my migraine routine

My first migraine was 8 years ago.  I laid in bed, kept my room dark, and tried to ignore the sense that my head would soon explode.

They’ve become more frequent over the past couple of years; a fact I attribute to residual pain from falling down the stairs (twice).  Funny thing – when you fall down the stairs (twice), it messes you up.

So heres a little bit of what I do to get through and move past my migraines.

[heads up (pun intended): if you have a migraine or any malady that is ongoing, talk to your freakin’ PCP**  Keep them in the loop, be in tune with your body, get treatment if needed [mic drop].

** PCP = primary care provider – not to be confused with PCP / phenylcyclidine, the hallucinogen.  It should be noted that having a serious healthcare conversation with an inanimate street drug will not lead to proper medical care.

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Anyways, back to the migraine talk.

DURING THE MIGRAINE

 

I usually experience symptoms before a migraine that tell me I need to start looking out for myself.  Earlier in the day I may have a low grade headache and I start to feel like I kinked my neck and my back gets achy.  As the migraine nears, I’ll get nauseous and sensitive to light.

These cues tell me to slow down and move into self care mode.  If work / school / previous engagements can be rearranged, I’ll do it.

  • Hydration: I know that I’ll get a headache if I’m dehydrated, so if I’m a bit achy, I’ll push myself to drink more water.  If that doesn’t fix it, I know its good for me anyways!
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I made a super straw for my 42 oz hydroflask!
  • Showertime: if I’m about to go into hibernation mode, I want to be clean.  Sometimes the brightness of the bathroom and heat of a shower make my head throb worse, but I do it anyways.  I want to feel clean and put together when I’m channeling my inner hermit (who am I kidding, I don’t have to reach that far to channel hermit-like behavior)
  • Cavewoman: after I shower, I’ll get into my favorite PJs and cozy up in my bedroom.  I close all the blinds and turn off the lights making it as dark as possible.
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sleeping angel
  • Medicine (duh): at this time I usually take a prescription for migraines (if you’re interested in what it is, talk to your doctor!), though sometimes I take it pre-shower.  It takes about 30 minutes to kick in then I’ll get groggy.
  • Put the Zzzzz’s in Zen: since my eyes get sensitive, reading / watching / browsing on my phone are all out.  Personally, I find rote prayer really soothing.  Repeating simple prayers relaxes my mind and puts me in a meditative mood.  I will hold a set of rosary beads (with the least pointy Crucifix – important if you fall asleep then end up laying on it) and pray.  Within fifteen to twenty minutes, I’m asleep.
    • Obvs many of us have different beliefs, so if you’re reading this for tips, find what works for you.  Mentally repeating a favorite song, poem, or memory can also help take your mind off of your migraine and help you begin to relax.

 

Aaahhhfter the migraine

  • Sleeeeep:  I let myself sleep in.  It should be noted that sleeping past 6am feels like a luxury (thanks Nalabear) so I’ll usually wake up naturally between 6:30 and 7am.
  • Be the sloth:  I take it slow the next morning.  I don’t want to rush back into routine and try to make up anything I missed immediately because that is a solid way to ensure I’ll slip right into another migraine.  So I move tenderly and proceed with caution.

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  • Breakfast: Because I get nauseous before and during my migraines, I keep it simple.  I’ll make myself a nutrient dense protein shake that I can slip slowly throughout the morning.  I drink one that stocked full of antioxidants and B vitamins to help boost my body back to normal.
  • My first love:  I sip coffee, usually black.  I love coffee normally, but the caffeine is soothing post-headache and helps wake me up from my medicine induced 10 hour slumber.

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  • Gem gems: these little ginger candies look like tiny powdery poops, I won’t lie.  But they’re wonderful!  If my stomach is still sensitive, i’ll carry these with me and use a couple during the day.

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  • Screw makeup: I makedown myself.  My face is puffy after a migraine, my eyes are sensitive and red; and the last thing I want to do is try to do precision eye liner.  A tinted moisturizer is fine, then I can relax and not worry about my mascara smearing and making look more tired than I really am.
  • Taking the load off: because my headaches are so tied to neck and back pain, I avoid carrying things on my shoulders.  I’ll pack light or hold my bags in my hands and slightly bend my elbows (reducing the burden on my neck and shoulders).
  • 20-20:  I learned this rule during a photography course in undergrad.  Every 20 minutes of screen time, divert your eyes and allow them to refocus on something 20 feet away.  This gets me away from screens for a minute and reduces the strain my eyes are taking in a day.

There it is!  My little go-to migraine routine.  I hope it helps.  If you have any great tricks for making these b*tches more bearable – holla at yo girl!  We migrainers need to help each other out.

Courtney

autumn splendor

A few weeks ago, my friend Jenna and I went on a walk.  She is a nurse as well, so after many hours spent within the hospital walls, we needed some sunshine and fresh air.  Couldn’t everyone benefit from more of that?

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So we wandered about our town and came upon a little autumn sanctuary.  A grove of trees, fallen logs, crisp air, and fall hues surrounded us.  It was an autumn lovers dream.

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Sometimes (all the time) it a good idea to step away from screens and savor nature.  We listened to the crunch of leaves under our feet, felt the breeze fly by our cheeks, and enjoyed the moment we were in.

Did any of you read the Little House on the Prairie series?  I grew up on those books.  This scene brings me back to ‘On the Banks of Plum Creek’.

I used to dream about living out in nature, in a little home burrowed into a knoll, like the Wilders.  While today I am glad my home isn’t subterranean, it is nice to know of a place where I can go to be transported back to that childhood feeling of wistfulness and wonderment.  Like sunshine and fresh air, I think we could all use more of those things as well.

Sick Day.

I am sick. Bleeeeeh.  That is my sick sound.

And since I am achey and stuck on the sofa (or my bed or maaaybe my cozy desk chair), I thought I would blog about my sick routine.

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When I am sick, I REST.  I think this is the most important part of healing for me.  When I get sick, it is really predictable. Personally, I find it comes after a really busy and stressful time.  I don’t sleep as much as I should, I am stressed out with this and that, I don’t work out regularly, and my meals are not balanced.  This all ends up in a big cold.

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I also use the Neti-Pot, at least twice a day.  This is a must for me.  I usually just get the common cold – the Rhinovirus – so I feel congested and my sinuses feel super swollen.  This clears it out and helps me breath – aaah oxygen!

Showering and cleaning happen too.  I find that if I am cleaned up, it is easier for me to not feel down in the dumps.  The steam from the shower helps soothe my achey airways and I feel like I am priming my system for healing!  Plus, no one wants to sleep in sheets that you’ve just coughed / sneezed all over.  Gross.

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I love coffee.  I love coffee every day.  But I especially love it when I am sick.  I find that the hot acidity of it really soothes an itchy / uncomfortable throat. If I drink enough to make my blood feel electric, it distracts me away from the muscle aches.  I also drink a lot of OJ and a lot of water.  I live in a desert, hydration is a MUST!

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A habit I got from my mom is getting in the sunshine.  She told me once that when she was a kiddo, she would try to get some sunshine on her face when she didn’t feel well.  I do the same thing today.  That usually just means sitting in my backyard for ten minutes at a time.  Soaking in the sunshine makes my body, mind, and soul feel better, holistically healing 😉 .  PS Florence Nightingale felt the same way!

I also tend to avoid any cough suppressants.  Most common products (any -quils out there) just make me feel drugged up and prolong whatever cold I have.  No good. I favor expectorants like Mucinex to get stuff up and OUT, vitamins, and that sweet menthol-scented Vick’s Vapo-Rub.

Now of course, if you are sick, the best thing you should do is take care of yourself and see your doctor when needed – none of the stuff I have mentioned above is professional opinion AT ALL!  These are just simple things that help me feel better faster.  And since I am stuck on the couch, I thought I would share it 🙂

I hope you feel well, have a beautiful day, and enjoy some sunshine.

Courtney

 

Whole30 round 2!

The last Whole30 I did was in September and October.  I talked a bit about it in this post, but I never came back to talk about how I felt when it finished.

And I did finish, I did 30 days with all of those restrictions – no dairy / legumes / grains / sugar / sweeteners / corn / processed foods / etc.   I was super proud of myself!  I love dairy and grains and sugar, especially when they are all wrapped up in the delicious package of a bowl of cereal.

do you hear the angels singing?
do you hear the angels singing?

So, as much as I loved these things, I kind of knew I needed to let them go.  Around that time, I had awful abdominal pain, energy spikes and crashes, and fluctuating hormone levels.  Although not all of these issues are purely food-related, I believe that quality food and nutrition would help.  And they did.

A couple of days into the process, my abdominal pain went away.  Two weeks in, my energy lifted out of its fog, and maintained.  I was able to feel clear-headed and awake throughout the day, without snacking or reaching for another coffee.

Because the Whole30 is so restrictive, I was able to re-introduce certain foods into my diet after I finished and clearly see what reactions my body had to them.  Most dairy gave me horrible pain, but on occasion, organic whole milk is fine. As is whole milk greek yogurt with bacteria (or “probiotics”) present.  I found that when I had skim, 2%, or cream – my abdominal pain came back.  Anytime the milk was in its whole form, it was pretty okay.  And for some reason, unknown to me, the organic milk rarely gave me any issues, where regular milk would.

Another fun finding was that processed sugar would make me feel like a crazy person.  I kid you not, my instructors would give out fun-sized candy – I would eat one – 20 minutes later I would feel more agitated, irritable, and emotional.  Also, it should be noted that my instructors would give out this candy when teaching about things like Diabetic Ketoacidosis or Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Syndrome… Kind of mixed messages there.

It should be mentioned, that none of these reactions prevented me from gorging myself during the holidays… Oh yeah, I ate a whole lotta cookies!

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Yeaaaah, maybe I over did it.
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Mmm, even the memory of them is delicious.

And fudge…and beef stroganoff…and more cookies, but a different kind…and chocolates….andandand…well, I ate a lot.  But it was okay, because if I was gassy it was around family so…. and if I got emotional, I just blamed it on those Hallmark Christmas commercials.  Seriously though, those aren’t even fair.  They don’t even give you a chance NOT to cry.  Just try!

I love that commercial so much!!!!!

Phew, okay.  I’ve composed myself.  Turns out, it triggers the same reaction even without sugar.

Anyways, so after my season of sugar, I decided that another Whole30 was in order.  I wanted to tame my sweet tooth, and reintroduce my body to fruit and vegetables.

Today, I am on day 17 – I started January 1st.  I feel great.  My energy is sustained throughout the day, I am sleeping better, my head feels clearer, and tummy feels better.

I have been cooking a whole bunch!  This time around, I set a goal for myself to try new and different foods and recipes.  I have made salmon, Kalua pork, brined moroccan chicken, and rutabaga hash.  I even barbecued during a snowstorm (I was determined to get grill marks, however the below freezing temp fought me on that one…)

I have even survived a trip to all-you-can-eat sushi with friends!  It went great, I ordered a sashimi plate for myself, extra salmon – less hamachi, and look what came out!

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Beautiful!  It was amazing!  It was way cheaper than the all-you-can-eat price, then I didn’t have to eat my body weight in rice.   I enjoyed the fish, and didn’t feel disgustingly stuffed afterwards (like I normally do after getting sushi).  To avoid soy sauce (no legumes, no soybeans), I recommend using coconut aminos (found in the vinegar / oil section of Whole Foods).  It costs less than 5$ and will last a long time.  The wasabi should be Whole30 compliant as well.

So today I continue.  I just pulled some chicken breasts out of my CrockPot (which I am in love with).  I put them in their frozen last night with leftover moroccan spice mix, chicken stock, and coconut milk (canned, not the milk alternative) – now they are delicious!

When I am done with this Whole30, I would like to experiment with Paleo baking.  The Whole30 puts the cabbash on Paleo-fying non-paleo foods (pancakes, pizza, desserts, etc). But when I am done, I would like to try out some recipes for waffles and desserts.  Most of them utilize very little coconut or almond flour and only minimal amounts of natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar.  If I find anything good, I will share it here!

I hope you have a great rest of your day, I am off to study, eat, get a haircut, and savor the rest of my day off, without added sugar of course.

What gray days are for

Today is a gray day.

There is a thick cloudy layer, floating above Reno and I am enjoying it.  Black coffee is so much more satisfying and cozy during a little rain.  Or during sunshine.  Or snow.  Or hail.  Or anytime because coffee, black or otherwise, is freakin’ amazing!!!!

Maybe I will limit myself to one cup today…

As usual around finals time, my mind begins to wander more easily.  So-this post may seem a bit random, some gratitude / some reflection.  We’ll see where it goes, shall we?  Well…I will see where it goes, you may or may not continue to read it depending.  I will try to input fun stuff from the internet throughout to keep it interesting.

That video is my dream future.

Hm, let’s start with gratitude.  I’ve been late on a lot of my Sunday posts, but I am still one grateful lady.

  • The past few weeks, I have been woken up several times by the wind.  It was a’hooowlin!  It came with icy temperatures, rain, and freezing fog.  And I rode out each storm in bed.  With the heat on.  With a roof over my head.  My home is sturdy and we were kept protected and warm.  What a gift!  But each time I woke up, my mind moved to all of those people who don’t have homes. There are a LOT of people without permanent homes today.  Particularly in Nevada.  At the same time, I am grateful for proactive people in our community who work to be a part of the solution, like my friend Sean.  Read about his work to keep people warm here:  Big Reno Coat Drive.   I put a video below done by current students at the Orvis School of Nursing – Go fellow nursing students!!!  It is worth your time to watch.
  • I am grateful for my family.  They are funny and kind and crazy and wonderful.  I had some Padre / Bubba time yesterday and have been relishing all of the time I get to spend with my Mom since she has moved back in town.  AND – I will be visiting San Diego next week!!! To have some much-needed SeaStar time.  I can’t wait.  Aaand, I am going to workout with her fiancé Blake!  He does CrossFit and knows I am a baby Crossfitter (CrossFetus?) .  Plus, it will give us a nice chance to bond.  Before we hit family status, he needs to know certain things.  Like when I do ANYTHING, I sweat excessively.  I went to a work party on Saturday where there was dancing.  I honestly think one of the MDs I work for was concerned for my health.  I was sweaty.  Welcome to the family Blake!
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Yep. That’s about right. I’m REAL sweaty.
  • I am also grateful for my nursing classmates.  Especially the dudes.  This year, my classmate Scott guided me in finding a Christmas gift for my BF that he may actually enjoy.  The gift I got him last year is still in the box in the closet…  It was a mylar shark balloon that you can steer with a remote control.  I may have gotten it more for me than him.  Before talking to Scott, my go-to present for the BF was a functional keyboard tie.  I have a feeling he will be much happier with what I ended up with…

Alright.  I guess I had better study already.  That is the perk of working hard though!  I have studied hard all semester – so now, even though my final is worth 25% of my grade, I only need a 30% or higher to pass the class!  Of course, I want a good grade, but knowing that kind of takes the pressure off.

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PS

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Chicken (no) Tortilla Soup!

Harrow!

Here in Reno, NV the weather is a-changin’ and it is chilly! All I want to do is stay in bed until 11AM, get up for coffee, then watch TV all day while eating hot soup.  I have simple needs.

In order to make one of my dreams come true, I have been making homemade soups like crazy! I always thought it was much more difficult, but in reality making homemade soup is the easiest form of cooking on the planet.  AND the result is delicious.  AND you know what ingredients are in it.  AND you have a tasty meal ready for you throughout the busy week.  How awesome is that?!

I adapted the recipe from HERE.  The original looks great, but I altered it so it would be appropriate as a hearty main course.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but I was more focused on eating than keeping a record – but gimme a break!  This is my first food post!

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds chicken – I used “leg quarters”  – tasty meat and the pack cost be less than 5$ (!!!)
  • Oil – I used coconut oil and olive oil, but really it is oil, who cares? Use any type you want.
  • Shakes (to taste) of the following:  Paprika / Garlic Salt / Cayenne Pepper / CUMIN – if you don’t own Cumin, then go buy some, taste it, and enjoy the higher quality of life you will now have.
  • 1 white onion
  • 2-3 Tablespoons minced garlic (we have a but ol’ tub from Costco of the stuff.  If you have fresh cloves, I would just mince up a whole head.
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 3 bell peppers – I had yellow / orange / red
  • 2 quarts / big rectangular packages of chicken stock – I recommend shelling out the extra forty cents on the ‘better’ brands.  The canned chicken stock really tastes like water / oil / “chicken seasoning #22387R”
  • 2 – 14 oz cans of diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 limes
  • Avocados to top it off
  • NO CILANTRO! For cilantro is evil and if you eat it you will surely die because it is so disgusting.  Don’t taint a wonderful soup with this horrendous leafy death.  CILANTRO HATER 4 LIFE!

Makin’ the soup:

  • Unwrap the chicken and give it a quick rinse.  You are doing this mainly because raw chicken smells like farts and rinsing it off reduces the stink.  (that and it gets all of the goo off) (fart goo more like it)
  • Spread the chicken in a baking dish.  I used a simple 9″-13″-1″ glass pan.
  • Drizzle the chicken with some oil, just enough to make it all glossy
  • Coat those chicken pieces with some shakes of seasoning!  No need to season if you are cooking chicken with the skin on, but have plans to remove the skin before poppin’ it in the soup.  I wasted a lot of good cumin here… (tear).
  • Cook the chicken in 375* F for 45m-60m.  I did 45m and my chicken had some pink parts in the very center (it got cooked during the boiling process, but if it is thoroughly cooked in the oven, it will be easier to pick apart when you put it in the broth).
  • Take an hour break!  I recommend playing with a beloved pet or napping!
  • So the chicken is still cooking away, so you might as well prep the rest of the veggies!
  • Chop the bell peppers to your liking, I used 1″ strips
  • Dice the onion into little pieces
  • Dice the jalapeño into even leeeeettler pieces.  Discard the seeds and DONT TOUCH YOUR FACE.  Wash your hands, wash everything, then wash your hands again.  Then don’t touch your face.  Or your dog’s face, that would just be cruel.  But you all probably know this, I think you are a very wise bunch.
  • Put a big pot on the stove, I used an 8 quart pot.  This held the soup and gave me a couple of inches at the top to prevent it from boiling over.
  • On medium-high heat, sauté the onions / garlic / peppers / jalapeño in roughly 2-3 T of oil; stir them while cooking over the next 4-5 minutes;  you just want to get the onions softer and little more translucent.
  • Pour in the chicken stock and tomatoes and keep on low heat
  • Once the chicken is done, let it cool.  Just chill out, Chicken! Let’s not get crazy here!
  • I took off the chicken skin then just tore the meat off the bones with my hands.  I found it easiest to rip apart the joints and take the bones out, then just pieced out the remaining meat.  This was simple to do and ripping bones apart helped me connect with my inner survivalist.
  • Drop all of the yummy chicken meat into the pot with all of the other goodies.
  • Bring to boil on High heat, then keep it with a low boil (probably a Medium heat)
  • Leave the pot simmer/boiling there from 20-45 minutes; this time is really up to you.  I wanted mine to boil longer to get it to reduce.  I wanted a slightly thicker soup with a strong broth, but taste it and decide for yourself.  If your chicken wasn’t completely done, let it boil for at least 20 minutes to ensure food safety. No one likes diarrhea!
  • Taste the broth and decide what it needs.  Experiment with spices! I used a TON of cumin, some paprika, LOTS of garlic salt, and a decent amount of cayenne.  I added more salt then the juice of 3 limes.  Just taste as you go and you can’t go wrong.

When it is all done, slice up the avocado and put it on top of a steaming bowl of your homemade chicken (no) tortilla soup!

Here is my only (dark and grainy) photo of the end product.  Delicious!

Election Day!

Today is election day!

photo from nytimes.com

If you love efficiency and do not enjoy lines, you probably early voted.  I love early voting.  I get to vote, then browse the grocery store for Halloween sale items.  Talk about multitasking.

As I got ready this morning, I listened to NPR.

They had a story about a boy (well, man) and his grandmother who were voting in Ohio.  The boy is 18 and it was his first time voting. He said that he voted for Obama, BUT (this is the important part) whoever wins will be his President, and it is his duty to pray for him.

It does not matter who we all wanted to win.  It matters who does.  And whoever / whomever (I don’t know the difference…) does, that man will be my President and I will pray for him.

If the candidate I voted for doesn’t win, I will NOT post or say negative things about who did deserve to win or how the next President will not fulfill the needs of the country.

I have faith that everything will end up exactly as it should.  It may not be how I would have done it or planned it, but that isn’t my job.  My job is to be educated, vote how I feel, and respect the outcome. Done!

I do not respect the negativity involved in politics, so I am choosing to rise above it.  I encourage you to do the same.