Saturday, March 19, 2016

How to survive headaches with no medicine

So when you are trying to have a baby you can't take any medicine because medicine turns babies into mutants. The whole nine months without any emergency drugs was part of what took so long for us to try. It's super scary and just about as hard as I imagined it would be (I have a very good imagination) So I thought I'd share my survival tips in the chance that it helps another spoonie.

Step 1: Curtains. For real. Curtain every entry point that sunshine can leak through. The sun is enemy #1. Be proactive. I've thought about stapling the edge of the curtains to the wall but that's crazy....

Step 2: A well stocked freezer. This is exactly as important as step 1. I would die without my ice packs. I don't travel anywhere without them. 

Step 3: Bengay.  I'd name my firstborn "Bengay" if that wasn't the worst name in created history. I literally have four tubes of this within a thirty second walk from where I'm sitting right now.  A thing I said about Bengay: " I grab some Bengay and spread it on my temples. It is so cold and numbing I could marry it." And I would marry it too.  But don't ever buy another kind. Only cold therapy is good. I don't even understand why they make another kind.

Step 4: Naps. Naps are the greatest under-utilized tool of my generations, heck of all generations. I take a nap most days. There are few things a three hour nap can't fix, except for when it actually makes my headaches worse. But you win some you loose some. I'd go crazy if I wasn't able to nap anymore. 

Step 5:  Coke and Tylenol. So what do I do when things get bad even after steps 1-4 haven't worked? I drink a Coke and take some Tylenol. It's absurd that this is my rescue protocol. Rescue protocol is what you do to abort a really bad headache. Rescue drugs are the nukes of your arsenal. So it's absolutely laughable that I expect Coke and Tylenol to do anything. But when you've had nothing, you'll take what you can get. Sometimes it helps, most times it doesn't. But it helps to keep the panic down. So that's something. And Coke makes me happy. I shouldn't really take either of them but I like to be a rebel. As a strange man told me just today "Hey, I like your hair. It makes you look like a badass." *Best compliment ever*

Step 6:  Heating Pad. This one is a maintenance tool more than an emergency tool. But I use it every day. My back is stupid and hurts all the time but it's nothing compared to the rest of me. So I give it a heating blanket and tell it to shut up. But my heating pad is really nice and takes the edge off.

Step 7: Take a bath. I love baths. Having bright hair does complicate things, since the color leaks out in warm water. I like to listen to movies while I'm in there. Usually Decoy Bride or New Moon. It has to be something I know well and can listen to instead of watch. But I really don't take too many baths since I'm not allowed to make them scalding lava temperature which is the only way it's worth it.

Step 8: Audible. This is what saves the day when everything else has failed. When I've been at a Level 9 for hours and I can't take medicine and I can't think the pain is so consuming, listening to an audio book saves me. It pulls me out of my pain prison and takes me to another world. It also keeps the panic down and keeps me calm as I wait out the storm. I've listened to the Book Thief 4 times. Jane Eyre chapter 27 a million times and On Writing by Stephen Kind 2 times.

Hope this gave my headache friends some tips and my loved ones a look into my life.  What I really probably need is a Step 9: Fluffy baby kitty!! But all good things to those who wait.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bitterness: The Boomerang of Emotions

Bitterness isn't the only emotion that does this, of course. There are lots of emotions to come back around moments after you throw them away as hard as you can. But to each villain is own vice, as Edward Rochester would say, and mine is towards bitterness.

I wonder when it first started. I think we all have a favorite failing. I think it's written in our personality and life experiences like a thread in a tapestry. Because there are faults I have to fight all day every day to stop and there are other things I'll never be and I don't even have to think about. We are each our own strange little creatures with our own mountains to climb.

So as I've discussed, my journey in and out of bitterness about my headaches was slow. When my headaches first started I wasn't bitter. I had no idea what was going on and what was ahead. Sometimes I read journal entries from that time and I think "Oh poor little thing, you have no idea what is coming and how the long the road will be." And then I think about the future Megan who will think I was a fool for thinking that way because she knows what's waiting for me. Cheerful thoughts. So the bitterness came slowly after a couple months. I think it started when I had to stop working. That was a big adjustment to make. I'd love being a dental hygienist and the idea of being a stay-at-home invalid was very depressing. It felt like failure but even then it was a temporary solution. If I wasn't working I'd have loads of time for doctors and treatments and it would be over before I knew it. But we know it wasn't and a seed of disappointment was planted and turned into bitterness.

This stayed and worsened for the next three years. It got stronger and better at hiding itself from me. I thought I was being strong and tough. But I was angry and mad and bitter and those aren't the same things. In June two years go, I finally got it. God was allowing this to happen. This was my cross to bear. And He was enough. He was enough to get me through it. It wasn't too much because he'd give it to me and He would give me the strength to get through it.

Then it got better for a while. People noticed a change. I was kinder and smiled more and was happier even if I wasn't feeling better and then something happened. I think the pain got to me. I had started to get slowly progressively worse and I think I just lost it. Maybe it was also try to get pregnant. Either way bitterness came creeping in and I didn't even notice it. I'd stopped praying for God to heal me and I thought I was just giving him space. I didn't want to get mad at him for not answering my prayers so I wasn't praying them. I was just skipping the fight by not even talking to Him. I know I'm a genius. It started to feel like hope was for loser. As every hipster knows, he who cares and tries the least is the coolest.

Anyway I started to wake up when I went to visit Lauren in Raleigh. We were talking about bitterness and I said "Yeah I used to be really bitter. But I'm over it?"
And she said full of love and I'm sure not aware what her words meant to me "And you aren't anymore?"
Ouch. I started the painful process of looking at myself. Was I bitter? No, that was impossible because I'd already dealt with that feeling one time. So it was gone forever. But I'd really just pulled a classic Megan.
Can't see it, don't feel it!! Works like a charm until the unseen feelings get organized and all pounce at once. It's super fun when that happens.

So anyway I'm finally crawling back out of that dumb hole but I'm trying to be wiser this time. I'll be looking for it when it comes back. Because it will. It's so hard to stay positive. I have two setting.
1. April Ludgate- I hate everything. No one talk to me.

 or 2. Leslie Knope- The world is sunshine and rainbow and I want to marry it.
(There is no in-between.)
Anyway time to turn the feeling switch to full flow as I turn into Leslie Knope.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

So... I live here now

So life is a journey right? But sometimes with chronic pain it seems a lot easier to just stay right where you are. Because it is so hard to keep moving forward especially when every day seems the same. I'd deluded myself that hunkering down and waiting out the storm was the strong sensible thing to do. But really it was the coward's choice, the tired untrusting coward. I looked into the fiery furnace that I'd been trapped in for years and said "fine, I live here now."
I'm sure this seems really dumb to healthy people. Who would choose to stay in such a horrible place? But the thing is that choosing to stay or not has actually no impact on being able to leave. I'm waiting it out. I'm waiting for that fourth man to rescue me or for death to take me after a long life of being in there. I don't actually get to choose when I leave. So I stopped trying. 

One of the big problem is that the way out isn't labeled, or if it is it seems like a longer trip than Frodo's journey from Hobbiton to Mordor. So instead of the frantic search for the possibly non-existent exit it seemed graceful and 'above it all' to just make the most of the flames.

I like the story of Shadrach, Mechach, and Abendigo. They are thrown into the furnace for not bowing down to King Neb's idol. There is this line that moves me:
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3: 16-18

The God we serve is able to deliver us ...But even if he does not. 
I took this to mean that I should get cozy in the furnace because God might not let me out, now at this point I'd long since stopped asking for him to take me out. (this is another entry coming in a couple days). I'd been in that fiery furnace for years and God wasn't taking my headaches away so instead of spending all my energy in trying to claw my way out of a metal room, I burrowed in for the long haul. I decided that only God's divine ability was getting me out, so I should just stop worrying about it so much.
Pastor Dickie preached about adversity a couple weeks ago and he said. "Sometimes God delivers you from the furnace but sometimes God delivers you in the furnace."
I was obviously the second. I was going to let the fire burn away my impurities and turn me into an awesome steel blade. And why not play cards while I waited. It almost seems like a legit plan as I reread what I've written so far but I wasn't in there playing cards and patiently waiting on the Lord, I was in there completely alone with no hope of getting out. I'd stopped asking God to heal me and I'd stopped looking for the way out. I'd given up on God's promises. I'd forgotten who He is.  

I'm still in there but I waiting for Him now. He's coming and I know it and when he does all glory will go to Him. It's sooooo much harder to hope than it is to give up. It was a lot easier to not care but I was just lying to myself. God was always with me and He's going to take me out of there or do something even better. 

I'm in a Bible study with my mom and Jody Allen and it brought all of these feelings out into the open (that's my least favorite place for feelings to be). We were talking about when the Israelites were wandering the Wilderness for forty years and what our own Wildernesses looked like. I said, I just live there now. But that was such a dumb thing to say. I'd missed the whole point of the Wilderness. The forty years of wandering the wilderness was not pointless. It wasn't needless torture and obvisouly, Megan, it wasn't the final destination. But I'd just been walking in circles for so long that I gave up. I pitched a tent and decided to stop journeying. I told myself that the journey was actually going to last forever and that I would neeeevvvveeerrr make it to my promised land. The road ahead didn't have an end and there was no way to go back so I moved in. But the point of the wilderness time is to grow closer to God not to ignore him. None of my wilderness time means anything if I don't let God finish it and take me to the promised land. 

It's harder since I packed my tent and started walking again. I hate walking and being outside and the sun and the path goes up the mountain and then where? There is probably another mountain and then another mountain. Just thinking about it makes me tired. But what is really great is entertaining the idea of being well again. That's a heady thought. Maybe New Daily Persistent Headache has an expiration? But even after all my writing about how I'm good now, writing that last sentence was painful and it made me roll my eyes. Apparently deciding one time to hope again doesn't change things forever.  And that leads perfectly into tomorrow's post about bitterness.

More posts coming later this week. I've opened the box of feelings and they have to go somewhere. Sorry hehe.