Lions and Tigers and Ocelots… Oh My!

Banshee and Beowulf when last I saw them. Updates as they look now later in the week.

I am thoroughly ensconced in my desk within the gift shop of the Great Cats World Park, surrounded by paperwork. Outside, the sound of lions roaring and tigers barking floats through the light fog settling into the Oregon countryside.  Though I know these sounds sent shivers of primal fear up the spines of distant ancestors, I personally find it peaceful.

This park, these animals, and the people who care for them, are a great joy to see.  These cats are happy.  Blissful in their generous enclosures, thrilled when they are encouraged with food rewards to engage in their natural behaviors.  Their sultry eyes follow you wherever you walk in the park.  They are used to people, but they are not pets.  I am aware these furry little serial killers would have me for breakfast without feeling a moment of sadness at my passing.  Still, they are cute.

Walking through the low valley between my temporary abode and the park I see raptors flying and plump guinea fowl strutting around seeking bugs.  I see huge old trees covered in moss and green everywhere I look.  Green, even in winter, seems to permeate everything here, as does the cold, damp, air.  Walking through the park proper to the gift shop I am stalked by dozens of feline eyes as their owners crouch low in their comfortable dens.  Each one merits a hello and responds with a nod, huff, or flick of a tail, excepting the jaguars of course, they are the velociraptors in this park. They stare expressionless at anyone who walks past, gorgeous and lush and absolutely lethal.

While my head keeps pounding mightily in the background, the calming backdrop of deep woods, dense fog, and wild fur has me feeling calm and relaxed. The addition of pampering from Traveler makes the park feel like home.  Calm happy home. Yesterday I discovered that lionesses have the most alluring eyelashes. They have thick, rich, dark-black lashes that elongate as they cross from the nose to the outside of the face, creating a look Liz Taylor would kill for. They are mesmerizing. Dandelion, the wee lioness whose lashes I was studying so closely, was previously a denizen of a petting operation, and therefore kept trying to tell me to reach into her enclosure to stroke her soft well-loved stuffed animal pelt.  I know better and she was disappointed in my refusal. However, she was pleased to have me sit and coo at her for a while while she blinked those limpid eyes at me. Banshee and Beowulf, the babies I got to help feed last time, are now too large to be handled by a novice like myself.  They do huff at me as I pass their enclosure and show off their new found leaping, bounding, and wrestling talents for me. It is gratifying to see them so fluffy, happy, and entertained.

I love this place. I wish the people who naysay it would come and see it for themselves. I have never been anywhere that treated their animals so well and catered so carefully to them.

A holistic approach to migraine treatment

I’m reeling.

This is me, reeling.

I met with my new doctor this week.  Dan took me to see her and when we got to the door I thought they were closed.  You know, because the lights were muted, there were no fluorescent lights at all, it was quiet.  There was no loud music, just a super low classical playing. The walls were painted a dark brown, with a matching carpet. All the decorations were dark in color. It was like a cave.  A lovely muted cave.

The doctor’s assistant is named Novella. I’m taking it as a sign.  The doctor herself bears my godmother’s name.  Another sign. That and her last name is Lane, as in path, as in a new path.

She is a whirlwind.  My hour-plus appointment with her was spent learning I do have migraines “Just migraines, I don’t know what all this other crap they have been going on about is, cluster and tension headaches go away, you present with persistent migraine”, that I do have trigeminal neuralgia, that I will need surgery, and that I struggle with feeling happy not simply because I am in pain but because the migraines literally sap my brain of the chemicals it needs to keep me happy.  In other words, she took me completely seriously, had done her homework in advance, didn’t rush me, and developed a plan.

A PLAN PEOPLE!! I have a PLAN!!!

I left overwhelmed, reeling, happy, and in tears.  I am not sure why the tears, except that having someone validate me instead of throwing meds at me was wonderful.

Treatment is going to be a full time job. I try to remind myself that my headaches were a full time job, but my brain is currently trying to rabbit.

I am happy, however, that I will be treating this headache with a doctor who believes in approaching migraine from all aspects of life, instead of just medication.

So, headache diary, check.  Food diary, check. Exercise diary, check. Medications, check. Therapist, check.

Oh, and the other thing? She asked Dan in with me so he would know what he was dealing with too. So, supportive and knowledgable boyfriend, check.

The brain surgery is out-patient, which is so futuristic to contemplate that my mind wants to rabbit whenever I think about someone rooting around in my head with a steel crochet hook and then sending me home.

The scary part is that I am back on the Topomax.  This is a big trust thing for me.  She swears she has a medication to counter any cognitive disfunction resulting from the drug, but I am terrified.  Last time I was on it I lost 40 pounds in three months and forgot words like “table” and “glass”.  Dan has offered to conduct daily word game tests to track any potential side effects.

The other scary part is knowing that the future holds a week or two or more at this ultra intense migraine clinic in Michigan if we can’t get it under control here.  She kept telling me that the clinic used I.V. meds to find a solution in this really excited voice, like I should respond as though she were telling me the clinic used 8 hours of massage a day.  I do not find I.V. meds nearly as enticing as massage.  However, it’s good to know there is an end game here, you know, that isn’t MY end game.

She spoke 8 million miles a minute and made notes for me that look a lot like pidgeon feet on sand so I am still trying to remember the entire picture, but those are the high points. (And low points. And silly points.)

Gravity is stupid.

I think I might be auditioning for a role in the up-and-coming Three Stooges movies, subconsciously at least.

Friday morning it was slick. We had what some would call a “Winter mix” of weather. (That is the “clever” Colorado News Anchor term for the rain/snow/sleet/ice that has a tendency to fall from our otherwise expansive blue skies. )

Friday morning I got the children into the car, managed to scrape the thin layer of icy concrete off the windshield and windows, and carefully drove through the slick streets.  I delivered the children to both of their schools on-time and without incident.  I got home safely.  I got out of the car, walked around the vehicle onto the ice-rink like ground, into the slippery alley, up the fall-on-your-ass driveway, over the face-plant slick steps, and into the back porch all without incident. 

I opened the door, put a foot inside my kitchen onto my dry kitchen floor and fell like my comedy career depended on it. My left leg slid out from under me in a banana peel fall kind of way and I twisted my way into the kitchen to land in a semi-split position on the floor, back against the 1950’s replica step-stool.

Everything but my head hurt.  My headache considerately went away to allow me to fully recognize the extent of my other injuries.  Perhaps regular physical beatings are a possible form of treatment in the future?

The result of my fall was three days of complete stiffness everywhere.  I mean everywhere.  I walked like a combination of Frankenstein and the ancient homeless lady who pushes her walker/cart down my alley.  Despite three volcanic epson salt baths I remained ironing-board stiff.  Unlike five year olds, thirty-nine year olds do not bounce.

My Three Stooges audition banana peel fall sprained my left wrist and ankle and wrenched my right knee. The weekend was spent hobbling around like the hunchback of Notre Dame.  In truth, the weekend was spent occasionally imitating the hunchback of Notre Dame. I do a passable impression (developed and perfected over time to insure a future ability to embarrass The Teen) and was getting bored with my own physical limitations.

Hunch shoulder, drag foot, swing arm, moan Sanctuary, Sanctuary in a low, dramatic voice. 

I got a lot of eye rolling from The Teen. The Teen also didn’t like it when I fell on her in the morning to wake her up, rolling around and singing Judy Garland’s “Get Happy”.  (The other option was a spritzer bottle, so I thought I was being kind). Like I said, I was getting bored.

Today I am happy to report I am down to just the sprained ankle and a bit of tenderness in the wrist.  My headache is still much better, likely because I am seeing my new specialist tomorrow and it doesn’t want to get caught messing with me while there is a medical professional present.  It’s a crafty little bugger.