98 migraines and a boatload of medical bills

It's time again to compile the total number of migraines I've had  and the cost of my medical bills so far this year!                      

Number of days I've had migraines 1/1/11-5/31/11: 98                
Number of days I've had migraines from 6/10-5/11: 154                      

Out of pocket medical expenses from 1/1/11-6/30/11
$1,427   Health insurance premiums
$1,882  Medication co-pays
     656   Doctor visits
       56   Dentist
$4,021  Total

In a previous post,  my medical bill total this year, I explained the tally in further detail

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Another genocide in Sudan? Why don't people care?

In "Yet Again in Sudan" Nicholas D. Kristoff opens his column with the following:  "The world capital for crimes against humanity this month probably isn’t in Libya or Syria. Instead, it’s arguably the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where we’re getting accounts of what appears to be a particularly vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing, murder and rape." He reports that the Sudanese governement has threatened to shoot down UN helicopters. The forces are committing "door-to-door" executions of civilians (including children), committing mass rapes, burning of homes and church buildings, and bombing of markets, mosques, and wells. 

Kirstoff states that Samuel Totten, a genocide scholar, warns that a genocide may be beginning again in Sudan. 

Yet, when I open CNN online, NBC news, ABC news, CBS news, and BBC, there is no mention of Sudan. Libya, Gaza, and Greece seem to warrant top billing for many of the sites. It continues to confound and anger me that news coverage is largely absent for human rights violations of such a magnitude as has been occurring in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan.  Of course I'm sure there are other human rights violations of similar magnitude in other countries in Africa, such as Somalia, that are also being committed. I was just visiting Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), and I learned that Somalis refugees, fleeing conflict in their country, have been traveling to Dadaab, Kenya. Dadaab has the world's largest refugee camp, and it is now full. The camp was designed to hold 90,000 people. It holds about 350,000 people. As one might imagine, access to medical care and food is limited due to the number of people. 

I wonder why I have to deliberately look for news on Africa. Why do major news organizations in USA not cover these topics? They certainly cover other human rights atrocities such as those in Libya. Please educate yourself. 

As quoted on Operation Open Silence's site, Elie Wiesel once said, ". . . to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all."

Do you want to help or get involved? It's as easy as signing a petition, or contacting the White House through Twitter, Facebook, or email.  Visit Operation Open Silence or Enough Project . They even compose all the messages for you. It literally takes 2 min to take action.

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Weird Wednesday: The silent crippler

I had scoliosis as a kid. Yeah I was one of those kids with curvy backs that couldn't stand up straight. I was also pigeon toed, but I'll save the glory of that health issue for another post.

At about age 12, the doc made me start wearing a back brace. I say "made" because I was not at all interested in increasing my already pervasive awkwardness. I'm not sure what your middle school experience was like, but mine was reminiscent of the Lord of the Flies.  Evidently the brace was supposed to straighten my back. It was this big plastic thing with huge velcro straps that kept it on. It went from under my arms to my butt. I already had a pancake butt so there was no loss there. There was an oval cut out of the front for my boobs. I think I would have been fine without the oval--I did not want my developing body revealed. I had to wear an undershirt with it or the brace would chafe my skin. I won't even go into the way I got fitted for a new brace every several months because that is something I wish I had blocked from my memory. The brace created multiple levels of awkward.

I was already a geeky kid with weird glasses so the back brace did little to increase my confidence. Here's a pic of me from that period of time.

Bless my heart. You can see why I was picked on. Luckily my brace/armor protected me from getting beat up.

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Back on the low carb wagon

Last summer I participated in intensive outpatient treatment at the Headache Care Center. For 10 days, each day, I met with the doctor, received IV therapy, physical therapy, individual counseling including biofeedback training, and some group counseling. The doctor recommended I switch to a low carbohydrate diet. He stated that a very low carb diet (aka a ketogenic diet) has been used for years with individuals with epilepsy whose seizures are not controlled by medication. He stated that similar to a person with seizures, a migraineur has a sensitive nervous system that reacts more powerfully and stays activated for a longer period of time than a person with a normal nervous system. He stated that a low carb diet may help calm the nervous system down. He also recommended this diet because I had signs of insulin resistance (I had high triglycerides and inflammation). These and some other factors also put me at risk for diabetes and heart disease.

At the time, I begrudgingly followed the low carb diet. I ate an average of 20-40 g of net carbs for about 6 months. I had more energy and felt great. My triglycerides dropped 70 points. I fell off the wagon during my birthday (in November) and the holiday season. I didn't get back on the diet until now. Having almost daily migraines, having to drop out of school again, applying for disability, and coming to terms with the fact that I may never be able to work again, I turned to food for comfort. Potatoes, ice cream, fruits, bread, et cetera all helped me feel better emotionally.

On Monday I got back on the low carb diet. I'm craving bread, chocolate, and fruit like nobody's business. One common misconception of Atkins/low carb diets is that they're high protein and filled with fatty meats. It couldn't be farther from the truth. The Atkins literature states that 12-15 of net carbs should be from a list of specific low carb vegetables. This works out to be about 5 cups of salad greens or other veggies a day.

So far, I feel okay but I'm still craving carbs something awful. Ben and Jerry's calls my name. Trying to stick with it!!
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