Wednesday, July 31, 2019


I think I've been getting migraines. I've spent a few years calling them sinus headaches, but my husband finally convinced me that sinus headaches come from sinus infections. And I haven't had a sinus infection in a long time, but almost every time it rains I get a "sinus" headache.

And since I started tracking more seriously again, I'm seeing these headaches are not a once or twice a month kind of thing. More like once or twice a week, sometimes more. And that's just not something that I want to have in my life right now. It's extremely difficult to work while these are going on, especially considering most of my working day is spent staring at a computer screen, in an office space that does not have great options for blocking light.

So I'm trying to be scientific about it. I'm tracking not only when I get a headache, but what I do to treat it and whether that treatment works. The fact that over the counter pain medications do not work is part of what leads me to believe this is in fact a migraine and not something else. They do typically go away overnight - if I can fall asleep. Although, sometimes it seems like they go away overnight only to recur the next afternoon. Has it really gone away if it comes back right quick?

At any rate, I'm trying to look for what, other than precipitation, might be triggering these headaches. I'm trying to figure out a way to relax my neck and shoulder muscles. I'm trying a variety of different treatment options to see if I can find something that will knock these headaches out before they grow large enough to be a hindrance to work and life. I know one of the next steps should probably be making an appointment with a doctor, but I'm hesitant to do that. When I did a search for area migraine specialists, most of the results were chiropractors, and I don't particularly like the idea of going to a chiropractor. They strike me as quack medicine, and I had a skeevy experience as a young teen.

The other option would be a neurologist, but I don't feel like the headaches are THAT serious. And yet, I recorded 5 in the first half of July. That's not a small number.

I know I've had at least one for-sure migraine headache in my life. When I was 13, I vividly remember being in gym class in 8th grade and seeing this afterimage at the edge of my vision, like I'd just looked at a bright light and then away from it. But the afterimage didn't fade. It stayed and I found it quite curious. Then I began to feel ill. The headache was intense, and I received permission to go home sick. As soon as I got in the house, I ran up the stairs to the bathroom and vomited. That was a very stressful time in my life; I remember being all bent out of shape about completing a workbook for Confirmation.

I never had another migraine like that, and I compared all other headaches to that experience. None reached anything like that level of symptoms, so I assumed that I wasn't having migraines. Just stress. Tension headaches maybe. But never so frequent that they interfered with my school or work. Not until fairly recently has their frequency increased to the level of bothersome. Maybe 18 months ago it started getting more frequent and irritating. But they've been around, just less frequent, for more than 5 years and less than 10.

They don't have auras or cause me to vomit. No, they're just headaches that won't quit until after a good night's sleep- mostly. They favor the left side with the throbbing agony, but also share the "love" on occasion by involving my entire face in the pain fest (which is why I thought it was sinuses). I do get light sensitivity from them. And while I wouldn't go so far as to say that I get auras, because I'm comparing to that original one, I do get some visual effects. Lingering afterimages, but not persistent ones.

I'll get to a doctor after the backpacking season is over; for the most part, I don't get these headaches when I'm backpacking. So maybe I have to just devote my life to being an itinerant backpacker and forget about the 9 to 5 life.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Me, an Athlete?

Since the Spartan Race, I've been feeling more athletic. It's as if my body, having been extensively trained for more than six years by backpacking and CrossFit and some running, has finally broken through my sedentary childhood and young adulthood to reveal that I can be athletic too.

I'm still a pretty slow runner. But I run. And I'm slow at most of the cardio related things that I do at CrossFit, but I do them as hard as I can. I do them consistently. And I'm making improvements in my cardio, slowly but surely.

And those improvements are noticeable to me, if not really to anyone else. I mean, I'm still the slowest runner in most classes I go to. But I go.

I go and I enjoy myself. I might not be able to lift the most, but I enjoy lifting weights and learning how to improve my technique, now more than ever, because now I have this confidence, this faith, that I can improve and that someday I will be lifting the heavier weights. That makes it all that much more important to build a strong foundation. To practice the things that I can do so that they are highly proficient and efficient movements that can be applied to ever cooler things as I continue to gain strength.

It's taken me a long time to get to this point. A lot of self-talk convincing myself to stick with CrossFit. A lot of self-talk convincing myself that doing the workout at my best possible speed was still good enough, even when that speed was slower than everyone else. Okay, I'm still heavily involved with that kind of self-talk. But it has changed from "I'm not athletic so it doesn't matter how fast I go as long as I try hard" to "I'm athletic and doing my best; no need to compare to anyone else."

But that's a big improvement.

I'm at the point now where I can honestly look forward to doing crazy things like muscle-ups, even if it's going to take time and concentrated effort. I've proven that I can put in the time and the effort and get results. I know that I can change my body now. I proved it to myself.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Pack Rat

I am such a damn pack rat. It's not quite as bad at home, because Ambrose balances me out. He lets me hoard some things, but not everything that I would hoard without his influence.

I recently moved offices at work, and that involved a whole heck of a lot of random papers. I tried to do some sorting and throwing away and recycling before I packed, but I ran out of time and ended up dumping things in boxes instead. So, once I moved into my new space, I was determined not to just dump those piles of paper right into new spaces. No, I was going to sort and clean and let it go.

And it feels good, when I finish going through a stack and have maybe a fifth of what I started with. There's a part of me that hesitates, because what if I just happen to need those notes from 2011 in a month or two? But I reassure myself that I will not need them, because I will not remember them, and I probably wouldn't be able to find or read them anyway.

Okay, that's not super reassuring. But it got me through the piles.

Of course, there are some things that I kept. I can't let go of everything, that's just not me. I kept meeting agendas, print outs from trainings that I'd taken and a few other odds and ends that I found interesting. I had to go through every sheet of paper because if there's certain identifying information on them, then they have to go in the burn bin rather than recycling or trash, and in the course of that I did find some funny stuff.

An old print out of staff from another department actually had a picture of someone who recently came back to the office in my own department, and I had to share that with them. Old training agendas, to be compared to new training agendas and then tossed.

It got easier to toss things as I went along. I got into the swing of things. I still have a ton of geegaws that I have a hard time parting with, but they are, at least, discreetly hidden away. For the most part, anyway. Held on to in case of need or want... And yet, somehow, I rarely ever find myself needing or wanting them.

But every now and then... just one of those pieces of saved paper or odds and ends tossed into a drawer turn out to have a use. So I keep on saving... 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Perks of Living in Boise

One thing that I really like about living in Boise is that there is a lot of wildlife. We've got tons of squirrels running around, fighting and squeaking - and sometimes getting smushed by cars :( - and they're fun to watch. My husband and I put out birdseed and we see lots of doves, smaller songbirds, ducks, geese - even a turkey one year.

But there's also the deer that like to hang out at the end of my street. I still get a kick seeing them just casually walking across the street or taking a nap in a little copse of trees on the side of the road. I hope I'm never at the point where I don't feel a bit of delight at that kind of sight.

I like the walk home from CrossFit in the early dark of the morning, or even the walk to, for catching sight of the more nocturnal animals. Mostly raccoons and cats, but in June, I saw not one, but two little owls sitting on a fence as I walked home from CrossFit one morning. They were utterly still, but they weren't statues, because I saw one fly off. But that was only the second coolest sighting I had in June.

When my husband was driving me to work, as he sometimes does, I saw a bird of prey flying overhead with something in its talons. Naturally, I exclaimed to Ambrose about this and he slowed the car so that we could see when it landed on top of a telephone pole that the osprey had a still-wriggling fish in one claw. I wish I had taken a picture, but we were on the move and there really wasn't time to anything but try and impress the image into my memory.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Health Status: Not Hopeless

My stomach issues have calmed down significantly lately. My husband thinks it's because I'm avoiding red meat, but that's really only one of many food categories that I'm avoiding so I'm not sold on the idea that I can just eat whatever else I want now. I think I've figured out that overeating can trigger gas pain, whether that's eating a lot of watermelon or just eating more than I'm used to eating at a time. And I've been able to have small amounts of alcohol without ill effects, so I'll probably continue to be judicious about alcohol intake.

I mean, I had to have my finisher beer at the Spartan Race this time. I earned it! And while I was consciously refraining from alcohol in 2018, this year I'm avoiding but not totally shunning alcohol. If I run into rafters offering beer on my solo hike, I may just have one. Or two. But no more than that because of dehydration.

I've been avoiding full fat dairy products, but not all dairy. So I drink yogurt drinks in the mornings before working out, and have low fat cottage cheese with meals, but no ice cream. It seems like there used to be a lot more frozen yogurt out there, but now that I'm looking for some, the grocery aisles are fairly barren. I've been getting the Yasso frozen yogurt bars. They're pretty good, but I miss ice cream.

And I miss berries. Now, when I first got the diagnosis of mild gastroparesis, my doctor didn't actually give me any guidance other than "a low residue diet" and that meant my husband and I had to look up what that meant and decide what to do for my diet based on internet searches. At my last visit, I did get a handout, but it was really short. So I'm not sure if berries are still off the table or not. They aren't on the "Do eat" or the "Do not eat" sections of the handout.

But I'll probably try them in moderation after the backpacking season is over. Well, after I recover from the backpacking season and feel like my stomach is in equilibrium, then I'll start doing food tests and see what my body likes and what it doesn't like.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to mess my stomach up a bit during the backpacking season, because backpacking food is what it is. I'm not going to change my entire way of backpacking eating this season. Depending on how it goes, I might change for next season, but we buy all our backpacking food pretty well in advance as things go on sale. All the food was bought well before I got this diagnosis, so I'm going to eat it.

I'm going to have Spam and meat sticks and nuts and bars with coffee in them and chews with caffeine in them and I'm going to hope that backpacking all day will help everything move smoothly through my system. And if it doesn't, then next year's backpacking food might look pretty different.

For the most part, I feel like I'm figuring out my stomach issues now. I'm acting instead of reacting, and I feel that I have a modicum of control. That's what's most important right now. I don't feel helpless. I know that certain food choices may (or will) have consequences and I'm prepared to deal with those.