Ice Picks

I sit on the couch, eyes barely opened, the TV just white noise in the background. There’s an ice pick stabbing me over my right eye and another one stabbing me up through the base of my neck, also on the right side. The migraine isn’t literally killing me, but it does make me wonder if there’s an ax among the ice picks so I can cleave off the right side of my head because I’m sure that would hurt less.

Instead, I wait. Not patiently, not gracefully, but a tortured “when will this end” wait. I sit still, every few minutes reminding myself to take a deep breath and relax, sometimes rocking a little bit because the motion is soothing.

As the drugs finally start taking effect, I can feel the ice picks loosing their hold. As though someone is carelessly pulling the ice picks out of my head, I still get shocks of pain, but overall the agony is slowly ebbing and I know that relief isn’t too far away.

Afterwards, I lay slumped on the couch, TV still murmuring in the background, tired from my fight even though I barely moved a muscle. I take a deep breath, relishing having my body back and grateful that it didn’t take all night.


As bad as the episode this week was, as I always say — better living through chemistry. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t even have a 50/50 chance of stopping a headache from turning into a migraine, but then my doctor and I finally found the migraine drug that almost always stops the situation above from happening; it cuts the headache down in its tracks. And the quality of life boost from this has been enormous since I typically will deal with headaches for about 9 days out of every month — starting 2 days before my period and ending two days afterwards. Predictable, yes, but welcome? Not at all.

The last time I tried to get my prescription refilled, I unexpectedly found out that my doctor had left for California and hadn’t left me a referral to another doctor, which meant that I needed to find a new doctor ASAP — there’s nothing like the idea of going without my migraine medicine to make me not procrastinate on a task that I would normally ignore for months or years. Without any other guidance, I did what many do: I spun the doctor roulette wheel and blindly picked one of the names that came up. I went to see her this past week and unlike my luck when I’m at the casino, this pick turned out pretty good.

A Doctor’s Intervention

Imagine this: a doctor who not only listens, but talks with you instead of at you. I knew she probably had patients stacked up behind me, but I never felt like she was rushing me out of her office and she took the time to explain her expert opinions rather than leaving me with with questions. I was able to bring up all of my concerns — from whether my thyroid was a problem (possibly, but not bad enough to want to treat with medication), to a blood test that indicated a high risk of heart disease (best thing to do is treat with diet and exercise), and even the best way to deal with my hormonal migraines and inevitable monthly weight gain.

My doctor also brought up concerns of her own: my previous doctor had not mentioned that one of my blood tests showed that I was pre-diabetic. Well, so barely pre-diabetic that it’s like pre-pre-diabetic. But still — even being close to that line gave me a scare. It’s one of those things that other people have, not me. I’ve always been an athlete, always been relatively healthy, but apparently that was far enough in my past that this disease that was always an “other people” disease was now something I have to call my own. Luckily, as with the heart disease risk factors, this is something that is totally within my ability to control through diet, exercise and losing some weight. Of course – this falls into the simple, but not easy category. The Oreos in my cupboard back me up on this.

So, between my doctor and me, we came up with a strategy. One of the challenges I’ve been facing with weight loss is that I keep bouncing around the same 4-5 pounds. I lose it over the course of 2-3 weeks and then gain it all back again when I have my period. Part of it is the normal bloating (sorry, TMI!), but a lot of it is constantly having a headache and that pushes me to eat bland, carby, sugary stuff. And not only that, but the headaches make working out miserable, so I’m effectively sitting on a couch eating bon-bon’s for 9 days a month. Not a very effective weight loss method, now, is it?

How to get around this? Well, since menopause doesn’t seem to be in my near future, the next step is birth control pills to stop me from getting a period at all. The theory is that without the monthly headaches and weight gain, I can bounce myself out of this cycle and really start making some headway. A little bit of sustained progress is good for the soul. And the belly, in this case. And the idea of being able to avoid probably 90% of my headaches? I’d give the right side of my head for that.

And An Opportunity

But as you all know, the weight — that number on the scale — isn’t really what I’m focused on. What I really want is to be healthy and fit and in shape. I want my athletic life back. No surprise there, I know; I’ve been talking about this for awhile now, though progress has been a lot of one step forward, one step back. It’s like a going nowhere tango.

And as you ALSO know, I love numbers and tracking and data and spreadsheets. It’s why calorie counting is always effective for me — if I can track it, I’m a superstar at making those numbers look good. Of course, my downfall is that I always eventually tire of the part where I have to log everything — that part I’m bad at — if the numbers could appear magically (someone needs to invent a way to track the calories we eat automatically) then I’d be golden.

And here’s where an opportunity comes in that I’m cautiously excited about. When I got home from the doctor, I was wiling away time online (because that’s how I react to being told to eat well and exercise more — I sit on the couch and play on my computer) and one of my tech magazines had an article about a new 3-D body scanner that was going to be coming out. I know! How cool, right?

A company called Naked is taking pre-orders for their in-home body scanner. You stand in front of a mirror, a disk (that doubles as a scale) spins you around and you get a 3-D model of your body with measurements and body fat analysis done automatically. Over time you can compare your 3-D models to see progress you’re making. How awesome does that sound?

I’ve emailed them to see if I can be a beta tester (I wouldn’t get to keep the unit, but I’d get my hands on it much sooner than everyone else!) and it sounds like they might be interested. This makes my data-tracking, weight-loss seeking, techy heart all warm and fuzzy. I’ve already put in my pre-order (I’m impulsive like that) and if you’re impulsive like that too, here’s my referral code if you want to use it. I get $50 if you use it, but feel free not to use it — that’s fine by me.

(And oh, aside from the referral code, I don’t have any stake in the company, have never used any of their products and am just excited about what looks to be a cool new toy to play with)



For the month of April, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s #AprilLove2016 and writing a love letter to a different someone/thing every day. Today’s love letter is to Books.



Just a few of my favorite books.

Dear Books,

You were the original troublemaker, my partner in crime. You were the reason that Mom yelled at me so often for catching me reading under the covers well after bedtime. Then there were the down-the-nose stares of the one mean librarian who would chastise me for taking more books than I could carry (though my adult self would have caught the twinkle in her eye when she said those words). Not to mention the times that I would try to surreptitiously read, with the book half inside my desk, all while trying my best to look like I was still paying attention in class — yea, that didn’t really work. And my first job when I was 16 was as a library page — and that same librarian would give me mean looks when she would catch me between the stacks reading the books I was supposed to be reshelving (there was a little less eye twinkling during these encounters).

I have some friends who aren’t readers and I always wonder: how can you not be a reader? And how are we friends, anyway?? It becomes a personal challenge for me — it’s not that you don’t like reading, it’s that you just haven’t met the right book yet! It’s my own version of a twisted, geeky Dating Game (that I never seem to win, by the way).

These days you don’t get me into as much trouble — except on the nights when you keep me up well past my bedtime even though work will come much too early in the morning — but you’re still my favorite partner in crime. There’s still little I like more than curling up on the couch with a good book, especially when the day is rainy or chilly (sunny days will sometimes compete for my attention from you), and utterly losing myself and all sense of time. It’s so easy to be transported to another world entirely, whether it be a fiction landscape dreamed up by a talented writer or like a virtual lecture hall where I get to listen to some of the most interesting people share their passion.

As Randy Travis would croon, I’m gonna love you, forever and ever, forever and ever, Amen.



For the month of April, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s #AprilLove2016 and writing a love letter to a different someone/thing every day. Today’s love letter is to Morning.

Dear Morning,

You know, there’s morning and then there’s o’dark-thirty morning where it’s not really morning except for the fact that I went to bed the night before and woke up to start the day. For well over a decade now, I’ve been doing the o’dark-thirty version of morning — in fact, where I previously lived, I had a long enough drive that to get to work on time at 6am, my alarm clock got me out of bed at 3:45am. Like I said, that’s not even really morning except by technicality.

These days it’s a 4:30am wake-up call during the week; it’s not really something I’ve ever gotten used to, though I have gotten used to getting home from work with afternoon to spare. And even though I struggle every day to get out of bed, there is one part that I enjoy: by 5am or so, I’m headed outside with the dog for her morning walk (“walk” is an exaggeration — she spends about 15 seconds outside, comes back in and as soon as I unleash her, she goes back to bed) and I look up and say, “Good morning, Moon!” because I know that the Moon probably doesn’t hear that very often.

I’ll say this, though — the too-early-to-be-mornings that I have such problems with 5 days a week make me appreciate the mornings on the weekends where I don’t wake up to an alarm, but still get up early because my body doesn’t listen to my brain when it tells it to sleep in. I love being out of bed by 6:30am or so, enjoying the quiet of the morning before the neighborhood comes alive and getting through a long list of errands and to-do’s and having the whole afternoon left to play.

Coming from the girl who couldn’t schedule an 8am class during college because she’d have to skip it more often than not, the fact that I’ve become a morning person takes me completely by surprise. I recall a conversation with my Dad at the very beginning of my working career. I was still living at home and I foggily looked at him over my raisin bran and said, “And I have to do this EVERY DAY for my ENTIRE LIFE???” I couldn’t fathom getting up for work 5 days a week for the next 40 years or so. Still can’t even though I’ve got more than 25 of those years behind me already. Oh, and my Dad totally just laughed at me. I’m pretty sure I made his morning that day.

So, here I am. It’s after 8pm and I’m thinking, “Get this post finished up so you can go to bed.” Nighttime has become the enemy now.

My, how you’ve changed my life, Morning.

Love, Laura.




For the month of April, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s #AprilLove2016 and writing a love letter to a different someone/thing every day. Today’s love letter is to Feet.

Dear Feet,

I grumble about you, oh I do, especially first thing in the morning when you feel like two painful blocks of cement attached to my legs, but I’ve got to give you credit — no matter what I ask, you seem to come through (and only punish me later when it doesn’t matter as much). These two race reports are proof of how awesome you are and are my tribute to you.

Love, Laura

Winter Trail Frosty Quarter Marathon (February 27th, 2016)

IMG_20160227_125503I was totally peer-pressured into this race; by the time it came around, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to go because I wasn’t trained for it and I suspected that it would be some form of miserable. As it turned out, a spark of motivation got me down there and a whole lot of patience and good attitude got me through it.

I seeded myself at the back of the pack. With it being a trail race, I knew there wouldn’t be a whole lot of room for passing and I didn’t need anyone breathing down my neck wanting to get around me. I had also decided ahead of time to keep to the intervals that I had been using during training (4 minutes running, 1 minute walking) and had my watch set to buzz at me to keep me in line.

I skipped the first walking interval only because it would have been difficult to get to the side because there were still too many people around me. But at 9 minutes into the race, I was all too ready to take a quick break. As I stepped over and started walking, I heard a voice behind me, “Keep going! You’re setting a great pace!!”  I turned around, surprised, and found a woman smiling at me and motioning at me to start running again. I chuckled and then told her what my race strategy was and she brightened and said, “That sounds good to me!” and with that, I had a running buddy for the rest of the race, which was totally awesome. You know, this kind of thing just doesn’t really happen very often when you’re running with faster people. It’s like there’s no time (or breath) for getting to meet someone new.

Anyway, me and running buddy trudged through a couple of miles — she was in better shape than I was, but not by so much that I felt bad — and I found out that this trail was her stomping grounds and she routinely ran here. It was nice getting a preview of what was coming (or, you know, what to be afraid of!) and the conversation kept my mind off the fact that I was really starting to struggle by a little over midway through. The ups and downs — which aren’t really a part of my training, coming from FLAT Chicago suburbs — were tiring.

And the last two miles or so? MUDDY. Nothing like skeeting down hills because there’s too much mud to get any footing. Or walking through a patch of muck so deep that I almost lost a shoe. Already tired, the mud became my worst enemy, but at least it was something (else) to laugh at. I figured if it didn’t kill me, I might as well make jokes about it.

Finally – FINALLY! – the finish line was in view and I was DONE. The most awesome medal ever was put around my neck and then I made my way through the post-race food area to grab a piece of cake (best cake ever!) and some hot chocolate (best hot chocolate ever!). Really, I don’t know how their food was so damn good. Either Indiana has magic bakeries or anything served to me after that would have tasted like heaven.

After that, it was just a matter of waiting for my friends who were doing the half marathon to finish (something I happily did, considering the aforementioned best ever cake and hot chocolate), taking a ton of pictures and then heading out. What a great day!

Chicago Quarter Marathon (March 24th, 2016)

IMG_20160326_082659Two of the friends featured in the Winter Trail Frosty drove upstate to join me for the Chicago Quarter Marathon. Inconveniently planned for Easter weekend, it was to be a short get together, but totally fun nonetheless.

That morning brought pretty decent running weather; it had been 30 degrees with 45+ mph winds two days prior, so I was really happy with the lower 40’s and only an easy breeze — it doesn’t get too much better when you’re running on the Chicago lakefront in March, right?

After milling around for a little while pre-race, we finally got going. My roommate Kate was running with me — despite being much better trained and my pace so slow that she could probably do it in her sleep, she stayed with me. I kept to the same 4/1 intervals because I was hoping to save enough energy to be able to finish without feeling like death was at my heels. Spoiler alert: it almost worked.

Starting out really felt great. Walking that minute really was working great for me and for the first 4.5 miles I felt reasonably good. My legs were cooperating, my breathing was okay and my heart rate was high but (seemingly) under control. And then, with two miles left to go, things kind of fell apart. My heart rate wouldn’t go down during the minute walking segment, I was starting to feel a bit light-headed and mostly just wanted to sit down and take a nap (not that wanting to take a nap is all that unusual for me). Kate kept me on pace, but was good about checking in with me. She didn’t want me slacking off when I could push a little harder, but also probably didn’t want to have to carry me back to the finish line, either. She was great and kept me going.

The upside to all this was that the weather was great: bright and sunny, not too cold and a gorgeous lake view helped pass the time.

And then the finish line was finally in view. I unleashed my final kick (sounds impressive, doesn’t it?) and was DONE. Then I grabbed a fence to hold myself up so I wouldn’t fall over and fought the urge to vomit Gatorade all over some poor volunteer who was trying valiantly to put the medal on over my head.

Good news: it only took me a few minutes to keep the Gatorade where it belonged and to start talking about where we would go for breakfast. Which, as anyone knows, is the real reason why anyone runs races.

2016 races completed: 3
2016 races signed up for left to do: 2
2016 additional races being considered: 2


For the month of April, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s #AprilLove2016 and writing a love letter to a different someone/thing every day.


Dear Home,

I’ve always been pretty good at making myself comfortable in a variety of places. Not only do I move about every 5 years just because I get the urge for somewhere new, but I don’t even have problems settling in to, say, a hotel room that I might be staying in for a week. I think it partially has to do with the fact that it doesn’t take much to keep me occupied; a decent internet connection, a book to read and music to listen to and I’ll be entertained. So, I guess in a sense, I carry Home along with me all the time.

I think it also helps that I tend to live my life all out in the open (which is a nice way of saying that I’m messy and don’t like to put things away) so anywhere that I can spread out my stuff immediately starts feeling like a place where I belong.

I remember the one time when home didn’t feel like home. I was in the midst of selling my house — the market wasn’t good and the house wasn’t getting much traffic — and along with my savvy real estate agent, I decided to have the home staged by a professional to hopefully draw more interest. I was told to stay away for the day and come back when they were done; they didn’t want me arguing with them, I suppose. The fact that for a long time I was pretty proud of the fact that I had an extra refrigerator in my living room was enough to make them certain that my opinions wouldn’t be of any assistance (true story!).

Once I was given the okay, I returned to the house and parked in the driveway since a lot of my belongings were now residing in the garage. I walked in and immediately felt a little spooked and uneasy. It was my house, sure, but it was no longer my house at all. I walked around, seeing everything beautiful and in its place and so perfect that I felt shell-shocked. Even to this day, I find it hard to explain my overwhelming discomfort just being there. It wasn’t even that they cleaned up my mess — it was already in good shape because I was keeping it picked up — but they had removed that last layer of “mine” and made it something that I felt like I shouldn’t even touch.

It was an awful place to live. It was no longer Home; I couldn’t make it Home no matter what I did (while still keeping it on the market, that is) and I ended up moving into my new place sooner than I had planned. It was too uncomfortable to be somewhere I obviously didn’t belong.

And once I moved? I was Home again. And it made me recognize the underlying truth to Home: it’s not only where I am, but it’s the place where I’m allowed to be me, without restriction.

A view of my current humble abode, back when Clarke was still around. And yes, feel free to put your feet up on the coffee table. I don't mind at all.

A view of my humble abode, back when Clarke was still around. And yes, feel free to put your feet up on the coffee table. I don’t mind at all.

So, Home, sorry for the rambling, but thank you for being the place where I can spread out, put my feet up, do some reading and writing, snuggle with the dog and not worry one little bit about dog hair on the furniture. You are the reason that I return from work and finally feel my shoulders come down from my ears. You’re the reason that I can fall asleep, content with life. You’re the place I can go to recover from any sort of outside-world trauma.

Oh, and while I’m writing, do you think you could also fix your roof so you don’t leak? You know, since we’re friends now?


Love, Laura.

I seemingly can’t turn down the “Month of <insert some activity here>” programs. Like a moth to flame, or like a Laura to cookies, I’m drawn to the structure and focus of it. It feels like an accomplishment of sorts to do something for 30 days straight.

This time around it’s Susannah Conway’s Month of Love Letters, which has me writing a love letter to a particular person/object/idea every day. I’ve played around with the idea of writing to someone rather than just writing (usually it’s to myself or to someone else in particular) and it changes my perspective and somehow the words just come out a little differently than were I writing into the ether.

I imagine that some of my letters will be short and sweet and some will be lengthy and complicated, others perhaps just friendly and chatty. I’ll post each day even though they might be more of a “postlet” rather than a full post. The prompts will be good for making me think and touch into a little of my creativity. If you’re interested in joining, whether doing it publicly or not, you can find the information here. Or feel free to compose your own letters for the prompts that spark your interest and leave them in the comments.

This is the list of prompts:


And away we go!  My first love letter, fittingly, to love:

Dear Love,

There are times when I sit home on a Friday or Saturday night and feel like somehow you’ve eluded me. A half a lifetime ago, I never would have imagined myself still single and firmly entrenched in middle age, love having seemingly skipped over me. But then, Love, I look around and know that you’ve been bestowed upon me in an abundance of ways: a wonderful family (how many families truly enjoy each other’s company like mine does?), a roommate who taught me how to share a living space with someone again (without that someone wanting to stab me in my sleep), friends who have been at my side for decades and met a version of me that I might not even recognize anymore, other friends who drive hundreds of miles to hang out, co-workers that make not being able to retire immediately not such a bad thing and a dog that I choose to believe loves me for more than just feeding her every day. How blessed I am!

Love, you might not be in my life in an average, run of the mill way, but you’re present in everything I do and all the people I meet. You’re in the sunrise and the moon rise, in the smiles of the other runners I tiredly wave to when I’m out and even in the happily chirping birds that sometimes wake me up far too early on a weekend morning. You’re kind of the glue that holds the world together, aren’t you? It’s funny how I didn’t even notice how you did that, Love, until I started looking. And there you were. Everywhere. Like you always had been.