Month: November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Years, (YEARS) ago, I worked as a counselor for a nutrition program designed for gyms.  Gym members had the opportunity of joining the nutrition program, which of course would benefit their overall goals.  One thing that has always stuck out from that period of my life is that during Thanksgiving, many of the members were of course nervous to ‘fall off the wagon’ on Thanksgiving.  This program was based on real food, percentages of protein/carbs/fats so that you could eat pretty much any food, it was not restrictive.  Many people talked about fasting until they sat down at the table for the big dinner.  My focus that I remember telling people was that they still needed to eat their meals during Thanksgiving day, maybe smaller than usual, then you aren’t like a shark once you sit down at the table, and just get back on the horse the next day.

I learned a lot about fitness and health through that program, but even more importantly, I met a life long friend.  Needless to say, we were in our early 20’s, and although worked out A LOT, and ate according to the program most of the time, we were caught by gym members across the street at the Mexican Food restaurant putting away super burritos and chips and salsa a few times.  And we were recognized a few times out and about on a Friday or Saturday night, after a beer or two.  But hey, we were in our 20’s, we made good choices most of the time.  🙂

Fast forward to now.  I can’t put away multiple super burritos a week, nor go out drinking without it catching up to me real quick.  Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, that’s one of my two early morning workout days at the gym with a dear friend.  So, I’ll be there.  Half asleep as I arrive, then feeling good as I leave.

Now, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’m some crazy fitness person.  My personal motto is ‘Run to Eat’, exercising it forward so I can enjoy eating.  The only person that thinks I’m bad ass is me when a good song comes on and I may kick the treadmill up a couple of notches.

My son did a bunch of push ups the other night and then said ‘How many do you think you can do mom?’ I said 15.  And then of course had to do them.  I did them, and he then imitated my push ups showing I lowered my body by about 1 inch each push up I did.  Whatever, they count.

Just the other day, we picked up a chocolate turkey while in Napa.  We didn’t go for the $250 super large life sized chocolate turkey, just a small cute one.  Still, this small, expensive chocolate turkey to bring to my parents house on Thanksgiving seemed fun.  And I have to say I may eat it all.  I may resort to yelling ‘Mine’ and running away with it, because an article was shared with me last week that said chocolate is not a migraine trigger.  It’s an article written by a professional, and I’m going with it!!!  See the article here:  http://migrainebrainstorm.com/2014/04/22/why-chocolate-is-just-fine-and-other-incredibly-useful-things-i-learned-from-dr-christine-lay/.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the day then get back on the horse.

Everyone now has their own space!

So, this is a post about the recent big project in our house.  It’s not about migraines, but then again, it may be, because the calm that has resulted in each of my daughters having their own space may contribute to less stress, and possibly migraine relief!

We have three kids and a three bedroom house.  My two daughters share a room, and up until recently had a bunk bed.  The problem came when the younger wanted the top bunk, which the older of the two had dibs on and occupied for a couple of years already.  Basically, both girls needed a top bunk.  Two loft beds.  The problem was there was no easy fix for their room, because their room does not have one full wall.  Each wall either has closets, windows, or doors.  Lots of brainstorming later, we came up with the idea that if we moved the door from the right hand side of the room into the center of the room, a bed could come out from that portion where the door used to be.

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Before we busted out the wall and moved the door, I scanned tons of websites full of L shaped loft beds, all were either crazy expensive, or just didn’t fully meet what we wanted.  We came up with about 4 pretty close to what we were looking for pictures, and ended up combining them to result in two L shaped loft beds, both with a desk the full length of the bed underneath, and a bookcase on the left side of the end of the desk.  My husband did all the work, did an awesome job, and they turned out beautifully.  I don’t think he will ever go into the furniture business, even though it only took about a week to complete the beds, it’s not an instant gratification process!

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Here’s the almost finished product without the bookcases (and before we realized we needed to add another slat to the bed area for safety):

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And here’s the fully finished product:

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Two super happy girls, with their own space.  They have been hanging out on their beds, reading, listening to music, almost like they have their own rooms!  Totally worth living in shambles with their room contents strewn throughout our house and their mattresses in our room for two weeks!

Food vs. Migraine

I think I love food more than I hate migraines.

This is a problem.

I don’t know if certain foods trigger my migraines., I’ve never been able to identify a certain trigger.  But even if foods were for certain a trigger, there are times that I may choose food over preventing a migraine.  Crazy, I know, but I’ve been told by my dear friend who has been my friend since the first grade that she doesn’t know anyone else that loves food the way I do.

My house is in complete chaos, we are remodeling a room.  Call it a future episode of Hoarders due to my two daughters room contents strewn across my house.  Their mattresses are in my room.  I’m at the point where I have started to just wipe the crumbs off of the kitchen counter onto the floor with no plans to clean them up, because, really, who cares when there is drywall dust everywhere already?

I made brownies today.  Really, really, good ones.  I ate a row already earlier today, and I just now really wanted to go face first/Christmas Story’s ‘mommie’s little piggy’ into the rest.  I’m not usually this bad.  And my general practice is to exercise it forward to support my love for food.  I just keep looking around the house and seeing complete disarray everywhere.  Everywhere except for the brownie tray.

Here’s the sad part, just now I only took a small nub off of a corner of the brownies.  Not for the fact that having that many brownies are not good for me, but I’m scared of what if an overdose of brownies causes a migraine.  Probably a good fear, for both migraine prevention, and the added benefit of my waistline combined.

There are things though, that if I knew were migraine triggers, that I would still have to go for from time to time:

  • For sure these brownies sitting on my kitchen counter right now.
  • A great piece of pepperoni pizza.
  • See’s Candy (more on that at a later date).
  • Chicken nachos.

Hoping for a migraine free day tomorrow so I can come home in the afternoon and slice off a hunk of these brownies.  They better not all be gone by then.

Vertigo sucks too.

Vertigo is like being really, really drunk with none of the funny stories that may have happened before you hit the spinning wall.

It was about 3:00 am, and I was woken by one of our three cats jumping off of the shelf above our bed, landing just below my head.  (Sidenote, there have been two instances where this particular cat has landed on our heads.  Both times resulting in the cat peeling out on our face, and us sitting up from a complete sleep, blood dripping down our face.  Nice.)

So…scared, pissed, then relieved that I was not landed on this time, I turned over and landed my head hard on my pillow.  Instantly, the room began to spin.  I didn’t freak out because with my migraines, I get dizzy, so I thought, a few seconds, this will pass.  It did not pass.  The room spun and spun.  When I turned over on the other side, it spun faster.  I woke my husband up, and absolutely panicked.  By 6:00 am, I was sure I was dying.  No joke, emergency settings were all I was on at this point. I called my wonderful sister in law who is an Emergency Room RN, and she said it was probably vertigo.  My husband made an appointment for me at 9:00 am.  I literally could not get out of bed and walk to get dressed even with my husbands help.  Crying, whining, still thinking I’m dying from some rare spinning episode, I did not make it to my doctor appointment.  My husband was great through this day, he talked to my doctor, and was instructed to go and buy some over the counter Bonine.  Thank the Lord above for this drug.  The feeling of whether I was going to puke my guts out or just pass out subsided, and I fell asleep with no spinning.  When we made it into the doctor later that day, dressed and all, he did some weird test on me where he tilted me down and back real quick.  He said I had vertigo, and that it’s caused by these little sand like pebbles getting misplaced out of their spots within the ears.  (I’m using some serious medical terms here people, sand, spots in ears…be nice, it’s how it made sense in my brain).  I picture one of those little toys where you try and get the small BB into a circle groove before the others that you just got into place get rolling around too.  I was sent home with a prescription for Meclizine (25 mg, take 1/2 as needed), and special exercises.

 

It got pretty hilarious when three times a day my husband would help me with these exercises.  You can’t help but laugh.  He had to hold my head and turn it gently, then turn to the other side, and repeat.  He got good at it, and we could have done a SNL skit by the end of all this.

One of the worst parts of this was truly being out of commission for about 2-3 days.  Sleeping was necessary, both to rest my spinning head, and the medication made  you sleep.  The timing of this first vertigo attack was horrible.  The day before Halloween.  Three kids that their mom had to miss out on Halloween for.  Dad took over, and did awesome.  But I sure felt sad not being able to be a part of their night which is filled with tradition and family members.

Thankfully, my kids saved me my favorite candy, and then I raided their pumpkin trick or treat buckets while they were at school as I do every year!

Overall, I’ve only had a few vertigo episodes thankfully.  I hold onto my prescription of Meclizine like a security blanket, I always have some with me in my purse or in the car ‘just in case’.

This crap like migraines and vertigo, it takes a toll on your body, but it takes a toll on the other people in your life too.  I’m so lucky, my husband rocks in this category, he is super supportive and talks me off my emergency cliffs each and every time.  My kids are super cool, they get nervous, but they know I’m going to show up for everything, unless it’s absolutely impossible.  When there was a period of a couple of months where a weird thing on my brain MRI wasn’t yet laid to rest as being ‘nothing’, I told my husband, I don’t care what it is, I can deal with anything, I just don’t want to die.  I know that sounds extreme, or dramatic, but it’s the absolute truth.

I’m having some fun writing about migraines and vertigo and the lame things that can happen, but it’s kinda exciting, it gets it out of my head, and maybe along the way can help someone else.  I’ll deal with this crap, it’s all good.  I’m here!

You can’t argue with crazy?

‘You can’t argue with crazy’ is a saying I’ve been using for a while now.

I think I started saying it when we had a certain renter who came up with outlandish excuses and emails that would read pages long of ridiculous excuses for not paying on time, and way too personal insights.

It also has been used often regarding our kids youth sports.  There have been emails and phone messages received over the years that my husband would state were crazy talk.  We’re talking wacky, illogical dialogues regarding youth sports, many of these dialogs regarding youths younger than teenage years.  After reading or listening to them, and then after picking my mouth off of the floor from the shock of what I’d just witnessed, I’d often reply ‘you can’t argue with crazy.’  And that’s it, there is no further discussion needed, because there is truly nothing you can say to make sense of what just happened.

‘You can’t argue with crazy’ is reserved for times when you realize that you can no longer hold a conversation with a certain person due to their ridiculous rant.  Ever.

To set the record straight, I’ve shown numerous shades of my own personal crazy over the years.  But what I’m talking about here, is a certifiable kind of nuts that makes you just shake your head and make you think WHAT?!!?

It’s a fun saying that wraps up a crazy train experience.  And I use the saying enough, and like it enough, that I figured it’s a perfect name for my blog!

Oops I did it again!

Last weekend I did it again.  I was asked the basic question ‘what do you do?’ by an acquaintance, and I did not give a basic answer.

I started with telling that I’m a stay at home mom, but I didn’t stop there.  I went for the list.  I went on to explain that I’m a Recreation Therapist, and with that, had to explain that I work some nights and/or weekend days consulting in care homes that serve people with disabilities.

I didn’t stop there.  I also explained that I substitute teach at my girls school.  And I may have even went completely off the deep end and added that I do the books for our home business and also volunteer.

Why, why do I do this?  Especially after all the times I have done it in the past, and I often get responses such as ‘oh, that’s good you get to get out of the house sometimes.’  Lame.

I love being a stay at home mom.  I am very proud.  So, why don’t I stop there?  Why do I continue to sell myself into a roll to prove that I’m justifiably qualified to have conversations about many items other than just kids?

As I thought about it later in the day, I realized I may have it backwards.  That maybe instead of people not giving me the opportunity of an open mind, I’m not having an open mind towards them.  Maybe the people I meet that ask the question  ‘what do you do’ wouldn’t place me in a category of only being able to talk about child rearing.  And just maybe one day I’d become friends with one of these acquaintances and then they’d find out all about me then, dismissing the need for a tell all in what is supposed to be simple answer to a question.

Talk about Jedi Mind Trick.

 

49!

It has been 49 days since I have had a migraine.  Seven weeks today.  THAT IS CRAZY!!!

49 stood out to me even more because I was raised in a family of San Francisco 49er fans.

My grandfather had held 49er season tickets since Kezar Stadium, and continued to be a season ticket holder into Candlestick.  My family held the same Candlestick season tickets through the Dynasty, all the way through their last year there. Just last week, my dad called to let me know that his Candlestick Park seats arrived at his doorstep.  It only seemed right when the opportunity came up, to buy their Candlestick seats to keep.  One of my brothers bought two of the seats, and the other two were bought for my dad.

My dad will still get to watch 49ers games in the seats that he shared with each of our family members, including his dad.

It is safe to say he will cry in those seats again if there is a replay of ‘The Catch.’

Those seats are where many years ago, I heard my father yell ‘LAY DOWN LIKE A DOG SIMMS, LAY DOWN LIKE A DOG!!!’  I have told this story many times, just last year, a friend texted me when Simms was commentating, and it read ‘Lay down like a dog Simms!’

So, 49 days is a good, family fitting milestone!!

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It’s funny that this is the only 49er ticket stub that I have, and it is from this week 19 years ago.  Little did I know at that game, that 13 days later, I’d meet my husband.  And I certainly didn’t know that 19 years later, I’d be referencing that ticket stub for a milestone to my migraines.

Most of my 49er memories are from a while back, the more recent memories belong to my brothers. They share my dads love for the team.

My favorite 49er player as a kid was Fred Dean, #74.  74 will work for a new number of non migraine days to shoot for.

Looking back through my migraine notes, (so lame, I don’t wish those on anyone), I have not come even close to 49 days between migraines in the over two years I have been keeping records.

Before starting my anti-migraine potion, I had just gotten finished with having 6 migraines in 33 days.  Since starting my ‘potion’, I’ve had 2 migraines in 100 days!!!

Daily anti-migraine potion:

Again, not sure what’s working, but not going to stop now.  Here’s to hoping I’m celebrating on day #74!!!

‘R-word’, thank you for the big life moment.

I did not have experience with people with disabilities until I was in college.

No, I take that back, when I was in Girl Scouts in elementary school, we made teddy bears and brought them to a program that served children with severe developmental disabilities.  I was scared to death.  I knew that I was supposed to feel good about my deed, and I think I did, but I was terrified.  I was not prepared (and it is possible that my Girl Scout leaders talked to us and prepared us the best they could), but I was not truly prepared emotionally for that experience in my life at that time.

In college, I dabbled around the circle of helping others in the search for my major.  I had declared my major as Occupational Therapy.  Then I enrolled in Physics.  Not my strongest subject to say the least.  Through my professor telling me I was ‘thinking too hard’ regarding my confusion on the equation requiring the speed of the bug on a record player going the opposite direction than the record, and my good friend having a crying breakdown due to the stress of the class, I found a new major.  My Physics break down friend came to me very excited, telling me about a major called Therapeutic Recreation.  She told me about the opportunities, the exciting courses, and endless possibilities.  I met with the coordinator of the program later that week, and was sold.  Disability awareness and learning about specific types of disabilities was a large focus of my college work.  I learned about person first terminology, putting people first before their disability.  I learned to focus on so much more about a person with a disability’s abilities than the ‘dis’ that unfortunately can define that person in some people’s eyes.  My major changed me.  Using recreation as a therapy to improve the quality of life of people within unlimited populations was amazing.  It changed my outlook, and opened up a whole new world of thinking.

A couple of years back, I sat for the CBEST exam.  I had not taken a test in over 15 years at least.  I studied hard.  Math and English terms and functions that I had not needed to remember in my day to day life.  There was a written portion of the test though.  And of course the subject was not given until you sat down at the computer for your test.  My subject was the all so vague ‘Tell about a moment in time that changed your life’ (or something to that manner).  I instantly knew my moment.

I was still in college, working for a community based recreation program that served adults and children with developmental disabilities.  We had taken a day trip to Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  It was a popular trip where we took a chartered bus, then split up into small groups once we got there.  As we were walking along the sidewalk towards the entrance, a black Camero slowed down as it drove next to us, and the driver yelled out his window ‘Oh great, the f****ing retards are here today!’ and then drove off laughing with his friend riding shotgun as his mullet blew in the breeze of his open car windows.  My insides panicked.  A ridiculously uncomfortable feeling took over my body.  One of the young women that was a participant in my small group looked up at me and said with tears in her eyes ‘was he talking about us?’.  I only had a split second.  Where did I lie?  Which side of the fence was I on?  I had been going through the motions, advocating for people with disabilities, but where did I really lie when it all came down?  This was not some cool guy that yelled at us from his Camero, but what if he had been someone I had wanted to fit in with, where did I lie?  It only took about 1 second in real life time as my feelings bounced around in my head like a pin ball game.  I was with these guys.  I looked down at my participant, and replied to her question as honest and the best I could, “That type of person doesn’t matter.  He’s mean.  We are here to have fun.  We paid for our tickets, now lets go have a blast today.’  She looked me up and down, almost to make sure that I meant what I said and that I wasn’t just pacifying her.  And then she smiled, and we moved on.

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That moment, as little as it may seem reading it, changed my life.  There’s a difference between going through the motions and then actually believing in the motions.  My kids don’t say the R-word.  They know its not ok to say.  I didn’t know that calling someone the R-word was wrong or hurtful to others until I happened to learn about disabilities in college.  Since then, I have taught Disability Awareness workshops for governmental departments, worked in mental health settings, and community settings that serve adults with developmental disabilities.  Mental Retardation is a diagnosis, not an adjective.  And further, that diagnosis has been replaced with Intellectual disability in the DSM V, see below:

‘Intellectual disability is a condition diagnosed before age 18 that includes below-average intellectual function and a lack of skills necessary for daily living.  In the past, the term mental retardation was used to describe this condition. This term is no longer used.’  http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/mental-retardation/overview.html

I’m not writing this to piss anyone off, or to tell people what to do.  This was my experience, and it was big for me.  It has shaped how I raise my kids, which has allowed for them to be comfortable around people with disabilities, hoping they too see their abilities much more than the ‘dis’ that can be focused on.

Recently, my 8 year old daughter and I were walking through the hall of her school.  Out of nowhere she asked ‘hey mom, if someone is in a wheelchair, how do they get upstairs?’  I got to explain to her that the elevator at the school is for that exact purpose, and that in the past when there has been a student in a wheelchair, they have a buddy ride the elevator with them when they go upstairs.  She thought for a minute and said ‘oh.’  I have no idea what goes through an 8 year olds mind, or why some of those thoughts come to surface and said out loud.  I was silently proud though.  With the work I do with people with disabilities, I don’t tend to make a big deal about it.  It’s my work, normal stuff to me and my family.  When things come up, and questions arise, we talk, but I don’t constantly run around preaching advocacy at home.  So I was very proud that she came up with that thought herself.  Wondering out loud about the inclusion of others.

We were at the beach a couple of weeks back, and the visitors center had a beach wheelchair (large wheels which don’t get stuck in the sand) available for use to their visitors.  Up in the mountains over the summer, we saw a specialized mat/carpet laid down from the smooth surface of the wide trail across the rocks and sand to the edge of the river for wheelchair access.  My kids response to these adaptions, as well as many that we see, was ‘cool!’  As we talked about those items, I pointed out to my kids that if I use a wheelchair in my life, I’m still going to want to visit my favorite places such as the beach, and the rivers up in the mountains, and we are so lucky that those adaptive items are in place.  How lucky we are that so many see the value in the inclusion of all people.

Make sure to click on the link below for a great article on the R-Word from one of my favorite Scrubs actors (Dr. Cox!):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-c-mcginley/what-really-happens-when-you-use-the-r-word_b_4896444.html

More on Therapeutic Recreation:

https://www.atra-online.com/what/FAQ