Hit Me With Your Best Crack

Lower Back X-Ray

Pretty healthy looking “C”-shaped curve in my lower back.

As many of you know, I have suffered from debilitating chronic migraines for approximately 20 years.  I have tried everything from taking pills, to eliminating all sorts of food from my diet, to exercising more, to drinking enormous amounts of water, to journaling my daily activities and moods in search of triggers…  Unfortunately, nothing has worked and the migraines keep coming.

In my most recent migraine attack last week, I desperately started Yelping “migraine” on my phone in search of something, anything, that could bring me a little bit of relief.  A chiropractor’s name popped up on the list with multiple 5-star reviews from Yelpers who swore that their headaches were treated.  The reviewers also mentioned that in their first consultation, this specific chiropractor took x-rays to help them see all the misalignments.  Having always been curious about what my neck looked like at the deeper skeletal level, and also finding an x-ray coupon so I would know exactly how much my first visit would cost, I decided to schedule a visit to see this chiropractor.

Here’s what I learned:

First, a little bit about what’s normal and what’s not.  As you can see in the left image of a Normal X-Ray, there is a “C”-shaped curve, similar to the “C”-shaped curve in my lower back x-ray at the start of this post.  The image on the right shows when the neck not only does not have a “C”-shape, but it is actually starting to curve in the opposite direction!

Take a look at my neck x-ray:

Neck X-Ray, Atlas Subluxation

My abnormal neck that lacks any “C”-shaped curve.

As you can see, my neck clearly fits the Abnormal category.  You can see a faint black line that my chiropractor drew on the x-ray to show where the normal “C”-shaped curve should be.  Instead, my neck sticks straight out (not even straight up!) and is starting to have that reverse curve which is no good!

What’s even more interesting about my x-ray is when you look closely at my C1, or Atlas, which is the first vertebra in the spine.  Take a look at where the C1 is on this normal X-ray.  Notice the “space” between the C1 and the base of the skull, or the occipital bone.

Now look at my x-ray again and notice something really interesting…

Atlas Subluxation, Neck X-Ray

Could this be the reason why I experience migraines???

Why I do not have a space between my C1 and skull is most likely from some kind of injury, according to my chiropractor.  So I will blame my childhood gymnastics trainings where I am 100% sure I fell on my head multiple times.  But really, who knows?

What we do know is this: There are nerves that travel to different parts of the body from each spinal vertebra.  The nerves that are above C1 are those that directly bring blood supply to the head, scalp, pituitary gland, bones of the face, brain, inner and middle ear, sympathetic nervous system, and the eyes.  If my skull is directly touching my C1, then it is very likely that those C1 nerves are getting pinched.  What are the symptoms of a misaligned C1 vertebra and possible pinched nerves?

  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Head Colds
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Nervous Breakdowns
  • Amnesia
  • Chronic Tiredness
  • Dizziness

I experience 70% of those symptoms on a regular basis.  Could this C1 misalignment be the answer to my chronic migraines???  Quite possibly.  It’s at least a good, logical theory, and is something my chiropractor seems confident to improve, if not correct.  Therefore, I committed to a 3-month treatment plan with my chiropractor to give it a shot, even though I hate being in vulnerable situations where someone is using extreme force and I hear loud cracks.  I know some people love their chiropractor visits… but honestly, it’s just something I really, really don’t enjoy!

I am a pretty optimistic person, however, when it comes to my migraines I have felt helpless and hopeless after every failed treatment attempt.  This is the start of yet another treatment path, and I am surprisingly hopeful for any bit of positive change that can come about through these chiropractic visits.  We shall see.  At the end of 3 months, my chiropractor will take another x-ray, which I will definitely share with all of you, and of course, I will know by then whether or not my migraines have continued, have lessened, or – is it even possible to imagine – have been cured???

Oh, how I hope that dream can come true.

Advertisements

10 Little Lessons I’ve Learned From My 2-Year-Old

Vista-Point

So much to see and take in.

Today is my daughter’s 2nd birthday and I brought her on a short coastal walk to Vista Point to see the views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.  What I realized during our excursion today is that life is much more interesting from a 2-year-old’s perspective.  I see a wall, and she sees someone’s name carved in it.  I see the bridge, and she sees the bird flying overhead.  I see boats in the water, and she hears the boats.

I look back at pictures of my daughter especially in the past 6 months and find that I have a lot to learn from this little teacher of mine.  Maybe if we all start to see life like she does, we would all be a little bit more appreciative, more happy, and more alive.

Looking-At-The-World-Differently

Taking a different perspective.

Here are 10 Little Lessons I’ve Learned From My 2-Year Old:

1) Stop and Smell the Roses (Literally…)

Smelling-Flowers

At the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, CA.

This is something that happens quite frequently, whether we’re taking a walk or she’s sitting in the stroller.  Everywhere we go, she notices everything, from the flowers in the tree, to the penny on the floor, to the helicopter flying in the sky, to the “BUG!” (the one crawling on your shirt…).  Next time, just try to notice something beautiful around you, in your neighborhood, during your commute, at school, at work, or maybe even at home.  Be grateful for clean sidewalks, working traffic lights, clear skies, or maybe some falling leaves overhead?

2) Express Your Unique Self

Downward-Dog-No-Hands

Being upside-down is so fascinating!

Where did my daughter learn this?  I’m pretty sure she made it up on her own, at least the no-handed variation of a sort-of downward dog/headstand yoga pose.  As we get older, we tend to fit ourselves into different molds based on jobs or roles we take.  Don’t be afraid to do something differently, and to add your personal flair.  Be unique.  Be creative.  Be yourself, not a toned-down version.

3) That’s So Cool…

Gymboree-Bubbles

Bubbles during music time in Gymboree class.

Who doesn’t love bubbles???  There’s something magical about bubbles and how they float, glow, and disappear!  There’s so many magical things around us that are just plain amazing and we often take these inventions for granted.  Airplanes fly, lights turn on and off, water runs from the shower head, bicycle wheels turn… My car battery died this week, and I am sure you understand the inconvenience that always causes.  As soon as it got fixed and my car was running again, I realized how grateful I am just to have a working car.  There is so much else that could go wrong inside of a car that I don’t understand, so to me, cars are absolutely magical.

4) Take On Challenges

Stacking-Blocks

Daddy’s cool way of entertaining and playing with blocks together.

“YEAH!” is the usual reaction we get whenever we propose trying something new or different.  The lack of fear of failure is really refreshing.  Everything is an exciting challenge in my daughter’s eyes and to her, it is fun to keep trying and trying.  As adults who may have failed many times already, that fear of failure is scary.   It can be painful, it can be disappointing, it can be traumatizing.  Do we keep trying to pursue our passions or have we given up?

5) Make New Friends

Dogs-Best-Friend

Every dog is my daughter’s best friend.

This is a classic example of my daughter.  We were walking in a mall and a slightly older girl runs past us.  My daughter?  She immediately starts chasing the girl, giggling and following her everywhere.  The girl notices and begins running faster, circling, hiding, and my daughter is happily chasing her in this self-created game of tag.  Similarly, we go in elevators and my daughter always is the one who pops her head out of the stroller and says, “Hi!” to the stranger.  Maybe she’s on one extreme of super-friendliness, but I’m pretty sure there’s a balance where we can all be a little friendlier too.  Maybe we can start by making more eye-contact or maybe a simple nod to acknowledge someone.  Your friendly gesture just might make someone’s day.

6) Everything Can Be a Playground

Discovery-Bay-Museum-Boat

A boat exhibit at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA.

Who needs slides or swings when you have two ropes with bells hanging down?  My daughter is able to turn any object or place into something fun to play on and she doesn’t need much more.  She can find plenty of ways to stay active and healthy.  No treadmill needed!  As adults, many of us tend to choose the less-active option if given a choice.  Sitting versus standing, driving versus walking, elevators versus stairs… we would all be so much healthier if we incorporated more physical activity in our day-to-day schedule like children do!  Why don’t you try the “harder” way next time?

7) The Grass is Green

Chip-In-The-Grass

That’s some pretty green grass.

We all know the phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Adults just complain too much.  It’s understandable.  We have work, errands, projects, deadlines, meetings, appointments, plans, etc.  But we complain about our current situations and think that if circumstances were different, it would be better.  This results in too much stress, worry, frowning, and general unhappiness.  What is it about kids that really make them different from adults?  They are carefree.  There is no worry of future.  It is all about the present moment and making the most of it.  I think there’s something to be learned from that.  The grass you are on right now IS green, really green in fact.  Can you see that?

8) Chores Can Be Fun

Making-Zucchini-Bread

One of the best investments I have made – a $20 Rubbermaid 2-step stool.

This past month, my daughter wants to do everything that I am doing… laundry, cooking, washing dishes… so now I just let her help me.  She takes out the clothes from the dryer and helps to sort them by “Da Da’s pants” vs. “Pants mine.”  She helps me to mix ingredients in bowls, wash vegetables, and move slices from the cutting board to a plate.  And she likes using the sponge to wash her dishes and rinse off the soap.  She even scoops and feeds our dog kibble everyday (sometimes hand-feeding…).  Somehow having her participate in these chores has made it more fun for me too – it’s no longer a chore, but an activity for us to “play” together.

9) Say, “CHEESE!”

Say-Cheese

The more dramatic, the better =)

One of my favorite exhibits that is currently at the Exploratorium in San Francisco is the laughing video.  You sit in a chair in front of a TV that loops a couple seconds of different people laughing hysterically at something.  In just a couple of seconds, the laughing just becomes contagious even though you have no idea what they are laughing about.  I love it, and so does my daughter.  We all need to smile and laugh more, don’t we?  And just like the exhibit, if we laugh, then others around us will too!

10) It’s OK to Make Mistakes

(photo x-rated)

A few weeks ago, I went to get my daughter in the morning as usual, but when I opened the door, she was completely undressed.  She had learned a new skill – taking off her pajamas and taking off her DIAPER!!!  And instead of saying, “Good morning,” she just kept saying, “ALL WET! ALL WET!”  Yes.  Your bed is wet because you took off your diaper and then you went pee-pee.  Of course, who could get mad at that?  Fortunately, it was a one-time occurrence because she understood the consequence of taking off her diaper, and it hasn’t happened since.  That’s ok, we all make mistakes, and what matters is that we learn from them!

And…

I can’t resist posting the picture…

Too memorable to leave out!

No-Diaper

An unusual morning greeting…

Parenting has been hands-down the most challenging task I’ve ever done, and I only have a 2-year-old!  Nothing prepares you to be the perfect parent, and I am constantly learning and changing and trying to be a better mom.  It is a humbling experience, and yet, it is the most rewarding and wonderful gift I could ever ask for.

Thank you, Zaydee, for teaching me to see the world through your eyes.  Happy 2nd Birthday!

Embracing Change

Golden Gate Bridge to Marin

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco into the beautiful Marin County.

Less than three weeks ago, I moved to San Rafael in Marin County with my family.  I really can’t complain.  Marin County has the highest life expectancy in the United States for women at 85 years old, and fifth-highest life expectancy for men at 81 years old.  It is beautiful in Marin, with many walking/hiking spots such as the Muir Woods Redwood Forests, Mount Tamalpais, Marin Headlands, and Point Reyes.  It is a great place to raise a child because of its safe neighborhoods, friendly people and communities, and schools are top-notch.  And it is the home of my favorite ice cream brand, Three Twins!

Despite all of the wonderful factors above, change is challenging.  For one, just the physical effort of moving from one place to another is an absolute headache!  It is exhausting to do by yourself, so we decided to hire someone to help us load and unload the moving truck.  Unfortunately, hiring help means sometimes you end up with a few broken or missing items…

Moving Inventory List

Our moving inventory list showing a few damaged and missing items… still.

Damaged Bookshelf During Moving

Hmmm… guess there weren’t enough blankets wrapped around this bookshelf.

Broken Lamp

Moving lamps is always one of the trickiest items…

Also, change means a lot of unknowns.  Changing schools means making new friends.  Changing jobs means tackling a steep initial learning curve.  Changing homes means getting to know your neighborhood and where everything is.  Change is taking us out of our comfort zone, and it can be scary sometimes.  I have only had a handful of “big” moves from San Diego, to Hong Kong, to Los Angeles, and now to Marin.  I know personally, I tend to hold on too tightly to what’s comfortable and I resist change.  Then I always find myself a little lost, a little sad, and a little unhappy.  My fear of change creates a negative attitude.

So what is the solution???

Be proactive, let go of what’s comfortable, and embrace change. 

My husband started his new job last week, and on the first day of his work, he decided to surprise everyone and have lunch catered.  Obviously, everyone was incredibly shocked that the new employee would buy lunch, but it was a gesture that was much appreciated.  As a result, it has helped him to get to know his colleagues better at the workplace.  Be proactive.

My daughter also started her first day of preschool this week.  It was her first time in any kind of “school,” and up until this point, she has pretty much been in the comfort of our home with mommy.  Now that she is a toddler, we decided she should start socializing more with friends and learning how to follow a daily schedule and routine.  Dropping her off the first day was one of those tearful, clinging-on-to-dear-mommy moments, but did she have fun?  Yes!!!  Now, we’re only on day 3, and she happily enters the classroom at drop-off with a big, “BYE!” to mommy.  Hey, what about my hug???  Let go of what’s comfortable.

As for myself, the best remedy is to just force myself to get outside and explore.  I relate to being like a puzzle piece.  At first, I am only one puzzle piece on the center of the table.  But when I am outside discovering new fantastic places that are all around me, I begin to grow.  Different puzzle pieces start connecting to me, and as the picture grows larger and larger, I begin to see what all this change has brought into my life: new knowledge, new experiences, and new appreciation.  Embrace change.

Exploratorium Shadow Exhibit

3-2-1 … CHEESE!!! Having fun at the shadow exhibit at the Exploratorium.

Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.

– Bruce Lee