Rebound headaches

The word rebound is listed in the dictionary as a verb and a noun, and whether it’s used as a verb or a noun, the meaning is rather positive.

As a verb: “To spring or bounce back after hitting or colliding with something. To recover, as from depression or disappointment. To retrieve and gain possession of the basketball as it bounces off the backboard or rim after an unsuccessful shot.”

As a noun: “The act or an instance of taking possession of a rebounding ball. A quick recovery from or reaction to disappointment or depression”

I’m not sure why it’s been attached to headaches caused by the overuse of medication (whether over the counter or prescription) as an adverb, but it has, and that’s what I recently experienced.

I’ve had migraines since I was 12, so I’ve learned a few things about trying to keep them under control. I need to have regular sleep patterns, eat regularly, exercise regularly and make sure I’m hydrated. Doing these things won’t keep me from having migraines, but will limit the frequency and severity.

My rebound headaches started with a stomach virus. All the things I need to do to keep migraines controllable went out the window. I won’t go into the disgusting details of my affliction, but let’s just say that I was not in control of my bodily functions for more than 12 hours. For the next few days I was very cautious of taking in food or liquid. Sleep wasn’t too much of an issue since I was exhausted. Exercise was not even a consideration!

The first migraine hit about 20 hours into my ordeal. I took my medication in shot form. Ah, sweet relief! Eight hours later, another migraine. This time I felt I could keep down the medication in pill form. Again, I achieved my desired relief – for a while. Ten days and ten migraines later I knew I was in a cycle that needed to be broken, but to break it meant suffering through a migraine without medication. I lasted for about six hours before reaching for the shot. The next day I resolved I wouldn’t medicate.

I’d forgotten how painful migraines can get. The prescription drug Imitrex had been a life-changer for me, which I wrote about it in a previous blog. Regardless of the fact that the change in my hormone levels has caused it to be less effective, it still keeps that awful “I wanna chop off this side of my head” pain from fully developing.

Ten hours into the migraine, I couldn’t stand the pain any longer and reached for the shot. However, this time I’d apparently broken the cycle because I didn’t have another migraine for five days. Whew!

Migraine sufferers are taught to take medication at the first sign of a headache. That may not be the best advice. I now try using essential oils, stretching and drinking lots of water before reaching for the pills. I’ve only had one time that I tried that and didn’t have to eventually take my medication, but that’s one less dose I had to take. I see that as a positive!

My pain management finesse level:
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

The “miracle” of water


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

I really enjoy reading health tips, and Facebook has made that very easy. However, I have a thing for accuracy, so I *Google anything I’m interested in trying.

I did just that after reading information supposedly from the Mayo Clinic regarding drinking a glass of water before bedtime to reduce the risk of heart attack or stoke and drinking two glasses when you get out of bed in the morning to jump start your internal organs.

According to articles on Google, yes, the information is absolutely true and no, it’s absolutely false. Isn’t the internet a great tool?!

The best way to discover the truth was to go directly to the Mayo Clinic website. My search for “best time to drink water” and “water heart attack stroke” didn’t yield specific results. However, I did find a nice, concise article, Water: How much should you drink every day, which provides some good common sense information.

We should all know the basics shared in the article, such as “every system in your body depends on water” and “water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.” On the other hand, the “lack of water can lead to dehydration,” robbing your body of the ability “to carry out normal functions” and draining your energy and making you tired.mayo_logo

Pretty fundamental information, however, I did read a challenge to the conventional thought of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

Eight 8-ounce glasses of water is “about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations.” (roughly 3 liters or about 13 cups for men and 2.2 liters or about 9 cups for women)

The article goes on to say that the rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, but remains popular because it’s easy to remember. To be more accurate, the author believes we should exchange the word fluid for water, “because all fluids count toward the daily total.”

The thought of water not being our only source of hydration is further explored in an article in Parade Magazine, The truth behind the myths parents tell kids, by Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy fame).

KenJennings“In 2002, a kidney specialist named Heinz Valtin, M.D., concluded this rule was an accident. Back in the 1940s, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended ‘one milliliter of water for each calorie of food.’ A 1,900-calorie diet would indeed work out to about 64 ounces of water a day. But everyone seems to have forgotten the next sentence: ‘Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.’ Most of our water gets to us in non-water form. In fact, a National Institutes of Health doctor told the Los Angeles Times that a healthy adult in a temperate climate could replace his body’s daily water loss with food alone! The Center for Nutrition found that even supposedly ‘diuretic’ beverages (like coffee, tea, and soda) provide almost all the hydration that water does.”

O.K., I’m not ready to give up drinking water or any other beverage to meet my hydration needs, but it is important to separate fact from assumption.


Image courtesy of zirconicusso /

The bottom line is that we need to listen to our bodies and drink when we’re thirsty. Hydrate when you exercise. Hydrate in hot or humid weather. Hydrate when you’re breast-feeding. Hydrate when you have an illness accompanied by fever, vomiting or diarrhea (although I’d drink Gatorade rather than water in this case).

Water might not be a miracle cure for what ails you, but it can’t hurt. It has zero calories, is inexpensive and is easily accessible (at least in most locations), so go to grab some water and let’s toast to a life filled with more **finesse!

*(yes, Google is now a verb – at least in my world)

**finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Always in our thoughts

Yesterday came and went without mention of our daughter’s birthday. She would have been 32 years old. I know I remembered and I know the husband remembered. It’s something you don’t forget. Even if you could forget, that’s not what you’d wish. Remembering is the only thing that keeps her alive in our hearts.

I was about 28-weeks along in my pregnancy and on bed rest after being diagnosed with preeclampsia.  It was Jan. 20, 1981 and my due date was March 25. I was so bored and couldn’t imagine resting for the next nine weeks.

Watching television was not a cure for boredom as the only thing being broadcast was news of the American hostages being freed from Iran and the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. I was thankful for the release of the hostages, and the inauguration was interesting, but only for an hour or two.

I noticed some lint on the carpet and decided I could vacuum without exerting too much energy. I figured I could even sit down and just move the sweeper back and forth.

Once I was on my feet, I felt a little funny. I sat back down. I can’t really describe what I was feeling, except that something was off. I went into “mommy-mode” and sat still until the husband came home from work. I asked him to take my blood pressure.

“170 over 120,” he said calmly.

“That can’t be right,” I said. “Take it again.”

He did, but the numbers were the same.

“You must be doing something wrong,” I insisted. “Call the fire department and have them send someone to take it.”

This request was granted, but this must have been hard for the husband. He was a volunteer firefighter and had passed his EMT class. He knew how to take someone’s blood pressure.

Charlie from the fire department arrived and took my blood pressure. Still 170 over 120.

We called the doctor and he said to come right in and be prepared to stay until the baby was born.

I was given magnesium sulfate, which gave me a horrendous headache, but did not lower the blood pressure. My doctor transferred me to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. My blood pressure came down, but was still in the danger zone. I was stabilized until Jan. 29, when I had a seizure.

I now had eclampsia. According to, eclampsia is “a very serious complication of preeclampsia characterized by one or more seizures during pregnancy or in the post-partum period. In the developed world, eclampsia is rare and usually treatable if appropriate intervention is promptly sought. Left untreated, eclamptic seizures can result in coma, brain damage, and possibly maternal or infant death.” Fortunately, I wasn’t aware of what was happening or how dangerous the condition was for my baby.

I had an emergency cesarean section and our beautiful little girl was born 8 weeks early weighing three pounds, eight ounces. Rachael Suzanne was tiny, but perfect in our eyes.

Her little lungs were another matter. Her lungs collapsed a week later and on Feb. 8, we chose to remove her from anything that artificially kept her breathing. The first time we were allowed to hold her, she died in our arms.

At the time I thought I’d lose my mind, and I never thought I’d be alright with the grief. Surprisingly, I didn’t lose my mind and the grief is just ingrained in who I am. It’s like a scar, only it’s on the inside.

We recently learned that friends of ours lost their nine day old granddaughter. The husband and I sobbed in each others arms as if the loss were our own. Yes, the scar is on the inside, but it’s very close the surface.

Outrun the flu

Last week we were inundated with news of the flu. Every night it seemed the lead story on the national news was about the flu. Facebook friends related the misery of dealing with flu symptoms. Clearly I needed to outrun this evil virus, so I turned to the internet and found FLUF.A.C.T.S (F.A.C.T.S stands for the five symptoms of the flu; Fever, Aches, Chills, Tiredness, and Sudden onset).

wash handsNumber one on the list of prevention is hand washing. According to the website, the influenza virus can live for two to eight hours on surfaces. How many things do you touch that are touched by numerous others who may be infected? Elevator buttons, handrails on stairs and escalators, the appliance handles in your lunch room at work, menus in restaurants and the remote you share with your family are just a few of the things that come to mind. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with SOAP and water. When soap and water aren’t convenient, use hand sanitizer to kill those germs. I always carry a small bottle in my purse.

Second, cover your sneezes and cough, but not with your hand. Use a tissue, or as one of my favorite little people reminded me, use your “wing” (inner elbow). If you use a tissue, throw it away. They aren’t expensive, and they were invented to be disposable.

K_face covered

My youngest granddaughter likes to sleep with her face covered.

And then there’s the flu vaccine. I’m a weenie when it comes to shots, possibly because I have to occasionally give myself injections for relief from migraines, so I try to avoid being poked by additional needles. However, I did get the vaccine this year, and for one very good reason – my granddaughter! I don’t want to be sick and miss interacting with this precious little girl, and I certainly don’t want to unknowingly pass the virus to her.

Maintaining ones health on a daily basis is the best way to not only outrun the flu, but stay well in general. Provide your body with the proper rest, exercise and nutrition it requires. I’m also a big believer in taking Vitamin C, as mentioned in a previous post.

Stay well, my friends!

My flu fighting *finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your flu fighting finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)


Vacation for health

I’ve taken four vacations so far this year, am currently enjoying my fifth, and have a sixth scheduled. The husband has traveled with me, except for my trip to Alaska. We normally take three vacations per year in the spring, summer and fall, so this year has been unusual.

A beautiful fall morning at Eagle Crest Resort in Central Oregon.

Normally, we pack up our Acura MDX and drive a couple of hours from home to a resort we’ve been visiting since 1991. We enjoy a relaxing week with no schedules, no airports, no hotels, no car rentals and no restaurants – and the weather is usually better than at home. We’re able to completely unwind and reenergize, so it’s reasonable to assume there are psychological benefits to taking vacations. However, research shows vacations can benefit you physically, as well.

Sunrise over the Deschutes River at Eagle Crest Resort

According to an article in Psychology Today, studies show that “vacation is good for your cardiovascular health and your waistline, lowers your cortisol levels and your blood pressure, and may aid in recovery from diseases like cancer.”

Vacations don’t have to be expensive or in some faraway location, and they don’t have to be a week long. Even the simplest of getaways can benefit your health. Why wait?

Vit C benefits

Six or seven years ago I had some non-cancerous lumps removed from my left breast. I wasn’t too concerned and neither was my doctor, but because it was impossible to feel or see what was beneath the lumps, I decided to have them removed. My mother’s a breast cancer survivor, so I want to be very aware of any changes in “the girls.”

All was well, and continues to be, however, my doctor suggested I begin taking vitamin C as she strongly believes it can lower the risk for developing breast cancer. Not everyone in the field of breast cancer research shares her enthusiasm. According to, “Although selected studies have found that women who consume higher amounts of vitamin C have a lower risk of breast cancer, research in general has not shown a strong connection.”  That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of taking vitamin C to prevent breast cancer, but even though it might not help, it can’t hurt.

My doctor gave me a sample of Emergen-C, asserting that this form of vitamin C was absorbed into my body more easily than pills. She also encouraged me to eat a lot more fruits and vegetables.

I’ve taken Emergen-C almost every day since that time, and I don’t know about it lowering my risk for breast cancer, but I can tell you that I haven’t had nearly as many colds. Maybe Linus Pauling was right!


Fear of flying

I know people who have a fear of flying. They’d do and risk almost anything to stay off an airplane. When they are forced to fly, they have a white-knuckle grip on the armrests during take off and landings. Their blood pressure is elevated even on a smooth flight. A little turbulence and they begin praying to any and all deity.

I have a fear of flying, but not for the common reasons. I fear coming down with a migraine while in flight. I have written a few posts about my struggle with migraines. My Imitrex medication works, but only if I take it at the first sign and immediately lie down in a dark room for at least an hour. That’s not practical on a plane. I tried just popping the pills and closing my eyes on a trip to Phoenix in April. The migraine only increased in intensity. Fortunately that flight was only two and a half hours.

It’s not surprising that I was more than a little concerned about my Alaska Airline flight to Orlando. My itinerary was to fly out of Portland at 5:30 a.m., land in Seattle about 30 minutes later, then fly to Orlando at 8:55 a.m. I wouldn’t land in Orlando for five hours. If a migraine attacked any time within the nine hours I would not have access to a dark, comfortable place to rest, I was going to be in a lot of pain – maybe even to the point of vomiting. Fortunately, I was migraine-free during the flight. I had taken my injections just in case, but I’m not sure if they would have worked any better than the pills.

Why risk it? I guess I’m only willing to let migraines have limited control over my life. They caused me to resign from a job I loved, and have robbed me of time (sometimes days), so I wasn’t willing to let them rob me of a chance to travel with the husband.

Am I concerned about the flight home? Absolutely, but the only other option is to not travel, which is not living life as I’d like – with *finesse!


*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Elbow PT

I’ve begun physical therapy for my tennis elbow, which I posted about in early June. The pain had subsided with the use of ice, heat and anti-inflammatory meds, but was still present. I’m not one to be content with healing halfway, so I advocated for physical therapy.

I’ve had two sessions, and while I haven’t seen any major improvement, I do feel like I have a better understanding of how long this may last and what I need to do to move toward being 100 percent.

I’m still using ice and heat and the occasional anti-inflammatory and have added stretching exercises. These simple movements, when done correctly, are allowing me to move my elbow and arm with less pain.

I’m also wearing a brace which limits the way I move the tendons between my elbow and wrist. I’m much more aware of what I was do that hinders healing. It’s a little uncomfortable to wear while sleeping, but I try to keep it on as much as possible.

According the my therapist, tennis elbow can take six months to a year to heal – so much for a quick fix. I’m not the most patient patient or the most disciplined, but I want to have the pain-free movement I had pre-injury so I’ll do my best to follow the treatment plan with *finesse.

Lesson learned is to listen to my body. When it’s giving me a “this is uncomfortable” signal I can push through, but when it’s giving me an “OUCH! That hurts” signal, it’s time to stop. Are you a good listener?

My wellness finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your wellness finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Vacation exercise

Me and the husband at Crater Lake

My former manager Jane is a creative spirit who is constantly on the move. She often regaled us with tales of her extreme vacations backpacking, hiking, and canoeing in remote locations. I was thoroughly exhausted just listening to all the activity and exercise she packed into her time off. I admire her in many ways and wish I had some of her talents. However, I’m really glad we have different vacation styles.

Crater Lake

My vacations are much more laid-back. A tent pitched on the hard, uneven ground of the Mt. Hood National Forest was a one-time experience with the husband and our puppy shortly after we married. We moved up to camping in State Parks with a camper that was so old, it had an ice box, but I was grateful for the softer bed. When our kids came along we went the motel route once, and then bought our timeshare. I love driving just a little more than two hours to the high dessert of Central Oregon, unloading the MDX and just relaxing in our second home.

It’s a long way down from the rim to Crater Lake

That’s not to say we don’t fit in some exercise while we are enjoying our time away from the day-to-day routine. There is a very scenic 3.5 mile walk along the Deschutes River we try to do every morning. The walk down to and along the river is pretty easy, but climbing back up can really elevate your heart rate. We also leisurely walk the paved paths after dinner, which makes indulging in ice cream on our deck seem acceptable.

A view of Wizard Island in Crater Lake

This year we also drove about 2 hours south to Crater Lake National Park. Amazingly beautiful! The best views involved hiking up along trails, using tree roots and rocks as foot-holds. I could feel the muscles in my “posterior” getting a workout. I was feeling pretty good about our activity level until I overheard a man talking about how he pedaled his way to the park and hoped to make it to the Oregon Caves before nightfall.

Whatever your vacation style, be sure to get out and explore. Get a little exercise and enjoy nature with *finesse!

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Just hangin’

The husband has had back problems since his mid-twenties. He’s been pretty good about strengthening the muscles in his lower back to provide some protection, but sometimes it can still cause him pain. I can tell when he’s experiencing discomfort because he walks a little hunched over.

He doesn’t go the doctor or chiropractor when it’s bothering him, as it usually works itself out. However, a few weeks ago his back started acting up for no apparent reason. The pain and hunched over walking continued for two weeks with only minimal improvement, then we stumbled upon a miracle. Okay, maybe not a miracle, but certainly a way to relieve his aching back.

We were running errands and around lunch time decided to split a burrito at Qdoba Mexican Grill. There weren’t any parking spots in front of the restaurant, so we parked in front of a store called, Relax the Back. I said, “We’re going in there after lunch!”

The sales lady took one look at the husband and suggested he try the Contour L-3 Inversion Table. After just a few moments hanging upside down, his back pain was gone! He knows several people who swear by their inversion tables, so we made the purchase.

His back is pain-free, which is priceless, but since the purchase is covered by his employer’s wellness plan it was truly without cost. The best benefit is to know he feels well.  A totally unrelated, but fun side benefit is how flat my stomach is when I hang upside down!