Category Archives: Headache

Stress Management or Lack There Of

Hi friends. Sorry it’s been a reaaaally long time since I last posted. My life has been the opposite of easy in the past week. Headaches continue to rage, work was beyond stressful last week and I’ve got my exam coming up on Saturday. Not to mention there is just a bunch of stuff going on in my personal life. AND I’m starting my fourth step. It’s not the cause of a great deal of stress at the moment, but you know…I am definitely a bit fearful about it. I just need to dive in head first. Tonight.

When I checked in with ASL on the phone last night she said she could hear it in my voice that I hadn’t been to a meeting in a while and she was correct. So we met at Chelsea Riverside for the 9pm speaker meeting. It was just what I needed! We then headed over to Whole Foods to hunt down my new obsession: Coconut Water.

A bunch of different brands make it, and I’m not partial to any one in particular yet. It’s just delicious and refreshing and I want it all the time. I’m such an addict…

Speaking of Coconut Water, I was so stressed out on Friday due to Migraines and an unrelenting amount of work and time pressure I couldn’t handle it. So on my way home I stopped by Walgreens to pick up a pack of cigarettes (I know, I know) I just wanted to calm down for 5 minutes. I decided I’d get a bottle of coconut water while I was at it. When I walked down the beverage aisle to get it they didn’t have any, but they did have a bunch of cheap wine and I really wanted to buy a bottle or 5. Of course I didn’t, but it was the first time in a while that I’ve felt like drinking.

I bought the pack of cigarettes and went home. I smoked the first one and initially felt relaxed. 20 minutes later I felt like vomiting and vowed never to smoke again. Thanks HP, for proving to me that I am in fact an idiot. My body is officially done with that crap. GOOD THING! What a waste of $12… that’s what my brain does to me though. It feels stressed and automatically seeks something outside of myself to make it better. That experience (like many before it) just proves that those outside things never make anything better and usually just make things worse. Like the tummy ache I had for the rest of the night.

Life can get really hard sometimes, even in sobriety. Especially in sobriety. Today I have the tools to help myself though. The tools I never had when I was drinking and using. It’s my choice to utilize those tools or not though. I can’t act like a victim in my own life. That’s pathetic and irresponsible – hense the Friday night incident. All I can do is accept things for what they are and do whatever I can to make things better, not worse.

How do you manage your stress?



Filed under Anxiety, Headache, Recovery

Being of Service with a Stranger

An interesting turn of events occured this morning. I was on my way to work after seeing my neurologist in Union Square. She prescribed me yet another new migraine medication to try since not one of the three I’ve tried so far have worked. Feeling defeated, I waited for the NQR (“the yellow line” as I like to call it). A woman looking very out of sorts comes up to ask me for subway directions. She was sweating and said she could barely think in this humidity. Ah, yes, a tourist. People who don’t live in NYC have no idea how hot it gets in the summer, especially in the underground tunnels that house the MTA.

I politely gave her directions and she was very grateful. I put my earphones back in and got on the train. Then we got stuck at 34th street due to train traffic and I got off to change trains so I didn’t have to wait any longer. The same woman got off and asked me if the train I was heading to would also take her to the right place. “Yes,” I said – “Just come with me, I’ll show you where to go.” And so we chatted for a bit on the train. She’s from San Francisco and has not spent much time in NYC. I love it here, so I’m happy to brag about it despite the oven it morphs into during the summertime.

We got off the train together and I told her I would walk her towards Rockefeller Center – her destination. We passed by my old office with its flashing video streams and I pointed to it saying I used to work there. It turns out she used to work for a different branch of same company! Weird! We continued to chat and I learned she was here to job hunt and was late to a networking meeting. She was so nice and overly grateful for my help. To me, it just seemed normal to help someone out like that. It is basic instinct for me to help out people in AA because help was so freely given to me when I was a newcomer. We keep what we have by giving it away. So why not help out a lost stranger? Finally we reached the corner where we would part and she asked me if I wanted to exchange information. I was kind of surprised by the question, but figured why not? I handed her my card and told her to email me whenever – and good luck on her job hunt.

After having a disappointing neurology appointment filled with no answers and a new prescriptionyet again, I wasn’t expecting anything good to happen for the rest of the day. And then – HP puts someone in front of me who needed my help. Helping people makes me feel better. It makes me think about something other than my own problems for 5 ,10, 20 minutes, an hour. That stranger changed my perspective this morning. My life could be worse. I could be in a strange city, lost, sick with heat-stroke and swimming in the uncertainty of looking for a job. Luckily I’m just battling daily headaches and on my way to my air conditioned office.

Thanks HP, for giving me the opportunity to be of service today.

Have you ever gone out of your way to help a stranger?

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Filed under Headache, Service

More Down than Up

This weekend had its ups and downs. Friday night we saw Horrible Bosses which was anything but horrible – it was SO FUNNY! Best part of the weekend by far.

Saturday I woke up with a raging headache which calmed down for about an hour with the help of meds and then raged again for the rest of the day. I had to run a few errands and then go into work for a but, but instead of taking a practice exam I sat on my couch for 6 hours before Leo got back to the city. It was miserable. I couldn’t even nap my headache was so bad. Finally the 2nd round of meds started to work and I could be mobile again. Around 8pm, Leo picked me up and we headed to Hill Country Fried Chicken. Holy moly it was good. We were both exhausted, so we spent the rest of the night in – watching various things on Netflix until I had to get to bed before my head exploded again.

Sunday I was determined to take my practice test since my headswelling had made it impossible the day before. My brain was feeling relatively clear, so Leo went off to hit golf balls in the sunshine and I headed to the office to take my exam. It didn’t turn out quite how I would have liked, but I really haven’t studied much lately. Exam retake is in weeks and then I’m done with that thing forever. I will put my head to the books for the next 13 days. The rest of Sunday I was moody and cranky and unfortunately Leo caught the brunt of it. I always act out and say things that aren’t great when I feel like crap. No good excuses for my behavior, hopefully I’ll be better today.

Basically my weekend sucked. It’s ok though – not every day is a good day and I know when I have bad days they will pass. I see my neurologist tomorrow, hopefully she’ll actually pay attention to what I’m saying, read my lengthy headache diary and come up with a solution that actually works. Otherwise I’m changing doctors.

What do you do when things are crappy?

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Filed under Anxiety, Headache, Movies, Recovery

Peaceful Friday

Finally have a moment to breathe a little bit. This week has been so busy. Headaches have been on and off but I’m a little more at peace with the fact that all I can do is take care of myself and if that doesn’t solve the headaches, that’s OK. I don’t have control over my body the way I used to think I did. This is just part of HP’s plan for me I suppose. All I can do is weather the storm and try to stay positive when the lightening strikes.

It helps a lot that I have a sponsor who meets with me weekly! Last night we read through chapter three together and went over my first step assignment. Next up: step two! I’m really enjoying my time together with ASL. It is really nice to be accountable to someone every single day. Sometimes I feel like a newcomer with all my assignments, but it keeps me plugged into my recovery every day, multiple times a day. We could have talked forever last night over delicious coconut water. I am very grateful to be working the steps regularly again! To have someone to speak to about my dreams and fears, to hear the solution in her responses.

It’s been raining most of the week here in Manhattan. Let’s hope this weekend gets nicer. Caron, her Hubs and I are going to see Bad Teacher tonight in Times Square – I hope it rocks.

My guest posters are working on their pieces, so look out for them later today and next week! Thank for everyone for your offers of service!

How has your week been?

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Filed under Headache, Recovery, Service

This is Incredibly Hard

Happy Tuesday! Life is busy as ever with me. My family reunion this past weekend was incredibly beautiful and relaxing and I was headache free on Saturday which was nice. I wish I could share some pictures with you but my camera is at home. Perhaps later this week!

Work has been busy, but in the good way. My headaches, on the other hand have completely devoured any sense of well being I once had. I am in pain most of the time and also frustrated with the lack of relief. I feel as if I’m doing everything possible to help myself and my health and it seems to be worse than it was just a few months ago. I know I’m not in charge of my own life, but it’s incredibly frustrating not to be. I know I need to have faith and to trust in all the processes I’m going through, but the pain makes it so hard to believe most days. Physical therapy, acupuncture, significant diet changes, off caffiene and nicotine, on medication and herbs, there just doesn’t seem to be an end to it.

Unfortunately headaches are not like a cold – they are very nuanced and can change and be caused by a zillion different things. I feel like a cripple though – I can’t wear contacts anymore, I can’t seem to do as much socially as I was before and studying for my next exam seems to be incredibly difficult to do after a long day of working on a computer under bright flourescent lights. All I want to do is curl up on my couch and try to zone out before going to bed early.

I hate being negative, I hate having problems and living in the problem. I am trying to live in the solution the best I can, it just doesn’t seem to be that simple in this case. It’s so hard to be positive when my brain feels like its swelling and full of gravel. I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve had more health issues in the past 2 years than all the years before that combined. It’s a signal – my body is telling me that something is very wrong, I guess I just wish I knew what that was. This is a practice in the third step…turning my will and my life over to the care of the God of my understanding. I’m experiencing a challenging situation and as with most situation like this I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel but with these headeaches, it’s really hard to see that light.

I miss writing about all the fun things that I do here in the city. Unfortunately I’m just not doing as much lately and/or I just don’t have the brain power to write about it…hope things start to clear up soon. I’ll keep praying.

Have you ever had a problem you can’t seem to fix?

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Filed under Anxiety, Headache

Time to Change Perspective

I have writer’s block today. Actually, I have life block. I simply don’t want to do anything. I definitely don’t even want to post…but I know it always makes me feel better when I do, so I will.

I have a headache, I have no appetite for salad, I am getting stressed about my upcoming exam, I only want to eat these raw macaroons:

My neck and shoulders and back are sore and stiff, I feel sleepy regardless of sleeping 10 hours last night, I didn’t go to a meeting last  night even though I told ASL that I would, I feel unaccomplished.

And even though I just complained A LOT, I’m OK. These macaroons are delicious and make me happy. I’ll probably have a salad for dinner. I will study tonight and still have about 10 days before my exam. I have physical therapy tonight to help with all the soreness/stiffness. I have two options for new meetings tonight on the UWS at 8:15pm or 8:30pm which will not interfere with bedtime. 

There is always a different way to look at the yuck in your life. There is always another perspective and a solution. Sometimes I still choose to live in the crap, but at least I know there is another way.

What crap can you turn into gold today?

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Filed under Anxiety, Food, Headache, Recovery

Life on Life’s Terms

SATC Life on Life’s Terms Update:

Relapsing addicts make me sad. I saw a friend/neighbor last night on my block who has been chronically relapsing for a long time now. I really hope he gets this thing soon. For me, it is an issue of willingness when someone doesn’t stay sober. You have to want it, you have to work for it, you have to be willing to go to any lengths. It’s not an issue of can vs. can’t. Everyone can get better if they are willing to, one day at a time. He knows that. He just has to want it. I will keep praying.

My one day old niece is 100% healthy and beautiful. I can’t wait to meet her on Saturday! Unsure of the baby anonymity at the moment, so pictures TBD.

Raw food diet is getting easier. For those of you who don’t know, I’m trying to go raw to detox my body to see if that helps with my chronic horrendous headaches. I had a raw organic vegan “soup” today from Organic Avenue via Norma Kamali. The soup itself was really good and much easier than eating a salad with no dressing. It was really filling though, so I left about a fourth of it in the fridge for later. Sorry I couldn’t turn this picture upright for some reason!

The only downside is when I turned the label over it said about 35 grams of fat. YIKES! But it’s the fat I don’t get from anything else I eat with this diet, so I suppose that isn’t awful for a days worth of fat. Only 350 calories. I also picked up a raw snack: Date Almonds Cherries Orange Zest via BluePrintCleanse. I have yet to try it.

Who knew I could get these delicious raw vegan snacks/meals/juices in my neighborhood? So thank you Caron for the awesome tip! I will be returning tomorrow to get some green juices!

Acupuncture last night was fantastic. I felt quite amazing during/after the treatment and H said it was working since I wasn’t as nervous and crazy as I was last week! Thank you, insurance company, for paying for all this. At the end of the session I got more tips on eating and combining food:

Tip #1 Pray before eating it makes the food less acidic. Mmmmm…I have forgotten to do this until now, but I will try it with the next thing I eat!

Tip #2 Never drink and eat at the same time. Check.

What’s new in your life today?


Filed under Food, Headache, healthy Living, Prayer, Recovery, Service

Time to Clear Out the Toxins

Gratitude week is coming to a close today as I will be out of town tomorrow, Friday, for my bestfriend’s wedding!  Last but not least: Today I am grateful for my own openmindedness and the knowledge/experience of others.

Caron has been raving to me about her strong belief in eastern medicine for the past year. She sees our friend H frequently for acupuncture and has suffered no chronic health issues since she started. Now that I have endured these headaches for months and months and western medicine has failed me one doctor at a time, I decided I was ready to go to any lengths.

Turns out making an appointment to see a friend in sobriety for acupuncture treatment wasn’t hard at all!  Last night after work I headed over to H’s office and we got started. I admit I was nervous, but because I know H personally I felt way more comfortable than maybe I would have with a stranger. We went over my medical history and my diet and she could tell just by looking at me that my head felt heavy, my eyes were tired. She explained to me all sorts of fun earthy ideas which I would botch if I tried to replay them for you here, but they made sense to me last night. It is very much about the balance of energy in the world and in our bodies. She pointed out my imbalances and said that basically my body has a lot of built up toxins, and that the headaches are most likely caused by excess phlegm (yum), which in turn causes the sinusitis and other issues.

She said this can all be cleared up with a simple, yet completely radical change in my diet. I have to flush all the toxins out of my body. It made perfect sense to me. Who knows what toxins are still in me from my using days! And to do this: Eat a Raw Foods Diet. Holy crap in a pita! I started to watch all my favorite foods being dropped off a cliff like anvils in Wiley Coyote cartoons. 

Lucky, H explained that my transition to raw foods would be a gradual change in my eating habits and by the summer I would be fully raw.

Then she went ahead and did all the fun acupuncture things with needles and such and let me tell you: it felt amazing. I got to lay in the dark with these tiny painless needles sticking out of me for 20 minutes, listening to the sound of waves, meditating by focusing on the path of my breath. So calming. When I woke up, the headache I walked in with was barely noticeable.

I called Leo to tell him the news of my new diet and he just laughed and said, “Well, watching you attempt this is going to be entertaining.” I am really nervous I won’t be able to do it, but I believe in H and I want to feel better, so I am willing to do it. And to put it in perspective, I gave up drugs and alcohol which I believed I couldn’t live without, so it shouldn’t be hard to give up…all things white, bread, sugar, chicken, cheese, basically 98% of what I currently eat today. Raw veggies and nuts here I come!

To say goodbye to all foods that scream Clarissa, I had a BBQ Chicken Pizza for dinner after my session. Sorry, H, I had to go out with a bang. My task for the next week: eliminate bread and all things bread-like (basically gluten-free), replace one meal with raw veggies and one with raw fruit and do what I please for dinner.

Have you ever gone raw?


Filed under Food, Fun, Gluten Free, Headache, healthy Living, Recovery

Answers, Answers and No Answers?

Hey kids, it’s Friday! That means it’s almost the weekend and you are looking for advice as to what you should do that’s fun and what will help you stay sober. I am going to a sober bachelorette party which will be fantastic and a good meeting called Straight 12! The rest of the weekend I will be studying with Leo. Sorry I don’t have much else to tell you. Oh wait there’s going to be a cool flea market in Hell’s Kitchen this weekend so check it out!

For those of you who don’t feel like reading about my headache drama anymore, you can stop here and check back in next week for some fun insights. I still love you so here’s a nice parting gift:

For those of you who are interested to hear the outcome of yesterday, read onnnnn!

I’ll give you the punchline first: I have Chronic Sinusitis and may need Balloon Sinuplasty (aka surgery)

My rheumatologist looked at my CTScan first (since she works at the same hospital as my ENT) and told me I had a cyst in my sinus cavity but that it probably wasn’t the cause of my headaches. So of course when I got to the office I started googling sinus cysts and every website I read was describing my symptoms. Sometimes I wonder if googling health issues is like reading horoscopes – a horoscope is going to resonate with everyone on some level no matter what it says.

Then I had to wait until I saw my ENT in the afternoon, so that’s what I did. At 2:30 I skipped over to my ENT’s office to find out my fate. She decongested me with these huge Q-Tips and I sat there with chopsticks sticking out of my nose for 10 minutes. When the nurse came in to put supplies in the room I swore I saw her snicker. Finally the doctor came in to tell me the CTscan showed that my sinus cavities are extremely narrow and that the pressure is the cause of my headaches. She went all medical on me and then basically said I have Chronic Sinusitis and that I would benefit from having balloon surgery. SURGERY???

What the eff????!?!

Ok, I’m calmer now. It’s minimally invasive surgery and I could even have it done in her office while remaining awake. Um, no thanks. If you’re going to break bones in my face I’d rather be asleep for that. It sounds incredibly painful, though she claims I’d have 3.5 on a pain scale of 1 to 10. The other option is to do it in a hospital with a tube down my throat. Either way, I can be back at work the next day with no problem.

So last night I was weighing my options, thinking about getting a second opinion and/or jumping off the


Hi! Kidding!

After sleeping on it and getting some advice from a family nurse practioner, I think I will try to get a second opinion. I also may see my eye  doctor, get a neurologist involved, etc. Basically I am not convinced that the sinuses are causing my headaches and although I could take the easy way out … I’ll probably try to seek more advice. In other news…I am officially done with Enbrel now. I can have my immune system back! It better not attack me anytime soon…

What would YOU do?


Filed under Anxiety, Fun, Headache, healthy Living

Ask For Help When You Need It

Oh my goodness, where has all the fun gone? Don’t worry, it’s not gone for good. It’s just gone until my life gets back to a healthy state and I can think straight! So why don’t we chat recovery for a bit? Today I have two doctor appointments so I’m going to discuss how recovery has taught me how to ask for help.

I never asked for help with anything before recovery. For as long as I can remember I did everything myself. When I was a child I did my own homework, picked out my own clothes for school and I made my own lunch. The only things I couldn’t do was buy things and drive myself places. My parents were happy to help with those things of course. I was so independent. Too independent. My psychiatrist in college told me my independence was a huge detriment and that I used it to actively push people away. I wish I could remember the term she used. 

The only reason I went to a psychiatrist was because my team doctor wouldn’t clear me for athletic participation if I wasn’t seeing a therapist. My parents and coach knew I had major depressive disorder, but that was all they knew. So I reluctantly went to therapy where I proceeded to lie my ass off. Every week. I couldn’t even ask for help in an environment where I was supposed to be getting help!

Mostly I had simply resigned myself to the fact that I was depressed and that I would always be depressed. I didn’t believe anyone could help me, especially not some crazy quack doctor who compared my substance abuse issues to her love for chocolate. Seriously? I would go high to sessions and she had no idea. That woman was so dumb I told her she lost her mind, and she started looking for it. Come on, don’t tell me you forgot about Yo Mama jokes…Ok, ok, she wasn’t all bad – that’s just my resentment talking. Afterall I should be grateful – she was the one who suggested I go to my first NA meeting and where I learned that I have the disease of addiction.

Today my problems are less severe than active addiction – headaches and swollen joints – but unfortunately AA can’t directly help me with those problems. These are problems only a doctor is qualified to solve. However, I would never have thought to go to a doctor if it wasn’t for AA. First of all, I probably wouldn’t even have noticeable headaches with all the pain pills I was popping.  But more importantly, I would not value myself enough to seek help. Being in recovery has taught me that if something hurts, I do something about it because I’m worth it. 

In active addiction/alcoholism most of us would just ignore medical issues. Many people I know in recovery figure out they have serious dental issues years into recovery because they just weren’t responsible about yearly visits when they were using/drinking.

We ignored even the most obvious health issues too. Oh, this? All this blood streaming out of my nose? Don’t worry about it – I’m sure it’ll stop… some day. Your disease wants to you stay sick and miserable, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.

Case-in-Point (warning: this gets gorey): One night in college I was cleaning out my bathroom because I was subletting it for the semester while I studied in the UK. I was very high on that stuff and the bathroom door was shut while I disinfected everything with all sorts of chemically cleaning supplies. I was light-headed but determined to see myself in the tile floor. I must have been in there with no air flow for an hour or so.

After scrubbing the floor I went to deal with my trash can. I lived in the basement of this house and my roommates only came down to do laundry so for the most part I had the whole floor to myself. I was embarrassed at the amount of beer and wine I had been drinking so I hid all the recycling in my bathroom instead of adding to the community bin in the kitchen upstairs (I learned later that this is typical behavior for an alcoholic). For some reason I decided to be a good citizen and separate out the aluminum cans from the trash. I grabbed a Bud Light can (I was classy like that) out of the trash but I accidentally jammed my right ring finger into the lip of the can and the metal tore through my finger tip with vengeance. Blood started gushing everywhere. I wrapped it in huge wads of toilet paper but it just kept bleeding. I went through three full rolls of TP. Finally I took a bath towel and wrapped it up and held my hand above my head. The blood was still streaming. Where were all the vampires?? I knew I should get to the hospital but I was so scared/paranoid someone would find out about my drug use. I sat up in my bed with my hand up in the air wrapped in the bloody towel until I passed out. When I woke up my finger had stopped bleeding. I cleaned it and put a huge bandage on it. It took years for the scar on my finger to heal.

Now what person in their right mind wouldn’t have gone to a hospital? Or at least called a friend or a parent for assistance?  I probably needed stitches! But I refused to ask for help.

Today, I know how to ask for help. When something hurts, I pay attention. I don’t ignore the pain just hoping it will go away. I take action. I wish I could do that more often in other aspects of my life, but hey – it’s progress not perfection right?

Is it easy for you to ask for help?


Filed under Beverages, Headache, healthy Living, Recovery