Friday, August 10, 2012

If you really knew me...

You'd know that I have never lived alone.

You’d know that I have a voicemail on my phone from my Nana that I refuse to delete because I want to have her voice somewhere “just in case”.

You’d know I still have my “blankie” safely put away in my closet – for emergencies.

You’d know I am overly critical of myself and have a tendency to be a perfectionist – this makes doing things l love (crafts, baking, writing) more stressful than they need to be.

You’d know I still care too much about what other people think.

You’d know that I’ve seen every episode of “Sex in the City” and I hate that Big’s real name is John.

You’d know that if I had the room I’d have rescued animals everywhere.

You’d know that I believe in “ghosts” and have seen a few.

You’d know that I have a bit of a sixth sense and sometimes ‘know things’ I shouldn't.

You'd know that I watch movies I like over and over...until I can quote them.

You'd know that I work movie/TV quotes into regular conversation on a daily basis.

You’d know that I believe in God but hate what humankind has done to religion.

You’d know that I am horrible at taking my own advice.

You'd know that I find my Zen when I crochet.

You'd know that I have a hard time allowing others to do things for me.

You’d know that when my children are happy it makes me cry.

You’d know that I am not comfortable in my own skin most of the time.

You’d know that I am a sucker for romance novels…especially if they have good sex scenes.

You’d know that I love to be swept off my feet.

You’d know that I feel guilty when I treat myself to things like massages and pedicures.

You’d know that it takes a lot to get me to go to an event by myself.

You’d know that I have a hard time throwing things away – I might need them some day.

You’d know that I am often afraid to speak my mind because I am afraid…of what might happen if you really knew me.

[This fabulous idea was borrowed from this post that I found through my Twitter feed.]

Friday, August 3, 2012

That Thing with Feathers

I don't know when it happened. Can't even pinpoint it with generalities (well, actually, I probably can…but that’s beside the point).

All I know is that one day it was gone.

I woke up one morning and could not find my Hope, my sense of Awesome-ness.

Look at this face:
That face is full of Hope – overflowing with Awesome. The owner of that face can accomplish anything he wants, whenever he wants - and nobody can tell him any different. He is talented, smart, handsome and invincible.

He still has his Hope.

Many moons ago I was the same way.

I liked to sing - so I sang - all the time, no matter where I was or who I was with. Made up new words to go with popular songs on the radio. Heck, I even taped my “hit songs” (seriously, I wrote “My hit song: xyz” on the cassette labels – aaaand I just aged myself…eh, who cares?) so I could share them with my Nana and whomever else would listen to them. Even composed a song about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - for real.

My parents bought me a marionette for Christmas one year - I loved it. As my puppet collection grew my grandparents built me a puppet stage - so I put on shows. My brother, friends and cousins always got roped into participating. I wrote skits for us to perform giving them roles that I created especially for them – and then the adults were made to sit in rows of dining room chairs to watch our “performance.” I even made up tickets - they had to give us their ticket or they couldn't see the show. Those were the rules.

During the Holidays when family got together I was the kid with the “great ideas” for how to get everyone involved in the Thankfulness Celebration. I made goofy hats for everyone and orchestrated the “go around the table so everyone can share one thing they are thankful for” activity.

When my parents went to “adult parties” I did everything in my power to tag along…because I was addicted to adult conversation. As far as I knew – I held my own – the adults all said I was “very grown up” =) Adult conversation was much more interesting than just talking to my friends.

This one time (go ahead...say it) I called into a local talk radio show late one night while my babysitter prayed that my parents weren’t listening in their car. It was cool! The host even sent me a certificate in the mail for being his “youngest caller” (still have it – shit you not).

I had no fear, no shame and an abundant font of enthusiasm for things that made me happy. There was no worrying about what other people thought or the “what ifs”…I just ran with it.

Then it happened.

Suddenly (or at least that's how it seems to me) you couldn’t pay me to get up in front of a room full of people. My knees began to shake uncontrollably if anyone was listening to me sing (and no freakin’ way was I going to record my voice – singing or speaking). Perform? As in…on a stage? Not. Gonna. Happen.

And then…I gave up my dreams for someone else’s. Worst of all? I gave up my power – for a lot of years.

There were some dark times during those years. Times when I didn’t think I would EVER be truly happy again.

BUT!! In the beautiful words of Emily Dickinson:


Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune--without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.

Hope sang her song. On those coldest nights in those darkest places she sang.

She sang LOUD and she sang STRONG and she NEVER. GAVE. UP!!

When the storms were raging and I couldn’t hear her sing she wrapped her wings around me and waited.


One day I realized that somewhere deep within my grown-up, sorry self was that awesome little girl that used to write puppet skits and sing “hit songs” that she wrote into her cassette recorder.

That realization was the first step toward reclaiming my dream…the second step was going after it.

Then Hope put me in the midst of a bunch of other Awesome People who fed my hunger for the Awesome-ness that I was lacking…until I had it all back!

That was the beginning of The Beginning!

Hope gave me the strength to take back my Power and take charge of my life in a very real way.

I got stronger with every passing day.

Now, I can sing (if you count Karaoke) in front of folks with only minimal knee shakeage…still working on being ok with hearing my voice on tape (I’ll get there – it has been suggested that I try doing…we’ll see). I still make up words to songs…usually about my kids and/or dogs. Dogs don't criticize - usually. The kids just roll their eyes and tolerate my silliness.

Traded in the puppet skits for blogging – although, I the puppet stage is in my garage and my mom has the marionettes.

Rather than organizing “activities” for gatherings I now prefer to cook for them…I specialize in food-coma-induction…and I’m not terrible at desserts either – just sayin’.

The face in the photo back at the top? That’s my grandson. Now that I have my Hope back and have reclaimed my Awesome-ness I can fully enjoy him - and his sister (the kisser in that pic) – I can be goofy with them and serve ice cream for dinner (but only if they are going home with mommy and daddy after) and quote Disney flicks all day long and just BE! No boundaries, no limits.

Bottomline? Like the poem says – Hope  “never stops at all” – she is there, forever and always. She patiently waits for you to accept her nudges, listen to her song and open your heart to welcome back the Awesome that has always been yours – you just forgot it was there.

Now it is your turn! I have passed the baton to you. Hope is real. Hope is alive. Share your Hope with someone who needs won't be sorry.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Migraines Suck!

There is no other way to say it. Migraines suck donkey balls.

They involve intense pain, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity and a strong desire to be allowed to curl up in a ball - and die.

I suffered my first migraine headache when I was 22-years-old. It hit while I was at a family reunion - in Las Vegas...yeah, I'm *that* lucky.

The pain and pressure in my head grew until I was paying homage to the porcelain god while my mother held my waist-length hair back for me. All I could think was “Thank GAWD my mommy is here right now.”

My head hurt so bad by the second day I remember asking for something sharp so I could poke a hole in it to let the pressure "drain out" - for real! Said it out loud to a room full of people.

After a not-so-wonderful experience at a Vegas medical facility I flew home early to seek treatment at “my hospital” with people I knew and trusted.

I was referred to a specialist who operated under the assumption that I had either suffered viral meningitis (since my neck had been uber painful during the peak of the headache) or I had just suffered my first migraine. Since the pain meds essentially knocked out the headache after a couple doses I was thinking migraine (they do run in my family afterall) but he kept me out of work for several weeks – looking back I realize he must have been  thinking meningitis (however, the only symptom I had that matched that diagnosis was the neck pain).

From that point forward I suffered severe headaches – only a few have been “as bad as the first one” but all of them are awful.

But…it wasn't until last year that I finally received the official diagnosis of "migraine headache". After 20 years of dealing with headaches so intense that they often cause me to wish for death while curled up in the fetal position, crying, someone finally listened.

During those years I had one doctor call them "tension headaches" (he prescribed stress-reduction to ease them). Another labeled them "cluster headaches" (and blamed my allergies for the pain). One doc even told me I was missing the sinus cavities above my eyes and claimed that was the reason for the pain (but they are there and he offered no solutions – so I found a new doctor immediately). All of them suggested wimpy non-narcotic treatments for me at various times - but not one used the word migraine.

Because none of the doctors I saw would address the real issue at hand, I became a hoarder of pain meds. Whenever I had an illness or procedure that warranted a prescription for pain meds I ALWAYS kept the leftovers for my headaches. The BEST treatment, I had discovered, was to take 1/2 of a pain pill (more than that would cause increased nausea) and sleep - in a dark room, with an icepack on the back of my neck.

I also learned to recognize the difference between a "headache" and a "migraine" fairly quickly. Occasionally, if I caught it early enough, a fist-full of ibuprofen and a couple caffeine-laced headache pills would stop it - but not always.

Over the years I have missed a lot of work because of my headaches - but it wasn't until last October (right after I was finally diagnosed) that someone asked me why I didn't have an "Intermittent Medical Leave of Absence" on file because of them.

A what?!

Turns out it's a medical certification that protects people who suffer from chronic illness (like migraine headaches) from loss of employment due to excessive absences.

Fabulous! Why didn't anyone think I needed to know about this sooner???

The sequence of events that precipitated the whole "why don't you have one" conversation went down like this: I woke up one morning with jackhammers going off in my brain and tears sliding down my cheeks. I suffered in silence for a bit - praying it would just stop…or I would die…whichever was quickest -  when that didn't work, I woke my Hunny up and begged him to take me to Urgent Care - and he did.

The folks at the Urgent Care were wonderful! The guy that checked me in spoke softly, the nurse in triage did too. When I got into a room they turned the lights off for me. *sigh* The doctor said "migraines suck" (softly) as we reviewed treatment options. He treated me with several medications & slapped on some high-flow oxygen for good measure (I had to Google it - it did help). My discharge paperwork said "Migraine headache" on it.

This was huge.

When I left Urgent Care my pain was down to a 4 from a 9 (out of 10). I stayed home from work that day and the next.

Then, less than 2 weeks later, it happened again - only this time I was throwing up too. Not cool!!

I decided to skip Urgent Care and try for a visit with my regular doctor. I called as soon as they opened. They squeezed me into the schedule and I saw her about 9am. I was adequately medicated, home and asleep within an hour.

My doctor diagnosed me with a migraine - actually added it to my chart right under "asthma" and "environmental allergies" - and wrote me two prescriptions: one, a known migraine treatment and the other an anti-nausea medication - just in case…

FINALLY! I had an official diagnosis and was receiving appropriate treatment.

I missed 2 days of work (doctor's orders), again.

As I explained the latest tale in the headache/missing work saga to my BFF (who just happens to work in HR) she asked me why I didn't have the medical certification on file at my work...then she cursed herself repeatedly and said "OMG!! I cannot believe I didn't think to tell you about this sooner! Actually, your HR should have contacted you and asked if there was a chronic illness behind so many sick-days, but that's beside the point! SHIT! I am so sorry! You need to get an Intermittent Leave on file ASAP!"

So I did.

Having that little piece of paper on file that says I suffer from a real condition (one that causes me to be incapacitated and unable to function properly at times) and gives me some lee-way with work absences is a god-send. I cannot tell you how much weight it has taken off my shoulders!

But...the greatest relief by far (after suffering with severe headache pain for 20 years and being given the run-around by the medical establishment) is hearing a doctor finally call my headaches exactly what they are - migraines.

I knew I wasn’t making this shit up!