Archives for posts with tag: headaches

I woke with a wicked headache this morning. I’m in an absolutely shit mood, too. I woke irritable and cross with the world – on Thanksgiving. For fucks sake. What a… headache. I snarled a warning at my partner, and took my coffee into my studio and closed the door on the world. I put on a video of rain – maybe the sound will sooth me somehow? Fuck this headache. Fuck having a headache on a holiday.

…Omg… so much cooking to do… fuck.

I went to bed looking forward to today, and yeah even looking forward to the cooking. Right now? Right now I am not “looking forward” at all. I’m sitting here in my moment, with this fucking headache.

The sounds of rain are usually so soothing… this morning this video just isn’t getting me there. Headache is that bad. What I find myself listening to is the sound of my computer’s fans spinning up to deal with the high resolution video. I pause it and leave the picture up on the screen. I have no fucks to give. I leave my padded noise-canceling headphones on. They don’t do that much to cancel the very nearby sound of the computer fans, or my fingers on the keys of my mechanical keyboard, but they provide a muffled perspective on everything else. Quieter. My tinnitus is very loud.

I try listening to music. All the songs I usually enjoy are just annoying me right now. So I turn that off, too. I alternate sips of coffee with sips of water. I make a specific point of not looking at the news at all; there’s no chance that will be actually helpful, and some chance it could make things worse (by way of anxiety).

It is Thanksgiving. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for in spite of this headache. I focus on that, bringing my thoughts back to things I am grateful for each time they wander back to this fucking headache. (It can’t last forever…so I’ll just keep at it.) What am I grateful for, sitting here right now, headache and all? I think it over and drink my coffee, which is quite good in spite of my crappy mood.

…I’m grateful for this cup of excellent coffee made from good quality Ethiopian coffee beans. I don’t really know how long coffee will continue to exist, so I enjoy it while it is available and make a point of buying from roasters that are at least trying to source their beans sustainably and also paying the farmers a fair price.

I’m grateful to have a secure roof over my head, a home to call my own, and amenities like indoor plumbing, potable drinking water, and heat. I know there are families that don’t, not only in far away places but also right here in my country, my state, my county, and my community. (Pretty appalling, frankly – use your vote wisely.)

I’m grateful to be so fortunate as to have the luxury of beefing about a fucking headache on Thanksgiving; I know I can head to the kitchen any time and start preparing an ample holiday meal of wholesome good quality ingredients. I have numerous excellent cookbooks for inspiration, and highspeed internet to catch the latest cooking videos from favorite content creators. I am fortunate indeed. Even with the headache.

I’m grateful to have electricity. Like… seriously grateful. I sip my coffee for a minute thinking about how different life would have to be without electricity… and how many of our luxuries (that we mostly take for granted) are entirely dependent on having electricity in the first place.

My sleep has been filled with nightmares for a couple weeks now. I’m not sure why. I’m grateful af though that I am at least getting enough sleep (and rest) to start each day fresh in spite of the content of my dreams. That’s not a small thing. Getting enough actual rest means that I can generally expect that my dreams will not linger in my consciousness for long, once I wake. That’s actually a pretty big deal.

I’m grateful to have so many friends. Sure, most of them are quite distant, geographically, and we often go years without seeing each other. Doesn’t stop us from caring and connecting in between times. I could be a better friend, though… I pause this writing and send some emails to friends, wishing them a festive holiday meal. I miss them – particularly on Thanksgiving. When we were younger and living closer together, we’d often get together for a holiday meal. I do miss that. I’m grateful to have enjoyed it whenever we could. Good memories.

I’m grateful to have a partner who – after waking up irritable himself over not being able to sleep – can drop everything to be comforting and to try to be helpful, when I alert him of my vicious headache and shitty mood, in spite of where he’s at himself. Not one word of doubt that we’ll have a pleasant holiday, either; he knows that we’ll both get our shit together as the morning wears on, and go ahead and do the needful. Good partnership. We’re both entirely made of human, and god damn do we love each other. (I feel tears start falling, streaming down my face… I don’t know why, and I just let them fall. We’re mortal creatures, and sometimes that is reason enough for tears.)

I’m grateful even for the tears; I can feel. That’s kind of a big deal, too.

Rough morning. Still Thanksgiving and I’ve got a lot to be thankful for – this headache does not change that truth. I put on a playlist of love songs and begin again.

I’m having a moment. It has lasted most of the day, on and off. Maybe it’s me. I’m in more pain than usual, and I woke with a vicious headache and a bit of a “fuck this shit” sense of the world around me. I feel crowded “by everything”, and I seethe in the background without having anything to be properly angry over. Between the headache, and the tension in my partnership that may or may not be to do with the pain I’m in, or the pain he’s in, or whatever-the-fuck today is about, I’m pretty well “over” the whole today thing, generally. Fuck Wednesday. I mean… today. Now. This week. I’m cross and I hurt and I feel disrespected and unappreciated. Possibly a universal condition, in some circles. Some Wednesdays are lovely. This one has pretty much sucked fairly completely, more or less end to end. I’m not even sure why. It sort of just feels as if every time I relax for a minute, something is skidding sideways somewhere, or someone is snarling at me, or some shit that seems small to me is a fucking huge deal to someone else who is ready to just die on that fucking hill rather than cope gently with another human being. Over it. Over it. Done. Finished. While I’m on about it – fuck this headache, too.

I look for a picture to calm me. Fuck flowers. I look for music to soothe my savagery. I find this. This. This other thing, here. Not doing it for me. This feels better… it hits a nerve. Thanks, Beyoncé.

Why the hell has today been so… hard? I mean, I know how much pain colors my experience. Impersonal. Encroaching on my consciousness. Shrinking my world. It probably doesn’t actually “show” to anyone just looking at me – too many years of “appearances” and “coping”. I’m not alone. Not saying that I am. Not saying there aren’t a lot of people who have it worse. It’s not a competition or a race. There are no “cool points” for enduring more pain, or being more obviously in a bad way. Pain simultaneously humbles me and drives me into myself. Resilience takes practice. “Sometimes ya gotta get knocked down to get up!” Isn’t that the truth!

I take a breath. Exhale. Relax. Take steps to move on. Change the music. Change the picture.

Change the picture. Change the thoughts. Change the perspective. Change is.

It’s time to begin again. There are verbs involved.

I’m sipping my Monday-morning-before-work coffee, and contemplating the days preceding this moment. Festive. Lovely. Warmed-through with loving intentions. Merry. So very merry. 🙂 I will admit to lower-than-average expectations – I mean, seriously, there’s a pandemic going on, and American politics are a disappointing ethical shambles presently, and I could every bit as easily have found myself focused on all that mess, instead of the delightful holiday interlude I shared with my Traveling Partner. I chose to focus on the holidays at hand, though, and the outcome was precious and will be cherished for the lifetime ahead. 🙂

…So merry…

Gifts were opened. Coffees and sweets and jokes were shared. Holiday tunes played in the background. I took winter walks along muddy lanes (rain here, no snow). Texts and emails were sent to family and friends (cards were mailed, probably too late to arrive in advance of the holiday). Cookies were baked. Recipes were tried. We reminisced over old times, good times, other times. It was a sweet and romantic connected holiday for two, in The Time of Pandemic. We didn’t go out. We didn’t have friends over. The car has the same gas in the tank it did more than a week ago. lol Sweet strange little holiday that managed to make my “top ten” lifetime fantastic holidays. 🙂

I feel fortunate. I sip my coffee smiling this morning. Half days in the office this week… I’m not expected until later on. Ample time to write… and to read. Maybe to paint? Do some housekeeping. 🙂 One life being lived.

My Traveling Partner woke minutes after I did, this morning. We both seem to be sleeping very well lately. We’re both less grumpy in the mornings as a result. It’s nice. I make room in my thoughts for a moment of compassion and understanding that it can be difficult not to be grumpy when one wakes in pain, and starts the day fairly certain that it’s not going to change. I consider my physical wellness this morning; I am in less pain because I am more well-rested? Maybe. It’s important to be mindful and note any changes in that sort of thing. Allowing implicit memory to smooth out changes that could indicate improvements (and it will) can make it difficult to enjoy and live a reality of less pain… I mean… I’m not going to be able to enjoy what I am not aware of, right? 🙂

Solstice…Giftmas…then, New Year’s… 2020 is almost over. It is an ending layered with more than typical meaning and significance for many people. What will we do with the opportunity ahead to make 2021 more meaningful and significant for ourselves, our families, our community, and for the world? What will I do with that opportunity?

…Then again (and also true), it’s just another change of day-month-year on an arbitrary calendar. It could be any day. It could be any moment – we can each choose to begin again when we will. That’s pretty powerful stuff. 😀 (Does tend to leave us without excuses, though, for why we have not embraced an important change we know we need to make for ourselves.) S’okay. We’ve got a few more days to consider the new year ahead. 🙂

It’s time to begin again. How will we change the world?

Time to get back to the office. I’m okay with that. My Traveling Partner is pre-occupied with work right now, and when I am at home working, focused on work, the day-to-day communication challenges associated with my brain injury can be a little more obvious, and, I guess, a little more frustrating. Neither of us need that headache right now.

…Having a TBI that affects how I communicate is more than annoying, sometimes, for everyone dealing with it (not just me). It’s doubly hard when so much about “me” makes it super easy to forget, most of the time, that I have some of these issues…then… fuck. There they are. “Issues”. Damn it. I’m not sure which thing is more frustrating… is it that I often ask for clarification because context is not enough to narrow down the meanings of words to just the one thing intended? (So many words have multiple, or nuanced, meanings, and I “hear them all” when people are talking.) Maybe it is that I sometimes “answer the wrong question” (Okay, I do this a lot, and it is super comical until it becomes super aggravating.) – meaning, that, if you ask me a “when” question, I may give you the “why” – and yes, if you humorously reply by asking me the “why” question, indeed, without skipping a beat, you’re likely to get the “when” of it, without me immediately noticing what I’ve done. :-\ I wish it always just stayed funny, though. It’s not like I’m “doing it on purpose”.

…Then there is the seeming “evasion” when asked a question, and I literally just… go blank. Overloaded trying to both understand and answer, usually in circumstances where there is a clear expectation that I will “get it right” because it is “easy” and “should be right there”. I catch up, sure, but by then I’ve somehow communicated a lack of trustworthiness that can seep into even those interactions with people familiar with me for a long time, and aware of my injury. Aggravating for all concerned. Super painful for me to deal with. Way too many opportunities for hurt feelings, all around.

…And how about those opposites? Omg, yeah. I work with numbers – and this particular challenge is painful, and common; I sometimes say the literal opposite of what I am actually thinking (positive vs. negative, yes vs no, even “opposite colors”, and concepts). Like a cruel prank on myself. Fuck that shit. At least this is one I commonly catch, in the moment, myself. It’s just so hard, sometimes. I want to be heard, valued, and accepted, and I want my words to do credit to my thinking. Realistically, I’m not going to get that any more often, or any more easily, than anyone else. Sometimes, it’s just not there for me. Real talk. Sometimes I sound like a complete dumb ass.

My head aches with trying to manage my headaches, on top of staying on top of all the cognitive disarray, get complicated, and although I do okay sitting here at a keyboard… if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ve probably seen it, too. :-\ It’s not getting better as I age, I assure you. In fact, in spite of continued rehabilitative work, specific to improving these sorts of things, I recognize that there are some indications some of this is getting worse, very slowly, over time. Certainly, that last transient ischemic attack (July? 2013? 2014?) was notable, and obvious, in my writing, and I still see it in “wrong endings” of words – a type of “spelling mistake” that isn’t about spelling at all, and cropped up immediately after that TIA, and persists, to a lesser degree, even now. Brain damage? Yeah. Brain damage. It is what it is.

…How long before the frustration of friends and loved ones isolates me completely, relegated to fond memories, and deliberately patient, tolerant, excuses for putting up with me… or… just… not. Just quiet sorrow, and regrets…

I sigh heavily in the quite room, listening to David Bowie, “I’m Afraid of Americans” (but only because it was next on this playlist, although… yeah). Glum thoughts over good coffee. Feeling a bit anxious about life, generally, and about aging, specifically, and what it may mean for my relationships. My brain attacks me immediately, and with real force, “he’s not going to love you forever, not like this, not if you can’t communicate; you’ve already lost your looks, what’s even left now…?” My brain whispers my worst fears and insecurities to me.

“Fuck. For real? Right now? I’ve got work you know.” I silently chastise my personal demons, and have another sip of coffee as the tears slide down my face. “I’m not having it, you vile bitch, just go ahead and head on back to The Nightmare City, I just don’t have time this morning.” I frown into my coffee, annoyed with myself, my insecurities, my vulnerabilities… my humanity.

I switch up my playlist to something lighter, and hope for the best as my tears dry. It’s a place to start…and it’s time to begin again. This morning, that’s got real meaning; it’s an opportunity to acknowledge my fears and insecurities, accept that these are experiences and feelings I need to address in an authentic, honest, and gentle way with myself. I take a couple of deep cleansing breaths, exhaling slowly and evenly after each, until it feels comfortable. I feel myself relax a bit. I make a point to fill my thoughts with recent positive interactions with my Traveling Partner, and the delight of a recent long email from a dear friend, and the recent triumphs and achievements at work… there’s a lot to be grateful for, to be satisfied with, and to enjoy.

I finish my coffee. I start my day.

I woke smiling this morning, although in pain, and feeling light-hearted, balanced, and calm. This would seem almost commonplace, except that last night, at the end of a wonderful evening with my traveling partner, some particular turn of phrase, repeated several times in conversation in relatively quick succession, triggered my PTSD symptoms. My emotions quickly spiraled out of control, and somewhen in the midst of it, I directed my dear love to go, to leave, to walk on…and found myself alone and crying; he respected my boundaries, which sucked then, but this morning it is something I cherish. I can count on him so utterly.

p.s. I love you.

p.s. I love you.

He phoned me after he left, upset and concerned. He pointed out my symptoms (because I am not always aware that I am interacting with some other experience). We talked.  Afterward, I took time to meditate. I calmed and soothed myself – relying on emotional resilience and self-sufficiency that I am building over time through all manner of practices (like meditation). I reflected later on what went down, and how and why. Moments like last night are outstanding for monitoring growth and progress – but they still suck completely and entirely. I emailed him an unreserved heartfelt apology, making no excuses for my behavior (let’s be real here, it’s been much much worse in the past, and that’s not relevant to treating someone I love badly now!), which was uncomfortable for both of us, and unpleasantly emotional. I was already over it such that I could also express gratitude and appreciation for what he was attempting to discuss and help me with, and I had taken time to follow up on our shared concern and the practical relevant details… like a grown up. 🙂

I made a note for myself to follow up later on developing more effective ways to gently communicate that some particular detail, phrase, approach, or behavior has the potential to trigger me – not in the hope of having it avoided, but because in real life these things come up, and one by one I must move past them, for my own emotional well-being, and as a loving investment in my relationships, and wouldn’t it be nice once in a while to just say ‘Oh hey, could you rephrase that one this time? I’m still working on that and I’ve got some challenges with that verbiage’. It takes time, but I no longer view improving on these things as unachievable; I may have some measure of PTSD for the rest of my life, but there is nothing about that which suggests I can’t continue to improve, to grow, and to become the woman I want most to be.

We've all got some baggage.

We’ve all got some baggage.

When my traveling partner had gone, and I was sifting through my chaos and damage, it was quickly very clear that the entire problematic exchange wasn’t at all about or with him (or us) in any way at all; I could feel my violent first husband standing in the room with me. It was an eye-opening moment to be so able to clearly sense the anachronistic miasma of ancient fear and pain. It was also part of what allowed me to move past the moment – and my symptoms – so quickly last night, once I was alone. I could really feel that it didn’t source in my real experience of the moment in any way at all. I had been triggered – and I don’t mean mainstream press too-pc-for-adulthood-don’t-say-things-I-find-discomfiting- “triggered”*.  I mean no bullshit, I was having a post-traumatic stress flashback. Generally, in the past I have had no way of clearly discerning that such is the case until well afterward. This is growth. I don’t know what to do with it, but it is very promising, anyway. I haven’t had a flash back in a long while (months, and well before I moved into my own place, back in March).

Every moment of growth is as a rainbow in a stormy sky; a promise of better things.

Every moment of growth is as a rainbow in a stormy sky; a promise of better things.

Last night – and a couple of times early in the day – I was having a strange very severe headache in a weird location, that throbbed with a deep dull nauseating ache that pulsed every 10-15 seconds or so. I’ve no idea if it was related, causal, or worth consider a serious concern… except that any headache that is unusual is also of great concern for someone with a TBI and a family history of stroke. This morning I made a point of emailing my physician to make note of the headache, and ask if I should make an appointment. I haven’t felt it yet today, so perhaps it was just a headache.

Today I'm not making this complicated.

Today I’m not making this complicated.

I am okay right now. Love is okay right now. Human beings persist in being human, and life offers opportunities to learn, to fail, to grow, and to connect our hearts through what is difficult more often than through what is easy. It’s worth becoming skilled at managing my worst moments more skillfully; I can count on most of the best moments to take care of themselves.

It helps to have the right tool for the job.

It helps to have the right tool for the job…

Today is a good day to practice good practices. Today is a good day to take care of me – and to take care of love. Today is a good day for listening deeply, and connecting honestly. Today is a good day for authenticity and vulnerability. Today is a good day to say thank you, when love shoulders the heavy load my post-traumatic stress carries every day. Today is a good day to walk on, and enjoy blue skies. I am okay right now. 🙂

...and perhaps a change of perspective.

…and perhaps a change of perspective.

It's a journey. Each step I take is my own.

It’s a journey. Each step I take is my own.

*Just an afterthought…Can I just say that I find it damned inconvenient that people have undermined the value and meaning of the word ‘triggered‘ by diluting it for their everyday over-sensitivity or bad-tempered moments? For someone with post-traumatic stress the experience of having symptoms triggered is not a mildly uncomfortable moment, or inconvenience – it’s a pretty big deal, associated with brain chemistry, volatility, mood, physical experiences, and isn’t something that can be easily turned away from or ‘managed’. By mis-using the word to cover feeling uncomfortable to read the ‘fuck’ in a news article, or because a moment of provocation caused a bit of temper, people who really need to express an experience are robbed the language to do so. Knock it off – go find your own words. Seriously. There’s a big difference between being a bad-tempered over-sensitive little bitch, and being having one’s post-traumatic stress triggered – trust me, I’ve had both experiences, and I’m pretty clear on the difference. 🙂