Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nettie's 2013 Brag-n-Gag: We've Gone Electronic!

About a year ago, I discovered a wonderful poignant CD titled Enjoy Every Sandwich. It was a tribute album to the late Warren Zevon (of “Werewolves of London” fame). The title comes from a remark he made to David Letterman in his last appearance on that show, not too long after he announced his diagnosis of terminal mesothelioma. Letterman asked him what sort of knowledge he’d learned from his illness, and this was his response:

"You know I always kinda thought I did that. I really always enjoyed myself. But it’s more valuable now. You’re reminded to enjoy every sandwich and every minute.” ― Warren Zevon

"Enjoy every sandwich": the words are few but powerful. Nothing in life can ever be taken for granted. Every moment is a golden opportunity for love, kindness, growth, compassion, empathy. It is a moment to embrace the hopeful, the uplifting — and to walk away from all that would drag us into dark and despair. I admit that there have been way too many times when I have failed in this. Most mornings, I try to post something positive on Facebook, an uplifting thought or quote. I do this as my small contribution to making the world a better place, but I also do it sometimes to needle the person who needs it most: ME.

This year has been trying for me and I haven’t talked much about it except with my closest of friends. I've had some health issues rear their ugly heads all year long, especially between multiple sinus infections and recurrent migraines. There are still no answers yet, and you can imagine this is creating even more unnecessary stress (which leads to another headache round, on and on in a vicious cycle it goes).

"The Year of Change”: a perfect way to describe my 2013. Somewhere the Universe got the idea to say, “Let’s see what we can sling at her this year and see how much she can take." But guess what? I was able to take a good bit. I am not defeated. I am a little discouraged at times, but I am a fighter. I may stumble around the ring a bit, but I will get up again if I fall. And I will strive each day to be a better person than I was the day before. I will do whatever is in my power to make the world a better place, to make even one person smile, to make him or her think for just a moment. If for some people, I’m simply an example of what not to do or who they don’t want to be, so be it. I will bless them and wish them well. What they think of me, at day’s end, is not my concern. What I think of me, when I see my reflection just before I turn out the light …. that, that is my business.

And I will enjoy every sandwich, every laugh, every tear, every person, every moment. I will treasure every encounter. I will hold fast to the good and ignore the bad. I will savor life, in all its glories and its trials. Make 2014 the year that you do so as well

So what really happened in my 2013?

Well, for starters I still have a job, for which I am very grateful, having gone through yet another transition. Just a few weeks ago, we had to do a re-alignment of roles and responsibilities, and so I have moved to customer service, assisting in a wide variety of areas: everything from orders to onsite repairs. I’m still learning the ins and outs of that job, and helping with payroll upload as we continue to transition. It's been neat to see exactly how it all ties in with a lot of the work I'd done before.

I also still work for Weight Watchers, at my Saturday morning meeting. There’s something about helping people: it’s not just the weight loss or the healthier lifestyles they embrace. For so many, it’s about finding themselves, perhaps as a re-discovery and sometimes as a person they didn’t even know they could be. That’s what makes that 2 hours a week so rewarding. To play even a small role in their journey makes it all worthwhile.

For all the travel I did last year, this year was more a stay-at-home time. I made another trip to beautiful Damascus, Virginia this spring to finish the other portion of the Virginia Creeper Trail that I began last fall. That second half of the trail was a doozy (very, very flat!), but it was worth all the pedaling to be out there in some of the prettiest countryside! My other big trip this year was a camping adventure on Hunting Island with my dog, Maddox. If you want the real skinny on the trip, just check out the October 14 post below — it details all the hilarity and hijinks. Let me preview in a few words: Migraine. Raccoon. No-see-ums. And the fun ensues...

Earlier this year, I got the bright idea that I needed to have some pictures made of myself—at least a photo shoot that didn’t involve the words, “And now which picture would you like to go into the church directory?” So I booked a session with an outfit called “Trashy Betty Photography” specializing in vintage-style/pinup photos. Melissa (the photographer) was awesome! She dolled me up and we took pictures around Liberty with just a few props and some old abandoned buildings. I got to see myself in a whole different perspective, a face I don’t always recognize when I look in the mirror. Sure, there are a few more lines than when I was 20, but I’ve also gotten a lot wiser since then. So ladies especially, I encourage you to have some photos made of just yourself sometime, without the kids, without the hubs, and just revel in the beauty that you possess and don’t always recognize.

Only a few 5K’s this year: it’s very hard to work them in when most are held on Saturday mornings, and you work at that time! I did the Resolution Run on New Year’s Eve. And this spring, I took part in a very special race called “Emily’s OWL (Opportunity Without Limits) Run” — a benefit run for the daughter of some folks with whom I went to high school, a young lady battling brain cancer at age 12. So very, very glad to report that Emily’s Run was a success, and so was Emily’s treatment. She is now cancer-free, and getting back in the swing of life. The organizers hope to do it again this coming year, to benefit another child battling cancer. I didn’t get to do my Jingle Bell Jog that I always look forward to — it was still run, but in the middle of a pouring rain. As much as I love it, I’m not driving a half-hour to walk in the rain! :)  But I’m looking forward to doing a few more 5K’s in 2014...

As always, if you find yourself in the Upstate SC area even for a short time, please let me know — I would dearly love to see you! Please stay in touch, and never fail to take the time and opportunity to tell others how much they mean to you. I am so blessed to know that you have crossed my path and made a difference!

With that, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with goodness, light, warmth, and grateful hearts! And really, make time to enjoy every sandwich...


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Journey through my head....

It usually starts with a little tightness in my shoulders and neck.... that steadily increases. And then yawning, when I'm not tired. Face-ache? Maybe.... A little ear pain? Sure, why not? And the awful sense that maybe this is yet another sinus infection, or even an ear infection. Everything feels blocked, somehow.

Then the soldiers march...... They go up my right side of my neck and park themselves squarely behind my eyes, and my only response is to squint -- just what I need for the tension in my neck and shoulders too. Lights hurt. Sounds don't hurt but I just wish they'd diminish a little..... whisper please. If you looked at me head-on, you might think it was the hangover from a hellacious bender. And smells? Oh God no!!! I need air. Deep breathing isn't possible, only normalish that somehow phases into shallower breathing. And ALL you want to do is sleep. Precious, precious sleep might be what helps this infernal beast subside.

Neck and shoulder massages at this point don't really help at all ..... sometimes, it makes it even worse, almost like the tension and knots are holding back a dam of toxins or nerve signals. Heat? Oh gosh no, that will cause a violent reaction. Cold, yes, please. Ice packs to the neck and shoulders. Yes, I'm shivering now but the alternative is worse. I'd rather BE cold right now. It might freeze out everything.

And just when you think a certain physical reaction should, could, ought to happen...... no. No. Nothing happens. You almost pray to please, please, just let it happen so you can sleep it off, but no. It doesn't come. All you can do is remain perfectly still except for your own breathing. You dare not move a pinkie finger for fear that it will trigger that particular reaction. You don't move your head because the room may spin. You just lie still. Silent prayers of "Please, please, please" echoing from your heart .......

A well-meaning person comes and asks if you're okay and all you can do is grunt disapprovingly, as if to say, "DO I LOOK IT?" but it's more a plea of "please, go, go, go. I love you but GO! Every noise you make pounds and echoes like a cannon in my brain and ears!"

After a while, you do fall asleep..... you may wake up fine. You may not. This may be a short episode. It may last for days. It may reach that lovely sick-as-a-dog level (which means it is finally broken and on the way to leaving you) or it may stay that annoying little sibling in the backseat with you who says, "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you...." while his/her finger circles within millimeters of your face.

This, friends, is the guts of what happens to me during a migraine. I've experienced more of them this year than I can count, it seems. My only sure trigger? Changing weather patterns. Everything else is fair game, but not necessarily guaranteed to induce one..... strong smells. Too much stress. Hot weather. Cold weather. Most of my attacks tend to begin in the afternoon and carry through the evening, but I've woken with them before. I've been at work at 10:00 AM and had one hit. I never know. I've had them hit me like a ton of bricks, and others have built for hours or days, even.

And almost always the right side.

Twice so far this week. My meds are a muscle relaxant combined with an analgesic/caffeine combo. It's not working anymore.

I have nearly had it. Except I'm a fighter. I'm a detective. I am determined to find out why, and how I can fix this (as much as possible). But right now, all I can do is hate it with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns.