Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ears and Earphones: These things should come with a WARNING!

Noise is a big trigger for me.  I carry earplugs everywhere.  Power tools, ubiquitous TV in airports, incessant advertising when you're placed on hold during phone calls, music in stores, loud concerts or movies all are annoying and will eventually give me a headache if the noise persists or I can't get away from it.  SO........ my ever-thoughtful husband gave me a great Christmas present, a new pair of Bose, noise-canceling headphones - delivered to me before we took our annual Dec. trip to Mexico.  I was stoked!

We took off for Zihuatanejo, Mexico on Dec. 11th, and the minute they cleared us for using electronics on the plane, I donned my super duper comfortable headphones.  They worked like a dream, and I was a happy camper.  Then about a couple of hours before wheels down in Zihua, I began to feel an odd sort of pressure in my head, different from headache-type pressure, but nonetheless uncomfortable.  It was sort of illusive at first.  Was I imagining it?  I took them off for a while, did a little stroll to the restroom requiring the usual graceful clamber over my husband and some guy in the aisle seat.  After returning to my seat, I put my headphones back on and was instantly aware of the pressure.  I regretfully left them off for the rest of the trip.  The noise canceling property is electronic, and you cannot turn it off and just use them as regular headphones with your iPod, so that wasn't an option.

Laid up

When we landed in Zihua, I was oh so happy to be back in sunny Mexico again with the sea to swim in  and our cozy hotel to hang in.  BUT I spent the next two days in bed with severe migraines which didn't respond as usual to my abortive meds.  While, of course, there is no proof, I know that the headphones were the trigger.  Sadly, they are now up for sale on Craigslist.  I know there are people with severe headaches, migraines, etc. who can use these things just fine without the repercussions that I had.  However, if you're thinking about getting a pair and you have chronic headaches, try them out first if possible.

I now use Shure noise-blocking earbuds for my iPod, the same ones my son Ben prefers.  He also has migraines, and he rejected the noise-canceling headphones after one try in the airport.  He immediately found the background white noise hard to handle.  He and I tend to have some of the same triggers.

The pain eased off on the third day, and I finally got to BE on vacation.

on vacation - finally

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Beginning

Yellow Hibiscus
I'm looking forward to the possibilities of this just-arrived year with a new sense of relief and lightness.  I have finally, not without some regret, retired from my job.

I have loved teaching English as a second language to immigrants for the last 11 years, and my heart will miss my students.  This last quarter was a good one, a great group of people, so I was able to finish on a high note, knowing I was still doing a good job.

But I won't regret never being quite sure, week to week, whether I would make it to class or succumb to a headache.  I won't regret making it through the evening by taking pain medication I don't like to take.  I won't regret questioning myself when I have a so-so class about whether it was "my fault,"in other words the headache and low energy or just one of those nights.  I won't feel guilty about calling in sick with a headache or having to ask for another leave of absence to seek treatment.  Well, you know all about this if you have severe headaches and any commitments at all.

I just returned from a Christmas trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico.  I love taking pictures of all sorts of things while I'm traveling, but I'm especially a sucker for the bright colors of all the local flora.  Hibiscus has many symbolic meanings depending upon the region of the world you look to.  If you put one behind your ear in Tahiti, it means you are available (for marriage).  While I'm already married, I now feel available for whatever takes my fancy.  The hibiscus flower communicates gentleness and friendliness.  That's a good thing.  It stands for life, courage, and being one with god.  It is the flower for me.

Jamaica (dried hibiscus in Mexico)

In tea, it is medicinal, reputed to have a calming effect, lower your blood pressure, and help your kidneys.  It has lots of vitamin C, and it will calm your cough.

Hibiscus goes by many names.  Rose of Sharon, Seize the Opportunity, and Flower of the Hour.

Seize the Opportunity
I have lots of ideas about where this coming year may lead me.  Traveling is always high on my agenda (though not always easy to do with chronic migraines).  I am planning a short trip in Feb. to Eastern Washington with a girlfriend to get out of the winter gloom, look at art, find a swimming pool and visit friends.  In April I'm planning a road trip that has no specific end - with a friend.  South from Western Washington, through Oregon to California, the Southwest and perhaps beyond, even to Florida.  There has been vague discussion about a trip to France where my brother-in-law and nephew live.  I may return to Mexico sooner rather than later and teach English there.

Right here at home I plan to spend more time doing art, walking, swimming and hanging out with my 2 year-old grandson.  I may start tutoring English as a second language, but I'm going to wait on that until I ease into this new year and some of the fun stuff I've been putting off for a while.

I know I will have to work with and around my headaches, but without the locked in schedule of even my short work week,  there will just be more ease and opportunity.  I will have more energy.  So Happy New Year, and I hope you too can seize whatever opportunities, big or small, that arise.

Flower of the Hour - handwoven, needle felted