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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 (0)

Migraine Meet up in Real Life

June 14th, 2011

Some of my dear bestest buddies from the forum over at My Migraine Connection were over at my house on Sunday, for reals! It was so wonderful having MaxJerz (and her Mom) and KatintheCorner in my own space. MJ was back visiting my state, where she grew up, after being gone for five years; she came up with the idea. Kat came down from her corner of the state and I picked her up from the train. We were sorry the timing was such that EG couldn’t join us from yet another direction. I also wish we’d thought to take a picture. My old standby heads-together statue will have to serve. I love this photo, though, it makes me think of Migraine sufferers helping each other – putting our heads together.

I always feel super responsible when I host something, and of course I was feeling responsible for our weather – it had been super hot, then thunderstormy, and I worried about everyone’s heads. Why do I think I’m responsible for the weather? The day itself was humid but not too hot, and overcast. All our heads held up well enough. Beforehand of course I cleaned myself half dead (and give credit where due – my Danny man did the same), but was worrying about all the things we hadn’t gotten to.

Everyone was so easy and natural it wasn’t too hard to give up my obsession to make things perfect and just enjoy being in their presence. It’s an amazing thing to meet people you know intimately, but have never been with before. It’s fun to just experience the way people move, their gestures, their voices, when your contact so far has been in words and pictures. And to give real hugs where you’ve sent lots of virtual ones before. People are great in three dimensions! It’s fun to be three dimensional too- to tell my funny stories and ham it up the way I like to. Can you all tell from this blog that I’m pretty goofy? (Yes, intelligent, well-informed, authoritative, but goofy.)

It was a quick visit, but a great one. I’ve gotten to meet lots of great Migraine buddies lately – been meaning to blog about the Migraine focus group I was in for the past month – I promise I’ll get to it soon. It’s a funny thing; it’s not that Migraine sufferers are all that unusual – we’re about 12% of the population. Even those who are or have been chronic Migraine sufferers aren’t that unusual, though we’re a minority of the Migraineur population. But those who are active on-line, are advocates, are seeking help and to help one another, we’re not your common or garden-variety. It’s an honor to be part of this community, and a pleasure to have you all in my own living room.

- Megan

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Posted in Advocacy, Weblogs | Comments (0)

Love Beats Hate: I get by with a little help from my friends

November 20th, 2010

I’m coming late to the party. It’s 3 days after the official Love Beats Hate event and I haven’t even managed to read very many of the posts – I’m working on it. But I figure keeping the love alive is not a bad thing to do. And I want to be part of the party.

What can I say? Perhaps nothing that hasn’t been said before. I love you bloggers and online health activists and I am honored to be among you. I was a busy person living my life when illness tackled me and brought me down. Life threatening allergies. Chronic Migraines. Crippling fatigue, which resulted many years later in a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. Irritable bowel syndrome, with weeks of enervating stomach pain. On the hate side, I can truly say that I hate being sick.

I can feel very very sorry for myself. Even making this list brings a tear to my eye. But it’s not just the illnesses. It’s the years I spent fighting, not accepting, pushing myself way beyond my limits, thinking of myself as lazy and undisciplined, longing for the day when it would be all better. I neglected the people I love with my head in the clouds trying to build a different reality than the one I live in, trying to force the outcomes into a shape I wanted. I never paid enough attention to where I was, to my home, my children, my work. I thought that if I kept pushing, somehow I could make it all better. I regret those years. I listened to those who think that illness is a result of wrong thinking, that we can transform our way out of illness. I will not say that there is an evil intention in this type of thinking, but it led in my life to evil results. I felt guilty for my illnesses. I hated my illnesses, and myself for having them. I tried to ignore them and push past them. Until I was too sick to do it any more. And I finally found some doctors and therapists who could help. I recommitted myself to meditation and conscious relaxation, acceptance and love, and learned little by little to accept the highly sensitive, aching weary frame that I live in.

Three years ago I started participating in the online Migraine community, and then the larger chronic illness community. I had something to share, to offer, with the relaxation techniques I had learned, and the coaching skills I used professionally. I decided to create this thing called Migraine management coaching, and to go talk to others with my illness. I won’t say I haven’t had a contribution – I think and hope that I have. But what looked at first like a side benefit – the outstanding relationships I was forming with others who understood my life – turned quickly into the main event.

The darkest days of chronic Migraine, among the sickest times in my life, were lightened by the time I spent on My Migraine Connection, and blogging, and reading and commenting on others’ blogs. I became a part of a community, a loving, supportive, funny, vibrant community. I got such deep and caring help with some of my hardest struggles.

Then I discovered Facebook and a surprising thing happened – my chronic illness community and my other communities – family, friends, colleagues from the many parts of my life, all began to come together. When I post about pain or illness, many will comment who understand and are with me in the experiences, but the others in my life will also express sympathy, distress, let me know they are with me too, though they may not have my same issues. It has been enormously healing. I want to say I am sorry to all those I love, and who love me, who I neglected, or pushed away, or tried to force into seeing things in a particular way. I was running away from myself. It wasn’t until illness brought me to a standstill, until there were no more reserves of energy to keep pushing, that I became able to accept, and out of accepting, express, and explain, and have you get what my world is like.

After three years of working at it my Migraine disease has moved from chronic to episodic and I have long stretches of freedom from pain in the brain. I am back working full time, or close to it, at law and mediation. I wish that I could just help chronically ill people full time, but I had to get back to earning a living. I am exhausted by my work and can’t seem to think much at the end of a long day. My fibromyalgia and irritable bowel are activated much more often than they used to be by the stress and exertion of my life. So I don’t spend nearly as much time on this blog, or on forums or other blogs, as I used to. I miss it. I wish I could do more. But I do check in with my friends, on their blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter, and I am present every day to how I get by with a little help from my friends. I am lifted up and cradled by you. I love you.

- Megan

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Posted in Communicating, Musings, Weblogs | Comments (2)

Blue Tuesdays

April 20th, 2010

On Tuesdays there are staff meetings at my new office, at 8:30 a.m. That may not be ridiculously early, but it means I have to be up at 7 and racing through my morning to get there on time. The nortriptyline I take as a Migraine preventive makes me good and sleepy, and it’s hard to wake up and move on less than 9 hours of sleep. Today I not only had to be awake but to give a little presentation at the meeting on using Facebook and Twitter for business. I am relearning some things I used to know, like how to get up and go even when I don’t feel up to it. How to push myself through times when my focus isn’t there, or I’m a bit fatigued, or to work with a triptan in my system.

Don’t get me wrong, this new job wouldn’t even be happening if my Migraine prevention regimen weren’t working quite well. My Migraines went down by about 60% in the months before I started the job. The challenges of the work routine have them back up a little again, but it’s still significant progress. If I had tried to take on the challenges of this job a year ago, I doubt I could have done it.

I also work an 8 1/2 hour day on Tuesdays and Thursdays because Monday and Friday are my short days and Wednesdays are a day off. That’s just the way we worked out for me to work a 25 hour week. It makes those long days challenging, though. If I don’t sleep well the night before (like last night) and I still go put in a full day, it can lead to an evening Migraine. Right now I am lying down with the laptop, writing to you all after dinner, with a bit of a headache. Trying to see if I can contain it by resting. That works sometimes.

One of the difficulties for me is that I can’t seem to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day the way my Migraine brain demands. I need plenty of sleep, and if I went to bed early enough to make the Tuesday wake-up hour my standard, I’d never get to see my teenage kids or night-owl husband. I’d be best off if I could take a nap to even things out, I think, but short of napping in my car that’s not an option right now.

All in all, I am very grateful to have a job, to be doing professional work and helping people, to be getting some respect and recognition, and earning a living. I am grateful that I still have Wednesdays to keep working at my Migraine coaching. I had forgotten, as a self-employed person for many years, how satisfying it is to leave at the end of a work-day, knowing I had filled the day with doing my best, and that I am done for the day. I am enjoying my evenings more, and allowing myself to relax. Except that these Tuesdays are hitting me hard!

- Megan

Sleepy law student image courtesy of umjanedoan.

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Posted in Advocacy, Managing, Musings, Weblogs | Comments (0)

Happy New Year!

February 12th, 2010

What? It’s 43 days into 2010!

I know, but I haven’t posted since January 7th; I feel like I need to catch up with you all. Greetings from snow-bound New Jersey!

I just saw that Medical Assistants.Net listed me as “One of the Top 50 Health and Wellness Blogs to Watch in 2010.” If that’s the case, I’d better get writing!

It’s been a busy month and a half for me. I have returned to my professional roots and taken a half-time job as a lawyer. I love working with you all to help you manage your Migraines, but it’s not keeping me busy full-time. I’m lucky to have a good set of skills to return to, and a great firm owner who knows me, likes my work, and is very flexible about my health needs.

I haven’t missed a day for a Migraine yet, though I have to admit I’ve had a few let-down Migraines after busy days at work. I am adjusting to a new schedule. That takes some time for a Migraineur – our systems crave regularity, and tend to freak out when we change things up on them. It took a few weeks to build enough stamina to have energy left for the other things I do. I am very glad that my preventive medication works well for me, and that my years of practice in managing my Migraines have given me the breathing and relaxation skills to get me through.

When I left the practice of law in 2000 I thought I’d never be able to go back to the pace and demands without frequent Migraines. I’m happy to report that my Migraines haven’t increased at all. Even better, I seem to have a reputation around the office as a calm person and a calming influence. That would have shocked those who knew me a few decades ago! Learning to manage Migraines, to keep my system on even keel, has left me knowing not to sweat the small stuff, and yes, most things are small stuff.

I owe all my subscribers a newsletter, and I am backed up with a couple of book reviews I want to give you. I have some stories about medication allergies for you and some great new products to link to. The Migraine Support & Coaching Group is going well, and I’d love to have more of you to talk to in the meetings! I think I’ve got my new rhythm down enough to be back and talk to you more often.

I hope your winter is going well. Let me know how you’re doing!

- Megan

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Posted in Communicating, Managing, Weblogs | Comments (5)

Blog Carnival Time: Holiday Stress

December 15th, 2009

Teri Robert is hosting the blog carnival this month at My Migraine Connection. There’s a great collection of posts on caring for yourself such that you can actually enjoy the holidays. My contribution is just one post down on this page (unless you’re reading on Facebook, if you are, please hop over to Free my Brain). For the rest of the carnival, please go to December Migraine and Headache Disease Blog Carnival: Holiday Stress. And whatever else you do, remember to slow down and breathe!

- Megan

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Posted in Tips & Techniques, Weblogs | Comments (0)

Reducing Holiday Stress – Blog Carnival

December 6th, 2009

The theme for the December 2009 Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival is “Advice on & experiences with reducing holiday season stress.” This will be the Blog Carnival’s second anniversary issue, so please consider joining in! I’ve missed the carnival myself for the past few months but I’m planning a post this time. We all know that Migraines can make our holidays much harder – let’s share how we cope! To participate just use the form on the carnival web site or contact Diana Lee over at Somebody Heal Me.

- Megan

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Posted in Managing, Weblogs | Comments (1)

October Blog Carnival Coming Up – On Alternative Therapies

September 26th, 2009

Diana Lee of Somebody Heal Me will be hosting the October 2009 Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival on the theme “Alternative therapies – your experiences (good or bad), thoughts about trying them or any other take on the subject.” To participate, send your link to a blog post on the topic, new or old, along to Diana, through the form on the carnival website or directly to her by e-mail.

Submissions are due by midnight (the end of the day) on Friday, October 9. This is a great opportunity to gather a number of posts around a topic of interest to many of us. About 6 weeks later Dr. Christina Peterson will be addressing the same topic on the November Managing Life with Migraine Teleconference, so between the two events we should gather a lot of great advice!

- Megan

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Posted in Managing, Medicine, Weblogs | Comments (0)

Blog Carnival Time Again!

July 12th, 2009

It’s your hit and run blogger here, catching up to let you know about two wonderful blog carnivals.

How to Cope with Pain published the June Pain Blog Carnival about a week or so ago (told you I was catching up) with lots of great posts on living with chronic pain.  She has kindly listed teleconferences as one of the posts.

Tomorrow tune in to Somebody Heal Me for the July Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival. There is no theme this time, but there are sure to be a number of great posts as usual.

Hope to talk to you again soon!

- Megan

Carnival Lights image courtesy of Gilberto Santa Rosa

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Posted in Communicating, Weblogs | Comments (1)

Headache Carnivals and Awareness

June 8th, 2009

It’s a big week in the world of headache – first of all it’s Migraine and Headache Blog Carnival time again, with this month’s topic of “What people don’t understand about migraines & about what it’s like to live with them” posted over at Somebody Heal Me. Lots of great posts, both on and off topic. If you haven’t checked out The Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival before, it was been created to provide both headache patients and people who blog about headaches with opportunities to share ideas on topics of particular interest and importance to us.

But even bigger news is that it’s National Headache Awareness week, sponsored by the National Headache Foundation.  Educational events are going on throughout the country this week to raise awareness of Migraine and other headache disorders.  A great new tool on the National Headache Foundation web site is Headache U, an on-line resource where you can look up your experiences with headache, create a personal headache profile, and get matched with the right resources for you.

A great week for educating both ourselves and the other people in our lives about Migraine Disease and Headache Disorders!

- Megan

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

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