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Posts Tagged ‘fibromyalgia’

Snow-brain, no pain

February 9th, 2017

That’s the side of my house after a snowstorm last year. Today we have only about a third of the snow (probably not more than 8 inches today) but it is way too cold and windy for me to want to take pictures. I set out to meet a client at my office after being home all day, encountered slick roads with masses of snow blown across them, and there was a big accident with people in the ditch, tow-trucks, police cars, lots of lights, completely blocking the road out of town. I came home and called the client to cancel.

We’re all disabled, more or less, by the snow. My email yesterday was full of notices of cancelled meetings in anticipation of today’s winter storm. Danny and I both worked from home; college classes were cancelled for Adam. Adam cleared the steps and got a car un-buried and running for me – we’ll have to deal with the rest tomorrow. Snowy days tend to make me feel simultaneously peaceful and antsy – I want to take a nap, I want to run around. I’m just glad I don’t have a migraine.

To add to the litany of injuries and ailments, I managed to herniate a disc in my low back right after Christmas. After several weeks of physical therapy it is feeling much better. I did have a fair amount of pain yesterday and my physical therapist said she thought it was probably the storm coming. I really don’t need another weather-predicting injury. Between my formerly broken elbow, my sensitive head, and my overall nervous system, I already had this human-barometer thing covered. The good news is I have a great excuse not to shovel any snow.

My weather sensitivities used to be mainly around thunderstorms – when a front moved in, I would get a migraine. And often a fibromyalgia flare to go with it. And a sore elbow. The past few summers I’ve been less consistent and weathered any number of thunderstorms without a migraine, but the past few winters I have had migraines triggered by snowstorms rolling in. Those of you who live in snowy climes – you know that peaceful feeling when the snow is falling? I have really missed that, and the snow falling tends to have my head exploding. Not today, I am glad to say. I had a few twinges in the worst of the storm, and when I tried my expedition out my head informed me that it was not keen on the wind that’s blowing out there. But I am counting my blessings. I’m back inside, and warm, and feeling no pain.

Be well, my friends!

- Megan Oltman

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Life and Migraines go on…

June 7th, 2011

It’s ten o’clock on a Tuesday night and I have a little bit of a Migraine – one of those left-over ones. Left-over Migraine is not a clinical diagnosis, mind you. Just the way I describe it – had a nasty one Saturday and all day Sunday and then a bit of a sore-headed post-drome yesterday, which morphed back into a full-blown head-banger by bedtime. And here we are the next day still sore.

A few years ago this was par for the course, and I would have strings of days like this most weeks. Now I am very happy to say that most Migraines I get are mild and abort easily and resolve completely inside of a 24 hour period. Of course whenever there’s an exception, like this week, I get afraid that this will be the new normal – that my chronic days will return. That’s one of those moments when I have to thank my fears for sharing and move on. Get grateful, recognize how far I’ve come, and let go.

So the good news – it doesn’t happen to me often these days. The bad news – I have a harder time taking it seriously and really stopping the action and taking care of myself than I did when it happened more often. Of course, other things have changed, too. Instead of being not very gainfully self-employed I now have a 3/4 time job and work on building a private mediation practice in the other theoretical 1/4 of my time. (It’s theoretical because… with fibromyalgia, episodic Migraines, extremely strained finances, a job-seeking husband and a teenager with ADHD, a dirty house to try to keep somewhat on top of… I ain’t got much time!)

I’m still not all that gainfully employed, but I’m glad to have a job. I went in a pretty short time span from being semi-disabled to being almost the sole support of my family. Times are tough. I can relate to the many Migraine sufferers I have interacted with through the years who say “I don’t have time to be sick.” I can dig it. I’m there. I can only work as much as I do because I have gone from chronic Migraine back to episodic Migraine, but I do worry that the level of stress in my life is such that I could get kicked over into chronicity again. (I don’t care if that’s not a word – I like it anyway.) So… I meditate. I take walks. I pray. I put everything aside and just relax. I practice my affirmations. I get up in the morning and get on my happy face and face another day. Keep putting one foot in front of another and doing the next right thing.

I actually came on here tonight just to say, I wish I had more time to blog. To read and comment on all my beloved chronic pals blogs, and post on My Migraine Connection, share on line, and all that. I had over 200 comments waiting for me here, over 180 of them spam. I haven’t found the time to install the stronger spam filter that the fabulous Diana Lee recommended to me. I haven’t found time to reply to the many people who went on the contact page and asked me if I’d like to do a link exchange (yes, yes, no, yes, maybe, let’s talk…), or asked me if I want to hire them to do SEO for me (no, no, no, leave me alone, don’t you think I have my own people to work on that?), or asked me for advice (oy vey).

The good news is life does go on. I am so glad to be down to an average of 2 – 3 Migraines per month. This is huge. There’s a whole lot of living that can fit around 2 – 3 Migraines a month. I wish that living didn’t happen in the midst of a whole lot of economic hardship, but how much worse it would be to be sick like I used to be and going through this. So I guess I can put up with a left-over Migraine, for now.

Hang in, maties, it gets better. That’s what I’ve gotta keep on believing, anyway.

Love,

Megan

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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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Having a wonky nervous system.

October 23rd, 2010

My CPU is messing up its P. My wires are crossed, frayed and fragmented. The volume knob on my pain processors is broken and they don’t make the replacement part. There’s a bug in my programming that no one knows how to debug. I am exquisitely sensitive. I want to know what’s so freakin exquisite about it?

I spent the afternoon in the courthouse on Thursday. That’s always been a stressful event for me, and in years past it used to steal my sleep the night before, have me so riled up I could barely think clearly, and inevitably led to a Migraine after. This time was not so bad. I really knew my stuff, I slept well, though not quite enough, I was only a little nervous. I spent the entire afternoon negotiating and wound up with a better than expected settlement for my client. It was still rather stressful and quite strenuous for me, though. I was too busy at work to get a break before I had to leave for court. The street I usually turn down was blocked off for construction. I parked 4 blocks from the courthouse and then got a little lost on foot, hauling my heavy file in a stiff wind. I was worried that my plenty-of-extra-time was turning into actually being late. I had to deal with heavy opposition and guilt-tripping at times from my adversary, and a major upset at unexpected details from my client. We were racing to get our agreement done before the courthouse closed. When I left I practically ran to my parking garage to avoid a ticket. All in all a very tiring day.

The good news is that my Migraines are well enough controlled that all that did not trigger one. I was close this morning but my cup of tea and morning supplements seemed to head it off. But by the time I got to my car on Thursday my arms were so sore and heavy I could barely hold them up on the steering wheel. I went home, had dinner, and my gut immediately began to cramp, leading into a two day irritable bowel attack. And throughout the day on Thursday and Friday, my hands were trembling constantly. When I got up on Friday my whole body felt like very sore and achy concrete. I told my husband I had great sympathy with concrete; I know how sore it must feel. He told me, “Yes but concrete doesn’t try to move around!”

I am one of those Migraineurs with a lot of related “co-morbid” neurological conditions. Migraine is a condition of an over-sensitized nervous system, with mis-firing of certain neurons in response to certain stimuli.  Fibromyalgia is like the sound has been turned up on pain receptors so that pain and tiredness amplify and continue in the muscles with long-lasting pain, it is also a condition of over-sensitive, over-active nervous system. Irritable bowel syndrome is thought to be the result of overactive nerves in the intestinal tract, and causes me days and even weeks of cramps, stomachache, heartburn and constipation. I also have a benign familial tremor – benign because it’s not Parkinsonian, familial because it’s hereditary. (my Dad has it but his didn’t appear until his 60′s – lucky precocious little me!)  I don’t know much about the science of the tremor but I notice it is strongest when I am tired and stressed. Oh and for years I have had anxiety, severe at times, though that is being well controlled now by one of the Migraine preventives.

I want to be de-bugged, that’s all I can tell you. The past few days have felt like one of those cartoons where the robot starts to explode, spinning wildly, blowing sparks out of its top and sending bolts flying. The things that are wrong with me – they are not just painful, debilitating, annoying, disruptive, and gross, they are also just plain weird. I never know what’s going to blow next. Well, actually I do have some idea, but it’s awfully hard to manage it all. I am sick and tired of being exquisitely sensitive. I can tell you, there’s nothing exquisite about it.

- Megan


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Walking with Fibromyalgia

October 20th, 2010

I am counting on some of you old hands at living with fibro to chime in on this one, okay? I believe I have had fibromyalgia for at least 15 years, and maybe for 35 years. I’ve only been diagnosed for a little over a year, though. My fibro seems to have grown a lot worse in that year as well. What I can’t tell is whether the fibro just seems worse because my Migraine disease has gotten so much better that I can actually notice the fibro now.

I think it is worse, though. Certainly the fatigue is nothing new, that’s a fifteen year old problem, which I thought was ME/CFS. It was raising the question of dealing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) with my headache specialist last year which led him to press my fibromyalgia tender points, and led us both to realize that it was fibro that was the issue.  since then things I’ve been experiencing for a while have “clicked,” like how a slap on the shoulder or the teasing pokes my son gives me can really hurt, for a long time. Things that used to be just mildly uncomfortable or unpleasant cause actual pain now. What is new is the feeling that my aching arms weigh a ton and are likely to fall off. This is after a day of sitting up at a desk typing.

I’m finding this disease a hard one to learn to manage. I try to keep my activity level fairly steady from day to day, but if I do get a flare I need to rest for it to go away. Then I’m back to a very inactive state and have to slowly build up all over again. I always want to do many things when I do have the energy for them, but I can cross the line to overdoing so easily.

Saturday, for example. A couple of our dearest friends were in NJ/NY for the weekend – in from Minnesota. It gave us the impetus to do a deep cleaning of the downstairs – one it had needed for a long time. But the day started at 6:30, because Adam took the PSAT today, and then we cleaned for several hours until they arrived. We had lunch and lots of talk, a too short wonderful visit of a few hours. I did take a nap after they left, but as the sun was starting to go down I was seized with the desire to be outdoors in the bright chilly Autumn day, and walk in the park. (What’s the good of living in the best spot in our little town if I don’t get out and enjoy it?) So I took a good 20 minute walk through the paths in the fields. Then I sat on the bed, propped up on pillows, blogging. There was still laundry to be done but I had expended about as much muscular effort as I should for one day (if not more). I ached a bit, but who knows how much more would have set up a flare? It’s very challenging.

- Megan Oltman

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Becoming Trigger-Resistant

October 18th, 2010

I am very fortunate to have my Migraine days down to 3-5 a month now, and most of the Migraines are relatively mild and abort quickly. One thing I notice is that individual Migraine triggers are not so much of an issue, but a whole stack of them will still prompt a Migraine. For instance I can get by for a couple of days with not quite enough sleep, smell some perfume (or more often the bane of my existence, the heavy sweet Axe many of my son’s friends like to wear – Uggh!), be around some smoke, be in a crowded room, and I may get some little twinges that tell me to back down and do some breathing exercises, but they don’t develop into a Migraine. Then say all those things are present and a meal is delayed and my blood sugar gets low, and whammo!

I’m up to 30 hours a week of work at the law firm now, so there’s less flexibility for missing time. My boss is very understanding and lets me build my schedule the way I want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the flow of work. But if I miss a day or half a day because of a Migraine, I can only make up the time by working longer hours another day, and a day longer than 7 hours (6 working and 1 for lunch) takes a lot out of me. Not that a long day will necessarily trigger a Migraine, but sometimes it does if it’s a rushed or stressful one. Usually the effects are less direct – a long day sitting up at my desk typing will trigger a fibromyalgia flare, and if I don’t manage some rest time to help the flare pass, it’s common to get a Migraine on the tail of the fibro flare.

I know I’ve been talking to you all for quite a while about relaxation exercises and breathing, and I use them nearly every day. They have certainly helped my transition back to near-full-time work. As valuable as they are though, I wouldn’t be where I am now without a good combination of Migraine preventives. Nortriptyline not only reduced my Migraines it greatly reduced my anxiety level and helped me sleep like a log most nights. Then lisinopril lowered my blood pressure and continued the job of reducing the Migraines.

I feel like I’m coming back to life! We have been out socializing nearly every weekend, and I’ve been getting walks in nearly every day again. Right now fibro is more of a problem than the Migraines. I’m finding it tricky to learn how to manage.

- Megan Oltman

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A Certain Level of Brain Freedom

August 22nd, 2010

I am enjoying a long stretch of freedom from pain in the brain. Hooray! I have had only six Migraines since late June. Less than one a week! A better rate than I’ve achieved in the past three years, at least. I began taking the blood pressure medication Lisinopril in late June, and this seems like a winning combination for me. My current regimen includes:

That’s about 15 pills in the morning and 6 at bedtime. If that’s the price of freedom, I can live with it. As always, an unintentional experiment proved how well this regimen is working for me. A few weeks ago I had a Migraine on a Thursday evening and, as I sometimes do, forgot to take my bedtime pills as I was treating the Migraine and everything else went out of my head. The next day we were leaving just after work for our cousins’ beach house and I got up early in foggy post-drome and packed for the weekend before work. I forgot to pack my pills! So just as Danny was leaving the house to come meet me at my office, I called him and asked him to pack them for me. He did that, but when we met up and transferred the bags from the car he was driving to the other, the bag of pills got left behind. We discovered this at about 10 pm at the beach house. So I went without pills for a second night in a row, and missed my morning doses Saturday morning. Danny was a hero and drove over 6 hours round-trip to go get my pills so I could stay through Monday. Two nights and a morning without had a cumulative effect, though, and I had a pretty severe Migraine Sunday night.  It is now two weeks later, took my pills every day and no Migraines in that two weeks!

My Migraine specialist, Dr. Bill Young of Jefferson Headache Center, had said to me , “Six to seven Migraines a month isn’t good enough. We can do better!” (Love this guy! Compare with the last guy who thought I should be satisfied with reducing from 10 a month to 7.) So when I went to my last appointment in late June with the news that my blood pressure had been running high, for the first time in my life, he was excited! I had to tease him about that, how many physicians would say, “Oh good!” on learning that their patient had developed high blood pressure! But he explained that anti-hypertensives can be excellent Migraine preventives, but can’t be prescribed if the patient’s blood pressure is too low. He was confident that the two medications together, along with all my other supplements, would produce better Migraine prevention results for me. And so far, so good! I try not to really measure a trend until it’s been going on for several months, but early results look promising. I am loving the extra time and energy I have for hanging out with family and friends, and getting some chores and projects done around the house. Now if I could just manage the fibromyalgia…

For any of you who see doctors who only know a limited number of Migraine preventive options, or who aren’t comfortable with combining several medications, or who aren’t knowledgeable about supplements, find another doctor! If you aren’t doing daily relaxation, meditation, yoga or another practice to calm your nervous system, get on it! It can take time, but most of us achieve a significant level of brain freedom.

Hope you’re doing well. Leave me comment and let me know how you’re getting on, okay?

- Megan

Smoo cave waterfall photo courtesy of Subflux.

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Who You Calling Disabled?

June 5th, 2010

I hesitate to call myself disabled. I work 25 hours+ a week at a demanding job, I do get out and see people, sometimes, and I’m down to only 3 or 4 days a month in bed. Most days I can wash the dishes and straighten up a bit, more than half my days I get some exercise, many days I can manage the laundry.  I’m down to 5 to 7 Migraine days a month, from 12 to 20 a few years ago. Although I have some fibromyalgia pain many days, days like today when I feel wrung out and ache from head to toe don’t come more than 2 or 3 times a month. So who’s calling me disabled?

I push forward through my life with a great deal of determination and most of the time I confidently expect to get better and better. I have learned so much about how to take care of myself, how to manage my various conditions, and I’ve really improved so much. Days like today, where all I can manage is some reading, some hanging out on line, some tv, when I travel from the bed to the armchair to the bathroom to the kitchen, and that’s a major undertaking, days like today can fill me with despair. I may never get any better than this. I have to accept that possibility – not that I won’t keep on getting up and being positive (mostly) and working striving and pushing (and breaking down when I push too far). But maybe this is as good as it gets.

I am researching Migraines and Social Security Disability for an article I’m planning to write. I encountered the blog of a disability law firm who have helped a number of Migraineurs to get their disability recognized, and compensated. Here’s what struck me. In writing up a Migraine Disability case study, Lawyer Jonathan Ginsberg recounted that the vocational witness called in his client’s case testified that although she felt the claimant could do light duty, low stress work, that no jobs existed that would allow her to be absent 4 to 7 days a month. It’s hard to do this kind of research and really stay detached, and reading that I thought, wow, I could easily need to be absent 4 days a month! The fact that I work less than full time, and for a flexible and understanding boss, makes it possible for me to switch hours around and avoid some of those sick days. But I would be disabled under the same criteria that got the woman in that case granted disability benefits!

Then there’s the MIDAS scale. MIDAS is the American Headache Society’s Migraine Disability Assessment Test. A year ago my MIDAS score was 57 – Which is “Grade IV Severe Disability.” I have been retaking the assessment every few months, and I am down to a 30. Great progress! Guess what a 30 is?  “Grade IV Severe Disability.”

I am not knocking my progress, really I’m not. I recently had a reader write in and ask me how to take back her life from Migraine. That’s certainly a phrase I’ve used a lot. Having 5 to 7 Migraine days a month is incredibly much better than having 12 to 20. Being proactive, recognizing our sensitive nervous systems and caring for them, looking at the areas we can impact and working on them, all of these things do make a difference. I am doing better all the time, building up my stamina (though slowly), and managing these days to earn somewhat of a living, which is nothing to sneeze at. But I felt I needed to tell this woman, you can take your life back in the sense of being in charge of your life, but that doesn’t mean you can make the disease go away.

There come those days, like today, when I slam into the brick wall of my own limitations. I worked a long, hard, stressful week this week and today I woke up feeling like I had been pushed through a strainer. Do any of you recognize that one? I’ve felt it on and off for many years, at least ten, and now I recognize it as a sign of a fibromyalgia flare. I feel strained, like my nerves and muscle fibers have been stretched, shoved, pushed, shredded, sieved, including the nerves in my temples that start the Migraines. Days like today feel blank, wasted, and I cried this morning at the prospect of a life ahead filled with days like this.

My disability is invisible, at times even to me, but it’s there. I will keep on striving. And I also need to be with what’s so, that this is who I am. I am this person with a hyper-sensitive nervous system, I do need days of recovery from just the normal everyday days of life.

I know I’m incorrigible, but I have high hopes for tomorrow.

- Megan

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Surviving the Perfect Storm

May 15th, 2010

My Migraine triggers generally include: lack of sleep; sleep at irregular hours; missing meals or going too long without eating (low blood sugar); working hard when tired (over-exertion, let-down after stress); hormonal fluctuations; electrical storms and barometric pressure changes; loud noises; crowds; smoke; crying; change of altitude.  Last night I sat through a perfect storm of triggers without actually getting a Migraine. Every trigger but the last three were present.

It went like this: I went to my Friday morning BNI meeting, which involves getting up at 6. That wouldn’t be too bad if I managed to get to sleep by 10 or so, but I never do. I go to sleep between 11 and 11:30 most nights and I have a very hard time cutting my evening shorter. Ideally I would go to bed and get up at the same time every day; it would be best for Migraine prevention and make those Fridays easy to bear. But I live in a household of night-owls and I’ve never been able to reconcile myself to having a completely different schedule from the rest of my family. Besides, most of my favorite tv shows are on from 10 – 11! So I got up and got going on less than 7 hours of sleep.

I worked hard all day, working with an intensive focus towards a deadline. It was a warm muggy day with thunderstorms in the forecast, and the building storm was palpable in the air. Then at the end of the working day I attended a charitable event that I was invited to by a friend. It was really a lovely event, a tour of a designer show-house and a dinner in a tent in the back with a couple of presentations, then arias by a couple of opera singers, and finally they held an auction.

I didn’t make it that long though. The thunderstorms broke while we were touring the house, and it was still raining when we went out to the tent. One of the sponsors of the event was a local appliance store, and one of the presentations was on outdoor kitchens. So they got a great local chef to cook a meal (for at least 100 people) on a huge outdoor grill that was being auctioned off. All a very nice concept, but apparently no one had really thought through how long it would take to grill several courses for 100 or more people. They began serving wine before the presentations started; an hour or more later they passed around some little cubes of grilled bread. The next course, grilled vegetables, came out more than half an hour later. then some grilled seafood at least a half hour after that. Each course was served on large platters to be passed around and shared. Each course gave each of us enough to tantalize but not enough to keep us from being hungry.

All the while there were presentations going on, and a lot of hungry people were drinking more and more wine, talking and laughing louder and louder, halfway drowning out the presentations. Then the opera portion started, and while the singing was excellent, I was right up front and the acoustics of loud operatic singing under a tent with thick humid air all around were overwhelming. Not to mention that people had had quite a bit to drink by that time and were not sitting quietly listening to the music. The competing sounds battered at my ear-drums. The smells from the grill wafted over for hours without any food following for a very long time. After the seafood course we sat even longer without food. I felt increasingly jittery from low blood sugar, worn from lack of sleep and a long hard day, battered by the noise, closed in by the crowd, pressed on by the humidity, shaken by the storms, confused by the multiple inputs and noise, distressed by wanting to be a good guest and not feeling up to it. I had many warning twinges in my temples and felt sure a Migraine was on the way.

My dear and very perceptive friend Izzy could tell something was going on and asked me. I shared with him what was going on in my internal world. He went to the kitchen and told them I needed food right away for a medical condition. He came back with some very rare meat which I ate most of and shared some of with a few of my neighbors. I felt bad because I knew everyone was hungry. I stayed until some more meat came out, which was quite a while later. I had a little and then left to go home. I was able to drive myself home, got in and ate yogurt and cereal with milk, some quick protein and calories. Then I collapsed.

The fact that I didn’t get a Migraine is pretty amazing. My nortriptyline, and my supplements, and my regular eating, and all the sleep I generally get (except on Thursday nights), and my regular walking, and my relaxation exercises, and all the other things I am doing to regulate my system… these are obviously paying off! A year ago I am sure that just the lack of sleep and a few hours of intensive work would have given me a Migraine – I wouldn’t even have made it to the evening event.

On the other hand, I had an exhausted night of very poor sleep, and today I am having a major fibromyalgia flare-up. My everything hurts today. My head is only a little tender, though, no pounding, no intense pain there. That’s still a victory!

- Megan Oltman

Approaching Storm image courtesy of Stephan Mantler.

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Spring & Hope

March 7th, 2010

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

-Alexander Pope,
An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733

Hope springs. Spring and hope. Spring is sprung. Today was the second of two sunny, 50 degree plus days. The snow is finally melting away and snowdrops are blooming in the yard. Danny and I took a long walk, my second in two days, and talked about what we want to do in the garden this year. And with the improvement in my Migraines and my steady new work schedule, it’s more likely that I will be able to get out and do some of the work.

There’s plenty of yard clean-up to do, but our snow’s not all gone yet and the ground is mushy. We spent a while working on getting a large broken limb out of the tree overhanging our driveway – a limb that threatens to fall on our cars with every strong wind. A ladder, a pruning saw, Danny’s ingenuity and an apple-picker swung on a rope later, he pulled the monster down. It hit the ground with a resounding thud that made me very glad no car windshields were below it. Or human noggins either. What’s amazing is how alive I felt, and how enjoyable it can be to tackle a physical problem like this, out in the fresh air.

I don’t know how much we’ll get done of our ambitious plans – I still have a few days of Migraine black-out each month, and I am battling constant soreness from my fibromyalgia. Yesterday I was more active than I’ve been for a while – kitchen clean-up, multiple loads of laundry and a 40 minute walk around town. I ached all over and slept badly. But I set out to match yesterday’s activity level today – knowing that if I give in to the aches and stay inactive they’ll just get worse.

Danny said when we came in from the yard – “It’s a different kind of tiredness – it feels good.” I remember that feeling, but I don’t really experience it any more. All tiredness makes me ache all over, be it physical, mental, emotional, indoors or out. But my world does open up with the warmer weather. I feel like the whole world has expanded. I want to be out and doing, before New Jersey’s hot humid summer comes and shuts me down again.

To all of you with chronic illness – wishing you hope this spring, and that you may enjoy the fresh air and growing things. What do we live for, what pulls us forward, but sublime and ridiculous hope with each new day?

- Megan

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