Monday Munchies and Meals: Pumpkin Muffins

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I love to cook!  I don’t always follow the directions, I use what I have, I avoid trigger ingredients and I go from there.  It has become part of my family’s lives.  My children love to measure, get out ingredients, mix, taste and see the results of their hard work.    And I love all the math, science,  reading, social, fine motor and even cultural lessons it provides.

Although cooking deliciousness is my goal, the process sometimes seems like  so much!  It’s a commitment to shop, prep, cook and clean up.  Often times it takes way longer than I’d like and uses way more energy than I have which is frustrating.

So I’ve decided to start a Monday Munchies and Meals series.  I hope to post a recipe each week in hopes of inspiring you to make something healthy and feel good about, being a  a snack or meal.  Why am I posting on Tuesday then?  Because life happens and I’ve been in bed with a killer migraine for the last 36 hours.  I wrote this post on Saturday after making  it last Monday and I couldn’t even open a computer to press “publish” for 2 days.

It isn’t always possible to cook everyday with having Migraines and living a busy life.  One recipe a week will be enough to share, make and encourage you to do the same.  So whether I post on Monday or Friday, you can make it whenever it fits your schedule and health also.  It’s meant to inspire, if you have an ok day, try it!  If you don’t, try again another day. 

If you like the recipe, please make it and share it with me.  I’d love to see your results and adaptions to Monday’s  munchie or meal of the week!!!  Post on facebook, twitter and Instagram and comment on the post to inspire others.

I do not follow a strict diet.  I avoid trigger foods but have not cut groups out of my life (gluten etc.).  I try to find recipes that are clean, real ingredients, that are anti-inflammatory and nutrient dense.  I am not a nutritionist and fully admit I eat way too much sugar.  I hope to share recipes that make me feel better and taste good.  If you have one you’d like me to try, please email me at mymigrainelife@gmail.com

This month I’m focusing on pumpkin.  Everyone loves pumpkin in the Fall and the benefits of it are great!

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Here’s the recipe I followed:

http://www.makingthymeforhealth.com/healthy-flourless-pumpkin-muffins/#_a5y_p=4349482

We ate these for breakfast, in lunches and as an after school snack.  Easy and great for grab and go.

Pumpkin Muffins

 

 

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13 ways to survive working with Chronic Illness

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I have been a full time teacher with Chronic Migraine.

I have been a full time stay at home mom with Chronic Migraine. 

I am a full time mom and part time teacher with Chronic Migraine. 

They all are difficult jobs and adding a chronic illness makes life even more complicated and difficult.  

So the questions remains, how do you work while having Chronic Migraine?  How was I able to return to work

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  • Work part time

I only work a few days a week and seem to have letdown migraines on my days off.  I save time for self-care during those day.

Tip: Know time off policies and if a substitute is available

 

  • Find coworkers who support you

At my job that I missed a lot of time off, my boss was arrogant and my coworkers were judgmental.  With my new job, my coworkers are like a supportive family and my boss is loving and understanding.  This benefits the group because I’m not motivated to work out of judgment or consequences but out of commitment and love for the job and workers I call friends. I really have fun at work and love to be there.

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  • Ask for and learn how to accommodate your needs 

I requested that my classroom be on the side of the building that does not get direct sun or heat.  I also have control over the lighting.  Heat and lights (fluorescent) are especially big triggers.  I use Axon Optics glasses on days I need extra light protection for my eyes.  I use other lotions, oils and natural products to treat myself topically.

  • Understand clients

I found that when I disclosed that I had Chronic Migraine to my boss at one job I was judged and at my current job she understood me better.  The same goes for clients.  As a teacher who was missing work, I sent home a letter explaining my chronic disease.  I found that the parents were very open and appreciated my honesty but I was unsure what the feedback would be.  Understanding the children and families I work for has allowed me to personally connect more.  I feel like my families want the best for me as I want the best for them and mutual respect once again motivates me.

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  • Low stress, high reward

With a part time position, my stress has decreased tremendously.  I am able to focus on myself, my family and other aspects of my life other than my job.  Stress was my main factor in turning episodic to chronic.  I now have a handle on how to deal with stress and my priorities are different.  As a teacher without children and now with children, my views on teaching are very different. I have always had a passion for teaching and love children.  The reward is huge!!!  Being someone who is making a difference every day and seeing growth in my students is so rewarding. 

It gives me pure joy and joy is great medication! Find joy in your job.

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  • Set realistic goals and expectations

Putting pressure on myself to be something I’m not only raises stress.  I have realistic ideas of what I can do, what I want to do and how I’m going to attain those goals.  Setting myself up for failure will only derail my treatment.  I set goals I know I can reach and am proud when I meet them.  A positive attitude and learning from the past allows me to move forward.

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  • Commute

Driving is extremely difficult with even a low grade migraine.  At my old job I had a longer commute and found that many days I was throwing up on the side of the road before and after work.  At times I liked it to decompress but most of the time was pained from the drive.  I now have a short drive that I can drive to with my eyes closed (don’t worry, I don’t but I could).

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  • Water, coffee and snacks

Caffeine can be a benefit or trigger.  Coffee  is beneficial to my migraines. During my morning of teaching, I drink coffee before the students arrive and drink a huge water bottle throughout my day.   As a class, we have scheduled potty breaks and snack time so we all get time to refuel. 

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  • Sleep schedule

I wake up the same time every day whether I’m working or not.  I stay on a consistent sleep schedule in order to be refreshed and ready for my day.

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  • Take breaks

When I feel a migraine raising, I get a bit panicked.  During my students specials I have the ability to take a break, focus, drink more coffee, or water.  Just allowing 10 minutes of quiet and focused breathing make a world of difference to my rising pain.

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  • Use flexible work time if possible

I am able to get a lot of my work done outside of the classroom.  I am also a busy mom and find that planning and prepping can be done once they go to bed.  Instead of staying late at school, I bring a lot of my work home and also plan ahead.  By being over prepared I am able to relieve stress.  If I’m sick in bed and worrying about work, I get sicker.  When I have everything done, being sick for days doesn’t stress me out about work because I know I’m prepared.  Planning and being prepared makes my life, in general, much easier.

  • Moving my body and distraction

There are days I go to school feeling sick and am completely consumed by my students.  The minute my students leave and all is quiet, the pain comes flooding back.  I’m so distracted and filled with endorphins while I’m at school that at the end of the day I’m punished more.  There have been days that I work till lunch and am in bed until the next day.  The distraction of a job that I love helps me get through many mornings.

Having a job that I am active in helps.  Stretching, dancing and moving keeps my body active.  I would not be unable to sit at a desk staring at a screen all day.  My body needs to move and my brain needs a break from technology.

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  • Money vs time

As a part time employee in the teaching field, you can imagine I’m not a millionaire.  Working salary and full time was not something I could keep up with.  Working part time, I do not make a lot of money but am able to do what I love with people I care for.  Sometimes money isn’t everything (although it pays for my medical expenses, so I really need it).

 

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 With all of this said, I found a dream job.  Not everyone gets to work part time (either financially or in their field of interest).  Disability is difficult to get as a migraine sufferer and most jobs it is difficult to find balance.  Time off isn’t always possible without consequences and substitutes are not common. Falling behind on work is inevitable.  Finding coworkers that are friends is not a choice but a lucky draw.  The same goes for bosses.

All circumstances and lives are different.  I encourage you to find something you love.  Find a part time job, a job online, a job that can be flexible and a job that makes you happy.  Migraine is the definition of pain and unhappiness…..find something you love and makes you better.  Easier written than done, I know!!!

I, honestly, was not sure if I’d ever be able to go back to teaching with how severe my disease is.   I took a chance and it paid off.  I was very aware that it may not be possible, but I never let that deter me.  I tried it and it worked.  Not every job works but I’m so glad I took that leap.

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Starting school, making friends and my hopes for my children’s future

As the school year begins, I have been thinking about my childhood a lot.  I actually have a friend who I have had since I was 5 and a neighbor that became family when I was in 4th grade.  Since then, I have gathered a great group that have made me who I am today.  My “oldest” friends are the ones who know a little piece of me that no one else knows does. They have been there since the beginning.

As the school year begins I think about how my children are starting their “beginning.”  When they go to school they hopefully will find forever friends like I did.  All too soon they will be listening to those friends more than they listen to me and that is terrifying.  Other influences will guide them through school, sports, nights out, big dances, academics and everywhere in between.

These are the people that they will laugh, cry, and grow with.  They will think that the world has ended with a break up and think that missing a party will ruin their lives forever.  They will lie to me, hide things from me, and grow in a blink of an eye.  I just pray that we have raised them well and that their choices in friends have had the same.

They are growing up in a world that is filled with so many more challenges than I ever had to face.  I think we are the first generation to say, it was easier when we grew up.  Social media didn’t run our lives.  Our bullies said it to our faces.  As cruel as it was, it wasn’t the massive amounts of people who can hide behind a screen to say words that crush someone’s soul.

Our football players fought with their fists.  Now they fight with guns.  I wasn’t fearful for my safety.  Columbine shook our lives with the unheard of massacre of many.  Now it’s a part of life that you can’t fly, go to school, the movies, work or a playground without being on high alert.

We didn’t sit at home searching the internet.  We were out riding our bikes and playing endless hours of baseball.  My neighbors watched me and an army of adults were in contact with my parents.  I was held accountable for my actions by everyone.

If I got in trouble at school, I would be sure to hear about it when I came home.  Being a teacher, my student’s parents would blame me for their child’s actions.  They had  little follow through with accountability thus raising an entitled generation with little remorse.

I trusted the teachers and coaches that I spent countless hours with to strengthen and make me a better person.  Are teachers even allowed to do that anymore, or do they just hand them standardized tests?

The only person taking pictures of me was taken by my mom to be put into a family album, not spread on the internet for the world to see.  I grew up with privacy and felt safe.  I have happy, happy memories of my adolescence but remember it not being easy.

My children’s lives will not just be uneasy, it will hands down to hard.  And as a mom I’m so worried about it all.  Right now their tiny hands fit in mine when we cross the street and I pick their play dates.

Some day they will be embarrassed of me and go places that I’m not sure exactly what that they are  doing.  At that point I will rely on the way that we have raised them and their  forever friends that they have chosen.

My babies will always be my babies and they will be thrown into a grown up world well before they will be ready.   As my daughter stands before me in her princess dress I can practically see it as a homecoming dress. I can only hope she wants a beautiful ball gown that makes her glow from the inside out instead of a skimpy dress that she feels appropriate in this overly sexualized world.

As my son runs around in his super hero shirt, I pray he will be safe and this world won’t need saving.  He thinks he can fly and has super strength.   He already has made everyone’s lives better that knows him.  I just hope his ambition and spirit never fades.

I see their innocent smiles and I just want to freeze these moments in time so I never have to see them cry.  I just want to hold them and keep them with me forever.  But I know I can’t do this.  I want and need them to find those forever friends to be something that I can’t.

I need my daughter to understand that although boys are great, every girl needs really good friends.  Men try their best to figure us out, but friends don’t need to.  They just get it!

Their friends will get them through things that really matter when they really matter.  I want them to accumulate all of the wonderful memories that I had and continue to have with my friends that I love so much.

I don’t feel old enough to say that I have friendships almost 30 years but I do.  I’m not sad about my age.  I am proud that I have achieved so much and created so many important relationships during this time.  I’m so happy that I am secure, confident, loved and stable in so many ways.

I no longer have people in my life that are unimportant and as a girl it takes a long time to be happy with yourself and I am.    Life can be so hard yet so wonderful.  I can just pray that my children find people to get through the hard parts of life that I can’t be there for and make the wonderful memories all that sweeter.

May they grow to be happy and healthy.  May they find forever friends who guide them to make good choices and as they guide others.  May they laugh and value people for who they are inside.  May they teach others while they learn so many lessons.   And please God, may they be safe!  As they leave my nest of safety I trust you will watch over them and that the good people of this world will do the same.

Axon Optics and Shades for Migraine

FullSizeRenderJune 21st is World Migraine Solidarity Day! It’s a great social media campaign that is meant to raise awareness for Migraine and what better way to express it than in SUNGLASSES?!

With that said, let’s talk about my favorite indoor and outdoor glasses!!!!!  I am an affiliate of Axon Optics because I truly wear their glasses and love to spread the word of how they help.  If you order their glasses I will receive a small compensation for my recommendation.  Thank you!

“Axon Optics has utilized the latest research exploring the pain pathway associated with migraine and photophobia to develop the SpectraShield FL-41 migraine glasses lens. These lenses may help to reduce exposure to certain types of artificial light, particularly blue light and green light, which may exacerbate light sensitivity in those who suffer from migraines.   Both indoor migraine glasses and outdoor migraine sunglasses are an option.” Axon Optics

 

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Wearing my indoor glasses on a partly cloudy dinner date on the patio

 

Personally, I use the indoor glasses almost everyday.  I have both the indoor and outdoor and love them both.  I recommend going to the website and looking what may be best for you.

The reason I love the indoor glasses is the tint.  I am a teacher and mom so I spend a lot of time in fluorescent lights.  I teach in them, go grocery shopping in them and make dinner in my own home with them.  On cloudy days, I wear my indoor glasses outdoors because the glare still hurts my eyes yet regular sunglasses are too dark to wear.  I can not recommend enough Axon Optics Migraine Glasses!!!!

Check me out on: Instagram, facebook, and twitter

I’ll be wearing my Axon Optics for the Shades for Migraine campaign and more.  Remember to participate in the Shades for Migraine campaign and tag me in your sunglasses #shadesformigraine

If you’d like to purchase a pair of Axon Optics, they are generously offering My Migraine Life readers a discount for Migraine Awareness Month!  They are a company that truly cares about migraine sufferers and not just selling a product.  Their customer service is amazing, their return policy is comforting and the founders are people invested in helping!

Use code mymigrainelife to receive 15% off your order

You have nothing to loose but light sensitivity pain!

Migraine and Allergies


Several years ago, I had sinus surgery.  I have suffered from sinus issues and infections my whole life (just like Migraines).  After many sinus infections, this year I decided to look for more answers on why I’m still suffering so much from allergies.

The first doctor I went to I had seen as a child with the same issues.  He dismissed me after speaking at length because I was “too knowledgeable” about my migraines and triggers stating that allergy testing wouldn’t teach me anything.

I wasn’t surprised, so I moved on to an immunologist that a friend and fellow migraine sufferer had suggested. He stated that allergy sufferers are 33% more likely to suffer from frequent migraines and he was incredibly interested in helping.  I was pricked with lots of allergens and waited in his office wanting to scratch my arm off.

Once the results came in I received a lot of feedback that I found helpful.

1.       Food allergy- I found out that I was allergic to corn.  For those of you that don’t know, corn is in EVERYTHING processed.  I asked “how allergic” I was and how careful I needed to be.  As always, it depends and he suggested to experiment with foods and how I felt.   This was an “ah ha moment” for me being I feel sick 95% of the time I eat.  I have never known why but corn is a good clue.

2.       Indoor allergies- I found out I’m allergic to dust and mold.  I like to think I keep a clean house but with a Golden Retriever, 2 small children and a busy life, a dust free home is not possible (is it for anyone?). 

3.       Nasal allergies- This year I have suffered from endless sinus infections.  My doctor told me that I had not been receiving the correct treatment.  I had been going to a “Minute Clinic” when I had a sinus infection and couldn’t stand it anymore.  The medication that was given was, according to my doctor, was not strong enough or for a long enough time to rid the sinusitis.  Therefore, my sinus infections just kept cycling because they were never really gone.

Going forward the things I am implementing are:

1.       Reading food labels more carefully.  Looking at them, it seems corn is in everything so I’m trying to eliminate foods that have it as the first 5 ingredients listed.

2.       I got allergy pillow cases, mattress cover and installed a new air filter in my house.

3.       I took the medication to rid me of my sinusitis and now have preventative medication to take at night to hopefully help with the migraines I am waking with each morning.

4.       I now have an appointment for my son to be allergy tested for his chronic breathing and upper respiratory issues.  He is currently on preventative medication and breathing treatments.

5.       After playing outside, we are showering my son and changing his clothes before nap and playing in the house.  We were told that the allergens stick to his hair therefore leaving the allergens around the house.  We have always washed hands upon entering, don’t wear shoes in the house, vacuum a lot and dust.

Follow up:

1.       I will now be going to my immunologist for my sinus infections.

2.       I will be learning more from my son’s allergy testing and be able to accommodate both better once the results are back.

3.       I will be posting a review of my new air filter

Do you suffer from allergies and migraines?  What are you allergic to and how do you treat them?  The more ideas to live preventatively the better!

Disney World. My migraine

 

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This picture is intentionally blurry.  I may have been smiling but this is a small sample of the blur I was looking through that day.

 

There is no way I expected to make it three days without getting a migraine.  My day at Magic Kingdom had been perfect and low pain which meant for sure I was getting one the next day.  Sure enough, I woke up sick.  I immediately took my rescue meds, drank water and rolled around my bed in pain and anger.  I was really angry and not willing to miss the day that I had planned for my family. 

So when it was time to go, I loaded myself out of bed and got on the boat to Disney Springs.  With the experience I have, I had prepared our bag and stroller the night before and all my husband needed to do was get them dressed and lead us all to the dock.  At Disney Springs we got breakfast.  I sat outside of the busy crowded, loud, disorienting restaurant to save a table and hang my head in pain.  Everything around me was in slow motion and my body clenched.  I was barely able to stomach a sandwich and caffeine to hopefully speed up my meds. 

We next proceeded to the boutique in which my beautiful daughter would be turned into Cinderella.  As I approached, I  instantly felt fear of this magical place.  Picture a room filled with lights from every direction with air packed with hairspray, sounds of women talking in pitches I can only imagine a dog could hear and parent’s pushing you to get out of the way of their photo op.  Basically a Migraine’s hell.   I can still smell it just writing about it. 

As my son and husband were leaving to go to the Lego store,  my husband asked me if I was going to make it.  Let me tell you about the motivation of a stay at home mom watching her daughter turn into a princess.  My daughter had told me the day before that she wished on her “wishing star” that she could turn  into a princess.  I may not get money for what I do but watching my sweet girl’s wish come true is my salary. 

As I was very aware of the seats around me and garbage cans (I tend to throw up with my migraines) I decided to stay and immerse myself in the experience.  Let me tell you, if I had been one bit of a higher pain level I would have had to tap out.  Don’t think I’m telling you I can do anything if I’m motivated enough, but this was an exceptional occasion.  I should have been in bed and am not sure how I did it, to tell you the truth. 

Anyways, I decided to ask our “fairy Godmother” about some special occasions she has seen there.  She began to tell a story about an engagement but the story that moved me was this…...

A little girl Skyped with her father while he was deployed in Afghanistan so he could see her transformation.  I listened with tears in my eyes.  Tears of pain, tears of heartache for so many and tears of gratitude. 

I stood there with a smile on my face yet close to passing out and I thought of how thankful I was.  Yes, I was pained in every inch of my body yet I was thankful.  I was thankful to that dad, his daughter, her mother, and to everyone who sacrifices for our country.  I was thankful that I knew my husband and baby boy were safe next door.  I was so thankful to all of the men and women who put their lives on the line so I could stand there and watch my child’s wish come true.  It was a very profound moment to remind myself that my pain may have been all consuming but I’m not the only one suffering.  I think it’s a moment I will never forget!!!

So with this all said, let me say THANK YOU to all of the men and women in our armed forces.  Not only thank you to you, but thank you to your family and friends who also sacrifice while you protect us.  Thank you to generations past, present and future.  The job you do is something that is not acknowledged enough.  You allow the American dream and little girl’s wishes to come true.  Thank You!

Disney World. The Good, the Bad, and the Migraine

Disney World

Disney World!!!!!!

 

I went to Disney World for 3 days and I could probably write a book on it.  Instead I’m going to focus on three things. The good, the bad, and my migraine.  So let’s begin with the good……

Where to begin. Disney World is called the happiest place on earth for a reason.  If you’ve been following me from the beginning, you know this is not the first time I have written about a Disney princess (A Whole New World?) I have loved all things Disney since I was a child and have been so happy to see my children fall in love all the same.  We spent an entire day at Magic Kingdom.  I had planned and saved like most families do and was eager to see how my dreams would come true for my family.

My personal favorite thing was to ride the rides.  I used to love rides but now enter them with a bit more trepidation.  I fear flashing lights, jerking motions and all those other triggers that come along with my migraines.  I also feared the weather, my diet, the stress, dehydration, and exhaustion.

But Tinker Bell sprinkled her fairy dust on me that day and I lived in a fairytale land.  I did however, prepare.  I had water bottles for all of us that I filled at every water fountain I saw.  I didn’t care about how many bathroom breaks we were going to stop at, we all were staying hydrated.  I also brought portable fans for my family that tends to sweat and me who tends to overhead.  I had snacks galore that were healthy and filling enough to stop us from stopping at every food stand we saw.  I had hats and sunglasses for everyone while we waited in the sun.

I didn’t stress at all because we were on vacation, we were together, and somehow I was feeling OK.  OK for me means super duper terrific on a day like our day at Magic Kingdom.  One of my highlights was watching my children meet the characters and waving to them at the parades. IMG_4327IMG_4332

Is there anything sweeter than a tiny hand waving at floats singing to music?  I found myself waving at everyone also, it was contagious. IMG_2246IMG_2186

I actually got to feel like a normal person that day.  I spun around in tea cups laughing and only feeling dizzy.  Feeling dizzy from your kids joyfully spinning you verses feeling dizzy from standing up on an average day is very different.

I felt shaky from my daughter “steering” a car on a track slamming from side to side and laughing from the depths of my gut.  This shaky is wonderful compared to shaking from pain masked by medication yet not masking muscle contractions.

At the end of the day I felt truly tired.  Not exhausted from fighting a migraine, tired from a long glorious day.  I was able to sing with Ariel in her grotto, the way I love to sing (Feeling better makes me sing)IMG_4360

I flew like I could fly

I flew like I had wings.  I took selfies without thinking how my smile was a mask for how I really felt.

The laughs, the joy, the magic was all from a low pain day.  From the opening song that made me feel butterflies in my stomach to the last firework that gleamed in my eye, I was feeling low pain.  Whatever it was; the adrenaline, the preventatives drugs, the preventative living, or  the intoxicating bubble of love and joy, I call it magic!

I could go on and on and on about how our day at Magic Kingdom was one of the happiest I can remember in a very long time (and I consider myself to live a happy life) but I will stop at saying it was perfect. For those of you who can’t relate to a perfect day, I thought it was impossible for myself.  But just like every perfect day comes reality.  Stay tuned for the bad and migraine party of my trip.