My battle with migraines

“The cabin doors are closing, lets update our Facebook status one last time and send that text and tweet so we can get going.” – I do love a social savvy flight attendant! Something about humor that connects with my soul before signing off for the flight.  

As I left my house in the bitter cold early one Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past week. Heck, the past month. It’s been hard. Like, physically hard. I’ve had only a few instances like this in my life. Breaking my foot, getting E.Coli after a work trip, and the worst ever recovery from the stomach flu that left me not eating for a month. I’ve battled migraines since my teens. I began to worry that I was changing my status from random migraines to chronic suffering.

After my second 2-day migraine in under a week and 8th total in a month, I got myself in to see a doctor. She deemed me the proud owner of a sinus infection and put me on antibiotics for 14 days. I really liked her. She wanted to attack whatever was wrecking havoc in my face first and at the same time work on my sinuses and get the migraines taken care of. After learning that I should be able to pop my own ears, she decided I had some things not working to relieve the pressures of my sinuses. At that point, a guess of why I get migraines is like winning the lottery, even if it ends up being wrong. With some exercises to do and specific nasal spray to use, she sent me on my way with instructions that I should taste the spray when I use it. It’s not the most ideal and honestly, I try not to taste it when I take it. I’ve been taking it for a year straight because I thought it was helping my migraines but in no way have I been taking it so well that I’ve been tasting it. So 1/2 a point for me for taking the right thing, just really poor execution. That’s what I get for trying to self-fix. But if any of you suffer from migraines, you know how difficult it is to control or diagnosis. So you do what you can to continue on with a semi-normal life.

I was in an absolutely awful form of hell. No joke. Worse than when I was on bed rest for 6 weeks with a broken foot. But maybe not worse than The Stomach Pains of 2015. Those where pretty excruciating and left me not able to find the right fetal position to make them stop. I was like a caged animal. But the past month has left me unable to function 8 to 9 times. Some days I had to push through some activity or work to get to a place where I could crawl into bed with a heating pad and cold meds. I learned with the first one in December that cold & flu meds plus a heating pad had me almost good in just a couple of hours. That trick soon stopped working {much like any other self-medication I’ve found for migraines over the years, it always stops working eventually} and I was trying a combination of sinus related cocktails. Decongestants, cold & flu, nasal spray, allergy meds, and ibuprofen, water, and lattes for the caffeine. Sometimes {ok, every migraine day} going through all of them. On the other days I was popping cold & flu and decongestants to dull the headache. The strange thing is that I never had cold symptoms. I guess my sinuses are just cool like that.

As I was sitting on the plane last weekend, my ears basically popped for the first 40 minutes. I was incredibly grateful they were popping. I was kind of concerned, but never have a problem with my ears popping on a plane so I figured I’d be fine. I had a number of people concerned the plane would make it worse. I figured I had already experienced some really shitty days, so I’d just be dealing with it in a public place. Nothing I hadn’t done before. Hopefully the forced pressure changes helped me in the long run.

The physical hardships I’ve gone through have been enough to shake me up. I pick myself back up pretty quickly, I always do, but it’s been pretty hard mentally as well. When I get random migraines I experience a lot of mommy and wife guilt. Nine times out of ten, I get myself through the work day and pick up a kid. I get home and because it’s a little bit quieter {for short bursts of time}, my brain has space to realize how much my head hurts. And I give in. Rarely do I retreat to my dark bedroom, even though almost always do I want to. I usually set up on the couch, sometimes even closing my eyes for a bit and falling asleep for a few minutes at a time. Migraines don’t work around my schedule, they show up unannounced and always unwanted. I feel less guilt when my husband has plans for the evening. I crash on the couch until he leaves and then make it through to bedtime. Sometimes the boys watch way too many cartoons and other times I haul myself into the bathroom so they can take a bath before extended cartoons. It’s a crappy feeling to sit on the couch while chaos ensues around you and you do nothing.

Only a mommy guilt brain can make you feel worse when your spouse is home with you. I should feel better that he’s home and can pick up the slack while I try to take care of me. Instead, I feel worse that he HAS to pick up the slack and feel like everything he does is full of disdain and annoyance towards me. Every timeout he has to initiate, every meal he has to put together, every dish he puts away and counter he cleans, and the bedtime routine that all of a sudden becomes a solo act. Nevermind that most nights he handles the kitchen cleanup. Something about having a migraine makes me feel guilty for him doing something he does most nights.

I hate that my kids have spent countless breathes asking me if my head hurts. Or that after returning from a week-long trip, Quinten tells me after my head stops hurting we’ll do something. I’m at the end of my 14-day meds and it’s been a number of days since my last headache, but the last thing he remembers is me spending an entire evening and not going to work because I was in so much pain. I wish my kids didn’t know a life of chronic pain.

For all of you who suffer from some form of chronic pain, mental or physical, try to give yourself a break. Don’t put added pressure on yourself. It really is ok to just take care of you and make you better. Do what I say, not what I do! But I can tell you that sometimes when you have a migraine on a work trip and you’re stuck on Bourbon Street, you can take enough ibuprofen that it will eventually go away while you go from bar to bar with live music. You’ll eventually walk out onto the street and realize it’s gone! Making you feel like you’ve unlocked a special level in the world of migraines.

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My battle with migraines

5 Reasons Why Falling off the Budget Wagon Sucks

It’s no secret that Dave Ramsey lives in my house. Even if we don’t have a budget set for the month, he’s still in these four walls. Here’s the thing about not having a monthly budget, he’s here in a not fun way. I know it’s a reflection of his principles and our belief in them that causes the guilt, but man, the guilt. I’m too afraid to look back to the last month that we actually made a budget, but I’m pretty sure it’s been a good six months. Here’s the thing, some months (most?) it worked in our favor. Meaning, we didn’t spend more than we would have wanted to. That doesn’t mean we don’t still feel guilty.

Source image: http://401kcalculator.org
Source image: http://401kcalculator.org
  1. Guilt. Even when you don’t spend too much money, you still feel guilty that you spent any because it wasn’t accounted for and tracked. I think, for the most part, when we don’t create a budget we get in each other’s heads and go into extreme savings mode. We assume that since we aren’t tracking the money, then we don’t have it to spend. Which in turn makes more guilt when you do spend money. Money that you probably have to spend. But, you don’t know that because you didn’t create a monthly budget. You see where I’m going with this?! When you live like no one else, you can’t turn it on and off. You have to commit and be diligent.
  2. Miss goals. We’ve missed some family & financial goals over the past few months. The irony is that it’s not because we spent the money. It’s because we weren’t focused on our monies or goals. We could have started projects sooner, but we were in this self-inflicted feeling of not having any money. We didn’t realize that our savings had reached the point of moving forward with the project. When we got antsy to move on projects, then we had to spend extra time going over every dollar and figuring out if we really could start. Just because we saw the money, didn’t mean we hadn’t missed something else over the past few months. It wasn’t a complete setback, but it still took a lot of time and mental willingness to move forward.
  3. Inaccurate spend. There have been a few changes to our normally line items over the past few months. For instance, we’ve spent the past six weeks carpooling and are driving a shorter distance. We have absolutely no idea what our gasoline budget is for the month. One, because we aren’t sure what an accurate amount was when we stopped budgeting. And, we didn’t do a budget last month so we have to do some research on spend last month to predict this month. Again, time wasted. Another item is our grocery spend. We’ve been buying most of our groceries out of the organic section and with it being summer we’re going through a lot more fruit. This is another item that has been ongoing for quite a while and we don’t know where it’s at. Each monthly budget is based on the past month and then things coming up this month. We can’t accurately plan without knowing how these line items have shifted. More time wasted.
  4. Failed savings. We said this winter that we needed to start Quinten’s college savings fund. It’s July and we haven’t done it yet. Nor have we investigated to see if we’re doing the same thing as we do for Maximus. It’s one of those unchecked items that continues to linger in the background. Adding to the guilt in item one. We rarely move money from one savings account to something else, so even though we’ve been saving money that could be for his college, we haven’t been. We work under the philosophy that the accounts stay as they are and money doesn’t getting taken out of them. If we want something new, we add it to the goal list and save up for it. Or, we look at our monthly spend and add it to the current or next month. {This philosophy is probably what makes us end those non-budgeted months with more in savings than we thought!}

As you can see, we’re spending July getting back on track. We’ve put our Excel budget spreadsheet on hold and are testing out a new budget app that we put our monthly budget into and then track our spend. So far we like it. It helps us see what we have left to spend on each line item and I enjoy seeing the pie charts of categories. July is always a tough month because of summer life and Maximus’ birthday. We know it’s coming, but that unexpected extra spend always gets us. Like, how much should we really spend?? We’re 4 1/2 years into this financial journey and we still have a hard time staying focused. I can tell this is going to be a lifelong journey!

What are your tricks to staying focused on your budget?

5 Reasons Why Falling off the Budget Wagon Sucks

Are you for or against breakfast for supper?

Every couple comes to this point in their relationship as father and mother. It happened tonight. The calendar said leftovers and Maximus didn’t want any of them. He just wanted fruit and watermelon (isn’t that fruit?) and a smoothie. He didn’t want meatloaf, chicken fajitas, or hamburger. So we told him he needed to eat something with protein. Peanut butter taco? NO. A cheese stick hot dog? NO. I know, basically four course meals, but we already cooked meals the past few days. That’s the purpose of leftover night. No cooking!

And here’s where you pick a side. You’re either cereal for supper is ok or you’re not. I don’t know that you can convert someone either. It’s a pretty solid line that’s hard to cross.

Here’s the thing, I think I’m right. Breakfast food can be eaten for supper. It’s totally legit. 😃A couple weeks ago Quinten and I had scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches for supper. I loved having pancakes for supper when I was growing up. I know I had them in college, but I’m afraid we haven’t exposed the boys to that awesomeness. And I think it’s because 50% of the adults here don’t think it’s ok to have breakfast for supper.

Maximus, “Can I have cereal?”
Me, “Sure.”
Maximus, “Can you get me the superhero cereal?”
Bryan, “You’re not having cereal for supper. Pick something else.”

And that’s where our opinions differ. I guess I’ll be making some breakfast meals for supper on the nights Bryan is gone. After all, every child should experience pancakes for supper.

Which side of the line are you on? Breakfast ANY Time of the Day or No Way It’s Only for BREAKFAST!

Are you for or against breakfast for supper?

7 tips to surviving the holiday vacation with small children

Christmas break has begun! Two weeks of pure Christmas bliss. Er, something like that. I expect happiness and tears. Lots of both to be exact. {Maybe from small people and big people!} Here’s how we plan on surviving.

  1. Schedules. Following our normal nap time and bedtime schedules. This is a pretty important key to survival. We can’t create new routines, because it’ll be ridiculous to break that routine when it’s time to go back to work and school. They say it takes 21 days to make a routine habit. For kids it’s accelerated. It takes once. ONE TIME.
  2. Naps. This is more of a parental wish than a way to survive. Apparently four-year-olds only take naps at daycare, so we’ll see how we do with this. We both know it’s the core element of survival, but we’re going to have to be creative about convincing him to do it. And don’t suggest “quiet time.” We’ve been rocking that label for a long time and it doesn’t feel quiet or relaxing. Every two minutes he’s in the living room asking if he can get up yet and promising that he closed his eyes and slept.
  3. Patience. This is just as much for us as it is for them. Neither of them have a lot of patience for the other. When you’re two you don’t have a lot of understanding about sharing and patience. Patience for other humans or patience for toys that just.won’t.go{and stay}.together. The same is true for the four-year-old, except it’s more about having patience with us. He doesn’t understand that we can’t always do something right.this.minute.
  4. Fun. Hopefully Maximus will end a few of the days by saying “we did something fun today!” We’re a little over the phase that we aren’t ever doing anything fun. It turns out there’s a pretty high bar set for four-year-olds. And when we don’t go do something fun, hopefully we have fun around the house. It’s pretty easy to make a four-year-old and two-year-old laugh. We need to remember to do that more. There’s a lot of {little people} fighting and crying in our house so it gets pretty tense and non-fun.
  5. Plans.  We need to have a plan for each day. We may have a few lazy days here and there, but the key to making it through the next two weeks – plans and entertainment. I know we’d both like to accomplish some projects around the house so we feel like we used the “downtime” to get some things done that we wouldn’t normally have time to do. It’s just as much about setting reasonable expectations. We have two extra “helpers” who make things take twice as long.
  6. Us time. We’d both like to start the new year by having some adult time. Going to a movie or out to eat. Being parents is the most draining thing I’ve ever done and it never ends. {It’s the best and worst mixed together!} A few hours away can be so refreshing and uplifting for the spirit.
  7. Exercise and healthy eating. I’ve spent the past few months trying really hard to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. It’s pretty crucial for the next two weeks. We could easily lose our exercise routines and fall into a rhythm of not working out. Since we’ll be off our normal schedules, we may not feel as active as we are during a regular week. With the holiday treats, I want to try to stick close to our clean eating plan. I know there will be lots of sweets, but I hope there are lots of vegetables also! Maybe I’ll even decide to do a freezer day and pre-cook some meals to help future me out a little!

We are so blessed to have time off between Christmas and New Years. We were fortunate this year to have some vacation days to use up so that means extra time spent with our little guys. The days are long but weeks are short. My hope is that this plan will help us soak up every happy minute and keep the tears at bay a little longer.

How are you going to stay sane this holiday break?

7 tips to surviving the holiday vacation with small children

An anniversary we won’t soon forget

Coming home from a 7-day work trip is hard on everyone. Hard for the parent coming home and hard for the parent who has been handling the home. This time I was the one gone and Bryan was wrangling the boys. Of course Maximus spent the first Monday home sick. 😥

We had big plans for my reentry. A football game on Saturday and anniversary afternoon/evening on Monday. It was a great plan until I got sick. With E.Coli. Not a great thing to bring home from a trip. And not a great way to spend a week. Our anniversary plans were cancelled so Bryan could take me to the doctor. We didn’t know it, but the “excitement” was just beginning. After a very painful hour wait, the doctor told me he had to send tests in and wouldn’t give me any medicine until he knew if there was something toxic in my system. Basically, if it was toxic he didn’t want to stop the way my body was getting rid of it. I waited two days for the test results. It was an awful two days. Looking back, we both agreed that I probably should have gone to the ER. But I was told to go in if I had three symptoms and I never had a fever. Just two out of three. 😁

On Wednesday I got a call that it was toxic but they didn’t know what. They gave me an antibiotic to take for five days. It caused immense stomach pain in a different way than I was already having. But on day two I was able to look at my phone without getting dizzy, sit up, and have general thoughts.

On Friday I got a call that it was E.Coli. Either from uncooked food or from an infected person “leaving” behind their grossness. Since I was in a giant hotel for a week, it’s about 50-50 on where it came from. And that grosses me out completely. PEOPLE, WASH YOUR HANDS! It doesn’t matter if I was mine if someone else leaves behind gross things for my clean hands to pick up.

I’ve finished my meds and am going back to work tomorrow. I’ve cleaned my bathroom and washed my sheets. I’ve washed my hands at least 500 times in the last week and I haven’t touched any food that wasn’t handed to me. I finally feel 100% and can stomach the idea of almost all foods. I lost five pounds in four days. I didn’t sleep longer than 45 minutes at a time for two days. I didn’t eat anything for four days and could barely drink anything for at least two.

I can say without a doubt that Bryan and I won’t ever forget our 7th wedding anniversary. We thought having babies and breaking feet were our “through sickness” part. Turns out E.Coli takes the trophy. He’s a great care taker. Even when the boys were both screaming and the dog was barking, he was in my room giving me sips of water. He’s definitely a keeper! And now we need a redo on our anniversary. One where I can eat food and we can be normal.

An anniversary we won’t soon forget

Flashback Friday: One Year Ago

One year ago, I had a four-week-old baby and we took him to a holiday party for Bryan’s department. It’s a no child party, but we were granted an exception for a newborn. And at that time he actually looked like a tiny, skinny newborn. By the next month he was packing on the pounds and looking pretty round. No one would have expected him to be any different from baby Maximus. Looking back, one year ago tonight, I had my first experience of them being different. I was just too tired to realize it.

The party went great, he slept most of the time and we headed home around 10. Bryan stayed because he was celebrating his 30th birthday the next day and we had zero plans because of the newborn. One hour after I got home, and of course just minutes after I went to bed, Quinten was up. I fed him and put him back to sleep. Then he woke up again. I swayed and bounced and fed for over an hour. I finally got him to sleep but was afraid to put him down for fear he’d wake up again. I half sat, half laid down in my bed with him on my chest. I half slept, half stayed awake until Bryan came home at 2 am. In no condition to take care of a baby, he crawled into bed. It was an hour or so later that I woke out of a slight slumber to a confused husband. I of course was 100% sober and way over my consecutive hours awake. I quickly realized that his sense of direction was off and it could be a very bad thing. I quietly tried to wake him enough so he would realize what was going on, while not waking the baby who was still sleeping peacefully on my chest. Making as little movement as possible, I quickly transferred Quinten to the bassinet. {Also known as the super human mommy technique.} I will leave out the details, but I had to be awake for another 45 minutes until I could go to bed and actually fall asleep. This part is a little cloudy, but I know I didn’t get more than 45 minutes of sleep before Quinten was up again. I ended the night with about three hours of broken sleep before Maximus got up. Much later in the afternoon we realized that Bryan was hungover AND had the flu. It wasn’t his best birthday, and to be honest, was not my favorite day. I was exhausted, had a demanding newborn, a demanding toddler, and a sick husband. Of course the baby was on a rotation of eating every two-three hours and sleeping in between. However, the toddler was not on that same routine so I didn’t get to sleep.

That night was the first of many sleepless nights in our house. Quinten hadn’t been sleeping prior to that night, but this was the first time that he had required a lot of extra work to get to sleep. We headed down a solid month or more of swaying, bouncing, feeding, and rocking to try to get him past the 8-10 pm hours of crying. He proved to be very different from his brother. He took part in the common “witching hour” that some babies bless their innocent parents with. It was then that we decided he was going to require work. This night sticks out for many tiring and not happy reasons, but they are so vivid in my brain. I can remember the feeling of despair, the frustrating at my husband, and the sheer exhaustion of trying to get Quinten to sleep when all I wanted to do was sleep myself. I can still feel the heat of his little body laying on my chest, with the dog curled up at my feet. The feeling of being “stuck” in my own bed and not sure exactly what I should do. Wanting to do the “right” thing to keep him sleeping and nervous about him being in our bed. {I’m not a co-sleeper basically out of sheer fright that something bad will happen.} I can still feel the panic in my chest when I realized my husband was going to throw up and I wasn’t sure he would get his bearings to go the other direction out of bed. I’m not sure I can accurately describe this night of exhaustion as there have been so many since. Either way, I know what exhaustion feels like. I know what it feels like to have three hours of broken sleep and then be coherent enough to take care of things or people.

It’s real life, not always sunshine and roses, but we made it through. One year later, I hope most of this story doesn’t unfold again. While Quinten has made great strides in sleeping, he has recently had two molars poke through so he’s back to waking up at night. I expect to see him at some point this evening, after the fun of the party has worn off and I’m in a deep sleep. I fully expect to be tired tomorrow when both my children wake up too early for a weekend. I hope that tomorrow I can put on a smile, take care of my boys, and let my husband sleep in. After all, he has a reason to celebrate. Not only will he be another year older on Sunday, but we made it through a really tough year with a baby who didn’t sleep and a toddler who was finding his way in our new family! I think we all came out for the better and they are both a little more behaved.

Parenting makes you feel like you’re on top of the highest mountain and stuck in the deepest sea all in the same moment. The whole thing really is a miracle.

Flashback Friday: One Year Ago

Date Night

We haven’t gone on too many dates since having kids. It’s all part of the deal and for the most part we’re ok with that. Do we really want to get out sometimes, yes. Are we able to, sometimes. We have had to miss all kinds of fun things because of our kids and that’s ok, too. We try to do other stuff at home to make up for the one-on-one time that we miss out on. We go on walks, we watch the sunset from our deck after the boys have gone to bed, we watch tv series after the boys have gone to bed, and we try to do things together during nap time. (To be honest, that last one rarely happens. We just tried to wash the cars but Quinten woke up and joined us outside. Then, Maximus watched from the window and eventually came outside. So, neither took a nap today.)

Last week we had a very last-minute date night. With zero kids and we drove out-of-town! During a previous date night (where we were working), we bought tickets to Fleetwood Mac. It was a charity auction so we got four tickets. Bryan is the musician in the family and loves all things music. I had a softball game the night of the concert so I told him he could take friends. He ended up not being able to find anyone to go so he was going to skip the concert. The morning of I asked my mom if she could babysit until really late, on a work night. She willingly accepted the chance to see the boys. Then, I had to find a sub for my softball game. Thankfully, I was able to find one. As luck would have it, one of my friends had her mother-in-law in town and we found one more sub for the softball game. In a matter of hours, we went from a normal ol’ night on Leger Lane, to having a double-date out-of-town!

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We didn’t realize how much we needed a night out. We left our babies in very capable hands and didn’t look back. 😉 We had a drink and appetizers before the concert. Then, I finally got to have a Daiquri at the concert. I’ve been craving a frozen drink for the last year! It was delicious. Oh, and the concert was good, too. 😉 They played for at least two hours. How they do it, is beyond me. I was really tired the next day, but it was nice to get out of the house for a few hours and enjoy the beautiful evening with my husband and friends!

Date Night