The $1600 Nap

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a vacation meant leaving everything at home…including migraine headaches. Instead, every vacation in my memory includes at least one debilitating migraine; our family trip to the amusement park where a migraine solicited a nap on a picnic table surrounded by throngs of people, our trip to New York City when a hot day in Central Park ended in an early night in bed, to mention just a few. When I went to Dallas on a business trip, I spent one fun filled evening in the hotel room with a scarf wrapped around my head. I could go into vomit stories, but I’m afraid that might just be too much excitement for one blog, plus the stories are pretty gross and occasionally just talking about it gives me a migraine so I refuse. Today. Anyway, I have gotten to the point where the potential of a migraine almost makes it seem more appealing to just stay home, but I’m not willing to give in to that level of apathy quite yet.

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Which leads me to the time I last visited my family doctor, to talk about Prozac. She asked me what I thought was causing my depression, and I told her that, beyond the normal battles of family life (which seem normal to me but I’m beginning to wonder), battling headaches on a daily basis is starting to wear me down. She then told me that she recently met a new doctor in town who specializes in headaches, in fact she “loves talking about headaches. And so I thought of you.” She thought of me, out of the hundreds of patients she sees on a monthly basis.

So I started seeing a headache specialist- a neurologist- two months ago. She prescribed¬† steroids, beta blockers, and Amitriptyline to counteract the pain I would experience while weaning off my daily doses of Excedrin Migraine. Apparently that stuff will give you liver damage and stroke, if you’re not careful. And believe me, I’m not careful at all when I see a migraine coming. Sometimes, lying in bed with that pain, I imagine methods of relief that include power drills or just sweet, sweet death. In the meantime, though, these new medications are quite enjoyable, and making me into the kind of calm, quiet person you see and wonder if she’s drugged. Except my dreams are crazy and actually pretty fun to think about later during the day when I’m bored.

It’s not only migraines that are a problem, but the daily rebounds headaches I live with because treating a headache before it becomes a migraine is important, although not necessarily effective. When my neurologist asked me how much Excedrin I was taking, I said, “Two a day? Sometimes four, if the first two don’t work.” Actually, once I took six and a volcano began to erupt in my throat and I could feel my kidneys. I don’t actually think it’s normal to feel your kidneys so that was the last time I took six.

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Get in my belly!  Photo cred: fashions-cloud.com

“So,” my doctor asks after some mental math (there is a reason some people are cut out to be doctors), “you’re taking somewhere around twenty per week?”

And I promised myself I would be honest. Plus I don’t think there is a jail for over-the-counter Excedrin abusers. So I said, “Well, if you put it that way…”

The doctor then requested a brain scan and an MRI and told me that she would start working for approval from my insurance company for Botox for Migraines. She said it normally takes about two months for approval.

The person who helped me schedule the MRI asked me three times if I thought I needed sedation during the procedure. After the third time I asked her “Do YOU think I need sedation?” I was starting to feel like I would be missing out on something if I didn’t do it.

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Common, you know you want some sedation. Photo cred: SNL

“Are you claustrophobic?” she asked.

“Not especially,” I asked. “But how long will it take? I do have a hard time laying still for a long time.”

“You should probably be sedated.”

So apparently the MRI clinic left voice mails on my voicemail-deficient phone a couple of days prior to the event, but I didn’t receive them. So, because I drank water just before the appointment,¬† I was told that they couldn’t intravenously sedate me, but she should give me two Xanax. Which ended up being the exact right amount.Big props went out to my defective phone.

After drugging me, a pleasant woman chatted with me for a while and then put me into a machine. It was an “Open MRI,” which is different than the normal kind and more open, I hear. So open and pleasant, in fact, that I drifted into the most peaceful nap I have taken in ages and when I awoke 45 minutes later, I felt like I had been to a spa. Relaxed and rejuvenated, was I. I began to wonder what actually happened to my brain during that so-called MRI. Whatever it was, the lady told me I did a “great job!” but I’m giving all the credit to Xanax.

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I don’t look like this, but I felt this pampered. Photo credit: Mayfair Hotel and Spa

So over the last few weeks, I have been receiving phone calls from a number I don’t recognize. And due to my deficient cell phone, I have no idea if the calls are trying to warn me of a brain tumor, a stroke, or simply that everything is hunky dory in there. I have this thing against answering the phone (a story for another time) so I’ve decided to wait to talk to my neurologist, because she is a pain-relieving genius and also because the idea of having foreign objects existing inside my head doesn’t scare me like it probably should.

Tomorrow I meet with the neurologist again, and I believe we will be talking Botox (if the teeny-tiny possibility of a tumor is ruled out.) The idea of thirty needles poking into my head is so much nicer than the idea of another migraine, so I am looking forward to it. And I would be lying if I said that I don’t have a small hope of an injection or two in the squint wrinkles between my eyes. In fact, if I end up with a smooth forehead, youthful as a fetus, it would be all right by me. Because I deserve it after all I’ve endured.

I’ll keep you updated.

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Looks like a bad freckle make-up job. Photo cred: http://www.sheknows.com

 

 

 

 

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Dave Chapelle Hates Hartford/The Conchords Still Got It

When attending the Funny or Die Oddball Fest in Tinley park last night, the one thing I learned for sure is that Dave Chappelle hates Hartford. In fact, the first two words in his act were just that: “Fuck. Hartford.” With much emphasis. Apparently, two nights before, he had a difficult time with the crowd at the Connecticut show, dealing with unruly, heckling, “drunk white suburbanites” and then choosing to not deal with them at all by sitting down, smoking a cigarette and waiting out his contracted 25 minute time slot.

Too bad for them, too, because the Chicago show was fantastic. I went for Flight of the Conchords, but I swear I laughed more during Chappelle’s act than I did theirs. Chappelle performed in his usual style, talking about his family, race, the lesson he’s learned about giving up (no apologies), and ranting for a while about Hartford (“Now, I don’t WANT North Korea to bomb the U.S…… but if it DOES…I hope the bomb lands on Hartford, Connecticut.”) It’s too bad the folks in Hartford show missed it, but I don’t feel too sorry for them since I’ve despised the entire state since the first time I watched Angela on Who’s the Boss. The place was probably all shoulder pads and puffy yellow hair. I would have walked out, too.

The Conchords were my objective for the night, and they did not disappoint. They opened with a hilariously dated New Zealand tourism video (featuring a woman with a Dorothy Hamil haircut and a guy in a leisure suit) that they claimed was “from this year.” It’s at least a hundred years old, though, because I first remember seeing it when they posted it on their Myspace page.

Their set list was comprised of (in no particular order): “Jenny,” “Inner City Pressure,” “Song for Epileptic Dogs,” a “Hurt Feelings/Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros” mash up, the classic “Business Time” (“Take off those granny panties. You ain’t no granny TO-NIGHT!”), and some new ones since last U.S. tour: “The Summer of 1352,” “Fuck on the Ceiling,” and a really funny and melodically beautiful song about a father and his son. Unfortunately for the father of the song, the mother left him for a guy named Trevor who is a “new, cooler dad.” There was also lots of really good banter about muffins which made me laugh because I was just talking abut muffins the other day. I think we may be psychically connected, but no big whoop. They made sure the audience knew that “complimentary muffins” are not muffins that tell you nice things about yourself.

Kristen Schall was the first act, and I know this sounds sexist but it grosses me out to hear a woman tell really filthy, body-part specific jokes. It grosses me out when men do it, too, but I feel like we, as women, have a responsibility to uphold a certain standard since we basically do everything else, too. What’s a little more responsibility, right? Anyway, she did this really weird Flashdance dance which I didn’t really get into until Jemaine joined in (who am I kidding- I didn’t really get into it then, either… that’s how I could tell it didn’t quite work.)

Hannibal Burress was funny, but not really my thing-I think he may have talked about vaginas a lot, too, but I could be wrong. I was laughing but possibly only because I didn’t want the kids beside me to think I was uptight and/or relating to and taking the vagina jokes personally. Don’t worry about it, kids.

Demetri Martin was adorable as usual. He was clever and observant and only talked about diarrhea once. Toilet humor is funny in small doses (see?)

The other comedians were funny but we were on the lawn, otherwise known by Demetri as “the poor people section,” and I spent a lot of time adjusting myself so my feet wouldn’t fall asleep and since they weren’t entertaining enough to counteract that, I can’t remember much of what was said. All in all, though, it was worth the trip and I’m glad I went. I’m looking forward to the next one.

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( Not my photo. This was taken by someone who should not have been taking photos.
Not to mention, the lawn was way too far away for pictures and I guess I’m just jealous that this person was this much closer than I was.)

Bad gifts

“But he was good, Will could see that now. Not good as in obedient and uncomplaining; it was more of a mindset kind of good, where you looked at something like a pile of crap presents and recognized that they were given with love and chosen with care, and that was enough.”
– Nick Hornby, “About a Boy”

When I was nine my grandmother gave me the most disappointing gift of my life. She prepped me for weeks before Christmas about it, playing “bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a house” guessing games, conferring loudly about it with my aunt, and making me rigid with anticipation during an already stressful season. I couldn’t imagine what could be so good that people were literally more excited for me than I was.

Christmas, post-lunchtime, I was so anxious I hardly ate anything. We were in my grandma’s basement which, incidentally, used to be a Mexican restaurant and had a mural of a bullfighter and a cactus painted on the wall that scratched your arms when you walked too close. I sat at the table across from the bull. As soon as the dishes were cleared, my cousin handed me a box wrapped in red paper dotted with Christmas trees. There was clearly envy in his eyes. Obviously word had spread.

I tore the wrapping paper off to find a box with a picture of a doll on the front. The doll was a little blonde girl (like me!) holding a smaller doll like a baby. Two dolls! Pretty cool, I thought. Gift of the year? Not really. But maybe it did something…

Oh, it did. Grandma took it out of the box and turned it on. The first thing I noticed was that it was a black doll, which would have been fine except that hair braiding was definitely out due to its short Afro hairdo and I was also going to have a very hard time passing her off as my biological daughter-doll. The second more terrifying aspect was that it was mechanical and when it was switched on, it played music and rocked the baby doll in its stiff little arms while opening and closing its eyes. I hugged my grandma and thanked her, but didn’t take my eyes off that doll.

Before I even left the table I had decided that her new home would be my mom’s bedroom closet. Occasionally, one of my brothers would put her on my dresser so that when I flipped on my bedroom light switch at night, she would be staring at me from across the room. My mom claimed that once it turned on by itself and she was going to throw it away but she was afraid my grandma would find out. I would have been afraid it would have reappeared on my dresser, covered in trash, blinking at me hatefully.

The thing is, I never let on. My grandma went to her grave believing that I loved that gift, just as she should have. Because she meant well, and sometimes loving people means lying about things, even if it’s terrifying and blinking at you and rocking a dead-looking baby doll.

“I could see my mother going in Spaulding’s and asking the salesman a million dopey questions. And here I was getting the ax again. It made me feel pretty sad. She bought me the wrong kind of skates–I wanted racing and she bought hockey–but it made me sad anyway. Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad.”
-J.D. Salinger, “The Catcher in the Rye”

It didn’t look at all like this:

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Graduation

Our youngest son graduated from high school this year and today we had an open house to celebrate. I am sitting here exhausted, but feeling so fortunate that so many of our friends and family joined us in congratulating him and wishing him a bright and joyous future.

I don’t know where the time goes, but it feels like just minutes ago that he was bravely clutching his stuffed dog before walking into Kindergarden “because on their first day, they may need someone to hold onto.”

As far as people to hold onto, I was touched to see how many care and support not only him, but our family as a whole. I was proud of how many people spoke well of how he behaves when we aren’t around. When people I’ve never met tell me that he is a wonderful young man, I know he’s someone who will do good things in the world on his own. Releasing a child into adulthood without that knowledge is a pretty scary thing, but I know he’ll do just fine.

Today I am a very proud mom. School’s out. What a ride that was.

Burn-Proof Blog

I’m going on a trip soon, and wanted to start a blog for chronicalization purposes (is that a word? I don’t have time to look it up but it’s okay- I make up words all the time.)

I have begun many blogs over the years, but always abandoned them by entry 2 or 3, usually because I forgot my user name and password whenever I had something to write down. This time will be better (… I wrote down my password this time).

Here’s the thing-I’ve always loved to write, but have never been thrilled about having people read what I’ve written. Over the last few years though, since the advent of Social Media (I’m saying this in my old woman voice), things are changing. I’m kind of an open book now, mainly because as I age, I have begun to care less about what other people think of what I think. Maybe that doesn’t make sense but…. it’s okay, I don’t care. I’m writing this for me.

My first journal was a little padded thing with a Scottie dog on the front and a high-security lock that could only be opened with a special key, or a bobby pin. If anyone were to open it (and I suspect they did, since I had two older brothers and a cosmetologically trained mother ripe with safety pins and wig-stands (I have a great wig-story, but that’s for another time)) they would have found out about my deep longing to marry Michael J. Fox and a couple of boys in my class at school. The humiliation would have been unbearable.

My room should have been off-limits, but let me tell you- there was a time when I hid my change jar and put a note in it telling my brother “YOU BETTER STAY OUT OF THIS, JERK” (because I was tired of being robbed), and he left a note back. After combing my room for my money jar, finding it, and robbing it, he left a note that said: “You’re a jerk. I’ll pay you back after allowance day.” Maybe I was, but I suspect it was the other way around. We get along fine now (in case he’s reading this).

The Scottie Dog Journal and all of my subsequent journals piled up in a cardboard box with notes from friends and letters from pen pals until one day when I was 18, and I burned them all in our fireplace. Why did I do that? Who knows. I remember watching an episode of “Coach” while I was doing it. Maybe it was something Craig T Nelson said. Maybe I didn’t want my soon-to-be-husband to read about my love for Michael J. Fox. Whatever the reason, it is one of my biggest regrets. Up in flames went the response letter I received from the Snoopy Fan Club in second grade, with a handwritten note on the bottom commending my drawing of Snoopy. I always imagined it was written Charles Schultz. Maybe it was. I hope it wasn’t.

So this is my brand-new burn-proof blog. The coolest thing about it, is that the photos are no longer cut from Teen Beat magazine and on the internets I can find as many photos of celebrities as I want- for free! This should be fun for some. Others may hate it, but the coolest thing is I don’t care anymore. You can leave your bobby pins at home.