Thursday, April 28, 2016

M Is For Migraine

Lynda Robinson

Migraine has been a part of my life for almost forty years now in varying degrees. My Migraine history predates my marriage, my children, and my career. It predates the NBA careers of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the major milestones in the political careers of William Jefferson Clinton and George H.W. Bush, the Oscar win of The Deer Hunter, and the legal career of Sonia Sotomayor. It's older than the entire casts of movies anymore, and certainly older than the playlists of most radio stations.

My point here is--and I do have one--that like most people with any sort of Overarching Thing In Their Lives, I've simply Lived With It, and done so for a Very Long Time.

It is astonishing, however, how much of one's life can revolve around That One Thing.

Migraine has been a part of my life for thirty-nine years. It astonishes me to say that, but it's a Fact Undeniable. I got my first one while I was away at college, and it has been with me ever since, stealing entire days away from me, days that add up to more than a year of my life, and those are only the Headache Days. Sometimes there are Pre-Headache Days, and always, always, there are the Recovery Days. Migraine is the worst kind of thief.

Because along with stealing days, Migraine steals parts of Me, too. After fighting Migraine for so very, very long and losing, I feel at times like a Failure. Each headache feels like a Defeat, a Loss of the Battle to me. Like I'm not Trying Hard Enough. (And that nudges my old Catholic Guilt, which we all know I've railed against for ages.) Between my neurologist Dr. B. and me, we've tried so many things, and I've become so cagey in my strategies against Migraine. I study the isobars on the national weather map; I Never Go To Bed On A Red (wine); I only drink when I have something in my stomach and some water along with it; I gave up my treadmill for a recumbent bike; I manage what little stress I have; I get plenty of sleep; I avoid artificial sweeteners...the list is endless. But Migraine always defeats me in the end.

In my search for a magic cure for Migraine, I had to endure some frightening and awful side effects while my body became accustomed to what eventually became my Wonder Drug. Some of the effects are, unfortunately, long term, but they are not nearly as serious as the earliest ones. They pale in comparison to the more frequent and debilitating Migraines that I used to get before being on this medicine.

To call Migraine a headache is like calling Godzilla a lizard. During some episodes, I have lost all or part of my vision, vomited, sleepwalked, had vertigo and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. I have felt and heard my blood throbbing in my ears and temples. Even though I would run a low-grade fever, I would be freezing. I would be confused and unable to articulate what I needed or wanted. And on top of it all, always the excruciating pain.

Thankfully, because of my Wonder Drug, many of the most severe Migraine symptoms are rare now. Mostly, I get more manageable Migraine Episodes, and thanks to Dr. B., I can truly manage them. I think of Migraine now as a little more like a Caged Panther--still dark and wild and dangerous, but I have the whip and chair and bars to my advantage.

And, unlike some Migraineurs, I've met with nothing but kindness from other people, whether they were fellow sufferers or not. No one has ever said to me, "Take some Advil" or "After all, a headache is just a headache" as I've heard in some cases. Many people have offered remedies they've seen or heard in an effort to be helpful, a habit that can often irritate and frustrate other Migraineurs who have been on this journey for as long as I have, or longer. I am always appreciative of those who want to help, but I will say that the number of herbal supplements and junk remedies and homeopathic treatments claiming to relieve or cure Migraine is ridiculous and annoying. Kale and ginger smoothies will not cure a true Migraine. A cup of chamomile tea and a valerian root capsule will not stop a real Migraine.

I once begged my doctor to remove several vertebrae at the base of my skull if it would stop my Migraines. Do you think some cucumber-lime smoothies and a drop or lavender oil on each temple is really getting it done?
I think I've made my point.

While Migraines are Part Of my life, they are Not My Life.  And it is important to me that I always remember other people are dealing with far greater challenges, and dealing with them Every Single Day.

M is for Migraine.  But it's also for Moving On.

Lynda Robinson's work featured here

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

L Is For Lots Of Things, So Here Is A List

Oh, hello there. Life--another L Word--got in the way for a time, and things sort of Got Away From Me. Then there was a little Jaunt northward, some Wine Loveliness, and here we are. How about a little

List Of L's

1. Liver
2. Long Hair
3. Lemon Meringue Pie
4. Loneliness
5. Lake Season

Alrighty then; shall we on?

1. It is a small and continuing Sadness in my life that even though I truly love Liver, I only get to eat it once or twice a year. I grew up eating Liver at least once per month, expertly sauteed in gorgeous caramelized onions and served with mashed potatoes. Often, it was accompanied by my other Food Crush, big fat lima beans doused in butter, salt, and pepper. All of this was lovingly prepared by my mother, St. Patsy, much to everyone else's chagrin, at the request of my father, who also loved liver. Now, no one cooks it since Dad has been gone for 16 years, and everyone else hates it except me. Happily, a restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake that we like does it wonderfully (mashed potatoes, even!), so I can at least get it there occasionally.

2. After the Pixie Debacle, my hair has grown out past my shoulders and I could not be happier. Actually, that is A Lie. I could be a teensy bit happier: my hair could stop being recalcitrant and obdurate and, overall, an asshole. But I am trying to Be Mindful and Remember My Growing-Out Angst. I also want to mention my continued impatience? bemusement? overall wonderment? at the (largely male) reactions to my husband's very Long (and always well-kept) silver-streaked Hair. No,  everyone (Men), he is not in a band. Sigh. Wow.

3. Oh, Lemon Meringue Pie, I fear that I will have to break up with you. No one else loves you the way I do, and even when I buy the smallest size of you at the pie shop, I struggle to eat you before you become yucky. And, let's face it, I do not ever eat the Meringue (who does? ugh). What I need is Just The Lemon Part, in jars, and with a shelf life of several weeks. I know--lemon curd--but I want it to be Pie-Perfect.

4. While I was teaching, I found it very necessary to keep my Work Life and my Real Life separate. I was also very Private. I needed that for my sanity and to minimize my stress. And it worked pretty well. I left Work at Work, and Home was my sanctuary and never the twain met. Unfortunately, the Flaw in that plan has come to light now, and that flaw is that sometimes, I get a little Lonely. Teaching--at least for me--was such an intense and intensive career that I didn't make many Outside Friends; certainly not while I was actively raising my boys. Now, with Rick at work and me at home, there are times when, unless I make witty observations to the cats, I go the entire day without speaking to anyone. Please don't suggest a part-time job or volunteering. Both of those would certainly want me to follow a schedule, and I am not going to do that. Honestly, I just can't.

5. Spring has finally come to Ohio (but my snow shovels will stay on the deck until the end of April, just to be safe), but that last Winter Storm this month almost pushed me over the edge. Rick and I are even more eager for Lake Season to start, and I caught him leafing through a fishing lure catalog last week. There will be fewer snakes this year since all the shoreline bushes have been taken out, so my axe is retired. We became quite well-known last year for being The Ones With The Wineglasses On The Boat. (Why are we the only ones?)

Again, sorry for being so Late with the L's. Let's hear some of yours, or, as always, your Comments on mine.


Monday, April 04, 2016

K Is For Khakis

If there were a sudden and inexplicable Khaki Pants Shortage, I would be unreasonably happy about it. Sharing my joy would be vast multitudes of school-aged boys as well, for Khaki Pants and Collared Shirts (aka Polo Shirts) are the standard school uniform in lots and lots of urban public and parochial schools. I currently own Zero Pairs of Khaki Pants, and I plan to maintain that total for the remainder of my life. If it were up to me, that would be the Current And Future Wardrobe Status of Rick as well.

Why all this Disdain For Khaki Pants? Did I have a Goat Episode, similar to one I described in this post? Did Something Bad once happen to me whilst clad in Khakis?


As a matter of fact, I used to wear Khaki--the color--once in a while in skirts and shirts, and I even had a really great pair of Khaki cargo-style pants. It's not an especially great colour on me (some shades can make my olive skin look even more green), but accented with red, it can be a good wardrobe basic.

No, my anathema towards Khaki started when some men began wearing Khaki pants as Formal Wear, and thus began The Great Casualization Of America.

Perhaps it is Different where you live, but here in the Midwest, there is a sort of Anything But Jeans mentality when it comes to Dressing Up. As in, if you are Male, and you are Not Wearing Jeans, you are Dressed Up. (One exception to this rule is Jeans And A Sweater With A Shirt Underneath = Dressed Up.)   Footwear, sadly, does not even figure into this equation. Any sort of shoe can and will be worn.  (I. Know. )  For example, say you are a male of any age at all, and you are attending a 4 PM wedding in a church with a small reception immediately following. What do you wear? Why, your Khakis, of course! Oh, is it an evening wedding and the reception is at a swanky highrise? Well, then...better wear...Khakis! Going out to a play in the Theater District and then for drinks and dinner?



Just as I blame John McCain for legitimizing SPalin and begetting the present-day republican party, I blame Dockers for legitimizing Khakis and spawning the Downward Spiral Of Men's Dress. Don't most of us remember their PantsPantsPants commercials, like this one, which shoved Khakis and Khrotches into our Khonsciousness?

Holy Khrap.



I feel like it's No Accident that the word Khaki sounds like Piper or Marlowe yakking up a hairball.   That's pretty much how I feel about the pants.

Maybe, in the beginning, they were okay, but like so many things that seemed Perfectly Fine, they got Out Of Control.  Like Kudzu did in the South.  Khaki pants are Fashion Kudzu.  Or, like my Little Problem with Cheetos about ten years ago.  I could not be trusted; I ate almost a whole bag, and Rick had to hide them from me.  The difference there was, I got nauseated and sick from Cheetos and I learned my lesson.  Men are not Learning Their Lesson from Khaki pants, and instead, we are the ones ready to throw up.

Okay.  I think I've more than made my point.  Now go forth and purge Khaki Pants from the closets of all the men you know.

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