Thursday, June 28, 2012

Love and Migraines . . .

So, I had Botox almost 2 weeks ago, and my headache pattern hasn’t changed yet. But, I’m keeping a headache diary because it can take a while for the meds to take effect. I’m waiting . . . .

In the meantime, I came across this article. A few years ago, I wrote a blog post very much like it – and now I regret it. I totally understand where the author is coming from. After a couple of years of chronic migraine, it gets pretty emotionally wearing to hear the same advice over and over, especially when it is almost never helpful and from people who don’t “get” it. I have been so frustrated by the lack of progress on headache treatment that I’ve just given up and stuck with treating the migraines as they came. I’ve heard the recommendations from people who were sure that this or that treatment would definitely help me – and smiled while I told them that I’d already been through that treatment or thought about the last 4000 treatments that didn’t help.

What I’m learning, though, is that people who say things that are ultimately unhelpful are generally more uncomfortable than I am talking about my chronic illness. They may not know what to say, so they try to bridge the gap between us by sharing some kind of information or advice. Let’s face it, what do you say to someone in a social situation when you hear that they’re sick or in pain every day? “Oh, how nice.” or “Lovely.” You’re stuck in that situation as much as the person who has the illness. It’s awkward all the way around.

So, what can you do when you find that someone has a chronic illness (of any sort, not just migraine)? Resist the temptation to try to give advice, recommend treatments or physicians, or tell stories about friends or family members with the illness to a casual acquaintance. If you are just meeting the person or don’t know them well, the best thing you can do is offer sympathy. Just say, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” Asking questions is also a good thing. If you are a closer friend or family member, sending new information that you come across about their illness is more acceptable, but don’t take offense if they don’t jump right on it. They may have tried it, may have investigated it or discussed with their doctor and decided against it for some reason, or may just not be in a place to try new treatments.

As the person with the chronic illness, though, I need to be aware that people are trying to be helpful. And that’s not always easy. Pain makes me (and, I imagine, most other people) downright crabby. It’s hard for me to be social when I feel rotten. And I feel guilty about missing kids’ activities when I have a headache. When you put all that emotion into the cauldron of one person, what comes out isn’t always pretty. There are times when my motto just becomes “Smile and wave, boys; smile and wave!” (Bonus points if you can name the movie where the quote is from!)

The most important thing for all of us, those with chronic illness and those who are our friends and family, is to love. Loving each other is the best remedy against unhelpful words. When people I love say them, I forgive them because that’s what love does. When I’m talking to someone I love, hopefully, I speak words of love and hope. Of course, we’re all going to say stupid things to each other at times, but “love covers over a multitude of sins” (James 4:8) – thankfully!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)

Jesus was the greatest picture of love the world has seen. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) So here’s praying we can love each other with our words.

Friday, June 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

It’s only 10:24pm.  I might actually get this done on Friday!

1. Two migraines this week. I guess this is good. Since one of them has been today, I’m not so optimistic. I get my Botox on Friday, so I’ll have three months of not being able to raise my eyebrows. Fun!

2. Rosie Girl turns 17 this week, but we celebrated this past Wednesday because of her work schedule. I’m glad I get a week to get used to the idea.

3. Wild Man is performing in our local community theater’s one-act plays next weekend. They still needed to cast one more teenage boy and remembered that Wild Man had auditioned a few years ago for a play that never ended up getting put on. The director came by the knitting shop to see if Wild Man would be willing to read for this show. He’s going to be in two of the plays – I can’t wait to see the performances!

4. We’re feeling the advantages of living in a small town these days – Rosie Girl works within walking distance of her job, Wild Man is within walking distance of the theater and his lawn mowing jobs, and PWM and I can walk to our shop and the library.

5. Speaking of the library, I discovered that my library card can expire. I tried to check out an audiobook, but the site wouldn’t let me. It turns out that they make us renew our cards every three years so they can verify address and phone numbers.  Who knew? (Well, the librarians did, I guess.)

6. I’ve been knitting some chemo caps for some friends of a friend.  They’re English driving cap style and have turned out wonderfully. I’ll have pictures later this week.

7. I filled out camp forms for the kids today. Wild Man is almost 5’10”. I am so not ready for this.

Check out what others are up to at 7 Quick Takes Friday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Conversation

Catherine's brain: Hey, right foot, why have you decided to hurt for a week straight? Is something going on that we need to know about?

Catherine's Right Foot: We're about to turn 45 next month.  We're protesting.

Brain: Ummmm, this is highly inconvenient. 

Right Foot: So is turning 45.

Brain: Right Foot, please work with me here. I've tried wrapping, resting. We need to be able to walk! I'm about to drag us all off to the doctor if you don't take care of this problem on your own.

Right Foot: So, it's up to me? Well, you aren't exactly a light bag of bones to drag around these days.

Brain: Point taken. However, my exercise of choice is walking and we can't walk while you hurt like this! 

Right Foot: Harrrrumph! Blame it all on the feet. We've been the hard workers for 45 years, carrying you up and down stairs (do you remember Charity Hospital? We do!), carrying you during those pregnancies, keeping you upright till all hours of the night. Well, I'm done. I want out of my contract.

Brain: (Deep sigh) Why are you being such a problem?  Left foot? What do you have to say about all this?

Left Foot: Who, me? Ummm, I don’t have anything to say. I’m pretty happy. Just keep wearing those shoes with the cushions and I’ve got no troubles. Although some sparkly nail polish might be nice!

Brain: Right foot, Left Foot doesn’t seem to be having issues. There’s no way for me to let you out of your contract. However, if things do not improve soon, I will not hesitate to visit our family doctor.

Right Foot: So?

Brain: She’s likely to recommend exercises and/or physical therapy, neither of which you are crazy about. And if those don’t work, she might send us to a specialist who could recommend injections.

Right Foot: Needles?! In me?!! Perish the thought!!!

Brain: Right. You share needle phobia with the rest of us. I’m already overloaded with anxiety from the Head about the upcoming Botox injections.

Right Foot: Oh, yeah. I feel bad for the poor head. 30 something injections. I’m not interested in any fancy exercises and certainly not any injections into me, so maybe I’ll see what I can do.

Brain: Much better attitude. We turn 45 next month. It’s not the end of the world. We can expect some usual wear and tear on joints, etc., but there is no need for an all-out protest.  It doesn’t do anyone any good.  I’ll go see  if I can find some sparkly nail polish for you feet – maybe that will help you feel a bit better.

Left Foot: Oooooh, yes!!  Blue, please!!

Right Foot: Sparkly nail polish?! What are we? Barbie?!

Brain: Sheesh! I think I need a daily visit with my counselor sometimes  . . .

Saturday, June 09, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Well, Saturday) June 9, 2012

And it’s summertime!  How did this happen so quickly?!  And we’re doing 7 Quick Takes Saturday instead of Friday because I had a really super-bad migraine yesterday.  But, things are looking up now.

1. There’s a new neurologist in the area, so my doctor and I decided to see if a neuro consult could provide some help with my headaches.  The first step, of course, is to get me off my short acting medications (i.e. break the medication overuse headache).  I’ve had to do this before since it’s so easy to get into a medication overuse cycle, but this one is pretty entrenched so the last week has been pretty miserable.  In a week and a half, I’m going to get Botox again – yippee – and then I think we’re going to taper down my chronic medications.  Botox didn’t seem to work last time (8 years ago), but newer research has apparently shown that higher doses over a larger surface area are more likely to work.  We’ll see!

2. Rosie Girl is getting lots of work hours this summer.  So far, she’s enjoying the money, but her feet are objecting to standing for 8 hours at a time.  She’s getting used to it, though.  I love that she has a good job nearby with good co-workers.

3. Wild Man applied for a summer job at a local restaurant.  They asked for hobbies on the application.  He listed “playing guitar, being funny, and thinking about how great it would be to have this job”.  No, he’s not kissing up or anything!

4. Wild Man came back from worship team practice (that he was just observing, not even participating in!) Tuesday night with our Worship Arts Director’s mandolin so he could learn the mandolin part for one of the songs.  It’s not like he’d never picked up a mandolin before or anything like that!!!!  On Wednesday, the Worship Arts Director gave him a mandolin lesson so he’d be able to practice throughout the week and tomorrow he’s going to be playing mandolin on one of the worship songs.

5. I have camp forms to fill out for both kids.  We have never managed to have both kids at camp during the same week, despite significant efforts.  Rosie Girl goes to music camp first where she’s signed up for the arranging and composition track.  Her camp finishes on a Friday, the same day that we take Wild Man up to his camp, where he will get his hunter safety certification (along with lots of playing, swimming, another other Fort fun).

6. Wild Man is probably going to be in a one-act play that the local community theater is putting on.  Actually, they’ve got several one-act plays that they are producing with local talent.  They needed another teenage boy and one of the participants remembered Wild Man from when he auditioned for another performance (that they weren’t able to pull off, unfortunately).  So, Chris is going to the meeting tomorrow after church.  Yet another chance for Wild Man to get on stage!

7. PWM and I celebrated 20 years of wedded bliss a few days ago!!  We are now entering our 3rd decade of marriage!!

That’s it for today. I’ve had other thoughts going through my head, but nothing worth writing yet.  Have a great Sunday!

Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others are up to!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Fun Family Reunion Facts

Wild Man and I just back from a trip down South for a combined birthday party (for my aunt) and family reunion.  I am using initials to protect the identity of the innocent and to protect myself since the guilty know where I live!

  • My mom is the youngest of 12 siblings, 11 of whom lived to adulthood, 10 of whom had children, and four of whom are still living.  The oldest, second-oldest, and youngest were present (personally or electronically – more on that later) were present at the reunion.  The occasion the precipitated my mom organizing the reunion was that her sister (the oldest of the 12) turned 90 a few days ago!  Talk about a reason to party!
  • Uncle C (the oldest boy and third-oldest sibling) is 86 years old and couldn’t come to the reunion because he is in a rehab center.  We were, though, able to set up a Skype connection and let Aunt C and Uncle C “visit” for a while.  A very cool use of technology!!
  • One of my cousins, T, lives about a four hour drive from me, but the last time I saw her was a year and a half ago in Dallas.  Yes, that’s shameful. I will make every effort to see her in a more reasonable time frame!
  • I have more cousins than I can keep up with!!  I’m sure there are some I’ve never met – and others I  haven’t seen since I was a young child.  I have cousins older than my parents, so I have second cousins who are my age.  Is it any wonder that I can’t sort out who’s who?!
  • I may claim Southern heritage, but I’ve become a Northerner in many ways.  It was HOT in Mississippi last week – and I didn’t like it one bit!  I was very glad to leave the 90+ degrees (with a zillion percent humidity) and return to temps of 60s and 70s.  Yes, it can get hot up here, but it doesn’t stay hot for nearly as long.  I’m definitely acclimated to this Upper Midwestern weather!
  • But I will not give up my love of Southern food!  I had me some Popeye’s fried chicken, some homemade Chicken and Dumplings, and some iced tea while I was down South!  Unfortunately, I did get around to fried catfish or any crawfish (although, I think the crawfish may be out of season).  When I got back home, I made some venison steaks with rice and gravy because I was still on my southern food high.
  • Wild Man rediscovered the joy of fire ants.  yippee.  We have ants up here that bite, but they don’t sting like red fire ants do.  Wild Man and his cousins know to stay away from the ant hills when outside, but they still managed to get some bites.  Wild Man had one on the very bottom of his foot.  Thank the good Lord for hydrocortisone cream.

I think that’s enough “fun facts” for now.  Hopefully, we’ll do this reunion again in a couple of years – but without the red ants!