30 September 2014


I have degenerating discs in my spine. In order to keep my back in as good shape as possible I do a half-hour of back exercises two or three mornings a week. When I have a really bad migraine, I can't do them, but when I have a mild migraine, I'll do a gentle regimen that's mostly stretching. And I usually find that, even though the stretching is for my back, the migraine pain is eased or I simply feel psychologically better afterward.

Photo by William Marsh
Below I provide links to an article from Prevention Magazine about yoga stretches for pain relief. Though the article speaks specifically about osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia, these stretches are similar to those I do for my back and that seem to ease either the migraine pain and/or my mood.

Five Pain-Relieving Yoga Poses

I'm researching the benefits of stretching for chronic pain in general, not for specific physical ills. It's interesting to me that the back exercises help the migraine pain management to a certain degree. I'll post about this later.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

28 September 2014

Painful Poetry

A Semi-original - if Awkward - Attempt to Find Humor in Pain

How Do You Solve a Problem Like a Migraine?
(Sung to the tune of "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?; from The Sound of Music)

How do you solve a problem like a migraine?
How do you stop the vomit and keep it down?
How do you find a word that means a migraine?
A pain in the left lobe, ice pick to the head, a frown?
Many a day you know you're going under.
Many a time you cancel all your plans.
But how do you make it cease,
instead of the sure increase?
How do you get the throbs of pain in hand?
How do you solve a problem like a migraine?
How do you bear it once it has began?

When I have one I'm confused,
out of focus and bemused,
and I never know exactly where I am.
Any light will make me groan,
any movement cause a moan,
I can't stand it -
this pain, damn it -
it's no sham.
I'll spend hours getting rest
blindfold, dark room, no noise; lest
I should move and feel that stabbing pain again.
Don't come near me I might cry,
though I couldn't tell you why.
Nerves aquiver,
in a dither -
Let Me Die!

How do you solve a problem like a migraine?
How can you bear it once it has began?

Photo by William Marsh

26 September 2014

Opportunities Within the Pain

I have a lot in common with my my brother, William Marsh, whose photos you've seen here since last July. Lots of what we share is wonderful -- an understanding of the importance of mission into the world around us, searching for spiritual maturity and wisdom, and my appreciation of his ironic sense of humor.

Some things, like thinning hair, aren't so wonderful. And one, migraines, is downright awful. But yesterday, during a phone conversation, we got to talking about learning to recognize the good that can come out of having a migraine -- about things that happen, thoughts that occur, and wisdom that arises. He mentioned this photo specifically:
Photo by William Marsh

He had taken this strikingly dramatic picture one night when migraine pain awoke him and he walked out into the cool night in an effort to relieve some of his discomfort. He said that if the pain hadn't awakened him, he would have missed this gorgeous sight.

He calls it "finding the opportunities within the pain." He said, about the photo, "Out of the disorientation and pain came this opportunity to get one of the best pictures I've taken. And I sometimes have provocative thoughts, flashes of wisdom, and a unique and oft-times humorous perspective when the migraines are bad."

Although neither of us chooses or wants to have migraines, it's helpful to remind each other that there are these serendipitous moments that comprise the silver lining to the migraine cloud. Both of us would give up the migraines in a flash if we had the chance, but it's nice to be able to find the positive in them, to be aware that opportunity is there even in the pain. Plus, we get to complain with each other. Migraine misery wanting migraine company, as it were.

It's about taking the reality of your life and making the best of it. All of us, regardless of what kind of adversity we face -- physical illness or disability, emotional ill-health, devastating sorrow, loss of job or relationship -- need this skill, the ability to pick out the good amidst the bad. It's hard to talk about it without devolving into truisms and hackneyed phrases. So I'll stop, and we'll just look at Will's photo.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

24 September 2014

Resource -- Health and Spirituality website and magazine

Photo by William Marsh

The website for Health and Spirituality Magazine says this on its About Us page:

We cover a broad range of topics under the umbrella of health and spirituality, which can include faith, Eastern philosophy, meditation, and mainstream religion; nutrition, wellness, yoga, and holistic medicine; creativity, the inner life, social justice, and issues of conscience; and public health, the human body, and the environment.

There's a lot on this website, yet it manages the variety listed above while staying focused. Here is a listing of its main pages and some of the articles on each:

MAGAZINE: This page gives you a few links to articles in the current issue of the magazine (which you can get print or on your tablet). There's an article helping you explore whether your caffeine habit is an addiction or not and another about counting your blessings.

SPIRITUALITY: Articles about praying to a loving God, vedic meditation, and how religion and prayer help mood in the elderly are just a few examples of how far-ranging yet practical is the information on this site.

HEALTH: This section explores ways that spirituality and spiritual and religious practices enhance physical health. There's an article about how meditation helps migraines (making me think I should query this magazine about writing an article!). And you can learn about ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) or, as it is more colloquially known, braingasm. It is being used for insomniacs and persons with PTSD, among others.

LIFESTYLE: There are many good articles on this page, but I want to point out one that I could bet we all need: Practicing Self-Compassion.

A great resource, on the whole, and one I hope you learn from and enjoy as I do.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

21 September 2014

Migraine Moon

I'm in the midst of a series of migraines that don't respond to medication, not even the injection that I save for the worst. So I'm hoping this post makes sense, but if it doesn't you'll know why.

In my last post was a link to an article I found on the website, Spirituality and Health Magazine. The article, an interview with Brene Brown, interests me because it's about vulnerability.

Though the focus of the interview is not on people with chronic illness, I think anyone with a mental health issue that is difficult to resolve, or pain that won't go away, or a disease that turns life upside down, needs to learn to live with vulnerability. And one aspect of vulnerability is shame.

We feel ashamed when we can't perform up to a standard we used to hold ourselves to, or that we imagine others hold us to. We feel ashamed because people our age are out there accomplishing things and it's all we can do to manage our condition. There's shame in being the one that has to renege on a promise to participate in a meeting or outing or group activity. There's shame in trying to participate because maybe this once we'll feel well enough to stay, but having to leave early anyway.

I could go on. But whether we suffer with depression or chronic pain or a disfiguring illness or schizophrenia or addiction or a debilitating condition, we probably deal with shame. Brene Brown's interview, here, talks about shame and how it interferes with relationship. Since the isolation of chronic illness is already a problem, it seems important to understand more about things that keep us from getting close to people.

That can sound intimidating when we're suffering, the idea of connecting to someone else when we barely have the energy to be with ourselves. But here's an example of a way to connect within vulnerability:

My brother, whose photos you see in my posts, gets migraines semi-regularly. He was up and in pain one night recently and wandered out into the cool night seeking relief. He saw this moon, got his camera and took the photo. He calls it "Migraine Moon."

Photo by William Marsh
He told me about the photo in a recent phone conversation. What a neat connection, and it came out of his vulnerability, his pain, which he then thought would fit a post on my blog. It does. And I'm still in pain, thought I couldn't write much today, but am so inspired by the article I read and my brother's example of reaching out, that I've written a much longer post than I thought I could manage today.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.