Monday, April 30, 2012

HAWMC, Day 30

Word Cloud. Make a word cloud or tree with a list of words that come to mind when you think about your blog, health, or interests.

I'm hoping that clicking will give you a larger version.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

HAWMC, Day 29

Six Sentence Story. In this day of micro-blogging – brevity is a skill worth honing. Can you tell a story and make it short and sweet? What can you say in six sentences. Check out some here:

Sunday April 29

About a hundred years ago, I bought an old honda, despite knowing it had issues. It started overheating regularly, but I drove it anyway because I had no real options. One day, the car made a popping noise, died, and smoke started seeping out from the engine compartment. I pulled over, opened the hood and saw flame. I slammed the lid back down and called 911, but the damage was done. The fire was fed and my old honda was toast.

That was not a good story. Let's try again.

I was a receptionist and he used to come in and pick up his paychecks. Then we met again through a mutual friend and hit it off immediately. A few months later, we were thrown into living together, and the relationship wavered. When we got back into our own places, we fell back into each other, but we did break up for a few months about a year in. When we rekindled again, we both were ready for the commitment and we moved back in together. We've been partners in life and love for twelve years now, and he still doesn't bore me.



Saturday, April 28, 2012

HAWMC, Day 28

The First Time I… Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it?

The first time I kissed someone, I was 14, I think. He was older than me, even had his driver's license. He'd asked me to go with him to check out a photo exhibit he was featured in, and I was impressed. After we'd roamed the gallery, I sat in the passenger seat of his car with my hands in the lap of my plaid flannel dress I'd worn with my combat boots especially because I thought it made me look edgy. He leaned in, and my heart beat so fast I thought I might explode with the adrenaline. And it was terrible. The kiss was excessively wet and he ended it by sucking hard on my lower lip. He asked me if it was my first kiss with this smirk on his face that said he already knew it was. I scoffed that it wasn't and he took me home. Neither of us called the other again. More...

Friday, April 27, 2012

HAWMC, Day 27

5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories. Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

Five Challenges

1. The isolation -- Migraines make being around people difficult on my good days. I'm comfortable being an introvert, so that's not the worst thing usually, but I miss my family and friends. I miss being able to go to the grocery store.

2. The limitations -- I hate not being able to do all the things I know I'd be easily capable of otherwise, like cleaning all the dishes in one shot, or having a conversation.

3. Being misunderstood -- Some people don't understand migraines, or how I could have been so suddenly struck with them constantly. They may think that I'm lazy, mooching off the system, or making it all up for attention. It gets old fast.

4. When I have to be in public -- it's torture. I was obsessed with going to my little brother's basketball games a few years ago. I'd put on my cap and sunglasses, jam in the earplugs and put menthol on my nose or hands to block out the smell of the parents, but it was a migraine beatdown every sunday that would haunt the rest of my week. I'd be feeling better by the next weekend, only to force myself to sit in that flourescent-lit gymnasium and start the cycle again. I love my brother and want to support him, but I've learned not to compromise my health for it, at least not as a regular thing.

5. New pain is terrifying -- My migraines went chronic rather suddenly, and it's made me look at pain very differently. Now, when I get crick in my neck or my knee is aching from the rain or I get a pain spike that lasts any longer than the usual, I can't help but wonder, is this another new forever-pain? Is this something else I'm going to have to learn to live with? Can I? What's my threshhold, exactly? How much can I take and when I reach it, then what happens? And from there, it just gets darker. I don't dwell on these thoughts, they're very destructive and the few times I have I've ended up a sobbing mess, instead I acknowledge them and purposely think about something else. Even if those thoughts are right, if that eye-stabbing or back pain is going to stick around for years instead of just hours, there's likely little I can do about it anyway.

Five Victories

1. Being back in school -- I can only handle one class at a time, and I haven't nailed attending consecutive quarters yet, but it's a huge step in the right direction.

2. Learning stuff -- Sewing, programming, cooking techniques, and more, I'm in love with feeding my brain.

3. Gardening -- We don't have a food garden going this year (yet?) but I've been working on some natural landscaping around the yard and have found that to be pretty fulfilling as well. I've carefully relocated ferns and other plants from the surrounding forest to fill in the little hill above our front door, and it makes it look so pretty and lush. Well, lushER. It's a work in progress.

4. Hiking -- I haven't been thrilled with my frequency of exercise lately, I've had a lot going on, so it's been easy to put off. But when I do get out, walking up and down our steep mountain has noticeably built up my stamina, and it feels really good.

5. Facing fear -- I can be a rather fearful person and in the past I've let it get the best of me. I've been trying hard to put that kind of thinking behind me. When I want to do something, or to say something, if I stop myself because I'm afraid (of something that won't actively harm me), that's my new cue to barrel forward. It's been mostly little things, like I hand-sewed a scarf for my mom, and made plans with a new friend, but every little thing I do that scares me makes me less afraid of the next thing.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

HAWMC, Day 26

Health tagline and a perfect world, because I feel like it.

My tagline would be: I make myself laugh so hard.

For my blog, maybe: Pain, acknowledging it and moving forward.

For migraines: Everybody hurts, sometimes. You, you're going to hurt all the time! Muahahahaha!

And then, there's a spare prompt I wanted to write about: In a perfect world. Write about one thing you wish you could change. It can be in your own life or the world at large.

I wish I could make the world a fair place. No one should starve while someone else has leftovers.

I wish I could eliminate pain, not just my own, but everyone's.

I wish we all had more empathy for each other. Marginalized members of society deserve the same respect as we all want. There are too many hate crimes, too many abused children and too much violence in this world.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HAWMC, Day 25

Third person post. Write about a memory you have but describe it using the third person. Use as many sensory images (sights, sounds, textures, etc) as you can. Don’t use “I” or “me” unless you include dialogue.

The birds are singing in chorus, so many trills and tweets, no sense can be made from the cacophony. The sun is just rising. The early light is streaked across the forest floor, the shadows of the redwoods stretch between the shards of light that seem to shimmer with the morning dew. The crunch of leaves underfoot and the fog of her breath are her only companions. Her cheeks are numb, bright pink with the cold, her thighs ache with the effort of her long, uphill strides. A squirrel darts in front of her, chatters angrily as he scampers up a nearby tree in a spiral, casting a distrustful eye at the woman with every revolution of the sky-high trunk. Five, six, seven times he goes around as she watches him climb. A bird of prey soars high in the sky, only visible for a moment through the thick canopy. A noise nearby, she whirls to see several deer just on the other side of a clump of trees. They graze on ferns and grass, seemingly unaware of the woman who watches them. They gingerly walk closer, she holds her breath. Then, a doe makes eye contact, freezes. The world seems to stop turning altogether as the two females regard each other. The human looks away first, slowly turns to leave with the hopes that the deer won't be frightened by her movement. They all turn to watch, but make no move to bolt. The woman walks away, but looks back after several steps and smiles when she sees the deer have gone back to their breakfast. Pleased, she walks on.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HAWMC, Day 24

Health Mascot. Give yourself, your condition, or your health focus a mascot. Is it a real person? Fictional? Mythical being? Describe them. Bonus points if you provide a visual!

NOPE. Instead, I'm pulling from a spare prompt: Daily Schedule. Write a list of your daily routine from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Be honest!

I wake.

Lately, I lay in bed for a few minutes contemplating whether the poops are going to start up again. If they do, the next few hours will be taken up with the misery of diarrhea, if not, I ease my way into the day with the computer. I write (like I am now, good morning!), or edit photos, or catch up on my blogroll or sometimes dive straight into schoolwork, depending how awake and ambitious I'm feeling. Eventually, I get hungry. If my head is already starting in, it'll be a marijuana breakfast, in which I cook my food, then add some green butter in the last few minutes. I eat. Then, I really start my day. A walk with the dog is in order as soon as I'm ready, and whether it'll be a short stroll around our immediate perimeter or a long, arduous hike up the hill, I rarely know until I'm outside and moving. The dog is happy either way.

Then, I'll need to rest from all that exercise, and will probably get back on the computer and write, or edit photos, or surf around, or get some schoolwork done, depending on exactly which parts of my brain are working the best at the moment. If none of them are, I might just watch some Torchwood until I feel more productive. Then, cleaning. The dishes and the kitchen, cooking, the bathroom, the laundry, these are my usual household chores, and I make dents in them every day but so rarely feel like everything is done.

When I'm hungry again, I make lunch, and if I'm not feeling well, it'll be a marijuana lunch. The rest of the day is basically a rinse and repeat of the above, physical exertion until I can't, mental application until my brain is cooked, tv and idle reading to keep me occupied when I can't do anything else. Go to sleep between 9 and 11 pm. Dream of enormous bugbites and being mortally threatened with overhead, fluorescent lighting. My dreams, you guys, are WEIRD.


Monday, April 23, 2012

HAWMC, Day 23

Health Activist Choice Day 2! Write about whatever you like. I chose to grab one of the bonus prompts: Happy Place. When you need an escape from your condition where do you imagine yourself? Close your eyes and go to your happy place – then describe the sights, sounds, scents, and feelings.

When I meditate, I have a few places I go to. I imagine stairs, as I see myself traveling up them, I imagine the door at the end. When I reach it, I turn the knob, the door opens and I'm outside. I walk along a short rock wall, trailing my fingers on the smooth stones, their rough edges, and the crumbling mortar in between. I focus on those sensations as I imagine the world unfolding around me. Sometimes I'm at the beach, the surf is roaring, the sun is gently shining and the sand is deserted. Sometimes there's a huge meadow, in the middle of which is my whole family, having a picnic. They beckon to me, and I run and dance through the wildflowers and grasses to meet them. Other times, I just walk. I'll imagine cliffs over the sea, or a huge, ancient, crumbling castle to explore, it changes every time. The only things that are always the same are the stairs, the door, and the rock wall.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

HAWMC, Day 22

The Things We Forget. Visit and make your own version of a short memo reminder. Where would you post it?

We are all going to die. Make today count.

I might just tattoo this on my body.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

HAWMC, Day 21

Health Madlib Poem. Again, am I a grinch or did madlibs stop being fun in the 3rd grade? Instead, I'm going to pull from one of the spare prompts WEGO sent me:

Personify your health. If your health focus were a person – what would they be like? Describe them. Visually, emotionally, physically, and personality-wise. What kind of person are they?

My migraines personified. Now, this question I like.

Some migraines are like a sleep-deprived toddler, tantrumming and flailing at the slightest provocation. Those are the migraines that make me feel like I could just crawl out of my skin; sitting still is misery, moving is torment, I wish for death and feel so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so sorry for myself.

I have some migraines that are more like a sullen teenager, unresponsive to normal treatment and seemingly angry at the world. It's a dull throb in my head, like the bass line to a thrash metal song that's being played too loudly to make out a single note. And maybe there are even random stabbings about my skull, as if the little cretin is trying to pierce me up as much as she is.

Then there's the grumpy old man migraines. I hunch over to walk, speak in a whisper and have a scowl knotted into my features. These ones often come with a sense of calm acceptance. I patiently wait them out, often with a blanket on my lap, watching reruns of my old favorites to take the edge off.

And sometimes, I imagine my migraines to be a mean-spirited troll who lives in my cranium. He's strong and pissed off, all the time. He's got a jackhammer and a pickaxe in there with him, too, the bastard.


Friday, April 20, 2012

HAWMC, Day 20

Miracle Cure. Write a news-style article on a miracle cure. What’s the cure? How do you get the cure? Be sure to include a disclaimer.

Hey everyone, you're not going to believe what happened! I found a pretend miracle cure for chronic migraines!

Sigh. Nevermind, I can't do this.

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood but I feel like I've worked too hard to gain the level of acceptance that I have being sick every day and that this funny bit of fiction I'm being prompted to write is trying to set me back. It might only cause me a day of melancholy but I'm focusing on happiness, growth, and progress, there's simply no room in my head or heart for this kind of fantasy. There are no miracle cures. I can't even joke about it. So, I'll just be over here, grinching it up in my stark reality.

I do get auto alerts when there's migraine news, like when a new drug is being tested or new methods of delivery are being introduced, so it's not that I'm without hope or interest, I just prefer to focus on the realities of my illness and how to deal with them.

The only treatment I've tried that came anywhere close to being cure-like was mushrooms. It worked, I was totally pain free for about two hours, but I was unfortunately tripping my ass off and was completely unable to behave normally until it had worn off enough for my head pain to return. Get on that, scientists!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

HAWMC, Day 19

5 Dinner Guests. Who are 5 people you’d love to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?

Hillary Clinton, Amy Poehler, the Dalai Lama, Queen Elizabeth I and Laura Ingalls Wilder are the first five people who come to mind.

Hillary Clinton, Madame Secretary of State, is amazing. It doesn't hurt that I agree with her on 90% of her politics, I love the way she stands up to the patriarchial political climate we've got and I especially love Texts from Hillary, a short-lived meme blog that featured a submission from Hillz herself, showing she's got a wit on her, too.

Amy Poehler, the hilarious star and writer for Parks and Recreation, would be there for the side-commentary and the lulz. I loved her on Saturday Night Live and she rocks my world as Leslie Knope and it sounds like the funnest night ever to have a pajama and wine party with her and probably Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph would show up, too.

The Dalai Lama would be an incredible dinner guest. I've seen him in interviews and he always impresses me with his carriage. He's happy, I think, all the time. He's met so many people and had such an interesting life, I think I'd invite him to stay the weekend so we could continue the conversation.

I'm not sure why Elizabeth I occurred to me, but when I saw Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett, I did have a bit of an infatuation with the virgin queen. Or maybe it was Cate Blanchett, she is a fantastic actress!

Laura Ingalls Wilder, because her books have inspired me since I was very little. Imagining her childhood in the big woods, what it would be like to travel in a wagon, the hard lives of early settlers, and the universal themes of love and humor, across time and distance. I'd love to meet her and find out if she's as comforting in person as she is in her books.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

HAWMC, Day 18

Wednesday April 18
Open a Book. Choose a book and open it to a random page and point to a phrase. Use that phrase to get you writing today. Free write for 15-20 without stopping.

I only have one fictional book in the house, a neighbor lent it to me. All of mine are still in a box in our old city. I miss them. The phrase I chose comes from Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind. Page 326 of the hardcover, a little more than halfway down the page:

"'And there's no other way but this cave or the ledges?'"

This excerpt comes from a portion of the story I haven't read yet, so I don't know the exact circumstance, but from the phrasing of the question it sounds like our fearless heroes are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I know that feeling well.

Do I stay inside to keep safe from the light, noise, smells of the world? Do I miss all the events, lose touch with all the people, for the sake of saving myself from pain? Or, do I force myself through it and accept that I will suffer for my efforts? We choose our paths carefully, and mine tends to waver between the cautious one and the one that has all the fun on it, depending on the day.

I try not to beat myself up for it when I cancel plans or decline an invite to something I would have loved in another lifetime. Sometimes the experience isn't worth the pain, and I just can't let myself feel bad for it. Other people may not agree, in the past year I've missed a few birthdays, a baby shower and parties that I'm sure were a blast and I know that at least one person had their feelings hurt by my lack of attendance. There's nothing I can do about that, besides apologize.

And when I do force myself to make an appearance at the party or go to so-and-so's for dinner, I tend to be a strange guest, with my sensitivities and low tolerance for anything, not to mention the bizarre symptoms I show when migraines start coming on. The slurred speech, stumbling and the twitch combine and I become that relative that everyone's got one of. (Is she high on something? I don't think she's well.) Whether they'll admit it or not, no one wants that version of me at their party. But that's the only version I've got for them, that's what so many people just don't get. Normal me is gone. Twitchy, scowling, pained me is here, and she doesn't seem to be going anywhere, so let's turn down the volume and lay off the fragrance, shall we?


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

HAWMC, Day 17

Learned the Hard Way. What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Write about it for 15 today.

I prefer to learn things the hard way, or at least that's what one might think by looking over my history. Instead of elaborating on just one hard lesson, here's a list of many things I've learned in terrible, terrible ways.

1. Don't chop wood with a migraine.

2. Tequila can go bad. Really, really bad.

3. A locked door doesn't always promise privacy.

4. Don't leave a lit candle unattended.

5. There's a reason when clothing has a temperature indication on the tag.

6. Don't cut your own hair without a plan.

7. People lie.

8. There is such a thing as too spicy.

9. Doctors aren't always right.

10. Trying to live up to the expectations of others will never bring happiness.


Monday, April 16, 2012

HAWMC, Day 16

Create a pinterest board for your health focus. Pin 3 things. What did you pin? Share the images in a post and explain why you chose them.

I've got a pinterest account. I've used it a few times for sewing ideas, but not for anything health related, and I have no interest starting. I link and write everything down here, so I don't particularly need to pin anything. Also, I'm just not feeling cooperative today. I have a thousand dishes in the sink and haven't gotten good sleep for a couple nights. I wish I could just drug up and coma it out, but that would only make my head worse. GRUMPY.

Anyway, to answer the question, I think my health focus tends to be about educating myself and finding happiness through the struggle. I control what I can and accept what I can't. At least, that's the goal. But I can't come up with image ideas for those, so here's a simpler version of what's important to me right now:

A strawberry nestled amongst lemons because spring is coming and that means more fresh, affordable produce!

A shot of mussell shells lined up on an old wooden fence, the beach is in the background. Finding my own inner peace is a focus of mine lately.

My dog, sniffing the leaves. She reminds me every day to live in the moment. Yesterday and tomorrow are nothing compared to right now.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

HAWMC: Day 15

Writing with Style. What’s your writing style? Do words just flow from your mind to your fingertips? Do you like handwriting first? Do you plan your posts? Title first or last? Where do you write best?

I just sit and type, I don't always really think about it, just let the thoughts flow through my fingers. When I'm blogging, I often publish without much editing, just for typos and such, but with school papers, or more intensive blog posts, I go over and over and over and over them. I tend to type it all out, stream of consciousness style, then edit and edit and add thoughts and edit some more until finally it all looks right.

I almost always write the title of a post when I'm done writing it, and I like it to reference parts of the piece that I think are most important, or I might try to make it a little funny, or maybe it'll be a simple sum-up of the idea I'm trying to get across, it really depends on the moment.

I can write anywhere. When I had a smartphone, I would thumb out posts while waiting in the car or sitting in the doctor's office or laying in bed, and I felt like I had a lot of creative room with that system. Being tied to the computer chair can be frustrating.

I've always dreamed of making a living from writing but I've never had the confidence or inclination to really give it a go. I did write a book, once. It was book-sized, at least. It was a semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical murder mystery/drama/love gone wrong tale that sounds a lot more interesting in this sentence than it ever was in any of its 300 pages. It was terrible, but writing it was a wonderful form of therapy, and I like remembering that I wrote a book, even if only one person ever read it.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

HAWMC, Day 14

My Dream Day. Describe your ideal day. How would you spend your time? Who would you spend it with? Have you had this day? If not – how could you make it happen?

My ideal day would be spent entirely out of doors, maybe a barbeque with my entire extended family and all of my friends on the beach. I'd be well enough to roughhouse with my cousins, run around and play tag like we're kids again. I'd swim, sunbathe, dance and play all day. I don't need fancy food or an exotic trip for a perfect day, the freedom to be with the people I love would be enough.

It's not something I can have, however. So, I settle for impromptu beach visits, dinners with a few people at a time, communicating via email and text with those few that are willing and lurking all over the people I miss on facebook. I fill my time with plenty of happiness, so my lack of access to my ideal day isn't too sad. I have plenty of good-enough days to keep me smiling.


Friday, April 13, 2012

HAWMC, Day 13

10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without. Write a list of the 10 things you need (or love) most.

1. The internet and a computer

(Then, it took me 15 minutes to think of anything else.)

2. Comfortable clothing

(And then I got stuck again. Should I say food? Because obviously, food. No, I think life essentials are a given.)

3. My dog

(And now i feel guilty for calling my dog a thing. She's practically people! No, she's not, but I like to joke that she is and sometimes I forget to tell new acquaintances that I wasn't serious and they buy her outfits. Not jackets for cold weather, but cute little sundresses or furry-collared vest-things. And then I die inside and say thank you politely and keep them for YEARS, because sure, what the heck do I do with a dog dress, but if I did give it away it would be just my luck that the next week we would get invited to some fancy dog soiree that requires doggy black tie.)(This tangent... I don't even know.)

4. Ginger

(I've been rather nauseated for the last six months or so.)

5. My bed

(Also I'm tired. I need a nap. As the rest of this list will attest.)

6. Quiet

7. Inner peace

8. Did I say my bed?

9. A pillow

10. A blanket

Happy Friday the 13th!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

HAWMC, Day 12

Stream of Consciousness Day. Start with the sentence “This morning I looked in the mirror...” just write, don’t stop, don’t edit. Post!

This morning I looked in the mirror and thought I looked damn good for someone in pain all the time who had just woken up, bed-head aside. I stared at my face, looking for a sign of the pain above my ear and the back of my head. My eyes looked bright and I smiled at myself easily. When my migraines move forward, into my temples and eyes, then you can really see the pain on me. I squint and my eyebrows become cartoon squiggles of angst, my mouth goes tight and I hunch noticeably. Hey, while I'm thinking about it, I should take inventory of my aches and pains. This is something I like to keep track of, how my symptoms change over time and with different circumstances, and I haven't done a sum up in a while, so... starting from the top.

My head still hurts daily, but not constantly, unless I focus on it. So, I guess it is constant, but it's below my pain radar sometimes, which is fantastic. When I sit still and don't talk too much, I can feel normal for a while. Except my "normal" would never involve sitting still and being quiet, but I'll take what I can get.

My neck frequently cramps and cricks itself, and I'm never quite sure whether the migraine causes the neck drama or vice-versa, but they are close cousins in their torment and frequently gang up on me. Mean.

Ditto for my jaw, which is always popping and often tense.

I'm not going into full-on, non-functional, fetal-position migraines nearly as often, only for maybe 10 hours a week lately, though it's been more when I've pushed myself too hard. Feeling better gives me a false sense of security sometimes, like when I went to the bookstore to get my textbooks. I ended up having a bit of a meltdown in the loud, crowded, confusion that is the second day of classes, it was super embarrassing. That overstimulation led to hours of migraining, but the next day I recovered so much quicker than I have in the past. I think the redwoods are magic, sometimes.

Non-pain migraine symptoms have included dizziness, stumbling and clumsiness, mild to moderate nausea ALL THE FREAKING TIME but still never vomiting, thankfully. I continue to experience aphasia, but rarely and only briefly. Visual auras are less frequent, maybe three times a week, and they're easy to ignore, just some peripheral movement or a few sparklies floating about. I've smelled poo a few times in the past few months and once I smelled rotten eggs. That was a new one.

Oh, and outside of the migraines, my back still has some pain, off and on. I got some xrays taken with a spine guy who said they didn't show anything interesting and then blew me off. I'm rather confused about how it all went down and I keep meaning to write about it, but it was just a weird experience and I don't really understand what happened. I think I need to get a copy of those xrays though, because the back pain I have, while it rarely disables me, can not possibly be nothing.

My shoulders and hips sometimes feel achy, loose, or overused, when I've done nothing strange to them. It's not often enough for me to have brought up with a doctor, however.

I have something going on with my left hip area. My boyfriend thinks it's my sciatic nerve, I feel like it might be my hip joint sometimes. I asked the spine guy about it, but he was no help.I'm getting some weakness and pain in my wrists and sometimes my finger joints feel cramped and tight. I don't know what it is but psoriatic arthritis runs in my family so I try not to dwell on it. So far it's just annoying, so maybe it's just some tendonitis from all the computering I'm doing lately. HAWMC and school have had my fingers tippy-typing even more than usual.

Speaking of, they need a break.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

HAWMC, Day 11

Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song. What would the lyrics be? What type of music would it be played to?

My theme song would most certainly be bluesy, as for lyrics, maybe something about perseverance and finding your own happiness despite setbacks.

Let's talk about music, because that's about all I've got on that subject. Since I've been able to enjoy listening to music again, I'm amazed by its benefits. It makes doing chores easier, helps me block out minor pains, and can remind me of people and experiences I'd long forgotten. I can't listen often, or to even half the songs that come up on my internet radio, but I've set up multiple stations, so I can skip around as much as I need to.

A friend posted this video on facebook today, an elderly man is very withdrawn in a nursing home until they play him music he enjoys. His whole being changes, and it's incredible to watch.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

HAWMC Days 9 & 10

Two days in one post!

Monday April 9
Keep calm and carry on. Write (and create) your own Keep Calm and Carry On poster. Can you make it about your condition? Then go to ( and actually make an image to post to your blog.

I didn't understand what this was, really. Google told me it's an English wartime motivational poster ripoff? Ok. I'm not sure I really got the point of this, but I went with Mindful Living Doesn't Suck As Much. I'm not exactly an optimistic person, nor am I a believer in bootstraps or stiff upper lips, which seems to be the general theme of these posters, unless I'm totally not understanding it, but I am a believer in mindfulness and in the case of my chronic migraines, mindfulness has been key in having a quality of life that's worth living.

Tuesday April 10
Dear 16-year-old-me. Write a letter to yourself at age 16. What would you tell yourself? What would you make your younger self aware of?

Dear 16-year-old steph,

Considering you are stubborn as hell and regularly ignore perfectly good advice for the sake of figuring it all out on your own, I won't bother trying to tell you what's what. Instead, I'll just say that you're doing great. I'm proud of you. You are beautiful and creative and smart and funny and loved and great at loving. Just always do your best and be yourself.

Love, steph who is now older than you ever thought you could be.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

HAWMC, Day 8

Best conversation I had this week. Try writing script-style (or with dialogue) today to recap an awesome conversation you had this week.


I've been having memory issues, so this one is way too complicated for me right now.

INSTEAD. I'm going to talk about the beach, and easter, and my family.

Usually, my huge extended family all gets together for easter; we eat, the little ones hunt for eggs, there's a cousin picture and good times are had by all (except for me because large gatherings are not great for migraines). But this year, my parents decided to score an rv spot at the beach and invited everyone there for our easter shenanigans. But almost no one is going! Which is great for me because the fewer people, the less noise and stimulation, which means I might actually enjoy easter for the first time since my migraines started. Of course, with no religious family members or little kids in attendance, I doubt we'll actually have an easter easter, but time with my family at the beach is all I could possibly ask for.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

HAWMC, Day 7

Health Activist Choice! Write about what you want today. (Apparently, that's food and my pooper. Enjoy!)

All I really want right now is some ice cream. Or cheese. But it seems that dairy is causing some mild issues (gi, skin, menstrual), so I'm wondering if it may also be contributing to bigger problems than I realize. So, I'm cutting way down on the dairy and it's painful, emotionally. My skin looks great though. Dammit.

I've been nutritionally slacking lately. I'm still eating better than I did at some other points in my life, but I'm having to rely on ramen and peanut butter sandwiches too often to feel like I'm doing it right. That's partially a poverty thing, but even if I have all of the ingredients for eggplant parmesan, when I'm tired and hurting, I go for the convenience. I do try to have pre-made stuff in the fridge, but that's just not always how it works out.

Not really related, and gross, but I woke up this morning with diarrhea AGAIN for about the eighth time in the last six months. I can't figure out what's causing it but it's making me miserable for days at a time, then leaving me alone for weeks, then it's back with a vengeance for a day or two, then gone again and the cycle continues. No one else in my house is getting sick, in between bouts I'm fine, and I can't find a common dietary denominator, so I'm at a loss. I guess this means another doctor's visit.


Friday, April 6, 2012

HAWMC, Day 6

Health haiku. Write a haiku about your health focus. 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables. Write as many as you like.

My head always hurts
I try not to dwell on it
I miss feeling real

Constantly fighting
contemplating workarounds
life is strategy

I'm not impressed with either of these, aesthetically speaking, but if poetry was about getting straight to the point, I'd probably be fantastic at it.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

HAWMC, Day 5

Ekphrasis Post. Go to and write a post inspired by the image.

It was a lovely photo of a flower, which I'm not linking because I'm lazy and you know what pretty flowers look like, probably. The picture made me a little sad because I haven't been taking photo walks as often as I used to. But, that's really a good thing because I'm so busy doing other things I couldn't do before. Taking slow walks with my camera was sometimes my only sanity back in the loud, oppressive city, but up here in the mountains, I'm a lot more active around the house and am finding it difficult to make the time.

Another part of my lack of photo-taking is that the quality of the photos I want to produce has finally outgrown my little point and shoot camera's capabilities and if conditions aren't just so, I'm often disappointed in the images it returns. Out of probably 600 photos downloaded last week, a backlog of six months, only about 100 were even worth editing, and only eight made it up at cafepress. Alas, a good camera is just another thing that costs money. Hey! Maybe you and all your friends should buy a couple of my prints or other photo products and encourage me to get back to it!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

HAWMC, Day 4

I write about my health because… Reflect on why you write about your health for 15-20 minutes without stopping.

I write about my health because I have to talk it out to be okay with it.

I choose not to burden any one person with my pain, instead I spread it out evenly on the internet.

It's important for me to connect with other people having similar experiences, it's important to know we're not alone. With a rare, and mostly invisible illness like chronic migraines and daily head pain, I often feel like a freak. I hesitate to tell people that I'm ill, but it comes out eventually and most people don't want to deal with someone else's disability. I don't have many real-life friends, I'm a difficult person to spend time with unless you want to do all the driving, silence every noise, don't mind switching seats with me or turning off all the lights or being okay with canceled plans or that I can't do pretty much anything that normal social people do, and every time we hang out you're taking a gamble on which steph you're going to get. Will she be snarky, achy, and doped to hell, or will she be mellow and cheerful but will flip out about half an hour into the bookstore because someone just walked by with perfume on and now we have to go home. I feel like I'm a disappointment to a lot of people, which doesn't bother me most of the time since I know I'm doing my best, but it can be difficult to be honest about my health with the people around me. I really enjoy the honesty, acceptance and the camaraderie of the online migraine community. We share information, encourage each other, commiserate with disappointments and I feel like I've found an amazing resource in blogging. It's like therapy, except it's run by the patients. Is that a good idea? Heh.

This was only five minutes, but I'm tired now and I still have other things I have to do today.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

HAWMC, Day 3

Superpower Day. If you had a superpower – what would it be? How would you use it?

I've got a few ideas on this one, but I don't feel like blathering on today, so it'll be short and sweet.

1. If I could stop time, I'd suffer my migraines in moments rather than days.

2. If I was invisible, I'd probably become a vagabond and travel the world.

3. If I could fly, I'd also do a lot of traveling.

**Also, I'd fight crime and save the world regularly with these superpowers.


Monday, April 2, 2012

HAWMC, Day 2

Quotation Inspiration. Find a quote that inspires you (either positively or negatively) and free write about it for 15 minutes.

"I heed not that my earthly lot hath little of earth in it,
that years of love have been forgot in the hatred of a minute,
I mourn not that the desolate are happier, sweet, than I,
but that you sorrow for my fate, who am a passerby." -EAP

On Day 2 of the WEGO post-a-day challenge, I am already probably messing it up again. Is a poem a quote? Well, today it is because this poem was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the prompt question. I was 18 years old, I'd moved out my parents' house abruptly and dramatically, I was living with my then-boyfriend and his family, and I'd recently lost a pregnancy and was starting down a self-destructive path. I discovered Edgar Allan Poe on the bookshelves of that house and I read his stories and poems for hours. I understood his darkness and his sadness, and the above poem, mysteriously entitled "To --" spoke to me the loudest. It was echoing everything that was happening in my mind at the time, I might lose everything, I might be miserable, but don't you look at me with that tone of pity in your voice. Eff off and say hello to your mother. Poe seemed to know exactly where I was coming from, he felt my desperate anger, my anguish and defiance. I memorized that poem right then, the moment that I read it, and it kept me company through some seriously dark times.

That poem's remained one of my favorites over the years, however its meaning has changed for me a bit. I'm not 18 anymore, for one thing, and those circumstances seem like a distant nightmare. At the time, I felt those dark feelings pretty thoroughly, then I worked out my demons with enthusiasm, and picked myself back up and moved on. It wasn't exactly that simple, but that's the gist.

Now it feels more like the poem is more about relinquishing control and being okay with myself and my struggles than it is about wallowing in the mire. Per Poe, my earthly lot may be empty, my love may be fickle, and truly miserable people may be having a better time of it than I am, but don't cry for me, Argentina, cause it's way harder trying to make the best of it with y'all looking so damn sad all the time.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

#HAWMC, sort of

I'm semi-participating in Wego's The Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge, #HAWMC, so I'll be making sporadic attempts at posting more frequently and using the provided prompts throughout this month. To start off, I'm going to answer today's question, sort of. Great start, right?

Sunday April 1

Health Time Capsule. Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think of it when they found it?

I don't have any ideas for a time capsule, I'm much more of a written-record kind of lady. I just hope that in a hundred years people are marveling that anyone suffered through chronic pain of any sort.

The point of this doing this month-long exercise, for me, is to step outside of my comfort zone, and maybe explore a little outside my usual rut. I love blogging, I love writing, I love just typing out whatever comes into my head and having others respond to it, but I tend to write about the same stuff. Take my tag cloud there in the sidebar. It's a list of words that I've assigned to posts, and since my first few months of writing, certain words have been more frequent than others. Triggers, treatments, emotions, symptoms and dealing are the top five things I write about, and while that's unlikely to change while this is still a migraine and living with chronic illness-focused blog, I would definitely like to broaden my horizons. Maybe writing more frequently and pushing my brain to stretch instead of waiting for inspiration to strike will give me some new ideas to work with.

Thus endeth post one. If I get ten of these out I'll be impressed with myself.