Weekend Learning's

Monday, 28 September 2015
Ahem, super messy hair!

Hey hey heeey! Another weekend has come and gone. They really do go quick, especially when you are a busy body like me. Smirk. Let me just say; Hello Autumn, I have not seen you in a long time. Since I skipped my last South African Autumn when I came over here I am really looking forward to the above quote. Some browns, reds and yellows in the beautiful parks here must be magical. I haven’t had an English Autumn since 1996, woa! This is what I learned;

  • “Let us read and let us dance, these two amusements will never do the world any harm.” - Voltaire
  • I have always been interested in the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. I cannot tell you where I heard about it. Ever since my discovery of this lunar worshipping festival I became desperate to visit one and come on, don’t you love the idea of eating something called a mooncake? It was a lot of fun. I ate a mooncake! They are very unusual… I took the leap and bought the traditional ones made with either lotus seeds or red bean paste with a salted duck yolk in the middle… I know odd. But they are weirdly delicious. I ated them. In fact I saved one for today and I cannot stop eating it, I cannot do the egg in the middle its too weird (sorry!) Thanks London China Town, I had a blast ^_^
  • Abracadabrais actually the Aramaic (before Hebrew) phrase “Avra Khdabra” which means literally “I will create as I speak”. Fascinating! 
  • You aren’t rich until you have something money can’t buy… 
  • I love sitting at the front of the bus at the top. It is like riding a kids ride at Disney Land! It is a little scary how close the bus driver gets to things and sitting at the top makes it look like crash time is seconds away! Eeeee! Also in Autumn, for me it is quite cold already, so sitting in the sun spot there in the front alone (the Brits are way too lazy to go up there for a couple stops) is my ultimate… on Saturday and I must admit on Sunday too, I missed my stops and sat up there till the bus terminated. The simple joys! I just sat there, looking at the sights in the sun, snug as a bug in a er… bus. 
  • "Your absence has gone through me. Like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its colour.” W.S. Merwin, “Separation”.
  • “When you are washing the dishes, washing the dishes must be the most important thing in your life. Just as when you are drinking tea, drinking tea must be the most important thing in your life… live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

Go out and live that life tiny trees! Have a great week.


PS. Twinkle, twinkle little bat… 


10 Things Never to Say To a Migraine Sufferer

Friday, 25 September 2015

I am a migraine sufferer. This is true. And I get a lot of them. If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is people who have no idea what I go through, telling me what to do, how to treat it or how I should just deal with it. Migraine sufferers are you with me? So I read this article about things you should not ask a Migraine sufferer. It was quite amusing. I decided to write something similar. I especially find it fascinating when people, who do not get migraines, and are not doctors tell me exactly how to treat my problem. My favourite to date; my friends mother told me that I should wrap my head in raw potatoes and put my feet in ice water… ya excellent. 
So here are my top 10 things never to say to a migraine sufferer;

Oh I had a Migraine once. (but I changed A,B and C and I don’t get them anymore)
No you didn’t. Migraine’s are recognised as a disease in the U.S. It is a neurological disease and attacks can last for 72 hours  - it is a hereditary thing, if you got one, it is likely you will get another in your life (sorry) and yes I understand that perhaps you had a really bad headache once but a migraine and a headache are not the same. In the U.S. 80% of people get tension headaches and only 12% get migraines and 2% are chronic migraine suffers!

I read something about a cure? (You should do Botox.)
I think its lovely when people try to help me, the chances that there is a miraculous cure after all this time… are rare. Let us get to the Botox, of course I have spoken to my doctor about this, do you think I enjoy my suffering? Here are the facts; Botox takes a minimum of three months before you see full results (that is three months of injections into your neck, forehead and temples) and then you have to maintain it, so every month at £349.40 (that is the injection and the service at the lowest price I could find, and NHS does not always pay for it), for the rest of my life? That is IF its a success, not all patients respond positively to the treatment. There are mixed reviews on results, I have read about people who are on similar medication as me who have tried botox and had two weeks worth of solid migraines… No thanks. I get that it will work for some, and I am so happy for them but I will not try something so extreme till I know for sure it is safe and there are no long term side effects. 

Do some exercise
When I have a migraine, light, sound and smell raises the bar of my migraines. The day before a migraine, my sense of smell is on super alert! Anyone who has skipped a shower or who is wearing a funky scent… stay away! Once my vision starts to fuzz and it gets to a certain point, I might as well go and lie next to the toilet because I am going to be violently ill… for a very long time… and then once I have sat there I probably will not be able to get up… so no exercise is not a good idea when I am having an attack. Exercise can also be a trigger for some sufferers! Every migraine sufferer has unique triggers.

I wish I could sleep in all day like you do
Trust me, wasting my life away in bed because I have another migraine is really not the way I want to spend my life. This is quite a sore topic. The amount of my past I look back on and recall myself hiding in my room trying to overcome the agony, I wish I could get those days back. 

Drink some coffee.
Not only is coffee a (more common than not) trigger for some migraine sufferers, drinking something hot with caffeine would catapult a migraine into a stage four clinger… Caffeine, is added to some pain medication for headaches to open the blood capillaries in the brain, a migraine needs a different fix.

You still get migraines?
Yup. And I will for the rest of my life. It is about managing the problem as best I can, and helping people accept me. Maybe one day there will be a solution. I feel like The Migraine Diet and a routine seems to help a lot but I still get them, I always will. 

Why don’t you try A, B C?
Hello? I am 30 years old. I have tried everything! Should I start from the beginning? I have been to neurologists, as they once thought it was a tumour, I was 14, this was scary. I have been to a Naturopath when I was placed on a strict diet and literally carried around a bag of herbal lotions, potions and pills to take all day – this did not work at ALL. I have been for monthly sessions of acupuncture, trigger therapy, massage therapy where they clicked my spine and neck and strapped me up with tape. I have done yoga, gone to the gym, run, skipped, swam and done nothing for days! Been a vegetarian, been a vegan, done the blood type diet, partied my butt off to see if it actually did make a difference… migraine punishment. I have done the nose spray, the wafer the injection, worn the pressure bracelet and done the cold pack and the neck brace… trust me… I have done the lot.

I have an (insert OTC headache pills) in my bag if you need?
Thank you, you have no idea how sweet this is. If only it was this simple and two Myprodol would fix me in one go. Alas… I am on daily preventative medication and the pills I take for migraines are so intense they basically give me a hangover. They are brutal, the side effects are extreme but they are the only medication I have found that works that does not induce more migraines (this is actually a thing, if a migraine sufferer takes the wrong medication they are likely to have a recurring migraine, this is called a Medication Induced Migraine, see here).

But I thought you had a migraine yesterday/the other day?
Pain is only one part of a migraine sufferers life. A "migraine attack” can differ from patient to patient. For me, on occasion, I can feel one coming. I have to be very careful and tentative to my body’s needs. There are signs I have noticed, now I look out for them. If I am lucky it might go away, if not, I take my medication as soon as that needle sharp pain starts and the following day I have the migraine fog. It is a combination of the migraine hangover and the medication. It feels like I have flu, a cold achy body, all smells are heightened and I am drowsy and quite out of it. I will go to work (because I have to) but I cannot be with a crowd or in a loud space, it is hard. This is a three day affair, the medication makes me really irritable and my fuse really short and all my emotions are heightened - its a strange place to be as people often think I am being rude or unaccommodating. The truth is I am trying to deal with an illness that is quite hard to cope with. 

Its because you’re a woman… 
So… if you are a man and you have a migraine, what does that mean for your manhood? Men get migraines, children (of both sexes) get migraines too! Migraines are a genetic disease. The differences between our hormones can trigger Migraines in those people with the genetic capacity for the disease – in both men and women. Unfortunately for us ladies, our reproductive hormones are designed to fluctuate (yay.), and lucky for men their hormones are meant to remain more stable. Hormones are only a small part of the Migraine picture though, and only one of thousands of potential triggers. Next time, consider asking the Migraineur about their particular triggers instead. 

At the ripe old age of 30 with an average of 8 migraines a month on a good month, I’m pretty pleased with myself. Of course I have a bad week and sometimes I have a good week and sometimes I want to eat or live without a care in the world, I just need to make sure I am prepared and the people around me understand and more importantly support me and what I am about to go though. 


PS. We are people too 

Weekend Learning's

Tuesday, 22 September 2015
Illustration; Bri Emery

Gosh. I have not done a Weekend Learning’s for so long. Where to start? At the beginning. This is what I learned;

  • I live in a semi-detached, ground-floor, newly refurbished (so new it was finished two weeks after I moved in) house. It is complicated! I am still learning her ways. It reminds me of this quote to one of my favourite movies, Under The Tuscan Sun.
    "Pick one room and make it yours. Go slowly through the house. Be polite, introduce yourself so it can introduce itself to you." - Frances Mayer.
  • Maybe I hope too much, maybe I dream too much, but at least I won’t give up until I’ve tried, and I won’t regret anything.
  • Did you know that all the swans in London are owned by the Queen? Well since back in the day they are a protected species so the Royals look after them. I like it. Hurt them and get fined! Wish South Africa would do this for the Rhino’s. 
  • “The best smell in the world is that man that you love.” - Jennifer Aniston. Oh how I miss the little things the most.
  • I live in London. Just incase you forgot! Which means sometimes I will catch a bus somewhere and go past Marble Arch or Selfridges or Big Ben or any of these amazing landmarks! This weekend, the bus I caught took me past Harrods. Their window dressing is out of this world. Every time I realise I am about to go past there I get excited, open my eyes a little wider to see a little more (like a little kid) and gawk with my mouth open at the incredible display of the Harrods windows. This particular weekend I think I heard myself gasp out loud - they are magical! 
  • “It takes both sides to build a bridge.” - Fredrik Nael
  • My little sister is getting married! Yay! So I spend a lot of time looking into wedding stuff, did you know there is a bouquet glossary? Like a Pompander, is a flower covered ball tied with a ribbon for a flower girl? And a Nosegay is a compact cluster of flowers wrapped tightly and cut to one uniform length? And that is only two of them… I know
  • I recently started a migraine eating plan to try and figure out what foods are triggering my migraines. I am a chronic sufferer. This means if I am not medicated, I can get 15 migraines a month… debilitating. So I am basically a vegan at the moment who cannot eat some select fruits and veg and nuts to add to it. But I feel great! Can you believe? I did have one migraine last week though… one is better than four… I’ll keep you updated.

Hope you have a Harrods window kind of week!


PS. Be grateful. Eat more vegetables. Love others. 

So many friends I thought would build haven't,
Friends I thought wouldn't have surprised me,
thank you.

London Diaries

Thursday, 17 September 2015
How I felt... a lot.

Six months in London. What can I say? 

Well I can say that last month I was so convinced it was six months I tried to convince myself and my boyfriend it was until I actually said to him… “So I got here in March, so one month, twoooo, three, four… five… Oh...” It felt like six. It has felt like forever. But it has also felt like I left yesterday. It feels like yesterday I was trying to fit my life into 23kg’s of bag. Yes that’s all I could bring. It also felt like yesterday where I lived happily on my own and drove a car and NEVER took public transport for fear of death. 

It also feels like yesterday that I had my first night in London. I got lost on my way home. In the dark. No GPS. Naturally I feared getting stabbed or mugged (The South Africa Hangover I like to think of it as)… till I saw a girl, alone, sauntering down (what I thought) was a dark alley, iPod, cell phone and headphones blaring looking at me like I was insane… or escaped from Africa… which I kind of did… Now I walk home at night with not a care in the world. Can you imagine? I have to admit, living in a safe, first world country, swinging from train to sidewalk like a wisp in the night is a wonderful thing. 

I always dreamt of living in London, since I was a little girl. There is an electricity in this place that no other city spills. The old and the new. The creativity. The architecture that is juxtaposed by the nature, I love it! You can never be bored! OH a hedgehog! 
There are always a hundred things to do at any single moment. There are these sites and magazines which come out and tell you what you can explore, not monthly, not weekly, daily! And each one is different. You can walk down the street and find an artist selling his soul all for a penny and a pound. 

My favourite singer in Oxford Circus (I work here!! Wow hey?) is a man who sits with his legs crossed on the street and sings the same haunting song into an orange street cone which he rests on the sidewalk in front of him. What rubbish!? You say? His song is strangely melodic and he is very dirty and his song is very pure and I can hear him from five blocks away and the sound soothes my soul. I love his consistently, I love his brand! I truly will hang around him listening to his mad echo because compared to all the guitars and soapboxes littering London, this street cone songster, stole my heart. And this my darlings, is London. To be continued…


PS. “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” - Samuel Johnson.

I am yet to see a fox, have heard one... scary.

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