Category Archives: Life

The Noggin’ Chronicles Part 9

05-01-23. Warning: post op pix attached.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
~ Charles Dickens ~ “A Tale of Two Cities

I can’t say that this has been either the best nor the worst of times. There have been a few times I have questioned my sanity, but then I realize this has been an overwhelmingly positive experience, despite a few lows.

This is the second time today I’ve written this post. Initially, I was grumpy about losing the first draft, but as a writer, I have always found edits are an essential part of the process. So, here I am to make my initial post more concise. Heh…

It’s been a month since my head was sliced and diced and things were moved around to make life a little bit easier. The recovery is slow, for sure. However, at a month out, I’m glad I have had the nerve decompression / excision surgery. (Disclaimer: it will be at least the 6-month mark whether or not this will qualify as a success, but I’m thinking positive here. In some patients, it’s about a year. It all depends on what happens when the nerves “wake up.”)

Last week I went back to work about the 3.5 week post-op mark. It may have been a little too soon. I tried to power through the 40 hours, but only made it 39. My boss’s boss told me I could take it easier if I need to and work half days if necessary. It was very sweet of her and I may need to take her up on it. However, I also don’t want anyone to have to pick up my slack. My squad already did that for a few weeks and it’s hard for me to ask them to do any more. They are a great bunch of guys and are truly appreciated.

Fortunately, I’ve managed to figure out a plan for the ice packs at work that make me look like a complete dork, but do the job they are intended for. I don’t think I’m going to share a photograph of that particular look at this time. There’s only so much mocking I can take. LOL!

Of all the plusses… the BIGGEST has been a long prayed for relief of the Occipital Neuralgia / Migraine pain. In the past month, I have had a total of 2.5 days of pain. I haven’t been this “pain free” in years. And I’m still hurting a bit from the surgery, but the surgical pain is NOTHING like the 24/7 agony that drives a person to think about either ramming themselves headfirst into a concrete pillar until they are unconscious or worse. We don’t need to discuss worse. You can imagine.

The second biggest plus has been a reduction in medication. I have tried literally EVERY SINGLE medication for migraines. (Not an exaggeration.) I have even been prescribed off-label meds to try to get the conditions under control. For a year I was even on low doses of morphine which has it’s own side-effects. I plan on writing a post or two about the medication I’m currently weaning off of. I just want to say that evil doesn’t begin to describe it and the black box warning should actually read, “Agent Orange and Thalidomide would be a better option than what you are about to ingest.” Once that medication is done and over with – hopefully later next year, then the process begins for the next one. I’m praying to be as medication free as humanly possible by 2025.

However, even though the financial cost is high, what’s made it worth it is starting to get some semblance of a life back. These conditions rendered me to a level of existence, but not really living. These days, I’m actually looking forward to making plans and being able to DO things. The first thing I’m so excited about is Eldest’s wedding next month. Before surgery, I was afraid I was going to have to go, pretend to have a good time and sit there doped up on medication to make it through. Who wants a life like that? Not me. The timing of this surgery was definitely a God thing.

So anyway, I haven’t wanted to post any pictures until I had a decent benchmark. 30 days seemed to be ideal. (And yes, the birthmark makes things in the later pictures look worse than they are.)

03-30-23 I was Borg. This picture was taken in the recovery room immediately after surgery.
04-30-23. No longer Borg! The “pink” down the middle isn’t just the incision / scar. The color is part of a very large birthmark on the back of my head (about the size of my palm extending to the right.). Fortunately my hair is growing back and covers most of it and eventually the scar too will be covered.
You can actually see where the port wine color of the birthmark.. And the neck incisions on both sides are healing up. Just showing this site because both would be superfluous.

Anyway, all things being equal and knowing what I know now, this was, at least at this point, a surgery worth undergoing. I said from day one that even if it reduces the number of days and the pain 50% it would be worth it. Thus far, it’s exceeded expectations. I pray it continues.

“Jesus, help me to keep my focus on You when the pain, hurt and emotions are overwhelming. There is so much good and so many things to be thankful for. Please strengthen my mind, heart, and body, and if it is Your will, I pray for a full and restorative healing.”


The Noggin’ Chronicles Part 8

04-21-23 / Friday

When I’m not feeling overly well, I have several playlists I listen to depending on what I’m doing, experiencing or feeling. I find outside of reading, music is a balm that helps make everything better. Right now, I’m listening to Elton John. I don’t know if that tells you anything or not. However, it’s “that” kind of day. Last night’s pain abated with meds, but returned earlier this morning. Hubs took a look and the Bermuda Triangle of my head is still a little puffy. So once again, I’m laying on an ice pack and I’m trying to distract myself by listening and writing. However, I think a nap is called for. Maybe that will help.

04-22-23 / Saturday 1900 CDT

A nap was definitely in order. The last two days have been pretty rough, but that’s okay. I know to expect ups and downs. The carousel just keeps spinning round and round.

The stomach bug has been hanging on for over a week. Today, I may not have made a good choice to hurry things along. I went out this afternoon on a Starbucks run. I haven’t had a cup of coffee since March 28th and while I love java, it doesn’t necessarily like me. Nor does my body react favorably to a Frappuccino. So what did I do in my infinite wisdom? If you guessed ordered and drank both, you would be correct.

Photo Courtesy: Elgin Akyurt

The lovely cup of java stupidity had it’s intended affect followed up by the Frap which turned my bowels into a tsunami storm surge. I expected this. I was prepared for it. What I was not prepared for was the headache that darned near sent me to the ground in the fetal position while the storm was raging.

Lemme tell ya, I don’t know if this head thing is a headache or a migraine relocated to a different position in my head or what it is. Right now, the entire back side of my head has been hurting. It’s a throbbing that I haven’t experienced in that area of the noggin and I haven’t had a migraine in almost a month. I question if the coffee has lit the fuse on something that could be very bad. Needless to say, I think I’ll be NOT partaking in my favorite beverage again any time soon.

04-23-23 / Sunday at 0400 CDT

Oh for the love of all that is pure and holy… I am 5 days shy of being a month post-op. I was feeling pretty decent until yesterday and then whammo. Literally, I was in the loo having issues and suddenly the entire back of my head experienced what could only be described as a level 12 migraine for a few minutes and then it backed off and is now located toward the end of the incision near the top of my right ear about a level 7. This spot is where I have almost always gotten my migraines. I’m icing it now, but mercy… this hurts. I haven’t had a migraine since surgery and NEVER had anything like this happen.  

There’s also a pretty massive weather front that came through which is normally the biggest migraine trigger for me. I’m feeling down because I hurt. It’s the middle of the night. Hubs is dead asleep as are the Grands and my Youngest is at work. (However, she is texting me so there is something positive.) Even the dogs don’t want to commiserate with me.

I took a couple of extra strength Tylenol and I’m hoping that helps. I’m also trying not to cry because if this pounding is actually a migraine, crying will just make things worse. Add to all that I’m supposed to go back to work in a couple of days and well… I’m down.

I know that this surgical recovery takes 6 months to a year, but it was sooooo nice not to have the migraine pain. It’s literally been years without the non-stop pounding and the past three weeks have been life changing in a way that I could actually see who I was and who I could be without the pain.

For ages it seems I have let everyone down many times over and I haven’t had anything resembling a social life in who knows how long. I remember once upon a time having one – being able to go out with friends and family without ever thinking about the cranium hurting or wanting to run headfirst into a wall until I’m unconscious. I don’t ever want to go back to that place, but that place is currently visiting me. I’m scared to be honest.

Photo: Engin Akyurt / Perfect example of either a Pink Floyd song or a wall I would feel like running headlong into. Your choice.

I said that this surgery would be worth it even if it cut down the number of migraine days or the percentage of pain I experience. Maybe this is just “one day” or maybe more. I do know before surgery I was in 24/7 headaches and averaged 20 actual migraine days a month.

Trying to think positive here and maybe this is just a one step forward, one step back kind of thing. Anyway, I thought I would share in case anyone else has experienced this. You are not alone. I’m not alone. We are in this together.

The Noggin’ Chronicles Part 6

Surgery recovery is up and down like a carousel horse spinning in circles, going faster and slower, but always on the same trajectory.

04-09-23: This morning was a brilliant sunrise followed by an isolated thunderstorm. Aside from the fresh smelling air, I didn’t have any expectations of “weather” today as I don’t normally keep up with it. My head, and it’s ever fluctuating barometer, has pretty much always done the work of a meteorologist. So imagine my blurry-eyed surprise when the storm hit and I had NO inclination it was coming. I do NOT remember the last time that happened. Years? Decades? I do not know.

As I hadn’t slept last night due to the insomnia which continues to torment my night time hours, I fell into a deep sleep somewhere around 0900 – 1000 CDT. When I woke up (the first time) I wondered why the house was utterly silent. The family went out to do Easter activities while I snoozed the much needed snooze. A little later on, a second round of storms came through the area. Guess who wasn’t writhing on the floor while praying for the world to stop spinning, the nausea to stop and the jackhammers in her head to stop pounding? Yup. This girl.

Thursday 04-13-23 – Two Weeks & Counting

Two weeks ago today, I had part of my head sliced and diced. While totally nervous about surgery and the immediate aftermath, the adventure continues.

A week or so ago, I made my first foray into town all my by lonesome. I needed to go pick up some meds at the pharmacy which is roughly 30 miles round trip. It wasn’t the easiest experience as turning my head to look around while driving was “strained.” That’s the best word I have for it. It didn’t necessarily hurt, but there was definitely a lack of range of motion. But I made it there alive and back again in one piece so that was an accomplishment.

The first week following surgery, I think I used icepacks almost 24/7. It didn’t matter what I was doing, there was an ice pack nearby if not attached to my head. There was some “obvious” bruising and swelling, which pain meds didn’t really help with due to the nature of the “injury.” You can’t just treat this like a sprained ankle or another surgery, which this is number 9 for me overall so I do have a clue.

Showering was “weird” and a little bit difficult because 1) baby shampoo is made for babies, not grown adults with a LOT of hair and 2) the shower head I prefer has a water pressure that when even on “low” is pretty strong, though not as strong as a Swedish masseuse with man hands strong. A saving grace though has been the hair towel I use because it does NOT cut across any of the incisions where it would be “uncomfortable.” The one I use actually runs higher across the back of my head, but is similar to this one & no I’m not sponsored:

Photo: – Amazon – Hicober Microfiber Hair Towel

This week, I have managed to go out twice! Yesterday, I took Hubs for a colonoscopy. He’s squeaky clean and doesn’t have to go in again for another decade. Woot! (Wait, I’m not sure if you needed to know that, but whatever.)

Today, I went and met Eldest on her lunch break so we could do some searching for a MOB dress for her upcoming nuptials in June. We managed two stores and I tried on 5 of 6 dresses / outfits. I don’t like any of them. (This is going to be another forthcoming post series I have a feeling.) However, when we were done, I was tired. But I had to run two more errands on the way home, from where I’m coming to you now with one of several trusty icepacks, which I think I am naming this one Fred.

HOLY CRAP ON A CRACKER, BATMAN!!! My husband just came into the bedroom and told me storms are coming. that’s two different storm days where I haven’t had a clue one that the storm is coming. This storm is an actual squall line, which normally levels me and I only have a mild headache, which I had assumed was from being out and about. (Still could be. IDK)

Sorry… I digressed. But, like… wow.

Anyway, I know there are ups and downs and around and arounds, but week two has been definitely been better than the first week. I don’t use the ice packs as much, hardly use any Tylenol and feel pretty decent. Part of the healing process though is trying to focus more on my diet and nutrition instead of the Jolly Ranchers that are little rectangles of pure sugar enjoyment.

I know that healing from surgery requires better nutrition so for about a week thus far, I’ve started adding a daily smoothie to my healing regimen. These include fresh and / or frozen fruits, ground flax seed, chia seeds, collagen powder and then depending on what the fruits are I’m adding either “Super Reds,” “Super Greens” and / or powdered beets. I’m also researching nutrition concerning a much better diet to promote healing both inside and out.

I’ve also started adding a. few other vitamin supplements to my daily multivitamin and vitamin D. These include:

  • Magnesium Complex
  • Omega 3 – Krill Oil (found I tolerate this much better than regular fish oil)
  • Health by Habit’s “Hair, Skin & Nails” which includes Biotin, Hyaluronic Acid, Rosehip and Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B Complex – B1, B2, B6, B 12 and Vitamin C
  • CoQ-10

I know there are a lot of things many migraineurs cannot do, but something that I’ve been able to use (since I found a company whose compounds have never triggered a migraine) are essential oils. I have tried a LOT of oils and lots of different brands. I found one that works for me and I generally have a roller ball in my purse for “smells on the go.” I also have a diffuser going most of the time. It helped some before surgery, but post op, the aromatherapy is a game changer when it comes keeping my anxiety under control. With that “set,” I don’t have the blood pressure spikes causing any additional pain. (Plus the bedroom smells amazeballs.)

Exercise will come back as tolerated. Right now I’m doing okay just trying to get some walking in. I still can’t lift anything above 5 pounds. My purse literally weighed 5.3 earlier today. After removing a few things and a bunch of spare change, it’s under 5. After next Thursday the weight will go to 10 pounds and I can increase my activity as tolerated. Mama didn’t raise a fool. I’m going to keep it slow and steady, but I’ll be working more in the garden we are putting in late so there is that.

Anyway, this is what I know for now. I’m going to put Fred back in the freezer with Ethel, Lucy and Ricky and then eat something for dinner while listening to some mellow music while reading one of the many books. Til next time, friends. Lots of Hope, Peace and Love ❤

The Sound of Thunder

Did you every play that “game” “Would You Rather?”

From time to time, I play it in my head and I have one question that I have never been able to answer. If I had to lose either my sight or my hearing, which would I rather lose? I know. It’s a great question. And anyone would say, “Neither.” However, that’s not an option as the question must be answered.

This question popped into my mind while listening to the long, rolling thunder making its way across the Texas plains following on the footsteps of a brilliant red sunrise. A little thunderstorm popped up and as it inched closer to town, the long lead up became a more frequent clamoring, sound and fury, signifying rain. I can feel the storm through the deep, rumbling bellows shaking the house. I can smell the moisture in the air. A single, cold raindrop kissed my hand as the crimson dawn drew her face behind heavy gray skies.

I think the better way to phrase the question is which would be easier to bear? I think we all can agree that either would suck in ways I cannot truly conceive. However, this morning I thought I would give it some extra thought (and still not come up with an answer.)

The sunrise was visually stunning – a scarlet ball coloring the world red just at the horizon. To never see a sunrise, sunset, my Hubs, my children, the grands, the pups, the world ad infinitum, to never read a book (gasp) is rather unthinkable. On the other hand, to never hear the sound of thunder, airplanes flying overhead, the birds, laughter, music (gasp) and more is equally an untenable thought.

I’ve been awake for about 24 hours now and this question is what my sleep-deprived mind is focused on. Right now, my cautious answer is I think it would be easier in the short term to lose my hearing, but long term, to never hear music again, may drive me slightly mad. After some sleep (and after the thunderstorm passes) I may have a different response.

So my question to you: Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing? It’s not an easy one, is it? ~ Celeste

The Noggin’ Chronicles Part 5

Okay… last long post for a bit, but it’s been a week since I left for Dallas for surgery and I thought I would share the wrap-up from last night’s journal.

First, though I have to say thank you. It’s you fine people with your prayers, thoughts, warm fuzzies and all of that who have made a huge difference over the past week in my universe. It has had far reaching impacts for the better and I’m truly thankful.

Secondly, I got to see the plethora of bluebonnets in bloom. Such a pretty sight and there’s really nothing else like it. The delicate flowers are some of my favorites.

So on to the show…

Surgery Update: Day 5 / 04-04-23

My, oh my. It’s 2157 CDT and I’m done.

It was a very long day. It started around 0300 CDT when I awoke from a drug-induced dead sleep. I attempted to move my head into a position it didn’t wish to go; therefore, I couldn’t get back to sleep and was only able to nap on and off throughout the long day.

I saw Dr. Amirlak this morning after slowly gathering everything we’d (Hubs) moved into the hotel suite in Dallas. I was apparently channelling my inner sloth, but we were not late anywhere. Operating in slow motion is coupled with the “lift restrictions” I have in place. I was told not to lift anything heavier than a jug of milk. I can safely assume my handbag is borderline, but the bag is rather essential to my life and downsizing the weight will have to wait.

Walking you through the major events of my day (with some repetition form the initial post about surgery…) Dr. Amirlak. I truly like the man. He discussed what he did during my surgery. I already read the post-op notes and reviewed the pictures taken during surgery. The lengthy operation was indeed necessary and he described it as “complicated.” I believe this was an accurate and specifically chosen word. I do not believe any amount of medication would have helped my condition (even though I’ve done over 50 combos of meds over the years) due to the facts my greater occipital nerve was being “strangled” by veins and compressed by surrounding fascia and muscle. He set the nerve in a deeper channel and fat from my neck was grafted and set around it as a buffer along with some special nerve protective sheathing. The lesser occipital nerve was similarly done. The 3rd nerves on both sides, which needed to go, are gone. Dr. Amirlak admitted he walked a fine line between the nerve decompression surgery and what a neurosurgeon would do, but I wouldn’t change it. While my head alternates between pain and numb, I can already tell there is a positive difference. There was a lot more I could bore you with, but suffice it to say, I’m feeling “better” tonight. (And my head’s love affair for a good ice pack continues…)

One reason for feeling better is I got the drain out today. I admittedly made a mountain out of a molehill. After snipping the suture holding it in place, it was easily removed. I currently have a hole in the back of my head which will heal in due time. Hubby assured me it’s kinda gross, but getting the drain contraption out of my cranium is already better because I can actually lay down on the ice pack in the way it does the most good.

Dr. Amirlak also discussed the potential scarring. Just for the record, this is surgery #9 and I couldn’t care less about the scars that mark my body. Plus, he’s a plastic surgeon and they already look tons better than most of the others. But I digress…

The other thing that Dr. Amirlak said is I have to do rest, get proper sleep and do the things that I enjoy. I’m also supposed to try to avoid any “trauma” to my head. (He told me about a patient that went to a Bon Jovi concert. The patient was kicked in the head which basically undid everything he did! Like how????) He doesn’t know me that well, but the idea is (at the moment) internally scoff-able. That may be a taller order than the physical recovery from the surgery. I have hurt 24/7 for so long I don’t even really know what I “enjoy” doing as I have done mostly the necessities and not things for “joy” for longer than most humans would appreciate. I’m going to have to have many conversations with myself and God Almighty about letting things go and letting God’s healing hands heal not only my head, but many other parts of life as well.

Another reason for feeling better, though I felt worse most of today, is I’m finally home. Dorothy was indeed correct, “There’s no place like home.” Getting here though, that was an adventure.

The dirt storm we had to drive into…
100 miles from home and visibility stinks
It felt like 1999 & “The Mummy” all over again.

When we left the Metroplex, it was a pretty day, just a little breezy. Nothing major, just “typical” spring-time weather in the Lone Star State. However, we were driving “uphill” home while fighting the wind and blowing dirt. For a bit (around the last 150 miles or so,) the only description of the drive was “fugly.” There were a couple of moments which vaguely reminded me of the sandstorm scenes in “The Mummy” and “Hildago.” Couple the winds with low visibility, construction, bumps in the road and all of that kind of thing, the approximate 6 hour drive was a bit “uncomfortable.”

Now, uncomfortable is a word medical professionals use when trying to hedge what a patient will feel. I generally say it with a ton of snark and sarcasm. The usage this time, for me, is no different. It didn’t hurt as if my head were treated as a midnight snack by Cerberus, but the weight sitting atop my shoulders felt as if professional bowlers were using it in a tournament.

It was so amazing pulling into the driveway, followed by the actual physical struggle against the wind to get into the house. (Yes, I’ve got Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” playing in the background…)

Not sure who is happier I’m home – me or the pups chillaxing with me.

After warm and happy greetings by the actual dogs with whom I live, I accomplished two things with help from Hubs. Laundry. I have a load in the dryer and one in the washer. I also managed to unpack some other things and put the lighter stuff away. If nothing else, I was somewhat productive today. Yay me? But I also got to see Eldest and her fiancee as well as love on the grands, who are back home after an extended stay with their Auntie.

Anyway, it’s time for bed and meds are kicking in. It’s just a quick update for this saga I’m participating in. I love you all ❤ And I do mean that. Lot’s o’ love and deep heart-felt thanks.

The Noggin’ Chronicles Part 4

Surgery Update: Day 4 / 04-03-23

As for yesterday… I didn’t wash my hair. It required too much energy. Housekeeping didn’t come. Hubs had to fetch towels and TP from the powers that be downstairs. Storms forecasted for the Metroplex weren’t bad. I could tell the shift of the barometric pressure, but didn’t get a full-blown, knock-me-on-my-ass migraine triggered by the ON nerves which have been decompressed and / or persuaded into a better position or removed entirely. 

Also last night (Sunday) the “pain” started kicking in as I think some of the blocks have started wearing off. I can tell where my head has been sliced and diced with something better than Ginsu knives. I will always have my best friends, but right now, ice, in all it’s frozen wonder, is rather at the top of the list of everything I cannot live without. 

My accomplishment for the day: I went a little longer without my pain meds this morning because I wanted to take a shower and I didn’t want to be woozy or anything on a slick surface. The hotel has dual shower heads and it was amazing. I mean, this was a real shower with warm water, smells good soap, a razor and baby shampoo. I’m paying for it now and resting with my head on ice, but it is so great to be “clean.” 

It’s 1628 CDT and poor Hubs has gone to fetch dinner. I don’t think he ate lunch. He wanted to try and get me out to go eat with some of the cousins who live in the Metroplex, but I can’t hold my head up that long. It feels as though a bowling ball rests on my shoulders. It makes me seriously wonder what the drive home will be like. I have the travel pillow that I’ve been using, but I seriously wonder if a small neck brace would be more beneficial. I’ve read from other surgical patients who when they had to return to work such a brace has helped. I suppose we’ll have to see. 

Dinner break. I’m the luckiest girl in the world. I didn’t think I was hungry, but man oh man… Hubs and I just scarfed down an In-N-Out burger and fries and it was so good. Muah! Kisses to the “chef.” This is one of the advantages to coming to the DFW Metroplex.

Yumminess that has to be experienced first-hand…

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday 04-04-23) I’m supposed to get the drain out of my head. I’ve always made jokes about my brain leaking out, but this actually looks like it’s happening. It’s so weird. It’s also a bit gross and it’s warm. It’s fascinating in a medical sense and I can’t help but think of all the things my mother would say about it and also want to know. She was the “Queen” of asking doctors questions about anything medical. She was always watching and learning things via television. Mom was also always trying to find out more about my conditions and continually offered suggestions, even bizarre things, if she thought it was “worth a try.” Admittedly, her help sometimes launched a disagreement about my treatment. She had her own neurological issues so there was commonality there, but oddly, she never really did much research into her own conditions. It’s like she got the diagnoses and gave up the fight, just accepting life was what it was going to be. That’s something that’s hard to understand, but we all have our own ways of approaching the harder things in life.  

It should be obvious, but I have thought about her quite a bit as she wasn’t here to ask what she thought about the procedure or the pros/cons. I’ve also had a few flash-backs while doling out my own daily meds and the similarities in how she used to do it with the way I do it is creepy, not in a bad way, but more in a “concerned I have become my mother” kind of way. 

Irrespective, the drain is coming out tomorrow come hell or high water. It’s probably going to hurt a bit, but hopefully nothing like the one the doctor pulled from my right knee. He gave me an “extra” hit of morphine before he did it and told me it was going to hurt. He didn’t lie. I’ll remember that particular experience until I die. I think my scream echoing through the hospital still haunts the halls. 

I suppose I should put this down and make the valiant effort to get some sleep before what appears to be a very long day tomorrow. Getting up “early”, eating something healthy, the to/from the doctor, driving about 6 hours to home. It will be an interesting test of my spirit, which needs to fight the good fight and win the race. It’s now 2122 CDT and I think a likely stopping point for the day. 

The Noggin’ Chronicles Part 3

Surgery Updates: Day 3 / 04-02-23


Not what you were expecting, eh? Neither was I, nor do I have them.  I do however have an itching about the noggin’ that is indescribably weird. 

A lot of my head is still very numb and likely will be for some time. However, the parts I actually can feel have me grossly attuned to the fact that the shaved hair is growing out and I just want it to stop. I mean, how do Marines cope with this? And Thank God it’s not 109 in the shade with sweat dripping from the cranium. I can only imagine. On the plus side, I think I’m going to get to wash my hair at some point today. I’d do a Snoopy dance here, but that requires energy I cannot muster. 

Pic: Grim1978

I’m also hoping that housekeeping comes through sooner rather than later. (I want a nap and fighting the meds to stay awake for said momentous occasion is hard.) We’ve been tidying the room ourselves, but after more than a few days here, I’d like some fresh towels and TP. Especially the TP. There’s a great many things in life I can do without, but TP is rather an essential.  Boy, I wish they would arrive. Maybe a nap is actually in order…

Series Introduction: “The Noggin’ Chronicles”

Photo Courtesy of: pexels-hải-nguy�n-14312400

Unfortunately, the image above represents millions of migraine sufferers around the world. However, if this was a real migraine sufferer, you’d likely see them in a room darkened with blackout drapes and an assortment of things within arms reach so the migraineur doesn’t have to move too much. (Getting off the floor with a migraine is a different level of ugly.)

This initial series post will be fairly long, but I wanted to explain what’s been going on medically, decisions that have been made and the outcomes as I know them. This is separate from the other types of blog posts that I’ll be doing, but I think this is important.

It’s been no secret I have struggled and fought with migraines over the past few decades. I have been on over 50 medicine / medicine combinations and nothing has “worked” for very long . During the course of my neurological issues, I was subsequently found to have Occipital Neuralgia (ON) which has been a primary trigger for at least the past 6-7 years, only said because that’s when the official diagnoses was made by by my neurologist. The condition has been getting progressively worse, but I’ll get to that.

According to Johns Hopkins, “True isolated occipital neuralgia is actually quite rare. However, many other types of headaches —especially migraines — can predominantly or repeatedly involve the back of the head on one particular side, inflaming the greater occipital nerve on the involved side and causing confusion as to the actual diagnosis.” Also, according to both the American Migraine Foundation and the Barrow Neurological Institute, “Occipital neuralgia is relatively rare, affecting an estimated 3.2 per 100,000 people per year.” This means there are about 250,000 people worldwide with this condition. In short, “rare.”

So what is it? I call it Cerberus who lives in my head, is chained to my neck and chews on whatever cranial structure is nearby (Cerbie for short..). But technically, Occipital Neuralgia is when one or more of the occipital nerve roots (which are located at the top of the spinal cord) are inflamed or irritated. The majority of the time, ON occurs when the largest of the nerves, the greater occipital nerve (GON), is affected. If the occipital nerves are already inflamed or irritated, touching the back of my head or neck could trigger ON. Moving my head in a certain direction can cause a flare. Even brushing my hair could sometimes trigger a “brief” and intense headache type pain that would magically transform into a hell of a migraine.

Given the “rarity” of the condition, it’s not surprising it took so many years for an official diagnosis. And yes, I have had doctors actually ask me if it was a “real” diagnoses because the condition is so rare. Frustrating, yes, but not surprising. The actual frustration came in trying to get a proper treatment for the ON.

I have seen my share of medical personnel: primary doc, neurologists, chiropractors and pain management docs. I have had all sorts of procedures ranging from nerve blocks to spinal epidural injections in my neck. I have done physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, acupressure, acupuncture, dry needling, massage, a zillion meds including Botox, the CGRP’s… and nothing was helping.

The condition has been progressively getting worse. I was really trying to limit the amount of time I missed from work, but there were some months that were unbelievably hard to bear. So while pressing myself to go to work, I sacrificed family time and pretty much anything that would be considered “living.” Sure, I was existing, but “life” wasn’t an experience. I felt like a mannequin in a department store window watching the world go by.

So, well over a year ago I started doing research on the “migraine surgery.” I read the articles in various medical publications by Dr. Peled, Dr. Guyuron et others. I also read the books they published. In addition to that, it’s been quite a while since the surgery was pioneered and there have been some longer term outcomes that have been favorable. So the research continued for about six months until I felt comfortable enough in attempting to have the surgery. I didn’t know if I was a good candidate, but I needed to start down the path nonetheless.

There are a few doctors across the country who perform the surgery, but the closest to me is Dr. Amirlak at UT Southwestern in Dallas. I did a bit of research on him and found him to be a competent surgeon. Additionally, I have dealt quite a bit with UTSW and there’s no where else I would want to receive my, shall we say, “more advanced” medical care. All of the medical personnel have always been “tops” in my books.

So I was able to book an appointment and saw Dr. Amirlak the first time in October 2022 after filling out a zillion pages of paperwork / questions etc.. I liked him immediately. He took his time during the consultation, asked questions I hadn’t thought about and poked and prodded my head, which wasn’t painful, but wasn’t pleasant either. Hubs was on hand and he was not ignored during the visit, which I can’t stand. Nor can I stand it when I am the patient and I’m being ignored, but I digress. Dr. Amirlak advised he thought I would be a good candidate for surgery. Then came the wait.

And we waited.

Annnnnd we waited.

The big hold-up was insurance approval. I was willing to pay out of pocket, but this surgery being covered by insurance would be a huge help. Insurance approves <1% of cases. However, with my lengthy medical history and all of the other documentation….

We waited.

And still we waited.

January turned into February and I finally got the news that insurance had approved the procedure along with the surgery date – March 30th, 2023.

I’m writing this a little over a week out from surgery, but obviously I’m alive and this series will be periodic updates as to “how things are going.” Right now though, I’d say things are looking better.

So onto the show…. Welcome to The Noggin Chronicles ❤ Celeste

Things Have Changed, but So Have I

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. I took a long , long sabbatical from writing, which was definitely necessary. My health went FUBAR and life as a result got pushed to the side along with many other things that make my heart happy.

I have had some time to give this careful contemplation and I want to try to be a force for good, educational, and in some kind of service to the Lord. I’m not sure exactly how things will ‘morph, but forthcoming is a reboot of the things I go through, that interest me and hopefully interest you as well.

Feel free to reach out and drop me a line. I’m listening.

TMI Notice: Bowel Health… Just Do It

Captain’s Log.

Stardate 08.10.20 Monday

My gastroenterologist provided me with a prescription of vile tasting laxative that I’m supposed to start drinking around 6pm and then have the second dose at 10pm. Welcome to the first day of my “relaxing weekend” otherwise known as Monday.

This isn’t my first ‘scope rodeo. This will be the 3rd or 4th colonoscopy and my first endoscopy. I took some “gentle” OTC laxatives Sunday at work about 3pm and then again about 8pm to get the ball rolling because sometimes with the meds I take, it takes a while for the bowels to warm up. About 9pm the ball was oh so slowly on its way. Then I woke up this morning to the subtle rumbling in my bowels. Progress?

Not yet.


1137 hours.

So…I’m moving the RX stuff up a bit. Instead of taking the meds at the prescribed time, I’m going to take them at 2pm and 6pm. I know from previous experience how “clean” that 5 feet of bowel needs to be. The RX laxatives are meant to speed up this process to warp 9. Scotty may be giving her all she’s got, but lemme just say, I haven’t even hit light speed yet. Heck, I haven’t even left the loading docks or the tarmac.


First bottle of Plenvu prep with 2 things of water – one of which has some Miralax in it, David’s tea and Dr. Pepper. The tea makes the best chaser.

1815 hours.

I’ve finished the prep. Blech. I’ve consumed at least 120oz of water and other clear fluids and I’m still drinking in hopes to flush the waste from my system.

Nothing yet.

Nada. Zero. Zilcharoo…

Jehovah Rapha, Heavenly Father… please have mercy on your humble servant and let this night pass quickly. I think I made a funny, Lord. Pass. Get it? Lol. Abba, I hope you got a chuckle out of it. Amen.


1930 hours.

I can no longer tolerate sitting. The abdominal pain, bloating and cramping are pretty horrific. I can stand, walk around or lay down and try to get the liquids dispersed. Sitting anywhere (let alone on the throne) is darned near impossible. I’m waiting for “something” to happen. Sigh… 2 more glasses of water.


At least this time in the loo has given me more time to read my Bible and despite the possible outcomes, I have faith everything will be ok. (Jeremiah 29:11)

This has also given me some alone time to work on a @joycemeyer @enjoyingeverydaylife Bible study on fear. It’s an excellent 10 day study that is taking me longer to do. I’m actually studying fears and how to overcome them from a Biblical perspective. It’s been good to me.


2030 hours.

I’ve yet to have a bowel movement. I’m so bloated from liquids I think I’m going to have to beach myself. I really AM the Walrus. Koo koo ka choo.


2247 hours.

Oh what new level of hell is this??? I have been painfully bloated for hours and just in the past half hour biohazards have finally started the evacuation of my body. It’s almost like a scene out of “Alien” minus Sigourney Weaver.


2357 hours.

My legs are numb and asleep and I’ve been in the bathroom for over an hour. I don’t know which is worse, being bloated and having cramps or the non-stop volcanic activity shooting out of my nether-region at Mach 5.



Captain’s Log

Stardate 08.11.20 Tuesday

0017 hours.

It’s raining.

I hear it through the open bathroom window that I can only hope is sucking out this wretched stench. Hopefully the bowels will be cleaned out by my 0845 procedure time. But the stench…. gads. I should have remembered to add Vick’s to my “bathroom bag.”

The “bathroom bag” has my iPad, smaller Bible w/highlighters, a notebook of sorts, Carmex, Flushable wipes, an extra water bottle, a pair of clean undies and a couple of “doggie poop bags” in case things go amuck. Get it? Amuck? And I also have a pillow so I can lay my head against the wall if needed. This stuff I packed up because I didn’t know which bathroom I might be stuck in for a while.


0141 hours.

Just. Make. It. Stop.

I’m exhausted, dehydrated, slightly hungry, yet extremely nauseous, and Mt. Vesuvius still insists on spewing forth with no end in sight. (Fortunately it appears those in Pompeii met their demise a lot quicker than this prep is going.) However, the moment I think I might be able to leave the bathroom for a few minutes, my fluffy assets gravitate to the commode as more foulness rushes forth.


0156 hours.

Just when I think I might be able to leave the 5X5 cell (not including the shower), the poop returneth. I’m exhausted.


0247 hours.

I’ve snuck out of the loo and I’m going to try to sleep.


0422 hours.

Shit. (Literally.)

The second wave of what feels like Montezuma’s Revenge hath cometh über unexpectedly. There I was sound asleep.

Not great sleep, but it was sleep.

Then boom!

All over the place.

Thank God Almighty for “padding” which caught most of the onslaught of excrement as I quickly, yet gingerly, made for the repository of all things bowel related.

Funeral services will be held for a pair of panties later today; the shorts I had on are in critical condition in ICU.


0502 hours.

I’ve resumed my post in the master bathroom and I’m chugging water like it’s the end of the universe. Obviously my bowels are far from “clear.”



0602 hours.

I know before too long I’ll once again be in residency in Dante’s 7th level of hell. All I want out of life at this moment is to stop pooping and to be rehydrated.

I have to be there at 0845 and things still aren’t “clear.”

Not even close.

I tell you this though…

I started this whole prep thing earlier than the directions stated.

Sunday at 1800 hours to be exact. It was a full 24 hours prior to the “big event.”

No food.

Liquid diet.

The instructions called for everything to begin at 1800 hours Monday.

If I had done that there wouldn’t be a snowball’s chance in hell of getting the procedure done and right now it’s still iffy at best.

I’m. So. Tired.

But here I sit guzzling more water and listening to my stomach make sounds that are just wrong.


0813 hours.

Called the doc as things STILL aren’t as cleaned out as they should be.

Not even close.


Not even joking.

The nurse advised me to take 1/2 of the Miralax I had left and another 8oz of water as quickly as possible.

I chugged both down.

Yay me?


0907 hours.

Another foul smelling bowel movement.

I refuse to surrender.

I’m NOT doing this again.



0932 hours.

Nurse calls and I’ve been able to dump some more waste into the city’s sewer system. I was told to be there at 1030.

Praying for at least one more massive bowel movement. I just don’t think things are as clean as they can be.

Next colonoscopy I’m going for the 5 day Miralax/Dulcolax combination. This RX stuff is for the birds.


1025 hours.

Kyle is hauling ass across town to get me to the center for the procedures. I still don’t think my bowel is clean enough. I’m pretty freaking sure it will be an indescribable mess. I don’t know. We’ll see I suppose. Ok. I won’t see, but I’ll find out after I wake up.

My stomach is gurgling and I can only pray for the best at this point.


Just modeling the latest in hospital gowns. This one is actually made from a thick material and not half bad.

1502 hours.

Remember the adage never say never. F. M. L.

I now have to repeat the colonoscopy- this time with additional meds (Linzess) and a gallon of GoLytely.

Seriously – a repeat performance.

Remember… I started this whole procedure a day earlier than was told to. “Just in case…” Yeah. No.

Apparently I now have to start SIX days prior to the next one – to be done in two weeks.

The news from the endoscopy is pretty much what I expected. Not great news by any shot, but I have an answer.

This prep all totaled: 9 Dulcolax, 3/4 bottle of Miralax, all of the freaking RX Plenvu and liquids… and they could only get the scope halfway up the outer corridor.

I’m tired. I’m defeated. I’m 7 pounds lighter.

I will live to fight again.

Side note: It’s now Wednesday. I have a migraine and in bed. I’m still passing enough gas that I’m probably a bit dangerous around an open flame. I can’t freaking wait to do this whole thing over in 2 weeks.