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The Start of a New Month

A new month begins. Actually it began yesterday, but I have found that being quiet online during April Fool’s Day is probably best. (Incidentally, whether it is a good day or not depends largely on who you are around.)

March was a full month with good surprises and bad. I spent a fair portion of it ill unfortunately. Influenza slipped around, and I managed to catch it. Or rather it caught me. But given I only had two migraines in addition to that, the month was fairly good.
Indeed March wound up being a month rich in reflection. The older I get, the more messy I realize life is. It’s not about getting things perfect. It’s about muddling through, correcting course, and moving on. The importance of grace, love, and mercy increases by the day.

With April comes the full revelation of spring. Chives and daffodils already poke their thick green stems up from the soil I have hopes and dreams for this month and more. I am grateful. I am moving forward.

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.

2014 Reflection

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s hard to believe that it is now 2015.

Every year, I always put together a list of resolutions and goals. Then, throughout the year, I check myself to see how well I am doing in reaching those goals. Some attempts result in failure, but, in my opinion, the most important thing is to try and see what comes. But here’s my evaluation of last year’s public goals.

Overall Reflection

The biggest lesson from this year has been to “not despise the small things.” So often I tend to be an all or nothing kind of woman. I want it to be perfect, and I do not want to accept the small steps that may be the only ones accomplished within a day.

Write Daily

Yes, I managed to hit this one again. I’ve been writing at least 500 words a day now for years, but I still make this a yearly goal to hold myself to it. It’s hard to imagine not writing. It’s more important than eating. Fortunately, it appears that writing is good for one’s health!

Lose 30 Pounds

Yes and no. Throughout the course of the year, I worked out, ate healthy, hit some setbacks, persevered, and by late August reached my year’s target. I did a great job maintaining it too until I got sick again. And then I gained most of it back. Alas, I wish it had been through cheesecake, pizza, and burgers. Weight gain happens very easily for me. If I actually let myself go and just ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with no regard to health, I’d probably balloon up like nobody’s business. I haven’t done so well about drinking enough water, and to combat the nausea, I have been drinking carbonated beverages again. I’ve cut those as much as I can. Tea, for whatever reason, does not really soothe the way soda does.

So my goal for this year is to knock off 60 pounds. If past experience is any indicator, the weight I gained back will go away fairly easily. (A fair amount of it may be swelling?) I see the best results following a slightly modified low carb diet. Lots of fresh vegetables. Plenty of water. Lean protein. Even if it doesn’t result in weight loss, I do feel better while avoiding processed foods and sugars. No matter how much I enjoy fast food. It’s best to keep that as a treat rather than a staple.

Complete Tue-Rah Identity Revealed

Yes. I realized this year that I had spent more than twenty years working on Tue-Rah Identity Revealed in particular. I have, of course, worked on the other books in the series, but Identity Revealed absorbed the majority of my time and focus. As such, I really, really wanted to finish the draft this year. It still needs some final proofing, but it is done. December 15.

Oddly it left me feeling depressed, but I suspect that has more to do with other emotions and conclusions as well.

Experiment with and Decide on Primary Social Media Accounts

Social media just keeps expanding. One of last year’s resolutions was to determine which ones I wanted to prioritize. I have settled on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I may use Google+ and LinkedIn some.

Build a Website on WordPress

Obviously this one was a success as you can see. It’s pretty basic. I tried Elegant Themes, but I couldn’t get those themes to work as well. So I switched to a basic layout. Nothing fancy. It could use some tweaking, but it has my blog as well. Most everything imported all right.

Finish Five Stories

This year was quite good in terms of overall productivity. I finished Tue-Rah Identity Revealed as well as Cyberbullying: What You Need to Know; 10,000 Words a Day: How to Survive and Thrive; Mermaid Bride; Ragnarok Unravels, and a handful of short stories.  Most of these are ready for publication, but I need to finish cover art and prep for the formatting and so on. Plus there’s always a few more tweaks I will want to make.

Get Law Firm Going

All the books and seminars in the world are nothing compared to actually doing it. James and I have gone from handling one or two cases a week to four to five cases a day with some random free days. Getting clients to pay, of course, is the bigger challenge. For the first full year of our law firm, it really went quite well. Ups and downs but overall good. And no malpractice suits. The home office works quite well.

Month of Fear

I actually didn’t have a name of this before. All it was labeled as was “overcome fears” and “try new things.” So I compiled this into a single month known as the Month of Fear. It was challenging but fun. I intend to do the Month of Fear again this year. Perhaps more than once. In fact, I’m tackling some fears today. I will post some updates on these. Most of the time they tend to be more personal, and there’s no need to share everything.

Create a Place for Knife Throwing in My House

I may not be good at it, but I do love throwing knives. It soothes me. And I did succeed in making a knife throwing board for my office. It works so well. The only thing I have to watch out for is Thor who loves to play fetch. And I don’t like him trying to snatch blades out of the air.

So those are some of the top goals/resolutions and their results from 2014. I may share my goals and resolutions for 2015. Even though the year has been off to a rough start, I’ve done fairly well so far. It was a trying but exciting and good year. I am looking forward to this one. Have an absolutely wonderful day!

 

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