Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Tape a banana peel to your forehead and call me in the morning.

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Have you ever gone to bed in a dark room for a couple days? Wanted to pull out all your teeth? Had visions of cutting a block out of the side of your own skull? Ever sat at your desk holding your fist firmly against one eyebrow? If you’ve had a migraine, chances are you’ve done at least one of these things or something similar.

When I was younger and had more frequent migraines, there were days I would sit and think about the pressure relief I could get if I could just cut a block out of my skull. It just seemed that if I could make a little more room for my brain, the pain would stop. I wasn’t willing to go to that extreme to get rid of a migraine, but I did some kooky stuff.

If you have migraines, you understand the pain I’m talking about. If you have been fortunate enough to never have migraines, it’s likely you know someone who does, and the pain is real. It’s something you can never understand if you haven’t experienced it, but you can empathize.

I started getting migraines when I was 22 years old. I still remember my first one. I was visiting a friend when suddenly one side of my head HURT. I told my friend I needed to go home and drove myself the 25 minutes to my house. FIRST, do not do that. *If you are experiencing the worst headache you’ve ever experienced, call your doctor or go to the ER. It can be a sign of something very serious.*

When I was a little girl, my mother had migraines but called them “sick headaches,” an accurate description since they do make the sufferer feel sick. Medication options were limited. I’m sure there were doctors who prescribed valium or “tranquilizers,” as people called them back then, but she had children to take care of, so she was afraid to take anything that might impair her ability to do that. Even when I was 22, options were limited. I suffered for eight years before getting a medication that worked.

banana-peel-1329335-639x406In those eight years, I would try anything anyone suggested. Over-the -counter pain relievers? Check. Tape a banana peel to my forehead? Check. Put my feet in a warm bath while icing my head? Check. Ice pack on my wrists/neck? Check. Drink warm water with cayenne pepper? Check. Acupuncture? Check. Magnesium and riboflavin supplements? Check.

Some of these things might have helped a little, but as soon as I pulled the tape off that banana peel, I felt worse. (That’s a joke; the banana peel didn’t help at all, but I did try it.)

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When I turned 30, I went to a new doctor who prescribed a relatively new drug, a vasoconstrictor. My life changed. As soon as I felt a migraine coming on, I would take a tablet, and it worked…for a while. After that, there were other meds that worked, but I seemed to build up a resistance to them. Eventually, I did find one that has continued to work for me (knock wood).

One thing that helped me along the way was to figure out what triggered my migraines. Of course, lots of them were hormonal. However, some were triggered by things I could control: alcohol, sun glare, flashing lights, loud music, sudden noises, sugar, sourdough bread, caffeine, lack of caffeine, fumes, wine, lack of sleep, hunger, MSG, Aspartame…it’s crazy. Others were triggered by weather. Barometric pressure change? Migraine. (You can check the migraine index on accuweather.com for virtually any city.) The first trimester of pregnancy was the worst with migraines, because they were terrible, and I couldn’t take medication for them. (Miraculously, after the first trimester, I didn’t have any more migraines during pregnancy.) It’s important for you to isolate what triggers your migraines, but it’s not always easy. Keep a food/migraine diary for 30 days and see if you can find some links.

For me, making a few small changes helped. I started wearing sunglasses anytime I stepped outdoors in sunlight, decreasing the risk of glare. When I go to a restaurant, I never face the window; I can’t risk the glare. Instead of bourbon (my favorite), I started drinking vodka, because I didn’t get migraines when I drank it instead (I generally have only one or two alcoholic beverages a week, tops.) I would drink Prosecco instead of Champagne or wine, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m able to drink those too.

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Something that seemed to make a big change in the frequency of migraines was spinach. Who knew? I added more spinach to my diet, and within a month, I noticed fewer migraines! But it’s not just spinach; any green vegetable seems to help, so I try to eat as much broccoli and spinach as I can.

As for the hormonal migraines, my doctor prescribed birth control pills and suggested I skip the placebos and go right into the next active pills. I’m not saying this would work for everyone, but it did decrease the frequency of my migraines tremendously. ***ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR…I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL***

If you suffer with migraines, you will need to find your own triggers, but you might find some of my triggers are the same as yours.

Interestingly, lack of caffeine and too much caffeine are both triggers for me, but moderate caffeine can actually help. If I feel a migraine coming on, I take my medicine and follow it with a little caffeine in the form of a small cup of coffee or tea. A moderate amount of caffeine seems to make the medication work a little more quickly for me.

I still get the occasional migraine, but now that I’m 50, they are much less frequent (knock wood), so look to the future! My mother and my doctors had always told me they would likely decrease in frequency and severity as I got older, and they were right. So, there are some benefits to getting older. Actually, there are lots of benefits to getting older, but that’s another post.

If your friends or family members suffer from migraines, please remember, their pain is real. If you are the one suffering, I’m sorry. I truly feel your pain. I’ve spent days in bed in   the dark. I’ve never loved to hear other people are suffering, but it was always comforting to know other people understood what I was feeling. I have a friends who suffer from migraines as well, so it’s a common topic of conversation. Talk with your doctor about your pain.

In the meantime, tape a banana peel to your forehead and call me in the morning.

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An Old Friend and a Cute Waiter

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Presidents’ Day is behind us for 2018. It’s a long weekend that usually isn’t too memorable. In 2013, it was memorable. My friend, Angela, and her daughter came from Montgomery, Alabama, to visit us in Charlotte. Her daughter was ten at the time, and mine was nine. We wanted to have fun with them but also have plenty of time to chat. It turned out to be an awesome weekend, and we still talk about it.

Before they came up, Angela and I planned things over the phone. My daughter loves Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC (if you have kids, you need to check it out, click here), but Angela’s daughter had never been. We decided that would be our first stop. After numerous visits, I realized it’s a great place for kids to play while parents relax. *More info about Great Wolf Lodge at bottom of page*

They arrived on the Friday of Presidents’ Day weekend, and we drove up to Great Wolf Lodge, where the water park is indoors, and it’s always a balmy 84 degrees. Angela and I have been friends since college, more than 30 years. Our favorite activity is catching up and laughing about old times. So we did. The girls had fun in the water park.

After a night or two in the warm temperatures of Great Wolf Lodge, we drove from Concord, to Boone, NC, to enjoy some snow tubing. What a weather change it was! On our way to Boone, we encountered what we, two Alabama girls, called a “blizzard”!
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When we arrived at our hotel in Boone, temperatures were in the single digits. We had a reservation for snow tubing the next day at one of the local places.

The next morning, we got up, planning to go tubing, but when we called to reconfirm, they had halted operations due to high winds. We decided to visit some shops in downtown Boone and get some extra gear, since it was colder than expected.

When we all got hungry, we stepped into Macado’s, a casual restaurant in downtown Boone (for info on Macado’s, click here). It was staffed by college students from Appalachian State University, and one of the waiters took us to a table. He came back a little later and introduced himself as Ricky (I remember names really well), stumbling over his words a little. He then apologized, saying, “I’m sorry. I’m a little off my game today. I had a car accident on the way to work, and to top it off, I have a date tonight with a girl who’s way out of my league.” It broke the ice; we chuckled and of course, sympathized with him.

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He turned out to be very sweet and attentive. The girls ordered straight from the kids menu. Mine is a picky eater, so she ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and french fries. Ricky asked, “Want me to cut off the crust?” My daughter’s face lit up, “Yes!” He won the moms’ hearts with his car accident/out-of-my-league-girl quip, and he had just won the girls’ hearts with that question. Their faces lit up again when he delivered their hot chocolate “with extra whipped cream and marshmallows” he said he made specially for them. I don’t even remember what Angela and I ordered, but we were happy.

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We enjoyed our meal and shelter from the cold for a while. I called another snow tubing location (Sugar Mountain Resort, for info, click here) and found out they were open, so we decided to get moving. Ricky brought the bill. Angela and I discussed it and decided to try to turn his day around. We left him a fat tip…hoping he’d be able to take out-of-his-league-girl on an impressive date. And then, we left, thanking him on our way out the door.

Stepping back into the frigid temps was a shock to the system, even in all the gear we were wearing, but we were on a mission to go tubing. The wind stung my face and made my eyes water. We were about a block from the restaurant when we heard someone calling behind us, “Ma’am! Ma’am!” We turned around to see Ricky, wearing his uniform and no coat, chasing us…in single-digit temperatures and strong wind! I thought for a second I must have left my credit card behind. Then, I heard him calling, “Thank you! Thank you so much for the great tip!” Oh my! So sweet. I yelled through the wind while waving for him to go back to the restaurant, “Our pleasure! Go back inside! We hope you have fun on your date tonight!” He smiled, waved, and ran back to the warmth of the restaurant.

We walked to our car, smiling. He made our girls happy with special crustless PB&Js. He made us, two middle-aged moms, happy by being so sweet to our girls. We made his day a little better with a generous tip.

IMG_0172We had a great time tubing that afternoon. The girls had a blast. Angela fell and bruised her knee. I almost got thrown out of the tubing park for not braking soon enough on the run when I was racing Angela. (There was no way I was going to let her win.) Over the loudspeaker, “Ma’am, this is your warning. If you cross the black line again, you will be removed from the park.” Eek! Good times!

Angela and I relive that weekend when we talk about old times now. We will never know what happened to Ricky. It has been five years, so I’m guessing he has graduated from App State by now. Most importantly, I hope the out-of-his-league-girl realized how awesome he was when they went out that night.

Chances are, Ricky was way out of her league.

 

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Cheers to Ricky and all the hard-working college students like him!

 

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XOXO,

Kelly

**Great Wolf Lodge, Concord, NC, is a hotel/indoor water park and much more. The whole place is geared toward families, with activities, restaurants, swimming pools, an arcade, a bowling alley, Magiquest, shops with fun souvenirs, and special activities during holidays. If you haven’t been, it’s a great place to spend a weekend with your family. It is located just down the road from Charlotte Motor Speedway. The water park is only open to families who are hotel guests, and it offers swimming pools, water slides, a wave pool, and a special area for smaller children. You can make reservations online at http://www.greatwolf.com. Rates vary based on availability, so on busy weekends, the rates can be astronomical, but on less busy weekends, you can get a room for less than $200, and that includes your water park passes. 

 

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