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Category: Helpful

Writing with a Migraine: A Few Tips on Coping

Over the past two months, I’ve had many visits from a friend I really wish would leave: the good old migraine.

Now, as I have discovered from my fellow migraine sufferers, each migraine is just a little bit different. Whether vision gets stripy or nausea roils the stomach or simple shafts of yellow-white light induce agonizing beats, the pain is the one constant. And boy…is it constant.

Since about the middle of December, I’ve averaged about one migraine a week. They have been lasting about three days, but the last one stretched on for almost an entire week. So, in between migraines, I did research into what I could do to minimize the pain.

Here are some of the tricks I’ve learned that help me cope when the migraines strike.

As Much Water As You Can

glass with cola and ice  in water splash
glass with cola and ice in water splash

A couple friends told me that for every painful spasm, I should take three good-sized gulps of water. That helped somewhat for obvious reasons. It was temping at the worst movements to just lie motionless and not drink because I knew if I drank, I would have to go to the bathroom.

But you must drink the water. You absolutely must. On the one time when I skipped it out of sheer exhaustion, I paid so dearly. It absolutely wasn’t worth it.

Add Lemon and a Little Salt to Your Water

I discovered this one by accident. Most mornings, I try to start my day with a large glass of ice water with a generous tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. To my surprise, I got some more intensive relief from my migraine with this. Before I had just chosen pure water.

Much to my surprise, I also discovered that this is supposed to be a cure-all though some offer cautions. Now, in my case, this didn’t cure the migraine, but it sanded the edges off. It also seems key that you use Himalayan or sea salt rather than table salt.

Avoid Bright Screens or Blue-Light Screens

The majority of tech devices utilize blue-light. In addition to causing problems with sleep cycle, I have found that looking at any screen with a blue-light intensifies my pain even more than the soft yellow bathroom light. The one exception was if I had the screen turned down to the absolute lowest, I could be on my phone for about 5, 10 minutes at most. Then it would cut through.

On the days when I avoided those screens entirely, the pain receded to a more manageable rate.

Have a Soothing Hobby to Fall Back On

Balls of wool on wooden table background
Balls of wool on wooden table background

Perhaps what stresses me most about migraine days is the horrible inactivity. I have found great comfort in curling up on the couch and knitting with the lights way down. Crocheting is a tad more challenging for me though others love it, and I’ve chatted with some friends who also enjoy sketching and coloring. I imagine that that soft shoosh shoosh of pencil on paper is quite soothing.

Embroidery, tatting, and other close eyed needlework may not be the best choice for obvious reasons.

Reading surprisingly works best for me is when I do it on my Kindle. The screen is sufficiently darkened and the contrast low enough that it doesn’t hurt. As for audiobooks, I’ve found that it is the voice of the narrator that makes all the difference there. Shrill or high voices can be unbearable. And I suspect my preference for deeper voices may be just as much because they don’t hurt my head.

Sadly, I did not find cooking to be as useful of a soothing hobby at the worst of migraines though at other times it is one of my passions. The smells of the cooking foods can sometimes turn me to vomiting. Same with baking. But it might be different for you. (Same goes for sniffing peppermint which is soothing for some people with migraines.)

Write on Yellow or Green Paper

Perhaps it’s the glare of the light on the paper, but writing on white paper made it even more difficult for me to focus because the pain worsened. However, I found that when I wrote in my steno pads (sunglasses placed firmly over my eyes), it wasn’t nearly so bad. In fact, I was able to write long enough to get most of the required tasks done and even some of my stories, and whenever I can sink into my stories, I disappear into another world entirely and leave all but the faintest traces behind.

Sunglasses, All the Time

This is an old one, but it’s worth mentioning here: sunglasses help protect against light sensitivity. But do watch out how tightly they fit your face. I’ve had some that hit those pressure points just above my ears so perfectly that they managed to intensify the migraine with awful accuracy. But you don’t have to invest in an expensive pair of sunglasses to get the benefits. I just use a pair of cheap wraparounds that I got at a gas station in an emergency (of course I got a migraine after I lost mine and we were on the road and headed into snow).

I even wear them indoors and just around the house. And yes, sometimes people will comment and try to make jokes about it or oddly try to get me to remove them, but if I explain, “it’s for a migraine,” they usually accept that.

As an aside, I have found that if I must be on the computer or my phone for longer than a few minutes, then a pair of sunglasses can make a tremendous difference. I still can’t work as I normally do, but I can do some of it.

The sunglasses are often enough to let me get through most of the cleaning and tidying.

Meditation and Prayer with Measured Breaths

Focusing one’s thoughts elsewhere can be greatly soothing, but getting there when in the middle of a lot of pain is so hard. One would think that having dealt with chronic pain for years that it would be easier, and I suppose, in a sense, it is. But sometimes, in the grips of a horrid migraine, all I can do is grip my head and think about what shapes the pain looks like stabbing my brain.

I’ve found that it does help me to pray and meditate though it is admittedly difficult to get started. I don’t have a particular favorite verse. Each day I find a new one or a particular thought to focus on. And sometimes my prayers are just “Oh God, please let it stop hurting. Please let it stop hurting.”

Digitally generated Take a deep breath vector

I have also found that focusing on my breathing helps too. I tend to breathe shallowly as the pain intensifies. But as the pain strikes, if I focus on slowing my breaths, keeping them deep and steady, and going over verses and prayers, it can help significantly.

Cold Showers and Cold Presses

The hot/cold debate is one a lot of migraine fighters discuss, and I think it’s a matter of preference.

If I can, and sometimes that’s a big if, a cold shower can help a great deal. I can’t get into frigid water straight away. But lukewarm and gradually turning to cold with the water driving down on the back of my neck works best for me. Cold washcloths to the forehead and neck are also soothing. But sometimes this can make me chill so badly that it creates other issues.

However, hot water makes mine much, much worse, so I must avoid that. I have one friend whose migraines are relieved by super hot showers, and I must confess, I’m envious.

Another friend recommended putting an ice pack on the back of the neck and then sticking one’s hands and feet in warm water. This didn’t work for me, but it might work for you.

Yoga, Pilates, and Strength Training

The older I get, the more I love exercising. Even when I can only do it in short batches and it doesn’t lead to the weight loss I want. And I have found that even on migraine days, if I can get up and do some stretches and even more advanced moves, that that makes it easier to get through the day.

This may have something to do with redirecting blood flow. Or it might be the endorphin release. Some professionals have suggested both. I usually don’t run on migraine days or even attempt the barre workouts. If I get particularly brave, I might.

But, for me, I look at these migraine days as being similar to the days when the pain from the fibro and so on becomes incredibly intense. As much as possible, I try to keep some semblance of normalcy and take care of my body. Exercising has so many other benefits that it is worth it to fight through the pain as much as possible.

And obviously I should conclude this saying that you should go to a doctor if you have continued migraines. Sometimes migraines are a symptom of something else, and it’s important to get that looked at.

So these are some of the things that I’ve found do work for me. There are many other techniques, and if you are a chronic migraine sufferer, I’m sure you have your own. Feel free to share some of your own tips if you’d like.

And hopefully you won’t have to use any of these tips any time soon. Have a beautiful day, my friends. Talk to you again soon.

Tips for Staying Safe and Being a Good Citizen While Pokemon Going

Pokemon Go LogoYou’ve probably at least heard about Pokemon Go if not seen folks out and about playing it. It’s been massively popular even though it’s only been out for a relatively short time. Business Insider reports that it has surpassed Tindr’s participants and may soon exceed Twitter’s participants.

It’s popular for a reason, and it’s getting people out of the house and connected. As with all things, it’s important to remember to exercise common sense and courtesy. (Most of the issues I’ve seen related to over excitement with the game and a lack of awareness, but those can be corrected.) With that said, here are some of the common issues I have noted and that, if you or a loved one is playing, you may want to bring to their attention.

Trespassing is Still Illegal

This has been the question I’ve received most from local teens and even a few off the Internet. Many hope that there might be a rare Pokemon exception. But trespassing is still trespassing even if there’s an uber rare Pokemon on the other side of the fence.

If you cannot get to one of the Pokemon, and it is on a piece of private property, you can’t go in without permission. Same thing goes for crossing private property to get to another location. This means that you can get the cops called on you if you break in, and, in some locations and under certain circumstances, it could even become a felony, particularly if you are opening up sheds or entering garages in search of Pokemon.Keep Out Private Property


Be Respectful of the Locations You Enter

Pokemon appear at random in various locations. However, you have to remember that they are not always going to appear in appropriate places for Pokemon hunting. The game itself uses landmarks, historical points, and so forth as Pokestops and battle zones. This unfortunately includes locations like the Holocaust Museum in D.C. The Holocaust Museum has formally requested that they be removed from Pokemon Go because people keep showing up to hunt Pokemon, which is disrespectful to the victims of the Holocaust and the purpose of the museum.

Many Pokestops and Pokemon can be found in churches, mosques, gyms, libraries, public service buildings, landmarks that may include tours, and businesses. It’s not entirely clear how these are chosen, but if you do go to one, be respectful of the location. Don’t interrupt a meeting. Don’t climb the statues. Think before you do. Chasing Pokemon is not a legal defense in any location.

Most of the time, you can access the points from outside the building and move on. Battles take longer. Hunting may take you inside. But rest assured that the Pokemon will return again and in other locations, so even in that case, you should avoid bursting into a children’s reading, interrupting a funeral, and so on.

Your Awareness of Your Surroundings Will Be Diminished

Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of people think they can multitask without any problem, and sometimes it’s true in limited circumstances. I’m usually a pretty good multitasker myself. I read and walk all the time. But Pokemon Go is much more absorbing. I did a couple tests with some teens and my own playing of the game, and I have to tell you…the results weren’t good.

Stay AwareNot only was I unable to see anything until it was pretty much on me but even my awareness of sounds was significantly diminished. Focusing in on the game is quite absorbing, which is how most games are. If you are playing, you must make a conscious effort to pay attention to your surroundings. Pokemon Go even encourages this every time you load it up (otherwise you’re going to get eaten by a blue dragon).

Remember that the game does not require that you always look at it. Your phone will vibrate or buzz when a Pokemon is within your radius. So while you are walking, regularly look away from the screen and take in your surroundings. Pay particular attention to the streets.

Under No Circumstances Should You Drive Anything While Playing

This is closely connected to the above point, but it is such a huge issue that it deserves its own section: do not, under any circumstances, play Pokemon Go while driving!

People often have misguided beliefs in their abilities to multitask, and this becomes especially problematic with driving. Most people understand the dangers of drunk driving or buzzed driving. However, driving while on your phone is actually worse than driving drunk or buzzed, and it can increase the risk of crashing by 23 percent. More importantly, this focused on texting or talking on the phone in incidents that involve you taking your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. Pokemon Go will easily absorb more of your attention.

So just don’t do it. Understand that this extends to golf carts as well as bicycles and motorcycles.

If you can’t get a friend to drive you around and can’t walk, you can look for eager entrepreneurs who are willing to chauffeur you. But do not, do not, do not drive.

If You Are An Adult, Act Like One

There have been lots of stories put out about all the adults behaving badly with this game. This isn’t Pokemon Go’s fault, nor does it seem to be the majority of the users. As with most things, it’s a few annoying folk who are making the rest looking bad.

One thing that you should do though if you are an adult playing around kids is that you are, in fact, an adult. While at an amusement park, I watched a grown man leap into the middle of the playground to get to an ultra rare and shoving past a bunch of tweens who were also trying to get it. As hard as it may be, consider stepping back and letting the little ones have the ultra rares. Or at least don’t knock them out of the way if you decide to try and snag it.

Keep the Noise Down

It’s common knowledge that some Pokemon are only available when it’s dark out, but remember that some people are sleeping. This goes back to exercising common courtesy. I know it’s easy to forget, particularly when you’re coordinating. Some noise is expected during day, but many towns and communities have expected quiet hours between 10 am and 7 am. Even if yours doesn’t, it’s a courtesy you should extend.

Always Check Pokemon Go Stories

This should go without saying for everything we share. But most people don’t verify the articles they read online. Over the weekend, a number of awful stories about Pokemon Go broke out, ranging from tales of kids killing one another over it to gang attacks to even the discovery of dead bodies. As it turns out, the majority of these stories came from places like Story Cartel, which is a satirical site. In other words, they never happened.

Sometimes the stories are based on facts that subsequently become distorted. For instance, the game allows you to log in using your Google account information. A bug appeared on the iOS version that allowed for greater access though Niantic claimed that they did not take advantage of that. That report, however, was greatly exaggerated as articles started breaking out, claiming that Niantic was able to mine every bit of data about you from your Google account, failing to account for the fact that this was a limited bug that is in process of being corrected.

With that said…

Understand that You Are Sharing Data

When you play Pokemon Go, you are releasing a lot of information about yourself to the game and in some respects to the world at large.

Now as far as the “access to all Google data,” Niantic has confirmed with Google and reported that that glitch will be fixed and no extra information beyond basic profile information has been accessed even on the iOS where the glitch occurred. This was confirmed on Macbook, and the update is currently available.

With that said, understand that you are still sharing basic information, probably more than you know. This is true for most apps. Always read the fine print (I know it’s a pain) and look at the specific permissions you are granting.

In this case, the app will be accessing your basic information as well as your camera and your GPS, which means your location is being tracked. Again. This isn’t uncommon, but before you give up your privacy, you should understand what that means.

Avoid Going Out Alone or Into Dangerous Locations

Some of the stories circulating revolve around predators using incense and other in-game tools to lure in rare monsters that in turn lure in players, allowing them to mug or kidnap them. These stories have been particularly popular because they are well within the realm of possibility, and some, Pokemon Go Pedo Bearsuch as the case in Missouri where robbers used the game to target victims, are true.

Again, you must remain aware of your surroundings. Before walking into a part of town you don’t know, check it out. Take a friend with you. Don’t go anywhere alone at night. And if it looks sketchy, then don’t risk it. Do not get into a stranger’s car or enter a stranger’s house, even if the stranger says it’s fine.

So there you have it. Some of the things that you should keep in mind if you or a loved one are playing. All in all, while the game is working out its early issues, I think it has a lot of great potential to it. I love seeing people out and about. I haven’t seen this many teens in the park in all my time here, and even in this heat, they are out having a great time. The game does require that the players be careful and use commonsense, but, in fairness, even old classics like hide-and-seek and tag require the same thing.


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