Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Anatomy of A Migraine Flare

As you probably know, I'm a long time chronic pain sufferer. This past weekend, I had an extremely bad migraine flare, and I thought I'd talk some about how my flares go. 

This whole month has been full of mini flares, starting over 4th of July when my neighbors were blowing up the neighborhood with fireworks. But it got really bad the middle of last week because of tons pop up thunderstorms.

The first part of the flare usually involves both pain and pressure. As the storms move in, the pressure grows in my head. Usually once the storms reach us, the pressure subsides. But because I live in the mountains, the storms sometimes fall apart before reaching here, leaving me with all the pressure. After a couple of days of this, my whole head throbs.

Once the pressure is pushing down on my head, that's when the auras can start. Auras are what make migraines different than just headaches. Auras can be different for every migraine sufferer. Mine are usually dizziness, fogginess, balance issues, light sensitivity and general brain dumb-ness. In short, massive brain fog and lots of almost falling down. 

I tried to work for several days but it got impossible to focus on the computer screen. It even got so bad that even just watching tv was too bright, which tells me that things are getting really bad. By Friday, I was miserable. I called my neurologist but she wasn't in the office, but the lady who answered the phone was going to try and text her for a new prescription. 

Because the pain had gotten so bad that I couldn't do anything, Todd ended up taking me to the ER. Usually it doesn't get to this point, but right now we are playing the merry-go-round of meds when it comes to a good abortive to break the cycle when it gets really bad. I didn't have any that worked, which is why I ended up in the ER for the first time in over six months.

Sadly, the ER gave me a cocktail that helped a little at first, but then messed up really bad. Thankfully, my neurologist had been reached and a new abortive was called into my pharmacy. Finally I was able to sleep and break the cycle, ending the flare.

The end of a major flare is a great feeling. I've been feeling great the last few days but trying not to overdo it. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Prime Day And the Mostly Free Laptop

I love Amazon, mostly because it lets me shop from the comfort of my own home. Thanks to programs like Swagbucks and MPoints, I usually have a store of Amazon gift cards. A while ago I decided I was going to save all the gift cards I earned in order to buy a new laptop.

My laptop sadly died on me. For the first couple years I worked at home, I just used my laptop. Using it for that and other stuff didn't help it at all. I got my desktop about a year ago, but last thing I want to do after work is sit at that computer in my office.

I've been saving up for a couple of months now, and getting pretty close to having enough in gift cards. But then Amazon announced Prime Day, claiming it would be bigger than Black Friday. I already had Prime, so I had hoped to score a laptop.

Prime Day was pretty much a joke. I attempted to get a laptop, but it sold out in a second. The only thing I did get was a Ninjago Zane clock for Emily.

But I did decide that I was sick of waiting to get enough gift cards and asked Todd to find me a decent computer. He did find me one and it will arrive tomorrow. Most of that cost was covered by the gift cards.

From social media yesterday, looks like a lot of people are unhappy with Amazon. I still love Amazon because I wasn't honestly thinking I'd get a great deal on Prime Day. It was kind of like Black Friday - you go to the store and all the good stuff is gone!

For me, it was a good day. Emily is getting a cool clock, I'm getting a laptop and even Todd is getting something, a video game!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Baby's First D&D Campaign!

Yesterday, we took Family Game Night to a whole new level. Yesterday, Emily played her first Dungeon and Dragons game!

Emily is only six but she has a great imagination. Even though the starter pack I got off Amazon said "12+" I figured we should give it a try.

Todd and Emily picked out characters from the pre-generated ones that came in the starter pack. Emily played a High Elf Wizard, who she decided was male, named Skeleton. Todd was also male, he picked a Cleric Hill Dwarf named Thanagard the Healer. I was the Dungeon Master.

I had read through the rules before we started but I was a little rusty. All the years of playing Hero System games had Todd and I a bit confused for a bit. I honestly fudged some of the finer points - like how many hit points to take in battle. It's something I'll have to look up before our next game session.

Even so, Emily had a blast. She played her character pretty well, even adopting a male sounding voice for when her character talked. We helped her at the beginning but by the time we got to our 3rd combat, she was lobbing magic missiles at goblins like an old pro.

I had been a little afraid that Emily would be bored and want to stop playing. But when we got to a good stopping point, she wanted to keep going! She's looking very forward to our next game.

The starter pack adventure should get us through quite a few more sessions. It's originally divided into five game sessions but we stopped in the middle of the first game session. Once we finish, I'll see how we can branch out!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dungeons & Dragons and Me

Dungeons & Dragons - this may bring several images to mind. For some it may be fire and brimstone while others might think of hex maps, figures and 20-sided dice. For me, my first memories are of a cartoon.

When I was a kid in the 80's one of my favorite cartoons was Dungeons & Dragons. It was a lot of fun for a kid and I knew that it was inspired by a game. I always wanted to play it but I never knew anyone who was into D&D.

I didn't get a chance to play until I was in college. My roommate's boyfriend DM'ed a campaign for us. My roommate and I were best friends at the time and the boyfriend was surprised that our characters hated each other. We knew how to role play!

From Dungeons & Dragons, I learned more table top roleplaying games. I also got into live action rpg's which are a ton of fun. Instead of dice, the live action games I played in college used 'rock, paper, scissors'. In college, it was a lot of Vampire: The Masquerade and other games by White Wolf. I like V:TM a lot but Changeling is my favorite.

After college, I didn't play any table top RPG's until after we moved to NC. The first friends we made
down here were also very into table top RPG's and introduced us to Hero Games. I love the Hero Games system in large part because of the disadvantages. Your character has to pick several disadvantages that you have to work into your character - you have to use them.

Over the next few years, I did also play in some other games including D&D. The last time I played Dungeons & Dragons itself was a one-shot one of my Browncoat friends was running. That was over 6 years ago because I was pregnant with Emily.

Our Hero Games friends moved away but after Emily was born, I made a friend who lived right down the road. Her husband at the time ran a Hero Games campaign for us. My friend had one of the best disadvantages I've ever seen - her character was blind! It was a lot of fun.

They moved as well and we lost contact for a few years. Beyond LARPing once down in GA with my cousin and his wife's group, I haven't been able to play any table top games. Illness, small child and lack of a car are some of the reasons I haven't been able to find a group. Though I miss it a lot.

Emily is now six and she is reading, though definitely at a beginner level. We introduced Settlers of Catan to her because it doesn't require a lot of reading and she loved it. So I got the idea a while ago that I would try and run a game with her and Todd.

I picked Dungeons and Dragons because there is a starter pack that I got off Amazon. I'm an experienced role player but I've never run a game before. So D&D is a good place to start! Tomorrow I run our first game with an adventure from the starter pack.

In a way, I've come full circle and I'm excited to introduce Emily to the fun! Dungeons and Dragons started it all for me and now that's where she'll be starting as well!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Yesterday, Emily and I went out to eat dinner somewhere we had never eaten before. It's a bar and grill close to our house, but for some reason we never went there before. Todd worked on the 4th of July so his work gave him a gift card as a thank you, and he gave it to me.

Most of the bar and grills around here are more grill than bar, but this place was more bar than grill, which brought back a ton of memories of my childhood. Yes, I spent a good share of time in bars as a child.

I was born in Bay City, Michigan and that's were most of our family was on both my mom and dad's sides of the family. We lived there until I was about six years old, an then we moved to Holland which was on the other side of the state.

My mom was very close to her family so we would make the three hour trek back to Bay City at least a couple times a year. My mom's sister worked in a bar during the day shift, so usually our first stop when we got there was the bar to see my aunt. I remember being not too much older than Emily is, sitting at the bar sipping Sprite with cherries in it.

As I got older, my mom's brother started dating a woman who owned a different bar. We spent several Christmases there. It had 'Inn' in the name and one year we got to tell some people that there was no room at the inn!

That 2nd bar was the first place I ever got drunk. I was over 21 and with my parents which proves what kind of a nerd I am. When in college, I didn't go to many bars. The Wayside a few times to dance, but I was never a big 'sit in a bar and drink' kind of person. I don't see the appeal.

But there are people who do that. There was also a couple of people at the bar when we'd visit my aunt even though it would be early afternoon. The place we went to yesterday also had a few people huddled around the bar, just talking and hanging out.

 I haven't been to a bar in years because I haven't had a drink of alcohol in years. But it was like Cheers and it is a throwback to my childhood to walk into a place like that.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Drunken Fireworks

This past weekend, The United States of America celebrated its' independence. Many people enjoyed a long weekend off and had BBQ's and lit sparklers. And some people got really drunk and lit explosives. One man even died after he lit a firework that was on top of his head.

I like fireworks. I like watching them, especially at Disney World. But I did not enjoy any fireworks this weekend at all.

I had spent most of the week in a migraine flare that I really tried to manage by resting. We didn't have any plans for the holiday and Todd volunteered to work overtime on Friday and Saturday. Friday night, I was sitting and relaxing in my bedroom when my neighbors started shooting fireworks off.

The fireworks were super loud and sounded more like cannon fire. From the sound of them, there weren't fireworks you would have bought at Walmart. I'm pretty sure that they were illegal.

Friday night, they set them off for hours and the bangs were louder than the show I was watching. My pain levels rose and I even started having a panic attack. My cats were freaked out too and after every bang I could her a chorus of dogs barking in the distance.

I was super sick on Saturday because of it and spent most of the day in bed. I came up with plan to take my abortive migraine medicine and go to bed as soon as I had gotten Emily into bed. But they had started shooting off fireworks before the sun even went down. I took my meds but it still took me a long time to go to sleep because of the war being waged outside.

Todd came home from work at 11 pm and he said that they were still shooting off fireworks of the distantly illegal kind when he got home.

I don't want to be a party pooper but it was a rough weekend for me. I wish my neighbors would have stuck to just Saturday for their fireworks displays and I really hope we don't have any veterans' who live in our neighborhood. As awful as it was for me, I can't imagine how it would be for someone with PTSD.

Next year, I'll be prepared with noise canceling headphones. Thankfully it didn't wake Emily up either night.