Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Vestibular Migraine is the Devil

S.R. Karfelt, Author, Vestibular Migraine, Migraine Variants
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Migraines changed me. It was for the worst in some ways, but for the better in others. My Any Day without a Migraine is a Good Day motto was born. They make me take risks I once wouldn’t have taken. They’ve made me both tougher and fiercer, and if I could stab the bastards to death in a dark alley, I’d do it with a glee unmatched by any murderer that’s ever existed.

Vestibular Migraine is a bitch to have diagnosed. I get dizzy can accompany many problems. Once a doctor asked if I got dizzy opening a drawer, from movement in my peripheral vision, in brightly lit supermarkets or crowds, unintentionally veered to the right or left when walking, or from moving my head. I said, "YES! All of those." He frowned at me and told me that those are different types of dizziness and if I could tell him which one was my problem, then he could help me. 

But it was all of those and more.

  • Usually I dream I'm running/flying/jumping and I can really feel it, in an out of control this isn't fun anymore way. Then I wake up and the world is spinning. The bulk of all my vestibular migraines start when I'm sleeping.
  • At their worst I'm spinning. No. The rest of the world is spinning. No. We both are. Either way, it's not something you can ignore.
  • Occasionally I start spinning in the middle of any given day. After fifteen years of this I can say with confidence it has little to do with my stress level.
  • If my head were to fill with water, and my brain set afloat inside, it feels like that. Sometimes I'm spinning fast, sometimes I'm bobbing.
  • If I keep my head straight, and don't move it at all, it helps.
  • Usually they last the greater part of a day. Once I get one, there are more on the horizon.
  • Nothing gets done during an event. Not moving my head is paramount. 
  • If I've had several of them, there's a residual slightly off-balance aftereffect that can last days or weeks.

Since meds make everything worse (in my personal experience). I've learned through trial and error to avoid them. 

  • Wellbutrin gave me tachycardia. Antidepressants made me depressed. These meds were given to me during the early years. I was desperate enough to try anything, and when MRIs and scans came back normal, I think I got lumped into that give her something pile.
  • Beta blockers (low dose) increased my blood pressure (doubled my blood pressure randomly), so much so that I was misdiagnosed with Pheochromocytoma. (Beta blockers are sometimes given as a migraine preventative. I have chronic trouble with meds. This might work for other people.)
  • Diazepam is actually the best help I've had, pharmaceutically speaking. It has to be taken daily, very very low dose. It's a fine balancing act though, too much and you spin. 
  • Physical Therapy is best done between episodes of vertigo. It helps you learn to spot, and how to cope. 

How to get diagnosed?

  • It's a slow painstaking process of elimination. 
  • First off learn coping skills right off, because this isn't something you can suck up and move through. When vertigo hits, you're down.
  • This is something I've had for fifteen years. That's how I got my diagnosis. I've had no other health issues in all that time. BINGO. Must just be a migraine variant. 
  • Keep track of what happens when, write the facts down. Show the written facts to your doctor. Try your very best to tell the doctor what is happening physically. 
  • You're probably going to have to go through a huge battery of testing on the off chance it is something else. 
  • Eliminate caffeine/dark chocolate/alcohol (most especially RED WINE). These are considered migraine triggers. I've found that to be fact when I'm having a bout of them. I can consume all of the above with wild abandon and have no problems when I'm not. The hell of it is, you never know. IMHO nothing is worth a vestibular migraine. 
  • Eat healthy. Exercise. The more fit you are, the less migraine you're likely to have.

How to cope without losing your will to live.

  • The vertigo will stop. Know that.
  • I go to bed with an electric blanket. When it's really bad the spinning makes me anxious (which I happen to think is perfectly natural. I challenge anyone else to spend a day spinning and not get anxious). When I get that nervous, I have cold flashes.
  • Spotting helps me. I like to use a light switch (the plate around it precisely). Look at it, stare at it, focus on it. Don't move your head around.
  • Breathe. Deep breathing in through your nose until you fill your lungs completely, and slow breaths out help me.
  • Talk to yourself, or a calm friend that understands if you're panicking. 
  • I'm one of the lucky ones. As a writer, even at my worst spinning, I can escape into my head and plot through stories. If I wasn't a writer, I'd keep books on tape handy. There can be no computer or television when all visual input is spinning.
  • When the spinning slows, and you can, check the barometric pressure on the weather app on your phone. I find that when I get this problem the pressure is usually high.
  • A thought that helps me is that many creative people are migraine sufferers. I wouldn't change this if it meant giving up my ability to write. Just don't ask me that when I'm in the middle of spinning, because I'm not rational at that point. I'd eat live chickens feathers and all to make it stop then.

The way these migraines have changed me for the worst.

  • When I read anything containing health-related advice, I run it through my mental BS detector. It's a huge detector. It's worse than anything the TSA can throw at you. What works for other people might not work for me, and I'm not very cooperative about trying anything new that I can't trust heart and soul. Maybe I should put this in the best column.
  • When doctors give me advice, I do the same thing as above. 
  • When doctors attempt to give me meds, I approach it as though they're knowingly trying to poison me.
  • When I'm having a spinning episode and anyone tries to talk me into doing that BPPV rollover backward treatment (for people with loose crystals in their ears), I'm tempted to tear their feathers off with my teeth. BPPV is a different type of vertigo. Rolling over backward in the middle of a vestibular migraine is akin to tossing me out of a military craft over the Pacific in a hurricane with no chute, OR jamming dynamite into my ears. Just don't even say it. 
  • I alternately go between wildly healthy over-the-top eating organic vegan, no-sugar, no-caffeine, no-alcohol, no processed foods AND bingeing on cake and spare ribs. My internal organs are either in a state of blissful health or WTF. My clothes and size reflect where I am in my current state of eating-lunacy.
  • Time. I'm always racing the clock/barometric pressure. I want to get books written. I want to hike and do yoga. I want to kiss my husband in a way that chases my kids out the doors never to return. I want to travel and have adventures. But I've got this ticking time bomb in my head that swallows huge swathes of my time. I'm always fighting this and trying not to be a total dick to people and things that waste my time, like paperwork and those people who take life slow and easy. I alternately want to be those people or hulk smash them.

How these migraines have changed me for the better.

  • Every day without a migraine is a good day.
  • I appreciate every moment.
  • Normally I give everyone the benefit of a doubt. I'm not going to waste time being suspicious. If it turns out that I'm being taken advantage of, please see the hulk smash comment above. Maybe this should be in the worst column.
  • Sweating the small stuff is not my thing.
  • I don't waste time gossiping or lying.
  • I will be honest with you. It saves time. 
  • I don't play games. If I blunder into the middle of someone's game-playing life, there's a good chance I'll Jenga yank something important out and wreck the whole damn thing. This is good because game-players don't invite me to their party twice.
  • Sometimes the most I can do is plot out a novel without moving my head. There is no story shortage here.
  • As a life-long chicken-shit I find myself taking risks and going on adventures. I'll try the open cockpit airplane, eat anything tossed on my plate in any freaky foreign country, or drink the iced coffee from the random taxi driver in Athens (even though the whole thing looks like a scene in Taken). It's not that I have a death wish, it's just the opposite—I have a life wish. It's only a wee little bit the fact that the worst consequences from anything (which probably won't happen) aren't going to be me stuck spinning somewhere unable to move. So I don't worry about it.

As always, please run any advice gleaned here in The Glitter Globe through your
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe
personal BS detector—or your physician if you have (or think you might have) vestibular migraine. In the past fifteen years I've only met one other person who has them. Hopefully that means they're rare. If you do endure any type of migraine, please leave me a comment below and tell me what has helped you. Also, if you have migraine and are a creative, please tell me that too. I'm beginning to wonder if the two go hand in hand.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Snorkeling the Aegean

S.R. Karfelt, Swimming, Aegean, Kula, Snorkeling, Alonissos
S. R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Last year someone snapped a mask over my face,
and shoved my head under the salty water.
This year I signed up for a lesson,
that combined snorkeling with scuba diving.
My knuckles got skinned,
putting on the wetsuit.
Fat leg hot yoga hell,
let us never speak of it again.
The boat whipped across the water,
tossed me inside to return in an hour.
Or so.
I think this is how I learned to swim,
You can’t drown in a wetsuit they yelled,
underestimating me as people do.
So I swam to shore to fix my gear,
and landed on a nude beach.
Trying to walk in fins,
before I knew to walk backward in them.
I was overdressed,
but learned why people wear clothes.
A small earthquake hit,
not so small underwater.
I never noticed on shore,
and spent the day swimming with the fishes.
Not once peeing in the wetsuit,
lordy did I want to.
The thought of taking it off,
helped me hold it.
All. Day. Long.
Snorkeling in caves,
was dark and grassy.
Light and clear water,
is more my thing.
I think I saw,
Nemo and Dory’s love child.
And a plastic bottle,
that made me sad.
A scuba diver brought it up.
Later I took off my wetsuit,
boldly in the port,
next to the ferry and tourists.
Afterward I went to sea,
every day for a month.
Resenting time spent away,
even writing with my kula.
Searching for shipwrecks and ruins,
and salting my own.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Eighteen Facts Women Under Thirty Desperately Need to Learn

Karfelt website, S.R. Karfelt author, Karfelt writer
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

  1. Getting older is not the worst thing that will happen to you.
  2. You will probably be far more comfortable with your body at forty than at twenty-two.
  3. Sex is way more fun at forty than at twenty-two. Go figure.
  4. You don’t get to be in your twenties for even a nanosecond longer than any of the women older than you were. Age is fluid, so don't build your lifestyle entirely on quicksand.
  5. Time isn’t your friend or enemy. Roll with it or fight it, it is yours to use or waste as you wish.
  6. When you’re around Senior Citizens, and they’re watching you too intently (maybe you’re dancing, maybe you’ve just walked into the room), the great bulk of them aren’t admiring you—they’re looking into their own past and seeing what was—so keep your hair on. It’s not always about you.
  7. When you get embarrassed in public—maybe your kid is acting up, or you fall off your heels—know that the bulk of those older women looking in your direction are probably shooting you looks of solidarity. We’ve all been there and we’re not too proud to admit it.
  8. Life will knock the pride out of you—or make you miserable. Your call.
  9. Every time you think you have everything figured out, your life will undergo major plot twists. Learn to go with the flow.
  10. You are more than your looks.
  11. You are more than your age.
  12. Any time you spend envying another woman’s looks, life, or money is your youth wasted.
  13. You don’t need the most or the best to be wildly happy.
  14. Would you give credence to what someone ten or twenty years younger than you would think about your choice of clothing? Me neither.
  15. If you knew how rarely other people talk about/think about you, you’d be disappointed. So don’t worry about it. Live YOUR life for YOU.
  16. Desperate bids for attention—from men or the internet—might mean you’re unhappy. Neither men nor the internet can fix that. But you can.
  17. Nobody judges you as harshly as you do. Stop it.
  18. Be more than your looks. Be more than your age. Life is heartbreakingly fleeting. Take time to find out who you really are and BE her.
Recently a blog went around with tips on what women over thirty should or shouldn't do. It made the rounds online, causing annoyance and inspiring blogs in rebuttal. Although I thought it was silly, and obviously meant as click bait and to inflame—it did inspire me to write this one. I'm not into putting women into pigeonholes as young or old, or pitting us against each other. We're all part of the sisterhood.

The above are eighteen facts I think young women need to learn, but you don't have to believe me. You can learn them the hard way if you prefer. Your call. 

Ladies, and gentlemen, did I leave anything out?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Feeling Lucky B*tches?

Bitch Witch, S.R. Karfelt,
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Enter to win one of FIVE signed paperbacks!

With matching BOOKMARKS

We're celebrating the summer of the Bitch Witch.


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          Bitch Witch

          by S.R. Karfelt

            Giveaway ends June 30, 2016.
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ancient Pompeii and God Bless the 21st Century

Rome, Greece, Pompeii, Travel, S.R. Karfelt
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Have you ever looked at the past and thought it'd have been to cool to live then? First glance makes it seem like a simpler time, quieter, and cleaner. You could lounge around eating grapes in your long flowing gown. Reality says, oh, hail no.

Just before going to Rome and Pompeii, I'd spent time in Greece, a country where cats roam freely. They roam the city, climb walls, sit on balconies, cars, and scooters. They get in your hotel room if you don't shut the window. There were cats sleeping, fighting, eating, and making love—gangs of them at that, often on my balcony at night. By the time I left Greece I decided if that was a sampling of cats in the wild, I didn't like cats after all.

Later it occurred to me that Greek cats weren't a sampling of cats in nature. It was a sampling of cats struggling to survive at all costs. THAT is what life was like in Ancient Pompeii. Some people were pampered and loved with their grapes and flowing clothing, but a whole lot of them were struggling to survive and downright feral.

It wasn't pretty.

I'm definitely all about the 21st Century. I'm right where I want to be, and nothing made that clearer than a day spent in the ruins of Ancient Pompeii. And my take has nothing at all to do with the volcanic ending.
  • Streets doubled as sewers
  • Pottery doubled as toiletry
  • People doubled as slaves
  • Slaves doubled as livestock and commodities
  • Livestock doubled as a hookup in a pinch
As I said, it wasn't always pretty.

It was off season when I got to Pompeii, but still crowded. I hired a guide because I wanted to know what I was looking at. In some ways that slowed me down. When I go back, I'll just use a guidebook. The problem with a guided tour was trying to maneuver with fifty other people and a guide through narrow streets and buildings crowded with thousands of souls. We wore headsets to hear the guide via wireless communication, but so was everyone else and no matter what channel our guide used there were other guides using the same one. Our guide's commentary faded in and out mixing with a veritable United Nations of languages. 

Ancient Pompeii is enormous. The entire city was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, and it's beautifully preserved and is still being excavated. It's also huge. You walk narrow streets cobbled in lava rock, passing wall to wall buildings built with lava stone, while learning some history of the people who had no idea they were living next to a volcano. Before its cataclysmic eruption there had been many warning earthquakes, but earthquakes were simply a fact of life to the town. Few if any within the city knew what a volcano was.

Ancient Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius in the background
Even after Mount Vesuvius blew, most residents continued to go about their day. The mountain was far off and of no real worry to the unsuspecting residents. It's a heart wrenching tale and made me appreciate the world we live in just that much more. Here in the 21st Century we panic far easier. In fact we freak out over what might happen or what could happen. You know it's true.

When the guide asked if we wanted to see the brothels of Pompeii, we all did. Why is it that travelers always want to see the dirty parts? Many of the most objectionable items—depicting sexual predilections that would horrify today—have been moved and are housed in the Secret Museum at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. Personally I wanted to see everything in Pompeii. I've read about it for years and didn't want to miss the phallic road signs suggestively point the way to the brothels. Even some lava cobblestones are shaped to point you in that direction. And I'll admit there are a couple amusingly shaped gutters (appropriate, yes?).

There was more than I'd bargained for. There's graffiti in an alley offering popular services for a coin, and leaving behind names of the most inexpensive prostitutes. The entryway of brothels have intact murals that were used as menus for travelers who didn't speak the language. One could simply point. Lupanar is Latin for wolf den. Prostitutes were known as a lupa, which brings me back to the feral cats of Greece trying to survive without food or shelter. The Tom cats roam in gangs and the stray females receive a public—uh—trouncing. Ancient Pompeii also seems feral. I imagine prostitutes there earned their reputation as being wolves because they had learned to survive in that world and it made them fierce and base. People do what they have to to survive. Some were like the roving gangs of Tom cats taking and using, some people were beaten into the shadows, and some were lupa—survivors. I'm just glad I wasn't there. No amount of flowing togas or organic grapes could sway me otherwise.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday the Thirteenth and Luck

TheGlitterGlobe/S.R. Karfelt

A four-leaf clover is good luck. Walking under a ladder is bad luck. A penny heads-up is good luck, but heads-down is bad. A horseshoe is good luck if it's nailed open end up, but your luck runs out if you have it down. If you break a mirror it’s bad luck for seven years—WHO MAKES UP THIS STUFF? You know what I think is bad luck? Looking in a mirror while trying on bathing suits. I guess I should say sad luck. I suppose I'm more concerned about sad luck than superstitions about bad luck.

Why do we believe any of these things? My grandmother was the oracle of good-luck/bad-luck. Things that actually came out of her mouth:
  • It’s bad luck to have owls in the house—this when someone had an owl shaped whistle. Peacock feathers and Siamese cats were also on the bad luck list. It was a very long list and seemed to include a lot of the treasure I’d try to drag into the house.
  • Don’t put your shoes on the table. They’ll burn your feet.
  • Don’t open an umbrella in the house. It’s bad luck.
  • Don’t eat lettuce without washing it first. Those lettuce pickers pee on it.

That last one isn’t about luck, but I was getting into sharing Gram-quotes. After growing up with the ever-expanding good-luck/bad-luck list, maybe that’s why I don’t put much stock in it. Who can keep track of all that stuff?

Plus, who believes any of it? Recently I wrote a book about a witch, and in my witch research I found an interesting comment by a practicing witch. She said people will often tell her that they don’t believe in that stuff, but if they think she’s going to cast a spell on them—suddenly they’re not so certain. I kind of get that. We’re covering all of our bases. Who's to say why fate rolls good fortune for some and bad for others? Who can blame us for trying to control it? Remember that scene from the movie The Mummy when Benny was trying to find the religious icon that would stop the mummy?

As a kid I was into stories not numbers, but during an Easter egg hunt I found a green egg with the number thirteen on it. The older kids told me it was bad luck, but they were never so wrong. I scored a live rabbit with it. Life doesn’t get any better than that in kid world. I don’t know that I particularly paid attention to that number after that, but when I did notice it—it seemed to always be something good. One of my favorite houses had thirteen as the address. When my kids played sports, if I could pick the number on their jersey, it was always thirteen to match our home.

When we moved to a new house with a different address, the kids objected to living at the wrong address. I had to math it out in order to reassure my kids that thirteen was hidden within our new address and we were still in the happy zone numerically. But do I believe it’s my lucky number? No, but neither do I believe thirteen is unlucky, and as far as I'm concerned ALL Fridays are lucky. You might be able to make case with me about Monday the Thirteenth.

Author S.R. Karfelt, Bitch Witch, Kahtar
Bitch Witch Amazon
Bitch Witch Barnes and Noble

Despite my beliefs, when I wrote Bitch Witch I specifically requested that the release date be on a Friday the 13th.  It's an excellent witchy date and I've grown attached to the number.  Somehow it all worked out too, which is a bit miraculous in book prep and release time, especially considering this year only has one measly Friday the 13th. Enjoy it while you can, and enjoy Bitch Witch. The book's not about luck. It’s about making your way in life no matter where you come from, even if that happens to be somewhere dark and evil.

My name is S.R. Karfelt and I’m a wife, mother, writer, and occasionally a bitch witch. While I object to slapping a negative label on numbers or days, I’ll admit that I do pick four-leaf clovers (I’m quite good at finding them), and in my purse I usually have an old Roman coin and one perfect stone from a beach in Greece. It’s not for luck. It’s for memories. What about you? Are you a believer in good-luck/bad-luck sayings and objects?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

When I Was in Rome, a Creepy Italian Bit Me On The…

Rome, Italy, S.R. Karfelt, Author, Spider
S.R. Karfelt/TheGlitterGlobe


A creepy Italian SPIDER bit me.

On the breast.

Oddly, I've had the exact same problem with CANADIAN flies. You cannot judge the wickedness of even the smallest creature by their nationality or their leg count.

If you're a spider lover, please drive on by. There is nothing here for you but pain. I detest the suckers and they started it.

Maybe the Roman spider bite might not have been such a big deal if years ago, I hadn't foolishly crawled into bed with a Texan. 

Technically he crawled into bed with me. 

Obviously I mean a brown recluse spider in the great state of Texas, but my inner fiction writer keeps trying to punch this story up a notch. Plus I had to throw that in here to see if my husband is still reading my blog.

The morning after I'd been with the brown recluse, I woke up with my back ON FIRE. It was nasty and I went straight to the doctor. That experience wasn't too bad. I did a course of steroids and antibiotics. The inflammation went down. Life carried on. 

Until another spider would bite me.

Bite me they did. Until that night in Texas if I'd ever been bitten, I never noticed. Everything changed after One Night with a Stranger in the Lone Star State. That sounds like a book title. You can use it. If I did, it'd be about a spider.

Most spiders seem happy with a quickie leg-hump and chomp. (The Italian one was the first who went straight to second base.) But no matter where they bite, things get ugly. Think zombie apocalyptic wound. Think ooze and spooze for  a few months. Eventually my immune system notices and gets it in gear. Usually.

If you don't think you've ever been bitten by a spider, I say you're lucky. Obviously you're not allergic to them. Go right back to pretending in winter mosquitoes.

The morning after the Roman spider bite I didn't go straight to the doctor. I was on vacation. There were no bones sticking out. You know the vacation doctor rules. If death is not obviously imminent YOU'RE ON VACATION! *insert miracle cure* *even if it is just wishful thinking* Plus this bite wasn't a bad zombie apocalyptic one. Even zombies have degrees of grossitude. Amiright?

The breasticle bite was just enough to warrant a WHOA! WHERE HAS THAT BEEN?! From Dear Hubby. Then we were off to snap epic and memorable cell phone photos of Roman sites, like the Hard Rock.

After a couple weeks of not making direct eye contact with the wound, I returned home and dragged myself in for a mammogram, just to be safe.

Imagine my surprise when come to find out, spider induced mammography isn't all that unusual. The technician and I exchanged spider horror stories. She won. Let's not go there. 

Life Tip: Never play Grosser Than Gross with a medical professional (or a plumber).

It's slightly less fun to get a mammogram when you have a spider bite, but it wasn't that bad. I'm pretty sure I have wimpy princess genes, so when I tell you something isn't so bad you can trust me.

Whenever I have a mammogram I try to score a sticker after. They are there for people's kids, but HEY, I'm the one who just went through the monster mash. I'd like two please. One for each, right? I don't understand WHY they don't give stickers to adults anyway. And eclairs. Maybe a shot of Fireball Whiskey. Dude, something, okay? I went straight from the breast press to the eclair stand. Then I came home and took a nap to get over my trauma and sleep off the sugar coma. This was followed by getting online and purchasing a Himalayan Salt Lamp.

There is no correlation, but this is how I deal with trauma. A  splurge. A me day. You should try it. If I'd found a spider in my house, I'd have juiced him in retaliation and been perfectly satisfied. Fortunately I've discovered an organic way to keep spiders out of my house. It took me years to figure this out.

Get a ton of Swiffer dusters, and get one with the really long extending handle. Dust every single inch of your house. You have to get the ceilings, the walls, the baseboards. Don't forget behind the furniture too. I just crank up my heavy metal DEATH TO ALL SPIDERS music and dust the abusive bastards out of my space. If you get the cobwebs, the spiders tend to disappear. I do it about every two weeks now. I also went so far as to replace a couple old doors that couldn't be spider proofed.

Facebook, Rome, Spider
S.R. Karfelt
I live in the woods so I have to be vigilant in my defense. Spiders are forever trying to get to me. I think, to the mind of a spider, short mountain-climbing legs are freaking hot stuff. Now I'm going to have to worry about them getting all up in my cleavage too. As far as I'm concerned this is war, and one more reason to take my writer-self to Iceland and live. Please share any good spider battle plans in the comments. I'd also love to know how you feel about spiders, unless of course you're a fan. If you are a fan, I know a guy in Texas who'd love to meet you.