Saturday, April 19, 2014

Headache Management ala Christy

After the earlier post, I had several folks ask me what I do to prevent or treat the migraines.  I reiterate that I don't have them so chronically that I need daily prescription preventives. And I'm thankful for that! 

So here is the list.  It isn't complete. It isn't scientifically proven.  It isn't based in prescription meds.

Minimize triggers - if you know them.  Personally I shun chocolate, raw onions, nitrates, MSG, bright sunlight, caffeine withdrawal, low blood sugar, and dehydration.

Timing is everything - The curse of the pre-headache "aura" is really a blessing in my case.  True, I can't see 50% of my field of vision, but it gives me about a 20 minute notice that I need to get meds on board before the headache actually hits.

OTC meds - I use Advil or Tylenol almost exclusively.  Tylenol is my first choice, because I have other issues that don't blend well with ibuprofen.  But many times, ibuprofen is the only thing that helps.  Experiment.  Excedrin works great for other folks I know.

Coffee or Tea - Aura + OTC + HUGE intake of caffeine before the headache hits.  If I can put that combination together, I usually minimize pain, duration, and side effects. 

Pressure Points- Messaging pressure points in my forearms, legs, hands, the bridge of the nose, and temples can work occasionally. 

Go Dark - I turn lights out and lay down for as long as feasible.

Heating Pad - This is usually applied to forehead or shoulders.

Lavender Oil - Sometimes the scent of pure lavender oil will help.  I don't use the nasty chemically stuff they put in cosmetics to make you think you're using lavender.  It doesn't work.

Hot bath - It relaxes the muscles of the back and neck, which goes a long way towards easing the headache too.  This is most effective if it's a stress induced headache.

Wintergreen Mints - I have no idea why.

Prescription Meds - I own them.  I hate them.  I use them only when everything else fails and I can't manage anymore. 

Duck Dive - It's taken me years to master it, and I can't do it for long. Think of it as a surfing metaphor.    I go deep in my mind and let the pain wash over me, like a surfer swimming out through the oncoming waves.  This takes focus and complete isolation, but basically one can go somewhere else in one's mind, some place where the pain isn't.   Sometimes it's necessary.

(Oh, and I pet my dog.  Because he's my comfort. He understands, and that's enough to help me through.)

There's thousands of sites on the Internet with different suggestions.  These are just the ones I find work for me.  And after all, I should know after 37 years of practice.

Feel free to comment with your helpful hints too!  I'm always open to new ideas for fighting the migraine devil.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

37 Years of Denial, My Life with Migraine

So far I've navigated 37 of my 44 years down the river migraine.  I can't say its been a successful journey, but I can say that I have it better than many other sufferers.  So, complaining is right out.  It's my trial, and everyone has trials.

Lately I've been reflecting on life, as is normal for the person on the cusp of midlife.  With a bit of shock I have realized that I've lived "around" this disease.  Meaning, I subconsciously compensate for the inevitable downtime that will be forced upon me.   This is how it works:

  • The barometric pressure drops...I get a migraine.
  • My hormones fluctuate... I get a migraine.
  • I eat chocolate, red wine, raw onions, or, GOD FORBID, MSG... I get a migraine.
  • I finish a big stressful project... I get a migraine.
  • I exercise too much... I get a migraine.
Now, if it was just a day of headache pain, that would be one thing.  But as any migraine patient will tell you, there's the aura before, the pain and side effects during, and the hangover afterward.  It's the hangover that has become more challenging for me as I age.  I get foggy, sore, and my personality temporarily changes.  My mental filter malfunctions, and there's no telling what I'll say. 

Before now, I never considered myself  hamstrung, or restricted by this devil.  But let's take a look at reality vs. my interpretation of it.  The way I see it, I just quarantine myself as soon as the aura hits, take medicine, and carry on after about an hour.  No big deal, it hurts, but I can live with it.  But, here's the part I wasn't owning.  I have lived my life subconsciously dancing around the unavoidable.
  • I'm reluctant to commit to being places at a specific time.
  • I've chosen employment (or lack there of) that doesn't require strict clock-in/ clock-out times.
  • I hide from the world after headaches, for fear of saying something I wouldn't ordinarily say.
  • When taking on a big project, I prolong the intense stress.  Because, I know as soon as it lets up, the "let down" migraine will knock me out for days.  I just can't afford that time.
  • I rarely see movies with friends.  (Some visual inputs, particularly 3D movies, trigger them.)
Basically, I tend not to sign on to activities where I could let anyone else down.  But know this.   If I do promise to be somewhere or do something, I will do it, pain or no pain.  And, I'll do it well.  That is just as much a part of who I am as the headaches are!

Seems so obvious, and yet I just didn't notice it before.

So, there it is.  If you have migraines, you'll understand. 

I realize that this compensation isn't unique to me, or even to migraine patients.  There are many chronic hidden conditions that alter the way we conduct our lives.  So, the next time you can't understand why Joe or Jane is doing what they are doing, consider that you just don't know the problem around which they are working.  Live, and let live.  Hey, we're all in denial about something.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Be self confident: Leadership 101

March 1, 2014

Be self-confident.

Successful leaders are secure in who they are.  They have a set of principles and guidelines on which they have built their team or organization.  This should come across as self-assuredness, not false bravado.  Insecure leaders will unconsciously limit their organizations by lacking the courage of their convictions.  This can be seen in two ways, indecision and ego.

An organization without a constant guiding principle, firmly held by its leader, will never live up to its potential.  It confuses the team members and eventually loses their confidence. Leaders must listen to their team members' insights, absolutely!  But a wise leader weighs those suggestions against the goals and principles he or she holds to be the foundation of the organization.  A strong house can not be built upon quicksand.  People need a secure leader, in order to feel secure on the team.

An insecure leader often grabs the spotlight from, or turns the spotlight off of, the successes of individual team members.  He or she may be searching for validation from others, taking from the team rather than giving to it.   They can't allow themselves to celebrate the victories of others.  In most cases this is done subconsciously.   But insecure leaders who consistently do this will lose the team's loyalty quickly and permanently.

Be bold. Be humble. Be open.  Be grateful.

Be self-confident.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Communication is key: Leadership 101

Feb. 27, 2014
Today's idea: Communicate effectively

Communication within an organization is absolutely key to its success, or failure. A leader must be able to express a vision, enthusiastically and clearly.  Modern technology allows us instant communication.  It's a blessing and a curse.  It gives us a chance to relay great ideas, share timely news, or get clarification of a task.  Great!  But it takes away all the tone and charisma from the exchange.  And NO, emoticons do not count as "tone".  

At a minimum, effective leaders use the following points in communicating with their team.

  1. Know your message- Take time to know exactly what you want to say.  Say it with enthusiasm.
  2. Know your audience- Who are these folks and why do they want to hear what I have to say?  Understand that, and you can tailor your message to be more effective.
  3. Know when to be brief- Simplify, Simplify. Simplify.
  4. Know that timing is critical-   Let's talk email and texting.  Respond in a timely fashion.  Even if you don't know the answer to their question, people want to know they've been heard and you're working on the issue.
  5. Know what the other person looks or sounds like-  Face-to-face or telephone conversation is infinitely more effective than email.  It builds stronger relationships.  It leaves no ambiguity.  Email is a breeding ground for unintended offenses and hard feelings.  Use it, but don't rely on it to build a cohesive team.
  6. Know how to listen-  Seek responses.  Answer questions.  Watch for actions.
Communicate effectively.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Show them you care. Leadership 101

Isn't it interesting how different leaders interact with their organizations?   When a leader takes the time to learn effective communication and team building techniques, it shows.  Millions of dollars a year are spent on seminars and books addressing effective leadership. I won't pretend to be an expert on the subject.  However, I have devoted at least 15 years of my life to such study.  So with that in mind, I'd like to start a short blog series devoted to thoughts on the matter.  

Today's idea:  Show them you care.

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Sure, the team/community/fellowship you lead wantS to know that you are experienced and that you won't lead them astray.  But if you see those individuals as a means to a end, they will know it.  Show them GENUINE concern for their well being.  Take action on their insights and suggestions when appropriate.  Respect them.  Show them you want the best for them.  And for goodness sake, show them how their efforts positively influence the team, and you personally.  

This doesn't mean you have to send them fuzzy fluffy notecards or gush over them when you see they've done something they're expected to do.  This means that you LISTEN to them.  Greet them with eye contact and a warm smile.  Let them know when they do a great job.  SAY THANK YOU.  And mean it.

Let them know you care.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thoughts on Joseph's Journey to Bethlehem

As I work on getting into the Christmas spirit, I like to think about the arduous journey to Bethlehem. I don't pretend to be a biblical scholar. My relationship with God is my own. It's real. It's a part of me, everyday. I don't find it necessary to shout it from the roof tops. I rarely share much about it. But at a time when all the songs on the radio are either "All I WANT for Christmas" or "Baby Jesus"- centric, I like to think about St. Joseph's thoughts and actions during those weeks prior to the birth of Christ, (and after) and how his example is a model for EVERYONE, Christian and non-Christian alike.

He had to be scared. Did he worry that Mary would suffer, or even deliver the child, before they had safely arrived in Bethlehem? She was riding a donkey over 150 miles, and probably visibly ready to pop. He wasn't a rich man. Was he concerned about the financial responsibilities he was about to take on? He was Mary's spouse, only because he put complete faith in what a heavenly angel told him. Do you think he ever questioned his decision? He was tired. Wouldn't you be?

What does this have to do with us? You and me. Today. All Faiths.  Or, lack thereof.  Let's consider for a moment, what the world would be like if every person on this planet took these following examples to heart.

·  Protect those who need protection.

·  Defend those whom the world has marginalized

·  Work hard to provide for your family

·  Feed the hungry

·  Clothe those who are naked

·  Lead honorably

·  Love unconditionally

·  Teach those who lack adequate education

·  Provide apprenticeship and employment for the young

·  Be honest and pure of heart no matter what your circumstances within society

·  Discipline fairly, in the knowledge that discipline teaches self control and encourages responsibility for self and others as children become adults.

·  Listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, (that small, still voice inside)  and act upon them

Where would the world be if we all emulated the life of St. Joseph? We need to do these things, personally. Relying on government to take care of our families and neighbors doesn't work. Our society will only be well and whole again, when we get our hands dirty, and invest ourselves emotionally and physically into our own communities.

Give the world a gift this Christmas. Go out and be St. Joseph to someone in need.
Merry Christmas.  And peace be with you all.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Fun...1.0

Just returned from a lovely long weekend in Concord, North Carolina. As usual, the kids' soccer lives dictate the destination of our summer excursions. But this soccer-trip was particularly enjoyable. Here are a few things that made it so pleasant. 

  • On the way to Concord, we drove along the Ocoee and Nantahala rivers, through some of the most gorgeous country in the US.  Those with serious motion sickness problems should consider a preemptive dose of Dramamine before attempting this journey.
  • Perfect weather!  80 degrees and clear with a 5-10 mph breeze.  Glorious!
  • North Carolina is just beautiful.  Enough said.
  • We didn't win our bracket, but the girls played well and made themselves proud.  It will be an event the will never forget.  
  • The Courtyard Mariott was located close to the Concord Mils Outlet Mall...had a Starbucks in the hotel...and the room was big and comfortable.  A great stay!
  • Bonding with the other soccer parents over cold beer while the girls swim is fun no matter where you are.
  • We got to see the Lowes Motor Speedway, well, the outside of it anyway.  (check off an item on my "always wanted to see" list)  That place is massive. We counted 32 entrance gates and camping areas that were bigger that a medium sized New Jersey township. 
  • The Great Wolf Lodge was right across the street.  Had I known that before we planned the trip, we would have stayed there!  As it was, we explored the place before we left for home, and it was awesome.  Seems like every hour or so on the ride home, the youngest child pointed out how fun it would be to stay there someday.  I quite agree.  Don't know what a Great Wolf Lodge is?  Check out the link.
  • The siblings got along well the whole time.  How unexpectedly enjoyable.
All in all, a winner for a fathers day weekend!