Thursday, January 2, 2020

Migraine Relief - Daith Piercing

I get migraines. My friends know this. I've tried different medicines and was on a daily suppressant (beta blocker) but wanted to step down from that. I worked with my doctor and halved my dosage with no change, so we halved it again with still no change, so I stepped completely off it and started getting migraines every other weekend or so (just like I use to). I get them when I hit my triggers, like irregular meals, stress, dehydration, different weather patterns, and hormonal changes. I can avoid some of these triggers but not all, and even the avoidable ones happen sometimes because it's hard being so structured. 
My friend Cory got this ear piercing (daith) and it basically solved her migraine issues. She said I should try it and I figured why not, if I don't like it I can just take the earring out and keep going on my migraine journey. 
When I was up in CT for Christmas, I went with Cory and my mom to get the piercing (I was the only one getting pierced - Cory was there for guidance and my mom was with me for moral support). We went to Eminence Ink in Willimantic, CT, and had Lily helping us (she was the one who had done Cory's piercing).

Interesting fact from the Red Cross - if I had gotten my piercing in MD, I might have be banned from donating blood for a year. Since I got it done in CT, I'm good to donate. This screen capture actually says tattoo but I believe it applies to piercings as well since they are done in the same facilities (unless you use a mall kiosk). The more you know....

Let me be upfront about this: it was the most painful experience I have ever willing done. It was not as painful as my four-wheeling accident (where I got thrown from my quad, tumbled down a mountain, then got run over by my quad and tumbled further down the mountain) which involved a back injury and those are really the worst (also dislocated my knee and pretty sure got concussed).
I went at noon and had a granola bar before hand and another one in my pocket for afterwards. You don't want to do this on an empty stomach cause you could pass out - kinda like when donating blood.
I was seated in a chair in a private room. Lily cleaned the area and then started the piercing. The first pierce wasn't bad, felt kinda like a normal ear lobe piercing, but then it kept going because it's not a straight-through piercing, it's kind of a hook so you have to go in (not too bad), come out (bad), then I think slide the piercing tool out (getting even worse), then get the earring bar in (I was saying OUCH OUCH OUCH and getting really pale at this point), then twist on the balls on either end but we had to take a break before finishing that because I was not doing well. I nearly puked and nearly passed out. Lily had a standing fan next to the chair so she turned that on and gave me a lollipop for sugar and a cup of water and I was shaking SO BADLY and then I dry heaved. She said it was the adrenaline from the anticipation which was true but also it hurt really badly and for whatever reason, my body likes to puke when I'm in pain. It's annoying. So once I calmed down again (i.e. stopped uncontrollably shaking and had some color back in my face), she went back at it with twisting the balls on the ends of the earring. There wasn't much blood but there was much pain but at this point the worst was over. I then paid for it and some cleaning/numbing spray for it (about $70 for the piercing and $5 for the spray) and they said I really needed to get some lunch.
The piercing itself would have been quick if I had not nearly passed out and puked. It's a quick clean, stab, stab, twist, twist, done. But I think it took over an hour due to me not handling things well. In the end, here's the bar:

I can't see it when looking in a mirror, and you can only see it if you're looking at the correct angle at my ear (clearly per the picture, it is visible from at least one angle). 
The piercing was done on December 26. I used the cleaning spray three times a day with a cotton ball in CT and a cotton square in MD. It was super sore right away (normal) but then it started feeling infected, like warm and tender and I got worried. I was told by my sib-in-laws about ear syringes which sound scary but are actually similar to a water pick but, important distinction, with a soft tip. I got one from CVS (can't find it online but it's similar to this) to clear out the ridge where the top of the earring is (it's too tight for a q-tip) and then the inflammation went away and all is now well! In hind sight, Lily had told me to wash the area before putting the cleaner on it, but I couldn't figure out how to get in there (also it really hurt to touch it). Squirting water in there is the way to go!

Now the real question, will this piercing fix my migraine frustrations and lower their frequency? Well, truly only time will tell. I have only had it a week, but no migraines in that week! Of note, the last 5 years I have gotten a migraine over the Christmas to New Years time, and this year I did not get a migraine. So that's nice! I will aim to update in a month or two and say how things are going.

Double Movie Review: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and A Wrinkle in Time

Recently (i.e. yesterday which was a holiday) Mark and I watched two movies from Redbox and they were nice one-time in-your-home viewing experiences.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms:
This one looked nice and if you didn't pay attention too closely, that plot twist could probably surprise you. Sadly, this one hits that bad zone where it's plot and theme are aimed at children but then it throws in some scary stuff that makes it ineligible for most kids (creepy carnival with a mass of mice that swarm into a bear-shaped monster, for example). Reminds me of the Straight No Chaser song "Christmas Can-Can" which mentions "that mouse-king thing freaks me out *scream*". The visuals were nice, the acting was good, and the outfits were great. It wasn't a bad viewing experience, However, I was glad we didn't have any little nieces or nephews watching, and I am fine with never seeing it again.

A Wrinkle in Time:
This one has been out for a bit and I admit, I've never read the book. I rented the audio-book but then we didn't get around to listening to it so it went back to the library. So I came into this one not knowing what to expect other than it's a classic and many people like the book. Apparently the movie strays far from the book. It was a bright visual experience but again, it's aimed at kids but there is a rather scary part where the little brother basically gets possessed by evil (bright red eyes, red lines spreading across his face). It has some good points, about the importance of love and being kind to other people even when they're mean to you. I think it was fairly good acting. But I didn't understand a lot of why/how things were going on. I don't think I'll watch this again but I am interested in getting the audio-book again and actually listening to it this time. Might been good for your pre-teens or teens, to show the importance of kindness and not assuming you know someone's backstory.

Movie Review: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars Episode IX has arrived and let me tell you, I was fairly excited about it but didn't want to get my hopes up too much since there is so much division going on and I didn't want to be disappointed.
I was not disappointed. I liked it ALOT! I was sitting there with my husband; while he was all calm, I was SUPER excited and it just kept getting better in my opinion.

Here's where the spoilers start so if you for some reason are reading a movie review but don't want plot points revealed, then back out now.

So let's start with the scary - I admit I had to close my eyes during the sorta strobe light scene with the Emperor because (1) the lighting was messing with my eyes and (2) it was kinda scary. They did a good job of being spooky. I didn't like it but I'm pretty sure that's how I was suppose to feel - he's a bad guy and he's not in good shape (because he's bad). Ian McDiarmid did a great job of consistently portraying a creepy evil person through all three trilogies of the Star Wars franchise.

Then we move on, sadly, to what I didn't like. There were two kisses and I didn't like either of them but I ended up being fine with one of them because someone immediately died (that should make it pretty obvious what scene I'm talking about). The other kiss was purely to get the LGBQ check mark and seemed out of place. I prefer my sci-fi without romance, just let a group of friends save the galaxy and maybe redeem a villain. No need for pairing up.

Now we get to what I did like - basically all the rest of the movie. I liked the decisions they made, the dialogue, and the plot. I'm especially happy that Chewie didn't die. He died in the Expanded Universe which is now not canon and I feared for his safety in each movie (until one of the Original Trio died and then I'm thinking they wouldn't kill Han/Luke/Leia AND Chewie in the same movie so he should be safe for now).
Just like in The Last Jedi, I really like fight scenes with two lightsaber users working together vs. whomever. I might just look up the fight scene from The Last Jedi to remember how excellent it was.
I liked the usage of old footage of Leia and Luke, showing that she had made a lightsaber, getting to use the lightsaber, and really how they were able to still have Leia be a central figure and not make it very obvious that it was all recycled footage (you could tell if you knew but they did a good job with what they could do).
The dialogue between Poe and Finn was great, the constant banter, the respect between them, and how they stuck together to help Rey every step of the way.
I liked Ben's redemption arc. I think they did the right thing with him sacrificing himself.
I really liked all the throwbacks - Red 5, ewoks, older fighter pilots who were definitely in the original trilogy or production crew, so many references all around. The decrepit throne room! The remains from the old war! They did a good job.

All in all, I would recommend this movie for Star Wars fans (obviously, since it's a capstone film, you're gonna be lost hopping into Episode IX without knowing I-VIII). I want to see it again once it's in Redbox.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Hallelujah Song

My church has been singing this song recently. I have looked to find the lyrics online (since I post on my church's Facebook page the lyrics to the song we sang on Sunday) but failed to find this song. So here it is. Hopefully it will help others who are searching for the same thing, but I know it will help me when I keep searching for the previous time I posted the lyrics so I don't have to type them up again.
The authors to this song also wrote "The Trees of the Field" which is a song in our green hymnal which involves clapping and as a conservative, no electronic instruments church, it's always surprising to see that one (but it is a fun song and seems based on Scripture).

The Hallelujah Song
By Stuart Dauermann and Steffi Rubin

There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus,
His Spirit has freed us from sin and death.
When the law could not save us in mercy God gave us
His Son as an offering to pay our debt.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Now indebted to Him by His Spirit within
We've an offering to give Him in thankfulness.
Take our bodies and minds as we willingly bind them
With love to the alter of holiness.

So, we thank Thee, O Lord, for the love and accord
You have given Your people in all the earth.
That though different we be by Your Spirit we're free to
Grow in the fullness of our new birth.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Trains vs Planes

Recently we went to visit my family in CT for a weekend. It was tricky to get tickets and we didn't want to spend a bundle, so we flew up and rode the Amtrak train back. Which is better? Well here's the TL;DR - it depends on what you value. Read more to find out!

Trains: 🚄
Getting on and off is SO MUCH QUICKER! No security theater, no baggage checking and scanning, no emptying all your pockets and forgetting something and get more delays and all that garbage. It takes a couple minutes to step off the platform onto the train and find your seat.
You have so much space! You can stretch out, walk around, plug in (plenty of outlets), find the dining cart (long trains have them) and order something, and not get all cramped up. There's even WiFi, but if the train is full then it's gonna be slow and spotty.
You have a decent view - the train is relaxing and you ride through some nice areas. There's lots to see out there and it's not too hurried, just chugging along.
You can bring all your stuff. I don't know that there's any baggage restrictions, it just has to fit in the luggage bay or in overhead storage. There's under-seat space as well so you have plenty of room for stuff (including liquids and fragile things and personal electronic devices that can stay fully powered on the whole trip).
Bigger restrooms - it's still going to have some 'turbulence' as you're bouncing along, but it's nice to have a little extra space.

Planes: ✈
Getting to your destination is SO MUCH QUICKER! Even with the security stuff, still much quicker. For our usually trips, it's a generous 2.5hrs to get from our house in MD to my parent's house in CT. The train is around 6.5hrs.
You have personal service - you can (usually) get assigned seats so you sit with your people, the attendants ask what you'd like to drink and give you a snack, and you can fall asleep knowing you won't miss your stop because everyone (usually) is getting off and even if not, they check that only the correct people stay on.
Everyone boards together! You are getting on an empty plane, so as long as you get a good position or have assigned seating, then you can sit with your people! Unless you are boarding the train at the end of the line, there are already people in it and if it's a busy one (like from New Haven through NYC to DC), then you might struggle to find two open seats near each other.
They only check your ticket once! You scan your ticket, board, then can zone out (except for the safety briefing) until you reach your destination. No checking your ticket each time you enter another zone.
Signage is great! There are lots of signs telling you where to go when to be there. The electronic signs are all around telling you which terminal and gate and such. On the train platform, you have to keep paying attention and checking and asking. It's a little stressful but it's doable.

Ticket pricing - you have to check both and it depends on a load of factors which will be cheaper.
There will be stress. It's travel, you don't want to miss your connections but things are late and early and you have to keep on your toes and leave buffers all around.

There are pros and cons to each and it depends on the time of year and what you value, but it's nice to have both options.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

How To Pack Light

 As some have noted, I like to travel light. My husband is on board and we can usually travel with just carry-ons. We most notably went on a 10-day trip to Germany and surrounding area with just his backpack, my duffel bag, and a small backpack. In this post, I'm going through what I packed for a family vacation in a neighboring state.
How do we do this? Well, we think through the whole trip and pack as little as possible to cover all the situations. We have bags that fit as carry-ons, namely I have an Under Armor duffel bag which is probably 8 years old and showing no signs of wear despite me using it for nearly every vacation and Mark has a "Cabin Max Metz backpack flight approved carry on bag" which is currently unavailable on Amazon.
Mark's Cabin Max in the distance

My UA duffel, topped with my hat that I didn't want crushed

Inside these we use packing cubes - you can get them in all sorts of sizes but the largest one I have tightly fits 6 rolled up t-shirts, a pair of shorts, a lightweight sweatshirt, and a set of pjs (shirt and pants). I probably could have fit another rolled up t-shirt.
Tip: pack the shorts, wear the jeans. Weather permitting, wear the sweatshirt too (but it was too warm and I was just bringing it as a habit from growing up in New England).
Large packing cube, not fully packed

That's all in the largest of my packing cubes. In my midsize packing cube, I stuff my socks, underclothes, and also a knee wrap hoping if I bring it with me, I won't need it (that's how those things usually work).
Large packing cube, left, with medium packing cube, right

I have a small packing cube but it mainly fits toiletries but since we were driving not flying, I didn't need to split up my toiletries so I didn't use my smallest cube. Here are my two cubes on top of my swimming suit and cover-ups in my duffel, topped by my hat.
Starting to pack it in

Since we were renting a house and I didn't know what I'd need, I packed my hair drying and straightener in there (turns out I didn't use either of them as the house provided a wall hair dryer like in hotels and I didn't care enough to do any straightening)
Packing cubes and such

My duffel has a handy end pocket used mainly for shoes, but I have a canvas pouch that I got from a Stitch Fix order that I use to bag my shoes, so I can use my shoe pouch for other things as well as shoes and not get everything dirty from whatever I've walked through. So in this end pocket I put a lot of liquids. As mentioned, we weren't flying, so I brought my full-size shampoo, conditioner, face wash, aloe spray, contact solution, and such. I put them in the end pocket because if they spill, they aren't near clothes.
Tip: wear the sneakers, pack the sandals.
Tip: bring travel size items to save on space.
End pocket with liquids and my tan canvas shoe bag containing sandals
 Next to pack was my toiletries bag. I keep most of these things in here because then I don't have to move them back and forth. I have a travel-size deodorant, travel-sized hair brush, razor, contact case, nail kit, and more. Usually I just need to add my medicines and this bag is good to go.
Next to this bag but not really in the picture is a small makeup bag - this contains chap stick, nail file, neutral eye shadows, and a few other things. I add my concealer since I haven't bought a second one to leave in there and my glasses wax because again I just have one of those, and this is good to go.
Tip: buy duplicates, in travel sizes, of toiletry items so you can leave them in your travel kit rather than remembering to raid your shower/bathroom before a trip. But this works best if you travel often otherwise you end up with a bag of expired goods.

Next up is my charger - I got the yellow coated wire from REI I think and it works well to corral cords for transit. I also got a thing to cover my charger cord to reinforce it and make it visually appealing. I usually stash this in the side pocket of my duffel so it is easy to reach and doesn't get tangled around anything.
Charger ready for transport
 Here is my fully stuffed bag containing full-sized toiletries in the end pocket (on left), two packing cubes atop my swim stuff, hair dryer, straightener, toiletries bag, make-up bag, and I believe I stuffed a blank comic book in there thinking I might doodle while away but I ended up not so I didn't need to pack that. It was a little hard to close but the zipper is strong and there were still some air pockets in there so I could have fit a bit more. Also my long front-side pocket has my phone charger and some dairy pills and other assorted things.
Fully packed bag, ready to zip
 Lastly, we got something like these vacuum bags which are amazing to use with your laundry. It's a fact that used clothes take up more space than clean, folded/rolled cloths, but this bag solves that AND doesn't require a vacuum! You just stuff your clothes in it, seal the top (like closing a ziplock baggie), then roll it down to press out all the air (there are special one-way vents at the bottom).
Note: those are not the ones we have, but the ones we have are out of stock (by The Chestnut on Amazon).
Tip: in a pinch, you can use these bags to vacuum pack your clean clothes to save on space but they may be a little wrinkly on the other side.
Don't air your dirty laundry, vacuum pack it instead
Over all, I could have packed lighter but I didn't know entirely what I needed. That's a big part of packing light - knowing what all you will need and sticking to that.
We did bring several other bags of stuff for the house, like towels, sheets, beach items like an umbrella, games, sports equipment, food, and such. I didn't include those in this post since there's not much you can do to pack folded sheets, towels, and equipment more concisely - they basically are the size that they are.

I hope you found this post helpful! 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Isaiah 7

We had a guest speaker (Dr. Todd S. Beall) this Sunday who spoke on Isaiah 7, and it was really encouraging. We started with reading Matthew 1:18-25, which seems random to read in August but it references the prophecy given in Isaiah 7. Here are the notes!

God's Plans vs. Our Plans
Isaiah 7:1-25

  1. A crisis of faith and God's reassuring promise (7:1-9)
    • Israel/Syria wants to replace Judah's King Ahaz. God says it won't happen.
  2. An unbelieving king (7:10-12)
    • God commands Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz says no.
    • A fun thought: if God gave you an incredible promise and told you to ask for a sign, what would you request as a sign?
  3. An amazing sign of deliverance (7:13-16)
    • A miraculous conception (7:14a)
      • pregnant virgin, referenced in Matthew 1
    • A comforting name (7:14b)
      • Immanuel - God with us. The miracle of the incarnation.
    • A promise of deliverance, both now and in the future (7:15-16, 8:5-10)
      • the threatening countries would be deserted when the Child is born
  4. A reminder of the foolishness of man's ways (7:17-25)
    • Ahaz's hired army of Assyria would devastate Judah
  1. Can we fathom God's plans and God's ways?
    • maybe my short-sighted plan is good enough => BAD IDEA
  2. Do we trust God, no matter what?