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Showing posts from April, 2015

Insightful pain

I have been known to comment that when people praise us on our 'strength' or we have the belief that this life makes us stronger... that really it does not. We have this life. We endure it. And so would anyone else... because if you have to, you do. You just do. So I wonder about this notion of strength, because at times I do not feel strong at all. Other times I feel like I would not have survived this long with out some serious tenacity.

What about wise though? Does suffering teach us to be wise before our years?

You can't argue that suffering teaches. All suffering teaches lessons to us that we learn from that experience and develop and change. We don't learn as much from our joy. We learn from trials and tribulations.

But are we wise from this eternal chronic suffering? Some depth of wisdom going on? Has pain given us insight that was not there before? About life, about pain and about values?

I am not too sure. We change a vast amount from the experiences we endur…

I wish I could have known... #HAWMC

There’s a reason why we have the saying, “Hindsight is 20/20.” What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your patient journey that would have made it easier and less scary? 

With migraines there is a Lot I would have wished I had known. The fact is when you have episodic migraines doctors do not tell you much about your migraines. They hand you a triptan and tell you to take that abortive at the very first sign of a migraine.

I wish I had known what menstrual migraines were, because they present differently in me than my regular migraines. I didn't know I was getting them. Which actually meant I was pretty frequent on the migraine scale from the very first migraine I got.

I wish I knew the migraines could go chronic and that increasing in frequency as I was could be a sign of that. Or when I should have been put on a preventative. Or when I should have seen my first neurologist. Instead of waiting until they were beyond 15 a month.

I wish I had known auras could become per…

Product review #HAWMC

What’s your favorite health-related product? Share it with your community and tell them why you love it so much and how it has helped you on your patient journey. 

I suppose if I were to recommend one product it would be this new one I am using as a migraine balm. It is an oil and you only use a few drops. It can be used for many different things and even added to bath water. 

I have used different sorts of migraine balms. Some with menthol and some with eucalyptus, lavender and things of that nature. I prefer the stronger ones. That sort of strong tangible menthol touch. Some are goopy and make your face sticky... which I rather do not like. Some are more soothing, lotions but just do not seem strong enough. I find the oils rub in just right, with no residue and are stronger. 
The product I have been using is Hagina Japanese mint oil. I use it on my forehead, temples and along my upper jaw area. So soothing. Along with ice on the back of the neck... feels so nice. Use: Not recommen…


Use “health” as an acronym and come up with words that represent your Health Activist journey. 

H- Helping- I hope to help others through my story and information I provide. I hope that they know they are not alone by sharing my experiences and thoughts along the way.

E- Experience- I have had chronic illnesses for a significant portion of my life. Enough to know that coping is a flexible entity that changes with our life events and illness. I hope that sharing my experiences helps others with their struggles as well.

A- Awareness- I try to raise awareness along the way about chronic pain, invisible disabilities, fibromyalgia and migraines in any way that I can.

L- Learning- I adapt just as much as any one else does. I come across new ways to cope. New treatments. New lessons. And learning is something that is a part of the process.

T - Thinking- A lot of my blog can be very introspective about the process I go through with coping and chronic illness. Something I think a lot of people can…

Make it a great day #HAWMC

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes, the type of day we have is out of our control, but other times, we can influence how our day is going. Come up with 5 tips for changing your frame of mind when you’re having a bad day!

There are times when we have some control on how we react to pain. We can react in a way that re-frames out pain in that moment, such that it is not a negative experience at the time. We can in effect take what could be a bad day and make it into a good day. Not always easy to do, but it can happen.
In a work situation to help me with pain and stress I do this:
I do not multitask. It has been show to be detrimental in all people, but with chronic pain when half the brain is thinking about pain, it is even more so. Your concentration is impaired. So I do not do it. One task at a time.I eat little snacks through the day to keep my blood sugar up and it helps with brain fog.I do a walk about the office every twenty minutes to reduce levels of pain from sitting too …

Word Cloud #HAWMC

Use Wordle to make a cloud full of words that come to mind when yo u think of your blog, health, condition, interests or community. Pro Tip: Use a thesaurus to make the branches of your “tree” extend further.

I didn't use wordle as it seemed to disagree with my computer. So I used Tagxedo which I have used before.

 This one is made from words from my blog

And this one was words that I chose.

Health Activists Writer's Month Challenge

Fitness Friday #HAWMC

Tell us about your how you maintain a healthy lifestyle. What is your favorite type of exercise? How do you manage fitness with a chronic illness? 

This is a hard one. When I was not working I was exercising 20 minutes about four times a week on the stationary bike. The pain clinic had wanted me to do aerobic exercise so that is the method I chose. Prior to that I had been walking and doing yoga.

Working through has sort of cut into my energy and already I have been exercising less. I find it difficult to combat the fatigue inherent with working fulltime. I do mediate to relieve the stresses of working. But having the energy after work to do Anything has been difficult. So I have been trying to exercise on my days off.

And it is important to me to exercise because it is part of the routine set up by the pain clinic to help me with the chronic migraines, which have been very difficult to treat. So primarily it is medication, meditation and exercise. To cut one of those out and I could …

Painsomnia #HAWMC

Health Activist Choice Write about whatever you like! Got a great story, opinion, or tip to share? Tell us here. 

 I will use this topic to discuss painsomnia. When you have chronic pain it can quite easily lead to insomnia due to pain, worse when you already had insomnia to deal with to begin with. I have always had insomnia, since I was quite young. I had pain from hypermobility when I was a kid and developing insomnia from that is apparently quite common. Fibromyalgia just made it worse. When the chronic migraines developed well Then I had a Problem because lack of sleep is a migraine trigger, then an acute migraine at night made it even more difficult to sleep, leading to very little sleep, leading to a migraine the next morning... and that is the cycle I got stuck into.

So what do we do about painsomnia? here are some of the things that I do.

It is recommended to avoid electronics like the computer and cellphones before bed due to the blue light interfering with sleep. I like goin…

Hobbies #HAWMC

Running and 3PM dance parties are some of our favorite hobbies at WEGO Health. Tell us, what are YOUR hobbies? Love to crochet? Can’t stop collecting rocks? Take photographs of everything? Share your favorite past times. 

I think hobbies are a pretty fundamental coping strategy to be honest. We all need our pain distractions and things we can get really into. Things that are just for us, not necessary things we Must do, but things we enjoy to do.

For me, I'm all about introvert hobbies.

I have been an avid reader since I was a wee kid. I love fantasy fiction novels. I consume books. And hoard them as well. Although the Kindle has helped with my hoarding tendencies slightly.

I also love writing. I write fantasy fiction novels and self-publish them. I am working on the third in a series right now. Nothing better than reading fantasy than writing it. Getting absorbed into a world of your own creation. I write non-fiction as well and those tend to be health related articles. However,…

Travel Time #HAWMC

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Maybe you’ve already traveled to an exciting place and want to go back. We know travelling with a chronic illness can be challenging, so any tips for others that you can share would be great! 

 I have always enjoyed travelling to Scotland. I have family there. I love the history. I love the nice, cloudy, rainy weather... sun and migraines just do not get on so well for me. I have been there twice in my life and would love to go back. I have also taken a short trip to Ireland and would also love to go back there. In my books you can't do better than lush scenery and ancient castles. Just my thing.

When it comes to trips it is very important to remember these are to be enjoyed. This is a time to de-stress, relax and enjoy yourself. And that means trying to reduce all the stresses that come with travel.

Medication: travel with all the medication you will need, then some, and all the OTC medication you May need beca…

#Stress awareness month #shakeitoff #HAWMC

What’s the best way you deal with stress? How do you like to let loose to escape common stressors? Share with us your favorite ways to shake off the stress. 

 I think stress sticks to people with chronic illness like static and it is in our best interests to do all we can to shake it off. A difficult thing to do at the best of times I think, since chronic illness itself and chronic pain itself Causes stress to our bodies.

Get in the groove: Every night before bed I put on some tunes. Music can really boost the mood and I think in itself be a way to cope with stress. Shake it off a bit.

Zen out: Likely the most productive tool I have right now to combat stress is doing meditation when I can, every day, sometimes twice a day. It helps combat the pain and relaxes me. Helps me cope to be honest.

Nap it off: Generally if you have insomnia you should not nap and if you do it should be before noon and short in duration. However, I feel that there are exceptions to this rule and the exception to…

#Survival #mode and my little rant

I have been in survival mode before. For years in fact. I am not at this moment, thankfully, but this poster struck me.

When you are in survival mode it is very much a life by inches. You are living moment to moment just trying to get through the pain. Time ceases to flow in a proper manner and it is hard to remember events clearly as it all gets tangled up in the pain. You do things all the while thinking 'Just have to do this, and this, so I can get home and suffer in peace. Just in peace.' It has a quiet desperation to it. A silent scream.

It is not meant to be how you live. No one can survive like that. Or want to. And I should put that distinction in there... you don't want to survive like that and really are just making up excuses to live at all day to day, or reasons not to.

At this point it should be of utmost importance for medical professions to really, Really put some significant effort into improving your quality of life. They ought to know that pain itself is…

Summer is coming... soonish #HAWMC

What are the 3 things you look forward to the most in the summer? Whether it’s travel, the weather, family cookouts or another activity, share with your readers why you’re excited for summer! 

Anything not to do with winter is awesome by me. As a Canadian I cheer when the snow finally departs. Yay!!!

Although what I love most about the summer is:

Vacations: I am not one for taking long vacations. Usually split my vacation time up into small chunks for trips to see family and to just get away. Sometimes we will take a trip into the mountains, which is a fairly close journey from here, to just get away. Now those are some peaceful, restful, scenic adventures. I may be a little more tame in my 'adventures' due to pain so I cannot go on a massive hike, but I do a fair bit of exploring for fun and walkabouts.

The Get-Together- I love little gatherings at the house where we invite a small amount of people over and we set up a fire in the fire pit and chill for the night. It is a grea…

Life Goal #HAWMC

What’s one thing that your 10-year-old self thought you would do? Can you still do it? How would you approach it to make it happen? 

I honestly do not remember my 10 year old self that much, but by 12 I wanted to be a writer and I know it was before that as well.

I can still do it but I have an issue with editing due to fibro fog and cognitive issues with migraines. Leads to some bad word days. I can write up a storm with a migraine and in pain and it is fine for a pain distraction as well, but then when it comes to editing there are some odd errors in there. Some of which spell check catches because I tend to mix up my letter placing by transposing letters, or numbers for that matter, but what that does is clearly make a work spelt wrong. But in other cases I will use the wrong word, but something that sounds similar, a sort of migraine aphasia error that is not always picked up unless you use the grammar check. Then there are just other odd little errors my brain likes to create. So…

#Bad #Days

Had a bad day today pain wise from the moment I got up to now. It has made me pretty moody all day today. Could not really lift my spirits so I read a lot instead. Just trying to distract my brain.

It worries me though this melancholy mood. Likely part of the migraine prodrome or from the pain level, so common enough to get. It is just that it is familiar to me. It is familiar to feel a mood like this from working. From dealing with the increased pain and the fatigue I would get bouts of depression.

Today I was thinking the goal of chronic pain seems to be just to make existence bearable. That is our main goal. One we do not always succeed at. Just bearable. Not great. Not awesome. Bearable. And it occurred to me I don't even understand how people enjoy life. I just try to manage the pain. That is what I do every day. I do not take enjoyment from my day. It is just something to get though with the least amount of pain as possible. I don't even have the concept of what it feel…

Get Excited? #HAWMC

What revs up your internal engine? When you see, hear, feel this it gets you excited and ready to face what comes next. Tell us what it is!

I have to say, I spend a lot of time trying to just be calm. Calm in the face of pain. If I can manage to be mellow, I am happy. I can't really think of too many things that make me excited because I tend to avoid overt excitement. Anything too stimulating to the senses tends to be a massive migraine trigger. I don't avoid all triggers for the sake of avoiding life, but I do aim for some mellowness.

I really just love to be in a good mood. In the face of pain I want to be in a good mental place. I want to laugh and have that laughter be authentic and not a mask I wear, which sometimes, it is.

Although, there are times I want to put myself in a really feel good place. And like most people in the world I respond to music. I will put on some good bust a groove music. Feel good music. I will go a gooofy dance, dance like no one is looking sor…

First day back to #work!

I returned to work once again after my long term leave. It is strange returning to work after a long term leave. Skills stagnate and become rusty, as I learned quite quickly. Things I knew like the back of my hand are sluggishly returning to me. That in-itself is immensely frustrating to me. Having to work without to knowledge just being on hand and the immediate information at my finger-tips is difficult. Makes me slow and hesitant.

Like I suspected would happen my pain levels have risen. That is a pretty obvious outcome to returning to work. However, I have been able to moderately manage the pain with mindful meditation. Just not always successful depending on the level. It does seem I can slow the migraine down such that most of work is migraine free. All of after work is not.

This is my first day off and it has been a low pain day. I managed the migraine very well indeed, as I have been learning. But also was in the nice dark house and didn't have to go anywhere. These things…

I feel best when... I hit the zone #HAWMC

W rite about moments you feel like you can take on the world. Where , w hen , and how often does this happen? 

There are times when the pain does not win. Days when I do not have to combat the negative thoughts and emotions that come with high pain levels. Times when I feel like I have the motivation, hope and inspiration to progress. I feel like there are Possibilities I can take advantage of instead of limitations.

It generally happens when the pain is in the 5-7 range and no higher. Higher than that and I am fighting to manage it more. Managing it requires a lot of my effort and not a lot is left over for other thoughts.

So it is in a pain range I feel I can exist in without being plagued with negative thoughts about the pain, which leads to negative thoughts about life in general. Which means I am open to things. To experiences. To possibilities. Unlike other times I feel there is potential instead of stagnation. I often feel motivated to carry out my pain management plans a…

#Stigma and the perfect comback #HAWMC

Tell us about a time when you felt marginalized or stigmatized by someone because of your health condition. Maybe at the time you didn’t speak up, or maybe you did – what did you say or what would you have said to take back control and let them know they were out of line? 

 The times that I felt the most stigma was when I was working before my long term leave before I was transferred to a new location. I don't like to name companies simply because I still work for them now and they might believe I am slandering their name. It is not that really. More so it is a lack of training in how managers should respond and act towards people with disabilities.

In my case, they didn't even consider me to have a disability they could help me with or accommodate... because it wasn't 'physical'. So that is a limited view of disability. I offered a lot of compromises to get me through this real rough time I was having with pain and medications but all of them were declined. …

Day of Rest #HAWMC

Kick your feet up! What is your ideal day in? When you’re having a bad day, or a long week – how do you relax, recharge, and reset yourself? 

I like to practice mindful meditation to relax any time I feel the pain creeping up or when I am stressed out. I try to do it twice a day and it is even more important now that I am working and experiencing more pain. It is something I picked up from the pain clinic and have been doing only a short time. I have tried a few types of meditation over the past year and this is the one that works for me. Just gets me in that zen zone. I focus on my breathing. In particular I like to focus on the in and out of my stomach as I breath. If a thought occurs to me, I let it, but then just gently redirect myself back to my breathing. Then if the pain is particularly unpleasant there is something the guided meditation tell you to do and that is to breath into the pain and then release it. It seems that at the time it brings the pain into focus yet at the …

Pet Pal #HAWMC

Write a thank you letter to your furry, feathery, or fishy friend for always being there for you. How have they helped you cope with your health condition? 

Thank you Franky, Bobby and Charlie,

For always being there as snuggle bugs when my brain is full of pain. Hearing your purr as you lay on my face, my head or snuggle in my side is always soothing. You guys make me laugh with all your antics. You make me smile every day. Lift my mood. You help me relax and insist on pets and snuggles.

I think pets all help with chronic pain and illness. They give us unconditional love and attention. Make us laugh. Make us smile. Give us some love and attention. And we love them.

Health Activists Writer's Month Challenge

Comfort Food #HAWMC

We’re not all 5 star chefs, but we all need to eat! Tell your readers how to make your favorite dish . Does the recipe hold a good memory for you? Is it the act of cooking itself that brings you joy, or the people that come together to eat it ? 

I am not really a good cook. Not so much. Comfort foods for me are things I used to make when I was younger. Like the first things I learned to make. So usually breakfast sorts of things. It reminds me of times when I was younger coming home from lunch and making it. Reminds me of my mom making it.  But there is no joy in the act of cooking for me. It is just a functional deal for me.

My favorite is French Toast.

To make it you just take two eggs and mix them in a bowl. Add a smidge of milk to make them fluffy. 

Take bread and soak it in the eggs mix until saturated. And fry in a frying pan on medium. Add cinnamon on top for flavor. Nutmeg as well, I just don't have any on hand.

I also love to make omelets and pancakes but do not get t…

Challenger #HAWMC

Shar with readers about a time you had to overcome a daunting challenge. What words of encouragement would you share with others who find themselves facing similar difficulty? 

 I think I could quite honestly point to a few times in my life that have been rather challenging due to chronic pain and illness. However, other times where things were managed quite well.

So the challenge is when things are Not managed well at all. Then life's regular stressors and obligations are there and you cannot meet them or handle them. My recent journey on this adventure is when my chronic migraines became daily, with the fibromyalgia, and trying to continue to work full time.

I could not do it. The pain had exceeded my coping strategies. So I tried to push through it... to get to the next years neuro appointment in hopes he would help. He did not. So I would much through it, in hopes something else would help. Nothing did. Pushing through it though just causes a lot of mental and emotional strain…

The Iceberg Cometh: Will Lessons Learned Drive Better Outcomes in Pain M...

Things remembered #HAWMC

What is an item you have kept with you that reminds you of an important time in your life? Whether it was a good day, a stressful time, or a happy moment… why does this item remind you of that period of your life? 

Oddly enough I have a real hard time answering this question. I am just not that sentimental I guess. I have a cluttered house but it is mostly books. And I have books I have hoarded since my teens, because I love them that much. I will read some books over and over and over.

However, there is one other thing that I hoard other than books. Writing. I weed through it once in a while but I collect a lot of things I have written in the past. A sort of mental imprint of that time frame. Essays I have written even. I consider them to be like memories to me. So this blog serves the same purpose. It is slices of time, memories, all stitched together of my writings. As such it reflects the good, the philosophical and the bad in my life. I can take a peek back in time, into a specif…

Your Hero #HAWMC

Everyone has someone they look up to - a person they go to for advice, an individual you admire or idolize. It could be your partner, a family member, coworker, or someone famous. Who are they and what makes them awesome in your eyes?

I find a lot of people awesome to be honest. A lot of people I know with chronic migraines or fibromyalgia, or both, that live complicated lives that I really respect for their strength and perseverance. While there are others who promote awareness that I quite admire for their knowledge.

Someone I admire a lot would be Teri Robert who has written books on migraines as well as been a long standing migraine advocate. Back when my migraines were high episodic and I was beginning to realize triptans were not quite the solution I needed I found Teri on a site online. I was able to get a great deal of information from her articles and forum that I lacked. Information my doctors had not provided. Like the fact using too many triptans a week could cause rebound…

Breaking #HAWMC

The top story of today is…YOU. Share with your readers your proudest accomplishments in the last 5 years. Don’t be shy, tell us everything! 

 It has been a rough five years to be honest. Just coming off a long term leave from work which was necessary but difficult in many ways.

Therefore, I have tried to keep busy with things that I know improve mood and keep me inspired.

I love to write. I blog, I write fiction and non-fiction. While I was off I finished the second book in a series I am writing. It is called All Drugged Up (Smashwords editions) and is urban fantasy fiction. I also wrote another book in that time frame but it has yet to be edited. Writing fiction is very much escapism for me. Just developing an entire world and characters I can delve into. It is a great pain distraction.

I also started my Facebook group Making Invisible Disabilities Visible about four years ago. With 3500 likes to date! Originally I shared content I found but then I learned to create my own images, s…

Creature of #habit #HAWMC

What good habits, (health or otherwise,) do you have? Do you have a routine that you follow every morning? Are there any bad habits you wish you could break? 

There are a couple of specific good habits I have that are good for my overall health.

Exercise: While I only do about 20 minutes a day it did take me considerable time and effort to work up to that. Exercise is something that is recommended for pretty much every chronic pain condition. For me it was suggested for chronic migraines and they also figured it would help with the fibromyalgia as well. Specifically aerobic exercise. Prior to doing that I was walking and doing yoga, which frankly, I see as perfectly fine as well. There are a lot of suggested benefits from mood, to helping with sleep to the endorphins released to help with pain. I actually don't see much benefit to it to be honest, but I know overall it is better to exercise than to not. And I know lack of activity can make pain worse.

Meditation: I do mindful medita…

Random Acts of #Kindness #HAWMC

We love random acts of kindness. Write about a time that you benefited from the kindness of a stranger , or a time when you were the one extending a helping hand. How did you feel? 

 “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Essential Kahlil Gibran
I have benefited from the kindness of strangers, family, friends and co-workers and every moment of kindness counts in this world.

However, when it is in fact from a stranger it does stand out because there seems to be no reason that person would go out of their way to help you. There is no connection. They act for the act itself and that makes it pretty powerful.

I once worked in a hotel at the front desk right when my migraines were becoming a problem. By that I mean more than chronic. To the point where you can no longer even treat every on because taking that much medication may make it worse, so you have to endure the migraines full blown. Which I did and …