Archive for the ‘Silliness’ Category

Spammedy, spam, spammedy spam…

April 1st, 2012

Hello friends – I’ve been gone a long time and I’m so glad that (real) people still come by and visit Free My Brain. The needs of working and earning a living have gotten in the way of my blogging for a long time. There’s good news in that, in that I have been well enough to work full time, but bad news too as we continue to struggle economically and the stress level of my life remains high. Not to mention that I miss the wonderful relationships and the fun back and forth of the on line world. Ever since getting back from Headache on the Hill this week, and remembering who I am as part of this Migraine advocacy community, I have been determined to get back to Migraine blogging and coaching, even if just a little at a time.

With help from my resident tech-guru husband and at the recommendation of dear blogger friend Diana Lee, I am installing Disqus for comments, in the hope that real people will once again be able to talk to me, rather than spam-bots. (I hope Danny can get to it this weekend. He just started a new contract position Thursday so has been working on that, which has to take priority since it pays the mortgage.) Some of you have tried to leave comments and somehow haven’t been able to; I’ve had quite a few emails from my “contact me” page alerting me to something wrong with the comment function. Spam-bots don’t seem to have any trouble with it, though. I’ve gotten thousands of spam comments over the past year and a half or so. They were piling up in my comment moderation box, and several hundred even managed to spill over to the “approved” side though I sure as hell never approved them! I don’t know how that works, but I spent hours deleting them all over the last few days.

And so, just so those hours of purging will not be completely wasted, I wish to share with you some of the choicest cuts of spamminess – worthy of a Monty Python breakfast (spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam).

The thing about the spam comments is they just manage to sound almost human, but not quite. At first I thought they were all written by non-English speakers, but if you are human and speak any language at all you have some grasp of syntax, which is notably missing here.

First, the marvelous compliments:

“Treasured… I totally wonderful this item!” (And I totally wonderful your use of English!)

“Excellent site. It was pleasant to me.” (So nice of it; too bad you weren’t pleasant enough to leave it alone.)

“Splendid… I seriously great this post!…” (Wow, and you seriously grate on my nerves!)

“Eloquent… Smooth rhetoric in this item. I wondered if I was reading Richard Nixon.” (Well, hey now, is that any way to speak to someone who lived through Nixon’s rise and fall? Not that he wasn’t eloquent in his lies, but I’ve surely never modeled myself after him!)

“Simply wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is simply nice and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.” (Sounds almost human, though to be astonished by something simply nice would require some kind of weird mental gymnastics. Maybe this was a real human after all and I should take in that I am simple yet astonishingly nice. Except not right now.)

“Great beat! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website. The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept” (Yeah… I got rhythm…)

And just for the sheer nonsense of it, “Log Cabins Loch Lomond” contributed “Thanks erst much for distribution this on line. I sure every bit of it.” (Well, by yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes! You’re welcome erst much! I sure… every um… what you said.)

But rest assured, I am not universally loved by spam-bots, some criticize me thusly:

“I can impartially state that I didn’t get it… Check out this gibberish… Do others think they believe it?” (And I can impartially state that you are pretty darn good at gibberish yourself.)

“Grow taller for idiots review. Another post of fail… Why do you even bother ?” (Indeed. Why do I even bother, when I grow taller neither for idiots nor for geniuses? Five foot two and a half ever since I was fifteen. Ah me!)

And just in case you were wondering “how to quit smoking pot. {Simply|Just} {want to|wish to|desire to} say your article is as {astonishing|amazing|surprising|astounding}. The {clearness|clarity} in your post is {simply|just} {spectacular|nice|excellent|cool|great} and i {can|could} assume {you are|you’re} an … (Multiple choice spam? I’ll have the spam spam spam sausage and spam!)

But perhaps the creme de la creme:

“Fleece Blanket. Funny Thing Happened… While I was flipping through the post, a cat just swallowed my pet ferret!” (In fact, fleece blanket, that would be sad, if you were a human with a pet ferret. Luckily, it is highly unlikely.)

That’s all for now. Wishing you a spam and Migraine free tomorrow.

- Megan

Can of Spam image courtesy of AJC1.

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Posted in Advocacy, Communicating, Rant, Silliness, Weblogs | Comments (1)

Only a Migraineur could Understand…

April 1st, 2009

Last year for April Fool’s Day I hosted the Weirdest Migraine Triggers Ever contest. We had some doozies submitted – the winning entries are worth a read.  Weirdest Migraine Trigger Winners.  I’m not feeling very ambitious today – I am in post-drome from a major two day Migraine, so I don’t know yet if this will be a contest or what.  But it’s a question, anyway.  Please respond!  Oh, and by the way – gross-out alert (or maybe just t.m.i.) – not for the squeamish.

How would you complete the sentence: only a Migraineur could understand ___________.

Here’s my example.  I was terribly nauseous all day yesterday, and at one point I got up and scrubbed out the toilet bowl. This struck me as a truly insane act, but completely necessary nonetheless. I had pounding headpain and excruciating nausea, but the bathroom hadn’t been cleaned in a while and I thought, if I’m going to be on my knees in front of this bowl, at least it’s going to smell clean.

“Only a Migraineur could understand getting up with a pounding head and heaving stomach to scrub the toilet bowl so you can upchuck into a clean-smelling toilet.”

Come on, bring it on, what else could only a Migraineur understand?

- Megan

By the way, I’m sure there are other chronically ill folks who could understand this one as well… you can fill in your illness here if you like.

Cleaning supplies image courtesy of Collin Anderson.

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Posted in Silliness | Comments (12)

My Brain Doesn’t Like My Life

March 17th, 2009

Now mind you, I like my life. Not that there aren’t parts of it I could do without. Not that it doesn’t have its difficulties. But I do like my life. It’s just my brain that doesn’t like it. Oh and maybe my immune system? Or my adrenal glands? What system is implicated in Chronic Fatigue? I know there’s some central nervous system component to that too, so I’m probably back to my original statement – my brain doesn’t like my life.

I was reading The Migraine Brain by Dr. Carolyn Bernstein the other day and I was really struck by one of her statements.  She is discussing the brain, how it is less adaptable and tolerant of change or variance than any other organ in the body, and Migraine brains are “as high-maintenance as they come!” Our brains want us to have a calm, quiet, regular existence, with low stress levels, the same amount of good quality sleep at the same time every day, a constant level of blood sugar.  I was trying to explain this to a business associate this morning – he was suggesting that I add a second weekly 7 a.m. networking meeting to my schedule, and I was trying to tell him the effect on my system of getting up even one day a week early enough to make a 7 a.m. meeting, when I don’t get up that early other days.

In reality, I have two teens who have to get up at 6 to get to school and who stay up late doing homework and I can’t always get to bed as early as I would like, or sleep as late as I would like, even though my husband takes care of most of both the early and late parenting duties. In reality there is a great deal of stress and financial pressure in my life, and I need to work, and I need to continually generate and reinvent the work that I do, since I work for myself. My stress levels mean that I don’t sleep as well as I might, and that leads to more fatigue, and more Migraines. More fatigue and more Migraines mean I get less work done, and that’s a vicious cycle.

Thinking about having a high maintenance brain has really amused me. I have never seen myself as a high maintenance kind of a woman! But I started speculating, if I have a high maintenance brain, what kind of life would it like me to have? Clearly it would involve going to bed by 11 each night. Maybe a bath and a massage to relax me before bed.  “Come along, Megan, time for your bath and massage.” Ah, yes.  Then I would sleep until 8 and have a nutritious breakfast in bed.  Get up and do yoga, and go for a walk.

The weather would be breezy, 75 degrees, mixed sun and clouds.  It could rain a little overnight, but never when I want to go out. Yes, I mean every day. I know it’s unreasonable, but I’m high maintenance, right? Come on!

I’m really not sure what the rest of my day would consist of, frankly it’s hard for me to imagine, but I do know that I would not have much of anything to worry about. That is non-negotiable to my brain! I could take nice little trips as long as all the other drivers drove safely and carefully and did not use their horns. I could have lovely visits with people and enjoy restaurants and movies and concerts and plays as long as no one smoked, no one shouted, there were no flashing lights, and the decibels were at a reasonable level. Whatever that is!  And no two people can ever speak to me at at the same time. And all my meals must be delicious and gluten free and arrive before my blood sugar drops too low.  Preferably without me having to think about it too much, or cook it.  Yes, I could have lots of lovely fun as long as it was all on my terms and I was home in time for my bath and massage and bed by 11.

Gee, it sounds kind of like what my high-maintenance brain wants is a permanent vacation! An expensive one! Oh for heaven’s sake, brain, get a life!

- Megan

Oh well, at least there’s chocolate.

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Posted in Rant, Silliness | Comments (4)

Creating a Migraine-Friendly Home Environment

March 6th, 2009

When I was a kid one of the games my brother and sister and I used to love to play on a Saturday was the Farm Game. It involved the Encyclopedia, and a pad and pen. We designed an imaginary farm for the three of us to live on and run, and we would draw it and plan it, and use the Encyclopedia to select our location and all our animals and plants.  I’m sure the farms we created would have been impossible to run, with animals that wouldn’t get along, and plant species that wouldn’t grow wherever it was that we were going to be. But it kept us busy for hours, and we loved it.

Creating the Migraine-friendly home enviroment is a little like that. I could spend hours, and use home design and architecture magazines, catalogs, the web, and a lot of imagination. I could spend bottomless amounts of money I don’t have, to create this environment, have a great time doing it, and I don’t know how practical it would be at the end. But what I’ll try to do here, instead, is mix fantasy and reality, pie in the sky with down to earth, and see if we can come up with some things you can actually use.

Starting outside, the Migraine-friendly home should be well-shaded, with deep covered porches and pollen-free trees.  Migraineurs need fresh air and good circulation, but have trouble with extreme heat and bright sun, and often get triggered in high-pollen season.  So let’s make it possible to get outside even with a Migraine, and to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air.

Inside, lighting is very important.  If you can choose lighting fixtures, great. I discovered the hard way that “high-hat” spot-lights are terrible for me, bright lighting coming down into the top of my eyes is about the worst from a triggering standpoint.  Torchiere type lights, which point the light upwards and spread it gently on the ceiling, illuminate the room more indirectly and can give plenty of light without glare.  Many Migraineurs find that fluorescents, even compact fluorescents, trigger them. Good old-fashioned shaded incandescent lamps can be good. We just recently got some of the brand new soft-white LED lights, which we have put in the “high-hat” sockets, and they are terrific.  Non-flickering, soft illumination, but plenty of it. For the first time, I can have light coming down from above that doesn’t trigger me! They are very good for the environment, too.

Having a quiet place to escape to is key. Lots of my Migraineur friends spend time on the couch, for me it’s my bed. I have 2 kids and a husband who like lots of music and tvs on and I need a place where I can control the light, sound and stimulation level. If you could really set it all up beforehand like the Farm Game you would choose yourself a quiet partner and quiet kids, but I wouldn’t trade the ones I have. I just have to buffer them at times.

Ideally, the Migraine-Friendly home environment would be tidy enough that the Migraineur was not tripping over stuff all the time, without the Migraineur having to be the one to tidy it up all the time. This also falls into the realm of the Farm Game – the ideal Migraine-friendly home environment comes with enough money to hire someone to do the house-keeping. Either that or choose your spouse based on their neatness and housekeeping abilities, though that may not be the best reason to choose your life companion.

Don’t forget to keep what you need for comfort on hand, whether it’s pillows, blankets, eye-shades, ice-packs, comedy DVDs, kitties, doggies, books on tape, spouses, children, best friends, rocking chairs, ginger Altoids, Ben & Jerry’s Heath Bar Crunch, you name it.  What else would you add to the design for the Migraine-friendly home?

- Megan

P.S. No, that is not a picture of my house. I wish!

Wisconsin Farm image courtesy of Randen Pederson; craftsman house image courtesy of David Sawyer.

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Posted in Managing, Musings, Silliness, Tips & Techniques | Comments (1)

Migraine Consolation

February 5th, 2009

I have to thank Diana Lee for this topic, which I’m exploring for this month’s Migraine Disease and Headache Blog Carnival, I’ll excerpt the subject as: when sex can help with migraines – anything goes.  I’ll just warn you that as Danny (my dear hubs) discovered when he went off to college, girls are just as disgusting as boys, in their own way.

Hideous head pain got you down? Tired of dizziness, not being able to see straight, or losing sensation in one side of your body, or spending hours kneeling in front of the toilet? There is a consolation: sex can help with Migraine pain!  Now it’s true I’m being a bit sarcastic, and I guess that comes with the territory, because there’s a chicken and the egg problem here – it’s hard to feel sexy when you’re in a lot of pain.

When I was in my early twenties and having menstrual cramps that left me in bed moaning for hours at a time, I heard that an orgasm would help with menstrual cramps. There were times in there where I had a willing boyfriend to help out, but I found that, though I’m not generally the squeamish type, it’s hard to get into masturbation when the flow is heavy. Either it’s just a god-awful mess, or you have to spread out a towel and wear rubber gloves, and really, how sexy is that? When I managed it, I will report that yes, an orgasm helped. For a while.

Well, likewise with a Migraine. It’s a good theory. If the pain is severe, movement makes it worse. Though I will not turn up my nose at an orgasm most of the time, and would much prefer pleasure over pain, there is a level of pain I can’t seem to get past. If nauseous, that’s even worse. I defy you to show me someone who can really get in the mood when nauseous.

And there are other logistical issues. When I have a Migraine I tend to retreat to the quiet zone, my bedroom, where I can control the noise, light, and stimulation levels. I also have teenagers. I could go into a whole separate post about how difficult it is to have a sex life when you have teenagers. When your children no longer go to bed before you do, life gets complicated. Maybe it’s nature’s way of getting you ready to push them out of the nest. “Leave home already, your father and I haven’t had any nooky in…..”

But imagine, if you will, the combination of these two elements. I am away in my quiet cave upstairs, I have a Migraine but not one so severe that I can’t contemplate the deed, and I must somehow communicate to my spouse that I would like a little orgasmic intention directed my way. How do I do this without alerting the offspring, and how do we arrange the whole thing? Frankly my ingenuity level is not high during a Migraine either. I am most likely to hang the whole idea up and watch some Law & Order.

If we managed the logistics, would it help? We have managed it a few times, and I am happy to report that an orgasm, or three, is dandy for a Migraine. It may or may not make it go away, but it certainly helps for a while. Why not? Your body is flooded with feel-good chemicals and you are beyond relaxed. That’s got to help.

When I take a triptan and lie down to try to sleep off a bad Migraine, as long as I don’t have that mess situation going on, as mentioned above, I might give myself a little orgasm to help the process along. It doesn’t require much vigorous movement, and it’s not a bad tool to have in your Migraine toolkit.

- Megan

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My Brain Hurts!

January 23rd, 2009

Do you remember the Gumbies from Monty Python?  “My Brain Hurts!” “Oh, no, Mr. Gumby…” “I’ve got a piece of brain stuck in my head and it hurts…” My cousin and I used to quote this at each other in our teens, and laugh hysterically (Mike can do a mean Mr. Gumby impression). Little did I know that a few decades later “my brain hurts” would become such a refrain for me!

I have never seen “thinking too hard” on any list of Migraine triggers, and I’m dubious about stress. As I’ve discussed here before, stress is officially considered an exacerbating factor in Migraine, not a trigger. So I don’t know whether the experience of “sparks are about to come out of my ears” has any physiological basis or not.  Someday I may do some research and see what kind of scientific explanations there are for this phenomenon, but not today.

Today is a Friday. Fridays my brain has been working hard all week and I either give it the final push that sends it straight to Frigraine-land, or I get into an extended case of the sillies. I realize this is a tautology. I can’t tell you whether thinking too hard is a Migraine trigger because I can’t think that hard because that might trigger a Migraine. Does that make any sense? Probably not, but we’re going to have to live with it! Look I’ve been drafting an estate plan, researching corporate formation, reading up on the relaxation response, attending a mediation discussion meeting, giving a marketing talk, writing a migraine management newsletter, and trying to remember algebra. Among other things. If I think much harder my head will explode. I’m pretty sure of that.

A friend copied me on an email this week, introducing me to her disability lawyer, so that I can speak to the lawyer about her case. One of the things I am interested in is helping Migraineurs and others with invisible chronic illness to get disability income if they need it. Anyway, the friend closed the email by saying she was impressed at what a professional sounding letter she can still write, though it had given her a Migraine to do it! So I’m not the only one who finds that mental effort makes my brain hurt.

As I have gotten back into legal work lately, I have been using synapses in the ole brain-bucket that have been in disuse for a number of years. I don’t know if the Migraines I’ve had over the past decades have any effect on my cognitive functioning, or if it’s just those darned decades themselves doing the job. I’ve been encouraged to discover that even though I can’t always think on my feet and recall immediately how to solve a problem, if I leave it alone and come back to it everything seems to fall back into place. I’ve done things I haven’t done in 10 years, things I haven’t done in 20 years, and this week had to dust off some math skills I haven’t used since high school!

This is the good news, but there have been many panicked moments in between when I felt like my brain was short-circuiting, when I actually physically felt pressure mounting in my head, when I thought sparks were going to come out my ears. What is that? An over-active imagination? I don’t think so. I don’t have any studies to cite for you, but when I think my head is going to explode, I think it’s time to give the brain a break.

Right now my brain hurts. Just a little bit. I’m going to take a break after I write this, and do my relaxation breathing, then put on my boots and take a little walk in the melting snow.  I may manage to avoid a Migraine tonight. I have to say I’m encouraged by the resiliency of this organ, this thinking organ that has been ailing, and aging, and working hard, that I need to earn my living and to see me through all the years of my life to come. I also need to remember that like any other part of me, I can exercise this brain, but it also needs its rest and relaxation, it needs both to stretch and to recover.

- Megan

There’s a piece of brain stuck in my head. Thank God!

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Happy Birthday Free My Brain

January 14th, 2009

Guess What, Free my Brain from Migraine Pain is one year and one week old today! Time flies when you’re running around like a chicken without a head, as my mother would say… So I forgot my own blog-birthday last week. It has been a privilege to share with you over the past year and a bit. Please enjoy some virtual, calorie-free, serotonin-rich cake with me. I baked it in your favorite flavor!

- Megan

Many thanks to Elaine Ashton for the Giant 1st Birthday Cupcake Image!

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Posted in Musings, Silliness | Comments (1)

Happy Halloween

October 31st, 2008

Happy Halloween, dear pumpkin-heads!

May your heads feel light.
Not heavy with pain, some relief for your brain,
send the monsters away, and come out to play,
I wish you some fun tonight.

- Megan

Jack O’Lanterns image courtesy of Peter Dutton.

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Posted in Silliness | Comments (0)

Migraine Haiku – Just for the Fun of it

October 23rd, 2008

We’ve got to laugh, otherwise we’ll cry.  And you know crying is just going to make your head hurt worse, so why do it?  Migraine Chick can always make me laugh, whether the deep belly laugh of recognition, or the delighted giggle of the absurd.  She has published a book collecting her Migraine Haiku, together with her priceless illustrations, which is available at Migraine Chick Cafe Press for $13.95.  I ordered mine.

Would you like your Migraines with or without giggles?  I prefer mine with.  I haven’t yet found the menu with just giggles, no Migraines.

- Megan Oltman

Fluffy chick and migraine haiku image copyright 2008 by Migraine Chick, of course.

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Posted in Books, Silliness | Comments (0)

Between a Rock and a Hard Place – How do We Choose?

September 19th, 2008

The first in a series of posts on Migraineurs making choices for our health care and our lives.

How do we choose? We are faced with choices on a daily basis. We lose sleep over them; they feel momentous, life-changing.  Rarely are they an Indiana Jones moment:

  1. if I step on the wrong step it will crumble below me and hurl me into the rat/snake/cockroach infested pit, or
  2. if I stake all on drinking from the gold cup my eyeballs will melt and I will desiccate into a human husk, so that the 2000 year-old crusader can say “he chose unwisely.”

Most of our choices change our lives more gradually!

For those of us with Migraine disease and chronic illness, choices often revolve around

  1. what treatments to try, and
  2. how to manage to make our living.

Most choices in life are reversible; we can change our minds, have a chance to learn from our mistakes.  Usually there is no one clear right choice.  In medical situations we often wish there was one.  How about the doctor coming to us and saying, “Well, Ms. So and So, here’s the choice

1. If you take this course of treatment it will cost you $2500 and you will feel worse for 2 months, 3 days and 16 hours, but then you will lose 30 pounds, become a natural blond, your Migraines will cease forever and you will never age another day.

2. On the other hand if you don’t take the course of treatment your fingers will gradually turn to pretzel sticks and crumble away, your brain will become a giant chicken heart and eat Philadelphia, your best friend will never speak to you again, and you will have a Migraine every day forever.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d go for the treatment.  And I don’t even want to be a blond!

Okay, I’m being extreme.  I hope I didn’t lose you there in all my silliness; there really is a point.  It is rarely given to us to know whether we are making the right choice, before, during, or after.  We have to weigh our options, but then we just have to choose.

Before I had my first child I fell and herniated a disk in my low back, causing two years of back pain.  Then I had a difficult labor with an erratic pattern of contractions, wearing me out without making progress.  After 18 hours of labor, I chose to use pitocin, a synthetic hormone, to stimulate the labor, and the pitocin made the contractions strong and painful enough that I felt I needed anesthesia.  I had to choose between taking pain-killers and having an epidural (where anesthetic would be injected into the dura, or sack, around my spine).  With an epidural there was a chance that my disk problem could become worse, even to the point of permanent back pain.  With pain-killers, if I ended up with a cesarian section, I would need general anesthesia.  The choice was to be awake for my daughter’s birth and risk disabling back pain, or to risk being knocked out for her birth with no back complications.  I chose the epidural.  I did have a cesarian; I was awake; and I did not develop any back problems from it.

My husband and I will never forget when I was lying in the birthing chair, pitocin-induced contractions sending me into ever higher spikes of pain and exertion, trying to make a choice in the panting moments between.  We were 31 years old, and we felt like we became adults in that moment.  If I had ended up with disabling back pain, I don’t know if I would have said it was the right choice.  To be awake and hold Rachel in the moment after she came into the world was a joy I did not want to miss.  That was what I chose.  But who can say if it was the right choice?

The choice I made recently was to start on Migraine preventive medication.  I spent at least 6 months making that choice.  It was a choice I was considering for at least 4 years.  Sometimes a choice needs to stew on the back burner of our minds.  In that 6 months I:
•    Found a doctor I could trust (which took several tries and months of waiting for appointments);
•    Did a lot of on-line research, and read about other’s experiences with preventives;
•    Recommitted to my meditation and relaxation program;
•    Tried magnesium and B2 supplements;
•    Tracked my Migraine numbers; and
•    Talked about the decision with my friends on and off line, my husband, my family.

Eventually, the choice just felt clear.

I will be returning to this subject of choosing in several more posts in the near future – if you’ve read all the way down here I’ve kept you too long already!  What I’ll leave you with today is to say that those times when you must make that life-changing decision right now are rare.  We usually have some time to make our choices.  Use that time.  Let things simmer on the back burner.  Let your subconscious mind do its job.  Will you make the right choice?  Nobody knows.  But you can make the choice with much less anxiety in the meantime.

- Megan Oltman

Pretzel sticks image coutesy of Windell Oskay; image of window at Mesa Verde is by me to illustrate being between a rock and a hard place – Mesa Verde is all rocks & hard places.  And amazing.

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