Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Migraine Journal: 1 month

I’ve been following the program from Heal Your Headache for about a month now. It’s largely an elimination diet, combined with going medication-free for four months, after which I can slowly start adding potential trigger foods back until I trigger a headache. Some of the foods eliminated: caffeine, MSG, alcohol, chocolate, cheese, onions, nuts, and citrus (including juice).

It is not easy to cook this way, and it’s even harder to dine out or buy pre-made foods, like hummus. Or mayonnaise. I make some of those things for myself now, but it isn’t easy. I remind myself every day that this is temporary– I have 3 more months to go. (I try to remind myself that a lot of things are temporary. Like presidents.)

I will say that, overall, I feel better. I’ve lost a little bit of weight– not much, because when I feel deprived, I’ll have a soda or juice or a migraine-safe sweet. I’m drinking herbal tea like it’s going out of style– I had to replace my morning coffee with something, and I’m enjoying some turmeric-based teas by Rumi while I cope with the loss.

After a month, I’ve had 3 headaches. One was a classic migraine– triggered in part by being at a noisy, crowded networking event where there was plenty of alcohol…. that I couldn’t drink (at least I’m now both a cheap date and a designated driver!)

Then, there was the mild, generalized headache that lingered for about 2-3 days. It was accompanied by acne, a bad mood, disturbing dreams, generalized anxiety, and back pain. Oh, right. That would be my period. It’s the first “regular” period I’ve had in a very long time, having been on hormonal birth control and IUD for about 20 years, and then having fibroids that disrupted it for over a year. Well– good to know what to expect, and surprising to find out that I’m as susceptible to menstrual-triggered migraines as anyone else.

Finally, I had a very odd one last Friday. We were out in the very cold weather (for Vegas) for about an hour, and when I finally came back in, I had a headache. It wasn’t severe, but it was “more than mild.” About a 4 on a scale of 1-10. As I warmed up, the headache went away, and was gone within 15-20 minutes.

I’ve never before paid so much attention to my headaches and triggers. Usually, I’ve only really noticed if I have one that’s really severe or debilitating. I’ll update again if things change or if I determine it’s not working after all.

The Happy Word of the Day

The happy word of today is BENIGN.

That’s also the word on my post-surgical labs. So, while I still have a few weeks of recovery ahead, I am not facing a long, uncertain fight with cancer.

All my love and strength go out to those who are fighting that fight right now.

Training for 17 Staples

Atrainingll summer, I have been going to my local Planet Fitness, 2-3 times per week. I’ve been lifting weights with my arms and upper body. I’ve been doing leg presses to strengthen my thighs. Every time I worked out, I hit the ab machines, because my core muscles (abs and back) have always been very weak.  I was also doing a long run once a week on the weekends (before it got too hot), gradually nudging the distance up until I was doing 5 miles at a stretch.

And it was working! I increased the amount of weight I was lifting, showing improvement and getting to a point where I helped carry heavy furniture upstairs without getting winded.

I thought I was training for a 10K*. I thought I was working out so I’d be strong and agile enough to wear stilts as a costume.

On Friday, the surgery put a halt to forward progress, but really showed me the reason I was training all summer. On Saturday, I was helped out of bed for the first time, and I discovered that my strong arms helped me lift myself up to a sitting position. My strong thighs helped me go from sitting to standing without “lurching” to get up.

And my abs! Oh, the sad part is that the surgery has left an enormous incision down the center of my body, a rift which will take a long time to heal. But thankfully, I am already more able to get up and down and walk around and bend over to pick things up because my back is stronger than ever, and my obliques (which are not affected by the incision) are strong, too!

I went home on Sunday because I could get up, walk around, and use the bathroom independently. I wore a seatbelt in the car, held loosely over the incision. When I got home, I walked up the stairs and have been going up and down stairs every day since.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t been working out all summer, I would have been in that hospital bed on Monday morning.

When I’m cleared for exercise, I’m going back to the gym and back to the trails. I’ll be joining everyone else starting a fitness regime at the start of the year, but I don’t care. I’m grateful for this body, and I’m grateful for the gift I gave it this year of being fit enough to handle a pretty big setback.




* I did the 10K on October 29th. Finished in just over 2 hours, though I ended up going extra distance for various reasons, and wound up doing 6.5 miles instead of the standard 10K.

Surgery Day

runnerTomorrow morning at this time, I will be at the hospital, prepping for some fairly major surgery. Recovery is 6-8 weeks, assuming nothing goes wrong or develops complications.

I’ve spent the last 3 weeks getting stuff ready for being absent from work and social obligations. I’ve done a lot of crisis preparedness work to make sure all the balls I juggle can either fall safely, or stay in the air with someone else’s hands beneath them. Kickstarter backers and contributors know what’s going on and how we’re proceeding to limit impact on Threadbare. Work is very flexible and will be happy when I’m recovered and come back.

If you wish to pray, please pray for my surgeon’s steady hands and high skill, my anesthesiologist’s care and balance, my nurses’ patience, my family’s comfort, and my health insurer’s generosity.

If you just want to send good wishes, those are always deeply appreciated and you can comment here or on the social media platform of your choice. I’m posting this the day before because I realized I really want the good wishes and cheers. They genuinely help me keep my spirits up.

I scheduled this to happen after the World Series and after election day, and while I’m pleased the Cubs finally won, I’m disappointed (so disappointed) and angry (so angry) with my country, I realized I need to disengage from social media so I can focus on healing. I have one job right now, which is to survive tomorrow and make a full recovery. I cannot win any fight I’m not alive to engage in.

This is unfortunate, because I’m very social and would like to keep talking to my friends– that’s healing for me, usually. But I can’t just open Facebook or Google+ and enjoy it anymore, and being angry is not helping me focus on getting better. I may be using the blog as my broadcast medium for a while– I usually post on Facebook and G+, but the resulting social engagement is hard at the moment.

I need a cocoon right now, not a colosseum.

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