Saturday, March 17, 2012

Terms of Endearment


One of the great things about living in this town, is there's no shortage of gorgeous places to go for a run. Plus you can't beat the weather (it's actually raining as I write this - but that's the exception that proves the rule).

One of my favourite runs takes in the ocean, a bird reserve, a zoo, a world famous hotel and many multi-million dollar properties. You also run past a graveyard on a hill, which is excellent motivation if you're feeling a little winded.

There I was the other Saturday, shuffling along at my half marathon pace, enjoying the March flowers, the pelicans flying directly overhead, the high tide splashing surf on to the pavement when suddenly my foot catches on some uneven brickwork and I go flying. Right in front of the swankiest hotel in town. Now, I don't reckon I was moving that fast - I'd already run 4.5 miles so I can't have been booking it, but even so, I do recollect thinking 'oh shit' as I travelled horizontally along the pavement for a good 10 metres. Fortunately I broke the fall with my knees, shoulder and chin.

It being 10am on a particularly gorgeous Saturday there were no shortage of LA types going for a pre-breakfast beach stroll. I was immediately surrounded by cheerful helpers. A very swanky bottle of Four Seasons spa water was proffered, as were multiple bandages, and antiseptic wipes. My breathing had gone all shallow and swoonish, so I sat on the deathtrap ornamental brickwork and dabbed at the blood pouring from my knees. 

One of the older ladies clucking attentively round me asked if I wanted to go into the lobby and sit. When I raised my face to say, no, that I thought I was more or less fine, she said "oh honey, your face".

Apparently I'd broken the fall with my face, and I had blood pouring from my nose and chin. 

Realizing what a tremendous faux pas it was to look dishevelled in this part of Montecito I  shuffled off in horror and dashed off a quick text to LK.

"Just tripped and went flying in front of the Four Seasons. Bruised, bloodied and shaken, face a wreck, but OK. Think I can make it home"

I got a reply moments later:

"I think you look pretty"

WTF? Apparently it was up to me to drag my carcass back to the car.

When I finally hobbled up to the house half an hour later LK greeted me at the door. Took one look at me and went "Jesus, what the hell happened to you?"

Anna had been playing with his iphone and Anna had sent me the text.

I should have known my husband of 15 years would never text "I think you look pretty".

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How America and Migraines Are The Same

As any Expat knows, there comes a time when you have to embrace your new life for what it is. Yes, your heart may long for better chocolate, bread, or television, but this is the new normal and you'd better just get on with it - but more than that, make the best of it.

Don't ask me to eat Hershey's though.

The same is true with migraines. I was really ill last year. I don't think I realized how sick I was until I started feeling a tiny bit better. I was having serious migraines at least three times a week, my blood pressure was high and I was stressed out of my gourd. My parents noticed via Skype. Good friends pulled me aside and asked what the fuck was going on, or kindly told me I was 'looking a bit tired'. The reasons for this were all out of my control; hormones, stress over our house, our future and Anna's school. What I had to learn to do was accept things, move on and become a migraine immigrant. I had to embrace my new normal.

Yes, I've had to give a few things up, notably wine *sigh* - but I've learned to add things to my life that make a positive impact. Don't focus on what you can no longer do - concentrate on what can make things better. Being an Expat has been great training for this.

I've found a migraine medicine that works if I catch things early enough. I've learned to 'read' my migraines, recognize dangerous times and try to take myself out of situations that will make things worse. I can't change the stressors in my life. Most of them come from trying to carve out a life in a financially hostile town. What I can do is manage the stress. I've started taking vitamin B, and most importantly I've started running.

I run three times a week and I'm really noticing a difference. If someone told you that you could pay $100 and in 4 months you would be fitter, happier, leaner and - most amazingly - your arse would climb 2 inches further up your legs - wouldn't you do it? I signed up for a half marathon and I've been running at least 10-15 miles a week for the last three months.

Now this hasn't happened like magic. Fitting running in to a schedule where I was having trouble finding the time to cut my toenails wasn't easy. I run around our ghetto neighbourhood at 8:30pm at night if I have to. Incidentally - running faster than the cholos is a great motivator. Not every run is a joy, but the combination of the exercise, being by myself, listening to loud music that I choose - these have all proved to be wonderful for my health.

I've only lost about 5 lbs. I've dropped at least one dress size. I have a reshaped derriere. But most importantly I'm down to about 4-6 migraines a month. Not great, but so, so much better that I feel almost human again.