Thursday, October 11, 2018

For the past 10 years, or so, my neurologists have treated my migraines with the front-line medications in the war on migraines: anti-depressants.

About 2 years ago, my neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist to manage the anti-depressant prescriptions, because he knows more about them than she does. It's a common thing to do with patients who have intractable, daily migraines.

My "shrink" put me through a few different regimens of medications, depending on the side-effects the drugs caused. Oh, that one causes me to have tremors, so I can no longer needlepoint?


Oh, this one is causing constipation, which happens to be a migraine trigger for me?


Oh, that one obliterates any interest you have in physical intimacy?


It's a process, and at times can be a very frustrating one.

And then, back in January, the side effects became overwhelming.

I was the most depressed I'd ever been in my life: I had no desire for intimacy, which caused feelings of guilt; I'd gained 30 pounds since my wedding and hated the way I looked; I felt like my presence on earth was really just a burden to everyone, but particularly to my husband, who had to deal with the brunt of my migraines and their effect on my moods.

It was bad, folks.

As a teenager, I sometimes self-harmed - cutting myself when I was particularly anxious or depressed, because the sight of the blood calmed me, somehow. It was a physical manifestation of what I was feeling. Following my cancer diagnosis, I stopped completely, and hadn't ever had the urge to do it again. Until January of 2018. Fortunately, a card from my niece on the refrigerator declaring "I love you SO SO MUCH!" caught my eye as I made for the knife block, and I turned around and went back to bed, skin intact.

Whenever you see ads for anti-depressants on TV, there's always a disclaimer about how they can, in some patients, cause suicidal thoughts.

Yeah, that disclaimer is aimed at me.

My psychiatrist realized how depressed I was and took me off the drug I'd been taking, without success, for about 6 months, and he gave me another drug to try out. I had an allergic reaction to the new drug, and stopped taking it, meaning that I was 100% off anti-depressants when I went back to see him a month later.

I was an entirely different person: happier, more cheerful in outlook, and able to take a step back from all of the horrible thoughts I'd been having and to realize that things aren't so awful, after all. In fact, they're pretty wonderful, despite the migraines.

My migraines aren't as debilitating as they were while I was on anti-depressants. I still have them, but I'm still able to function to some degree, meaning I can usually still make a healthy dinner for my husband and me despite the migraine.

I've also lost all the weight I gained since meeting my husband, which amounts to about 45 pounds. If I tried on my wedding dress, today, it would probably just fall off.

The last drugs we tried before I quit taking any had weight gain as a side-effect, and without them in my system, I no longer have the urge to eat as many sweets, or to binge on snacks. I'd tried to lose the weight while I was still on anti-depressants, not realizing that it would be nigh on impossible.

So now, we're trying to manage my migraines by being more careful about what I eat and practicing healthier sleeping habits: I wear a sleep mask at night, try to go to sleep at the same time every day, and have an evening "ritual" that I follow, which involves a warm bath, reading, taking melatonin, etc., though we joke that there's a goat slaughtered in there, somewhere, too.

I'm still having more days with migraine than not, but the migraines aren't weighing so heavily on me, now. Add to that the fact that my leather pants fit again, and things are looking up.

Sometimes, the best drug for what ails you is no drug at all.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Like an 18th Century Invalid

About 3 months ago, I decided to hang an IKEA shelving system in one of our Guest Room closets.

No problem, I thought, I've done this many times before. How could anything possibly go wrong?

After climbing up and down a stepladder all day, I went to bed, and awoke the next morning with a terrible pain in my left foot.

I considered going to the ER - you don't mess around with feet! - but was dissuaded from going by my husband. "Maybe it's just a sprain, or something, or a cramped muscle. Just keep off it for a couple of days, and it will get better, I bet," he said.

I didn't go to the ER. I waited a week, and then went to a doc-in-a-box clinic, where they took some X-rays.

Nothing showed up on the X-rays, so the doctor told me it was probably a sprain, and - like my husband suggested - told me to ice it and not walk around too much.

I like to be busy. If I feel well enough to be up and about, then I will be up and about, damn it, because days where I feel great are not ones to be wasted.

I went to IKEA the next day.

My foot hurt horribly that night. And for the next week.

I waited another week, and made an appointment with a podiatrist, because "walking it off" was obviously not working.

I chose a podiatrist whose website stressed conservative care, versus the ones I saw whose home pages discussed their cutting edge surgical skills. Surgery should be a last resort, in my not-so-humble opinion.

The podiatrist took X-rays, and nothing was visible. After quizzing me about my activities, and hearing that I'd been climbing a stepladder, he said that he thought it was a stress fracture.

He, being a foot expert, told me that if it was a stress fracture, it might not show up on an X-ray film for a few weeks, if ever, which explains why the doc-in-a-box didn't see a break. He gave me a choice: he could either give me a boot/cast to wear for 3-4 weeks, and we could see what happened, or he could have me get an MRI of my foot to determine 100% if it was a stress fracture.

I went for the boot. Sure, 70% of the MRI would be covered by insurance, but that's still possibly a few hundred dollars, and the boot cost $30 (after insurance).

After three weeks, I walked around without my boot/cast and felt great. No foot pain!

At least, while I was walking around sans boot, there wasn't any pain. That night, however, I was in a lot of pain.

I hadn't worn shoes while walking around. The doctor had neglected to mention that I have to always wear padded shoes while walking on hard surfaces, like our wood and tile floors.


I re-fractured my foot.


Another 6 weeks passed, and I felt secure enough to go sans-boot, again. I wore some comfortable, sensible-heeled boots for a day, and felt fine.

Then, I wore my adorable leopard-print ballet flats, and all (foot) hell broke loose.

I immediately put the boot back on, and called the podiatrist again.

A second round of X-rays showed that there was definite healing where I'd fractured my metatarsal - the bone there is thicker, now - but there were no visible breaks.

"Maybe there's just a spot that hasn't healed yet," he said. "It's been 10 weeks since I first saw you; insurance won't cover a bone growth stimulator until 3 months, give or take a few days. Let's give you a new boot" (mine was worn out, and the cushioning air bladder no longer held air) "and see you back in two weeks. Also, you might want to try to completely stay off of it, if possible. If you have to be up and around a lot, try using crutches or a knee walker."

Determined to be careful, I rented a knee walker, and I've been using it if I have to walk a long distance. Mostly, though, I've been camped out on the living room sofa, with my foot elevated and an ice pack strapped to my foot, trying to keep it from swelling too much.

Meanwhile, my poor, wonderful husband is doing what he always does: stripping old latex paint off the woodwork throughout the house, patching cracks in walls, and generally slaving away to make our house a home.

While I lie on the sofa. Drinking La Croix and playing games on my phone.

Yes, I feel guilty.

But, you know.

Doctor's orders.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


After some reflection, and feeling listless, at wit's end, and unfulfilled, I decided to write a biography.

I would write about one of the Dollar Princesses, those wealthy American heiresses who married (mostly) British aristocrats, whether by their own choice, or when forced by social-climbing mamas eager to pry their way into Mrs. John Jacob Astor's 400.

The New Money of the Vanderbilts and the Goulds couldn't buy their entry to the social elite of Gilded Age New York City, so they bought their way in via a roundabout route: marry their daughter to an impoverished Duke or Earl with a large estate and an ancient lineage, and pay the Duke or Earl for the privilege. An impeccable European pedigree guaranteed entry to Mrs. Astor's 400, so the newly minted Duchess or Countess provided her mother with a foot in the door, as well.

There were a few Dollar Princesses who weren't nouveau riche, of course, and it was one of these women that I wished to write about. I spent a great deal of time gathering information from online journals, ordered a few obscure books that would be nigh on impossible to acquire from a library, and finally, after finishing a couple of weighty books - I didn't want them to distract me - I set about my research.

And then, I made a terrible discovery.

No, not that there were already rafts of biographies about the woman. I'd researched that aplenty.

No, there wasn't a court injunction banning anyone from writing about her.

Yes, there seemed to be plenty of information available, on the surface of things - though another author mentioned on an obscure interior design and real estate blog that her modern family was less than helpful when asked if they would contribute information about their illustrious ancestor.

The terrible discovery was this: she was boring.

Now, I'm sure she was a lovely person. Indeed, all sources seemed to point to her being a lovely woman: excellent manners; a streak of charity - but not one outlandish or particularly noteworthy; wisdom beyond her years when selecting a mate for herself, which she was able to do because she was in possession of her own estate, by the time she wed. She was a lovely, lovely, lovely woman.


Her marriage was a success, too! No scandalous affairs, no marital separations. No law suits about dowry, or yearly allowances, or economic strife due to her losing millions during a stock market bust, and thus engendering feelings of resentment on the part of her husband.

Nope. Everything was smooth sailing.

Nobody wants to read about smooth sailing.


Readers want a bit of drama , and "Sorry honey, I have to sit in the House of Lords: I'll be gone for a month"/ "Oh, darling, I'll miss you. Don't forget your umbrella" doesn't cut it for drama.

Sure, her husband went to war. And he came back. And all was well, again. Onward and upward.

I was bored just reading about her life, which seemed too perfect. It out-fairytaled most fairytales, which usually involve some form of conflict, even if there aren't any actual fairies. Everything was ideal: no mean stepmothers, dark fairies suffering from #FOMO, or even impractical footwear to trip her up!

Pun totally intended, BTW.

So I scrapped the idea of writing a biography. And now I'm slowly circling the idea of taking up a novel, again. I have five pages written, and a few pages of notes, and that's about it.

Hopefully, something will click, soon, whether it's another idea for a biography, or this novel.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Homeowners Once More

Dear Husband and I close on a house this Thursday.

I haven't been this stressed in a looooooooong time.

Add to the stress the fact that I've been terrible at eating Paleo - too much indulging in cheese via gluten-free pizza - and I'm having almost daily migraines. It's... rough.

And it's my own damned fault.

Once we've moved into the new house, however, I fully intend to get back to the super-Paleo lifestyle Dear Husband and I led when we first met and began dating. I'm not particularly looking forward to it - cheese is SO delicious! - but my body and my skin will thank me for it.

Particularly as the forehead of 13-year-old Ms. Strainedconsciousness is back in all it's unhappy, oily, bumpy glory.


I've been busy, lately, making purchases for the new house - because those wood floors aren't going to sprout rugs on their own (and I now have a new phobia that will probably haunt my dreams); lining up contractors to tune-up our current house's HVAC system, and doing the same at the new house; arranging for an appliance repairman to come look at our range in the new house (because it doesn't work); scheduling our new roof installation, fence demolition, and fence reconstruction; etcetera.

I feel like all I've done the last two weeks is make phone calls and take the dogs to the vet (Ginger's been a bit gimpy).

After 4 weeks - or possibly more - without a manicure or pedicure, and my feet still wearing the nail polish from that last appointment, I finally was able to do a little self-care, today, in the form of a mani/pedi. Because my doctor cancelled my appointment. Apparently, she was still in surgery, and couldn't leave her unconscious patient for a few minutes to come take care of me. Pshaw.

I'm joking, naturally.

It was fortunate, though, because as I told her scheduler, "This makes my day much less stressful." Despite the fact that I was already in the doctors' office parking lot when she called.

It meant I had time to shoehorn a little foot time into my day. Rescheduling for a month down the road was totally worth it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"And God said...

... Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed..." Genesis 1:29.

Dear Husband and I are currently in the "Option Period" for buying a new house. Here's hoping everything turns out okay (and that the sellers are willing to work with us on some repairs that need to be made!).

Since all of this is happening - so so quickly! - we're in the process of getting our current shack ready to put on the market. Housekeepers came yesterday (and the photographer for the website. He was a week early, though), and today a gentleman came by to give me an estimate on the cost to clean up our flower beds and yards, and then to do weekly maintenance.

I hadn't seen his email from last night, so I didn't realize he'd be here at 10:00 am. It wasn't until he knocked - and freaked out the dogs - that I got out of bed, threw on some clothes, and really started the day. Because I had a migraine, this morning.


I apologized for making him wait, explained that I had a migraine, and then we got down to talking about our flower beds and the (patchy) state of our grass.

After I'd told him he was hired, he asked me how often I had migraines, which I thought was odd. I told him it varied, but sometimes it was daily.

He nodded his head and said, "I always know when someone contacts me through Angie's List that it's because they have a need."

He didn't mean a need for a nicer yard, either.

He asked if he could pray for me, and when I said, "Yes," he held my hand, and it was all I could do to keep from crying as this complete stranger prayed for me and my health.

I'm not a particularly religious person, Dear Readers, but I appreciate when others who are religious pray for me, and what it means for them. And so, Mr. Baptiste prayed for me, and said he will pray for me at church, like he does his other Angie's List clients who "have a need."

I hope his other clients appreciate it as much as I do.

Friday, January 27, 2017

You Can't Win 'Em All

We put in an offer on the house we loved after I dragged Darling Husband to see it.

We didn't get it.

But it's okay! Really!

Actually, yeah, it's okay, because on our last showing, we realized that part of the upstairs was a

And by "off", I mean that the cantilevered hallway joining the upstairs bedrooms was sagging. Because it might not have been built properly.

The potentially catastrophic cantilever is the reason we made them an offer - ahem - $39,000 below their asking price. That cantilever fix could have been a $16,000 issue.

We honestly didn't think the owners would go for it, and they didn't. We found out 1/26, and I've already bounced back from the quasi-disappointment.

Our poor realtor has a list of 5 houses we'd like to see, and there are three open houses we might visit, as well.

So I guess getting all those tile samples was a bit premature. I'm still keeping my Design Boards, though. Would you like to see them?

How silly of me! Of course you want to see them! Your life revolves around my blog, right? RIGHT?

And before you ask: YES, Darling Husband gave me permission to paint the walls pink! When I first asked if he'd be okay with it, well, his expression spoke for itself.

It said, "No."

But then I showed him the lovely design above, and he saw that the pink walls would be in contrast to the more masculine feel of the bed (deep olive velvet & navy coverlet, but note the "feminine" sheets), and the imaginary bedside tables that are bigger than the ones in the picture, but have the same "campaign"/"captain" look to them. And the lamp bases (I have two) are antique ceramic insulators from a power transfer station.

Because I'm an amazing shopper. And Darling Husband - who knew I'd been stalking them at the antique store, which was having a sale - was kind enough to agree that I should get them. It helped that the lamps were on sale.

Purchases are more fun when they're on sale, no?

The only downsides to my ceramic insulators are that: 1) I have to pay someone to make them into lamps; 2) they have old power transfer station grease inside them that I have to clean out.

So cleaning is the plan for Saturday afternoon/evening, depending on how exhausted I am after lunching with a friend and then flitting to open houses.

Like a greasy social butterfly.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Times, They Are A Changin'

A brief recap since August of last year, when I last wrote:

1. Still married! Darling Husband and I adopted a female dog, née Sara, who we renamed Ginger. She and Fred are inseparable. When she wants to play but Fred is ignoring her, she sits on his head until he gets so annoyed he stands up, and then she goes in for the kill. She's a mischievous little thing.

2. I started a website - Curated Houston - and just as quickly shut it down when I realized the workload required wasn't congruent with the migraines I have. In theory, it would have featured profiles of Houston (and surrounding) interiors shops, educational articles ('What to Look For When Buying A Farm Table', for instance. Real hard-hitting gritty realism stuff), and musings/adventures in interior design.  Even at one article per week, I was struggling, and I realized I couldn't keep up with it. So I have written a "farewell message" and posted it on the website, but the posts are still available if you want to read them (

3. Darling Husband and I are searching for a house, and I believe we've found one. It's farther from downtown, so his commutes will be longer, but he's planning to drive out that way, Tuesday morning, SUPER DUPER early to see just how long the commute will be. If it isn't a Donner Party situation - trapped on Interstate 10, eating his own shoes and car upholstery for sustenance as the days pass - we will most likely put in an offer on the house. 

And here's the best part: I dragged him to the house. He didn't want to go AT ALL, but I slipped it onto the list of houses anyways. We both walked in and thought "This feels like a home," and to be honest, even the kitchen - which hasn't been updated since the early 1990s - feels homey and perfect, for now. Eventually, we'll renovate, but for now, it's adorable. I have a lifetime of "I told you so" to deliver, in other words.

4. I might get to go to New York City for the first time in my life. Darling Husband has to attend an awards dinner thingy, and he would be flying back on Friday except I subtly suggested I go with him and we make it a weekend. I AM SO EXCITED. Hopefully no wrenches will find their way into the works to prevent me from going (unless that wrench is us moving into our house, in which case, bring on the wrenches!!!).

5. I've begun "bullet journaling", and it's everything an OCDesigner could want: neatly organized lists and schedules, the opportunity to color and decorate the lists and schedules, etc. It takes a little time, but that time is fairly meditative, so I have no problems with that.

6. Oh, and I'm officially considered 'Disabled' by the US Government and the State of Texas, now. It's one of those 'Good News/Bad News' deals: The Good News is, I receive a disability check every month to help defray the costs of healthcare. The Bad News is, I receive a disability check every month because I'm incapable of working.

I'm trying to decide what to do to give my days more structure, something like researching and writing a biography, etc. I like to set my sights low, as you well know, Dear Reader. In the meantime, I do house-wifey things (on days I'm able): buy groceries, drop off/pick up dry cleaning, pay bills, take the dogs to vet appointments, do laundry and iron clothes, etc...

And crossword puzzles. I work a lot of Sunday New York Times crossword puzzles.

That's it, so far. I'm excited by and still obsessive about design in all its forms, possibly more so than before, now that I have the chance to realize my obsessions in physical form. And, oh, Dear Reader! I hope the dream designs turn out to be as wonderful in person as they are in my mind!