Archives for posts with tag: headache

Today is turning out to be a less than pleasant day. I mean… it could be worse. I already voted, and it is not a headache to do that in Oregon. So… there’s that. Win? It’s something, at least. I make a point of being aware of the small win. In many other respects today is mostly fairly shitty.

…Well… a whole bunch of the moments are annoying, unpleasant, frustrating, ineffective uses of time, or wasted in a cascade of interruptions when I am struggling to concentrate. I slept badly. It’s been downhill from the moment I woke, although I’m certain that I had choices that could have been chosen rather differently, potentially with better outcomes.

This headache, though. This arthritis pain. Fatigue. Lack of focus. The sensation that I “can’t hear myself think”. A feeling of “falling behind”. The lack of sleep is just the sprinkles on the icing of a relatively crappy day.

…Crappy days are a thing. Everyone gets a few. I try not to take it personally. I try to refrain from allowing my shitty mood to become weaponized. I try not to allow myself to pass on the shitty experience to anyone else.

The work day is almost over. It really hasn’t been “personal”, at all. I’m tired and I’m in pain – that pretty reliably has significant potential to be rendered as “a shitty day”. I imagine shrugging it off, and find myself simultaneously amused and annoyed that the text editor in WordPress does not have a default menu of emoji for day-to-day use, and chuckle to myself when I realize how much I actually do use emoji instead of written word – even at work. Wow. How 21st century am I?

…I guess I’m at least 21st century enough to have a solid grasp of the practices involved in emotional wellness, resilience, and bouncing back from a shitty moment… I know how to begin again. ūüėČ

I woke up easily this morning, a nice change from yesterday. Rather oddly, I woke with the whisper of a dream left behind still resonating in my consciousness. Words lingered, although I could no longer recall the dream. “You’re not the good guy, here.” And, “This isn’t about you, at all.” Interesting observations, suitable for many occasions – but I don’t have any context. The dream had already faded.

I’m not “the good guy” here, though, I’m sure of that; I’m a human being, living my life. Only that. Sure, I like to think I am doing my best. Sometimes I actually am. By many practical measures, it isn’t always the case, though; I could sometimes do more, better. That’s real, and very human.

This isn’t about me, at all. Well, much of it is not, that’s also quite true. Most of it, maybe. Like, seriously, almost any detail of any moment I can be present for, still just isn’t much “about” me. I’m here, living and being, and (in this case) drinking coffee…and even this moment, right here, early in the pre-dawn gloom, isn’t much “about” me. It’s about a typical Thursday morning. It’s about this cup of coffee, and this handful of words. It’s about this headache. It’s about the morning traffic, and the sound of little birds in the hedge beyond the window. I’m such a small part of this moment – and not in any “bad” or diminishing way. It’s just that there is so much more to… all of it. I’m just one consciousness present in this here-and-now. Taken in the larger context of “everything else”, my breath, and my very life force, are minuscule. That’s okay, too; there’s a lot of life to live, and a lot of details to take in. If I spend all of my energy on my small concerns, I’ll miss a lot of other stuff. lol

I stop drinking coffee long enough to meditate. Nice morning for it. Today, it does nothing for the headache. I hadn’t seriously expected that it would, but sometimes it does. If nothing else, it often gives me perspective on life that makes it seem of less consequence.

…I realize rather abruptly that I’d forgotten to take my morning medication when I got up. I go ahead and do that, once I’ve poked around in my recollection of the morning a bit, trying to be sure I’m correct about that (doesn’t do anything good for me to take it twice, I promise you that!) – I wash it down with coffee, feeling vaguely guilty about doing that (it’s supposed to be taken with a glass of water…). I let that petty shit go.

My body is uncomfortable, this morning. This fucking headache. Why do I call it a headache, I wonder? It is also a terrible bit of pain in my neck, and a weird jabby stabby sensation in my ear when I turn my head, sometimes, and also a rather horrible permanently cramped up trapezius, particularly painful along the top, from my neck to my shoulder. These pains all feel related to each other, and nothing much helps, so far. I think I would endure it more easily if I knew what the problem is. I’ve been in significant pain since about 1990, when my osteo arthritis developed, I don’t really expect to ever be entirely “pain free” again in my life… I do my best to care for this fragile vessel skillfully, and ease the pain as much as I am able to without poisoning myself or wrecking my health in some other way. It could be worse. I’d just like an answer to the question “what the fuck??”

Fuck. A glance at the clock reminds me of the work day ahead. Pain and employment are not really the best-ever combination of experiences, and it requires so much to stay ahead of the irritability, the distraction, and the misery of it. I breathe. I let it go. We all walk our own hard mile. We’re each having our own experience. Unavoidably, the pain I live with is the worst pain I can imagine; it’s what I know. Each one of us has our own challenge, and I am certain I have coworkers whose pain is more severe, whose life contains more chaos, who woke this morning frightened, or sad, or angry, or needing a moment of support and consideration. I can, if nothing else, do my best not to add to any of that, myself, and to be considerate, thoughtful, kind, and compassionate. I can, at least, try. Another breath. Another sip of coffee. Another moment to consider how fortunate I am to be mostly fairly healthy, all things considered, and to live with pain that doesn’t debilitate me to the point that I can’t work at all. It could be so much worse.

…Fuck this headache, though! Neck-ache? Whatever. Fuck all of that painful nastiness.

It’s time to begin again. I’ve got to work with “the materials on hand” in this life, and unfortunately, pain is a thing. I breathe through it, finish my coffee, and turn to face the day as the sun rises. ūüôā

Nothing like spending 8 hours of precious limited lifetime in the freakin’ ER to remind me how much I enjoy doing just about anything else. LOL

I’m okay. Just middle-aged. ūüėČ

I resented the request to go to the ER, in the first place. I negotiated with my primary care physician like I was making a deal with the devil, when I finally spoke to her. I made work more important than my health and went in to the office yesterday still dealing with the ferocious headache that continues to plague me. The nurse in Neurology finally reached me directly yesterday mid-morning, and was fairly firm about seeing me immediately if possible. Damn it. I interrupted a productive work day figuring I’d go/come back, no problem…

8 hours, 2 blood draws, 2 IV insertions (1 failed), and 3 separate CT scans later… we ruled out most of the scariest stuff for adults in my age group worried about a headache. We’ve narrowed it down to… a headache. <sigh> No, for real? Back to Neurology. I can’t be mad. I got some first-rate care (and one failed attempt at an IV insertion that was both painful, and hurt like fire when imaging attempted to make use of it), and a chance to enjoy “Hospital ER” as a sort of live-action drama with all the pettiness human beings can bring to bear, as I quietly eavesdropped the conversations from the tiny treatment room I spent most of my time in.

Luck of the draw – I got a really good young doctor in residency. Because he’s a psychiatric resident, he “got me” on an entirely other level, and was able to do more to support me as a patient. The noise and lights and aggressively purposeful busy-ness of the ER aggravated other symptoms a lot (a lot), and that could have been a distraction for an MD who didn’t fully understand what seeing a c-PTSD diagnosis in my charts could mean. This one did. I wish he would be my full-time primary care doctor! By the time he actually saw me I was literally in tears from the noise; he took steps to ease it, first thing (ear plugs, a closed door, another closed door). Suddenly the experience was so much easier. I gotta say, hospital ERs are not actually designed to “heal” people as much as “repair” them. The noise, the actual moment-to-moment callousness (seriously, just watch, you’ll see it) of being entirely practical and attempting to be efficient, too, while serving as many customers as possible as quickly as feasible. The bright lights and infernal beeping of machinery and grinding or sliding of automatic doors. The repetitive nature of all of it just hammers at my consciousness – no stillness. Even the waiting is noisy. Nothing soothing. And for a place of healing? Holy crap they are going at such a breakneck pace that simple self-care stuff is entirely overlooked. They keep people there for hours and hours without calories or drinking water. lol Fuuuuuuck. Hospital ERs are no place for the ill.

Today is a whole new day. I’m definitely ready to begin again. LOL


I woke with a nasty headache this morning. It rises from locked up muscles alongside my arthritic vertebrae, like parallel columns of pain, becoming one just at the base of my neck and feeling rather ‘braided’ with tension up my neck, cradling my skull with an embrace of even more pain that wraps the lower back portion of my head. It is not acute nor pulsating, it is a more dull steady presence with more than necessary intensity. I have this headache relatively often. Generally, expressed in words, it sounds like this “I have a headache”. Other headaches sound more like this “I have a headache”. It isn’t possible to tell from words how severe someone else’s pain is. Pain doesn’t show much; by the time pain can be easily seen on my¬†face, I am¬†in so much more pain than can be easily managed that it’s not likely sympathy can do much more than offer a few kind words. I cherish the kindness.

Much¬†of the time, because pain is not easily visible, my experience is one of being haplessly mistreated by well-meaning people, even people who know me well, and profess deep affection for me; they don’t know I am in pain, moment to moment. Simple requests sometimes sound quite ludicrous to me… “Can you just go ahead and…”. I have not yet learned to say “No, actually, I can’t ‘just’… I’m in too much pain to do that.” The amount of pain I am in this morning is well beyond the day-to-day pain I know so well. It’s hard to consider other things and look past the pain…and when I succeed in turning my attention elsewhere, I quickly find that whatever I am thinking over becomes tainted by the pain; my negative bias increases, I feel discontent, angry, frustrated, emotional, resentful… and it so easily changes from an experience of physical pain, to an experience of emotional pain. The result is often that I find myself blaming some circumstance for my feelings. My subjective emotional experience becomes the focus of my attention, distracting me from the pain but leading me down a rabbit hole of mis-information, negativity, doubt, insecurity, and fearful speculation not tied to my actual experience of events. Pain is a mind-altering drug, and it’s¬†always a bad trip.

I woke early today. I woke because of the pain. This headache is that bad. I meditated quietly until the alarm went off; two hours passed pretty quickly. I feel reasonably calm, content, and balanced; I know that the pain has the potential to mess with my mind, and destroy my fragile lovely moment. Mindfulness, self-compassion, kind treatment of this mortal vessel I inhabit, and patient attentiveness to self-care basics will be incredibly important while this headache lingers. I know what to expect when I speak up about the headache, too. “Well, have you…?” and “When I have a headache, I…” or “What have you done for it?” People tend to be pretty well-meaning about headaches. It’s frustrating to wade through the helpful suggestions; I’ve been doing this awhile, and at 52 there’s not much in the way of new stuff to try for this headache. I work on staying calm and focused, and not crying over small bullshit simply because I hurt too much to handle real life well. It’s the best favor I can do the world on a morning like this one.

Choose your adventure. Choose your perspective. Choose your experience.

Choose your adventure. Choose your perspective. Choose your experience.

Oddly, this isn’t really a post about pain; it’s about the very subjective nature of perspective. Pain is a metaphor, but I’m finding it challenging to move on from the pain itself, this morning. Tedious.

I recently read some writing an associate did regarding a shared experience. The subjective nature of perspective being what it is, I reacted to the words before I remember to take a few breaths and approach the words mindfully and aware that the unique perspective presented has nothing whatever to do with my experience of those same events. It took some time to move past my initial reaction of irritation at the ‘obvious’ dishonesty, the ‘irresponsible minimization’, and [to me] clear use of the opportunity for image management; my perspective is also subjective. I managed to set that baggage down pretty easily, and reconsider the words as nothing more than personal narrative, subjective and likely well-intended, without judging the words as ‘truthful’ or ‘honest’. Regardless of any of that, they are the words this associate chose to describe the experiences we shared. While it does say something about my associate’s experience – and my associate – those words have nothing to do with my experience, at all. If¬†I react, buy in, become angry and express my anger with demands that my associate change their perspective of¬†the shared experience we had, I give up my own experience to own theirs as the valid reflection of events. It was a pretty joyful moment when that¬†hit me; all I have to do to enjoy my experience from my own perspective when someone else’s perspective causes me discomfort, alarm, distress, or anger, is to go ahead and continue to have my own experience, from my own perspective! I validate my own experience fully by simply having it. Wow. Simple and powerful.

Every one of us has our own perspective. Being able to comfortably listen and hear another person’s perspective improves my ability to be compassionate, to be kind, to be wise… and it also eases me into a lovely place with myself, too; more able to treat myself well, by honoring my own experience as real and true, and mine. It isn’t about who is ‘right’ – ‘right’ doesn’t enter into my¬†subjective perspective of my own experience – nor does it feature heavily in yours. Arguing about a subjective perception of events isn’t helpful – because we choose our experience, and have no obligation to choose what someone else has chosen. Facts are facts – and I have learned caution, even there; very little of what we share with each other has anything at all to do with ‘facts’. Thoughts are not facts. Emotions are not facts. Values are not facts. Narratives of experiences are not facts. Memories are not facts. Each of those things are entirely subjective, and mostly pretty made up. We are attached to our own, sometimes to the point of being completely irrational about holding on to the ‘rightness’ of them without regard to the pain we cause others.

One beautiful moment, so many ways to enjoy it.

One beautiful moment, so many ways to enjoy it.

Today is a lovely morning, from my perspective, in spite of pain. Today is a good day to live my experience awake, aware, and mindfully. Today is a good day to show the world kindness – because I can, and it’s simply a better way to enjoy my experience. Today is a good day to brush off the things that distract me from love, with an understanding smile; we are each so very human. Today is a good day to be the change.

I woke with a headache this morning, and I woke several times during the night, returning to sleep with relative ease. The headache matters, and it is necessary to maintain awareness of the impact of disrupted sleep over time; my reactivity tends to increase over days and weeks of disrupted sleep. The headache, like much of my day-to-day pain, also doesn’t ‘matter’ in the sense that I make an effort not to be limited by it or allow it to call my shots, this can also put me on the path of lost balance, and lost perspective; I try so hard my own frustration becomes the bigger issue. Menopause or not, it seems I am lingering at the gates of Hormone Hell, too – or at least driving around that neighborhood in circles, lost. Night sweats. Hot flashes. Irritability. Difficulty maintaining a comfortable emotional connection to another.

Today is still an entirely new day, all potential, choices not yet made, reality not yet fully determined… I will do my best with it. Making the best choices in each moment is not the easy thing it sounds like it could¬†be; I observe that whether something ‘sounds easy’ sometimes depends as much on the words as their meanings, which can be misleading. (Is there anything at all in my experience that has no potential whatsoever to be misleading?)

My coffee is good – and it was easy. I find myself being critical with myself, momentarily, for ‘not drinking it fast enough’ as I yawn through the morning, thus far. Day-to-day I can be ludicrously hard on myself, demanding far more of me than makes sense, or is even needed. The damage I’ve done to myself with the constant internal bullying, berating, and lack of satisfaction or encouragement has piled up over the years, and become part of the chaos and damage I fight now. I take a moment to adjust, to back up off of pressuring myself to drink coffee faster, and remind myself¬†how lovely a leisurely morning, unhurried, unpressured, really feels.

Yesterday was challenging, not horrible, and had some wonderful moments to it. The finish was difficult; I was volatile after therapy and tired, and that¬†can make me pretty unapproachable. People who like and love me still make the attempt and while I love that people are willing, and value me that much, it comes with risks and I ended up in tears over something fairly mundane, and feeling hurt and angry on a level that far exceeded what the event could possibly require. I took a walk in the night, enjoying the feeling of the icy rain pelting me for a couple of miles, and filling my lungs with the fresh cold air. Self-soothing, for me, often requires a combination of exercise, distraction, meditation, and distance that a long walk really captures; I sometimes feel as if I am ‘walking away from what is hurting me’. I contemplated how difficult it must be for my traveling partner to discover through the outcome alone that I am sometimes not as strong as I appear. It is one of the peculiar challenges of pursuing change and healing; change happens fast, but I am making active choices and using verbs, and my demeanor and affect do not always give away the contents of this fragile vessel, or the effort involved in being the change.

I made the wise choice to take a sick day yesterday, with some urging from my partner. I’m glad I did – and I think it sucks that the world, in general, benefited thereby, and he still ended up dealing with the grief and bullshit, himself. That seems particularly unfair. (I keep ‘checking the contract’ for life and living – there’s nothing at all about things being fair; this, too, seems unfair. lol)

Today’s okay so far. I’m tired. I have a headache. The increase in my Rx pain medication has been helping, but doesn’t really kick in for about an hour after I wake. I hurt, and I am patient with myself about that, at least so far.

Today is a good day to be less hard on myself. Today is a good day to remember that acknowledging where I am is necessary to get somewhere better. Today is a good day for good choices, and mindfulness that the good choices themselves have value, whatever the outcome. Today is a good day to remember free will is shared equally; we are each having our own experience…

Love in the World

Love in the World

…I wrote those words as the yelling started in another room, not even 6:00 am. OPD. (For the unfamiliar, that’s ‘other people’s drama’ – but often those ‘other people’ are those dearest to me). It wasn’t the raised voices of anger as much as the raised voices of frustration, hurt, and confusion, and it conveyed powerful stress in seconds. I add to my own stress and anxiety my concerns about the safety of the household in my absence while I am at work; today suddenly feels less safe, and less secure. I haven’t seen¬†physical violence directed at people by anyone living here, but one member of the household is a destructive force to be reckoned with when upset nonetheless – and I do mean seriously destructive. The destruction of several door frames, doors, drawers, dishes, and a 25 year-old mahogany sideboard I lovingly hauled around the world for years testify to that. Many of my paintings can’t be¬†hung because falling to the floor would damage them, and the risk is too high; doors have been slammed so hard here that paintings popped right off the walls and crashed to the floor. I don’t like discussing it, but it is real, and it is part of my experience; these are, in fact, experiences I promised myself I would not endure again. It’s wanton destruction of an utterly inappropriate nature (from my perspective), and it’s hard to determine whether anything at all is sacred; setting explicit boundaries about what is sacred to me hasn’t been effective. The sudden lack of household calm says a lot, and for me at least it amounts to a substantial loss of quality of life¬†because¬†it recurs with regularity. I dislike emotional weaponry; it tends to be both imprecise and very damaging, regardless who it is pointed at, everyone in the vicinity is feels the impact. This morning it’s my traveling partner who is ‘down range’, but we’re both stressed and concerned, and we’re both affected. I will go to work anxious and trembling, and my traveling partner will be working at home, dealing with his stress and trying to remain calm and productive after the difficulties of the morning. Doubtless it will continue to stress and trouble everyone involved for some hours, and my writing feels constrained and self-conscious as I struggle with my words. I know¬†from experience that secrecy begets continued problem behavior, as well as isolating me from support and the comfort of being heard;¬†I struggle on, hoping to say only enough to feel heard, and to be accurate about my own experience of the moment.

This moment is harder than others. I don’t know what’s next, at all. Also hard. This too shall pass. ¬†I will continue to do my best, practice my Big 5, take care of me, treat others well, make the best choices I can, and hope that these are ‘enough’, somehow.

Today is still a good day to be less hard on myself. It’s still a good day to do my best. Today is still a good day to take care of me, and make good choices – hard choices, too, some days. We are each having our own experience, sure, but we’re all in this together. Treating each other well may be the one thing we can all easily do to save the world from our own destructive power.

What do you see when you look at the patterns in your life; your choices, or circumstance?

What do you see when you look at the patterns in your life; your choices, or  your circumstances?