F'ing disc width


Patrick Hard came to mind again today, as I was playing ultimate this evening. I kept thinking, I don't like who I become when I play ultimate [in certain circumstances], thinking of how Patrick stopped playing open because he didn't like who he became when he played open.

When we arrived at the game tonight, the score was already 4-0, good guys winning, and it didn't improve much for the other team in any appreciable way after we started playing. The good-guys team was playing a woman down, as only two women were there, and I was going to be the third, so zone was clearly working for the team, and not working for the other team.

Teams, like people, tend to focus on one thing and ride it, er, obsess on it, for all it's worth. The opposing team was no exception. Their obsession was one of those rules that very, very few people even notice, and only beginning teams pay attention to. Their obsession?

Disc width.

Right. Disc width. One of those calls that no one who can throw makes.

They called disc width a number of times on one of our women players who was marking the thrower, clam in a zone actually. She didn't know what was going on, so they would call it repeatedly. After the third or fourth instance, I yelled back, "You're fine! You're more than a disc width away from him!" to which one of their teammates called to me, "She can't wrap her arms around the thrower."

This is true, she's not allowed to. She also wasn't.



I was holding my shit just fine for a short while, and then the main woman handler called disc width on me.

When I was an arm length away from her.

There are some things I find inexcusable. One of those is bad sportsmanship on a team beating another team 9-0. I was that bad sportsman tonight. I ignored her, as she was clearly in the wrong, and kept counting. Even if I disagreed with her call, the correct actions were contest or drop two counts and keep going.

I did neither, and kept counting. She called double team again. I stood up from my mark, called violation, and she threw the disc. It came back, and explained to her, "THIS," holding the disc between us, "is disc width," and stepped back to where I was marking, "and this is not." I continued, "I don't care how big your boobs are, or how big my boobs are, even at the narrowest point, we were still more than a disc width apart. Learn your distances," and handed the disc back to her.

I then went round-the-world on her, and marked as hard as I could. It pissed me off that every single other person on the field was standing still, flat footed as we moved. One guy even laughed at my marking, which only served to piss me off even more. The woman complained about my arms being in her way, when neither were they in her way, nor was she even fucking pivoting. She stood there like a blob and spun around.

Give me a fucking break.

If you're going to make bad calls, at least have the skill to fucking back them up.

Given that their whole team was travelling left and right, never bringing the disc up to the line, bringing it to the line 2 meters off from straight up, and running with the disc after catching when they didn't need to take any steps to stop, and making these dumb-ass calls, I did the only thing I could do to stop being a raging bitch.

I left the field.

I left the field, took myself out of play, left my other teammates hanging since we didn't have any subs, and sat at the sideline.

What the fuck was going on? We were winning 9-0, I DIDN'T CARE ABOUT THIS GAME. What was wrong?

I found out about an hour later, when my vision disappeared. That rage? Hello, migraine.

So, I am now 3 for 3 with migraines after ultimate. I even jogged today during the game. I took it easy. I sandbagged. I didn't run hard except for maybe one or two sprints tonight, and I still triggered a migraine. My inexcusable behavior has an excuse, the migraine, and it feels dirty to forgive that behavior. I wouldn't have it from any of my team when I was coaching, I shouldn't have it in myself.

Worse, I injured both of my achilles.

I am now blind, hobbled, and in so much pain from the daggers stabbing in my head that, well, come near me and I'll show you what a raging bitch can be. In the meantime, yeah, to the woman who can't throw, can't pivot, and doesn't know the rules, yeah, I'm sorry for my behavior.

Image of my cleats

Recovery mode


The day after a migraine is always rough. No, no, that's not quite correct. The DAYS after a migraine are always rough. This last one yesterday was rough (that's two for the year, nominally five months apart, this is a good trend compared to previous years), as it was different than my usual ones, and far more painful to add insult to injury. I was at my "standing desk" (read: empty bookcase in the living room where I stand up, as it's the perfect height), typing on some email, when I realized I couldn't see the bottom of the screen. I looked down, I couldn't see my hands.

Usually when I have a migraine, there's a spot in my vision that is gone. Not a spot that's black or a spot that's white, it's a spot that is just gone. I don't see it, and I don't know that I don't see it. When I describe that to people, they don't quite understand, "So it's a white spot?" "No." "So, it's black?" "No." "Grey?" "No, it just isn't there." Think about it this way: what color is the vision beyond your peripheral? What color do you see straight behind you?

You don't. You don't see that color because it isn't color, it's outside your vision. You don't see it, but in this case you know you don't see it. You can't tell me what color it is, though, as it isn't a color, it's just not there.

Same thing with that spot. It's not a color, it just isn't there.

I usually figure out it's not there because the surrounding details don't make sense: an odd word, a missing eye, a smaller field of vision.

That last one is key.

When my vision field is reduced, the rest of my vision comes into sharper focus, with more brilliant colours. It's kinda neat, actually, how intense the rest of my vision becomes, though, really, as a precursor for what's to come, the excitement of the amazing vision wears off really fast.

In one of my typical migraines, that spot increases in size, becomes an arc, that arc separates to become a horn shape, then expands to fill my vision, and I'm lost: my vision is gone, and all I can do is ride it out, wait for my vision to clear in 20 minutes, an hour, a day, I never know how long it'll take.

So, yeah, the auras yesterday were different. It was a blindness sweep from the bottom of my vision around the left side to the top, and was gone. About two hours in, I saw a remnant of a horn, but the headache was bad enough that just noticing it was an impressive feat.

The numbness in my hands will start at my fingertips and move up my arm into my chest and face, and the nausea soon after. I say numbness, but yesterday, I paid attention to it, to figure out if yes, it is numbness or not. For my face, yes, it was indeed numbness, just as with a dentist. Nothing moved correctly, nothing felt right, or really felt at all.

With my hands, though, it wasn't exactly numbness. It was pressure on my hands, not quite like a buzzing, but something close. Not pinpricks, but still small constant pressure. I'll probably pay more attention to it next time.

Today, everything is FUCKING BRIGHT. I'm wearing sunglasses, but it's too bright outside.

Under the influence of a migraine


Or, how to take care of me when I'm in a lot of pain and can't see anything.

Yeah, well known, I am one of those 300 million people worldwide who suffer migraines. Most people who have migraine headaches have just an incredibly awfully bad headache where the the intense throbbing, often on one side of the head, makes life somewhat unpleasant until it goes away.


As if a migraine could ever be "just" a headache. They are horrible awful things, sometimes as bad as "Oh, just kill me now, please" bad, said with complete sincerity. I have a couple friends who also have migraines. They aren't part of the 15% lucky few who have migraines with auras. Now, if you want a really rockin' fun time, that's the way go to.

Did you know that three fourths of migraine suffers are women? Yeah, a fact I find somewhat ironic, as migraines in my family run up the patriarchal side of the family tree from my dad to his dad. Suckasaurus for the Hodsden line.

Yeah, well, this morning, I woke up to another migraine. I've been doing fairly well this year, a far cry from my worst migraine year that included one batch of four days in a row of migraines and just under twenty for the year. That year sucked.

Today, as I was with family, I was surrounded by people who knew what to do, how to take care of me, what I needed to make it through this batch of crap, I wasn't overly worried. There have been some crazy bad migraine timings, though (say, when I was driving my car up the 101, and realized I couldn't see the tires of the car in front of me, that was fun), so I figured, hey, if I'm ever around you and tell you, "I'm having a migraine," you'll know what to do.

1. Safety.

The first thing I need is to be safe. If I'm going blind, which I do with my auras, I want to sleep through as much of it as I can. Losing one's sight is a traumatic experience and defiinitely not one I would recommend to anyone. I will also want to sleep through the worst of the pain that's about to happen. To do this, I need to be able to relax enough to sleep, and the fundamental need at this point is safety. I may be at a friend's house on his couch, in the back of my car pulled over at a rest stop, snuggled in my mom's bed, or curled up under my desk at the office, but I need to believe I'm safe.

2. Pain killers

If I'm still coherent and not asleep yet, I'm going to want pain killers. Rare is the time when I don't have my bottle of acetaminophen, ibupofin, aspirin and combinations of such (excedrin migraine, which has caffeine in it) handy. If I'm lucky, I may have some stronger, left over painkillers from a friend (thanks, Tyler and Adam!). As much as I hate taking drugs, trying to bear through migraine pain is just rather dumb.

3. Darkness

Like most people with migraines, I become somewhat to very photophobic. Normal light from a lamp can become too much very easily. A dark room, or even a darkened room and a pillow or cover over my head is going to work. In desperation, I'll probably have my sunglasses on if I need to be moving, even indoors. Every little bit helps!

4. A bowl

Yeah, if I've eaten in the last two hours, it's not staying down. Much of my body goes numb, and my stomach is going to roll. The numbness is usually pretty awful, starting in my fingertips and moving up my arm in a 20cm segment until it moves from my shoulder to my face and my face goes numb. Usually during that process, my stomach starts, and there isn't much to do but let anything that's down come back up. Yeah, did I mention this is a fun process? I thought I mentioned that detail.

5. Quiet

I remember one time during a migraine when my dad was working on the upstairs bathroom of the house. He was on the other side of the house. He was on a different floor. He was hammering away and each blow sent a reverberating concussion through my head. I eventually called to him and asked him to stop. I remember his looking disappointed, but his expression was also full of understanding. He stopped, and I slept. Reason for that story? I really want quiet, and no noisemakers.

6. Sleep / time

The last things I'm going to need is to handle the worst of the migraine are sleep and time. Sleep to avoid the worst of the pain, and time to recover from the pain. I'll probably be out of commission for anything remotely exciting for the next 24 hours at a minimum. Exercising is out. Anything requiring a physical effort is out. The lingering pain is one that isn't like any other pain I've had, but it's well defined and it sucks.

7. Soup

Yeah, if I've been in pain for hours, and nauseous for most of that time, too, when I'm finally able to eat (eventually!), I'm going to be ravenous. Unfortunately, the only food I'm going to be able to tolerate is going to be something easy to swallow, but still tasty. Soup fits the bill, even in 100˚ heat (just make it a chilled soup, if it's that hot out).

Some day, I'm going to draw up a picture of what my auras look like. Having studied them in depth, oh, JUST THIS MORNING, I can saw, wow, those pictures will be lovely. Until then, hey, if you want to help me, or anyone really, who is having a migraine, yeah, these seven items will give you a good head start. Gentle head rubbing wouldn't hurt either.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig


So, the weather isn't particularly good today. After dropping Gab off at school, I wandered to the Starbucks as planned, but later purchased a pumpkin spice latte for Jessica and drove back to her house. Her conference call had run over, and another call was scheduled, and you know what? I totally understood how frustrating work can be when you want to do something and work just keeps piling up.

I was kinda wondering when you'd show up.


That headache I woke up with this morning was a migraine. I knew it was from the pattern of the pain (one side of my head, the left this morning), the intensity of the pain (not quite 'kill me now' but definitely no working out today) and the insiduous way it appeared. That I cringed at the sunlight streaming in from my bedroom window as I closed the drapes sorta rather sealed the deal, eh?

I wasn't sure about the arm numbness. I was hoping it was just from my arm resting funny on the desk.

But now that you're here, now that you're starting to steal my vision, slowly, surely, without mercy, I'm ready to give up and go back to bed. Kinda sad, really, as I was just getting into the groove of my work.

I'll have to try again this evening, I guess.

Not sure how happy the clients are going to be about this.

Processed? Out!


Well, I called Bob, Kris' dad, today. There's only so many days in a row I can spend in darkness, not moving, wishing for quiet, before every fiber in my body is going to scream for a solution to this ongoing problem. Three times in five months, I've had four in a row, and it's getting out of hand. If it's the wine, or even alchohol in general, fine, I'll stop drinking it.

When Bob called me back, he had some good dietary suggestions for me, which was what I was asking for. I was looking for an elimination diet, maybe to help me figure out what was my trigger. I thought I'd have to cut everything out of my diet and subsist on rice and beans for a while.

I was, thankfully, wrong.

Out of my diet is now: nitrates, nitrites, tyramine, chocolate, sulfites. When I asked how to determine if food has any of these in it, because, let's face it, except for "chocolate," the rest of them are sorta hard to figure out, Bob told me, "Avoid processes foods."

Okay, I can do that.

I've recently switched to a vegetarian diet, though didn't tell very many people about the change. I'm the easiest vegetarian you'll probably ever meet: if you serve me meat, I'll eat it. I like Andy's philosophy that (I'm poorly paraphasing here) wasting the animal is worse than killing the animal in the first place, so if it's there, better to eat it than refuse and have it thrown away. Or something like that.

However, my food choices have been remarkably fruits and vegetable based, even for me. I suspect Lisa would be somewhat pleased.

Update: Okay, after going to the store and buying a bunch of unprocessed snacks, I did the research for high level tyramine foods. I really should have done the check before I left. Now, I don't know if the auras and migraines are dietary triggered, but, if I had to guess, this could very well be my trigger. Check out the foods with tyramine: hard/aged cheeses (check), avocados (check), eggplant (check), oranges (check), grapes (check), nuts (check), soy (check), leftovers older than a day (check).

This is going to take some work. Though, honestly, anything has to be easier than that no meat, no wheat, no dairy, no soy diet I had five years ago. That one was hard.

The gods are cruel


I don't particularly like most alcoholic drinks. Most don't taste good, usually make me shudder, and have the unpleasant side effect of drunkenness. This has been true since I first started drinking in college. Sure, I could choke down a beer, or finish a (small) glass of wine, but likely as not I'd leave a half finished drink somewhere rather than finish it.

Wine coolers were a college exception, as you couldn't really taste the alcohol.

At my second job out of college, my boss, Wook (one of the best people on this planet, I should mention), didn't drink alcohol because he didn't like the taste. His declaration made me realize a person could, wow, CHOOSE not to drink alcohol because it doesn't taste good. The thought was revolutionary to me.

I stopped drinking, for the most part.

When I started dating Kris, not drinking became even easier, as he didn't drink either.

There was the occasional glass, like once a year or something, but few enough that I could count the number of alcoholic drinks on one hand, counting the number of sodas on the other.

And then I started working for V.A.

I swear, between Ariel and Pine, Aaron and Bharat, I was encouraged to drink more alcohol than any small person should be allowed to. And I drank it willingly, don't let my wording make you think differently. There's video were I redefine the Arabic number system when completely drunk. It is spectacular.

The alcohol was more the exception than the rule, though. The Whiskey Expo and Doyle's cocktail party are the big ones I can think of. I think in the last year I've left more glasses of wine and open-but-just-tasted bottles of beer for Kris and my mom than I ever even drank in college.

I've grown fond of the "take a sip, switch the glasses with someone who's finished" trick as of late.

So, when Kris, Heather and I went to Santa Barbara for Andy's birthday and spent most of the day tasting wine, I can't say I was particularly hopeful I'd find anything I like. I just don't like the tannins taste in wine, the bitter taste in beer, or the shudder factor of hard alcohol. I realize this, I'm good with it. I don't need anything but the slightest of sips.

And then the heavens opened up, pouring light and music and joy down unto the earth.

We found the Oreana 2006 Verdelho.

To say this is the best wine ever created might be a slight exaggeration IN YOUR BOOK. It's not on my blog. I immediately wanted to buy a case of the stuff.

Kris wouldn't let me, allowing me only 3 bottles.

They lasted about 2 weeks.

I kept asking Andy to bring up bottles when he journeyed north. I kept asking Heather to bring bottles back when she journeyed south. Eventually, I gave up on both those ideas, and found the winery's website, ordered 6 bottles online and had them shipped.

I managed to share one with friends at a communal dinner, where share means "take to the dinner and run away before it was opened, lest I drink the whole bottle myself, it's that good." The rest, oh, the rest are mine mine mine!

Of the remaining five, I've had two of them so far. The first bottle was with Mom, and took us two days to drink. The other bottle was with Mark and Megan this past weekend as they came over for dinner. Except, not really "over for dinner." More like, "Megan fed us in our own house" dinner. I'm still not sure how we managed such love.

There was about a 1/4 bottle left of the wine, so I had a glass of it on Monday night.

And woke up Tuesday morning at six a.m. with my right hand numb.

Now, at first I didn't notice the numbness as anything unusual. In my ongoing effort to sit up straight and get rid of that dowager hump that's forming on my neck, I managed to pinch a nerve in my shoulder, causing my left arm to go numb any time I do sit up straight (if ever there's an argument to slouch, that one works). So, I was half asleep and my hand was numb, whatever, right?

But it was my right hand. A realization I took a bit to make.

Aw crap.

I lasted until 2:30, when I was driving back from a meeting. I was about a quarter mile from home when I realized my vision was going: my migraine auras were starting up. I drove home as quickly as I could, losing only about 20% of my vision by the time I pulled into the driveway, and fortunately all of that along the outside periphery.

Phone call here, text message there, two Omega 3 pills, one magnesium, two Tylenol™ and one doggie in the bed later, and I was out to the world.

This is the second time in two bottles that I've had the bottom quarter or so of the bottle, then had a migraine the next day. The last one was that first bottle of Oreana Verdelho from last month. That migraine was also one of the big ones.

I'm very unhappy about this realization. Wine and cheese are indeed known triggers for migraines. I hadn't linked them to my migraines, though. It could be the bottom of the bottle, too, as I didn't have a migraine after dinner with Mark and Megan. It could also be the effect of food with the wine that helped me out.

Regardless, I find this whole connection completely unfair. I shake my fists at the sky! I mean, come on! I find the most incredible wine EVER, and it makes me go blind?

How fair is that?

Migraine visuals


I get migraine headaches.

There. I've admitted it. The world now knows I have migraine headaches, and they suck. A lot of people have "migraines," which are really just tension headaches, or stress induced headaches. Sucky suck for them, because, yes, it's a headache, but it's not really. Not REALLY a migraine.

I'm one of the lucky (yeah, in quotes, "LUCKY") ones who also have auras before a migraine. The percentage ranges from 12% to 25% of the people who have migraines who also have visual disturbances (auras) before the doozy of a migraine hits, depending on which study you read. I've tried to figure out how to tell people what I'm seeing, that I'm about to go blind and I have fifteen minutes to get someplace safe before I lose my sight, but most people just don't understand.

Here's how I describe what I see: imagine looking at something and not seeing borders. Like, look at my face. Now, you see the wall behind me. Imagine the border between my face and the wall gone, but in such a way that you don't notice the loss of the border.

If the wall is blue, and my face distinctly not blue, then it's obvious where the border between my face and the wall is. However, when I'm experiencing the preliminary auras of a migraine, that border is gone, EVEN BETWEEN TWO VERY DIFFERENT COLORS. It's gone, and I don't know it's gone. It's very disconcerting.

I've thought about doctoring an image to show what I see. The preliminary auras are mostly a lost of borders. After a short while, I see a bright spot, like looking at a really bright light (try the sun, but in a much smaller space), and the emptiness from looking at the bright spot and looking away. The brightness will grow, typically into a thin arc, with zig-zag iridescent lights. The arc and zig-zag lights are typical auras for most migraine sufferers.

But that doctored image...

Turns out, I took a picture that shows what I'm talking about.

If you zoom in and look at Sarah's face, the border of her face is blurred into the hair of the girl behind her. However, the color of her hair is the same as the trees in the background. Just looking at the close up of this section makes my stomach turn the way it does when I'm about to go blind from a migraine aura (which tells me, it's a learned response and not really part of the migraine, something I should work on stopping next migraine).

This is the closest I've come to what I see with the borders blurred. I'll have to work on the blinding zig-zag line next.

Freakin' genius


Jessica called me tonight as Kris and I were heading out to dinner. Doyle had called earlier (well, texted) with an invite for dinner and Dave & Busters, and we were heading out to join the group for dinner. Given that I had declined about six other invites from Doyle, and figured he'd stop inviting us out if we didn't actually accept one or two, I insisted Kris head out with me for at least dinner. He was too interested in WoW for us to actually spend an evening away from the computers, so dinner was it.

Jessica had had an okay day, and seemed to be checking in, see how things were going. For a moment, I thought there wasn't much particular point to the conversation other than checking in. Then, she busted out with, "I have to tell you, you're a freakin' genius."

I paused and smiled, wondering what I had done this time. "Uh, thanks?" was all I could manage, slightly confused when I couldn't figure out what I had brilliant accomplished.

"You don't seem too surprised."

"Yeah, well, I'm wondering the source of my brilliance."

"Ah, well..."

Turns out, it started when I was back in Indiana.

I had declined many of the items Jessica had offered me to eat or drink. I drank mostly water, declining the diet and regular sodas. I declined the Crystal Light, too. Except the water, the drinks offered had aspartame in them, and, as we all know, aspartame triggers my migraines. So, I declined.

The gum she was offering also had aspartame in it, so I declined it, too. Jessica asked why, why would I decline the gum she was offering. I took the package, flipped it over and showed her the Phenylketonurics Contains Phenylalanine message. "See that? Contains aspartame. It's one of my biggest migraine triggers."

Now, Jess has had essentially a six month long migraine. She copes WAAAAAAAY better than I would if I was going through a six month long migraine. I'm fairly certain she doesn't have the extra special aura bonus I do, but her headache is essentially one kabillion times longer than my headaches are, so she wins in the sucky-suck competition.

I hadn't explained why until she offered me the gum when she visited last week. When I explained, a little light went off. She's had this six month migraine, right? So, that adds stress. When she's stressed, she pulls out the gum and chews away. You see what's going on here, right?

When I explained why I didn't chew gum, at least none that have aspartame in them, she threw her hands up exasperatedly. Might that be her problem, too? One way to find out: she stopped chewing gum, and threw out all that had aspartame in it.

Five days later into the experiment, and she's migraine free. Five days gum free and five days headache free. It's like the clouds parted, the sun came out, the choirs started singing, and all was glorious again. Her life is just that much better.

And I am a genius.

A freakin' genius.

Echoes of past hammers


I remember as a child having my dad bring me home from school because I was sick. He had a work schedule that seemed to work with being home for us kids, though probably not with as much sleep as he'd like or wanted.

One afternoon of being home sick is particularly vivid, as Dad had brought me home because I couldn't see: I had a migraine, with the auras, and it was a doozy. He actually hadn't been working the night shift that day, and hence sleeping when the school called. Instead, he had been working on the upstairs bedrooms, refinishing the attic to make a couple more bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.

After picking me up from school, he plunked me in his bed, shut the door, and went back upstairs to continue working on the bathroom.

The bathroom.

The bathroom, which was on the other side of a pillow, through the door, down the hall, up the stairs, around the corner and through another door.

And every hammer hit on a nail was a BOOM through my skull, the sunlight piercing my eyes through clenched lids and, yes, that pillow.

I remember calling for Dad, and asking him to stop hammering. Pleeeeeeeeease?

He did.

Now, fast forward to today, two days after one of the worst migraines I've had in a long time, a mere 36 hours after the ebb of the day long blindness, my vision restored until the next wave. I'm reminded again of the memory of that migraine years ago, listening to Kris' practicing thrum through my head, bouncing between ears before finally leaving.

I let Kris practice. If I concentrate hard enough, maybe I won't notice the constructive interference happening in my head...