Headaches! Migraines!

I get headaches. I’m not sure that I’d say I get them regularly, not anymore anyway, but when I do, they’re usually fast to hit and they hit hard.

Actually calling them “headaches” is an understatement. “Migraine” is closer to the truth.

A migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down.

That last part was me a few weeks ago, I called in sick to work as I was just feeling rubbish. By the end of the day, I was lying in bed with a pair of shorts over my head (the closest thing I could grab by fumbling) to block out the light and in tears trying not to vomit. Fun. (Often during these times, I wish I could vomit, because I’m convinced it would make me feel better.)

Whenever someone finds out you have a headache or a migraine, you’re run through the usual questions. “Have you had enough water?” (Yes), “Have you been in the sun?” (No), “Have you taken painkillers?” (Maybe).

Here’s the frustrating part about headaches and migraines. For some people, they’re probably usually just caused by dehydration or something even simpler like a hangover. Easy to identify the problem, and hopefully easy to manage.

But then you have someone like me, who ends up in bed crying and wanting to throw up.

There are lists all over the place of all the weird things that can cause the hell that is a migraine. Some of my favourite (and I use that term in the highest possible level of full blown sarcasm) possible causes:

  1. Not enough sleep
  2. Too much sleep (yay – so don’t try too hard to fix point #1!)
  3. Chocolate (but can also help some people with headaches)
  4. Pleasant scents (that just seems unfair)
  5. Change of weather or barometric pressure (oh good, something we can’t possibly control)

They can be caused by headbands being too tight, but a tight headband can allegedly also help alleviate the pain. They can be caused by it being too hot… Or too cold. Over-the-counter painkillers can help, but overuse of these can also cause headache.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve just spent the whole damn day with a headache (not a migraine, thank god), and not only am I over it in general, I’m over not knowing what the exact cause is, or what I can do to get rid of the pain. Today I tried chocolate, caffeine, water, sleep, cool water, warm water, about four rounds of painkillers… You get to the point where you’ll try it if there’s a chance it will work.

/tired sigh.

 

 

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Barricade: Chapter 055

BARRICADE

By the time we woke, nighttime had settled around us and we fumbled around in the poorly lit room, gathering our gear and heading downstairs to leave.

Nervous energy bounced between us, gnawing at our stomach, leaving us in a hurry to get going and skip any kind of meal. The glow of excitement had worn off a bit, and we were seeing our plan for what it really was – a rough idea, a dream in need of serious work.

We left the house with few words spoken between us, but Jay took my hand and we walked back to the bikes, choosing to push them through the worst of the overgrowth around the house.

“You ready?”

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The beginning

Wildfire…

Music is the soundtrack to our lives. – Dick Clark

A couple of years ago, I was sent to work a roster out “on site”. At the time, I was really excited to be heading out there.

I still remember why: the excitement of leaving my comfort zone, the hope I could leave my anxieties behind, the chance of maybe growing as a person and developing some good real life skills out in the wild.

So I boarded the small chartered plane and took a bumpy flight out to a remote Australian work site, where the only signs of civilisation were the work camps that had been built out there. The one I stayed at housed literally thousands of workers at any one time, and walking from one end to the other took ten minutes (and I’m a fast walker).

In truth, I can’t remember when it happened. I think I was okay for the first night, but very quickly a few things took a big toll on me. Namely the 4am wake ups, with a rush to get breakfast, get to the field vehicle, and get driven to site by 6am. Then being there all day, in a cramped, uncomfortable office for 12 straight hours.

I often say the 12 hours wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d been busy, but it became apparent almost immediately that their “need” for me to be out there was taken care of in a matter of hours, or involved tasks I couldn’t complete without comms. (And that site had comms for maybe a solid hour for the entire day.)

The combination of sitting in that office, with a cramped back, completely isolated (being the only female on the site), having no tasks to do, and knowing I was there for 12 hours quickly became too much for me. I should probably note, there was no female toilet on site, and so any time I needed one, I had to ask someone else to drive me to a different site so that I could use their facilities. (By the way, it’s just awesome to have someone loudly ask, “Do you need the toilet?” in front of a group of men you barely know at work.)

After a few days, I was that miserable I got to the point where I was on the verge of tears all the time, I wasn’t talking, and I physically couldn’t eat. I was running on empty both emotionally and physically – I was homesick, my anxiety was spiking severely, and I felt this deep physical need to just escape.

I was warned it could cost me my job (and in fact, maybe it did a year later), but I really had to try and get out. Because I have anxiety, I try not to back out of things unless I need to. Forcing myself out of my comfort zones is the only way to take my anxiety head on. That said, I always give myself an allowance. If I need out, then I will get out if I can.

In this case, I needed out.

I approached the manager on site and told him (honestly) that there were, realistically, only a couple more tasks I could even attempt, and that I could have them done the next morning. I pointed out he needed some vehicles gone, and I could drive one back to the city (about a 7 hour drive). I don’t know if he knew there was more going on, or simply agreed with me, but he gave me permission and I went to bed in my depressing little camp room almost crying tears of relief and joy.

The next morning everything looked brighter. The reality of being able to leave hung just in front of me, just out of my reach, but I knew I’d be able to grab it soon. Sure enough, after a few hours of waiting around for vehicle checks, I was given permission to leave.

With no idea really where I was going, I drove out of the site, signed out, and hit the open dirt roads somewhere in outback Australia.

I felt like my soul was on fire. It was such a feeling of freedom, of ultimate relief, or release.

Unable to get the vehicle to pick up my phone’s music stream, I resorted to moving my way through various random and crackly country radio stations. A few hours in to the trip, I landed on a station that played Wildfire by Michael Martin Murphy.

It’s a song I’d heard, a song I knew, but never really paid attention. It never really clicked with me.

That day, though… That day it was like it was my own personal anthem, a song the station had played just for me. Every word, every surge of music, spoke to me about the freedom I’d just found, about the misery I’d left behind at the camp, and the happiness that lay out on the open road in front of me.

It’s not a moment I’ve ever forgotten, and Wildfire is still the song I find myself at when I need a reminder of freedoms, of general, unabashed wildness.

wildfire

She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark, flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night

Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down it’s stall
In a blizzard she was lost

She ran calling Wildfire [x3]
By the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now
For six nights in a row
She’s coming for me, I know
And on Wildfire we’re both gonna go

We’ll be riding Wildfire [x3]

On Wildfire we’re gonna ride
Gonna leave sodbustin’ behind
Get these hard times right on out of our minds
Riding Wildfire

[Youtube]

Music is the soundtrack to our lives, but how often do we miss a song that really talks to our soul if it’s not in the right moment? Is it pure serendipity when the right song comes on at the right time, or something more?

She ran calling Wildfire…

Barricade: Chapter 054 Live

BARRICADE

We’d gone to sleep throwing ideas back and forth, our excitement growing, dulled only by the exhaustion that beckoned us.

The ideas we exchanged were mostly lost to the night, our words becoming gradually more slurred and the suggestions more fanatical as we struggled to stay awake.

We slept more soundly than I can remember us sleeping since this whole thing started – the deep sleep of people who felt peaceful and craved energy to put a plan in motion the next day.

Read more

The beginning

Keto Food Review: Cheesecake Cupcakes

First, apologies to anyone who isn’t interested in these food updates! It’s probably obvious, but we’ve been doing a fair bit of experimenting and cooking in the kitchen. I’m kind of excited about this and wanting to share – I’m typically useless when it comes to cooking, so having success is pretty awesome to me. 🙂

Our latest project was one I chose – Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes. Both because cheesecakes are a serious weakness of mine, and there’s only so many “sweet” options that you can have on a keto meal plan. Most desserts are full of sugar, carbs or both.

Keto Cupcake Bases

Butter and almond meal base – Mickey mouse style!

This recipe has a neat idea for making a keto friendly base, using butter and almond meal. I found that the first two cupcakes we tried, the cheesecake filling and the base separated. As it turns out, leaving the others setting in the fridge solved this problem, so if you find the same thing – leaving them to cool overnight helps!

Keto Cupcakes - Filled The cheesecake filling itself uses Stevia, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla essence.

I should note here I made an amateur mistake – I ignored the ‘almost fill to the top’ part of the recipe and squashed as much filling in as I could, as can be seen in this photo.

Next time I’ll leave them filled as per the instructions, because they ended up being pretty close to overfilling over baking.

The other (purposeful) variation we made was leaving out the flavoured syrup. I opted to simply use vanilla, giving us a classic New York style cheesecake. Despite being slightly worried initially they might be bland, I’m pleased to report they weren’t!

The end result from these is that they taste remarkably “normal” – I found a slight ‘sweetener after taste’ from the stevia, but I don’t usually have anything using that particular sweetener, and I didn’t notice it with the next couple I had (yes, they’re too easy to nom).

Delicious, easy to make, and replaces something that I find sorely missing from keto – dessert! I recommend this recipe if you’re in to cheesecakes like me – even if you’re hopeless in the kitchen, this one is pretty straightforward that even I can manage it solo. 😉

Keto Food Review: Pepperoni Pizza

We tried another one of Craig Clarke’s recipes last night. The good news is it turned out great and I remembered to take my own photos!

This recipe is for Low Carb Pepperoni Pizza, and I considered it a necessity to try because I love pizza (who doesn’t?) and regularly find myself in an “I must have pizza” mood.

We had to make a couple of light adjustments to the recipe, two which were our own fault, and a third which is all regional. Firstly I didn’t buy the Italian Seasoning because I thought we had some – we don’t. Secondly, we missed the instruction to flip the base over and cook it for a further 2-4 minutes. And lastly, I couldn’t find Rao’s sauce in Australia, and I don’t actually think we can get it here. We substituted it with the lowest carb pizza base sauce we could find. I had no luck with the almond flour in the two stores I had time to check, so we went with almond meal (which we found to be suitable anyway).

Pizza Base

Here’s our version of the pizza base as it came out of the oven. It tasted as good as it looks, and the few little air pockets smoothed right out with a gentle nudge.

This is the part where we were meant to flip it over and bake it for a few more minutes, but I think we were both way too excited – and surprised – by how tasty (and like a pizza base!) it looked.

I guess we’ve been burnt in the past by various “slim” versions of things – pasta, rice, etc – and to have another win with an alternative recipe was just too much for us and we got straight to putting the toppings on.

We didn’t stick with straight pepperoni, I also got us chicken, bacon, and a swirl of mayonnaise to put on after baking. We were basically copying some of the flavours from one of our favourite take out pizzas.

Cooked Pizza

Here’s how it looked decorated with toppings (pre-mayonnaise) and baked in the oven. I’m struck by how normal it looks – it doesn’t even really look like anything but a normal, delicious pizza. This is important to me because I view normalcy as one of the key ingredients for success with any kind of diet or detox plan. You don’t want to feel like you’re suddenly very limited or unable to enjoy food. The other great thing about recipes like this is you can invite people over “for pizza” and offer them something tasty.

Another recipe to add to the “Great Successes” list. This one ticks all the boxes:

  • Delicious
  • Keto-friendly
  • Satisfying – taste and feeling full
  • Versatile – so many options here with toppings! Really excited to try out different flavours.

Additionally, the recipe is easy and fast – and as we’ve demonstrated, not too sensitive if you make little mistakes. 😉

 

Keto Food Review: Cheese Tacos

My husband and I are currently on a ketogenic food plan, and it’s going really well! I wanted to post about some of the more interesting recipes we’ve tried and offer reviews on how well they went.

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet

Our first couple of tries with new recipes went really well, but it was the cheese tacos that really piqued my interest. Partly because I couldn’t believe that they’d work, and partly because if they did I was going to be one happy girl.

Cheese Tacos We didn’t cook ours quite as long as these, so ours didn’t look quite so dark/super crispy. We pulled ours a little earlier, and found them delicious like that, so it’s good to note there is some wriggle room for just how ‘well done’ you want your tacos!

We used this recipe for the cheese tacos themselves (not the fillings, as we had them for dinner), but my husband cooked some beef mince with seasoning of his own invention on the fly – including some diced onion, paprika, and a small splash of tomato sauce.

There was some initial difficulty in getting the tacos successfully draped over the wooden spoon (I’m convinced there must be an easier way to approach this), but that gave us an excuse to sample the first “fail” taco. 😉

They were absolutely delicious, and once you work out the best way of pulling from the pan and draping, you end up with some well-formed and absolutely delicious keto-friendly tacos. The greatest thing about recipes like this is you feel like you’ve just had a totally normal (and in this case, more delicious) serving of old favourite dishes like Mexican which can be quite carb-intensive, and really something that I find myself pining over.

I’m excited to say this recipe ticks all the boxes:

  • Delicious
  • Keto-friendly
  • Satisfying – both for taste and feeling full
  • Versatile – I feel like the possibilities here for feelings and meal types are near endless, and I’m really excited to try out some more filling combinations

Suggestion: Have some sour cream on hand if you’re going to attempt to mimic Mexican like we did – it would have really set our dish off and made it a 10/10.