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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My not-so-superpower

There was a time I had excellent vision. I could see anything up close, far away…I almost thought of it as my superpower. And then I turned 40.

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The decline in my eyesight was the first clue that I really was, in fact, growing older. I realized I am not the Bionic Woman (her superpower was her hearing). I realized I am going to age just like the rest of the population. I have no superpower. Well, maybe I do, but it’s not my eyesight. (We’ll get to my superpower on another day.)

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I still see things far away really well, but I started needing “readers,” or eyeglasses for reading things up close, in my early 40s. I would purchase the cute little drugstore readers and get them out of my handbag any time I needed them. But then, I realized I could never find them when I needed them, so I started walking around with them pushed down on the bridge of my nose.

That changed when my daughter said, “Mom, you look like a grandma.” There’s nothing wrong with being a grandma, if you ARE a grandma, but I’m not. And I certainly wasn’t a grandma in my early 40s. I had a small child, for goodness sake!

I’ve seen lots of people who wear their readers pushed up high on their noses, but I don’t know how they walk around! I do not need to be looking through a magnifying glass for distance vision.

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I found a website a few years ago that, at the time, I thought had the perfect readers for me. Bifocal readers…clear on top with magnification in the bifocal lens on bottom. Turns out, they were cheaply made, and they were always breaking or the cheap lenses were scratching.

A few months ago, I was visiting my mother and broke the only pair of cheap bifocal readers I had with me. There is a Walgreen’s near her house, so I went to “the corner of happy and healthy” in search of some new readers.

I was in luck. They had some glasses on sale…buy one get one 50% off, and the original price was only $34.95/pair. These particular glasses were on a Foster Grant end cap. They were advertised as computer glasses. I had no idea what that meant, but the discount  lured me in. I was going to investigate.

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What I read was that they were multi-focus glasses, meaning the bottom part of the lens is for reading, the middle for computer work, and the top for interacting. There is a blue blocker in the lens, so it reduces the strain on your eyes from computer work. Here is where I need to add the fine print: “ready-to-wear non-prescription glasses are not intended to replace prescribed corrective lenses or examiniations by an eye care professional. Continous eye check-ups are necessary to determine your eye health status and vision needs.”

Since there was a “buy one get one 50% off” deal, I purchased two. The frames on both are bigger than I usually like, but I needed some glasses immediately!

My friend, Angela, and I had dinner plans that night, so I went back to Mother’s, where I changed clothes, and drove to pick up Angela. We have been friends for more than 30 years…since college. I once had a boyfriend who hated being in the same room with the two of us, because he said, “Y’all talk without talking. It’s weird…like you can read each other’s minds.” Of course, we thought that was hilarious, and we have laughed about it ever since. Our friendship lasted, but that boyfriend is ancient history.

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Turns out he might have been right! When I arrived at Angela’s, she met me at the door. We hugged, and then she backed up and said, “We have the same glasses!” Indeed, we did! Serendipity? Extrasensory perception? When we got in the car, we took a selfie, and I posted it on Instagram, and then we laughed and laughed again at that old boyfriend and what he had said. Maybe we have the superpower of ESP! The fact that she had the same pair made me like the glasses more; I guess I think she’s a Cool Kid, so the glasses must be OK.

“Who’s that behind those Foster Grants?” Some of you will remember that ad campaign from the 60s and 70s. The funny thing about these Foster Grants is that I purchased them in a BOGO deal, and I get compliments all…the…time! A few nights ago, I was at dinner with my teenage daughter, and we ran into some friends. One of them said she and another friend had been talking about my great glasses! What?! My Foster Grants? My daughter said, “You get compliments on those glasses ALL THE TIME!” It’s true!

I know…I keep talking about how they look. Well, they work well too. First, the construction seems to be good quality, and the lenses definitely don’t scratch as easily as the others I used. Also, I’ve noticed a big difference in eye strain when using the computer, so I guess they actually do what they’re designed to do!

So, I’m giving y’all the scoop. Want some great multi-focus glasses? These are awesome. You can purchase them directly from Foster Grant here, or you can purchase them on Amazon here. They offer lots of different styles, but for me, the style that receives the most compliments is called the Conan, and it  appears (today) to be sold out on the Foster Grant site, but it’s still available on Amazon. It’s a bigger frame than I usually buy, but I love them. Angela likes hers too. I had to wear them for a day before I became accustomed to the “multi-focus” lens, but that’s all it took.

So yes, they are my new favorite glasses. As for my superpower…I could tell you, but I’m saving that for another post.

What’s YOUR superpower?

Kelly

Now I lay me down to sleep…

 

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Ahhh…sleep. Remember when your bedtime routine as a child was to say a prayer before getting in bed…and that was it? You’d fall asleep. Some of us said the classic prayer that started with, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” I thought it was creepy, because the next line was, “If I should die before I wake…” What?! How scary is that to a six-year-old?! I was probably five or six when I thought about the meaning of it, and it kept me up all night! I stopped saying that prayer and didn’t want to hear anyone else say it, either. Without that creepy prayer, sleep came easily.

Oh, how times change. Adulting can be hard, especially the sleep part. My original plan was to write about sleep later in February, but because one of my favorite sleep aids has received some media attention in the last few days, I decided to do it today. If sleep eludes you, stick with me. Even if sleep doesn’t elude you, stick with me.mpho-mojapelo-109897

As adults, “Now I lay me down to sleep” doesn’t keep us up at night, but other things do: work, family, worries, TV, social media, etc. Here’s where I should tell you no one values sleep more than I do. It’s listed among my favorite hobbies. But when I turned 30, little things could gnaw away at my brain and keep me awake, or for some unknown reason, I simply couldn’t fall asleep.

Around my 40th birthday, I discovered one reason I had trouble falling asleep was Restless Leg Syndrome. (If you suspect you have RLS or any other sleep disorder, talk with you doctor.) I started taking a medication for RLS, and it helped me immensely, but often I still had trouble falling asleep, despite the fact that my legs were no longer “restless.”

I needed help but was terrified of Ambien, because a friend took it one night and woke up the next morning in the backseat of her car in a parking lot with no recollection of how she got there or what had happened. Yikes. I have a history of sleepwalking, so there was no way I was going to try anything that might make me sleepDRIVE. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is out, because it makes me hyper. Weird, I know. What to do?

I’m no sleep guru, but I have finally found what works for me. Three things: EXERCISE and two PRODUCTS I love. I’ve never been the person who would fall asleep while reading a book. My whole life, I would realize I was getting a little drowsy and close the book before trying to go to sleep. Now, I’m the person who can fall asleep WHILE reading.

FIRST: It was purely accidental that I noticed the exercise/sleep connection. I can’t exercise after 7pm, because that just wakes me up. As long as I exercise earlier in the day for 30 minutes to an hour, it helps me get to sleep at night. Lots of people know this…no big surprise.

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SECOND: This product hasn’t been featured on the Favorite Things Instagram page yet, but since we’re talking sleep, I’m putting it out there: OLLY BRAND RESTFUL SLEEP GUMMIES.

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This discovery happened because I accepted an Olly vitamin sample in Target. I tried it that night, and the next day, went back just to check out the Olly products. The health aisle can be daunting…lots of colors, brands, and lots to read. I focused on the OLLY products, and I saw the purple jar with RESTFUL SLEEP on the front. (Yes, I noticed the pictured jar says “20% more fun,” which is odd for a sleep product, but at least you get 20% more gummies.) It’s an herbal melatonin supplement, no big surprise, but having never taken melatonin, I asked the pharmacist, who said it would be fine to try.

That night, I fell asleep faster and slept more soundly than I had in years. I’ve been taking it since. It makes me drowsy FAST, so you should not plan to operate any machinery (like automobiles!) after taking it. I’d love to hear your feedback if you try it. You can purchase it in your local Target or on the Olly website for $13.99 here. Sign up for their emails on the Olly website and get 15% off your first purchase, and they offer discounts if you subscribe quarterly.

THIRD: Now, THIS product is the reason I’m posting this earlier than planned. It’s the one I’m most excited about! Again, it’s one of those chance discoveries. Over the holidays, we were on vacation, and the hotel placed samples of this product on our pillows. Why not, right? It’s THISWORKS BRAND DEEP SLEEP PILLOW SPRAY.FullSizeRender-17

We posted on Instagram about it from the hotel on December 22. I liked it that much. It’s part of the bedtime routine at our house now. Yesterday, as I was looking through my Facebook timeline, I saw one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills opening her latest Fab, Fit, Fun Box, and you know what was in it? YES! The Deep Sleep Pillow Spray!

The label says it’s a “fast acting, natural way to restore normal sleep,” and I have found that to be true! It also says it’s “expertly blended with essential oils of lavender, vetivert, and wild camomile.” It must be the lavender that has relaxation properties. Try it, and let me know what you think. It has an added benefit too: your hair will smell terrific the next morning! Even if you don’t have sleep issues, you might want to use it for that! In fact, you might want to try more ThisWorks sleep products. You can order the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray for $29 (2.5 fl oz) and check out their other sleep products here.

So, from now on, do all the things you’ve always been told to do: don’t go to bed mad; tell your loved ones you love them before bed; brush your teeth; and clear your mind. Then add these to your bedtime routine: get some daily exercise; take OLLY Restful Sleep Gummies; and spray your pillow with Deep Sleep Pillow Spray.

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***As always, read all directions before using any product, and take only as directed. Ask your physician before trying any supplements. ***

Please look for the next post Thursday, February 8, when I offer some Valentine’s Day gift ideas for men and women! Also, we love feedback!

Sweet dreams,

Kelly