Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meet Millicent

I am at home at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon in my pyjamas sitting on the couch bemoaning a headache that has plagued me for the past three days.  I’ve just swallowed three extra-strength ASA tablets hoping, if nothing else, to trick my head and neck and shoulders into believing that the affliction to which I am conceding defeat isn’t real.

I get headaches.  I’ve always gotten headaches.  They are part of my life.  For the most part (of the headaches, not my life) I can deal with it.  They do not prevent me from sleeping or concentrating or doing anything else that I may be required to do in the course of living my life.  But every now and then a doozey like this one comes along, reducing me to the whiney cow I have become today.  Everything pisses me off and no one need bother attempting to console me, because I’m just as likely to tear them a new one as I am to burst into tears at their feet. 

I have named this particular headache Millicent.  Don’t ask me why.  It’s the name that slithered out of the stabbing pain that is my right eye and jaw.  Even my hair hurts today.  If I close my eyes I can see myself ripping it out by the roots.

Normally I ignore pain.  Well, I don’t ignore it as much as I refuse to treat it with pills.  When I was 15 I fell on a trampoline and gave myself a whopping case of whiplash.  Pain management was the order of the day until I realized that the more painkillers I swallowed the longer it took for my neck to get better because I didn't feel the pain and so would nod or shake or turn it more than I should, thus causing it to hurt longer.  As long as I was aware of the pain and conscious of my movements, I would feel better in days rather than weeks.
So it is with headaches.  Pop a couple of Ibuprophen and sure I’d feel better shortly, but in reality the headache was still there.  I just couldn’t feel it.  I have come to the conclusion that pain must be allowed to run its course.  It’s there for a reason and it’s better to get to know it than to try to fight it.  So I decided that Millicent and I were going to become friends. 

With friends like Millicent, who needs enemies?  She’s really quite a bitch. 

She’s holed up behind my eyes and lashes out with spiked heels at my jaw.  She’s winched my shoulder and neck muscles up into tight knots that she stomps on with vengeful wrath.  I’m exhausted.  Therefore ASA is now tracking through my veins delivering its own killing blows to this unbearable wench inside my head.

There was a time when having headaches – even the normal ones – was a concern for me.  I have presented several doctors with the complaint and each of them has sent me home with varying solutions.  All of them have ruled out the need for medical intervention, although one of them merely told me that it was all in my head and suggested therapy.  My response was, “It’s a headache.  Of course it’s in my head.”  She wasn’t amused.  But she did seem to think I was a hypochondriac and admonished me for wasting her time.   (Then again, when I was three months pregnant, she said the same thing, convincing me that she wasn’t a very good doctor.)

The last time I bothered a doctor about my headaches was about 10 years ago.  She – a different she – told me I was peri-menopausal and that they would go away in time.  When I told her that I’d been getting headaches since I was a teenager she said that it was associated with my cycle and not to worry.  I have since discovered that this doctor is all about the uterus and has the unique ability to associate a hangnail with female troubles, so I figured I’d just cling to the peri-menopausal theory and ride it out.

When in doubt, manipulate the data!

It has been suggested (not by a doctor)that Millicent is a migraine.  I don’t know what a migraine is.  Nor do I care to find out.   All I know is it hurts and it make me cranky and when I have to resort to taking pain killers I get even more cranky.  At least until they work.  If they work.  Sometimes Millicent wears Kevlar and nothing gets through until she decides she’s done stomping and winching and kicking my little grey cells about.  Usually it’s right around the three-day mark.  Which is right about now.

Occasionally, she takes a nap – just long enough to make me think that she’s gone.  Then, when I believe that all is well, she leaps out from between my frontal and occipital lobes and unleashes a fresh flurry of bullets in all directions.  I hate it when she does this while I’m driving.  I hate it all the time, but when I’m driving... well it drives me nuts.  Especially, if the sun is shining.  Especially if the road is wet or icy and the glare is magnified a thousand fold. 

The ASA seems to be working.  The tension is beginning to ease a little and I don’t feel nearly as homicidal as I did an hour ago.  Still wouldn’t recommend getting in my face about anything, but there’s no more need to hide all sharp objects either. 

I’m going to go and watch The Republic of Doyle and see what kind of trouble Jake gets into this week.   That should put the smile back on my face.  Alan Hawko is such a hottie!  Even Millicent shouldn’t be able to resist his charms.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bowling - I Still Suck at It!

Whoever invented bowling must have had a bit of a sadistic streak.  Or people who bowl have masochistic streaks.  Not sure which is more true – maybe both in equal measure!

Last weekend I joined my daughter, her boyfriend, two of their friends and Dave at the Pleasant Valley Plaza’s newly renovated and updated bowling alley for an hour of shear humiliation.  We were there to celebrate Bizz’s birthday and in 15 frames I managed one spare.  But the gutter was by far the most prevalent path my shots took.   The week before, my two-year-old granddaughter got a better score than I did.

Dan, Al, Maike, Me and Dave at the Pleasant Valley Plaza.
And, no, Dave's not really the Stig!  
Mind you, it’s been at least 12 years since I last donned a pair of those lovely blue and red shoes and stepped up to an approach to a bowling lane.  I’m relatively sure that I at least was able to break 100 back then, but I can’t be positive.  That may be why I haven’t bothered going back.

Bowling has never been a game that I’ve had any particular fondness for.  Sports, in general, are not my forte and bowling skills are not at the top of my achievement list.  I get the theory.  I understand the principals.  I just can’t mesh them with my physical being. 

Now for the confession...

I want to go back. 

When I was a kid my parents used to take us bowling on Friday nights.  The family sometimes went out for dinner first – not always, but sometimes we would pull into the A & W Drive-in for burgers and shakes and fries (Does that date me?) before stopping at the library to pick out books and then going on to hit the lanes.  I remember looking forward to these outings with great anticipation, though I do think that the drive-in and library were my favourite parts.  The memory of those Friday nights are fond ones and last weekend I was transported back to them.  I haven’t thought about it in a long time.

The morning after I felt the ache of unfamiliar movements in my shoulders and legs.  It’s funny how the simple act of rolling a ball can have that much effect.  Clearly I either need to do it more, or give it up entirely.  I’m pretty sure it is the camaraderie and not the game that is compelling me to want to incorporate bowling into my recreational activities.   The encouragement we all showered upon each other was uplifting.  The fact that I lost – badly – is moot in light of being together and having fun. 

Only moments away from another gutter ball!  
The Pleasant Valley Plaza (formerly known as the Rec Centre) has been undergoing a major transformation over the past year or so.  New owners have been renovating it, breathing new life into what was once a hub of recreational activity in Houston.  The face lift they have given the exterior has made it more inviting, a place that people now want to go to again. 

The bowling alley has new computerized scoring consoles.  The ball returns have been upgraded and there is less likelihood of smashed fingers now that the balls are caught and slowed down before they roll all the way up.  The consoles are huge, though.  They block the line of sight from the benches to the lanes, but I only figured that my bad shots were less noticeable.  Gone are the hard plastic, orange and grey seats and in their stead are soft, curved benches that encourage conversation.  The atmosphere is convivial.  The country music must go, though.

I’m pleased to see the return of the bowling alley in Houston.  It was great to see a group of teens there last night, having fun and not getting into trouble.  There was a family group there, as well, enjoying an evening out together and later a couple came in for a few games.  Our own little company of inexperienced and out-of-practice bowlers cheered and groaned and laughed for an hour amid them all.  It felt good to be part of this resurrected recreation again.