Thursday, January 19, 2017

10 Days in December

A Rough start

It is 4:00 pm on Dec. 4th, and we are in lift off mode.  Tonight we're home, tomorrow Zihuatanejo, Mexico, our annual winter beach, vacation destination.  I print our boarding passes, and a couple of hours later my husband calls a cab to run us to the airport for a 5:00 am flight. We learn from the dispatcher that our Seattle to LA leg has been cancelled due to an incoming snow storm. After a brief panic I get on the phone, and Alaska Airlines rebooks us for an earlier flight out of Seattle, which means a 2 hour drive tonight to a park-and-fly-by-night motel south of the airport. We scramble to pull ourselves together and head out the door within an hour.  The hotel has a sketchy feel, but the room is clean, and it was the best I could do on very short notice.  This is not a seamless start to our vacation. It compounds the travel anxiety that has dogged me with aging and increased migraine frequency.  Maybe this trip wasn't such a great idea.  So much easier to just cave in and stay home.

Minor league miracle

The rest of our trip south is thankfully uneventful. We step off the plane in Zihuatanejo in bright sunshine and balmy 85 degree weather.  Customs and immigration is efficient.  We're in and out the other side in half an hour. We catch a colectivo or shared cab to the hotel and flop into chairs on the terrace of our modest beach-side room, heaving a sigh of relief and wonder. It is 5:00 pm local time, and we're home-away-from-home free. 

We watch families play on the beach, birds dive and catch fish as we marvel at the sunset. The days pass slowly to a low-key rhythm of watching the sunrise with our morning coffee, strolling into town morning and evening, frequent swims in the bay or the pool, reading and going to sleep to the sound of waves breaking on the sand below.

On the third day I turn to my husband and say, "Do you know, I haven't had a headache since we got here!"  Every day I wake early, make my tea and curl up on the day bed outside to watch the sunrise, birds, fishermen, early joggers and swimmers - with no headache.  I have not one headache during our entire 11 day vacation.  What if I don't have headaches anymore?  I begin to fantasize about what life will be like when I return home headache free.


We arrive home on Dec. 16th to the pre-Christmas rush. I'm tired from lost sleep and the trying 14 hour trip home. Per usual, I am not ready for the Holiday. Even though our celebrations are quiet and informal, there are still presents to buy, a few decorations to pull together and a small family Christmas dinner to plan. The headaches resume, frequent and more severe at first, then reverting to a more usual pattern once the holidays are over.  


This mind-bending 10-day respite has left me wondering what combination of factors enabled a marked change in pattern.  What can I learn from this?  I know that I feel better when I'm in and around salt water.  I love to swim in our chilly bay in the summer and hang out at the beach in Santa Cruz when we visit my son.  But I suspect it's more than that.  I think of my life as unstressful.  I am retired. Our finances are in decent shape.  I've got great kids who are doing well and two beautiful grandsons.  I have friends and things I like to do.  Nonetheless I struggle, especially in winter, to stay on an even keel.  

It's a puzzle, trying to translate the lessons of an 11-day Mexican beach vacation to daily existence at home.  But I'm working on it.  The Spanish word for puzzle is rompe cabeza, which means literally 'break the head.'  I think that perhaps that's exactly what I do to myself when I agonize over bits and pieces of my life.  I'm trying to let go and have a little faith that the things I dither over will work themselves out without eternal fretting.  For a start, I'm rescheduling my days so I have creative time to myself in the mornings, to write and draw.  I need to return to a meditation practice that took a back seat to my daily routine 6 months ago. I'm teaming up with a pal for a 2 week return to Mexico in February to learn more, to see if this pattern repeats itself.

What does it look like?

What does it look like .........

not to have headaches?  I realize that I perceive my head as dense and heavy, full up with pain, thoughts, emotions, plans, expectations and more.  What would it feel like to have more space up there, more room for the breeze and the birds and fishes?  More ventilation.  What if it were roomier and quieter?  How can I achieve that at home as well as away?

This little miracle has been a real eye opener that will inform my search for answers in the weeks and months to come.  


  1. Hi Candy, My 15 year old son has a form of what his doctors calll migraine. It started a little over two years ago and this last episode has lasted since November of 2015. It has been devastating to him and our whole family. He cannot attend traditional school, does not socialize very much and of course is in constant pain. We have been thru many therapies. DHE is the only thing that has helped but so far the only times it worked were when he was in the hospital. Would you be able to share with me the company you used to get it IV at home. If they are willing to share their procedure , I may have a company here (NJ) that would be willing to do it for him. My email is


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