Tag Archives: headache

A challenging few weeks

22 Sep

11:10 am

I just wanted to check in to say, hi, howdy, hope all is well with everyone!

In brief, I have been suffering…from pain, like, full body pain. I’ve gone from being an athlete who stands at her desk most of the day, walks the dog (well, with no more dog, I walk myself), AND goes for a jog or swim/soak every day. SURE, that’s a lot, and I do have probably above-average aches and pains. BUT, since last week, the symptoms of achey joints and malaise that I wrote about all the way back in late July–and have only kept getting worse since then–took a turn for the much worse!

Last Tuesday was the last day I could jog–or walk–without pain. I also had some weird neurological stuff going on Friday through Sunday, but thankfully, that’s gone. (I had headache; cognitive difficulties; changes to vision, hearing; anxiety–um, happily, living through many years of active alcoholism and ridiculous hangovers prepped me well to endure feeling like I was losing my mind for a few days!) It is scary and it sucks! I have been trying to not take anything (no pain meds, no CBD) and see how I feel, but every day, I wake up feeling a burning ache in my entire leg muscles, lower back, and joint pain pretty much everywhere.

I thought it was that my old chikungunya infection (from 2014; it comes back now and then, with mild symptoms) had resurfaced, but, that usually doesn’t last for more than a few days; and, this leg muscle pain is definitely not how that feels. I have a hunch/obsession that this is all due to the estrogen patch–strangely, the same week I put my first patch on is the week that these pains started. But, I don’t know. I mean, how can one know? Maybe THIS is menopause and I need more estrogen (higher patch dose). Maybe this is the patch side effects–and I just need to give it more time? I’ve been on it for about 10 weeks, and the pain has just increasingly gotten worse. I don’t know.

I am starting what I would call my “diagnostic odyssey” on Wednesday by going to see a general doctor to rule out some of the obvious–Covid, Lyme’s, maybe some common sources of bacterial or viral arthritis, possibly some common autoimmune diseases, like, RA and lupus. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? I am SO new to this menopause and hormone replacement stuff that any ideas would be welcome. All I know is, this cannot be my life for the next 40 or (hopefully) 50 years.

Otherwise, things are going pretty well! I’ve been working steadily since the start of this month, and while I haven’t gotten paid yet (gotta love contracting and/or freelancing!), it’s coming. As for the Covid, we’ve re-opened a little bit here, with restos at limited capacity, some establishments open; bars are still closed, and there might be a universal mask order put in place soon (meaning, masks all the time, everywhere). I have been too busy and in too much pain to really do much in the outside world the past week, but, that’s what I’ve heard/read is going on.

I hope everyone is doing well. I have to say, after joining a few menopause Facebook groups, you guys a refreshingly SANE bunch–so, thank you for being part of my world!

Another day…

11 Aug

11:53 am

…and, I am simply grateful!

Our beloved doggay has lived to see another day–in fact, she’s sleeping peacefully (?) in “her spot” in front of the door, and has only been between there and one of her beds since 3 am (when I finally stopped eating mac and cheese, used my slow-breathing technique–in for 5 seconds, hold for 10, out for 5–to cool down, and went back to bed to fall asleep). She actually stayed down for four hours, according to my boo, who got up at 7 to let her out.

(Btw, the bonus of being up at 3 in the morning is that I get to see Venus rise. If you haven’t seen Venus right now, rising above the northeastern horizon in the pre-dawn hour, you are in for a treat: it is shockingly bright, beaming from the sky like another moon, and huge. It’s a HUGE spot in the sky. I saw a shooting star–the Perseid meteor shower is going down right now–and noticed how high Mars was in the sky compared to the moon, rising later and later every night. Finally, I was also able to watch my girl doze, her head slightly illuminated in the waning moonlight, thinking, gosh, she is sweet. Fierce. And still here.)

Granted, all this sleeping on her part has been made possible ONLY by the trazadone we dosed her with around 9 pm last night. I have to accept the fact that she will likely exist in what I believe to be a drug induced-haze from here on out (maybe erroneously; I just hate having to med her up so much), but, it’s SO much better to sleep from 3 to 9 than to have her waking me up every hour on the hour, yelping for help to get up to switch beds.

So, she lives to see another day. And, I am grateful.

On another note, as I am inundated again with daily COVID news, I have to wonder: Have my aching, burning joints and body parts (entire feet, not just ankles) and frequent headaches been caused by COVID? Like, is this my experience with it? I am not going to get any tests (I don’t see the point in either an antibody or virus test, right now), so I guess I shouldn’t bother myself wondering, but… It’s been weeks, actually, since I’ve had joint pain, and I’ve had these headaches (usually in the mornings, but not always) on a somewhat regular basis. I never get headaches, so, they make me go, hmm/wtf, ouch, this hurts!

I don’t know. The symptoms seem so varied now, considering the descriptions of more and more COVID survivors; I guess I’ll just assume that my chikungunya (the mosquito-borne viral infection I got six summers ago) has resurged because my immunity was affected by lack of sleep, or stress, or heartache (my doggie!); and, hope that I am not infected with the coronavirus.

Falling off the wagon..so YOU DON’T HAVE TO

21 Sep

2:31 pm

For real. The only good that can come of falling off (where art thou, sparkle-toothed unicorn?) the wagon A THIRD TIME is so that you, my dear readers and friends, don’t have to.

DON’T GO THERE. DRINKING SOLVES NOTHING. IT IS A TRICK OF THE MIND. IT IS A WASTE OF TIME. YOU DON’T NEED IT AND IT TASTES LIKE MOUTHWASH.

I think I just felt overwhelmed by my cravings, the voice in my head, and the resisting. I felt tired of resisting. So, I hurriedly uncorked a bottle and drank it. All of it. I was barely remembering things (didn’t take much, which is scary — what is wrong with my brain if it only takes three (huge) glasses of red wine to black me out?) when I ran (literally, I’m guessing) to the corner store to buy another. I did not finish that one, mainly because I must have passed out. I don’t remember.

Ahh. LOVELY hangover. Yes, I remember this feeling. Oh, yes. Drinking two Diet Cokes and weeping about my upcoming death. I remember this feeling. Stumbling around, finding a demolished pair of (expensive) glasses on the floor, checking my wallet to make sure that nothing’s missing, seeing wine stains on my floor and table. Yes, I remember this! Crawling to the bathroom only to heave myself back to bed. Yes. Ringing bells? Oh, yes. Crouching over my stove as I make ramen, forcing it down because I know I need something in there but nothing fills the hole and nothing will the entire day. Check. Crying some more and whining and wailing on the phone to my boyfriend who, thankfully, thinks nothing less of me and even thinks I deserve better. Yup. MISSING my fucking deadline because I can barely think, let alone write what I need to write. Done and done.

Do you remember that feeling? Is it coming back? Oh, yes.

I don’t even care about the fact that I missed my second 5 weeks (would have been 35 days today) again. What bothers me most is that my brain is simply depressed — not even sad, just void of feeling or thoughts. And, all I want is for the day — and hangover — to be over with. Waiting it out is all and will be all I’ll be doing today.

Wow, drinking really fucks up my mental landscape. What was a lovely painting with serene (pink) clouds has now become a grey wash of confusion, suicidal ideation, and nonsense. ? WTF, drinking?

(And, why do I have a memory of the corner store owner standing next to me, helping me pick out my wine? Was I standing there, in my druken stupor, unable to do it myself? Or, was he just being friendly and helpful? NO IDEA.)

Key points of this latest round?

I realize now that I don’t need to go it alone, that I DO NEED HELP, and that I need to ask for it.

I realize now that I shouldn’t isolate myself to the point of mental breakdown.

I realize now that what I wanted last night was escape — from the obsession to drink, I think, more than the overwhelming thoughts and feelings about life and people, in general.

I realize now that I USE WINE to escape and that one, I need new coping mechanisms, two, wine is my vehicle/tool, and three, there really shouldn’t be anything to “escape from,” if I’m doing it right.

I need help. But first, I need to get through this hangover.

Readers, if you’re thinking of falling off, just come here and read this. I have done it for you so that you don’t have to! It’s like riding a bike — no, it’s like falling off. It hurts every time and the feeling is never different! FUCK THAT BIKE! STAY ON THE WAGON.

Shamanic journeying through acupuncture? Yes, yes, YES!

18 Sep

11:43 am

Wow. Another KUH-RAZY experience during my acupuncture session yesterday!

(Warning: Psychobabble ahead.)

So, I’ve been to acupuncture three times now (with a new, and highly trained, it seems, therapist). Each time, I noticed an near-instantaneous buzzing feeling all over my body, and an immediate “delving” into self — the physiologic calm that acupuncture provides turns on my brain and makes me able to think deeper, more profound thoughts. Thoughts I’ve been putting off — or dreading, and therefore, TURNING OFF.

Yesterday, I realized that I’m a trauma survivor. I know, I know. WHATchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis? Come ON, DDG, give me a buh-reak! Seriously. I grew up within a very volatile, ugly marriage. My parents would yell and scream and sometimes even wield knives (true story). Everyone knew. They’d often tell us to go outside and “play,” which was code for, We’re going to shut the windows and scream at each other now. It was usually my mom screaming at my dad, and it usually happened when we were in bed, “sleeping.” It usually ended with her thrusting our living room doors closed with a loud BANG, and going to bed alone while my dad slept on the couch.

This went on for as long as I can remember (from about 5 to when they finally separated at 14). It was ugly. I would often and regularly hear things like, “Go fuck yourself if you even know how.” When they’d fight at night, I would weep in my bed. Silently. I learned how to cry really hard without making a sound. I was afraid, and I was also ashamed — my brothers slept in the same room (we had no doors on our two-bedroom upstairs), and I never heard them make a sound, so how horrible would it be if I did? Repression was the name of the game.

(I often wonder why kids blame themselves, or at least, internalize their parents’ anger and guilt and sadness when it comes to divorce? Here’s what I now think (thanks to my acupuncture “meditation”): kids KNOW that they represent the connection between their biological (and perhaps even nonbiological) parents. They know that they somehow make up each, and are (or were, LOL) the union between them. Thus, if there is a schism between the two, it’s somehow their fault. Somehow, it comes back to them, and they feel/take on the responsibility to “fix it.” It’s hard to explain, but I definitely KNOW that this is true, on an emotional level, even though intellectually — even as a kid, when we were told again and again that it wasn’t our fault — I might not believe it.)

As you can imagine, this kind of environment came with a lot of not-talking-about-the-elephant-in-the-room, tiptoeing around landmines, and (guessed at) battle lines not being crossed. I spent a good part of my teens feeling VERY ashamed and full of self-loathing (I had entire notebooks of hate poems to myself), and I wonder if that isn’t related to other, deeper trauma, but anyway… The trauma was never properly dealt with, I now believe. It was never confronted, handled, resolved, on the level that I needed it to be. So, I think I’ve spent my entire life putting up that early-learned stance, the one of me crouched, gut clenched, breath held, arms covering my face — ready for the punch. I was never physically abused, but I think emotional and psychological abuse — however inadvertant — can be just as bad. I know it was for me.

As I lay on the table, I realized that perhaps I have been hiding from this trauma my whole life, as a way to “make it” or “live my life,” never realizing that I hadn’t fully embraced it. And, without having fully accepted what happened to me, I was never able to let it go. Like, it now seems that ALL of my jobs, ALL of my romantic relationships have been situations that have helped SERVE my denial, my hiding from the trauma. (Hiding from being overly sensitive? Find a partner who doesn’t seem to notice anything! Not wanting to deal with feeling unloved? Become an overachiever and work yourself to the bone!) And, drinking has not only been a way of hiding from it when it bubbled up too close to the surface, but also a way to *experience* it. Too bad I was digging in the wrong hole.

Digging in the wrong hole? There came a point toward the end (last two or three years) of my blackouts where I was wanting the release, the unguarded expression of what I thought were authentic feelings. I wanted to express my trauma, but I was using booze to do it and that only served to hide myself from it further. On the table, I saw how traumatized I was as little girl. I saw myself on the table, and I saw the little girl (almost as a dream, but more real). I wanted to go and hug her and tell her she had nothing to be afraid of, that she was protected. I felt sorry for her. Which made me see clearly that, for some reason, as a little girl I think I just never felt protected. And I never realized this could have trickled down into every corner of the rest of my life. Yet, it has. Hence, the panic stance that I’ve been carrying myself in my entire life.

It was then that I realized that the “soul retrieval” aspect to shamanic journeying is not such the load of bullshit that I thought it was! Like, I honestly felt that I had been living in two “pieces” my whole life, one being myself, the person who works and lives and loves and tries to make it through life; and the other, the little girl self, the one who has been stuck back there, living in that trauma day in and day out for the past 33 years! In journeying, they say that soul retrieval is about picking up a part of your lost self and fusing/fixing the splintered whole, or schism, within. I need to subsume that girl and make us whole again, I thought. (Have you ever seen “Insidious?” Astral travel? Along those lines.) By doing so, I realized that yes, my trauma can be ended, that it IS over, that I don’t have to keep trying to find it OR hide from it via booze and blacking out.

I felt really sad, very emotional (cried all afternoon), and well, tired. I went to bed at 9 pm and finally dragged myself out 12 hours later. I woke up with a huge headache (that may be a caffeine headache, though). In essence, I felt hung over. BUT, I felt like I really did have a powerful experience of healing that has MADE ME WANT TO DRINK TO BLACKOUT LESS.

This is profound, to me. It makes me see that rehabilitation surrounding booze IS real and CAN work. It flies in the face of “rational recovery,” which basically says that there is nothing behind your drinking besides your selfish, overindulgent hand. NOT THE CASE. I honestly believe, at this moment, that drinking to excess would NOT be preferable to me now, mainly because I no longer need to dig deep to bring out that trauma; I’ve recognized it, and now, I can let it go. Wishful thinking?

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to drink — or even want to — but it does mean that I’ve finally begun feeling the real, authentic shit behind my desire to black out, which in essence, means that I won’t be striving — secretly wanting to simultaneously fill AND empty the void — to black out when I drink. Which means, this desire may have nothing to do with the substance itself. Which may mean that in a few months, or years, from now, I WILL be able to pick up a glass of wine and put it down. Wishful thinking? Maybe. Maybe not.

Another lethargic day…

23 Aug

5:15 pm

Maybe I need to change my diet? Take a nap? The thought of doing any work makes me feel anxious and makes my head feel like it’s inflating more and and more with air. I wonder if I have a migraine? Doubt it; it’s not as much pain as I feel nauseated and dizzy, like I’m sea sick. And, I can’t seem to concentrate on typing this, let alone slog through my anxiety over flying “home” to [cold west coast city] (where I haven’t been living since June) and working, for real, on science writing stuff. Takes a brain. Don’t have a brain.

When I get back, I think I’m going to go on a strict diet of low-sugar, no meat. I’ve been drinking WAY too much Diet Coke since I quit drinkin’, and honestly, I think it’s worse — much worse — for me than the loads of wine I was taking in. Granted, the wine gives me liver problems, steals brain cells, and makes my belly fat, but…what the fuck does Diet Coke do? I know for SURE that it’s making me addicted to it, and to sugar, in a way that feels (well, yesterday it felt) almost “diabetic.” The urge to eat a sugary muffin yesterday before I felt like I was about to pass out was startingly strong. I can’t help but crave sweets now that I’m not drinking, and it’s been taking all my willpower to eat well and not replace the binge drinking with the occasional binge eating. All in all, I’ve had a very healthful summer, but lately, I’ve fallen off the wagon when it comes to moderating my diet soda intake as well as working out. Can’t WAIT to get that goin’ on again when I get back. Yoga, jogging, hiking, and possibly some swimming…same as here, but on the regular. And more of it.

Jesus, my head hurts. Feels swollen inside, is making me want to close or squint my eyes in order to see straight. Hmm…

Working and alcohol withdrawal = TMI!

22 Aug

4:03 pm

So, I was looking up long-term (or, as the doctors call it, “post-acute”) withdrawal symptoms for long-term alcohol abuse, and how long they last. Ugh. Nothing specific, but it seems more than likely that it could last for months, or longer! I think I definitely have some of these symptoms, like mood swings, general sluggishness, inability to focus, a lack of efficiency in my entire thought process, and now, a headache-ness (neck, back, and head pain that feels like vertigo and/or sea sickness) that is hard to work around. The headache is bizarre simply cuz I never get headaches. I doubt it’s got anything to do with withdrawal, but…I did feel ill and a general “detox”-type feeling for the first month or so after I quit drinkin’, so who knows?

I know I should be patient; I will have to be in order to “re-enter” my world of science writing and journalism. I haven’t worked in journalism since 2010 and haven’t worked a real job since early this year. Journalism takes a LOT of editing skills when it comes to information absorption, and the entire process of “keeping up” on news and journals can be more labor intensive, mentally speaking, than learning the actual presented information. Ack, fucking information! TOO MUCH OF IT. Plus, maybe I’m legitimately overwhelmed with the amount of changes that I’ve subjected myself to over the past year, as well as the number of decisions I have to make soon (I’m moving, starting my own freelancing business, looking forward to possibly traveling and/or long-term volunteering in the next few months, getting sober)…

Anyway, the point is, do headaches come with the territory? And, how long will the withdrawal symptoms, mainly the mood swings, the lack of “wham-bam” energy, and the indecision/feeling overwhelmed and overloaded by the smallest of things, last?

Plus, wasn’t I over the worst of it, having gone 60 days like, a week or so ago? (I’m on day 71 minus 2…)

(I *am* additionally distracted, though, by the fact that we’re looking down on Isaac, which as of an hour ago, was going to be passing by our island as a tropical storm! I’ve never lived through a storm or a hurricane, so that could get interesting.)

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