Sunday, January 21, 2018

Occipital Neuralgia and More...

Confession time.

I have more than one chronic illness, as some of you know. What a lot of you don't know is exactly what it entails.

It's called Occipital Neuralgia, and it can be quite disabling.

The Occipital Neuralgia Awareness Ribbon.

Occipital neuralgia is basically a type of migraine, but it doesn't happen in the actual skull, it happens in the scalp. It is caused by four nerves, two on each side: the lesser occipital nerve which goes up the outside of the back part of the head, closer to the ears, and the greater occipital nerves, which go up the back of the head parallel to each side of the spine.

When those nerves get injured, compressed, and irritated, they can cause a permanent headache, as well as "zinging" and burning pain along each of the nerves - I liken it to an AC current. It goes one way, then the other, back and forth along the nerves. It goes up the back of the head through the scalp, across the top of the head, and into the forehead and behind the eyes. Sometimes only one side is affected, others, both are. 

Here's a diagram showing the location of the occipital nerves:



It can "flare" up, meaning instead of the usual amount of pain from it - a five to six in my case - it can go to a 10 or higher on the pain scale. Think flat on one's back, and not even prescription pain medications will put a dent in it.

According to www.hopkinsmedicine.org, occipital neuralgia can make the scalp so sensitive to touch that combing the hair, washing the hair, or laying on a pillow can be "nearly impossible" due to the amount of pain one has. 

Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia include:



I have pretty much every symptom on that list, especially when I am in the middle of a flare up. I wear sunglasses even during a blizzard or hurricane outside, and I have a constant headache. I've had this since I was a child... I've learned how to avoid triggers for it over the years, and I've also learned that the instant things start going crazy to just lay down and think happy thoughts - after popping a few ASA pills. I can't take anything prescription wise due to my son, and anything other than ASA either doesn't work or gives me a bad reaction... So ASA it is, and yes, it does work. Sometimes. It brings things down to a manageable level.

Up until a few months ago, I was managing without a lot of intervention. I could function with the pain until I got a bad flare up, then I'd have to sleep it off with ice packs wrapped around my head in a dark room. 

However, around the middle of November, I started noticing that it was on almost a constant flare up. It seemed I couldn't go three days without being flat on my back for a few hours, or I was flaring almost constantly. I finally gave in and said I need help.

Hubby noted that when I say I need help with my occipital neuralgia, it's BAD... Bad enough that I was almost begging for something like morphine.

I hate prescription pain killers for the record, and narcotics in general - I had a bad reaction to morphine during labor with my son - so when I say I'll even take a shot of morphine or stronger, I am in so much pain that I am willing to do almost anything to stop it.... I can take a *LOT* before I get there. 

So I talked to my family doctor, and she made arrangements for me to try something different - a nerve block. What happens is the doctor injects some kind of local anesthesia into the nerves, and hopefully after the initial overall numbness wears off, the nerves have calmed down enough that they are not causing any zapping pains.

I saw the doctor for this eleven days ago, on January 10th, in Dartmouth. I am terrified of needles in general, despite getting tons of them in the last few years due to the diabetes, so of course, I was shaking like a leaf when I went in.

We went over my history then he did an exam of my neck, shoulders and head, with pokes and a LOT of pushing on various areas to see what hurt and what didn't. The instant he hit the greater occipital nerves, I yelped. It shot a HUGE zap along both of the nerves so painful that I saw stars. 

It's definitely occipital neuralgia. That was the test for it.

I got the nerve blocks that day. It hurt like heck going in, but after about a minute or so, I wasn't feeling much. 

After the second side was done, I sat up, caught my breath and moved my head around. 

Nothing. Not even a teeny zing.

It was the least amount of pain I had in my head in about 35 years. I felt fantastic!

You could have cracked me in the back of the head with a 2 by 4, and I probably wouldn't have felt it for a few hours after that!

Four hours was the tell... If it wore off and I got the zinging again, that particular nerve block wasn't going to work for me. I would have to get something different like cortisone. That hurts even more.... 

I was also given an order for acupuncture via physiotherapy. I'm now waiting for the call to go in and start the sessions. I can't wait!

Eleven days later... I'm still without the zapping. No dull ache. No pain in the eyes.

NOTHING.

I'm now wondering why I didn't do this sooner. This is freaking awesome! I can think without hurting for the first time in ages!

In fact, I am feeling so darn good that I've decided to catch up on a lot of things I've been neglecting for the last while... I've been putting off doing a lot of reorganizing and rearranging things in the kitchen. I finally got around to doing it this week, and the place looks amazing! 

I wanted a new office... I was right in the walkway in the cubby hole opposite the stairs. It was cramped, cluttered, drafty and my son could easily read over my shoulder... Not good! I was fed up and finally decided to switch things around.

My new office is in the corner of the kitchen, on the kitchen table. It's warmer, more private, and best of all, no stairs for the damn cat to run up and use as a platform for dive bombing. To my back is the eastern wall of the kitchen, and to my right is the northern wall. The table is facing the back of the house, I can see the entire room from here, including Amber's sleeping box with her blankie into it. 


My old Pentium 90 is still here, and still works. That's what's under the monitor. 

Amber isn't impressed. She can no longer sit on top of the monitor and look out the window. I said she can go suck cat litter if she doesn't like it. 

She does still sit on top of the monitor though, as y'all can see...


Me and my purple.... LOL

So I thought the dive bombing had come to an end without stairs to use as a platform.

WRONG.


What you are seeing is my printer on top of the old tower for my Vista system - the one that originally housed the hard drive that's now in my current system. This is to the direct left of my computer chair. In fact I was in the chair when I took this photo... Just to give everyone a perspective of how things are here. Behind the curtain in the back is the old computer area and stairway.

Anyway... Amber now likes to sit on the printer and look out the window.

However, she realized I was sitting here the other day, and the next thing I knew, I had a cat flying for my head.

Again.  *head desk*

I still say that crazy kitty is trying to kill me... I never thought I'd be dive bombed after moving the computer. Seriously.

Guess I shouldn't have told her to go suck cat litter, eh? *SIGH* 

Idiot cat.

Have a great week everyone, I'll be posting another update about the writing soon!

I leave you with another song by GHOST... "Ritual". Enjoy!!


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tears of the Jedi - SPOILERS ALERT!!!!

I've been meaning to post something, but things have been crazy here. Between the holidays, *two* major storms that caused long power outages, holiday vacation, and trying to write AND get to the theater, it's been crazy.

First of all, our holidays were pretty good, despite a 24 hour outage that started around 5:30 p.m. on the 25th and lasted until about 6 p.m. on the 26th. We've been back here 15 years, and that is the longest outage we have had in that time. My son wasn't impressed. Thankfully we went to my mom in law's on Boxing Day (the 26th) for a few hours, she had power, and my son was happy to be with Nanny as well as be able to watch her Star Trek DVDs. 

So... The second power outage was this past weekend, from Thursday the 4th at 9:40 p.m. to about 1 p.m. Friday the 5th, after that huge nor'easter clobbered the eastern seaboard of the States and the Maritime Provinces in Canada. We spent a good chunk of that morning at Hubby's gas station with him. Schools were canceled both days, so it's not like I could have worked even if schools had been open. 

Speaking of working, I took the entire holiday break OFF from writing. My anemia is back, full force, and it's affecting my concentration a lot. I can't seem to focus on anything except maybe a movie for more than a few minutes. I'm always exhausted, and feeling ill from this crap. 

My iron didn't come up at all last time either... BUT I found out why. I was taking 28 mg of iron once a day... I'm supposed to be taking *six* times that amount - 150 to 200 mg a day, due to the anemia. The smaller pills are just to supplement someone with a normal iron level, not help full blown iron deficiency anemia. So, I'm now popping the iron pills given to me by my doctor, and hoping my ferratin comes up, even a little. I'm off to Internal Medicine if it doesn't move this time. More poking and prodding. Fun stuff. Not.

I hope to get back into things either later this week or sometime next week. I have some ideas I've been bouncing around, so I may be feeling a little more up to working. I'll keep y'all posted.

Anyone who knows me or has been following me for a while knows I am a *huge* Star Wars geek. I first saw A New Hope in 1982, and I was instantly HOOKED. I've seen every single film except for Attack of the Clones in the theater, and I have a lot of the old EU/Legends books. 

I saw "The Force Awakens" two years ago, and "Rogue One" last year... This year, I finally saw my favorite character, Luke Skywalker, speak on screen for the first time in over 3 decades in "The Last Jedi". 

Oh.

My.

Heavens.

So many fan theories were blown out of the water during this film... Which was fine with me, I am so goddamn SICK of theorists thinking they know it all when in reality they have NO BLOODY CLUE what's going on... 

I admit I cried throughout the movie. It was Carrie Fisher's last role before her death, and it was so fitting it was the role that she was so famous for. 

NOW....I will warn everyone that if you haven't seen the movie yet, STOP NOW

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

I mean it gang. Stop if you don't want spoilers....

STOP.

NOW.

OR YOU WILL SEE SPOILERS!

Okay, don't say I didn't warn you.................

It was pretty good. It didn't have the amount of action into it that TFA, ROTJ or ROTS had... But it had a lot of deeper, more intellectual things you really had to look for. 

Flaws? YES. Lots of them. Like Leia impersonating Mary Poppins. The sublight chase that took up half the movie. The bit with Finn and Rose going after the slicer... Um.. Nope. That was supposed to establish their characters a bit more, but to me, it felt awfully dragged out, and unnecessary. Same goes with Poe and the mutiny. Admiral Ackbar's death pissed me off too.

However, there were redeeming qualities....

Mark Hamill's performance was the highlight of the movie for me. That man has more talent in his pinkie finger than some out there have in their entire body. Seriously. 

I think it was his best performance to date, even if I really couldn't connect the Luke I saw for the majority of the movie with the one from the original trilogy for the first while. By the time we saw Luke and Leia's brief reunion on Crait, I had finally gotten my head around things. 

Then again, the Luke we saw there wasn't a broken man either. It was the old Luke, the one we fans were used to seeing.

I bawled at the end. 

To see my favorite character of the entire franchise "ascend" and become one with the force was a touch too much for me... It was a case of goodbye eyeliner and mascara, hello rivers of black running down my cheeks! I had an odd feeling it was on the way from the instant I saw him appear on Crait... And hated that I was right about Luke's death, just like I had been with Han's in The Force Awakens. It was one of those moments when I wanted to bash my head against the seat in front of me.

Luke's final scene was really well done... A throwback and tribute to where he started off in A New Hope.... Even if it made a lot of us in the theater cry. 

*SNIFF!!!*

It does leave things wide open for Luke to come back as a Force apparition, like Yoda and Obi Wan have. I'd love it if Mark Hamill was back in IX, even if it was just as a cameo.

You hear that JJ Abrams? Bring Luke back for IX, since you're not going to do CGI with Leia!!!

And PLEASE... Do NOT kill off Chewbacca!!!

Ugh....

I do wish JJ Abrams the best though... He's going to need it, big time. IX was supposed to focus on Leia, but apparently they are not going to have her in the movie.... No old footage and no CGI. So, it's really up in the air what Abrams is going to yank out of his butt this time... 

If it's half as good as The Force Awakens, he'll have another winner on his hands in my opinion. 

However, if it's a movie similar to the Star Trek reboots... 

*TWITCH!!!* 

Nope, NOT going down that road......................

On that note, I'm going to share a new group with you. They had the top single of 2017 on Q104.3 in Halifax, NS, and I just got their latest album...

From the EP, "Popestar", here's GHOST with "Square Hammer"... Enjoy!