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:
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It’s just a nightmare!

I’m at that wonderful transition point in life when getting a good night’s rest is a challenge. Between bouts with insomnia and bursts of warmth, I feel fortunate to get a good six hours of sleep. So, I’m not a real happy camper when the husband has a nightmare that startles me from a deep sleep.

He doesn’t have nightmares often, but when he does he kicks, punches and makes scary noises. We have a king size bed, but that’s not enough space to spare me from the occasional forceful contact. So, as I’m scurrying to my edge of the bed I’m somewhat loudly calling his name and saying in a very reassuring voice, “It’s okay!” But is that the right thing to do from a medical point of view?

According to an article on Self Magazine’s website by Harry Lodge, M.D., the answer is no, and yes.

“You may think you’re rescuing your bedmate from misery, but rousing someone simply means he’ll need several frustrating minutes (or longer) to calm down and get back to sleep. The truth is nightmares are normal. They’re the brain’s way of processing what you experienced or thought about (whether consciously or not) during the day. Now, if the person lashes out, bangs his head against the wall or does anything else physically dangerous to himself or you, it’s probably a good idea to gently wake him.”

Gently? Not sure that would work!

Dr. Lodge also dismisses the premise that awakening someone from a nightmare can cause a heart attack. He didn’t comment on whether your nightmares could cause your spouse to have a heart attack, however. I know this spouse’s ticker is thumping at a pretty good rate!

Since neither of us has suffered any lasting harm, I think I’ll continue to wake him in my usual manner and from a distance – for the husband’s well-being and mine.

Just five pounds

Every year I make the same resolution to lose five pounds. I’ve never succeeded in losing the five pounds but, I haven’t gained any weight either. This year is different, however. I’ve mysteriously gained five pounds while doing nothing different from the previous years.

I hear similar stories from other women my age, and many of us wonder if we should just accept this added weight as part of aging and start purchasing clothes one size larger. After all, it’s just five pounds. How bad can an extra five pounds be?

I remembered hearing an equation regarding the pressure of extra weight on your joints and decided to do a little research. According to the website Sharecare and several others, being overweight puts huge pressure on your joints. Here’s the equation: For each extra pound of excess weight on your body, you add 3 times that amount of pressure on your knees.

So the answer to my question is, five extra pounds adds 15 pounds of pressure to my aging knees, and that’s certainly not good.  And the pressure is more than doubled when walking up stairs! Instead of multiplying those five extra pounds by 3, you multiply by 7. Fifteen pounds of pressure just became 35 pounds. Over time, the force of those five extra pounds will wear down my cartilage, leading to arthritis. Losing the extra five pounds just moved from a vanity issue to a mobility issue!

From a very practical point of view, losing five pounds in one year is doable – for everyone. The Sharecare website goes on to state that the damage from the added pressure can be stopped and reversed. “As you lose weight and reduce the pressure on your joints, the cushioning between your bones will build back up. A 10 pound weight loss over 10 years may result in as much as a 50 percent decrease in your odds of developing osteoarthritis.”

So summon up a little *finesse and join me in kicking five pounds off the scales this year! Who knows, maybe we’ll feel so good about losing those five pounds, we’ll knock off another five pounds next year! But let’s do this one step at a time. And that may well be a literal statement if you’re carrying quite a bit of extra weight. Maybe the only thing you can do is get off the couch during commercial breaks during your favorite TV show and walk to the sink and get a glass of water. That’s movement and certainly better than sitting motionless for 30 minutes to an hour.

Let me know what you’re doing to lose five pounds and protect your joints.

My wellness finesse level: 
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*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Hair stylist shares practical tips

I don’t know what I’d do without my friend and hair stylist, Kelly Dowhan. A professional with more than 30 years of experience, Kelly is passionate about helping her clients look their best.  She enjoys researching current hair and clothing fashions, and is especially interested in proportion, hair and skin tone, and practicality when it comes to hair and clothing fashions.  I recently sat down with Kelly to discuss how to age with finesse*.

Q: Kelly, what are the most important things women can do to keep their hair healthy as they age?

A: The most important thing a woman over 40 can do to keep her hair in the best shape is to make sure she’s getting all the right nutrients and enough sleep for her body to produce healthy hair and skin. This would also include exercise. Most of the demise of a woman’s hair, once she enters into peri-menopause and menopause, is due to hormone changes. This can cause hair to lose its luster, become wiry and thin, not to mention the obvious: grey. Diet and exercise can often delay and lower the impact and signs of aging and the inevitable decline of hormones. 

Additionally, take a moment and reassess your hair type and make sure you’re on target.  Are you still treating your hair with the same type of products you used in your twenties and thirties? If your hair has changed, you should change your products.

Shampooing tip (this is a biggie): “Wash the scalp, not the hair. Condition the hair, not the scalp.” When shampooing, tip your head upside down and apply the shampoo onto the scalp by going in at the base of the hair shaft. Two shampoo applications will be necessary: one from the forehead and temples working back, and one from the nape up to the crown. Don’t work the shampoo through the rest of the strands; the gentle rinse of soapy water passing through will do the job. Only apply conditioner to the dry ends, never near the scalp or around the hairline. 

Q: What’s the biggest mistake women make with their hair as they age?

A: TOO BIG!!!  Rein that baby in. 


Q: What are your three top tips for looking our best at any age?

A: “Shower, Shampoo and Shine!” Look like you care. Get up. Get ready for the day. Do your hair. Put on a little make up — especially lipstick (not too dark as you get older; it can look harsh). 

Regarding the “Shine,” pick out something cute to wear — not just/only “comfortable.” One thing I’ve noticed is that many people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s tend to wear the same clothes for years –like ten, fifteen, twenty years. This is certainly noble and very practical, but it’s one of the things that can really make a person look, well, kind of stale. 

Newer fabrics may be one of the reasons people don’t rotate their wardrobe as often as they should. Some people want to wear items until they wear out, but, let’s face it; some of these fabrics are so indestructible they could out live us all. And because we don’t want to give away a perfectly good item, we end up with huge outdated wardrobes.

To avoid this, make a pen mark on a tag inside the garment or on a notepad, noting the date you bought the item — like you might do with kitchen spices. Do an occasional assessment of your small, but wonderful wardrobe, looking for items that may not yet be worn out, but have worn out their welcome. Aim for a small, steadily overturning, current set of clothes (which, by the way, makes packing a breeze).

My hair/fashion finesse level: 
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*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

HRT? Not for me!

I’m generally pretty private about my health, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to address the latest study linking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to an increased risk of breast cancer.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991. Her doctor felt the tumor was “estrogen fed,” which made sense because my mother had taken the hormone for about fifteen years following her hysterectomy. This theory also made me feel more comfortable understanding that I may not be genetically predisposed to breast cancer.

Mom has been cancer free for 20 years, and to the best of our knowledge no other female member of the family has had breast cancer. Even with that knowledge, I am more vigilant about knowing “the girls” and watch for changes. When I hear of someone I know being diagnosed with breast cancer, I feel a slight twinge of fear and wonder, “have I done my self-examination recently?” I’m always relieved when my yearly mammogram is normal.

When I began feeling the symptoms of peri-menopause, my gynecologist asked if I was interested in HRT. I reminded her that my mother was a breast cancer survivor and she agreed that we not consider that option. HRT has its benefits and can prevent the bone loss that occurs after menopause, decrease the risk of colorectal cancer and some data suggest that estrogen can decrease risk of heart disease when taken early in your postmenopausal years. However, for me the benefits don’t outweigh the risks and I’ve made the informed decision to manage the symptoms of peri-menopause with other options, such as diet and exercise.

Whatever method you chose to manage “the change” (and believe me – it IS a change!), make sure you have all the information and talk with your doctor. If you’d like to read the study, it can be found at

My wellness finesse level:
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