Fibromyalgia Vestibular Migraine Whining

My Review of The Avengers **Spoiler: I Haven’t Seen It and I’m Whining About It**

Boring backstory:

Having been dealing with neurological issues for over 2 years now, and with the Fibromyalgia diagnosis recently, I have finally yielded in the struggle against my limitations in the arena of movies and video games. Lookit, I hung in there a lot longer than I should have. I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. The World THREE TIMES in movie theaters, in spite of migraines, dizziness and nausea. And I never even saw the end boss fight with Gideon until a few months ago on a crappy old CRT television. I had always, in the theater and on high def screens, had to cover my eyes.

“Just keep closing your eyes on those scenes,” you say. “Big deal, buy your ticket and quitc’her whining!”. And I do. But, as my eyelids are not light-proof (yet), the flashing battle scenes pulse, muted, through my lids into my noggin and it hurts. Bad. And usually for a long time after.

So I have resigned myself to only putting myself through it in case of extreme emergency, like Harry Potter’s final movie installment. After watching multiple trailers, I decided I was going to have to wait until this one hits the small screen.  But I have been house-bound for the better part of two weeks, and am nesting in our new space. As a result, Chooch saw The Avengers with housemates Phil and Tina on Sunday, after dropping me at a nearby Target.

Guys… I was able to spend their entire viewing time… shopping. This does not sound like a big deal, but bear in mind that I am not driving right now. The combination of my symptoms, medications, side effects and onset of more Fibro issues make it unwise, in my opinion, and I’d rather be hobbled than risk injuring anyone.

Today I got everything I needed for this phase of rebuilding after the sale of our old home, and for preparation for LT’s arrival next month. Yes, I said LT’S ARRIVAL NEXT MONTH! The ticket has been purchased, and we are hoping for a wonderful fun-filled summer with him.

Back in the car after they picked me up from my shopping excursion, I felt a LOT of pain, both migraine and what felt like every joint between my toe nails and my hips. But it felt so good not rushing in an effort to prevent delays for the person driving. And it felt good to feel like I accomplished some things, even if they just moved from one category to another on the to-do list. This has really become a Big Deal for me. I usually hook a ride with people going here or there, and cram all I need to do in a short time.  I invariably forget things and it becomes a hassle, so shopping has become a big stress for me.  Shopping with a 2.5-ish hour timer? Heaven.

Hearing them describe the movie, I was more saddened than at any other point, especially as Tina described how there are some movies you just have to see in the theater for special effects, and I do and always will agree with that sentiment whole-heartedly. I just wish there was also a less-spiffy version for those of us that can’t handle all the special effects and high volume soundtrack at the same time, but would happily spend money seeing it on opening weekend. I have always been willing to ante up for 3D and IMAX when worthwhile? Well, now, I’d pay extra to see a visually muted version. (Insert the “Praise Baby Jesus, it’s not cancer or lupus” mantra here.)

It’s a hard thing to settle for, but I am the mom that had her husband and two sons take her to Iron Man on Mother’s Day, years ago. I miss midnight openings. I miss the kerfuffle.

I kept asking for more details from them about The Avengers, and I became aware that although I was very jealous as a result of my necessary decision, I decided to feel satisfied that I accomplished useful things today. I think this is what “Realizing Your Limitations” feels like.  It’s something I’m supposed to be doing. And, in truth, it’s helping me get through the day, but I sure as hell don’t like it.

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Mental Health Day

Chooch and I spent Friday night through last night purging, packing and cleaning our home in anticipation of going to closing in the next 2 weeks. The non-stop work was driven by our fear that we would cause a delay in closing due to not being finished. We worked tirelessly and through exhaustion and countless complications.

Because we are moving to a much smaller living space, we have to do an extensive, two-step purge. Step one gets the house empty, while step two gets our remaining belongings moved out of storage (where the are now) and into our new home.

We are purging as we go, but as the family archivist/museum, I have thousands of photos (not an exaggeration) to sort through and choose which will be digitized and then do so. There are also family items that I will no longer have room for and that my family does not want. Those items I will photograph before selling/donating. Since I’m bearing the time and financial brunt of this process, it is taking a long time. Progress is halted for now as we have to prep for the move.

I cannot express how hard this has been, as it is the first true purge since my divorce. Even so, I am finding boxes that I packed over 20 years ago that need their fates determined. And of course, nearly every box has a ghost or two inside, either of my Mom, grandmother, my kids or my ex-husband. Finding the hand-made calendar that documented the last month of my Mom’s life was particularly hard.

We arrived on Friday night and intended to stay until the house was done. We were approximately 8 – 10 hours away from being done with clearing out and cleaning for the buyers when we finally received a tentative closing date. Instead of the beginning of March, as we expected, it looks as if we may not go to settlement until March 31st.

That revelation sapped our momentum, as it was already 7 pm and we were going to have to work through the night and then sleep a few hours and return to NextHome in the morning. We instead took our third cargo van full of donations and final trip to storage before returning  to our future home and beloved house mates.

After some brief but intensely awesome time with Tiny Expert and Feral Dancer (our housemates’ daughters), I went for my weekly therapy session. It was a great session, and just in time. She continues to support me giving back as good as I get, meaning if I am treated poorly I do not bend over backwards in hopes of getting better treatment. I put a period and move my energies to where they will matter and be appreciated.

If I am treated lovingly, I reciprocate. Now, I continue to do acts of kindness, but have learned that some will never appreciate or reciprocate. And I am getting to where I am fine with that. I know that if that were the sole requirement for my acts, that I would have a precious few to do those for. I allow myself to feel good in doing the act, rather than in holding my breath for any type of acknowledgement from the recipient.

I find that I still have a long way to go with accepting the now long-term limitations that I have. I now acknowledge that I cannot just jump in my car and go run errands, or make plans that involve me driving, or to even be the sole adult when caring for the young and extremely intelligent and active girls I live with for extended periods of time. As a result, it doesn’t ever feel like I contribute enough to those around me, especially my husband. I feel intense guilt when I am unable to do the things that I must do, let alone the things I want to do.

At the end of my session, my therapist always asks how I’m going to be kind to myself / what am I going to do for me every day? I don’t know why I never have an answer ready, and the question always takes me by surprise. I guess that’s proof I still need to go, huh?

All I can do is to continue to work around my limitations, put one foot in front of the other and never stop trying to be a better person. And only I get to define what that means.


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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 One

Background, since I don’t remember writing about the appointment in January: The daily preventative medication has been causing sleep disruptions that have worsened as the dosage increased. Since the dosage I’m at now has resulted in the biggest reduction in dizzy spells, the hope was to keep the dosage and find something to help me sleep. The medication did nothing at the minimum dose, so I’ve been taking the full recommended dose for about 2 months. While it initially knocks me out, if anything wakes me I’m usually unable to return to sleep. The lack of sleep puts a strain on me, resulting in either more migraines and/or dizziness.

In addition, I believe it to be the cause of my growing comprehension and memory problems. Lookit, I know I’m no genius, but I’ve been having serious issues lately. Last Friday, I’d decided I had enough of it and stopped taking the sleep inducing pill without weaning off or my doctor approving the change. I felt it made no sense to get no sleep at night AND be stupid all day. (Please be kind in the comments about that last bit, okay?)

The results were bad. Very bad. Not only was I dealing with migraines and dizziness as usual, they were jacked up enough that I broke down and took my tier 3 migraine reliever on Sunday night. That’s the pill that essentially knocks me out so it doesn’t hurt anymore. I was finally able to sleep, but woke zombified. Literally dragging, mentally and physically. I still don’t feel quite right and it was three days ago. The pill usually takes me out for the next 24 to 36 hours, but this had me worried. Especially since I’ve had migraines since and honestly, I don’t want a pill that knocks me out for that long. Life is short, and I don’t want to be drugged out and miss it.

But the thing that really had me concerned was the near constant tremor in my right hand and also my jaw. I’ve had the hand tremor for most of my life, usually only showing up when my blood sugar drops. This was different as it was going on all the time, even after meals. And the feeling of a spasm-like trembling in my jaw that I was sure it was visible to others. Sort of like… you know when you’re cold for awhile and you kind of forget until you get a blast of warm air on you? That half a second of pre-shiver, almost painful sensation? Like that, only all the time with a “teeth chattering” kind of tremble. I know, I’m doing a terrible job explaining it, but it’s not easy.

I was afraid to continue any more without consulting him. If the tremble thing was a withdrawal symptom from stopping the sleep inducer and he felt it an appropriate change for me, then I’d deal with it. If it was a new neurological symptom or issue coming to light, then I needed him to know and do any necessary testing.

He ended up suggesting I return to a half dose of the sleep inducing pill, adding melatonin, and taking all 3 of my preventative migraine meds in the morning (instead of 2 in the morning and 1 at night). He also took out the useless tier 1 migraine breaker, so I now have two tiers of relief instead of three. He also let me know that for my now-tier 1 medicine, that insurance companies typically only allow for 9 to 12 of that pill a month (depending on the company) because it’s so expensive. What am I supposed to take for migraines number 13 and higher? Nothing, unless I want to take the pill that I mentioned earlier that knocks me out and turns me into a zombie. Thanks, insurance company. Thanks a hell of a lot.

After leaving that appointment, it was time for the dentist. I had a cracked filling replaced and two cavities filled back in the beginning of January, and I’m still having extreme pain. I haven’t needed fillings since I was a child, so didn’t remember what to expect. But I was only having minor discomfort before the fillings and they’ve been excruciatingly sensitive to temperature and pressure since the fillings. As in, a room temperature banana causing extreme pain because it’s too cold. Ridiculous, right? I haven’t had carrots, apples or anything of that sort since January because then we’re talking about serious pain.

I’ve been in several times since then, and he filed down the “high points” in the fillings, and later diagnosed me as possibly grinding my teeth, but more than likely clenching my jaw, while I sleep. This was because I was pointing out pain in a location where he hadn’t done a filling (the joint where your jaws meet). He decided that I need a $400 mouth guard to wear at night, but since we were broke I told him I’d have to come back after our tax refund arrived. Plus, I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea. It wasn’t mentioned during the sleep study I’d had recently after all, and they were able to watch my eyelids for R.E.M. state in the dark. But one discarded $30 over-the-counter mouth guard later (I had to try…), and I was still having pain. Once I realized the stress from the jaw pain began triggering migraines, I was able to get over my fear of dentists and scheduled to go back in.

Knowing it would take a while, Chooch dropped me off and the dentist ordered new x-rays. Turns out, he’s now diagnosed me with TMJ. He believes that is why the tooth cracked initially and now the filled tooth is apparently cracked below the filling. Since the root/nerve is inflamed, I now need a root canal and crown. After that, I’ll need to sleep with a mouth guard. I panicked and asked Chooch to return because I could feel the usual stress reactions kicking in and I needed his clear head on the problem. Brain fog and migraines make it difficult for me to sort through information and remember everything. (As usual, I’ll ask him to comment if I’ve mixed up anything here.)

The only upside is that the dentist says there’s a chance, a very small chance, that once the mouth guard starts doing it’s job, assuming it does, that it may… wait for it… ease or eliminate my migraines. Yeah, it feels like too much to hope for since at this point I’ll just be thrilled if my teeth just stop hurting. So I’ve decided to put that hope to the side for now and focus on what’s in front of me and what I can control. Yes, I’m a worse case scenario planner, but it hasn’t failed me yet.

It’s going to cost around $2,000 and insurance won’t cover any of it. Nor will insurance cover any future TMJ issues, if the dentist is right. Lovely. I told Chooch I’d rather pull the damned cracked tooth out rather than hand over that much money to fix it, but he thinks that’s a bit nuts. So we’ve scheduled it over three appointments and our tax refund / savings will take the hit. But I’m grateful that we are lucky to have enough in savings and are not having to take the dental office credit program. I shudder to think what the interest rate must be.

Luckily, the day turned pretty damned awesome after that…

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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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Road to Arkansas and Back ~ Final Thoughts

Note: If you haven’t read the first five installments, plus the reason for this trip, you may want to start with the links below before reading this post. Also, know that this was stream of thought and confessional, therefore very long. I intended this to serve as my memory since the trip was as chaotic as attending Dragon*Con, and I didn’t want to forget a thing because of its importance to me.
Reason for the trip
Day One

Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

Final Thoughts
It took me awhile to sort out how I was feeling after waking up on Friday. It was like a dark cloud settled over me, and I chalked it up to the migraine and extreme fatigue. But it was more than that. I realized the similarity between it and my Mom’s last Thanksgiving. Well, actually the day after her last Thanksgiving. She was near despondent, slept all day and just couldn’t be roused to do anything, including the physical therapy that she so loved and looked forward to. I was terrified, but my conversations with the staff and doctor said that they saw it with many of their patients after a holiday or celebration. They called it post-holiday letdown, where the patients would sort of pull inside themselves and grieve what their expectations had been versus what the reality and likely length of their life was.

Obviously, this was no where near as painful as that, but I did realize that after I initially bounded out of bed, planning to take on the world that I ended up back in bed with a migraine and licking my wounds, so to speak. There were many ups and downs during the trip, and a lot that I can’t say here for obvious reasons. But “let down” is definitely a key part to what I was feeling the day after my return.

The one thing that screams at me, is that I didn’t have more time with LT. Had I thought that Naughty Bear and I were capable of driving the entire way without stopping, I would have left a day later to have had more time with LT. Because reflecting back on the trip, I still just really ache for more time with him. Now, I knew this trip would be all about Naughty Bear’s move back, but I was sure that I would be able to spend one night with LT, just the two of us. The one night that would have been possible, I ended up facilitating the meeting with Roomie. My contribution there was huge and many prickly situations were soothed, so I’m glad I did it for Naughty Bear and the ex’s sake. That was followed by dinner with the ex and his family. It was a fantastically good time, so I don’t regret the trade-off. I just wish we had left a day later and planned on driving straight through the night. It’s entirely possible that we would have had to stop based on the migraine I had most of yesterday. I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have had it had we stayed in the stressful environment. Still, I want more time with my son. Call me greedy, I don’t care.

I feel so guilty even saying that, because I have so much more time with my sons than Chooch has with his, but the dynamic is very different, like it or not. I’m working hard to ensure that at least Chooch will make a visit this Spring or Summer and that we’ll all four fly to California to visit him over Christmas. But that includes airfare, rental care, and this time we will likely have to stay in a hotel. Still, even with our financial chaos right now, it has to happen.

Happily, the migraine I had for most of Friday subsided after multiple doses of medication and I was able to attend Chooch’s band practice after all. The surprising warm glow of friendship and love with this group of amazing people was exactly what my battered psyche needed, and our overnight stay with friends was just as magical as last time. We enjoyed a wonderful Saturday morning being spoiled by dear friends and then spent the rest of the day day with other friends, some old and some new. At one point, after my very first Ethiopian meal, I made an utter fool of myself by being “that guy”, feeling so joyful and at peace for the first time in weeks that I thanked them for the random luck of having this already scheduled before my last minute trip was planned and said “I love you guys!”. No, I can’t even blame excessive alcohol. I was just that happy. And dammit, if I can complain loudly, I choose to also proclaim gratitude loudly.

I’m blessed and rich in friendship, and I refuse to deny it. I think that cheapens it, and I won’t tolerate that. So for the family and friends online, the friends I haven’t seen recently but have offered me support via Twitter, email, FB, WordFeud chat and also in person, I thank you sincerely. Although I didn’t have time to respond to all the support sent my way, I read each and every one and they truly helped me through what I was facing. I humbly thank you for the gestures of friendship.

I will always treasure the trip, because of the deeply satisfying conversations with Naughty Bear. I am so honored that he shared so much with me, of his personal and private hopes, experiences and dreams. Also, the time spent with my ex’s wife and their kids ended up very positively and I’m very grateful to have found peace there, finally.

As I’ve done throughout this series, I’m ending with the health aspect of the trip, this time the results of my activities: My Friday morning weigh-in showed that I was actually down one pound from the previous Friday. I’m very proud of this, as I usually gain when off my routine, especially when traveling. I didn’t even starve or deprive myself, as I allowed a waffle from the breakfast bar during the hotel stay, ate moderately at P.F. Chiang’s, ate modestly at El Chico’s (a fave mexican restaurant from my childhood in Texas that does not exist in our local area) and two nights with Blue Bell ice cream for dessert. I even negotiated three fast food restaurants successfully. I only got in two workouts, although two of the days were fairly physical with cleaning and packing. I carried bananas with me everywhere and since I was with my kids, had no alcohol. The lesson from this loss is one I hope to never forget – I can be healthy anywhere, regardless of the stress, and feel empowered by exerting control over how I react in relation to food.

Lookit, I’m growing!

Dizzy Family No Whining Our Kids Pets Vestibular Migraine Weight Loss

The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 3

I groggily woke at 8:30 to grab the free breakfast before it closed down at nine and fixed a plate for Naughty Bear since he was moving too slowly to get it himself. I’m nothing if not thrifty and didn’t want to pay for breakfast that was freely provided.

I threw on sweats and headed to the “gym” which included an elliptical, treadmill and recumbent bike. I did my running program on the treadmill, and while it was a pain in the ass doing the intervals that way, I’m really glad I did it. I was dizzy afterward, but also supremely energized for the rest of the day. Since I knew NB would be driving, the dizziness was not going to be an issue.

I was able to verify that the treadmill workout is not as efficient as a road workout, at least not for me. I was simply unable to hit my usual heart rate (using my usual HR monitor from home) without increasing the incline to 2 and running faster than I would normal do on the road. The program I use insists on avoiding overexertion, preferring endurance to speed. I threw that out the window because I decided to see if I would be able to hit my usual HR. I did, but it was an all-out run. Still, I’m glad to know I was able to replicate it and I’m no worse for wear. I’ll continue my roadwork, but still want access to an elliptical so that I can follow my program when the weather is too nasty. All in all, I burned a little over 600 calories, which is lower than what I do at home for a workout of that length, but I was happy to have done it.

I returned and we showered and headed back to Naughty Bear’s apartment to finish up and turn off the utilities in his name in time to pick up LT at 3 pm from school. We were shocked upon arrival because the roomie had cleaned the living room. Even the missing kitchen trashcan was returned! It was quite remarkable.

I played with Not My and took him out back to go potty and whatnot, and I fell even more in love with him After a good long playtime and frolicking, we put him in the roomie’s room so that we could get to work and load up the car to take stuff to the hotel for the last night.

On a heartbreaking note, when we arrived Naughty Bear noticed his door was open and that Not My had gotten the stuffed animal that I’d sent him for Valentine’s Day off his bed. He was utterly shocked because Not My had NEVER chewed on anything other than the dog toys. It’s the only thing he’d ever taken that wasn’t his, and Naughty Bear decided that he took it because it had my scent on it. My heart broke at just the thought of it, and I wanted to bring him home even more. The roomie is less than financially stable, like many of us, and I couldn’t help but hope that if he couldn’t keep him that we’d be able to get him. Isn’t that terrible?!?!

We loaded up the car and dropped everything off at the hotel and went to pick up LT. I’m saddened to say that we still had to shut off the utilities, so didn’t have a free chill out afternoon with LT on our last evening together. It really couldn’t be helped, and he seemed fine with it since we were all together. After those errands, I plunked down at my ex’s computer to pull all the financial information together for what was expected to be a very unpleasant discussion with the roomie. He was expecting to get stuck holding the bag because of my son moving out a month early, but Naughty Bear had no intention of doing that. The meeting was to sort out who owed what for the last month of the six month lease, and to reassure the roomie that he wasn’t leaving him in the lurch. NB is committed to honoring his verbal contract and to continue paying his half of the expenses for their agreed upon lease term of six months.

Once I finished the financial document, I offered to go with them since I didn’t think I could explain everything involved for the meeting starting in a few minutes. My ex didn’t happy about it, reportedly because he didn’t want me dragged into unpleasantness with the roomie, who is also the drummer in his band. I told him I didn’t care if the roomie hated me or blamed me or got mad at me because I didn’t expect to ever see him again. I had nothing to lose in explaining the facts that they had trouble sorting out from the spreadsheet I made. (My ex reports for work at 4 am and the meeting was at 6 pm, a very long day indeed.) His wife, M, felt pretty strongly that I should go to make sure there was no confusion and because, like me, she thought he might be more amenable with someone he didn’t know there. Naughty Bear agreed and ex did to, so the three of us left for the meeting.

I’ll admit that I had one of my silent panic attacks on the way, and told them I’d stay quiet unless explanation was needed or take the lead, whichever NB and his dad wanted. They suggested hanging back unless something needed explaining, but once we got there it was pure silence, awkwardness and testosterone. So I did what I’ve done my whole life as a middle-child diplomat – I started chattering to smooth the ruffled feathers. I introduced myself and just then Not My came running up to me to play as we’d been doing the last two days. He apologized for the dog’s exuberance and I told him no worries and explained how smitten I was with the dog. (I had to be careful to call him Bricktop instead of Not My.) He seemed surprised at this, because most people complain how wild the dog is, which it wasn’t with me because I exerted my dominance over him immediately, so he knew how to behave. I told him how he reminded me of my Kaylee and we talked dogs for a few minutes while NB and his dad hung back. By the time we sat down to go over the spreadsheet, Roomie seemed very comfortable and at ease. I felt good about this, because I felt bad for him and didn’t want him to feel ambushed or put on the defensive. I could empathize with his feeling that he was going to get screwed because as a younger woman I had a roomie move out and had gotten stuck me with a financial mess to sort out.

NB reassured him that he was sticking with their agreement and then I started explaining the spreadsheet. He was appreciative at the effort I took and at NB’s maturity and morals and agreed down the line. I expected this, as I carefully documented everything factually and honestly, so there was nothing to dispute. In honesty, I didn’t expect him to do so as quickly as he did. It was left on such good terms that we ended up inviting him to join us for dinner at the Chinese buffet where I had been invited to join my ex’s family the night before.

Dinner was much like it is when we have gatherings with local friends in DC/MD/VA at DFH and the like. My ex and M (his wife) have a rambunctious and hilarious 5 year old son (Wild G), an adorable, sweet and thoughtfully intelligent 8 year old daughter (Tranquil M) and ex’s wife has a very friendly and kind 11 year old son from her previous marriage (Charming C). Add me, Naughty Bear, LT and Roomie and it was a par-tay. We took over the joint, as the kids told stories, laughed and entertained us all. The adults joined in as well, and it was a much better time than I’d anticipated. In truth, I was absolutely anxiety-ridden as there has been … difficulty … in the past.

I think there were some great in-roads made, and that has made the trip even more valuable than I’d hoped. As the check arrived, I reached for my wallet and was immediately told by my ex’s wife “Don’t even think about it, this is our treat.” I naturally tried to argue at this unexpected kindness and was laughingly warned by others at the table not to argue with her. I offered my sincere thanks, as I was truly appreciative. We’ve come a long way, baby!

I especially enjoyed getting to know the kids better, as it was really the first chance I’ve ever had to do so. I took time with each of them, and they are each endearing in their own ways. It’s easy to see why my sons love them so much, beyond the sibling bond.

We said our farewells, and I made a point of reminding the Roomie what I had said earlier in the night, which was that if he ever found himself in the position of having to find another home for Not My, to contact me and I’d try to come and get him immediately. He refused the offer, saying he’d never get rid of him but I made sure he knew I was sincere. He’d be a perfect fit for our family and a great friend for Kaylee.

After we all said farewells, Naughty Bear and LT and I ran to Wal-Mart to try the Cherry Cheesecake Blue Bell as a farewell dessert. All I can say is, after 35 years I think that Cookies and Cream is no longer my fave Blue Bell ice cream.

We left the rest for the family to enjoy and then said our final goodbyes. Naughty Bear and I were both sad at leaving LT, but he had additional sadness at leaving the other kids, his dad and M. Things were finally becoming very real for him, I think.

Upon return to the hotel, in typical fashion I have trouble changing gears and started working on my blog posts before I could forget the events of the chaotic days. NB spent some time on Skype with his girlfriend and then went to sleep, utterly exhausted.

Things you don’t expect to say to your first born: “It’s cool, keep driving. I got a picture of the blue balls.” <3 my life.

Diet progress: Being more cautious. Had cheerios, banana, hard boiled egg and 2 cups of decaff tea. 2 more bananas during the day due to very late lunch at 3 pm of a tendergrill sandwich with no mayo at Burger King. (Yes, I’d sworn off fast food but had literally no choices not having a kitchen available to me.) Chinese buffet for dinner as planned by ex and his wife, I had a small amount of hot and sour soup, loads of fruit, 4 veggie sushi rolls and one chicken on a stick. All the veggies were sauteed in oil, nothing was steamed except the white rice and I skipped both. Afterward we had more Blue Bell ice cream. With the Runkeeper program that I did in the morning, plus all the physical exertion of packing, cleaning and loading up the car I feel like I did “okay” for the day.

As in the two previous posts, if you click on the flickr album you will be able to read my descriptions of what you’re viewing, so they’ll make much more sense. In today’s photos, you’ll even learn why I tweeted “Things you don’t expect to say to your first born: “It’s cool, keep driving. I got a picture of the blue balls.” <3 my life."
If this post interested you at all, you should check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Edit: Can’t believe I forgot to share this, remembered when recapping trip with Chooch last night and he reminded me that I tweeted about it. @cwseidman and I were tweeting about how gross motherhood can be as she was dealing with her daughter’s excessively runny nose. My response was “@CWSeidman I’ll let you know when the gross outs end. Dinner was punctuated by NB dropping a semen joke, so we aren’t quite there yet.” The joke was from a conversation between LT and his dad at the Chinese buffet. His dad asked if he tried any of the sushi, and LT said he doesn’t like seafood. His dad said, “Did you like the tacos I made the other night, because those were seafood?” Before LT could reply, Naughty Bear said, in a very quiet voice so the kids wouldn’t hear, “That wasn’t seafood, that was semen.” Roomie, NB, LT and I erupted in laughter, and explained the joke to my ex and his wife when the little ones were out of ear-shot. Hi-larious!

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The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 2

Monday morning is very foggy but Mark arrived and we grabbed the complimentary wall of carbohydrates, err, I mean the complimentary breakfast before hitting the road to Get Stuff Done.

First up was doing three loads of laundry since, in typical bachelor fashion, he had nothing clean.
While we hung out we chatted and tried to untangle the confusing finances between he and his roommate and the final month of the six-month lease. After I sort of understood that, his dad stopped by so we could have a plan of action on the possibly hostile meeting with said roommate to finalize everything. I took a private moment with my ex to ensure that there were no issues from the night before with his wife, and he reassured me there were not. She was simply having a rough day and they were both very grateful that I’d gotten the printer working.
Edit: After back tracking through my tweets, I see I forgot to mention this “Ah, the laundromat. Dude accidentally spit in a ladies basket thinking it was a trash can. Then wants pat on the back for telling victim.” It almost got REAL up in that laundromat!

After ward, Naughty Bear and I grabbed lunch at Subway and picked up boxes to head over to his place and start boxing things up. We spent the next several hours working in the kitchen and his bedroom. The common areas were disgusting. Literally. I wished I had grabbed rubber gloves and tongs. No exaggeration. I cleaned the kitchen as I went through seeking out what I’d stocked him with, just as a kind gesture to the roommate. The kitchen looked decent after I’d scrubbed the counter and washed the sink full of dishes. Naughty Bear confessed that the only time he spent in the apartment was in his bedroom and bathroom because the common areas were taken over by the roomie and he was tired of cleaning up after him. It certainly looked to be true.

The bright spot of the time at the apartment was falling in love with the roomie’s disallowed pet, a black lab mix named “Bricktop” seemingly named that because he survived a fall or some kind of head injury from a brick and survived. The dog was wildly lonely and hyper for attention, so I spent quite a few minutes soothing it. It was silent the hours we worked, but when I peeked in to see if it was okay I fell in love. I took him out for a potty break and while he was wild and untrained he started responding to my commands and leash training pretty quickly. This “wild dog” is simply untrained and lacks attention and discipline. Even Naughty Bear was really impressed with how well he was behaving. As for me, I could see the potential and fell head over heels with his sweetness. He has the kind facial structure of my sweet Kaylee and I couldn’t help but imagine them playing and frolicking together.

I thought that Bricktop was a really stupid name; similar to naming a dog Shotgun after it had been shot. I renamed him “NotMy” so that every time I said his name I was reminded that he wasn’t mine to love and take home. After his potty break and playtime, we put him back in the roomies room and NotMy whimpered the entire time, something that Naughty Bear said he never does. Does it seem like I’m gushing over this dog I’ll never see again? Yes, I likely am. That’s how much I love him.

We finished up for the day so we could pick up LT, and headed out to dinner at a favorite Mexican food chain of mine, not available in our area of the country. Keep in mind, I lived in Texas from age three to seventeen and I know what I’m doing without! After a tasty dinner where I ate light, we returned to LT’s place and chatted with their siblings and my ex and his wife for a bit as they cooked dinner. It was late-ish and LT needed to work on the project due the next day, so we made plans for dinner together on Tuesday night, and then Naughty Bear and I left to go in search items needed for the trip from Wal-Mart.

We grabbed the soft car top carrier to maximize storage space for the drive and on a whim hit the ice cream section for the end-all, be-all ice cream of my childhood, Blue Bell Ice Cream. This is something you cannot buy in most of the country. I grew up with it, and in my opinion there is no other ice cream as good. I admit that it is partly due to rarity and nostalgia, but I dare you to say it’s not tasty. We found a huge case of it, and I grabbed a small of my beloved Cookies and Cream and Naughty Bear grabbed a small of Banana Pudding, which was a flavor new to us both. We wondered if it had Nilla wafers in it, and as I read the ingredients aloud, I actually shouted “Nilla Wafers!” when I saw them on the list. Apparently, I’m easy to please and will always be a fatty no matter how much weight I lose.

We headed back to the hotel since Naughty Bear was planning on avoiding further difficulty with the ex by staying in the other double bed in my room. He logged in to Skype with his girlfriend as Scott Pilgrim played and I started going through the stack of papers in order to try and make sense of what was owed and by whom. I didn’t get to talk to Chooch before sleepies, because it was so late when I finished my hope was that he was already asleep for work the next day.

I was asleep in no time, after I took my sleeping pill, praise be!

As for the diet, I had a waffle at breakfast which was a no-no, but I did it anyways. I ate fruit all day long, with a super healthy Subway 6-inch, soup and chips at the Mexican restaurant and half a pint of ice cream. With the physical exertion of the day, I think I was only slightly higher on calories than I should have been.

Family No Whining Our Kids Vestibular Migraine Weight Loss

The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 1

On Sunday morning Chooch and I got off nice and early for my 11:30 flight, arriving at the airport sometime at 9:30-ish. We shared a long and difficult farewell at curbside as I contemplated making this physically difficult and extremely emotional trip without him, my touch-stone.

I was dealing with my now-usual morning zombie brain thanks to the new meds I got on Wednesday (I’ll blog about that later) and had forgotten my wedding band at home. I don’t wear it unless I’m leaving the house because it’s very loose from recent weight loss, and with the diamonds I’m terrified to lose it. I had accidentally left it at home, and Chooch tried to give me his to wear. It is also too big, so we discussed me finally buying a cheap plain band to wear all the time.

Heading into the airport, I discovered that the flight was delayed 30 minutes. Since I still had a little over an hour to make my connection I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. As I was walking to security, there was a store with sparklies and since I had a bunch of time to kill I took a peek to see if they had plain bands. I really wanted a wedding band while in Arkansas, for reasons I won’t go into here.

Low and behold they had a sweet little band with marcasite stones circling it, for only $30 and it fit my now slimmer finger! I happily made my way to security with my bleary brain filled with joy and peace over the purchase now on my finger.

In the security line, I did my usual gathering of boarding pass and I.D., removing shoes and putting everything into the buckets and waiting like a good little cow to be herded along, mildly anxious about being groped and hoping the groper had warm hands. No grope or xray needed, I waited for my bag after xray. They pulled my back pack for a bag search, much to my surprise. It seems I had left a bottle of water. (Derr!) and hubby’s MacBook in the backpack, which we all know is a no-no.

In my defense, it’s the first time I’ve taken a laptop through security and had forgotten it was in there. When we travel, Chooch always lugs it around. As for the water, I have no excuse. That was just a dumb-ass move on my part.

I then made my way to the gate, grabbed a fruit cup and Chooch’s copy of Ender’s Shadow and hunkered down for the wait. They changed the gate, but otherwise left with only the aforementioned half hour delay.

I sat next to a very nice gentleman on the way to Memphis, and a silent woman reading a book. I had a migraine fire up, so medicated and closed my eyes for most of the 2.5 hour flight.

Arriving at Memphis, I learned there was a half hour delay on that flight. I was tempted to get food, but had already promised the boys dinner and the flight is only 1 hour long. I grabbed a bottle of water and settled in for what ended up being a half hour delay, boarding, de-boarding because they couldn’t get the plane door shut, and another hour wait before re-boarding and taking off. Hoo boy, migraine was back big time so I popped another pill and slept.

I finally arrived two hours later than expected. The boys had been waiting for two hours, since Naughty Bear didn’t want to risk me waiting for them and they waited it out listening to music in his car. We were excited to see each other, with them trying to hide from sight and sneak out at me. I love them for these little pranks of theirs.

We went to PF Chang’s for dinner, and introduced LT to the glory of lettuce wraps and Kung Pao Chicken. It was late, and we were over an hour from his house so we headed back, laughing and talking all the way.

We arrived and they insisted we go in, which I was nervous about. Things are … interesting with my ex and his wife. For many reasons I won’t go in to. On top of all that, I know they aren’t happy Naughty Bear is moving away, and I certainly don’t want to intrude on their time with him, but I’m also trying to spend as much time as I can with LT before we leave.

I ended up in their living room playing with their dog as me and the boys planning LT’s school project due on Tuesday. That led to trying to print his document and the discovery that their new computer was unable to print. I then spent the next hour searching for the print driver disk, calling Chooch to verify my plan, downloading the print driver, installing it and doing a test print. Their dad was home during this whole thing, and I also explained the likely culprit they were having was likely due to the too low amount of RAM they had. My dear friend, Thomas Gideon, should be EXTREMELY proud of me, as I seemed to know more than I thought I did. Especially empowered with confirmation by hubby’s big brain over the phone. My ex stated he was so fed up he was ready to box up the new computer and return it. Ta Da! I saved the day!

During this time, the ex’s wife returned home exhausted from a very long day of her own. She did not seem happy at all, and I’m unsure of how much had to do with me seated at her new computer in her living room. It was extremely awkward and I felt like a turd on a wedding cake. Luckily, I was almost done and we left shortly thereafter, having made plans to pick up LT the next day.

Mark came back to the hotel with me where we did a brief stint in the workout room before he returned to his place to talk with his roommate about finances and sleep there one last night. I collapsed after a much needed conversation with Chooch, catching up on the events of the day and slept long and deeply.

As for diet watch, I ate great all day long, well below my allowed calories. Until we got to PF Chang’s, but even then I didn’t pig out. Since it was lunch and dinner I felt no guilt over what I ate.

It was the longest day ever… until Monday.

Edit: For background on why I made this trip, check out the “Great” section of my post “The Great, The Meh and the *So* Not Cute”

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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…