Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year: in Review/Incoming

Goals for 2016:

-Write a short story, and submit it somewhere
-finish beginner spanish, continue to learn at least 5x week
-continue to exercise
-find inner peace, nbd

2015 was rough on me, and I couldn't think of a thing I'd accomplished in the year, until I looked back on what I recorded here. I kicked ass this year, even though this year kind of kicked my ass. It was a mutual ass kicking.

Things that happened in 2015:

I've successfully managed my IC through diet for a year. I don't know if I'm in remission, because I do experience pain if I get daring and eat something too spicy, or forget to pick the onions out of a dish, but it doesn't last long because I go back to eating safely.

I wrote more this year. I worked on a few short stories - though I don't know if any of them will ever be finished - and wrote a bunch about food.

I reevaluated my social media usage, unfollowed people that don't make me happy, and joined some groups and apps that do.

I started last year thinking about having kids, and that ache has only grown. I'm no closer to an answer to that question, unfortunately.

I broadened my supplement intake, and opened my mind a bit more to the woo, including acupuncture and essential oils.

I had a tiny, rather unsuccessful vegetable garden and my first flower garden ever. And I am already thinking about what to plant next year because I am a masochist.

I got to work for a dog sitter! This was an incredible amount of fun and I hope this gig continues into 2016, even if only infrequently.

I've been more honest with myself and others about my mental health. It's not great, Bob.

I've continued exercising, and even started jogging! It still baffles me.

So, I am moving forward, things are happening, even if they aren't happening at the pace I would choose.

Happy new year, friends. See you in 2016.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Current Events

I'm getting ready for xmas, which will be spent with just my immediate family.

I've managed to buy some presents, and I'm already half packed for the overnighter we're spending at my parents, but I think the truffles we were thinking of making are not going to happen because I'm already consciously keeping reserves of my energy.

I joined a facebook group for chronic migraineurs, and it's helped me feel a little more connected to the world lately. They're talking a lot about this daith piercing trend that's happening. I don't have a great track record with piercings, they take forever to heal, but I'm interested in hearing others' experiences with it. It sounded like bunk to me, especially because the daith doesn't line up with any acupuncture points for migraine, but some people are seeing positive effects so I can't help but be curious.

I haven't seen any changes in my migraines since starting the vitamin E regimen, so I won't be buying more when the bottle runs out. The St. John's Wort may have made a difference however, I found my depression to be a little easier to ride out this month, but I still felt really anxious, maybe even more anxious than I was before? I dealt with it ok, but still, it was not my favorite.

I'm having a bit of an emotional crisis over having biological children. I always thought I'd get to it, but my health, money, having a relationship, home life and financial situation that feels stable enough to bring a child into it; it's never felt right, and now I'm faced with a bit of a now or never choice. I can always adopt in the future, and that's something I'd like to do, but I can't help but feel turmoil over this choice to either possibly lose my chance to give birth or to dive into the deep end and have a child now. I need to see my dr after the new year, and all I can do is hope that she'll have another option for me.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Realities

The older I get, the more cynical I get about Thanksgiving. The origins of the holiday are total bull, and there are so many people going hungry in this country (in the world) that spending a day stuffing my face in the name of community and gratitude feels a tad hypocritical. And then there's the migraines, so it's not like I'm rushing to the family table where everyone is in their finest and wearing perfume up the whazoo.

Anyway. Today will be spent at home, kind of a normal day save for the menu I'm aiming to cook, if we can get all the food - we have no potatoes at the moment, and if I don't get my mashed tapaytas and mushroom gravy I'll be bummed - and if I can even manage cooking it.

I've still been extraordinarily tired lately, even with supplements and being able to hike again most mornings. Today will be a day for slow and steady progress.

So, if this all works out, it'll be mash and gravy, green beans, a really simple apple, almond, and sweet potato dressing, and maybe some lentil loaf bites.

Tomorrow, we're heading to my parents' house for "leftovers", though knowing my step-dad he may just make a whole new meal.

And I'll just leave this here, because it was informational, funny, and we should all know the truth about our history.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Coming Back

Ok, I seem to be regaining my balance for the moment, so let's stop to catch up, shall we?

I did, indeed, cut my hours at the dog sitters', and after the initial upset I felt at losing something that felt important to me (a sort-of livelihood, people counting on me, awesome dog interaction all the time), I am realizing that I am slowly regaining the energy to do things around the house, and I went on my first hike in two weeks this morning.

I'm really excited about some wool socks I made on a whim yesterday, too. I haven't sewn in ages beyond basic repairs and was feeling super down about my ability, but then I was inspired to demolish an old wool sweater and turn it into the warmest socks I've ever had on my feet. They look completely wonky, as if I perhaps made them with one eye closed and a hand tied behind my back, but they fit and are comfortable and did I mention warm? Warm.

My head continues to torture me every day, and it's been particularly sensitive the past few weeks, I'm guessing due to the weather finally changing. I'm nauseated a lot, but since I haven't been in a car in a while, it's staying under control with minimal ginger. Those anti-nausea pills were a miracle for a while there, but now I'm kind of afraid to take them, since I only recently got my pooper running regularly again. I did get some fiber powder to use in conjunction with it, but I'm still not rushing for it unless I have to. Next car ride, probably.

The IC is still here. I've read anecdotes of people having full remissions but I don't see that happening for me anytime soon. I'm not in an active flare, and I can currently get away with eating very modest amounts of acidic foods and spices, but there are some things that still trigger pain, like onions, caffeine, or tight pants. I can't complain about it though, considering how ridiculously restricted my diet was this time last year, and oh boo hoo I have to wear stretchy pants for the rest of my life, what ever will I do with all this comfort?

Though, it's funny navigating life as a person who doesn't drink alcohol or caffeine, other people's addictions become very apparent very quickly as they loudly proclaim their inability to EVER go without [drug of choice] and how it's the only reason they get through [minorly unpleasant life experience]. Actually, meat eaters do this with me too, but not smokers, interestingly. I think smoking has just enough stigma now that peer pressure isn't cool anymore. I'm still a jerk (apparently) for telling people not to smoke around me, but they are also a jerk for spreading their toxic clouds of cancer all over, so it's less awkward I think. For me, at least, haha.

And I've joined a forum or two to try and forge more connections in this world. I've been too isolated, so I've got to make social interaction part of my self-care routine, whether my introverted self likes it or not.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some Choices Suck

I had to reduce my already measly hours at the dog sitter's and i'm devastated over it.

This feels nothing like when I left my job when I first got sick; that was more like a reclaiming of my life, as if I was taking myself back from the job. But this... I love being with the dogs, and telling the owners that I couldn't be there for them like I'd been trying to feels like a step away from life. I feel like I've lost everything that made me likeable and now I'm just the migraine.

I just feel really lost and sad. That's all.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Supplements and Deep Thoughts

So, I'm taking a bunch of supplements now.

I've been taking Vitamin D and iron for a while, and when I had a bout of constipation I started taking magnesium. I've made a few more additions to the pill pile and now my nightstand looks comically full of bottles. There were a few things that spurred this latest purchase and I'm not terribly pleased to admit that unsolicited advice was one of them.

A man I was meeting in a casual/professional setting conversationally asked why we'd moved to our current residence several years ago and I answered I had chronic migraines and couldn't live in the city anymore. This was the most succinct I'd ever been in response to a question like this so I was feeling pretty good until he replied, "I had chronic migraines and cured them with vitamin E." My face went into awkward smile mode and I managed a, "Interesting," and let it hang in the air. The subject changed naturally after a few beats and I left the interaction pleased that I managed not to be too weird.

Anyway, I'm not going to dismiss his suggestion just because it was ill-timed, and I knew I remembered something about vitamin E, so I googled it and the first few results told me that a study had shown that people with hormonally triggered migraines had seen benefit from a moderate daily dose of E. It's not too pricey, so I got a bottle. Also, my hands have been hurting lately, and my back hurts every day, so I'm trying out a glucosamine, msm, cmo blend that is meant to be a veg version of glucosamine chondroitin. And I'm finally giving st john's wort a solid try because I've been struggling with depression off and on for years now, but still can't see a shrink because poor people don't get mental health care unless they are institutionalized or drug addicted. While I was at it I got some vitamin C because cold and flu season is officially here - CA had its first death of the year today.

I'm just a harbinger of doom today, aren't I? Life's a struggle, then we die. I'm not feeling particularly down at the moment, but life in general is feeling pretty heavy and I don't want to pretend it's easier or prettier than it is. I've been thinking about this girl who was doing the insta model thing for thousands of dollars a post and suddenly quit and came out with all this honesty about body image and advertising and how she realizes now that synthetic representations of life aren't doing anyone any good, least of all herself. And then I told my bf earlier, "We're the most messed up animals on the planet because we're cursed with all this self awareness. It's painful and terrible that we should know our place in the universe and be so helpless and futile, our condition reduces us to violent, self-serving babies. But humor balances it out, doesn't it? That we can laugh at our pain, and turn the horrors of living and dying into something we can not only appreciate as a commonality that creates and destroys us all, but something we find humor in, gives us strength and a sort of power. At least, it gives us power over our own emotions and reactions, which is all we can hope for sometimes.

Someone close to me got a bad diagnosis, so I'm having a lot of feelings right now I guess. Send me and mine good thoughts if you've got any to spare.


Monday, October 12, 2015

The Whims of Doctors

I'm slogging along rather steadily, I think.

I had a dream the other night that I thought was kind of funny when I woke. In the dream I'd painted my nails perfectly, then ruined them. Then I cleaned the kitchen spotlessly, only to find it covered in flour and garbage when I looked back. This is clearly a dream about futility and feeling like I never really get anywhere, but when I woke up, my nails were perfectly painted and my kitchen was pretty darn clean, so it actually made me feel kind of good about myself, instead of anxious or frustrated like one would imagine.

I had some visitors last week, and I am only now recovering, but it was wonderful to see the youngest member of my family (a 2 month old baby girl) and the oldest (my 77 year old grandfather), and a few others whose ages are utterly unremarkable but with whom it was still a pleasure to visit.

The summer heat is waning, we'll have a few more very warm days, but my head is definitely feeling the ease in the intensity of the weather. Not that I'm much more active, but at least my head's not throbbing like a stubbed toe half the day. That kind of pain is exhausting.

I have a health related anecdote of a slightly different nature today, because it's not about me. My boyfriend has chronic back and neck problems. He's had surgeries, shots, adjustments, massages, and he manages the pain with narcotics. The pills aren't great for the body, but being totally sedentary and depressed is worse, so he takes them and gets regular blood tests to keep an eye on how the drugs are affecting his liver, kidneys, etc. He's had a history of doctors giving him a hard time and putting him on "pain contracts" (which is a srsly fucked up name, like we have any control over our pain, it should be called a pill contract, or a "my quality of life is subject to the whims of my doctors" contract). They've accused him of lying and selling his pills, they've cut him off cold turkey, subjected him to endless pee tests, and of course, there's the numbing repetition of having to justify himself to yet another new doctor, or worse, the same doctor at nearly every visit.

It's amazing, however, how little hassle he gets when I come with him to appointments. I sit quietly, only speak up rarely, and am usually half checked-out with my phone or some crochet, but the appointments go faster, he gets less questioning, and I have never, EVER witnessed him being denied drugs for pain. Literally, I accompanied him on his last visit for refills and it was ten minutes and a blood test. The only reason I came with him is because on the one previous, which I did not attend, he was threatened (with withdrawal of care and meds), harassed, and denied his medication for a week.

I don't understand why my presence makes a difference. Sure, I'm a witness to his pain, a second voice to support his; and I suppose I'm also a witness to what happens in the room, an unaffected party whose word might be more weighty in matters of medical negligence. Of course, I could just as easily be his accomplice in the pill scamming trade (I'm not), but maybe I've just got one of those trustworthy faces.

And what's worse, if it's this hard for a nearly 40 year old white dude to get medical care for chronic pain, I can't imagine the struggle people of color are dealing with. Our health care system sucks, you guys. Obamacare made it better, but it's still so lacking.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Update and a Good Decision

Getting back on the vitamin d supplement seems to have perked me up a bit, just enough to be frustrating as all get out when another late summer heat wave comes along and flattens me.

I'm still struggling, but it's gradually getting easier to reclaim my place in the world.

The heat though, ugh it's terrible. Here in the mountains of northern california the weather tends to be mild. Summer daytime temperatures hover between 75 and 90 on our side of the hill while winter daytime temperatures average between 60 and 75. That's not a huge difference, and the changing of the seasons is actually pretty easy on me; because it's slow and gentle my body usually has plenty of time to acclimate before the severe weather comes out. But there isn't enough acclimation in the world to save me on a 90+ degree day and when temperatures get over 100, I can't do a thing but distract myself and wait for sleep.

I am so looking forward to winter, and I can't stop wishing I lived more north, in a colder climate. I worry about dealing with more frequent and severe storms, but what if my daily life was more functional without a hot summer to steal at least 1/4 of every year from me? Dealing with more weather migraines might just be worth it then.

Let's do a symptom round up:

I've got daily nausea going on, but my doc gave me some awesome melt-away pills that really help, and in combination with ginger and that acupuncture point on the inside of the wrist, I'm fairly comfortable.

My head's been pretty good in the mornings, despite the persistent heat-hangover I'm waking with. I've mostly been able to keep up on walks with the pups, which always improves my mood by 99%.

Unfortunately, I'm not getting a whole lot more done than that lately. Bending has been a major trigger, making housework very difficult. I actually paid someone to come help me clean, for the first time in my life, and it was the best decision ever. I needed that money, but I needed my sanity more, so it was a worthy expenditure, even if it does cut into the already tight budget. Ugh, money is the worst.

My back and neck are persistently achy and stiff. My eyeballs are aching right now, but I've been having random stabbing all around my head, more so towards the end of the day. I've still got that twitch. I've been very snappy and that reminds me I need to apologize to my boyfriend.

I'm still very sensitive to loud or grating noise, flashing or bright lights, and strong or chemical smells. I can't stand to be touched on my bed days, which are too often lately.

I've only hit a 10 in pain probably once every three months, maybe less. I end most days at about a 7, though it flows and ebbs and if I'm very, very quiet I can sometimes keep it down to a 3.

Not bad, for summer. I'm so lucky I live in the quiet of the forest, I owe everything I'm able to do to the trees. Redwoods are magic.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Not Great, Bob

I'm struggling, hence my absence here.

I got a cold a few weeks ago, then it was horribly hot, then i got my period, and my head is not dealing well with any of this. Another heat wave is approaching, just as my period is dying down too, so i've got another week of potential misery ahead of me.

My mental health is not great. I'm anxious and depressed, still having dalliances with suicidal thoughts. I talked to my doc about mental health care and basically the system sucks for those of us in it. If I actually attempt suicide they'll 5150 me and then I'll get treatment. But, this is not an option. The idea of hospitalization makes me panicky to the point where I'd rather suffer.

Everything is a mess. Me, my house, my relationships. I feel hopeless.

See, this is why I haven't been updating. It's all awful and now I'm crying. :(


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cardio as Therapy

This is the first time I've had any desire to write in weeks. I'm not thinking great today, but my motivation is sincere, so I going to cobble this post together from a few half-formed drafts and whatever run-on profundities my brain can be bothered to muster.

I've increased my exercise again and now I'm jogging! Jogging! It's a gentle jog, and it's mostly in place while my dogs sniff and poop, but I keep it up on the level bits of my hike and I'm already feeling results. My head now only rarely bothers me while I'm exercising, and the letdown I experience afterwards has decreased a little. My blood pressure at my last doctor's appointment was the lowest it's ever been: 100/60, I'm sleeping better, my back doesn't hurt hardly at all, and my mood is much more stable. In fact, when I feel myself getting fired up about something, I might just go for a quick, hard hike. Exercise really takes the edge off misplaced emotions and and the risk of migrainous consequences is much less than it is for the average outburst. Emotional stress remains a trigger I struggle to tame, but exercise helps.

I really can't believe I'm jogging. It's been what, two years? since I started hiking these hills, and I've had health issues that have set me back months in progress, but actually seeing slow and steady changes is so encouraging and makes me feel so proud of myself and so lucky that I've been able to live somewhere quiet enough to let me heal my body. My neurological system may still be screwy, but my heart, my skin, my bowels, and my joints are like the parts of another person, the change is tremendous.

Also, I've been feeling fatigued/depressed despite my iron levels having returned to normal, but when I was tested they found that my D levels were low again, so I've been prescribed a daily supplement to get back on track.

It seems like a contradiction that I have the energy to jog yet feel fatigued in daily activities, but it's not a physical kind of fatigued, I feel tired of life. Apathetic, bored, tired of trying. I think working out so hard, nearly every day, has kept me from going over the ledge into despair, though. I think this apathy is a low-level version of the intense depression I've been feeling at the end of my periods, and if that's the case, I'll take it. I still washed my hair, I fed myself well, and took care of the dogs. I didn't get any surveys done, nor make any real effort in any of my relationships, and was probably a little too salty with more than one person I care about, but I didn't feel like killing myself, so am I complaining? Nah.

I can't think of a snappy way to end this, so


Friday, June 26, 2015

Summerizing, Because It's Hot

Lately, in my world: I tried a snack delivery service, made a to-go salad worth bragging about, and I've started jogging, a little.

I tried Graze, the snack subscription service, and it was pretty cool. You can customize what kinds of snacks you prefer, or what ingredients you don't like, and they send you boxes weekly, monthly, whatever. I tried it for five weeks and if I had the disposable income, I would keep it, but alas. I do not. I do however have a code for a free box! If you use this code - YFD764WFE - when you sign up, you get your first box free (I also get a free box). You can cancel if you don't like it and there's no charge!

That awesome salad was a perfect storm of inspiration and opportunity. I grabbed a big canning jar out of the cabinet, and dumped a cup of leftover curried couscous in. Then I layered some dry-fried mushrooms, frozen vegetables and almonds, and then as much romaine lettuce as I could stuff in there. Then I smashed it down a bit more to get some lentil sprouts on top. When it was time to eat, I dumped it all out into a large bowl, topped it with a healthy wad of hummus, and had a serious salad party.

I'm been sprouting those lentils myself, and it is super easy! Just add a 1/4 cup of lentils to a jar (or more, but remember that they will grow), rinse and strain with water, then cover. Rinse them every day, and that's it! Sprouts in days! And to make rinsing even easier, I just add water to the jar, shake, then dump it out on the back of a screen strainer, so the lentils/sprouts all stay in the jar neatly. It seriously could not be easier.

And I've started jogging a bit on walks, just in place while the dogs do their thing, or gently on the level bits. Sometimes it hurts my head, but if I've gauged my situation correctly it usually doesn't, and that, my friends, is progress.

The heat of summer has fully arrived to our woods and I'm feeling it. My head hurts more and faster as the day warms up and if I don't get moving early, I may not move at all.

My friend had a dream in which I escaped my headaches by turning into a fish. Honestly, I've heard worse suggestions.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I've Been Cupped

I finally made my way back to the acupuncturists.

It took a while to get back in to see them, but I returned to Five Branches today to get poked for my head and other ailments.

We forgot to mention to the front desk that we were expecting the cheap appointment, and accidentally blew a good chunk of our budget on acupuncture. Oops. But I did get to experience more services, so I guess that's the bright side.

Last time, the guy put some migraine pins in and some menstrual pins. This time, the lady went all migraine.

So, she stabbed me in the top of the head, the ears, the back of my neck (I specified I'm having some nerve pain in my neck and shoulders), and one in each hand and foot. After 10-20 minutes of laying down quietly while stabbed, she gave me a vigorous and awesome neck massage, and then... she cupped me! She did four cups on my upper back, and I have those bizarre-looking marks to prove it. It didn't really hurt, it was more uncomfortable than anything, but one of the four did hurt just a little more than the others and that same spot continues to feel very bruised. Otherwise, it didn't and doesn't feel nearly as bad as it looks! Which is nice because it looks kind of terrible! Google at your own risk!

After my last appointment, I felt no significant changes, but my period was a little easier. Until this moment, I suspected it was because I've been extra-conscious of my diet lately, but now I'm wondering if it was the pins in the belly.

I'm just beat after this session; I took a nap when I got home, and feel like I suffered a thorough pummeling, which I supposed I kind of did. It was the best massage I think I've ever gotten. I'm going to bed soon, and hopefully I'll wake up feeling better, not worse, but y'all know how it is with migraines.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Grumping About

The nausea. The throbbing. The unrelenting irritation at every little nothing in my sight. It's migraine city over here, population 1, cause no one wants to hang out with a whiny asshole.

I'm exaggerating. My boyfriend's around and I have a few friends, but I do sometimes have to remind myself that if I want to keep them, I have to be nicer than my migraines would naturally incline me to be. Migraines make me impatient, short-tempered, pissy, sarcastic, and whiny. The last annoys even me, so I can't blame anyone else if they want to keep clear. I think it's the migraine in combination with hormones, because i also have my docile, grateful migraines, they just aren't what's happening right now, not at all. Oh yes, and i've also got the period of three women going on, so that's fun.

I got a form to fill out from ssdi, making sure I'm still disabled and all. Depending on how they receive my form they may decide to reopen my file, but I'm trying not to be too concerned because honestly, I'm still super disabled. I can barely leave the house, and when i do, it's non-functional pain and disorientation for days. If they do decide to look into my medical history and current state, no reasonable person would deem me able to job. The few hours I spend with the dogs once every week/month is the closest thing I got, and that is pretty damn taxing despite being the most convenient, flexible gig in existence.

I guess I still feel a little anxiety, despite all these reassurances I've got for myself. Who wouldn't?

And I think my depression is taking the form of apathy this month. The past two days I feel like I'm velcroed to my chair and I'm not interested in anything but zoning out on tv. And even that.

I'll get over it. Tomorrow is another day.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Layering Stink Upon Stink is Not The Answer

Whenever I see those febreeze commercials that feature blindfolded people in disgusting places remarking on the freshness of their environment, I imagine what would happen if I found myself somehow wrangled into one of those situations.

It would play out very differently than the commercials we see on tv. I'd be guided to the shipping crate full of feces that has been thoroughly drenched in febreeze, and unlike my companions, who will ooooh and aaaah over the fabric-softener scented wonderland they've found themselves in, I'll be coughing and holding my head for dear life while exclaiming things like, "Is this a febreeze commercial? JENKINS it stinks like perfume ass death in here!"

It's probably not the message they're looking for.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Invisible Woman

Content note: This post contains talk of depression, isolation, and suicidal urges.

I wrote a journal entry a few days ago that's hard to share, but is so relevant to my truth as a person who is chronically ill, I feel I have to. I'm having regular bouts of depression at the end of my periods again, and this last one was brief, less than a day, but intense.

Today, I'm considering suicide.

It's not the first time, and won't be the last. Because I'm not going to act on it. Not today. But I'm considering it.

I'm desperately lonely. I'm in pain all the time. I'm depressed and anxious, bored and frustrated. I miss having relationships, friends. I'm tired of this limiting, tortured life. I'm tired of wishing and wanting and hoping and dreaming, just to continue waking up to a nightmare.

I have this huge extended family, and I never hear from any of them. Their lives are going on as if I was never even there, and it's devastating every time I go on facebook. I used to have a crowd of friends, but they've all but disappeared too. I don't think anyone would miss me if I did kill myself, because no one seems to miss me now.

The uncertainty of tomorrow is no longer interesting to me because there is no uncertainty. I'll wake up, be in pain, will struggle, try and fail, and that's it. That's how it's been for the past 8 years. I don't want this life.

I wish so much that I had someone to reach out to. I wish so much I had someone to hug me and tell me it'll be ok.

But I don't.

This is what it's like being chronically ill. I've become invisible.

Since regaining my balance, I've taken steps to remedy some of the problems I mention. I've made a point of contacting friends I trust and I'm putting myself out there to make new ones online. I've asked for help getting mental health care and in seeing a naturopath, because I'm certain this problem is mostly hormonal and western medicine has failed me and my brutal periods completely.

So, I'm ok now. But I wasn't then, and in another month I won't be again, so I've got to get ahold of it before it gets ahold of me.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Struggle is Real

Every day for the past week, I've awakened with head pain. My neck and shoulders feel like I tried to lift an elephant, or perhaps a grand piano. I did neither, I have no idea why my muscles feel as if they've been wrenched and twisted like moorings in a hurricane. It's interfering with sleep, and the pain is going straight to my head, of course. Which isn't surprising, I swear toe pain goes straight to my head.

So, I'm plodding through my days right now. I go for my morning hike, but it's much slower than usual and it's the only thing I do some days. I'm nauseated all the time. I can't bend over, reach, or turn my head too quickly without feeling ill, faint, or confused. It's the usual low-level of symptoms, kicked up a notch or five. As a consequence, I'm not getting much done around the house. I might over-medicate later to get some dishes done. I'll likely pay for it, but I can't live in filth.

I got an Obamaphone. Despite being free, it is not awesome. I have no reception where I live, or anywhere within a several minute walk, so it's useless to my basically housebound self. My boyfriend is going to look into it, see if he can connect a phone of our choosing, or if they can send me something with decent reception. It's a hassle, but I'm hoping they are still working out the kinks because it's an awesome program for those of us who can't afford phones.

I'm considering school in the fall. I'm intimidated though because I don't have a great support system and really don't think I can handle it. This may be a self-confidence issue, because I certainly struggle with that, but it's also a reality of chronic migraines. I'm limited by my illness and there's only so much schools will accommodate. But, school's not going anywhere, and it's not like I'm not enriching myself in other ways, but my little brother and a friend of mine are both starting college in the fall and I am positively green with envy. I'm excited and happy for both of them, but still, so envious.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fitness and Fiche

I started using My Fitness Pal again.

I've put on a few more pounds than I'd prefer over the last several months. I never really stopped exercising, save for the usual amount of days when I couldn't manage it, so the weight gain is almost entirely diet-related.

I needed a reality check. I eat very healthfully most of the time, but when there are certain junk foods in the house, I simply can't resist. And once I've started, I can't always stop, not until they're gone. Additionally, policing my food intake can be tricky for me; as a person who lived with disordered eating for years, I don't know if I'll ever really be free of it. I am better at recognizing problem behavior sooner, ideally before it spirals out of control. And that is exactly why I stopped using My Fitness Pal when I did; it was starting to feel obsessive to me, and I recognized that I was not having the healthiest thoughts and behaviors as a result of my using what is actually a very helpful tool. I feel I'm now in a better place mentally, and I see clearly that I need a reminder of what it looks like to eat moderately and healthfully. So, I reinstalled it last week and started entering info immediately.

I'm already making better choices, knowing that I'll have to face the undeniable results on my smartphone later. I still have sweets and snacks, I still want a veggie burger every now and again, but not every day. I'm working on the emotional issues that are leading me to crave food my body doesn't need, and My Fitness Pal keeps me accountable until I can get my brain calibrated again. Eating like a grown up is hard, you guys, but I can do it.

In other food news, I made a fiche (fake quiche! I'm hilarious, right?) with tomatoes and green olives and it came out divine. I enjoy symmetry, so I had to take a photo of the completed fiche to share.

I have one piece left.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Consequences and Flowers

I spent several hours dog-sitting yesterday and boy am I paying for it.

I started feeling the consequences while I was still there. The sun was suddenly so blinding I couldn't keep my eyes open and they watered and stung until I moved to the shade. I was having brief dizzy spells. My nausea kicked up. I was yawning.

I kept it together until after I was back home, and I suspect that the walk downhill didn't help matters at all. Once home, I grew colder and colder, until I was in my robe and under a blanket and still feeling like my hands and feet were blocks of ice. The weather has cooled a little, but it's not at all cold enough for this reaction, which has continued into today. No, this is definitely a migraine chill.

Additionally, I'm exhausted and had a nightmare last night that my honey woke me from because I was yelling and thrashing. I'm so sore this morning, I feel like I was in a boxing match.

So, I'm taking it easy today, though I really want to get outside and garden. The boyfriend surprised me with a few sixers of annuals, and I can't wait to have a spot of color in our yard. We have some native flowers around; teeny, perfect wildflowers, gorgeous irises that grow in clumps and bloom in spurts, and wild roses that are incredibly delicate and lovely but flower so briefly it's easy to miss them entirely. Bright clumps of hardy, commercially created flowers is just what I need right now. I think I will go putter out there for a while. If I wear a hat, and keep warm, and don't strain myself too much, I think it could be a good time.

Update: It was.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Peaches and Choices

My food has been repetitive and processed. Don't judge me.

I have started eating greens from my little garden, so that's new and exciting, but otherwise, it's been basics like quiche, chili, potatoes, brown rice, far too many delicious vegan junk foods, and - oh yeah - fruuuuuit.

ALL the produce is coming into season around here and I'm so here for it. I've been living for grapes and pears lately, but that's about to expand into the wonderful world of stone fruits! Bring on the peaches! And I've decided that this summer it's going to be required to have watermelon in the house at all times.

Now that I can eat soy again, I've been going a little wild with it. I forgot how good veggie burgers could be, and the veggie dogs! I'm just a sucker for anything I can slather in mustard and ketchup. I've been making pizza pretty frequently too, and while I usually completely bury the crust in a mound of roasted veggies, I'm noticing I really am a starch junkie, and I've been thinking about how to reduce the wheat and sugar in my diet, while still being a happy person. I know from getting off addictive foods; five years ago I never would have believed I could cut the cheese (heh) because lactose had its hooks firmly in my brain, but after only a week or so off it, I felt much better and lost 99% of the cravings. Cheese really is overrated! (don't tell cashew cheese I said that, I didn't mean it, I love you) So, I hope I'd feel the same way about those refined sugars after a short time? Maybe?

However, I've been having some IC twinges lately, which means this liberal diet does not get to stay as free-wheeling as it's been. But in moderation, I seem to be able to eat just about anything! I still haven't tried any real quantity of citrus or other acidic foods at a time, but I've gotten real brave with the soy and spices, and the repercussions have been very mild thus far. My aim is to keep it that way.

In other health news, I was strongly considering getting an IUD to deal with my heavy periods, even though it releases progestin, the same hormone that gave me such a terrible IC flare several months ago when I tried the pill for like four days. My doctor thinks it will be ok, but I really don't, and many other women on forums report adverse IC effects, so I believe them and choose not to risk subjecting myself to that pain. At least for now. I've been slowly regaining the ability to live after my last flare, I'm not even trying to test myself again. And by that I mean I had suicidal thoughts and was existing in such a constant state of panicked survival, it took months after the pain was over for me to not scrutinize everything I ate obsessively, or to feel fear when I felt the urge to urinate. I need to feel normalish for a while before I try something that might shatter it all to bits. I've still got the migraines and intense periods anyway, so it's not like I'm getting comfy over here or anything.

Anyway, I can't wait for the peaches. I can almost smell them now.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Acupuncture! Finally!

I was referred to an acupuncture clinic put on by a local school. And I went!

The place was awesome; it's called Five Branches, and I found both the administrative staff and my acupuncturist to be helpful, knowledgeable, and totally unscented.

The acupuncturist was an intern, a week from graduation. We talked about my health for a while, he took my pulses, looked at my tongue, then stuck some needles in me. I wasn't nervous until he was prepping the needles and rubbing alcohol on various points of my body. I asked him if he would warn me before sticking me and unlike the dentist of surprise sticks I visited recently, he readily agreed and very respectfully gave me plenty of warning for each insertion. It was a breeze, really. I felt a few of the pricks when they first went in (heh), but they hurt much less than when I jab myself with a sewing needle. And then he had me lay there for a while, so I tried to relax and every now and again peeked at the long, thin needles sticking out of my hands, feet, and stomach. If I'd had a mirror available, I could have seen the crown of needles on my head, but alas, the room was mirrorless.

He came back in and popped the needles out and I was on my way. He recommended I come once a week, or as often as possible. I hope to be able to make it that frequently, but getting off our mountain isn't so easy for me. Why no in-home acupuncture Five Branches? In fact, why no in-home medical care for everyone who needs it? Y NO?

State and federally provided health insurance don't cover acupuncture, so we're paying out of pocket. The clinic does offer a good discount for those of us on Medicare though, so that's a bright spot. Also, the clinic was nicely lit, and there was a sign in the lobby asking patients to refrain from wearing fragrances. I love those signs!

I haven't seen any definitive difference yet, but I really wouldn't expect to after only one visit. I'm so glad to be finally trying acupuncture! It's such a controversial field of study, I can't help but be intrigued by whether I'll see any changes. I'll definitely be updating as far as further appointments and results.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Gooeyness, Creamyness, Deliciousness, and a Rant

A vegan equivalent to eggs benedict isn't just a fantasy. It's real, and it's delicious.

I made another quiche this morning. This time I didn't have any artichoke hearts and not a whole lot of spinach, so I was forced to branch out. Besides the small amount of spinach I did have, I ended up adding some well-chopped broccoli, cauliflower, yellow carrot, and a few heaping tablespoons of fake parmesan. Now, when the quiche first comes out of the oven, it's super creamy and thick, and reminds me of a hollandaise sauce. That's where the benedict inspiration strikes. Hungry for lunch, and unwilling to wait the time it can take for the quiche to completely cool and set, I ran with it.

I had some apple-smoked fake sausage in the fridge that I cut into slices lengthwise and laid across half a piece of naan. I broiled this until it was warm and crispy, then smeared some fresh-from-the-oven still-gooey quiche over the top of it and broiled for a few more minutes.

It didn't taste a whole lot like traditional eggs benedict, but the mouthfeel was creamy and the flavor was savory and salty in the most perfect way. Mm.

I would also like to share my recent pinto bean revelation. I like to make them from dried when I can, but wondered why my beans never came out as nice as canned. The texture was never quite creamy, they would go from hard, to soft and a little grainy, to mushy. I had a different experience altogether the last time I made them, though, and let me tell you what I did. I soaked the dried beans overnight in cold, salted water. I did not boil the water, and I did not rinse the beans after soaking. I cooked them the next day until they were soft. They came out perfectly cooked, with the skins nicely intact, and the loveliest creamy texture, even nicer than canned.

Now please allow me a moment of complaint. Yesterday, I shared my dinner plans with a neighbor and he got super rude. It went like this:

Me: We're grilling hot dogs tonight! I've got an urge for a chili-cheese dog and we got all the ingredients vegan! I'm excited!

Him: Oh. (face-making)

Me: It'll be good!

Him: That's an oxymoron.

Me: What is?

Him: "Good" and "vegan". Those don't go together in a sentence.

Me: Aw, don't be closed-minded! That's sad!

I was trying to stay jovial about it, but it still devolved into him calling vegans rude and angry, and me saying I've met way more rude meat-eaters than vegans (CASE IN POINT), to which he replied that he was happy for me??? Which I guess is sarcastic, but I'm too old to give a fuck frankly, so I gave up and let the other meat-eaters nearby (who had heard this bizarre exchange) school him for me. And later that evening, one of them tried a vegan chili-cheese dog and proclaimed it delicious! SO I WIN! :D

I'm proud of my mostly vegan diet; I don't hide my preference for avoiding animal products, and I can get excited when I tell someone about some tasty dish I made entirely from plants that I perhaps could not have even conceived of in my pre-vegan days. It's a thing that makes me happier. Now, I don't shame others for consuming animal products (I'm only mostly-vegan myself, anyway) or intrusively inform people about my morals regarding their diet, but it sometimes seems like an impossible request to ask some meat-eaters to give me the same respect. I got comments as a vegetarian, but now that I am rejecting the cheese and ice cream, it is really being taken personally.

Happily, there are so many more people who don't make weird comments, who don't make fun of me, who ask perfectly polite questions or who simply ignore our dietary differences, because it's no one's business but our own what we eat, amirite? Those people are delightful, and if you are one of those people, we should be friends.


Friday, April 17, 2015

The Dentist

I went to the dentist and it was awful.

I've been putting of the dentist for years. Too many years, it seems, because I have quite a few cavities. Many people I've spoken with recently say that going to the dentist is torture, and I would agree, but I very much want to challenge these people get their cavities filled with a migraine. My dentist had to stop after one filling because my shaking and crying was making it difficult for her to work. For the record, I would have withstood at least one more, but I can't help my body's reaction to extreme pain. I was recommended to sedation dentistry, but I don't know how much that costs, or if denti-cal will cover it. I believe firmly that they should, but what's right and what's covered aren't at all the same things.

The dentist could have done a few things to improve my experience. I told them I was nervous because I had a migraine and that I was somewhat needle-phobic. I asked the doctor to warn me before she stuck me. She didn't. Instead, she told me to close my eyes, then poked me repeatedly while grabbing my cheek hard and speaking to me in a soft, gentle voice. That last part was fine, actually, but without any warning, I couldn't help but feel frightened by the surprise needle in my mouth. Despite my best efforts at remaining calm, I could only take four stabs before I started panicking.

If she had warned me before starting, or counted down the number and the durations of each stick, I honestly think I could have dealt with it easily by breathing and forcing my muscles to relax. This has worked pretty well for me in the past, and as long as I felt I could trust the person doing this awful thing to me (ie blood draws, pap smears, vaccinations) I would get through it with minimal tears and we'd all part friends. But by ignoring my simple requests, she obliterated any natural trust I might have had; and even after my initial, very evident panic, she totally dismissed my repeated pleas for warning of what she was going to do in my mouth. She insisted it would make me MORE fearful, and I would tense up MORE at her warnings. I couldn't get her to listen. She made it clear I couldn't trust her, and I couldn't relax.

She came back a while later, after the novocaine had kicked in, and started work. As I already mentioned, there was shaking and crying. I don't know if I can explain what it feels like to have a drill grinding in my tooth with a migraine. The dentist tried to stop early on, said we should reschedule for when I don't have a migraine. With tears streaming down my face, I sobbed that I ALWAYS have a migraine, it would never go away, and if she could do the work, I could take it. Then I put my head back and opened my mouth, ready for the torture. She finished the one cavity she'd started, then disappeared into another part of the building, probably to drink herself into a stupor.

The poor thing had spent most of my polishing and prep telling me about how far dentistry had come, and how the needles are the worst part. I had tried to tell her that wasn't my real issue, but I don't think she was at all prepared for how intense it would get. While she worked, she tried soothing me with that soft voice again, and it was rather nice, "You're doing great, darling, we're almost done." Near the end, even softer than her other reassurances, she said once, "You are a very strong woman." At the time, if I could have laughed, I would have. I didn't feel strong, not even an iota. I was a complete wreck and wasn't aware of a thing except the impossible pain coming from my head, my boyfriend's hand in mine, and her voice. But looking back, I am a fucking badass. Who willingly lays back and allows an unpredictable stabber to inflict pain at a level beyond explanation? Me. At the time I thought the dentist was patronizing me, but in hindsight, I think she meant it.

But yeah, sedation dentistry. It's another ball of worries, but I think it's the better option for me, and for my poor dentist.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Food Photos

I hate my current cameras. I have a point and shoot and the camera on my smartphone and both are just terrible. There is hope for the future of my photography hobby, but for now, we will enjoy the best I can do. Which is a little blurry.

I snapped a shot of one of my macro bowls.

Except it's a macro plate, I guess. This one is pretty kale heavy, but excessive garlic powder and those seared mushrooms cover any bitterness nicely. Also featuring brown rice and chickpeas.

I was so proud of this pizza, I joyfully took a before-cooking pic:

but then I ate it before it occurred to take an after shot. It was gorgeous, and tasted incredible. Under those portabello mushroom slices is a layer of savory pesto. This dish is one of those that saved me during my intense IC diet, and I'm just so happy I live in a world where just a handful of ingredients can transport my heart to a place of bliss. I mean, portabellos and pesto. There is no happier combination.

I've got a wee garden going in our yard!

I've already had to do some pest control, and I'm afraid the deer are going to trample our pathetic fence as soon as they notice those fresh, tender baby greens, but I'm also hopeful for a summer filled with fresh kale and chard, and maybe more if we get our butts in gear on raised beds.

We also have an accidental potato patch in the compost bin.

I knew this would happen when I tossed green potatoes in there, I don't keep it nearly hot enough to kill the sprouts. The plants aren't growing a whole lot of potatoes so far, there isn't much sun where they are, but it's pretty amazing to watch them try.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Chickpeas Mostly, But Also: Hot Dogs and Cheeze

Vegan quiche remains half my diet.

I exaggerate, but I have been eating a piece every morning. Scrambled like eggs, on top of toast, or most recently, sandwiched with some daiya cheddar on a biscuit. They were totally reminiscent of McDonald's breakfast sandwiches, but way better. They were so good, it was painful to finish them. The biscuits weren't vegan, so it's not something I want to eat often. I need to find vegan biscuits.

Speaking of vegan junk food, I've got the biggest craving for hot dogs! I'm going to get some veggie ones and indulge the craving, since it doesn't come around often. I missed being able to eat soy, it gives me so many more options. I'm really looking forward to a chili dog with cheeze, but I've never met a hot dog topping I didn't like. It's gonna be a party.

Not being able to eat soy did introduce me to Quorn, so I guess there was a bright side. I adore their chicken bites. Most recently, I used them to make ramen a legit meal, with the help of some chopped bok choy.

The last Whole Foods I went in had Miyoko's, that cashew cheese I'm always raving about (occasionally here, constantly irl). That's my favorite snack right now, eaten with an apple or a pear, the smoked farmhouse is simply heaven.

I made an accidental hummus dressing today. I meant to make regular hummus, but neglected to strain the canned chickpeas before dumping them in the processor. The extra liquid made it way runnier than is appropriate, so I went the salad dressing route with it. I've got two heads of green leaf I need to use up, so I grabbed a bunch of leaves off one of them and peeled a few carrots, tossed it in the dressing (which was 1 can of chickpeas and their water, some peanut butter, pesto, and lemongrass (i'm still a little afraid of citrus)). I wasn't feeling like having a salad plain, so I wrapped it all up in a tortilla! I love salad burritos!

I made asparagus with dill, lemongrass, and garlic powder for dinner tonight. And I scooped some vegan quiche on top of it! No wait, hear me out. The quiche was fresh from the oven, and before it cools, it's very rich and creamy and runny, so eating it with the asparagus was almost like a chunky veggie hollandaise sauce. OMG I need to make a vegan eggs benedict pronto.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hiking with a Migraine: I Recommend Not

Had my first truly disabling migraine while hiking alone, and while it didn't last long and I made it home fine, it was a harsh reminder of how badly things can go.

It was a new trail, I'd only been on it once before and I'd been pretty distracted by dogs and conversation so I didn't quite remember the terrain accurately, so it was steeper than I'd anticipated.

The sudden, sharp pain was bad enough to make me worry about being alone in the forest, but brief enough that I kept going without thinking about it too hard. I was far enough out that no one I knew would hear me if I yelled (and we don't always know who else is hanging out in these woods) so I wanted to get as close as I could to my people before the migraine decided if it was coming back and if so, how hard. The path was very clear, for that I was grateful because at the first possible fork, I had to stop and think for a frightening moment, my brain refused to remember going up the hill I was faced with. Luckily, the old synapses weren't totally migraine-fried as it was only a few seconds of uncertainty before I recalled: of course I didn't hike up the hill on my out, I'd hiked down it. "What goes down must go up," I reassured myself as I started the climb. My head didn't like it, protested every footfall that seemed to echo from my feet to my eyeballs, but I made it home without further incident and decided that I wouldn't be traveling any more unfamiliar trails unless I KNEW I was well enough.

Unfortunately, that resolution only lasted a week before I found myself traversing an old logging road on a bad day. So it goes: I walk the dogs, we wander, I see something that piques my curiosity and shortly thereafter I'm kind of wishing I wasn't so damn curious all the time. At least satisfaction keeps bringing me back!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Enchilasagna, Pot Pie, and a Very Tasty Burrito

Today I felt like using some glass baking pans, so I did.

I love enchiladas and I've been making some variation on them for years. Of course, I never follow a recipe, and they come out different every time, especially now that my diet is such a careful thing. I'm still slowly introducing IC trigger foods, but haven't been brave at all about acids or chilis yet, so these enchiladas are rather mild. And I was feeling too lazy to wrap, so they became more of a enchi-lasagna for all the layers, and yeah. Improvisation is the most essential ingredient in my kitchen.

I lined a large glass baking dish with corn tortillas and some bell pepper sauce I made with my little chopper. Over that, I spread a bean and corn mixture I whipped up with three cans of different beans, a can of corn, and herbs and spices to taste; salt, chili powder, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and a touch of cumin and cinnamon. Over that, another layer of tortillas, another of sauce, then beans, more tortillas, and the last of the sauce. Bake at 400 until bubbly, about half an hour.

At the same time, I used the last pie crust in my freezer and made some pot pies. First, I roasted the vegetables for premium flavor (I used a frozen medley of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower). Once done, I chop the veg and mix them with some salt, pepper, sage, basil, flour, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. Toss that in a baking dish with a 1/4 cup of veggie broth, cover with pie crust, poke it and bake at 425 for twenty minutes. Then, cover and bake for another ten or so, til it's all brown and bubbly. I normally make a gravy for the filling, but again, lazy. It's good without!

You may notice more spices being added to my foods! I certainly do! Still, small amounts, in moderation, but I'm so excited to be eating a little more freely.

Hilariously, after making all that, I was super in the mood for leftovers for dinner. It was a roasted chickpea burrito with cabbage, bell peppers, and pesto brown rice. It felt a little boring as it was, so after I wrapped it up, I fried it in a cooking-sprayed pan, turning so all sides went brown and crispy.

Anybody like these posts? I'm enjoying writing about my food, and hopefully with practice I'll get better at it, but any suggestions? Requests? You can always email me at if you aren't a commenting kind of kid but have thoughts to share.

Happy Eating!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Best

I love being outside.

I ventured out from under the redwood canopy for a few hours today, felt the sun on my skin, got a little sweat on, hiked some hills that made me proud of the regular exercise I've been putting in, and enjoyed meandering a really lovely, overgrown, occasionally precarious mountain trail with my dogs.

Regaining my physical fitness has been a huge challenge, and the freedom I felt today was the best reward I could imagine. Besides a billion dollars. That would be the best best, but physical stamina and agility are a close second.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lentil Loaf Memories and Spinach Dreams

That quiche.

I reheated it for breakfast this morning, a spinach and artichoke one, and served warm over toast; it's nearly passable for scrambled eggs and I was in heaven.

For lunch, I made potato wedges and warmed up some pea soup with coconut milk. I can't mess with perfection.

Dinner was brussels sprouts, halved and roasted, lentil loaf, and cheezy nooched-up brown rice. I love lentil loaves, they remind me of dinner at my grandma's house as a kid (but that was meatloaf). I would beg for more ketchup-glaze and nothing was better. Except maybe spaghettios. Or mac and cheese with hot dogs. Those childish taste buds are something, aren't they?

So I made two lentil loafs with two cups of lentils already cooked with a bay leaf, a big jar of homemade tomato sauce (so far, no IC reaction! This is extremely exciting!), cumin, molasses, liquid smoke, garlic powder, a little ketchup, and a large handful or so of oatmeal. It smelled like baked beans as it simmered on the stove. I mashed the lentils and tomato sauce chunks about halfway, then poured the whole lot into some loaf pans. I cooked them in the oven at 400 for about an hour to get a nice crust started, then smeared the top of one with ketchup (for old times' sake) and put them back in at 350 for another hour until they were firm.

I'm always looking for new ways to make greens and an idea occurred to me today that made me salivate in anticipation. Creamed spinach, with coconut milk. I mentioned it to my boyfriend and he immediately started talking about cream of spinach soup with coconut milk, which is not the same thing, but also: YUM. So, that's going to happen for sure.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Homeopathy and Supplements

I've got a small cache of homeopathic treatments that I've been sitting on.

Some of these products I've been collecting are clearly junk and some of them I used a few times without any obvious results, so I put them away one day and forgot about them completely for months, sometimes years. Much of this collection was part of a care package the lovely Jessica at Painfully Speaking sent to me, so many moons ago. I used some of her gifts immediately and completely, and others... got dusty in the bin. But all that is changing right now. I received a new supplement to sample, and the ingredients list looks no more remarkable than my multivitamin, but I'm going to give it an enthusiastic try because why not. I can't help but doubt that it will do anything miraculous for me, but because that feeling of amused skepticism reminded me of that dusty little homeopathy bin in my nightstand, I'm also going to spend the month using every single one of these until they are gone. Let the woo begin!

Day 1 - I started taking HCF Happy, Calm, Focused pills. (My full review is at the bottom of the post). I used Head Clear on my temples, and three Migraide pills every hour for three hours. Nothing did anything, but it was distracting.

Day 2 - I'm having a lot of muscle tension in my neck and back. I stuck an Aculief on each hand and felt a small amount of relief. I actually like these, but at over $30 with shipping, if I hadn't received mine from Heather at War on Headaches, I never would have tried them. Call me cheap, but I can always squeeze my own hand for free.

Day 3 - Discovered a hot spot on my dog, my ensuing minor freak-out called for a dose of 911 Stress Control Spray. Just moving to get the spray made me feel more in control, which I think is common for *minor* stress and anxiety. Once you make the choice to feel better, you start feeling somewhat better.

Day 5 - Again, used the stress spray and again noted that the very thought of using it calmed me down. This is really useful information and makes me think I need to be better about self-soothing rituals in general. I've been using the supplements for a few days now, and so far, I see no difference, though I do get to practice a pill-swallowing technique I just learned. If it's a tablet, swallow with your chin up, but if it's a capsule - because they float - swallow with your chin down. These are capsules, and I can't tell you how many times I've gagged on them in the past, but now I have no issues!

Day 8 - I've got a stubborn headache; not my worst ever, just persistent. So, I'm using everything today. I've got an aculief on each hand, I'm popping Migraide every hour, spraying anti-stress spray whenever I start feeling anxious or irrationally angry, and I started out with just a little head clear on my temples but cracked the roll-top open and have escalated to smearing it all over my neck and shoulders. Aaaahhh minty. Unfortunately, the aculiefs only lasted five minutes before they became excruciating, a problem I have on my allodynia days. Nothing else seemed to effect the migraine, but again, the process of administering all these treatments to myself was sort of soothing on its own. The migraine lasted a few more days, eventually petering itself out overnight long after I ran out of Migraide.

Day 13 - I still like the aculiefs, but their claim that you can wear them during normal activities is a bit of a stretch. Because these things don't. Stretch. And when they do, they don't relapse quickly enough to keep them from popping off every time I use my hands for anything.

Day 11 - So the headache oil officially does nothing for me, but I'm using it until it's gone because i like the minty-lavender smell.

Day 15 - I can't tolerate the aculiefs at all right now, I'm so tender. I don't normally have trouble sleeping - in fact I'm nodding off at 9 pm every night - so I hadn't had a chance to try these homeopathic lozenges for better sleep called Moon Drops. Oddly, it was the only night all month that I woke up suddenly in the wee hours, feeling physically restless and anxious, though I did fall back to sleep quickly.

Day 18 - My boyfriend was nervous for surgery so I made him use the Stress Control spray and he scoffed, but used it and then stopped complaining about being nervous, so hmmm.

Day 20 - The really nice thing about the Head Clear is that is doesn't make me break out, like so many commercial products do. It's a lovely massage oil, and I'll likely refill it with my own diy version when it's gone because I love the smell. I miss scented products, so I can't help to indulge when I find something I can tolerate.

Day 21 - Used the moon drops again last night, I was amped up from a long day and evening with friends and couldn't relax enough to sleep. Like, it was 2 am and I was scrolling compulsively through tumblr as if I hadn't already absorbed possible every meme and otp into my eyeballs six times. But it finally occurred to me to take one and I forced myself to lay down with Jumbline (an anagram game for smartphones, i love it), and was asleep within half an hour.

Day 25 - I'm disappointed that I'm not feeling a difference with the capsules, and I feel silly for feeling disappointed. Per my limited searching, the amino acids in HCF could be very beneficial to a person, but I think that person needs to be deficient in those amino acids for it to matter.

And the rest of the month was uneventful. Here's the supplement review, which I also posted on Amazon.

HCF Happy, Calm, Focused contains a variety of minerals, B vitamins, and amino acids. The two amino acids, DL-Phenylalanine and L-Glutamine, do reputedly have restorative properties, but have not been proven in clinical settings.

I tried HCF for a month; three pills every morning, half an hour before breakfast. I don't normally have a problem with pills, but these capsules were determined to float and nearly every time I took them I felt like they'd lodged in my chest. It was only after I'd eat (at least half an hour later) that the feeling would go away. I normally take a multivitamin, but I replaced it with HCF for the month, though I still took an iron pill daily, because I'm anemic. I noticed no changes in mood, nor in my concentration. If anything, my chronic migraines have been worse. I do recommend vitamins to anyone who has a vitamin deficiency, or even if they just make you feel more secure in your health, but I can't recommend HCF. It's not a complete multivitamin, it's not USP verified, at 30 bucks per bottle it's more costly than equivalent supplements, and ultimately, I saw no changes in my mood or concentration.

I was given a free bottle of HCF to try, in exchange for this review, and I've been advised that I'll receive another once the review is posted. With that bottle, I'll try a higher dose, and I'll report back any significant findings.

All in all, this was not the worst experiment ever. There were no side effects, and that stress spray actually has a pretty good record! I'll continue to use the products I didn't finish and will update if anything interesting happens.

Ever onward!

As always, my opinions are my own and can never be bought. I've provided links to the products I tried but I don't receive any compensation if you click them or buy the products. I just thought a reference would be helpful since I didn't want to take my own pictures.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Soup, Broth, and Dog Food

I made potato and leek soup today. It is super hard to mess up!

I had two leeks in the fridge, so away I went. I cleaned them via the chopping and soaking method, but I still got some grit in the soup (not the worst thing ever, but annoying), so I'm going to look for another leek-cleaning method for next time. Suggestions welcome! So, sautee two leeks 10 to 20 minutes or until they're soft. Add to that 4-6 gold potatoes that have been chopped into manageable chunks, some garlic powder, a little chili powder, dill, sea salt, and 2-4 cups of broth or water. Bring all that to a boil, then simmer on low-med for 45 minutes. Add most of a can of coconut milk, and season to taste. I'm eating it for dinner tonight over brown rice and I'm a little jealous of future me right now.

I'm making a batch of veggie broth today. Which means I empty the plastic baggies I keep in the freezer of their veggie scrap stash and boil it all up in my biggest pot. I've got leftover bits from mushrooms, kale, bell peppers, chard, and there may be a rosemary stem or two in there too. I simmer it for hours, until the liquid is at least a rich gold, then strain and jar it. If the veggies still have some life in them, I add more water and do it again. I freeze the broth in jars, and in cubes.

I'm also making a batch of dog food today. We do buy kibble, the best we can afford, and we stretch that purchase by cutting it with homemade food. The recipe varies, but it couldn't be simpler: I chop up a couple carrots or squash or other dog-compatible vegetables and toss them in my rice cooker with some brown rice and lentils and double the normal amount of water. If my boyfriend has some meat prepped, I'll add that to the pot, too. I really like making this in the rice cooker because I can plug it in outside if it's too hot to cook indoors, or too cold to open to windows to let the moisture out. Cooking this outside is also appealing because I am free to enjoy the reactions of the neighbors who have commented on the tasty food smells. I gleefully tell them that it's dog food their mouths are watering for and their faces are priceless! Of course, it's all perfectly good for human consumption, but I let them sit with it for a minute before I share that.

Ain't I a stinker?


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Menstruation Motivation

So now I'm chronically anemic.

Two periods ago, I thought I might die. It was day three, the day when things usually start slowing down, but instead, there were unexpected cramps wrenching my gut and it seemed that every time I moved a flood escaped my body. We were prepping to leave for the emergency room. I was passing huge clots, I was nauseated and dizzy and shaking uncontrollably. When it stopped suddenly, I was relieved, but there's been a knot of fear in my chest ever since. My periods have been increasing in their intensity for years, but this wasn't safe, and it was very, very scary.

I finally saw a gyno, and despite the awful IC flare the progestin pill triggered several months ago, she recommended trying an IUD, which also releases progestin, but hopefully at a low enough dose not to anger the renal gods. I'm desperate not to die of blood loss, so I tentatively agreed to consider it. It's not a definite possibility for me yet, because I need to get an ultrasound to check for fibroids, but if that goes well, I may just be scheduling an implantation.

In the mean time, I'm controlling the anemia with iron pills, which take me out of dangerously anemic country and land me squarely in acute town. So, that's better at least.

I'm nervous about the IUD for more than the IC worries though. I'm not looking forward to the first three months, which are supposed to be much worse in terms of bleeding and regularity. But theoretically, after the initial adjustment, my period should be reduced to something barely noticeable.

That would change my life. Or at least, one week of every month of my life.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Chickpea, Pinto, Lentil, Pea: There's a Theme Here, I Can Feel It

This post features more pea soup. Because it is delicious.

That vegan quiche haunts me, so I made another one today, this time with two heads of roasted broccoli, a ton of oregano, nooch (nutritional yeast), salt, garlic powder, and I tried crumbling a little of that cashew gouda into the hot batter, but I didn't plan it out (should have melted the gouda by itself first), and i didn't want to use too much (i'm rationing my cashew cheese, what?), so it's kind of unnoticeable until you get a lucky bite. Still delicious!

Then for lunch I had chili. I grabbed a lentil loaf out of the fridge (it came out delicious, but I just wasn't feeling the thanksgiving vibe of it. Sometimes I'm not in the mood for a loaf, is that wrong?) and I crumbled it up into a pot with about two cups of pinto beans, a little broth and just a touch of cinnamon. I've been tolerating very small amounts of spices, and cinnamon adds a lot to a dish like this. Luckily, a little goes a very long way. I quickly mashed the beans and let it simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently.

I toasted some corn chips to go with the chili, and they were a really nice accompaniment. To make the chips, I cut up some corn tortillas into wedges, laid them on a greased cookie sheet, sprayed them with a little spray oil, salt, and broiled them for a few minutes, until most of them were nicely browned and crispy. They don't come out like store-bought, they're heavier and chewier, but I like them, especially as a chili-delivery mechanism.

A little pea soup again for dinner, with a few heaping tablespoons of coconut milk mixed in and a few tortilla chips crumbled over the top. This wasn't terribly filling on its own so I whipped up a quick batch of potato wedges to go with it. I love potatoes, they're so versatile and easy to work with. I used russets this time, and they were salty and crispy and soft and delightful.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Coping, Not Hoping

My periods have become frightening, and as my latest cycle started, I tried to calm my constitution as well as I could.

To feel more prepared, I spent the first day making menstrual pads from ill-fitting flannel pajamas. It did make me feel better, a little more in control, and now I have several more cloth pads. I love win-wins.

That night I had a vivid dream of nursing my newborn baby. When I woke up, I told my boyfriend about the dream and he asked if the baby was a boy or a girl. I don't know, I said, it didn't matter. I was shattered by the dream, felt absolutely mournful for the baby that was never mine. I curled back up under the covers and cried.

I'm too sick to have babies. My head likes to torture me, and now my uterus might be trying to kill me; but that remains to be seen, it might just be aiming to for grave illness. Actually, my symptoms did improve a bit with the iron supplements and other remedies I threw at it, so that gives me optimism that I won't bleed out before I can get some help from a gyno, at least.

And my migraines have gotten really sharp lately, which may also be period related. I do pretty well coping with the dull and throbbing, but the sharp migraines are a whole other thing. They can easily render me fetal, or turn me into a pacing, panicking ball of distress. I'm keeping the anxiety at bay pretty well though, with various snake oils I've collected over the years, and with meditative techniques. I looked like a woman in labor the other day, I was bent over the bed, rocking and moaning as the pain closed my eyes and brought my head to the sheet. It felt better to move my body as I rested; I can't seem to keep still when these sharp spikes hit, plus I was sort of stretching my back as I rocked. But it was only intermittent rocking, because the nausea shows up for every single one of these parties lately.

However, the cyclical depression I've been experiencing seems to have faded over the last two months, and I'm not sure what I'm doing differently, but I'm relieved for the break.

The IC seems to be under control, I've tolerated moderate amounts of spices and small amounts of acids. I'm definitely still taking it slow, because I really don't want to lose this progress. I can go out to eat again! It feels like a miracle, to have this much freedom in food. Taking the citrus slowly doesn't bother me at all, I'm too busy relishing the lack of urethral pain.

But still, I'm too sick to have babies. That dream really brought it all front and center and it feels like every conversation ends with that conclusion, even if we started at what produce should we get at the store.

If I had more support. My partner is not available for full-time parenting and I can't imagine a financial situation in which he would be. I don't have any family or friends that would be up to co-parenting with me. And dogs are about all I can handle on my own, and let's be real, I need help with them on my bad days, too.

Wanting a child is selfish, sure, but it's also a biological imperative that is difficult to ignore, logic withstanding. If there was a positive trade-off it might be easier, a great career or loads of traveling, but no, just me and my sick.

There's always hope for the future, but I find it difficult to live with hope, at least not too much of it. Hoping can lead to waiting, and of course to major disappointment and maybe sometimes to wish fulfillment, but we chronic migraine people tend to have this for a short while or forever, especially when we're medication resistant, so hope is a thing with feathers that I'd shoot down if I wasn't a vegan.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Precious Privacy

I've really had to detach from facebook, because reading my newsfeed makes me mad and sad and jealous, and I really don't like feeling like that.

I suspect it's a common problem among those of us that are sick, or poor, or both. We have friends who are more able - physically, emotionally, financially - to live life in a way that seems ideal. They post pictures of their family outings, of dinners with friends, of their children's milestones. They write status updates about their day at work, their new hair color, or where they might go for their next vacation.

Don't get me wrong, I may be a little jealous at times, but I truly am happy for them, want them to live their lives, and would never want anyone else to censor their joy because I'm struggling. But it can be hard to be as pragmatic and logical in the moment when I'm stuck in my chair and painfully envious of the pregnancies and holidays and parties other people are cheerfully uploading.

Myself, I don't post much at all. I feel very scrutinized by people in my family who think I'm just lazy, or something to that effect. I don't know the details of their assumptions, and I definitely don't care to, I just know the vibe I get when I'm around them and how little support I receive. My good times are precious, so precious, and rare lately, and I don't want the comments, or non-comments, to diminish whatever happiness I might have surrounding a photo or thought. So, I keep my pictures and my thoughts private, share them with the few people I know who truly do care, and live my life a happier person.

That sounds so bitter! I would think I was bitter, reading that. Maybe I am. I actually feel a rant about what family means building so I'll take that as confirmation and wrap this up before twelve paragraphs have gone by and it's dark and I haven't eaten in six hours.

I think I also avoid facebook because I don't feel I can be myself. I complain about migraines and detail the awful bits here without guilt, but I can't bring myself to be honest with my friends and family the same way. While they are getting married, going to football games, and vacationing in Disneyland, I'm likely nursing my head and pushing myself to the limit to get a few loads of laundry done. It's not an optimal experience, and I choose not to frame my life through the lens of inspiration-porn, so it's honest or bust. And who wants honest? Really? I think I've found the one man and five friends who do, but no one else wants to hear my sad stories without apologizing to me or blaming me for it.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coconut Milk, Maple Syrup, and Pesto: The Important Things in Life

Mmmm rice and beans. Or are chickpeas peas? No, they're definitely beans. Beans that are called peas. That's not confusing at all!

Breakfast was a macro bowl! I wasn't feeling the tortilla this morning, so I went wild with the fillers and ate it straight out of a bowl, with a twist. Sauteed some mushrooms until they start to look seared, then added chickpeas, brown rice, pre-cooked bell peppers, and raw kale, seasoned it with salt and garlic powder. When the kale was done - brighter green and wilted - I finished it off with several tablespoons of coconut milk. This is creamy, savory wonderfulness, is what this is, and in about ten minutes.

I had an urge for pancakes for lunch. It's not a frequent event, but I definitely enjoy a stack on occasion. I don't know where I got this recipe, it's so simple I've had it memorized for ages, and I'm normally terrible at anything involving leaveners, but these pancakes always comes out great for me, despite my total inability to measure ingredients properly. So, prep a cup of whatever nut milk you like (I'm using soy and my urethra isn't screaming!), add a couple teaspoons of vinegar and whisk it together. Then, combine a cup of flour, 1/2 cup of brown sugar (we don't have white rn), and a couple of teaspoons of baking soda. Always mix the dry ingredients completely, the wet completely, then mix them together. The batter should be the standard pancake viscosity (thick-runny) and you should cook according to your common pancake procedures. I go for a med-high cooking-sprayed griddle, and don't flip the pancakes until the bubbles have popped. Eat with your topping of choice. I like them with maple syrup, and a lot of it.

Dinner was chickpea quiche on homemade bread. The quiche I made this week features spinach, artichoke hearts and pesto, and I've made this particular combination three times now, it's spectacular.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

I feel like I'm always playing catch-up lately.

The migraines have been at a constant low-level thrum, despite how much sleep I get or how easy I take things. I'm tired all the time, and unmotivated. I'm irritable, but not so that I feel depressed, more cranky from feeling crappy.

Our dishwasher died a few months ago, and while I'm doing a good job keeping up with hand-washing the dishes, however the kitchen floor hasn't been properly cleaned in a very, very long time.

Vacuuming too, we've got half the forest in the carpet and I just can't summon the energy for all the bending and moving of furniture and the noise.

My boyfriend put some time into the house yesterday, sorted out a bunch of things that were leaving me stuck, so there's progress being made, it's just not me who's making it.

I've been really good about getting the dogs exercise, which means I get as much exercise as I can take, every day. That sounds impressive until you know I can only go hard for about thirty minutes without dire consequences, but my slow and steady stamina continues to improve.

My period's coming and last month's was a little scary, so I'm taking all the precautions I can to make sure I'm not anemic and am as healthy as I can be going into it. I've been taking iron pills all month, have been eating tons and tons of produce, and am planning to use ibuprofen around the clock for the first five days. I've also got some raspberry leaf tea and have been applying castor oil packs when I remember. I've got a gyno appointment soon as well, so it's not all otc and home remedies all the time. I do still have some faith in western medicine. Some.

I've been learning Spanish via duolingo on my smartphone, and now have added rosetta stone to my learning (it was free! life is sometimes generous), and it's been fantastic. I grew up in a latino neighborhood, and my country of birth (via US military) is spanish-speaking, but I've had absolutely no formal education, so it's been neat to see how much I already know, just by osmosis. And, it gives my brain something to spin on since I'm still not back in school. I am a happier person when my brain has something to do.

My head has not been as cooperative as I expected this winter. I thought that once the weather cooled down I'd be able to hike the hell out of our hill and I'd have more energy to get stuff done around the house, but I don't feel like my head's eased at all since summer. That's not cool! Especially if I can expect my usual summer peak in pain, but without a winter dip to compensate, I'm looking at a brutal several months once the heat hits.

Ever onward.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Food: I eat it. Do you?

I had a friend suggest that I should write about food. I didn't immediately disagree with the suggestion, so I'm going to give it a try.

There will be no guarantee of pictures, because an extra step when I'm not feeling well or my camera is being difficult might mean I post nothing at all, and formatting posts makes my head hurt, so more than likely I'll just describe what I ate and how I made it.

Starting with today.

I had a burrito stuffed with pinto beans and brown rice for breakfast! Exciting! but really, this is one of my staples, with a million variations. The flavors are easy to change, it can be a burrito or a bowl, and most importantly, it's easy. Reheating and assembly can be done in five minutes with the microwave, and if I have more energy to invest, it can be quite the flavorful meal. Today's burrito was simple, but tasty. I started with about half a cup each of (all pre-cooked) pinto beans, brown rice, and a small handful of red bell pepper. I added just a few tablespoons of broth (or water) and seasoned with salt, garlic powder, nutritional yeast and a little oregano. I let that simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently until it smelled enticing and the broth was cooked off. No one likes a soggy burrito. Once the filling was ready, I wrapped it all up in a standard flour tortilla and enjoyed.

I was craving sugar for lunch, so I went for another tortilla-based meal, a peanut butter and jelly 'dilla! Not a quesadilla, but a pb&j 'dilla! I swear I feel ridiculous every time I explain that to someone, but I continue to use it, so. The only jam flavor sanctioned by the world of Interstitial Cystitis is blueberry, so that's what we have, despite my forever being much more of a strawberry or raspberry kind of girl. Ideally organic, no sugar, preservative free, and seedless, if we're shooting for the moon, but IC. Actually this is an experiment; since my urethra has been pain-free for about a month, I've begun very slowly introducing foods that have caused me pain in the past, starting with ones I wasn't sure about. This jam is the first one that I was fairly certain caused me pain (citric acid is the culprit) so I'm really hoping the good streak continues. What if my flare is over?! Dare to dream, kids.) So, I smeared my plain peanut butter and my risky blueberry jam on a tortilla and dry fried it for a few minutes on each side. Do be modest with the jelly or it'll ooze out the sides as it cooks. Unless you're into that sort of thing, I don't know your life.

I snacked on Miyoko's cultured cashew cheese, that stuff is so good. The only varieties they had at our local whole foods were the smoked farmhouse, which tastes like smoked gouda heaven, and the herbs de provence which is a smooth, tangy, cultured farmer's cheese covered in herbs.

For dinner I'm going to eat split-pea and lentil soup, and I'll make some fries. For the soup, I cooked a whole bag of dried split peas with a cup of lentils, a few bay leaves, oregano, parsley, a little liquid smoke, salt, garlic powder, and the teeniest touch of onion powder. That's another dangerous ingredient, the onion, but I wanted to see if I could tolerate trace amounts, and so far so good. I also add coconut milk to taste at each serving. Sometimes I want it creamy and sometimes I don't, it's good both ways.

For the fries, I chop a potato of any variety into sticks, place them on a greased cookie sheet, salt, and bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Flip them over and bake for another ten or until delightfully crispy, turning them every ten if necessary. They take longer the thicker you make the sticks, at 1/4-1/2" they're usually done in 30.

Today's diet was distinctly lacking in green vegetables, because we don't have much in the house right now. I'm taking my multi-vitamin every day, a habit I've maintained for several weeks now, and that will compensate for any gaps until we can go shopping again.

Some days I eat healthier than others; a lot depends on how I'm feeling, what I've got pre-prepped in the fridge, and if we've been able to get to the store, but my goal is a plant-based, IC-friendly, vegan diet, and I absolutely want everything I eat to be delicious.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Anger and My Head

I can let my anger get the best of me, and boy howdy does it.

This morning started slowly. I've been feeling tired due to iron and vitamin D deficiency (again!), but am slowly seeing improvements since beginning supplements. Despite these improvements, mornings have been awful. I wake after a full night's sleep feeling like lead, like I could sleep another day or so, like movement is not something my body naturally does. I wrestle myself up and it's easier once I'm already moving, but I feel like I'm carrying an extra person on my back, and my migraine is more sensitive too.

So, this morning, when my head was starting to needle me and my nausea was starting and my limbs felt like they were trying to become one with the chair, I flipped my everloving shit when I couldn't find my lighter to medicate because my boyfriend had borrowed it without returning it.

This is one of our things, too. He's messier than me, careless with his possessions, and tends to lose everything. I'm not a neat-freak, but I know where all my stuff is at all times, put things back when I'm done with them, and was raised an only child, so sharing is really not my forte.

I can't change him, though I am trying to guide him towards better habits when he expresses interest. I do try to be patient if something of mine goes missing because 1, he's not doing it on purpose, and 2, it's not as big a deal as my only-child brain tells me. However, when his carelessness interferes with my ability to care for myself, it becomes a problem.

This morning, I let that problem send me into an all-caps rage of throwing clothes and yelling at air. Which of course made my head hurt worse. I found a lighter, eventually, and am now recuperating and writing this post in reflection. Looking through his mess would have triggered me on its own, which is why I got so pissed off, but my anger definitely amped up the pain, so now it's my own fault again. I am a passionate person, I feel things deeply and express myself enthusiastically, but I sometimes wish I was one of those placid, ever-calm people who never seems to get ruffled or excited over anything. It would be so much less painful.


Monday, February 16, 2015

A Cookie for Court

My little brother had a birthday. I was almost normal.

He participates in a mock trial club and had a competition on his 18th birthday, which was perfect, because I'd been wanting to see him in action, and I definitely wanted to wish him a happy birthday on the actual day, if I could.

So, we made the (nauseating) drive and I medicated with half a large cookie, even though I had no idea what I was getting into. I was anxious, but it was important to me to try.

There was a huge line outside the building and through the glass windows I could see metal detectors and security checking people and their belongings for dangerous items. We funneled slowly inside and I was horrified to find a huge crowd waiting for the elevators. They were packing us in like sardines and it was not ideal. We looked for stairs, but they were inaccessible (which seems really unsafe, doesn't it?), so we found our way to the end of the line and waited to be mashed in.

I really hope I never have to be in a full elevator again.

We made it to the courtroom and found it packed, but there were two chairs available in the back, which we took gladly. My brother took his turn on the stand early and played his part well, and I was a proud big sister. Those several minutes were glorious as I sat in rapt adoration of the impossibly grown baby I'd seen born 18 years ago. He's such a blessing to me.

The small room became stuffy with the heat of a hundred bodies rather quickly and I wished they would have left the door open. But that's not the way of the courts system, even the mock courts.

Perfume is a steady smack in the face, even when it's subtle, and when there are fifty different combinations of scent in one room, it is not usually a good place for me to be. The uncomfortable chairs, the bright overhead lighting, the shrill edge to some of the more radically pubescent students' voices; I was under assault the entire two hours. But I'd taken that marijuana cookie, so I wasn't nearly as reactive as usual. I was uncomfortable, definitely, but when the usual response to that kind of situation is sobbing pain, I can't complain.

I stuck it out for over two hours, because I'm a saint obviously, and because I needed to be there for my brother, at least once. Even if he didn't need me, it felt really good to be a family member in the audience, to be supportive. It's been so long since I've been able to be there for someone else.

Happy birthday, Bub.