Ups and Downs

“I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I’ll be there for you
(Like I’ve been there before)
I’ll be there for you
(‘Cause you’re there for me too)

Yesterday I had a rather rough day struggling with depression. I have clinical depression and anxiety disorder, which I take daily medication for. Being in chronic daily pain is enough to cause a person to become depressed. That is normal if the depression is short-term and goes away quickly. Clinical depression is a whole different game, it doesn’t play by the same rules. It is not a brief blue mood, this blue feeling hangs on and doesn’t let go and escalates if not treated properly. Depression is an illness that is rooted very strongly in my maternal side of the family with, my mother, her sister and their mother. They all battled with depression and for lack of a better term, all went through “nervous break downs”. My mother and grandmother have passed, but my aunt still struggles severely with depression.

Since starting medication I have done and feel so much better, with my depression. I still get blue moods like I did yesterday. Sometimes they are brought on by a migraine attack, I can get very moody, crabby and blue feeling during this time. When I’m in a long migraine cycle, like I am now, that makes the blue feelings, come and go at unexpected times. I can feel perfectly fine and in the next moment, feel weepy and very blue.

That was all background, let me get to the real reason of this blog. My Twitter feed yesterday had to do with saying, “I’m Fine” when really inside you are anything, but fine! Listing many thoughts one has, when they are depressed.

Several of my migraine tribe friends, read between the lines and reached out to give me their support and love. Letting me know that they cared! That is what I love about the migraine community, we stand by each during the ups and downs of living with migraine disease! It is never a one way street, with one doing all the giving and the other just taking! No WAY! It is a two-way street, everyday all the time, the way a good friendship should work!

Their kindness, caring and support, chased the blues away and brought the sun back out on my cloudy day! I love each and every one of you!

“Seems you’re the only one who knows what it’s like to be me
Someone to face the day with, make it through all the rest with
Someone I’ll always laugh with
Even at my worst, I’m best with you”

“I’ll Be There For You (Theme From Friends)”
The Rembrandts Lyrics

Live with hope,
Roni

 

Discoveries

These last couple of weeks of blogging have brought about some discoveries in myself. Folks start blogs for all kind of reasons, maybe one of them is to open their hearts and minds, and in doing so learn more about themselves. That wasn’t my goal starting this blog, but it has become a byproduct of doing so and in a good way.

It’s reopened the creative side in me, that has been missing since Chronic Migraine, Fibromyalgia, and Degenerative Disc Disease entered my life. My Mom taught me to crochet and I loved to make things for Christmas presents and such. I never became as good as my Mom was, but it was something that I enjoyed. I can no longer crochet, holding the needle and yarn, now causes my hands to cramp up painfully. I also used to bake and decorate cakes, in different sizes and shapes, I even did a wedding cake once! Hand cramps and being unable to stand in one place and position, makes doing that impossible anymore.

I don’t like talking about the negative side of migraine, that is why I was so thrilled to discover that blogging, has brought out my creative side. I feel as if I have finally found my niche, blogging for me feels like slipping on my favorite pair slippers. Warm, soft, furry and comfy!

It makes me feel productive again and gives me purpose, two things that are so important when you’ve become disabled by migraine. It is a chance to give back, share hope, humor, inspiration, support, encouragement, and love to my tribe! To make them feel better on rough days, give them reasons to smile, let them know they are not alone, and there is always HOPE!

Best of all I have discovered, that I can do this! To be honest at the start I wasn’t so sure, I started working on this blog in April. I was in the middle of an intractable migraine, working through brain fog as thick as pea soup. I became so frustrated that I cried, something I never do during a migraine. I set it aside for a while, after an inpatient trip to the hospital for infusion treatment, the AHMA Conference and then our 35th Wedding Anniversary Trip. I went back to it, because I was determined to make this happen, all the pieces just clicked together! Proving if you want something bad enough, you have to keep trying, never give up! I discovered a strength buried in me, wanting to be let free!

“There is no better high than discovery.”  E. O. Wilson

Live with hope,
Roni

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

“Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things”

Besides being one of my favorite movies, “The Sound of Music” brought the world this delightful song, “A Few of My Favorite Things”! Today I want to talk about, a few of my favorite things, that bring me comfort during a migraine attack or a long migraine cycle, better know as status migraine. Which would describe my migraine experience the best.

  • “The Cave” also known as our bedroom, as we do not have another room to allocate for this purpose. I have it decorated in colors and pictures of things that I love, mostly flowers and in soothing colors. I have black out curtains for both windows and on one window that gets the most sunlight, I have added black out shades under the curtains. They are very inexpensive, made of paper that you cut to size, with peel away adhesive to attach to your window. My cave must be cool, summer and winter. I use a fan year round to help drowned out noise and to stay cool. This was a habit that I got into working nights during summer vacation, while in high school. I had two younger brothers who were as ornery as the day was long. Do you think they were going to be quiet so I could sleep? Ha! We have bought enough fans over the years to own a fan company. Lighting is important too, I stay extremely photophobic whether I am having a migraine attack or not. With that in mind, I purchased bedside lamps with night lights in the bases along with regular bulbs. For me the light from the night-light is enough to see by, but there are times when even that light is too much. My cave is a comfortable place to weather the storm!
  • The Migraine Hat is a fairly new addition to my favorite things. I love how it covers the whole head, getting all those places that seem to hurt in the midst of a migraine attack. Even though the pain is localize on one side of the head or the other. I have found that letting it sit out just a bit before putting it on, softens those really hard ice pack squares. After I’ve used it on my head awhile, I move it to my neck, neck pain is always part of my migraine attacks. The Migraine Hat is especially useful after getting my Botox injections.
  • My Kindle Fire is something I couldn’t live without, when going through a status migraine! I am an avid reader and have been since elementary school. Being unable to read would be the same, as being unable to breathe! Yes, there have been times when the pain level has been too high for me to read. Otherwise it is a great distraction technique. There are a couple of the features that I use with the Kindle Fire, to make it easier on my eyes. Lowering the light level, changing the background color from white to another color of your choice and using the blue shade, even during the day.
  • Netflix & Amazon Prime: Now this one is an on and off one for me, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to watch anything and would rather just read. Other times when they have a new season of a show a really like, then I will watch it. When I watch Netflix or Amazon Prime, I do so on my laptop, with ear buds so I control the sound and the brightness of the screen. Two things that are bothersome when dealing with a status migraine or a migraine attack. But like reading, it can be a great distraction technique.
  • A Sleep mask is something that I have found to be very beneficial, whether I’m lying down during the day or at night. It has to be soft, the adjustable straps must be flat, and the adjuster must not be near the ear. These things I discovered by trial and error, you want a flat strap, because the round stretchy ones are very uncomfortable, the adjusters are made of metal, so if they are near the ear, when you sleep on your side at night, they cause pain. We don’t what that!!
  • AxonOptics and Bose Bluetooth Ear buds: When I want to watch something on TV while I’m in my cave, I use my Bose Bluetooth Ear buds, so I can control the sound. When the brightness is too much I will wear my AxonOptics, they work beautifully cutting the glare. I also take them with me when I get my hair done, to the doctor’s office, or anywhere I know that I will be battling overhead lighting.
  • My newest favorite thing is an M-Wand Intelligent Massage Wand made by Fiitop Therapeutic Massage Health System, purchased from Amazon. It is rechargeable, fits easily in your hand, not big and bulky like some of the other massage systems that I saw. Most of all I can reach the places in my shoulder-blade areas that are very painful, due to fibromyalgia. As well as my neck and across the tops of my shoulders. This pain ties in with my migraines. I get some much-needed relief, with its different settings. I’m still in the learning stage with this one, but so far I am loving it!
  • Last on my list of favorite things is, herbal teas. I keep Twining Peppermint Tea in K-cups for my Keurig on hand at all times. I find it very helpful for nausea and I use Raw Organic Honey in my tea. Aspartame is a trigger for me and I don’t care for the taste of artificial sweeteners, so I avoid using them at all. I also have Chamomile, very soothing, Chai, and my newest addition Lemon Zinger. As the name says it has a way of waking up your senses.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my favorite things, that bring me comfort during a migraine attack or a status migraine. I’d loved to read some of your favorite things, please reply below to tell me about them!

“When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad”   Songwriters: Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers

Live with hope,
Roni

 

Migraine Super Powers

 

I bet you never thought of migraine and super powers in the same sentence! I didn’t either until recently, when I ran across a meme about the very subject. I thought to myself “this is a topic I could have a bit of fun with”! It’s not often that we get to laugh at ourselves when it comes to living with migraine. I consider humor one of the most valuable tools, along with hope, in my migraine toolbox!

So what kind of super powers would a person with migraine have?

  • A keen sense of smell, we can sniff out the tiniest whiff of fragrance, that one bad potato in the bag behind a closed-door, you might find one if us digging through the fridge, muttering “for love of God where IS that smell coming from?”. We would be the ones who know what the neighbors are having for dinner. Bloodhounds have nothing on us!
  • The ability to see the speck of light that has somehow found its way through our black out curtains. Invading our holiest of holy migraine cave, such insubordination is not to be tolerated and is dealt with swiftly. I my case I have found that duck tape, works the quickest. A more long-term fix can be dealt with later.
  • Many of us have hearing that is better than Superman! During a migraine attack and for some even without an attack, our ears remain super attuned to sound. Much like light sensitivity. When we are alone, watching TV on its lowest volume possible and still being able to hear it, is definitely a super power! Then there’s the time that a cricket finds it way into your home. You have to hunt that sucker down and kill it dead, or there will be no peace for your head!
  • I’ve become a human barometer, able to predict when storms will arrive with better accuracy than the weather forecaster! Only he/she gets paid and I don’t, doesn’t seem quite fair now does it?
  • I really love this one! All the cravings of a pregnant woman, without the joys of the baby at the end. Not sure if that’s really a super power, but I could probably win a contest for the most chocolate eaten in one sitting!
  • Learning the art of meditation, I already have biofeedback down, many other folks with migraine have mastered this. Yes it is a super power, as it can help us draw on an inner strength and peace, when we need it most.
  • Lastly and our most important super power is, empathy! As migraineurs we have all gone through similar circumstances, at one time or another. Making us able to empathize with one another, lend support, encouragement, love, and inspiration! We are one special tribe!

Have you encountered an migraine super power, if so feel free to comment below. There is nothing I’d like better, than hearing the story of your experience with migraine super powers.

“Gentle is a super power #Inspiration #Motivation #Wellness #Disability #Leadership #Success #Mental Health” Author Unknown

Live with hope,
Roni

Hope and Fur-Babies

 

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that most folks living with migraine and chronic pain have a pet. When I was researching the topic of pets and therapy, I came across multiple instances and examples of pet therapy.

The use of pets in nursing homes, children’s wards in hospitals and even the prison program, of allowing inmates to train therapy dogs, was not new to me. Animal Assisted Therapy was and is absolutely brilliant! A therapist who is dealing with an angry adolescent can keep the session free of angry outbursts, by bring a dog along. The teen doesn’t want to scare the animal, thereby leaving the therapist free to guide him in ways to interact with the dog. This eventually cycles to his home and social life, where he can put his new-found anger management skills to work.

I found this statement by Rebecca Johnson RN, fascinating! She heads the Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, where studies have been focusing on the fact that interacting with animals can increase people’s level of the hormone oxytocin.

“That is very beneficial for us,” says Johnson. “Oxytocin helps us feel happy and trusting.” Which, Johnson says, may be one of the ways that humans bond with their animals over time. But Johnson says it may also have longer-term human health benefits. “Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.”

Who knew our beloved fur-babies could do all that and bring us such comfort and hope too?! They seem to instinctively know when we are not feeling well and come to our sides to offer comfort. Whether they are a cat or a dog, in my experience the comfort level is the same. My fur-babies have not only given comfort, but they have also given me hope!

Each one of my fur-babies had their own distinct personalities, George was kitten when my son Nathan found him, discarded by the side of the street. He got his name from “The George of Jungle” movie that was popular then. He would try so hard to jump from the arm of a chair to the end table, but just couldn’t quite make it. When he got older his favorite play toy was a wadded up piece of paper. You could toss that to him and he would catch it between his front paws, standing up then bat it all over the place. George went to kitty heaven when he was 18.

Sasha was 4 weeks old when I got her and as fate would have it, one day before I lost my job, due to my migraines going chronic. She was my hope and salvation during a very dark time in my life. I had this adorable little ball of black fur and gold eyes to take care of, she was my sweetheart, my cuddle buddy! Who later thought it was great fun to follow me around while I made beds, so she could hide under the covers and chase my hands! She also loved my husbands singing, it didn’t matter where she was in the house, if he started singing, she would come running and just sit at his feet!  Sasha went to kitty heaven at 14, due to medical problems.

Most of you know Belle, the cat we rescued 6 months after Sasha went to kitty heaven. We jokingly refer the her as Queen Belle, she is a total sweetheart. She came from a home with 4 children and two dogs, so coming home to just my hubby and myself, must have felt like heaven to her. We’ve had Belle for 3 years now and she is such a joy to have in our lives!

Lastly is Flash he belongs to our son’s, who insist that they are confirmed bachelor’s! So that would make Flash our grandson! Easy peasy! lol

How have your fur-babies impacted your life, living with migraine? Feel free to comment, I love hearing other people talk about their beloved fur-babies!

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” Anatole France

Live with hope,
Roni

George

Sasha

Belle

Flash, our grandson!

Inspiration

Scrolling through Twitter this morning, I came across a tweet that said, “If I see anymore Inspiration Porn, I’m going to blast it off of Twitter”! I was totally taken aback, “Inspiration Porn”, like it’s something dirty and should be seen only on the dark web?!

Inspiration is extremely important to me, on this journey with migraine disease, both giving and receiving it. To take inspiration away from a chronically ill person, is tantamount to removing life-giving water. It would certainly cause them to lose hope and that is just not acceptable!

Hope, inspiration, encouragement, and support are just as important, as my medications are. If I can’t maintain a positive outlook, stay hopeful, inspired, encouraged, all the medication in the world isn’t going to have the impact it should.

Don’t ever give up on being a source of inspiration, for your fellow migraineurs! We all need each other on this journey.

“To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible” Author Unknown

Live with hope,
Roni

Flower Power

 

 

This morning I was thinking to myself, what is the one thing that makes me feel better, gives me hope, when I’m going through a rough patch and feeling blue? Flowers! Flowers always lift my spirits. I often take my cell phone put on a floppy hat, go outside for a few minutes and just snap pictures of flowers.

It is amazing how much better my mood is after doing this, my pain level may still be the same. Yet endorphins have kicked in, breathing new life to my heart, body, and soul! Further boosting my hope level! Why? Because I was doing something I truly enjoyed and I was doing it outdoors. Breathing fresh air, feeling the sun and the breeze on my skin, three things you can’t get indoors.

I usually share the pictures I take on Facebook and Twitter, so that my friends who love flowers can enjoy them too. Giving something of yourself to others, has its own rewards.  Sharing and knowing that I have brought joy and hope to someone else, further lifts my spirits. Being a source of hope, encouragement and inspiration, to others with migraine and chronic pain, is pretty much my mission in life. If I can do that with flower power, then I say “Bring on the flowers”!

“Where flowers bloom so does hope!” Lady Bird Johnson


Live with hope,
Roni

These are from my garden, enjoy!

Pure White Butterfly Daisy

Coleus Ruby Slipper

Calibrachoa Can-Can® Apricot

Choose Hope

 

 

 

Welcome to my very first blog post! 
I started this blog to reach out to those living with migraine and other chronic pain disorders. My mission is to share, parts of my day and struggles with migraine, chronic pain and how I deal with it.

This blog is also all about HOPE and what I consider hope’s sidekick, humor. I’ve been living with Chronic Migraine, Fibromyalgia, and Degenerative Disc Disease, for over 17 years. These diseases may be in my DNA, but hope and humor are not. I had to choose whether to allow them in my life or not. I am so very glad that I did.

Hope gives me the courage to keep going, even on the roughest days. Hope lights the way, through the darkest of times. Hope is the heartbeat of my soul. Hope changes everything! H.O.P.E. Hold On Pain Ends. As a friend told me recently, “hope is the nectar of the gods”!

Being positive is a personal goal of mine, I look for the silver lining in every difficult situation. Hoping to find a positive in the midst of difficulty.

I have the most amazing group of online migraine friends. I call them my “migraine sisters”, for truly I am as close, if not closer to them than my own sister. I love her dearly, but she doesn’t understand migraine, like those who are going through the same thing I am. We draw strength from one another through, encouragement, support, inspiration, and genuinely caring about each other.

I look forward to interacting with you, over the next days, weeks, and months. With hope much longer than that!

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness” Desmond Tutu

Live with hope,
Roni