Archive for October, 2010

Migraines and chiropractic

So, although most of my waking hours are currently spent thinking about internship applications (omg I am so ready to be done with this), I have taken a little time out this week for my body. To tell the truth (shhhh, don’t tell Amanda), I have hardly worked out this week. I just had so much to do with the writing and the thinking about the writing, I skipped a lot of my normal routines, even choir practice(!). But I did do one thing. I went to see a chiropracter for the first time.

I have been told by a number of people to do this, because of my migraines, but I have been hesitant up until now. And to tell the truth, I am still a little hesitant. Here’s the thing. I never even heard of a chiropractor until I moved to Colorado, and there I heard story after story – people who’s lives had been changed and people who believed it to be total quackery. There seemed to be a clinic on every corner and nearly everyone I knew seemed to have been (or was still going). It kind of scared me off, and at the time I didn’t have anything that I thought I needed to see any kind of doctor about, much less a chiropractor.

But all that has changed, and today I have been suffering from migraines for 10 long years and they seem to be getting worse again, so I took the plunge. I talked to everyone who would talk about it and picked someone based on personal recommendations. I went in for my first appointment and one of the first things they had me do was watch a video about chiropractic wherein patients said that it changed their lives, young and old. Two people talked about how much it was “worth” to them and one even said, “I’d pay ANY amount to stay at this level of health” or something like that. Several people talked about not needing but wanting to receive care for the rest of their lives.

Somehow, someone found out what my worst fears and preconceived notions were about chiropractic and set out to scare me even more!

The head chiropractor (not the one I was there to see) met me as I was getting a tour and held my hand a few seconds longer than usual and looked deep into my eyes as he welcomed me. I have to say I was creeped out. Also, there were a number of “laser” machines around that looked suspicious to me.

But the chiropractor I was there to see made me feel a bit more at ease. I got a good vibe from her (hard to get more woo than that!). I didn’t have any actual “work” done that day because she was concerned that no one had ever done any neck x-rays since my accident and felt better seeing those first. That seems medically sound, doesn’t it?

Yeah, so, after I get those squeezed into my schedule I will go back. Everyone cross your fingers now!

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Pastries or rent?

I jokingly said to my co-worker that it was a good thing pay comes before rent this month, because I might not make it. I went on about my life as usual, however. I filled up my gas tank, bought Bodhi’s medications, and hit Costco for tofu. While I was there I picked up blueberries (for salads!) and pretzels (for work snacks), too. Seriously, there were 8 items in my cart.

I got home and went online to deposit my paycheck. At which point I realized that I was actually in trouble for my rent. This floored me. I have not been that broke in…a long time. I cannot even remember the last time I was worried I might not make my rent!

And then I started thinking about the money I spent in just the last 2 days. I could have just put a few gallons of gas in my tank – my work is only 2 miles away and I usually only fill up once a month (unless I go into Boston, then twice). I could have skipped the damn blueberries or $5 worth of pretzels. I could have bought half a month of meds for Bodhi – there’s no weird insurance thing and that would have saved me $30!

Then I realized I am out of rice. Which is what the dog eats. Yes, I could go buy some kibble at the grocery store, but that would mean he’d be sick until I can get the rice. So I pulled together all the cash I could find and went to buy a bag. The Korean store I get rice from is in the next town over – not far, really, but I only go over that way once a month and it happens to be be right by my favorite pastry shop. I seriously considered going over there as I pulled out of the parking lot, thinking, “I’ll just get one little pastry.”

This is when it struck me that my thinking about money is radically out-of-sync with my financial situation.

I’m currently making a grand total of $15,000 for the year. No one is silly enough to call this a salary, rather it is considered a stipend. I took out a small “extra” student loan to keep me going while making $880 a month and paying $850 for rent. I also paid for my CSA before I came out here, with the money I was making before I moved. But these stopgaps are not working for me any more.

Here’s the thing, I have been poor before. Very poor. But apparently I have forgotten how to live that way. I have been able to buy pretty much what I want to when I wanted to for a long time. And now my foolish decision to fill up my gas tank has me worried about paying my rent.

I was telling someone today that this is a good reminder for me. I know that most of my clients are living below the poverty line, but I have forgotten what it’s like to have to juggle such little money around. I have forgotten that it is a kind of privilege to be able to drive further to get a better deal. To be able to pay a little more up front to get a lower per-use cost. That there is privilege in my going to the next town over to pay $18 for a big bag of brown rice that would cost me so much more if I had to buy it in little one pound bags from the local grocery.

Yes, I chose rent over pastries today. 

Bodhi update and migraines

After taking my run Sunday, I walked Bodhi 7 whole tenths of a mile. When we got home, he was limping and breathing heavily. It was only about 65 degrees when we went out, but apparently even that was too much for him. I feel bad when he doesn’t get any exercise, but I get worried when he does get exercise and it seems to be too much for him. He only limped for a minute or two, and when Amy showed up later he had no problem at all leaping around the living room, so I don’t think he was actually injured, but I really don’t know what is going on for him. He went right to sleep as soon as the house quieted some, so I think he continues to be extra tired after just a short walk.

I had another migraine too. I started writing down how often I have to take medication again, and as a fellow migraine sufferer said to me, “if you are writing it down, it’s probably too many.” I started because Amy commented recently that I seem to have more migraine days than non-migraine days, and I got concerned. Since I have been writing it down, I 3 out of 5 were medication days. That is not good (duh) so I am back on the path again, seeing what I can do to slow them down some.

I have checked into things like migraine food triggers, and of course stress, but I also know that a lot of it might just be bad body mechanics after my motorcycle accident. I only had one or two headaches in my life before the accident that I thought might be migraines, and many, many after, so it seems pretty likely. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have any triggers, or that I always do what I need to to avoid such triggers. This one is a perfect example. I slept poorly Saturday night, then got up and went for a run. I finished my whole 5 miles (yay) even though at half a mile I could feel my footfalls inside my head (boo). Sometimes exercise actually seems to help, but I kind of knew Sunday morning I wasn’t feeling good enough to run. And once I was out, I just kept going. When I got home, did I drink a nice protein shake or eat a quick meal? Nooooo. Of course not. I started cleaning (prep work for writing, you know). I vacuumed and did some laundry, then Amy came and I chatted with her…. I finally managed to get my first meal in by 230 – that protein shake I should have had earlier. Yes, nothing like exercising when you already feel bad and skipping meals…

So now the count is 4 out of 5. Boo. Crossing my fingers for better sleep and promising myself several decent meals tomorrow.

Prejudice rears it’s ugly head…

Image management – it’s a full time job, isn’t it? Even when I am out jogging I find myself thinking about what other people are thinking about me. Usually it makes me run faster, breath slower, smile more broadly. It is amazing to me the energy I can muster up to look “more like a real runner” as I pass total strangers. Or to look less winded as I pass the other regulars that share the sidewalk with me.

The other day was a fine, sunny one and I was feeling pretty good. I was on my way home (always easier than when I am heading away from the house) and I saw a man turning onto the sidewalk on his bike. As I moved to the other side of the path, I readied my smile for what I thought was a Hispanic man. As he got close enough for a better look, though, I am ashamed to say my smile faltered slightly when I saw who was actually approaching. It was an older Caucasian man with a few days of beard and a Harley Davidson bandana tied around his head. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a nice bike. But obviously I have some old stereotypes in my head about grizzled Caucasian guys…with tattoos…and riding a bike. Even now as I write this, I know it is totally just a stereotype, but it is definitely in there.

Here I was, thinking about a Hispanic guy who probably works really hard and is supporting his family and maybe can’t afford a car, someone to whom biking is a mode of transportation rather than a sport – and that totally flips with the sight of this man. Now I assume that he is an old guy who drinks too much and lost his license so he has to ride a bike. Then my image management software kicked in and I smiled anyway, I wouldn’t want to look like a snarky runner.

About half a mile later I passed an older Caucasian woman (I live in a third ring suburb of Minneapolis, what do you want from me?) and I got ready to say “good morning” with  my prettiest smile. She determinedly kept her eyes fixed on the horizon, ignoring me completely. So much for my attempt to make up for my earlier near-snub…or maybe that was karma?

I am writing about this now as a reminder to myself. It is so easy to think of myself as a person without prejudice, as someone who is tolerant and open to all peoples. And I am…mostly. This was a good reminder, though, that in some ways I am still most open to people who are most like me, to people who are most like the people I grew up around. It is a reminder to myself to take a deep breath and keep an open mind.

It is never too late to give up our prejudices.  ~Henry David Thoreau

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