cool reprieves are really saving me right now.

What I am managing to keep up is yoga. Not vigorously, and not more than a cumulative hour a day, but it's something to keep my muscles from totally withering. I can only do a few poses lately, and nothing inverted or too reliant on balance, but it keeps me feeling active, even when it's really hot and I'm really not.

I am so ready for fall.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cannabis Product Reviews

As I mentioned, the cannabis is going pretty well. There was another Hempcon a few months ago, but I wasn't able to go, since the $20 cover was a little out of reach and it's just too chaotic a scene for me. But, my boyfriend, the amazing extrovert, made some interesting contacts and gave me the opportunity to try some new products.

First, my very favorite marijuana consumable company, Electric Chocolate Factory (ECF), makes this magical extract which they sell by itself (as an essential oil), but they also combine it with a lovely chocolate to make a pure, reliable method of medication.

Their chocolates taste good, and they have low and high dose options, which is really nice, but I simply can't eat these all the time. They use maltitol instead of sugar, and while it's one of the safer artificial sweeteners, it did give me some mild GI distress with frequent consumption.

So, we started experimenting with their extract. ECF's method of cannibinoid extraction is extremely accurate, which definitely makes proper medicating easier. It's 100% pure, and is made using a patent-pending cold-extraction process that maintains CBD and prevents THC from being converted into CBN. (Honestly, I'm not the most knowledgeable, so just give it a good google if you're curious about cannabis science.)

We've made all kinds of goodies with the extract: lime gummies, brownies (of course), a cheesecake, and cookies of various sizes and flavors. I like making my own medicated treats, because I can use whatever ingredients I like, and make each piece as strong as I like. I much prefer eating a two-bite peanut butter cookie, for example, than having to hork down a huge, fudgy brownie when my head is making me feeling like puking all over the place.

Sugar cookies

A lime gummy


Truffles, vegan, with a coffee, peanut-butter ganache. These are intense.

Sugar cookie with a kiss

Grapeseed oil mixed with extract. This is okay for lower temperature cooking, but it's really lovely as a massage oil.

Which should in no way suggest that I never eat medicated brownies, because I surely do, and I've actually just finished up quite the edible tour, sponsored by one of my local co-ops, Canna Culture. And I have some thoughts I'd like to share. I'll just make a list for you. With pictures! Don't you just love lists and pictures?

The Bud Barber Brownie: This tasted really unappealing. It was vaguely chocolatey, but with a very weird companion flavor that made me make faces. The upside is that they pack 6 doses, 120 mg of thc, into each small brownie/muffin, so they definitely get points for efficiency. However, I find it irritating to try and divide a product up into six pieces to make sure I'm getting the correct dose. It's a waste if I eat too little, and I'll fall asleep for fourteen hours if I eat too much. I ate about half of this guy at a time, since my head was flaring high and it was too small to break it much more anyway, and the three doses were a tad strong. I was still functional, but I was a little loopier than serves me.

Chronic Tonic Compassion Fruit Punch: Tasted exactly like hawaiian punch. The labels says it contains two very strong doses and I would agree. This one hit fast, within 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it also tapered off more quickly than I would have liked, similar to a sugar crash. Also, there was a sugar crash, which my head didn't approve of in the slightest. This one wouldn't be my first choice, but it is definitely effective.

Auntie Delores Medical Cannabis Savory Pretzels: Tasted like soy sauce-soaked pretzels. Bleh. And a whole package, which is about a cup of pretzels, is only one dose, and a light dose at that. The label says that it contains 1 gram of cannabis. That's a lot of snack for so little medicine. I felt very little effect from their one-dose and would try doubling it next time if I could stomach the thought of eating them again. Since I burped the soy sauce flavor for an hour or two after eating, that's unlikely.

Jack-a-roo: Per their labels, one dose is equivalent to 470 mg of cannabis flowers. I tried quite a few of their products and didn't find that the effect was consistent across the product line. I controlled my variables as much as I could, but it's very possible that the ingredients of the edibles themselves may play an important role in the product's efficacy. Or the brand may not be a reliable one. More testing may be required. Lots, lots more testing.

Of their products, these are the ones I tried:

- Anzac: I've never had an anzac biscuit before, so my dislike of the flavor and texture is very likely not exclusive to the brand, especially since the rest of their other products tasted great. Weird, because normally I am ALL about the coconut, but here: meh. However, this was a perfect one-dose item, and helped me keep moving happily for a few hours.

- Tazadu Brownie Bite: The flavor was good, very brownie-like, but with a definite marijuana tang. This one was labeled 2 doses, but it affected me like one. I had two of these, so for the first try I ate half, then ended up chasing it with the second half an hour later, when I found myself looking for my pipe. Another hour later (time is the major downside to edibles), the effect was pleasant, and I got the dishes done. For the second try, the next day, I ate the whole thing at once. And yup, this two-doser acts like a one.

- Butterscotch Potcorn: Tasty! For once, I wished the serving size was bigger because I could have eaten this stuff all day. It's a perfectly sweet and buttery caramel popcorn, with just the lightest undertone of pot flavor, and there were peanuts! The dosage was right on, too. This is one of my favorites.

- Jackmanian Devil Brownie: One large-ish brownie packs 10 doses. I've already mentioned I'm partial to disliking high dose items that I need to break up, and I did dislike that about this brownie. But otherwise, it was pretty great. It tasted like a brownie should, moist and chocolatey. I took just a bite, and an hour later, my pain was a distant memory. I ate this over the course of two days, and it came out to about 8 bites. I should have cut it up, I suppose, for the most accurate testing. Sorry.

- Queensland Mudslide: This fudgy, chocolate dessert was really very tasty. Rich and decadent, I would order this in a restaurant, without the cannabis. This piece is ten doses, so I did my best to estimate one dose. But despite a portion on the heavy side, it had no noticeable effect. I ate another chunk, estimating I was up to five doses, and still, only a slight effect. Disappointing, but I wouldn't want to eat something like this all the time anyway. It was delicious and amazing, but WAY too rich for everyday.

Kannaroo Kitchen Spliffy Smooth Peanut Butter: Love! One dose was two tablespoons, I couldn't taste the cannabis unless I concentrated on it, and then, it could have been a brain-induced flavor. This was a good dose, a healthy smear on a piece of bread and an hour later here I am, typing away like I didn't spend the morning in the hot sun. I highly recommend this one.

Alto Pharma Gold Capsules: The directions say to use one to two of these capsules as needed. These appear to come in two strengths, 10 and 25 mg thc per cap. I had the opportunity to try the 25 mg, and I think I would have liked this better if I'd had access to both dosages. The problem with the capsule medium is that it's impossible to split if the dosage isn't just right. That may not be a problem for someone with other pain, but for migraines, being able to dose accurately is critical. One 25mg cap was almost adequate medicine, but two would have been much too much.

Another interesting cannabis consumable I've come across is infused honey. The sample my boyfriend snagged for me at that Hempcon wasn't labeled, or I'd give them a plug, too. It wasn't very strong, and since I prefer not to have my tea taste like I'm sucking on a honeycomb, it was more a novelty than really useful. But this is something I'd definitely try again.

I obviously enjoyed my edible adventure, I've learned a lot about what I like and what I don't, how to medicate and definitely how not to. I really prefer making my own medicinal treats, but it's good to know that I can get positive results from items off the shelf.

Full disclosure: I was able to try the ECF products, and edibles from Canna Culture at no expense to me. However, my opinions are firmly my own.