Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Birthday and Planning

Things are just too busy with school and the upcoming trip to AZ. (So busy that I'm not getting around to posting this until after the AZ trip. Which will be covered when I recover. Until then, please enjoy last week's thoughts.)

In the planning stages, I started feeling overconfident, I fear, because I was thinking I'd be able to power through a mild-moderate migraine for the several days that I will be required to be as functional as possible, and then I would just sleep and whine for a week or two after to recover. It sounds so easy when I say it like that. I thought I had this situation under control, until I missed my own birthday party.

My birthday was on the twelfth, and we spent the day quietly. There was to be a big family party the next day, so my boyfriend and I opted to celebrate by driving out to our local wharf and eating tourist food, namely calamari and clam chowder in a bread bowl. We ate in the car, looking over the ocean, and I decided I wanted to check out the boardwalk. I thought it would be closed for the season, and I could take some pictures of eerie quiet. It was, unfortunately, not at all quiet.

The rides were running, that we could see as we got closer, but since it didn't appear to be very busy, we attempted to take a walk through to see if there was anything worth photographing. Despite hosting only a trickle of human activity, every single ride, game and food booth had a speaker attached to it, blaring music, and a few of the rides had their own soundtracks playing, so there was the bonus of conflicting rock songs to heighten the effect.

I was a goner as soon as we walked in, I just didn't know it yet.

We left within a few minutes, and I'd hoped that I'd gotten out of there fast enough to avoid any major repercussions. We got to the car and my boyfriend's back was hurting him, so I offered to drive home. I thought I'd be ok, since the sun was setting, I wouldn't have it in my eyes or glaring off of other cars, and if I can hit that magical hour before it really gets dark, the headlights don't bother me much either.

My confidence sank as the sky got dark a lot faster than I anticipated and I endured a solid ten minutes of brain-melting headlights I couldn't look away from before I pulled into our driveway. I managed to get us home safely enough, but I didn't feel well at all that night. I hoped I'd get some amazing sleep and wake a new woman, and I did indeed sleep very well that night, but it was clear from about an hour after I got up that I would not be attending my birthday party that day.

It's my mom's birthday, too, so they still had a gathering without me. I'm glad they did, I hate spoiling the party. I'm sure it's not fantastic for the guests to hear that one of the birthday-girls is ill, but I stayed home knowing that if I tried to be there, I'd end up crying in the bathroom or yelling at some unsuspecting uncle or leaving as soon as we arrived because the drive is enough in itself for one day, and those outcomes would have been a much bigger disappointment for everyone.

Big parties are so hard on me now, even on a good day, I'm starting to think I should avoid them altogether. I have no idea how to break that one to the family, though.

I did see my mom, a few days later, and she was fine with the delayed visit because she's the best. We talked for hours and had dinner, just my parents, my partner, my brother and me, until my head was threatening to fall off my neck. After a few days' recuperation from that visit, I had a birthday lunch with my grandfather, who is also very understanding of migraines and we had a lovely meal and a chat, because he is also the best.

We're leaving next week, so this weekend will be packing and planning the trip as much as I can, while trying to get ahead on homework and clean the house with whatever energy I've got to spare. We'll be gone about a week, which is just long enough for us to need pretty much everything we have in our house. Lists, lists, and more lists, my notebook is my only friend when I've got this much going on. I'm hoping that by being hyper-organized, I'll give myself some freedom to relax in the moment and I'll be able to make the most out of this winter trip to the desert.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Surprise Stink

I meticulously read the labels of everything I purchase. Unfortunately, I still sometimes bring home items that are toxic.

A few weeks ago, we grabbed a package of Glad 30 gallon Strong Large Quick-Tie Trash Bags at the store; we had a full kitchen garbage can at home and absolutely no liners left. We also didn't have a lot of money, so we bought just a small package of 10 and it was a brand and type chosen more for price than any other reason. Unfortunately, when we got home and desperately changed out the stuffed garbage can, it became immediately apparent that this product had been mislabeled. Fragrance hit me square in the nose and made my head immediately rear up with a confusion/irritability combo, dizziness and nausea. We quadruple-checked the label, there was no mention of fragrance anywhere.

So, I emailed Glad's customer service and they sent me a coupon that I'm a little afraid to use. What if my next purchase of the brand is, again, surprise-stinky? It's not a gamble I can take lightly, but since I at least have a coupon to use and it's not my very spare cash going into the experiment, I'll give them another try.

Despite being fairly satisfied with Glad's customer service response, I emailed them again because I'm concerned that people without sensitivities to fragrance aren't taking these issues seriously enough. Must fragrances be in every product we buy? I already have issues walking past the detergent aisle's thick fog of Spring Freshness and Linen Overload, do we really need scented garbage bags, too?

It's exhausting, being so sensitive to scents, and it would be nice if the rest of the world would just turn it down a notch.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Travel and School Starting

We're planning a twelve-hour drive to AZ to sort out my boyfriend's mom's stuff.

There is some final paperwork to be filed, her ashes to be picked up, and her house to be cleaned. We're going to go through everything and pack up a moving truck for the stuff we want to keep or can sell. It feels wrong, or at least odd, to be putting a value on someone else's things, even if they're dead. It seems disrespectful somehow. But, it has to be done, so we're doing it. We opted not to fly for several reasons, but the most annoying one is about the pot.

Medical marijuana is legal in both states, but flying with it still isn't, and while AZ recognizes CA's licenses for possession, it can't be used for purchasing, so I'd have to buy an AZ license, which is not only another expense, but is also a major time and energy suck that I don't need to be adding on to the mandatory sentence.

Also, we're bringing the dog and I'm nervous about keeping her in a crate for the flight. She sleeps in it half the time, but is a big whiner when she's locked in, which is what is required by the airlines, and it would stress me out the entire time to have her stressed. We'll probably have to deal with that eventually, but I'm happy to put it off for the moment. The cost looks to be about the same after all expenses, so we're going with the less stressful option, with the caveat that we get a rental car big enough to my partner to lay down in, if his back is flaring.

We've moved 11 times together, and we're excellent at it by now, so I expect we'll be able to sort, catalog, and pack up everything within a few days, but we're prepared to spend a week, if necessary. I've already started making lists. We're allotting plenty of recuperation time during and after, and are planning a leisurely, touristy ride home. Despite all of these plans and lists and anticipating of obstacles, I'm sure things will go wrong and there will be tension and I'll have more than one inconvenient migraine.

C'est la vie.

We got my books for school, classes have started, and I have to say, I was amazed at how smoothly it went. We parked, my honey got my voucher (which was done on time, miracle of miracles!) and checked the bookstore, which wasn't terribly busy, so we chanced it. My partner could easily get my supplies for me, but the experience of school shopping is really important to me for some reason, and I like to do it myself when I can. So, it was kind of a big deal when I easily found my book, browsed the supplies section for a few items I needed, and waited only moments to be checked out by an employee who was not at all confused by my voucher. I even came in two bucks under budget, so I snagged a reusable bag with my school's logo on it for a dollar. School spirit! My only complaint would be that there are now televisions in the bookstore; today they were blasting a cartoon that I vaguely recognized, but I couldn't really take in the information without blowing up my brain, so I have no idea what it was, but it was loud.

I'm so grateful for the financial assistance I get through my school. Some of the help I receive is because I'm disabled, some is for being poor and some is for getting good grades; they pay for most of my class fees, and I'm also eligible for the aforementioned voucher that entitles me to up to $200 in textbooks and $50 in supplies. Without their assistance, I wouldn't be able to attend and even with it, I struggle to pay the (usually) small remainder they require. But, I keep doing it, I'm making the necessary sacrifices, while using every ounce of help I can get, and it's barely getting me by, but it is getting me by. I'm lucky to have so many resources, and helpful friends and family to help me bridge the gap, and I'm also really proud of myself for making it work.

Go team.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hello 2013, You Should Be Interesting

After the soul-suck that was this year's holiday season, we wanted to do something life-affirming to ring in the new year. So, we lit stuff on fire.

After two deaths, an out-of-state trip for him and a few days alone in the woods during heavy rains for me, the usual wonderful/terrible trip to the city on xmas day, the exhaustion that inevitably comes with it and follows, topped off by my boyfriend hurting his back chopping wood and being laid out for several days, we certainly weren't looking to go to any New Year's parties. We pretty much just wanted to stay home, in our pajamas, and eat cookies while watching movies.

But, there's been such a layer of quiet despair over things, I knew we needed to do something to move forward, past the struggles we were experiencing. With him barely able to walk and me being migrainy like I am, there isn't a long list of things we could do. Also, we're broke, all the time, so we couldn't just throw money at the problem.

"We should do something with fire," I'd commented to my boyfriend, "A bonfire? Or maybe write out 2013 in sticks and set it ablaze." I was just thinking out loud, but he pounced on the idea and ran with it.

I was cursing myself and my big mouth that night. I was cold, and grumpy because it was past my bedtime, and in that moment, standing in the mud, in the dark, looking up at our little house and thinking how warm it is in front of the stove, I was also a little worried. The smell of gasoline is never reassuring. But, my boyfriend knew exactly what he was doing and he even brought the hose over, just in case the muddy, still-saturated-from-nearly-three-weeks-of-rain forest floor had a mind to ignite. Which it did not, at all.

He lit the 3 in 2013 and the sudden burst of flame made me jump. It died back down within a second and I hurried to get some good shots.

After the fire was out, we snuggled in bed and watched movies until midnight, and I fell asleep at about 12:04. A perfect ending to an imperfect year.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Being a Wiikling

We have the usage of a Wii for an undetermined period of time, and I hope I never have to give it up.

Exercising while chronically ill can be a tricky business. I enjoy doing some very gentle yoga, but anything strenuous or inverted triggers pain, nausea, and other migraine symptoms. I go for hikes, but I almost always end up head-injured, because while I love using my body and climbing difficult slopes, too often I don't realize I've gone too hard until it is way too late.

The Wii is an interesting balance of having a controlled environment and challenging, engaging exercises with visual stimuli to keep my brain interested and off the minor pains. I've been trying out the Wii Fit, and I really like it. The instructions for exercises are easy to follow, even with the sound off, and I like how the game opens up new exercises as I master the initial offerings.

I was a little disappointed to find that some of the "encouragements" are rather body-shaming. The body test calculates bmi, which is an extremely unreliable indicator of health, and later, while doing the side stretch exercise in the yoga series, the trainer talks about how we're trimming my waistline, and how I should visualize the body I want.


Maybe this kind of motivation is helpful for other people, but it makes me feel icky inside, and takes my head straight out of the pose I'm trying to hold. I'm perfectly fine with the way my body looks, it's my strength and flexibility I'm actually trying to work on, THANKS Wii.

And there are a few exercises that are not working for me, in a migraine-specific regard. The ski jump, for example, requires me to squat and look up at my tv screen to see when to "jump". Unfortunately, within seconds of attaining the pose, my neck is cramping, my eyes are aching, and the nausea is welling in my chest, making me wonder how much ginger ale I've got in the house. It's a fun game, I kept trying it even after it had proven to be painful, but it's really no good for me and I'll be staying away from that one from now on.

It's the original Wii we've got here, with just a few borrowed games. I know I'm about a hundred years behind the times in terms of gaming, but when you're poor, it's hard to get a hold of the newest thing. Plus, I'm old, so I don't care so much what's cool anymore.