Lifestyle change? Can it work? Read it here.

I have tried A LOT of different things to manage my migraine disease.  For the first 5 years of being sick it seemed that nothing helped. I had tried all the medications and med cocktails…steroids, “Abort” pills, preventables, pain meds, supplements, drugs for other illnesses that may have a side effect of decreasing head pain and Botox. I tired acupuncture, massage, Reiki, had a Psychic clear any negative energy from myself and my family and I’ve done energy work.  I had Chiropractic care, tried Chinese herbs, aromatherapy, I would pressure wrap my head and of coarse I went no where without my ice bag. I had a bag always with me containing all sorts of medications to take when the pain came on; all mentioned above.  They came with me everywhere…cling cling of the pills as I walked.

Me, in the early days of my migraines

 

And….Nothing helped. The ONLY thing that would help me were strong, strong narcotics. After being ill and trying all these techniques, I’d start with hope, and as each method failed me, I became depressed and discouraged. At no time did I ever want to give up trying but for a while I stopped trying and decided to just let the pain meds work and see how I do….The meds worked well as much as they could and I on the other hand could barely function. For years I slurred my words, could not drive or work and my behavior was not very becoming. I was drugged to live and lived to be drugged. When in the rest room I would fall asleep on the toilet and after I am not out of the bathroom for a bit, my husband will come check on me. And in public restrooms…that posed a bigger problem. A few times James caught me asleep as I was laying over the sink with my hands under the running water. That was enough of that. 

Drugged to live and lived to be drugged

The doctors have always told me that my migraines are caused from stress…well OK, now what?  

I looked at my life and new I had to decrease my stress and live peacefully, or find my “Zen space”.

This is how I wanted to feel, joyous and calm

I made a plan to do only what is a priority to me. Frankly, I have no time for extra’s. I needed a daily plan for me to follow as best I could so that I could prevent a migraine flare up.  And that’s where lifestyle changes came into my life. 

My lifestyle changes are quite possibly the most profound impact I’ve had on decreasing the amount of episodes I was having (or having break through pain). Once I started making changes it was like an epiphany.  I had heard it from professionals, as back then “lifestyle” was not addressed like it is today. For me, when I do not rest and move too quickly; rush or have too much to do or I can’t stop my brain from twirling on repeat and even too much stimulation,…could send me to the ER in screaming head pain.  I knew I needed more rest. I knew I could not rush each day or any day, any longer. 

I needed to be and remain calm and slow down. I had to stop the stressors of living in such a modern century society where the hustle and bustle mindset was creating stress in my life. I also knew I had to make my eating and activity more of a priority. All of this could help me feel better… and all of this needed to change…and at first that was frightening to me.

Ultimately, after a few years of becoming aware and learning what I needed, I had to change my career, work different hours, I deleted negative relationships, I added new ones that were positive and inspiring, I made my eating and knowing when and what to eat and being prepared became top priority and increased my physical activity by practicing Eco-therapy, yoga, strength training and spiritual practices. I will go walk the local Labyrinth path or visit and pray at the Buddhist Stupa. I don’t watch violent tv shows or movies and listen to calming and soothing music. Yes, I still “rock out” to music and get my groove on, but only when I feel the urge. 

I am a Phoenix rising

I kept thinking how can I do this? What will life be for me if I change so much? Who will I become? Will I still like myself? Will my husband still love me? What about my friends…what will other’s think?  These thoughts ran through my head. WHO WILL I BE with a new lifestyle? What will my daily life look like?…

Well,…it came down to; I either do the work to change my lifestyle to enable better health or stay in the miserable place I was. I was broken, but beautiful. If you know me, you know I do not give up or in give in easily. I have always been a go-getter. In a time of desperation, this was my greatest test and fight yet. I was broken but still had fight within me. I knew I had to change things or I would end up taking my life.

Slowly,…I started to make changes. It took me several years to get to the point where I am today and I am still making changes. I know that will always be the case.  AND that’s OK.

Some of the changes I made are revealed in my statements below. This is who I am now and I am proud of my words. It took love, courage, acceptance, and forgiveness for me to change my lifestyle 180 degrees. 

The light within me is shining bright now

-I now sleep near 16 hours a day.  AND I’ve learned to be OK with that.

-My day ends between by 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.  AND I’ve learned to be OK with that. 

-I am now sick to my stomach most of the time. AND I am OK with that. (ginger tea and medical cannabis help a lot) 

-I have a horrible short-term memory; a side effect of the meds I’ve been on for years. AND I  am OK with that. (people remind me)

-I now work part-time. AND I’ve learned to be OK with that. 

-I don’t make the money I use to make. AND I am OK with that. 

-I have spent all my savings and had to file for Bankruptcy because of the cost of my medical bills. And I am OK with that.

-I cannot work-out as hard anymore. AND I am OK with that. (I do different activities now)

-I am pudgy. AND I am OK with that.  (I love my curves)

-I don’t see my friends or family as much. AND I am OK with that. (we visit via phone calls and texts)

-I have to always be prepared with meds, earplugs, eye masks, a pair of jeans to use as a pressure wrap, CBD cream, aromatherapy and anything else I use to treat a migraine and bring this with me everywhere I go.  I always have to know where the closest hospital is. AND I am OK with this.

-I may not be able to achieve all I want to achieve. AND I am OK with that. 

-Some of my dreams will have to be revised. AND I am OK with that.

-My life will not be what I had planned for myself. AND I am OK with that.  (I am making, what I feel are funner plans!)

-I am different now; then who I use to be. AND I am OK with this. 

*I believe in myself and I will persevere….THIS I KNOW!!!

I am growing tall and reaching the sky

I am simply trying to put a positive spin on everything. Remaining positive, optimistic, and having hope is a huge part of my healing and I think it would be for most people. I may not go back to school to get my master’s in Psychology (a dream of mine) but I can continue to invest in myself by taking classes that enrich all parts of my life. That’s what I needed…balance and fulfillment in all areas of my life. 

Foot loose and flying freely

I try, as much as I can, to not get involved with the distractions that life can swing our way.

In this modern world,  75%-90%,  of all doctor visits are from stress related conditions and disease. Stress affects 4 out of 5 people in the US. Stress can cause all sorts of debilitating and terminal disease that are common from too much stress. Some of these include; heart disease, cancer, stroke, lower respiratory disease and accidents…to name a few. 

This is serious.  Have you suffered from stress or a disease related to stress?  If so, I can tell you that you might need to change your lifestyle to enable LESS STRESS for yourself. If you don’t do this you could suffer from major disease not to mention anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia can be side effects of stress. And if you can relate to my story-get help and do the work to save yourself.  

Being in an environment like this, I learned
has profound negative effects on me

I developed a lifestyle that meets my basic needs and this provides me with a foundation to build from. My foundation is the healthy soil and my attitude is the water that my dreams will grow beautifully tall from and reach the sky. Like a beautiful old Redwood trees or Sunflowers. 

You must have a lifestyle that fills your needs. Rearrange, change your work and home schedules to better support your needs, be creative and make sure you are investing in yourself and your priorities. If we don’t know our priorities or if they are not clear then we don’t become aware of what we actually need and what is important in your life.  Or rather our true needs will not be met. We will just keep marching forward with upset faces..doing the only thing we know to do…Stress out!

Stop the chaos.  Focus on you and your needs. Fight for what you need and want. It’s your life…make it the best it can be!

At peace and feeling joyful!

Thank you for sharing this space with me.

Until next time…with love and care,

-your friend “Sunshine”. 


Finding your peace

We live in a highly populated tourist area, in fact our town get’s about 5 million visitors a year. That’s a whole lot for a city that has just under 20,000 residents, 19.2 miles of land which is mostly Red Rock country and National Forest. Sedona is more beautiful to me than any other site I’ve seen in my travels. The gorgeous Red Rocks in Sedona bring me much needed calm. Wether I am staring at them or living within them, it is here I left back home for, 23 years ago 

(I still get the “guilt trip” for moving cross country.)

Twenty-three years later and Sedona’s Red Rocks are what people come from all over the world to see.  It is the most popular it’s ever been. Most say it’s better then seeing the Grand Canyon (GC), as when your at the Grand Canyon you can look down, but you cannot clearly make out the rocks unless you hike down into it. The Canyon becomes more alive the further you decent.  The bright red rocks lite by the sun, the clouds that shadow over them or experience millions of years of rock formations.

Down there you can imagine yourself as an early dweller, a pioneer, researching and playing in the GC before it became what it is today. When I am down there that is how I feel. It is very quite below the rim. This is my Sanctuary, the Grand Canyon, and one of my favorite things to do, one of my favorite places to be. Being in the (GC) and in the inner gorge is like being in the middle of no where. It’s exactly what you’d fear in your nightmares; being alone, with no one or nothing around. Almost as if you are the pin dropped in the hay stack…good luck finding your body should something go wrong. There are popular hikes, like in the corridor trails, then hikes for those that like more challenges (and less crowds) such as having a dry camp or carrying your own water; no bathrooms and there are zero showers when camping down there. It’s likely you will not see anyone while hiking the other trails.  The GC is not only gorgeous and filled with millions of years of history, if you hike on the less populated trails, there is no one but you out there!  It can be freaky but I feel elated and free. I  am free to roam anywhere, smell the fresh air and take in the geography and great weather. I swim in the rivers and creeks and lay relaxing on the beach. I let the warmth of the sun radiate into my body and warm my skin. It can be comfortable in the elements. I read, think out-loud, plan goals and fight the many challenges of being down in the Inner Gorge. 

When I am in the Grand Canyon, I walk miles and miles and it brings me internal peace, it is like no other feeling I’ve ever had. No where to be, no time frame, just walking…step after step after step. I just keep going, sort of like I keep fighting my disease, each and every day. Or rather not letting it get me down. 

James and I

When hiking I feel light, in body and mind. This feeling I compare to eating the Italian dessert Cannolis that were homemade by my family every Christmas season, when I was young. 

I feel pleasure in so many ways when I am in the GC.  It is where I feel at home, enjoying the moments that come and getting to know more about myself. 

Now you may be wondering…what do I do, out in the middle of the no where, if I get a migraine? Right? The answer is I have never had a migraine while in the Grand Canyon. I have been in the emergency room, 10 hours before, and as soon as I hit the trail and breathe the fresh air,..I am fine. I may have to take a few meds but I have never had a debilitating migraine while hiking there. So many dangers but such great rewards, if you can navigate them. IF I had to guess, I’d say I’ve been in the hospital, the day before a trip to the GC, near 7 times. Something in me shines like laser beam when I am down in the Grand Canyon and healing begins. 

Within the chaos of life and certainly in my own mind, I crave peace….Like I’ve never been satisfied. It’s a thirst I have every minute of every day…for my mind to slow down, for it to be still.  Well, I find that peace in open spaces; the desert, in a forest or swimming in the  ocean. I cannot feel closed in. Wow..I am just thinking of my chaotic filled life before I had migraines and how I thrived on the chaos, excitement, adrenaline filled experiences, the bright lights of America’s greatest cities, and living in urban areas clustered with shopping, Art and University. I do love all that,… but I can no longer live in it. 

Sedona, has gotten so big and just nuts with people and traffic; that it now causes me harm to be here. A very sad moment for myself as Sedona was and probably still my favorite place in the World. 

We are leaving Sedona and moving just outside of Sedona where we will have a few acres.  We are currently building a “mini-home” and it will be ready for move-in in December. In a few weeks we will be moving onto the property for good, but since our home will not be ready we will be living in a family member’s travel trailer for 2 months. When it’s all said and done, we will have made 4 moves this year…between May-December. 

It’s ok. And actually I am sort of having fun with this adventure!  I have cultivated a feeling of “OK, this is only temporary, enjoy yourself and overcome the challenges, with grace and ease”. I had foot surgery during these moves, I’ve had migraines so bad that I’ve need to go to the emergency room several times. Last week I had a panic attack that I am. Now feeling relief from…God those are scary! But I am OK. 

Fortunately, I have found that as long as I have my medication and natural remedies, then I can survive and thrive in any situation. My doctors recognize the severity of my illness and as I don’t want to lay in bed all day, screaming in pain and not having a life…they can empathize and they want to see my succeed. I’ve been going to the same emergency room for the last 11 years. They know me now and they see me suffer and it affects them (probably because they see me so often and know I am the real deal).  I am suffering from debilitating pain and pleading for mercy. So I have always had the medications I needed to have to have, what I would consider a decent life.

I know how lucky I am too have found the right doctors for myself and after years of seeing them for care they are invested in my wellbeing. I hear from so many people how they cannot get the medications they need and that they are stuck in bed all day.  I can relate, I was there in the beginning when I first got sick. No doctor wanted to touch me because they knew a heavy amount of pain medication would be required to help me. I had to go to Phoenix to find my doctors (2 hours south). My migraine doctor asked me to go to rehab to get the drugs out of my system to see if I was having true migraines or if I was having re-bound headaches from the pain meds…which can be worse as you know! UGH!  I was released in 72 hours. The doctor at the rehab facility called my migraine specialist and said that she needed to make room for me to see her “today” because I had been off my meds for 72 hours and I felt like I was dying. 

Early on, I had spent time in two different hospitals. They each ran all sorts of tests and therapies to get to the bottom of my pain. They were switching out pain medication cocktails every 6-8 hours because nothing seemed to work. Those were horrible days…God to think back and to think how I’ve come. My migraines are still as severe but I have created a lifestyle around them that allow me to have a life that is fulfilling for me.  Oh…and my diagnosis, Chronic Migraine Disease without Aura, cause is Stress. 

Years ago, I had to stomach the realization that I will no longer be able to do certain things, things I had always hoped to do…I had to change my goals, change my friends, change my family and had to come up with a new career. I am on social security disability, which has been a blessings all these years. Yes, thank you God. But I need to make more than what they give me. I can only work part time and if I make to much money than I could lose my benefits and my medical insurance. Its pretty tricky but I’ve got it all figured out now.

Find your sanctuary…find a challenge that you feel confident you can achieve. Believe in your self. Be curious. Be safe.  Hire experts to help you or ask someone who has experience, if needed. 

What brings me peace is very different then what others may wish for. Stop suffering and find something that makes you SMILE… You are stronger than you think you are…always and in every circumstance.  What excites you? No really, truly what do you want in you life that will bring you joy?  I am always asking myself..”how does this make me feel or does it bring me joy”? If not I get rid of it and if yes, then I keep it. This can be related to friends, family, hobbies, your work or anything else that can strip you of joy.  PUSH THE DELETE BUTTON on things in your life that do not bring you joy. 

Phoenix Rising…this should be you.

-What choices are you making? 

-Do they serve you or are they know longer serving you and  your life?  

We’ve got to roll with the punches (as they say) with our lives and make changes, perhaps day to day.

I encourage you to find what brings you joy and go after it.

For me, I am going back to the Grand Canyon to backpack it next year. I am counting the days. For now, I look up and thank my God for all I am able to do. He helps me focus on what I can do…not what I cannot. And I have found that there is plenty I still can do!

AND SO CAN YOU!

Note* my last post was about the panic attack I started last week and is still somewhat with me. I have discovered that sipping on chamomile tea during the day, does helps to keep me calm and it also helps to quite my brain!  I chose natural options first and this one seems to work. I fill up a large coffee tumbler with 2-chamomile tea bags, 1-ginger tea bag (a natural pain reliever) and 1-green tea. I drink 2 of these concoctions a day. And at night? Sleepy time tea can be very helpful as well. I hope this helps. 

With grace and ease we shall proceed.

With love and care…

-Kimberly 

Anxiety Attacks

– a peaceful me

It is morning now and the house is still. It is 3:00 am and I work in a panic. I could not breath and my heart was pumping rapidly. I was nauseous and my vision blurred. I was having a full blown debilitating panic attack. 

The day before I was helping a friend at her house. That morning I had 2 Starbucks coffees (instant) and 2 cups of tea. I admit that is a lot of stimulus at once but I had low energy.  Out of the blue, I am cleaning and BOOM it began. I started to get hot and began shaking and throwing up. I had to get home to take my natural medicine and a Kolopin. When having anxiety my medicine is 2 cups of chamomile tea and two cups of Sleepy Time tea; I smoke cannabis and prayed for the best.

I raced home and could barely hold the steering wheel still. I was frightened. 

I got all drugged up and I calmed down a little. I ultimately took my sleeping pills and forced myself to sleep. So today…at 3:00 am, I woke temporally paralyzed and I was not sure to do. We live in a casita at the moment and it’s a studio. So getting up to turn a light on or make tea was something I preferred not to do as it would have woken my husband and dog and my husband needs his sleep. So what to do? Wide awake and I can’t get out of bed. I thought “this sucks”.

I laid in bed until 3:30 and then my hubby woke up due to my tossing and turning. I felt I had to get up because I could not stay still. I got up and made tea, I got my computer and thought I’d write a little. I went into the bathroom, closed the door, turned on the light and played on facebook. I got only a little writing done because I could not focus. James woke at 5:00 and finally I was free to leave the bathroom!  

It is now 1:05 in the afternoon and I am back drinking my calming tea (in fact, I drank this all day). I did some stretching, went for a walk as it is beautiful here today, I did some yoga and prayed for a while. Now I am writing to release my thoughts and feelings.

Anxiety is no joke. SO many people suffer and plenty of people suffer in silence. By recognizing your feelings and doing your best to feel better, perhaps your actions will encourage someone else to do the same. Perhaps making lifestyle changes will allow you to focus on what it is your struggling with. This will help reduce the attacks.

If you feel anxious, talk it out with someone in your tribe (your support system). BREATHE… go outside for some eco-therapy, exercise, take time to mediate or pray or try to talk yourself into relaxing. Speaking of breathing, the longer you exhale (take a big breath), the quicker your heart will stop pumping so hard and you can become more relaxed just from taking big breathes and slowly exhale your breath. 

One of the other medications I take to help me achieve less anxiety is an antihistamine called Hydroxyzine. It helps to decrease itching due to allergies, however it has relaxing effects and can be used for acute and long term anxiety. I use to manage my anxiety with this drug and only this drug. I stared taking Kolopin last year as I found a new doctor who would subscribe it for me. Most of the time my anxiety occurs when I start to feel a migraine coming on…I am afraid of the unknown. I think to myself, “How long will this last, how bad will the pain get, will I throw up, what meds do I need and do I have them? Will I have to inconvenience James or a friend to take me to the emergency room”. The anxiety just builds and build the more frightened I get. 

Migraines always scare me. Thinking about having them is a big pill to swallow even after 11 years of having them.  My migraine doctor will not prescribe anxiety medication even though most of my anxiety is due to getting and having a migraine. Note: I am on a low dose of Kolopin because I am on several meds and I cannot have interaction.  I listen to my doctor clearly and follow her directions. I never ever take more meds then I should…even if the means suffering a little more. Overdose is a big issue, but accidental overdose can usually be prevented. 

Since I am on pain medication my doctor has subscribed me the medication Naloxone and I have that on hand. It will reverse an overdose from pain medications. Something good to have and tell people about incase they need to help you. 

Our current move is going well, we will be cleaning the old place this weekend. I am excited to be house-hopping until our home is ready. I will be living in the country-side and I cannot wait to grown my own food, have a pig (as a pet) and two goats!  Our neighbors have 67 free range chickens and small farm animals is just behind us.  I am moving further from the city for a more simple and peaceful living. Country pumpkin here I come!

I hope some of what I wrote can help you with your own struggles. 

I will repeat:  The practice the Art of Living, by sustaining inner peace”…find yours today!

With love and care,

-Kimberly