No time for this!


I so way do not have time for this.

My weekend is completely full. As I looked over my list on Friday night for what I wanted/needed to accomplish this weekend, I thought, "there's no way I can get all of this done." There were about 25 items on that list, and writing about that list wasn't on it.

This morning, I woke up late, around 7:30 am, and wondered if I wanted to get up, or just lie there next to Kris longer. I decided to lie there, but continue reading Expendable, one of two books Andy had loaned us a couple weeks ago. I was about half way through it, zipping along when I had a few spare minutes here and there. It was the first fiction book I'd picked up to read in over a year, all the other books I've read being either technical books or non-fiction good for me books on gardening or mental toughness or PHP.

I blame Catch 22. It made it to the top of my pile, and I've tried to read it so many times. It's about some guy who's incredibly lazy in a screwed up world. Kris likes it. Mark loves it. Tyler thinks it's great. Why do all the boys like it, and I can't stand it.

It's still at the top of my book pile, which has continued to grow bigger.

So, I skipped it to read Expendable, since Andy specifically brought it over for Kris and I to read. And I was reading it.

I read for a couple hours, though how it took me a couple hours to read it, I don't know. I thought I read quickly, but I was on only page 225 when I noticed a bright light on the right side of the pages.

Now, I hadn't looked directly at a light source yet that morning. I was nicely lying next to Kris, inserted gently into the Doggie Matrix, casually reading a book quickly. There was no reason for that bright light in my vision.


I knew what that light was.

"F---!" I exclaimed, throwing back the covers, taking a small tan dog with it, waking Kris from the light sleep he'd been in while I had been snuggling him.

"What is it?"

"A migraine. Another migraine. Another f---ing migraine. Third one in less than a month. What's going on? Why is this starting?"

I marched into the bathroom, cranked the shower on as hot as I could stand the water, popped two Advil and climbed into the water. I may have drained the water heater standing in that water, as hot as I could stand it, as long as there was hot water.

See, for the last quarter century, when I have a migraine headache, I become immediately stressed. It's a learned response: I know what's coming, I panic, I down the painkillers and rush to bed as quickly as I can, praying I can be asleep or otherwise oblivious to the avalanche of pain and numbness and nausea and blindness that's going to hit me in the next twenty minutes.

This learned response has not helped me at all. I still have the pain. I still have the numbness. I still have the nausea.

I still go blind.

So, I jumped into the shower, water as hot as I could stand it. I read recently that increasing the blood flow to the extremities can alleviate the worst of a migraine. I can't stand the aura, I can't stand going blind, or realizing that no, I can't trust my own senses, I can't trust my own sight. The blindness is the worst part. I'm not sure if the suggestion to heat my hands was going to help, but I was going to try.

I'll approach this as scientifically as I can. I can't affect the blindness if I don't stay awake for them. I can't see the effectiveness of the different processes I try if I'm not awake to see the effects.

After I ran out of hot water, I dried off, went back into the bedroom and crawled into the bed to watch the lights. Must to my surprise, they disappeared after about 15 minutes, while I was still awake. I was thrilled, picked up Expendable again, and started reading. I managed to finish it, then fall asleep for the afternoon. I managed to miss practice, as well as time to finish a dozen things I wanted to do today.

Today is totally shot. Maybe I should just go to sleep again.



Google has a program where you can set up new search results to be emailed to you on a regular basis, say once a day. I have several set up, because I find them interesting. I also have a couple set up for research purposes for a couple projects I'm doing.

One of the alerts is the term "migraine" from which I receive anywhere from three to three dozen notes, all in one email, a day.

The first one on today's alert read:

Migraine may protect against cognitive decline
Reuters.uk - UK
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with a lifetime history of migraine have
less cognitive decline over time than women without migraine. ...

My first thought was, hot damn! Finally, something positive to come out of these torturous events.

I scrolled a little farther down the page, and came across this alert:

Migraines could lead to brain damage
Hindustan Times - New Delhi,Delhi,India
Researchers have established the fact that migraine can be a progressive
disorder and frequent sufferers have an increased risk of brain damage. ... 

Great. Just great.

Do I have a choice? I'd like the first, please.

Reading the article, though, doesn't sound like the first is actually incongruous with the second. The study shoes the rate of decline is less for migraineurs with aura, but the decline is still there. Possible reasons are diet changes, adequate sleep and other trigger avoidances that cause people who have migraines to be healthier overall (minus the headaches).

It's almost as if we're shown early in life how being blind, nauseous, and frail can be, and we adjust to minimize the reoccurances of those reminders.

Or something.



Normal body temperature is 98.6° The problem with "normal" however, is that normal is a guideline, and very, very few people are truly normal. I never truly wanted to be normal except for a couple of seriously misguided, adolescent years, when "normal" meant having friends. Being extraordinary means you have a life worth living.

There are, however, expections to the desire not to be normal. Body temperature may or may not be one, I haven't quite decided.

My normal body temperature is 97.6°, where "normal" in this case is defined as the temperature I get most often if I check my temperature when I'm not sick, not exercising, not just waking up and not eating. Having done this measurement a half dozen times, all with the same result, I feel comfortable in saying my normal body temperature is 97.6°

So, when I had my second migraine of the month today, I thought about raising my body temperature to see if that would help speed the thing away.

I arrived home from class around 3:30, and noticed the light in the living room was a little odd. I didn't think much past that thought about it, which cracks me up in retrospect. How many times have I gone blind with these things, each one starting the same way? How many times have I thought, "Huh? The light looks odd?" or "Everything is in really sharp focus?" or "WTF? The door is f***ing open!" Oh, wait, that last one was just one time.

At 3:45 I was half blind, sending a note to Kris that I wouldn't make practice that evening, and stumbing to the bed, dragging Bella with me. If I was going to sleep, I damn well sure was going to have a warm dog in the bed with me.

I woke up two hours later, and tried to do something, anything productive, only to have spots reform at 6:45. My first thought was, go to sleep, avoid what's coming. My second thought was, stop, this is a learned response. The shivering, the chills, the shudders, all of these I've learned over the years suffering through migraines. How about trying a proactive approach?

One of the beliefs around migraines is that the headache is caused a constriction of blood vessels which causes blood to leave the extremities, only to rush back into the head when the blood vessels later dialate. If I can heat my hands and feet and head, the theory goes, the blood won't rush back, and the pounding headache won't trigger.

Of course, lots of pain killers can do the same trick.

I took a bath as hot as I could stand the water, then turned it up higher. I started with a shower and a closed drain, sitting down and switching the water once I was standing in 4" of water. After staying in the water, only half of which I could see at this point, for about fifteen minutes, I stood up, toweled off, and left. The visual symptoms didn't disappear quickly, but I had successfully stayed awake through an entire aura.

I'll take the small victory.

When I checked my body temperature again, I was feeling feverish. Clearly I had succeeded in raising my body temperature, but by how much? Did I manage 100°? How about 99°? Even 99° would be good, I thought.

My temperature?


I was finally normal.

Of course, a lower body temperature has been linked to a longer life span, so maybe I should stop worrying and accept my body is helping me in my quest to live to 120.

I really wish, however, we could figure out the true cause of the aura. Those are what I hate. I can't trust my eyes. Seeing is not believing for me. If it were, then I have front row seats into regular rifts of the space time continuum.

And people, they're pretty for only so long.

Wireless is so great


How else can I sit in front of the porcelain god, ready to puke as my body betrays me with this migraine, and still continue to write? I mean, really.

Not quite how I planned today


One of the great advantages of being in the Master Gardener program is early access to the plants available at the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County's Spring Garden Market. Basically, we have first dibs on all the tomatoes, peppers, basil and salvias available to the public in two weeks.

Not that I know what salvias are.

After we arrived at the pre-sale plant displays, I, of course, having been in a car for more than twenty minutes, needed to pee, so wandered off to the bathroom, before heading back to the plants. In the bathroom, the lighting was strange, and I noticed my vision was a little strange during one glance, and even thought to myself, "Huh, that looked like a migraine."

I managed to head back out to the plants, and get a lay of the land, peppers to the far left, basil to my left, cherry tomatoes to my right, beefsteak behind them, and heirloom far right, before I realized I couldn't see half the face of the woman in front of me.

No, I thought. No, no, no, NO, NO! I have plans for today! I'm going to buy all my plants and plant them. I want to take pictures of this place and my garden before and after. I'm going to plant my blueberries and basil today. I'm going to go for a run with the dogs! I have a tournament tomorrow! NO!

I stepped back into the shadows of the gazebo, stood then, and started crying. 2 minutes later, I couldn't see anything out of the left side of my vision. I stopped crying and just stood there, waiting for someone to tell us we were heading home.

Susan and Abby noticed me standing there, looking no doubt like a lost little girl, and asked me if I were okay. When I said no, and explained what was happening, both of them immediately understood. Susan used to have migraines with aura, also. She said she didn't lose all of her vision as I do, but she understood. Abby also said she understood, as she has had migraines, though not with and regularity, thankfully. She offered to walk me around the area and pick out plants with me.

I was so overjoyed, and thankful. I might not be able to see what I was getting, but I would still be able to get plants!

Abby walked me around, asked what I wanted, found various different kinds of peppers, basil and tomatoes, reading the descriptions, offering suggestions, filling up two flats with vegetables. I managed to spend $87 on plants I couldn't see, but was sure to love when they grew into amazing bountiful food sources.

Susan and the carpool drove me home, Kathleen helped me open the door and shush the dogs, Janis and Kathy brought my plants to the door. I called Doyle and told him I wasn't coming in, took two Excedrin Migraine and tried to sleep.

I must have slept somewhat, because it was after one when someone knocking on the front door triggered a dog barking fit. It was only after stumbling to the kitchen and looking out the window that I realized there was someone at the door, and she wasn't leaving.

What is it with certain solicitors that they think they can hover at your door for five minutes while you're clearly NOT coming to the door, much less going to answer it. This particular solicitor is with some consumer studies group, presumably wanting to ask us detailed questions about our shopping and purchases. What I want to know is why our house has been targeted. I don't want to talk to these people. I don't want to let marketers know what I'm purchasing, allowing them to target me better. I don't care if the results are used in aggregate only, hey solicitors, get off my property, you are not welcome.

I tried to sleep more, but wasn't able to, having woken up, the EM caffeine running through my veins.

I want dark. I want quiet. I want vicodin or codeine or something to stop this pain. I don't have time for this.

On a tally note: 2 migraines to 2 menstruations. Much better than the Migraine Year from Hell, also known as 2004.

But it doesn't cause cancer


A note in the October 2006 issue of Health magazine, on page 70, reads:

Sweet news about a sugar substitute

Aspartame, the sugar-free sweetener in hundreds of soft drinks and diet products, doesn't cause cancer, according to a National Cancer Institute (NCI) study of nearly 500,000 older Americans. Previous research in rats linked aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) to lymphoma, leukemia, and brain tumors. But the NCI found that drinking even as many as three (or more) diet sodas a day seems to be safe.

I read this, and cringed. Sure, aspartame may not cause cancer, but it can still kill you.

Aspartame has been linked to migraine headaches as a cause. I know of no person who suffers migraines on a regular basis who couldn't reduce the frequency by cutting aspartame from his diet.

Aside from the loss of functionality, blinding pain and lost productivity that comes with a migraine headache, more research shows a strong link between migraines and stroke, with migraines sometimes considered the equivalent of a mini-stroke. Each of those migraines can mean more brain damage. Even if this damage is slight, the accumulation of years of migraines and mini-strokes can be devastating over the long term.

So, telling people that aspartame is okay to drink because it doesn't cause cancer is a bit like saying, it's okay to play with the gun loaded with rubber bullets: the rubber bullets won't kill you if you're standing far away (doesn't cause cancer), but they sure as hell can if you're standing close and get the bullet in the eye (migraines as mini-strokes).

Is it really worth the 10 calories in a stick of aspartame-laced gum to risk a migraine and the long term consequences?

Not and never for me.

If I choose to drink a soda (I've had six this year), it'll be full sugar.

I'll take the stairs to burn those extra calories, instead, thank you very much.

Toil of Tears to tears


After fighting with the DSL for a couple hours, and spending another half hour on the phone with the DSL company (most of which I spent telling them, this isn't going to help - shock, I was right), I drove up to Bay Leaf Lodge to help Mark and Megan around the house.

The interesting thing about these Toil of Tears is that, as the house owner and sponsor of this work, you have to describe as best you can what you want done and how you would do the task, then let go. Let go, and hope the person doing the work will do it as well as you would, that they care as much as you do.

It's hard. I'm not very good at it. At the Worlds Fundraising at Krikitt Wol, I cringed through most of the day, and, as Doyle can attest, micromanaged much too much.

Mark does a much better job (or, at least, projects doing a better job) of letting go, and let us do our assigned tasks.

I was caulking his windows when I had to stop. I was amazed at how much more difficult caulking windows is, compared to caulking trim in a bathroom. I managed to do well in the bathroom after all of 10 feet. I never managed to do well on his windows, trying freeform, with tape, with adjusted tape, using too much caulk with wiping off, and using too little caulk with backfill. Nothing seemed to help: I sucked at it the whole time.

I managed to finish two windows and was working on the third, having forgotten to do the door, when I realized the end of the caulk looked very sparkly, shiny, and, aw crap, iridescent. One look to the horizon and I realized I had 20 minutes before I went blind. Again.

Megan handed me four Advil, the latest in the tests of which OTC drugs I can take to ward off the worst of this migraine that's about to hit me over the head with a sixteen pound sledgehammer. Or was it the twenty pounder? I forget.

I read recently (in the grand scheme of things), that Tylenol (yeah, yeah, acetaminophen) actually has no affect on suppressing migraine pain, because of the pain relief process. Essentially, a migraine headache is so bad because it's caused by the sudden dialation of severely constricted blood vessels. The rush of blood (hence, increased blood pressure) to the head causes the pounding that is felt with each heartbeat.

Ignoring the fact that the body is ridiculously good at balancing itself, and that pressure should release immediately. It doesn't.

Advil (yeah, yeah, ibuprofin) is an anti-inflammatory. The thought is that this property will reduce the blood pressure in the whole body, causing less severe headaches.

For me, however, it's less the severe headache and more the blindness, numbness and nausea that sucks. Hate it.

The Advil helped, because my vision cleared up in about thirty minutes and I was semi-functional the rest of the day.

Heather came over with dinner in the early evening, and we spent four hours watching the first three discs of Veronica Mars, Season One. I had most of the day planned with various house tasks, mostly clean up work, and managed to get none of it done today.

There are times when life decides something else is more important than that to-do list. Sometimes it just likes to tell you it's time to stop stressing about everything and just let go.

Migraine notes from RealAge

RealAge: Help for Migraines

Ask yourself the following questions to see if your lifestyle could
be setting the stage for migraine pain.

* Do I maintain a steady sleep schedule?
Staying up an extra hour or two past your bedtime to read a good
book or catch a rerun of your favorite movie on late-night
television may seem like a good idea, but you could pay for it the
next day. Inconsistent sleep habits and not getting enough sleep
are common migraine triggers. Make restful sleep a priority. Need
help getting a good night's sleep? Take the RealAge Sleep Health
Assessment for tips. 

* Do I sometimes skip meals?
Skipping breakfast to shave 15 minutes off your morning routine
isn't worth it. Missing meals is one of the most common and
avoidable migraine triggers. Never skip a meal, and keep protein
bars, apples, whole-wheat crackers, and trail mix on hand as
on-the-go options when your meal is delayed.

* Do I exercise regularly?
Hopping on the elliptical trainer a few times a week, taking your
favorite four-legged friend for a walk in the park on weekends,
and enjoying an occasional bike ride on a scenic trail are all
good prescriptions for migraine sufferers. That's because regular,
moderate exercise may help prevent migraines. Just make sure you
don't overdo it. Strenuous exercise is a migraine trigger for
some people. Visit My Fitness Plan for direction when creating
your custom workout. 

* Do I try to take on too much?
Whether your day is packed with work meetings and doctor
appointments or household chores and grocery shopping, take stock
of how stressed you feel by your commitments. Stress can provoke
migraines. If you feel tense but can't loosen up your schedule
that day, take a 10- to 20-minute antimigraine break. Practice
deep breathing, meditation, self-hypnosis, yoga poses, or any
other activity that helps you feel calm.

Practicing these antimigraine strategies not only can help you
fend off migraines, but they also will help you feel refreshed,
energized, and ready to tackle the day.

Each of us has a burden.


Number nine yesterday. Number god-damned fucking nine yesterday day. I'm fucking 35 years old. I should be done with these horrible things. I run. I exercise. I eat all the good stuff I'm supposed to eat. I don't smoke. I don't drug up. I don't toke. I have problems consuming bubbly drinks or even caffeinated ones. Why the hell do I have these totally fuck-up-your-life throw-you-down-and-step-on-you stupid mi-fucking-graine headaches. I'm tired of them! TIRED.

My grandfather had them. My father had them. How did I become so lucky as to inherit them from the male side of my family? My grandfather outgrew them. My dad lost the pain of his. Of course, if we go back another generation, the migraines come from my great grandmother, my dad's dad's mother. Argh.

I guess we all have our burden. We all have that one quirk that makes us who we are, that one burden that shapes our lives. I have my migraines. Kris has his Crohn's. Chris has diabetes. Everyone has something. If we don't, we probably make it up.

My friend Robin Saxen (who I've sadly fallen out of touch with) and I were once comparing childhoods. I thought mine was bad, then heard hers. I consider hers much worse and said as much. She replied, "We all have our burdens. Who's to say which burden is heavier than the next? We have them, we carry them. Your load is never more than you can handle."

Yeah, I miss Robin.

I'd like to think I chose this burden. That, before I was born I was given a menu of fantastic features I could have, with the associated burdens that go with them. That I chose all my good qualities, and thought to myself, "These headaches? I can manage them. I can bear them, because I know the gifts I have in compensation."

Because my gifts are many. And my blessings are more.

Migraines: 9
Menstruations: 4