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Vivid Mommy

Just like millions of other people, Mother’s Day is a rough one for me because my mother is deceased. I’m also a mom, which makes it a very bittersweet day. When you add that this year, for what I recall as the first time in 20 years, I won’t see any of our kids, it ensured that I’d be avoiding social media and anywhere that I’d be inundated with the message that I don’t want to be reminded of. Yep, I’m bitter. Then I realized I hadn’t checked in on friends since yesterday and decided to check Twitter and make sure all was well.

As expected, there was a deluge of Mother’s Day wishes being exchanged. One that really touched me was by friend and author Mur Lafferty: “PT has made me toast and yogurt and a can of selzer and brought it to me in bed. “i didn’t know how to make coffee.” I nearly cried.”

On the other end of the spectrum, brand new dad Cheyenne Wright posted “A bit out of sorts. This is the first chance I’ve had to celebrate a Mothers Day in 18 years.”

That one got me right in my vulnerable spot. I closed Twitter as I realized my dizziness had kicked in with an anxiety attack and now-standard accompanying trembles. It was not at all surprising if you understand my current health situation, and I cursed myself for logging in. My husband unwittingly helped my through the brunt of the symptoms (Hey Chooch, this is why I was upset earlier), but I still feel the need to share something about my Mom today. I don’t do this easily because:

  1. I’ve been told in extremely loving ways that I need to try and move on from grieving her as I do, out of concern that it may be unhealthy;
  2. I’ve been accused of talking about my Mom and/or my health issues to garner sympathy for some unknown purpose, either witnessed by me or as reported by others;
  3. I’m not entirely sure Mom would approve of what I want to share.

To those from item 1, I say a sincere thank you for your concern. But my highly remarkable Mom left a massive hole in my world, and it is simply taking a long time for me to heal. In some ways, I never will because I will always miss her. That’s simply the price of having a jewel like her for a Mom, and I’m willing to pay it. Know that I’m making progress and doing the best that I can, and you should feel free to delete any message, change the subject, or ignore any posts. I expect nothing from you when the need arises for me to talk about her.

To those from item 2, I say without hesitation ~ kiss my ass. You don’t understand me now and never did, regardless of what you may believe. Yes, yes, I know, “Never feed a troll,” as it only encourages them. But I’m tired of not defending myself when I’m being vilified and disrespected to those I care about. So I’m using this post to “balls up” and remind myself that my Mom didn’t raise me to be a doormat. In fact, she specifically counseled me on the need to stand up to some of the aforementioned “item 2” people. I feel no guilt over including this paragraph, because they will only be identified to themselves and to those that they’ve trash talked about me. It’s unlikely that most of them will ever read this, except for some that may be looking for ammunition, but this is my little corner of the internet and I’m tired of censoring myself when others won’t.

And for item 3, I mean that Mom would probably not like this picture because she’s not wearing makeup. She was intensely self-conscious and hid from cameras most of my life. I’m posting it anyways, because later in life she embraced her silly side in fantastic fashion and stopped running from cameras. Also, it’s one of my very favorite pictures of her, as it documents a very special moment in our lives.

The tiny hair clips were part of her 60th birthday gift from me. I had gotten a basket and decorated it with silk flowers and ribbons and filled it with brightly colored hair clips, ponytail holders, barrettes, hair bands and a tiara. I wanted to celebrate that the chemo for her newly diagnosed breast cancer wouldn’t make her hair fall out like it did when she battled it in ’91, and it was insanely fun (and cathartic) to pick them out in the girl/teen accessory section.

When we realized that some of the little clips matched her vibrantly colored shirt, my sister put her hair in the little twists that my then-early-teenaged nieces were known to wear for a time, and we couldn’t resist snapping a picture of the spontaneous hairstyle and her reaction to it. A few months later her chemo was changed because it wasn’t working, and her hair promptly fell out. Two and a half years later she was gone.

But I present you with photographic evidence that my Mom was highly remarkable. Even when faced for a second time with the same life-threatening disease that she watched eat away at her mother and grandmother until there was nothing left of them, she was still able to laugh. And when presented with a gift that in hindsight may have unkindly brought the cancer back to the forefront of her mind, she giggled and was delightfully silly. As only she could be.

I won’t exaggerate and say it was Great Bravery or Courage documented in this moment, because it wasn’t. It was just a silly and spontaneous moment. And damned if it’s not one of the most treasured moments of my life. Isn’t she glorious?
Funnest Mom Evah!

This post is written to honor my Mom, Nat, Jaimie, Terry and Zach ~ five people who are no longer with us that are at the forefront of my mind. The first three I miss terribly. The fourth and fifth I never met, but because of their impact on people that I dearly love, I desperately wish I had. You are missed.

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Roller Coaster Day, Part Two

I finally got the message we were waiting for from the Realtor since we listed our house for sale on Friday, that someone was coming for a look. I know that the first buyer won’t put down a contract, but I’ve been terrified about the market. Just knowing that there’s an actual market for our home is reassuring.

After we left the dentist appointment, we returned home and sure enough, someone had indeed been there. What a relief! We then headed out for our planned outing with our dear friend Philippa Ballantine, her parents visiting from New Zealand, and the spectacular Sonic Boom (daughter of Tee Morris). Pip’s dad had business nearby and we were invited to join them for lunch and for me to make good on my long-promised pottery painting trip with Sonic Boom.

It was a sorely needed break in the day for Chooch and I, as we were able to put the other stuff to the side for a bit and just revel in their fine company.

After lunch, Chooch had to return to work, loathe as he was to do so. We jumped in the limo (why yes, I did say limo! The Ballantines travel in style!) and went to the pottery studio. I had promised a pottery painting trip to Sonic Boom as her birthday present last summer, but was then shocked to find that the three pottery studios I knew of had closed, including one by her house and two by mine. I happily discovered that one studio by me had actually just moved and that’s where we headed.

It was delightful seeing Sonic Boom’s excitement, even though she’d already done it before. She took her time picking out just the perfect piece and paint colors. As she painted, Pip and her mother painted a lovely piece together, and Pip’s dad impressed us all with the bold design he painted on his piece. Sonic Boom worked very hard getting her work exactly the way she wanted it, until she spotted the studio cat, Whiskers. She was a bit distracted after that, but who can blame her? He’s a lovey cat that just wanders around jumping into unsuspecting laps for scritches and such.

Happy with all the work done, we jumped back into the limo and they took me home. Everyone piled out for a pit stop before they headed back home, and ended up staying and visiting before waving goodbye to Chooch as he was on a conference call.

I had a wonderful time over lunch, and it was absolutely delightful meeting Pip’s parents. They are just as you’d expect of the people that raised her: intelligent, extremely kind and very funny. Keeping up with Sonic Boom is just as fast-paced as you’d imagine, and I was fairly exhausted from all the fun and laughter we shared.

After they left, I started trying to get caught up on the work I’ve been unable to do for the last few weeks. It was pretty hectic and I wore myself out, but got a lot done, including a quick 5 minute recording that took over an hour to get done. That’s right, an hour, thanks to a crashing computer. As usual, it took Chooch 5 minutes to figure out and fix the problem and I was able to get it done and sent off. By that time, I was extremely stressed and cursing (sorry for that, fine Twitter followers) and my jaw was killing me.

We got in the car to head to band practice, and I medicated the pain and worked on the laptop on the road. I love being able to take the work with me, but I most enjoy the drive when Chooch and I just get to chat.

At Phil’s, we headed down to the band lair and relaxed and chatted with the band while waiting for Dennis (guitarist) to arrive. I was finally able to exhale for what felt like the first time in a long time, and I believe Chooch felt the same way. I still can’t believe how well everyone meshes together and I love spending time with them, whether it’s watching them play or chatting about clothes, kids and pasta makers.

They made amazing music, as always, as they ran through the set list for their show at Axum on Friday night. They are playing two sets, as they were bumped up to headline the show. So they’ll be playing later (11 pm) but longer, which thrills me.

The door proceeds for the band are being split between my Breast Cancer fund-raising efforts for the Richmond Race for the Cure, and between another woman’s efforts for the Komen 3 Day. I’m still blown away that the band offered to do this, and will be there to support them no matter how late they play.

I hope you can join us, as it will be a fun-filled night. Details are posted in Facebook.

Home now as I finish up this post, and I’m glad the insane day is over. It definitely felt as if I was strapped on a roller coaster with all the highs and lows. I’m happy that there were more good things then bad, but the sleep I’m about to get is well deserved.

Goodnight, Dear Readers!

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Weight Loss Progress

Today I busted through a milestone weight. I honestly cannot remember the last time my weight was this low, no foolin’. It was definitely before Naughty Bear was born.

It’s been a lot of work and a big sacrifice since I started back up again in September. I had gained somewhere around 20 pounds back after I got hit with the vestibular migraines and the medication had me drugged and sleeping a lot. That on top of the now inherent fatigue kicked my ass. I still tried to eat healthy, but gave up on South Beach during that time because I felt like I was just eating and sleeping all the time.

While I still believe that the maintenance phase of South Beach is the best way to eat long term, I just couldn’t keep it up anymore with the slow creep of weight gain that was occurring.

I started eating carbs again, although not pigging out or going overboard. I know their effects on me. I get sluggish, puffy, sleepy and am quick to hunger again. But having them limited for so long, I dove straight into whole grain breads and pastas. Om to the nom!

I finally got fed up and started the Couch to 5k program again, which naturally led me to watching what I was eating. Eventually I made my way to Weight Watchers Online and haven’t looked back. Since I started that I’ve lost 24 pounds, surviving Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and other excuses to gorge. I definitely did some backsliding, but have come pretty closely to finding a balance that works for me.

After successfully running an entire 5k on Thanksgiving, I felt amazing and motivated to do more. About a week after that, my medication changed and it literally knocked me on my ass. I was unable to really get moving again until January when I eased into walking again. My running started again with the Runkeeper training program that fellow runner Mur Lafferty told me about. I really love it, but will go into that in another post.

I’m now training for a 10k in June. It’s difficult because I never know from day to day if I’ll be able to run, since the migraines make it impossible. I’ve found I can run dizzy, but I can’t run with a migraine. So I’m registered now for two 5k’s and one 10k and I don’t know if I’ll be able to run all, or any of them when it comes to race day.

I am also prone to getting migraines after a tough run, but I figure I’d likely get one anyways so don’t let that deter me. I always am dizzy after a run, to varying degrees. And dizziness is less noticeable when I have a migraine, so there’s a silver lining, right?

I think my motivation is driven by being out of control of my life. I can’t control how I feel, at least not yet. My current doctor feels that if this treatment doesn’t improve things, short of tweaking dosages there is nothing else he can do for me. I’ll be seeking a new doctor after we move to an area with a wider pool of medical specialists. Not being able to control how I feel means that I can’t control if I can work. I already discovered that college coursework was nigh impossible due to memory and comprehension problems I’ve developed. I’m hoping these are due to medication, because it is very troubling.

I decided to embrace the things I can control – what I eat and whether or not I exercise. So I do what I need to in order to reach my goals, and so far it’s working. I’m not saying I’ll make it all the way to my goal, but I’m nine pounds from where the doctor wanted me to return to her for a health evaluation to see how much more, if any, I need to lose. My own goal is ten pounds more than that because as I look at myself I find it impossible to be only nine pounds away.

No, this isn’t bragging or lecturing or my telling you what to do to lose weight. I’m not that arrogant. This is just a post I wanted to write for my own blog, so that when I begin to slip I can remember how I felt at this moment in time. I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m humbly proud of myself. When I finally reach my own goal, I’ll have lost over a hundred pounds. I’ve grown tired of using my illness and near constant fatigue as an excuse. I feel more energized after a workout, and feel better emotionally afterward so it’s no longer an excuse, it’s a lie.

I did this. Me. No weird pills, no crash diet, no tricks.

Sweaty, breathless, aching, exhausted and sore, I did this.

Baking healthy desserts instead of the fat and sugar laden ones of my childhood.

Trying one bite, maybe two instead of a whole serving.

Tracking everything I eat and drink, and every calorie I burn during exercise.

Trying healthier alternatives and exploring vegan and vegetarian meals, thus bringing more and more variety into my life that keep me from getting bored and stopping at (gag) fast food restaurants. (More on this in another post.)

I. Did. This.

And I can keep going until I reach my goal, unless I get in my own way. I’m refraining from posting ‘before’ pictures until I reach my goal. It feel presumptuous otherwise, so that will be my reward. Well, one of them.

No more excuses, just forward motion.

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Grateful, Not Bragging

I just tweeted:
“Dizzy from phone call, emails and DM’s from friends. I am so very blessed. Must find a way to pay the Universe back for what I have.”

I’m now in the grips of a dizzy spell, one of the few that I’ve gotten from positivity rather than negativity.

I happily sit, wavering in my chair, because of the overwhelming sense of love and positivity sent my way this morning via text, phone call, DMs and emails.

It’s completely overwhelming, and I feel like a decadent king with huge piles of friendship on a banquet table in front of me. I dare not indulge too much, or I might burst.

There are a lot of things that I can’t share about the trip to Arkansas, for obvious reasons. While I am over the moon for the result, having Naughty Bear local again and having time with LT, it took a huge physical, emotional and psychological toll on me. No, really. Huge.

To immediately return into the arms of my husband and beloved friends this past weekend utterly and completely soothed my ragged edges and invigorated me for more, More, MORE!

To then have a seemingly random outpouring from a variety of sources today? It’s more than any one person could possible deserve or hope for.

If this is too Happy-Unicorn-Rainbow-Lovey-Dovey for you, have no fear. I’m sure I’ll be pissed or depressed about something soon enough and will share it here. But I feel compelled to share the joy when I feel it, too.

Bliss is attainable and I recommend that you open yourself up to it if you haven’t already.

/stumbles with a drunken swagger/

“I love you, man!”

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The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 4

As always, I ate breakfast and brought back breakfast for Naughty Bear. We planned on hitting the road at 9 am, but we were both physically and emotionally exhausted. I ended up letting him sleep until he woke up on his own, especially since he was taking the first driving shift. My night time medication makes me extremely foggy-brained and it takes several hours to wear off, and neither of us was comfortable with me driving until that was cleared away.

After breakfast I returned to my bed with my laptop, having trouble getting into motion. In truth, I suppose we were both struggling with leaving, for similar reasons. I’m very saddened by how little real time LT and I spent together and just did not want to leave yet. Any time is a gift, but nearly everything was based around NB’s move and I really wanted some one-on-one time with LT. Sadly, it just wasn’t possible. I’m consoling myself with the fun and laughter that we had and that he’ll be home in four months. This trip was an unexpected treat and I know I shouldn’t be greedy. Still, I couldn’t help but join in on Naughty Bear’s jokey planning of kidnapping LT to take him with us to Virginia.

I think Naughty Bear was really torn because he loves his siblings and family so much, but knows he needs to return to Virginia to focus on his college education and start making a future for himself that won’t happen there. It’s very tough, but having lived very broke for five months with a less than ideal roomie was a HUGE reality check for him, and I’m grateful that he’s smart enough to learn from it.  He’s also extremely appreciative of all the help given to him by his dad and M (step-mom), and especially his grandfather. He’s had a couple of years worth of life experience crammed into this five months, with more to come as he handles some remaining issues.

We took our time loading up the SUV Tetris-style, making everything fit securely and ensuring that we had a clear line of sight out the rear-view window. We were able to fit all his clothes in the soft car top carrier and carefully packed his electronics inside. We finally hit the road, rested and ready at noon.

We chatted and listened to music for the first few hours, singing along with shared favorites. Lord, I’ve missed hearing my baby sing! And I’m always so very grateful whenever I get the special time with my sons where they open up and share little nuggets of their deep-down selves with me. I’m utterly fascinated with the man he is becoming, and the maturity that he demonstrates. He easily acknowledges the mistakes he’s made over the years, and I hope he’s wise enough to know that this costly adventure was no mistake.

As I see it, time with loved ones is precious, and should never be regretted. The time he spent was needed, especially with LT as he got to know him as a maturing young man and they seem to marvel at how much they have in common. It somewhat amuses me, because it’s as if this never occurred to them before, and they’ve almost always lived together. This is spectacularly fascinating to me and I’m so grateful that they’ve really gotten to know each other as they grow older and their lives will likely send them off in different directions.

I drove a long time since I was feeling pretty good (medicating a headache with Ibuprofen) and didn’t know how I would feel later. He eventually closed his eyes to nap for his next shift, and I got caught up on Jared Axelrod’s “Fables of the Flying City” podcast novel, all the way to the most recent Episode 28. I could call him a cliff-hangering bastard, but he’s too much of a gentleman to leave us totally on the hook. Because it was more partial than full-on, I’ll call him a cliff-hangering scoundrel. I can’t wait to see what Ash and Gatling bring us next.

After that, I continued catching up onPlus One which is a podcast by Kevin Smith and his wife Jen. I didn’t feel clear-headed enough to start another podcast novel, so went with something light and funny instead.

We stopped for gas a few times, stopped for food a couple times and just drove and drove and drove. I introduced him to “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” because I know he enjoyed the movies and Kevin Smith’s televised Q&A’s. I also snuck a “This American Life” episode in as part of my continuing quest to hook him on podcasts. The only one he listens to currently is “The Nerdist” and I think even that is sporadically. Baby steps, y’all. Baby steps.

It’s now almost midnight, and we’re still driving. We are between Nashville and Knoxville, our anticipated stopping point for the night. We are seemingly driving through the mountains, and I’m pissed that I cannot see a damned thing. Driving through mountains is very similar to standing with my toes in the ocean. I get a sense of calmness and peace at the reality check of how very small I am in this very big world. I exhale and inhale with renewed vigor for my life, as if I hadn’t taken a breath in years. Missing out on the mountain view has me greatly disappointed, but hopefully I’ll get to see it tomorrow.

Road trip diet accountability: Cheerios w/skim milk, banana, toast w/peanut butter, 2 cups of decaff hot tea, hard boiled egg; Sonic grilled chicken sandwich, lettuce only and apple slices; Starbucks venti Chai Latte while driving; Ruby Tuesday salad bar for dinner w/ 2 Tblsp of dressing and 1 tsp of Sunflower seeds, lettuce, carrots, 1 egg. The latte pushed me over my caloric intake allowance, but it was incredibly needed caffeine and served as my sweet treat for the day. I expect there will be some weight gain from this trip, but since I fought off potato chips, burgers, fries, greasy chinese food, candy bars, pastries and fried foods, I still call this a WIN.

If you’ve missed the previous installments from this trip, they include Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. For the reason for the trip, read the “Great” section of my blog post “The Great, The Meh, and the *So* Not Cute.

These photos are from the long drive. I didn’t take many that weren’t uber blurry, no surprise. As mentioned before, click on the slideshow to be able to read the photo descriptions or you may not know what they heck it is.

Thanks for reading!

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The Great, The Meh, and the *So* Not Cute

As life is a roller coaster, I thought I’d bundle up some recent events into one post and call it “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” I did slightly modifiy it to better fit my situation. Now let’s start with The Great because I’m DYING to share this news.

Setting the scene:
Two years ago, my then 12 year old son L.T. moved far away to be closer to his younger siblings and to have more time with his dad and get to know him better. (After our divorce, his dad moved away when he was 5, remarried, and had two more children.) At the same time, my 19 year old son, Naughty Bear, moved about an hour away from me to live with his dad’s parents and begin college. His grandfather is a university professor, and by living with him as “a dependent,” Naughty Bear gets a radically reduced tuition. While I was thrilled for the boys and what this meant for them, it was extremely hard on Chooch and I to suddenly turn around and have an “empty nest.”

While seeing L.T. now means flying or spending two long days of driving, Naughty Bear was close by and we still got to see him quite a bit. Then last fall, after seeing how much L.T. had changed between Christmas and summer break (much taller and a deep voice), he realized how much he was missing with his younger siblings and wanted to spend more time with them before they are all grown up. He rented a house in the city where his dad lives, got a room mate, and continued with studies with online classes through his grandfather’s university. A few months ago he also started working at a grocery store.

The Great: Last week, he told me that he had decided to move back to Virginia! He’ll move back in with his grandparents and return to school full-time in order to focus more on his studies and graduate soonest. While he was greatly enjoying the freedom out there, he realized that it was detrimental to his college and life goals with all the distractions that come along with the freedom. The details are still being worked out, but he will hopefully be back here before the end of this month. Obviously, I’m overjoyed at having him close by again and also at the maturity of his decision. I think he realized the opportunity offered him and he didn’t want to waste it.

Edit: I will be flying to Arkansas, helping him close out his apartment, spending time with LT, and then driving back with Naughty Bear. Yee haw!


The Meh…

At a joyous birthday party yesterday that was literally packed with magnificent old and new friends, I realized that I hadn’t updated on my health stuff in over a month. Well, I did start the recommended medications, and it’s definitely better than being on nothing at all. I still have frequent migraines and dizziness and break down in certain stressful situations, however they are not as often, nor do I have the extremely uncomfortable side effects of the previous medications. There are a few new side effects that I’m trying to wrangle, but they are much less troubling than the previous ones. I’m still significantly diminished from what I was like before any of this started, but  honestly that was so long ago that “normal” has kind of reset for me now. If I get three days of productivity (household and paper work) a week, it feels like I can keep things current, although any more than that and I can actually work on projects that sorely need attention. I’m not taking classes this semester and am now working to finish a class that I got an extension for last semester when things were so very bad. So while it’s an improvement, it’s not a huge one that lets me resume life to what it once was. So, meh…


Finally, my poor Twitter followers have been forced to suffer through my whining about my recent dental woes. After having a few months of intermittent pain, I finally broke down and went to the dentist. Money has been tight, so I had been unable to go back after an exam almost two years ago to get the recommended dental work of replacing a filling from my childhood and also deal with a cavity. Pain makes you find money, so back I went to finally overcome my dental terrors that exist because of my wisdom tooth removal when I was 19 or so. Yes, I’d been going for cleanings, just put off the recent drill work required because of my horrible experience.

I screwed up the courage to face the drill by taking two Valium, laughing gas and I had my headphones blasting the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World soundtrack during the entire procedure. It was still AWFUL, but I did it, Brave Little Toaster that I am. Two weeks later, I returned to the dentist because I could no longer stand the terrible pain and temperature sensitivity. I was waiting for it to heal and stop hurting and when I was told by multiple people that it shouldn’t hurt, I finally screwed up the courage again and returned. He “filed down” some “high points” in the fillings (more traumatizing than having the fillings done) and gave me a muscle relaxer for bed time and some kind of low level pain killer. Those helped, but I still had extreme pain and sensitivity all over my mouth which made no sense. I was waking up in agony in the wee hours of the morning every night, possibly caused by rolling onto my side without ensuring there was no pressure on my jaws.

Going back last week, he determined that I’ve either started grinding my teeth or clenching my jaw in my sleep. It’s definitely recent, as I’m pretty sure the sleep study I did at the beginning in 2010 would have uncovered it.  Plus, there doesn’t seem to be any damage to the enamel from grinding.

So now, I have dental guard that I have to sleep in every night. Add to this the ankle brace I sleep in (helps prevent soreness when running) and the occasional carpal tunnel wrist brace and you get a full picture of the sexiness that I display at bedtime. You should feel very sorry for Chooch as it is *So* Not Cute…

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What I Learned When I Wasn’t Watching

– Watch what you wish for – I’ve learned this countless times over my life. The best example is the one I’m currently afflicted with, my goal for 2009 of “Twirling More.” My intention was to allow myself to be more free. Not closeting myself off behind walls of defenses because of the hurts I’ve suffered in the past. But, more specifically, to twirl more. Especially in the rain, as I’ve loved to do my whole life, but stopped doing because it wasn’t cool (late teens) or too busy to get rained on with job/infants/kids/teens for the last 20 years.  What I ended up with, if you want to interpret it as cause and effect, is dizziness. Or, the near constant sensation that I’ve just been twirling. Meh. I still go out on the rare occasion to twirl in the rain.

Running with a “gentler landing” from playing Lord of the Rings Online has helped reduce my knee and ankle pain.

– Don’t trust appearances, as those with the biggest smiles and kindest words may be hiding more manipulation than can be believed. How did I forget this one? Re-learned and not to be forgotten again.

–  When editing audio, inserting pauses is just as important as deleting flubs. Thanks to Martha Holloway for teaching me this during an interview for my Girls’ Rules Podcast.

– Kids are heart breakers. Looking into the eyes of our children melts my heart. I first experienced this when my sons were born, in the first nanosecond I looked into their eyes. I relived that rush of joy, sadness and overwhelming protectiveness when they returned for Christmas break. I love them completely and the selfish, ugly part of me wants to guilt or beg them to move back. But I won’t do it. I want them healthy, happy and confident in life and the choices they make. I’ve sacrificed since they were born to help with this, and I’m not going to mess with it now. If the only negative to their choices is that I’m sad, then I have to suck it up as a part of motherhood.

– Don’t be a doormat. Either confront it or remove myself from the situation. This is something I’ve worked on for a long time, but it’s become physically necessary this year since stressful encounters amplify my migraines and dizziness.

– Don’t sweat what you can’t control. All the preparations in the world won’t ensure success, so if a last minute problem surfaces and you can’t fix it just relax and make do. Training for 5k’s and weight loss has been stalled for me several times this year, resulting in missing a 5k earlier this month. Twisting my ankle a few days ago and being on antibiotics that increase risk of tendon damage have likely postponed resuming training on Monday as scheduled. I will resume as soon as I’m able, and if I have to walk instead of run for awhile, then I’ll just continue to do my best without risking long-term injury.

– Brussel sprouts can be damned tasty.

– I over-commit. I’ve been working on this, but as I sit here amidst mountains of desserts I realize that I need to share the load of work more often. I’m the only one that does the traditional baking for our family, which includes my sister and her husband, my brother and his kids, my dad, and my guys. I shortened the list from list year, but am still baking 2 batches of Chewy Noels (brown sugar bar cookie), peppermint brownies, applesauce cake, 3 traditional cheesecakes, 1 “Reese’s cup” cheesecake, a chocolate/cherry pi-cake (I added this one on myself) and double chocolate cookies (delayed). This is the last year I’ll be doing it all on my own, methinks, as I baked from Monday to late Wednesday. Less is more and it’s time the rest of the family learns all the recipes. Right?

– Marshmallows are not vegan. Unless you seek out vegan marshmallows, they will contain gelatin. Gelatin, which everyone else probably already knows, is made from animal parts. ‘Nuff said.

– We’re becoming those dog owners. You know, the ones that act like their dog is their kid? It’s happening. We’re completely smitten with Kaylee. Luckily, everyone else seems to be as well, so at least we aren’t deluding ourselves that she rocks when she doesn’t. I think the shock of the suddenly empty nest is the impetus behind this. Watching her play and frolic with the four boys this week has been adorable, and they have a new found love for her as well.

Chooch Dizzy Family Our Kids Vestibular Migraine

Medical Update

Out of the last two weeks I’ve had migraines for about ten days. It’s hard to keep track, and some are just partial day migraines but it’s been a lot. I knew this was possible, but I did not expect it. I’ll admit that my childish, wish-upon-a-star was for vast improvement as the meds left my body. No, I didn’t actually expect it, but I did hope. And while I didn’t expect to feel significantly better, I also didn’t expect to be in near constant pain.

I took the last of the migraine preventative meds Thursday night. Wean-down is over. Now the plan is to wait a few weeks for them to leave my body and see how I feel. I have to confess that neither Chooch nor I are encouraged. I’ve already received the natural alternative, Migravent, and I’m itching to pop the bottle open. The frustration at the lack of pain relief is immense, but I’m trying to stick to our plan.

Of course, the timing of course couldn’t be worse. Semester is ending and I’ll need to request and extension for the online course. I just won’t finish. Kinda hard to write an essay and take tests when you can’t read the materials or stare at a computer screen for more than a few minutes at a time. The other class is a disaster of a different sort, and I’ll finish on time with our “final exam” on Thursday.

Let’s not forget Christmas. The boys arrive on Friday night, and I can’t wait to see them again. It’s been three months since I’ve seen Naughty Bear and four and a half months since I’ve seen L.T. Their visit is the bright star in my night sky.

We’ve finally started with Christmas decorations. The tree is up and the lights will go on today, but the ornaments will wait until Saturday when we’ll do them as a family. The other indoor stuff will be done today as well, hopefully.

If not for Amazon, I’d have no Christmas presents. It’s entirely likely that few local businesses will receive our consumer dollars and that Amazon will again reap the benefits of my inability to run around the crush of holiday shoppers. This bums me out as I see my little town struggling in the current financial climate, but I don’t really have many alternatives.

I’m thrilled that the boys will be here in a week, but am more than a little overwhelmed at what is on my to-do list. I’m trying not to stress and just relax and revel in the time with them, but old habits die hard and I want to make the holidays magical for them. At this point, it’ll feel magical if I can squeak multiple days out with a clear head.

Bring it on, holidays.

Dizzy Games Movies Music Uncategorized

Fun in Measured Doses

For some reason, the potential impact of a concert-triggered migraine didn’t really occur to me until I was mired spinny and owie in a doozy at the They Might Be Giants concert earlier this year. While I was fine and happier than a newb geek has any right to be during Jonathan Coulton’s opening set, the much higher volume and lights sent me running from the venue for relief during TMBG. The horns certainly didn’t help. I was really bummed, since it was my first time actually making it to one of their shows and also because we were with friends Pat and Lisa, who we rarely get to spend time with.

Since then, I’ve been afraid to buy tickets to any shows. My recent heartbreak was newly found Metric playing in Richmond last month. My Scott Pilgrim Fangirl heart was broken at missing them (Their “Black Sheep” was performed by The Clash at Demonhead in the flick. Easily my fave song on the soundtrack.), but we couldn’t justify springing the dough for a show I might have to bail on.

My new heartbreak is the Linkin Park show in February. Their Hybrid Theory album literally catapulted me singing and screaming through a lot of rage and heartbreak at a dark time in my life. That album unsurprisingly resides on my “Perfect Album” list and I’ll always have a soft spot for them, regardless of what I think of their recent releases.  The Projekt Revolution concert I went to in Fairfax, VA was a high-energy, face-twisting, lustful-singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs show and I loved fangirling after the show when I met them. Yes, I told Mike Shinoda what the album meant to me and how it helped me in a wrenchingly cathartic way.

Not surprisingly, I’ve also had to show restraint with movies although it’s only been recent ones that have really triggered the symptoms in any notable way.

After viewing Scott Pilgrim vs. The World three times in the theater and once at home, I’ve yet to see the ending boss fight. The visual effects drive a spike through my brain and I have to close my eyes and cover them to negate them. Bummer, but not unexpected. Video games have reportedly caused seizures in people before, and the movie is pretty heavy with video game effects. I was disappointed that I was unable to view it at home, as I was sure that the smaller screen would help. I was wrong.

Seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the big screen last week hit me harder than I anticipated. It’s possible that the long day played a part in this, however. I was up at 6 a.m. and we went to the midnight-oh-one showing. There were a few scenes that were particularly harsh,  the one where Harry departs Privet drive, one with Hermione and a snatcher in the woods, the battle in the Ministry and the ending battle.  I was quite loopy after the end and needed to remain seated for a bit, and kindly Jett offered me her arm as we exited for stability.

I’ve already reduced my video game time, especially those that have a 3D effect. There have also been nights were I’ve had to log off of Lord of the Rings Online because of dizziness when navigating the Misty Mountain trails, among other things. But these don’t surprise me as much as concerts or movies since they are far more immersive.

I now have to stop and make a concerted effort to evaluate the possible effects, and even carry ear plugs with me, as I did the night of the Geek Radio Daily Pub Crawl and Chooch’s band practice the other night.  Although so far it’s only been the visual inputs that trigger dizziness, both the visual and the audio can trigger the migraines.

Talk about a buzz kill.

Chooch Dizzy Health No Whining

Going Off Preventative Meds

I was all ready to go into the doctor’s appointment and fight for his approval in going off the two preventative medications that I’m currently on to combat my vestibular migraines (dizziness, migraines, fatigue, occasional nausea when the dizziness is extreme). I was actually disappointed when he didn’t argue. It seems we’ve exhausted the meds I can take that won’t wreak havoc on other minor health issues I have. I think he was disappointed as well, because he wasn’t able to give me relief after all this time. I actually felt kinda bad by the end of it, as if I were firing him which isn’t the case. I still feel like he’s done and is doing everything possible. I haven’t completely decided if I’ll return to him or seek a new neurologist of this continues. I’ll likely do both.

We worked out a plan for the next three months: I’m to wean off one medication over the next 2 weeks. Then I start to wean down off the other over a couple weeks. Then we just wait and see what happens. It could take a month or so from that point for all that stuff to be out of my system and to be able to get a clear baseline as things stand now.

If it’s bad, I can go back and try something else, but for now I’ve got an appointment in February to discuss the results. This allows three months to wean down and “normalize”. I’ve also got a non-prescription route I can try before returning to him. And there’s acupuncture, which I’m leery of but know folks that have had great results.

For for those keeping score, this change will remove two medications for a total of five pills a day. I will hopefully be able to drop 3 other daily pills and an every-other-day pill that are needed for side effects. *crossing fingers*

I’m really excited to see if this change also lifts the persistent brain fog or if that is part of the condition or whatever it is that I have. I’m really tired of feeling stupid for not being able to remember things or make simple mental maneuvers.

And yes, I’m nervous about what I’ll be dealing with when the meds are out of my system. As I told my doctor, it’s possible that the medications are tremendously helpful and I just don’t know it. While I’m hopeful that the condition resolved itself already and that it’s the pills (with listed side effects of dizziness and headaches) making me feel so crappy, I know that it’s more likely that they are not. But it’s been a year, and I feel I have to try, especially since nothing has allowed life to resume normally.

One interesting tidbit – interesting to me, at least: One of the things the doc always does is a test of my balance, motor skills, eye movements, etc.,. It’s simply done in the room, and I was pretty proud that I was able to do everything with coordination, including standing still with my eyes closed. I felt like I stood stock still, like a soldier at attention. Chooch informed me later that this was not so. Apparently, I was swaying dramatically. I didn’t even feel it. Now I’m left to wonder how much my body automatically compensates for the dizziness after all this time, and how accustomed I’ve become that I don’t even notice something like swaying. Crazy.