Monday, November 6, 2017

Bottling Sonshine

It's mid October now, and I've been struggling, in a downward spiral from one or two migraines per week to daily pain and all the symptoms that go with it.  But that's not what I want to write about. I've been here before, and hopefully this will pass.

We've just returned from a quick trip to California to spend a few days with my son and daughter-in-law.

When we arrive at their beautiful, small home in sunny Santa Cruz, I am dogged by pain as well as steady, low-grade anxiety, one of my least favorite symptoms.   Our mini vacation is full of hard-to-manage triggers from air travel to the noise of intense, people-filled dinners and days.  My Santa Cruz family are hard-workers, involved in the marine sciences and the restaurant biz, impacted by the current politics and environmental issues like all of us.  Our conversation ranges from their recent African travels, national divisiveness, backyard projects, alternative energy, writing, work, family and friends to what to cook for dinner and the horrific California wildfires that burst into flame 100 miles north of us during our stay.

Monday morning.  The sound of my son grinding his morning coffee wakes me from a horrific nightmare.  I pull myself together, wash my face and go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea.  Settling into a chair at a quiet end of the living room, I struggle to shake off the hangover from my ugly dream.  With a sixth sense, Andrew moseys over and sits next to me, beginning a quiet morning chat that draws me out of my low-down funk.  In immense relief, I surface from dark, sticky horror into the daylight land of the living.

On Wednesday, as we leave the cool, clear air of Santa Cruz for the San Jose airport, a pall of smoke drifts in, a few miles out of town and thickens as we crest the mountain on Hwy 17.  Visibility drops to a mile or two, and the air wreaks of smoke.  My headaches don't go away nor reduce in intensity or frequency during our mini vacation.

It takes me three days to unpack, do the wash and stow my travel belongings.  On Saturday morning, I am in the shower when the phone rings.  There is a message from my hometown son announcing an imminent visit with grandsons in tow.  Fifteen minutes later the kids, age 3 and 7, burst through the front door full of noisy, good-natured energy.  Popping half a pain pill, I sit down on the couch to play tinker toys with Lucas.  Later I wander into the kitchen to talk to my son, never short on conversation or opinions.  With a few kind words, Ben dispels my mounting worries over some disturbing medical findings.  

Over the next week or two my migraines begin to space out to every other day, then every third day,  as my pain and anxiety level drops.  So why do I feel better, more grounded emotionally since our trip and return home?  Here's what comes to mind, a steady dose of all of the following.

Change of scene
Sun, beach, redwoods, campfire, hammock, biking, walking