Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Restaurants and Silent Migraines


Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I’ll be spending it alone unless a last minute invitation comes which is unlikely. Families grow and there is less and less room around the table for widowed aunts as kids start bringing their friends home from college. At least that’s what I’m guessing is the reason why my niece-in-law---who usually asks me over for Thanksgiving---didn’t this year. I picked that clue up from Facebook. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been getting my fill of the traditional turkey dinner at the takeout window of a local chain. They do a fabulous job---as good as any homemade turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing and pie and the eight dollar dinner is enough food for two meals at home. In fact, dozens of people around town will be serving their pies over the holidays. They take orders well in advance and a few days before thanksgiving and Christmas people are overflowing the parking lot to pick up their pies. Me? If I’m indulging at the Dutch Boy Restaurant I’d rather have one of their cream puffs. I grew up sharing a cream puff with my mom when we'd be by her favorite bakery so they're a comfort food for me.

I’ve written about the Dutch Boy Restaurant before and how my husband would never go there because years ago its owner filled the place with religious tracts. Over the decades most---but not all---of the tracts have disappeared but Don never let go of his dislike for the place. I go there occasionally, with various groups I lunch with but it feels like I’m cheating on my husband. The church crowd are still loyal patrons and why not, the owner is a local philanthropist who actually walks the talk and not all Christians in my sphere of knowledge do. Locally owned restaurants and bars seem to draw like minded people, don’t they. The biker who opens up a bar draws the bikers and the urban millenniums draw people who love small batch beers. In a small town on the outskirts of town we once went to a restaurant that had White Nationalist and Michigan Militia crap all over the walls. We didn’t notice it until after we’d placed our orders, so we made the best of it and did some serious eavesdropping before we got the heck out of there. It gave us great pleasure a year later when we learned they'd gone out of business. Its owner is probably still scratching his head, trying to figure out why.

Speaking of restaurants this week I had a two hour lunch at the Guy-Land Cafeteria with my Gathering Girls pals. I wish I’d met these women much earlier in life. Only back years ago I wouldn’t have had anything in common with a bunch of young widows raising their kids on their own. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about serious topics because someone will end up saying something that cracks us all up and we get side-tracked easily by laughter. Silly things like all of us were having trouble remembering the name of the restaurant we started out going to 2 ½ years ago and by the time we figured it out we all had aching bellies from laughing. It was Tim Horton’s but we ran through Tom Horton, Ted Horton, Jim Horton and Bob Horton before we landed on the right name. And there were descriptions like, “It’s the place is right down the street from the senior hall.” “They have another one in front of Meijer.” "They sell Cold Stone ice cream too." It was one of those conversations that takes a village to find the words we were all searching for. We seem to be having a lot of ‘village conversations’ lately.

The next day I was back at the Guy-Land Cafeteria, my favorite place to people watch and write but I was there for a different purpose that day. I was hungry! I got up at 5:30 AM and was on the road by 7:00 without so much as a cup of coffee. The cafeteria was a convenient place to stop on my way home from a semi-emergency appointment with my ophthalmologist. I was experiencing a half-circle of bright flashing lights in an outer ring with an inner ring of colored lights flashing around a core of blurriness. The fear, of course, was the retina was detaching which is an emergency requiring surgery. What I didn’t know until the examination is that when you experience this effect and it goes away in 15-30 minutes that automatically rules out a detachment and puts it in the realm of a retinal migraine. If both eyes had been effected then a TIA would be the more likely cause.

Retinal migraines are also known as silent migraines because they don't come with pain like classic migraines do. Known as silent migraines because you get all the other symptoms. I never knew you could get a migraine without a headache but the doctor said it’s one of the few benefits of being over 60. Something about our veins getting too old to contract. This was my second eye ‘episode’ in a month and I’m to start keeping a diary of what I was doing just before the next one started---listing any stress, lack of sleep and foods eaten in an effort to nail down a trigger. Retinal migraines tend to come in clusters over a few months so he thinks there will be more. Knowledge is power. The next time it happens I’m to say, “Oh, boy, nap time!” Then lay down for a half hour until it passes. If it lasts longer than 30 minutes then it's time for Plan B just in case it is a retinal detachment in the making. ©

36 comments:

  1. That's a relief about your eye! I was in danger of a retinal detachment for a couple of years a long time ago, and it's scary. I'm glad you have an eye doctor you can trust.

    I'm glad you have friends you can laugh and be silly with.

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    1. Retinal detachments would be scary, especially when I don't have anyone to drive me to the doctor, if I couldn't see.

      Being silly is my specialty and its wonderful to be able to let that out from time to time without being judged.

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  2. I've had the rainbow effect for years and the only thing I was told was that it was due to high blood pressure at that specific time. Mine happens a lot when I get up to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It's good to know.

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    1. Interesting! I have high blood pressure,too. I'll have to take mine if/when I have the next episode. My doctor says not getting enough sleep and stress can be triggers and I've been feeling stressed out and don't sleep well lately. Who would guess you'd have high blood pressure when you're sleeping. I did read this on the internet: "One reason for waking with migraines is that REM sleep is most powerful just before awakening. Sleep problems can then trigger migraines by causing instability of serotonin and a lowering of dopamine levels."

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  3. That had to be scary. I had a vitreous detachment years ago which is a lot like a lightning storm in your eye. That was the only one I had but it did send me to the ER but I was OK.
    Interesting about high blood pressure when sleeping. Sometimes I will wake up with my normal mild background noise of tinnitus actually screaming. Now I will know to check my pressure.

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    1. It was scary the first time and terrifying the second time. But now that I understand what to look for and what to do I'm calm again and plan to make some changes in sleep and known trigger foods.

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  4. I have not heard of that so I'm glad to know in advance - just in case. It's always more scary when you don't have information but forewarned is forearmed. Hope they do not return after this cluster.

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    1. Me too. I have been stressing myself out too much lately and I need to back off, with hope they don't return.

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  5. Those migraines sound grim. Hope they are short lived. And those cream puffs? Bring ém on!

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    1. Those cream puffs are about 5 inches tall and they keep them in case by the front door. Hard to go home without one.

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  6. Sometimes it is a blessing to have no family obligations on Thanksgiving. I should think in this year of tricky politics, its a blessing to not have to navigate the land mines lurking in the giblet gravy. I celebrate alone and look forward to a day of movies and plenty to eat. I used to volunteer on Thanksgiving and did that for fifteen years. And now when I call to have my dinner delivered, I don't feel at all guilty. We also have a big city dinner here, but I am wary of germs, particularly the flu bug going around. The trick is to be sure to have your own cranberry side, and perhaps a few other goodies. And some great old movies.
    I am sorry you are experiencing worrisome ocular migraines. I have had them for thirty years, and I am still here. What I have found, and you might take note, is dehydration. Yep, water!
    Sometimes I just forget to drink enough, especially after lunch. I hope you will benefit from this advice, although yours may have a different cause. As we get older, it's always something. I also have high blood pressure, especially when I listen to political news these days. The whole world has just gone nuts.
    I am still curious about the shirts.
    Wishing you the best and hope your sweet dog is soon better. Have you (and the dog) tried cbd oil. I love it!

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    1. Talking politics at my family's parties has never been a issue. At my husband's side there is one hardcore conservative who occasionally tries to start something my his wife and kids shut him down very quickly. But you're right, it could get tense at some households.

      That's comforting about how long you've experienced ocular migraines without serious damage to your eyes or brain. (Probably an unrealistic worry on my part but this is still very new to me.) Thanks for the tip about water. Drinking the right amount of water does keep your veins hydrated and plump which are both good.

      You mean my husband's shirts? I wrote my Saturday blog about them and other downsizing stuff.

      I've never tried cbd oil and never will. I'm allergic to too many things---plants and foods---to experiment with cannabis based stuff.

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  7. EYES! Scare the crap out of me!! Thank goodness you got in right away. Can you take Uber/Lyft in a pinch? I do know a few neighbors I could ask, plus my kids. A big plus for living together!

    Your silly laughing Gathering Girls has got to be good for your soul. I love laughing!!! And we just don't do it often enough!

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    1. Uber/Lyft are in the city but it's it and miss out here in the suburbs. I don't know anyone who uses them. Trust me, I know the value of you living with your kids. Getting in cars with strangers just seems so contrary to everything we grew up being warned about. LOL

      Hope you find a good eye doctor for your issues!

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  8. I started having migraines with the aura (the flashing lights) about the time I started having periods. It wasn't until I was around 21 or 22 that I found out what it was. Like yours, the aura would last for about a half hour and then I would have a headache afterwards. Not as bad as some people get, but bad enough. I could be assured of having at least one in the fall of the year and one in the spring. Changes in barometric pressure or just the changes from one season to the next have been associated with that. Also, if I miss a meal or get too hungry I would get one. (Great excuse to eat, right?) Psychological stresses can play a role too. Now that I'm on estrogen and have had a hysterectomy, hormones aren't a cause anymore, thankfully.

    Interestingly, I did find that aged cheese was giving me migraines this last year when I hadn't had one for some time. There are as many triggers as there are people, I guess. The problem with having the aura is you never know when it will hit, and a few times I've been out and about or at work when I was younger and just had to wait it out until I could see again. After the "light show" is over my vision is still pretty fuzzy for a while. At least, like you said, it helps to know what it is and that it will be gone soon.

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    1. We've had some drastic changes in our barometric pressure here in the past few weeks and they've given me headaches in the past but no aura. I've read things online recently that say what you are saying about hormones, change of seasons, stress, cheese. It's scary to think I'd be driving when it happens...another good reason to stay off expressways where you can't just pull off into a parking lot.

      It helps to hear from others who've lived with these! Makes me worry less.

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  9. I've had that neon light thing too! I do get migraines now (late in life) but never did when younger. And I rarely get the light thing, but the first time it happened I was freaked! So weird. I thought I'd burned my eye through my glasses cuz I'd been out in the sun a lot that day and no sunglasses (they were at home). I was told to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate to help with migraines. I'm terrible at drinking water all day even when I dont feel thirsty -- but they say once you realize you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated!

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    1. Wow, two people in this short comment thread mentioned the water connection! I'm getting the impression they aren't all that uncommon.

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  10. Your eye issue sounds frightening indeed, and I'm glad it wasn't retinal detachment! I've had a couple friends go through that, and it's really not fun! I started having "floaters" this year, which are annoying but apparently fairly harmless. I thought we had fruit flies everywhere in the house, but when I turned my head they were gone! And I did have some flashes at the edges of my eyes for a while, which I was told were also part of the floaters. God, ain't aging fun?!?

    I live near enough that I'd invite you to our family dinner if I though you'd enjoy it, but alas, we're still dealing with the aftermath of an ugly family argument after the 2016 election. Two people really got into it, and I was worried for awhile that it was going to spoil our local gatherings (three of us siblings live near one another and celebrate holidays and birthdays together). There is what I would describe as an uneasy truce between those two, provided no one brings up politics or any of the surrounding controversies. May I just say I am grateful for wine? LOL.

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    1. You had me laughing with your fruit flies everywhere. My floater looks like a big spider and I've had it for maybe five years now. Still startles me once in a while. Yes, great fun.

      Maybe everyone will be on their best behavior this year, considering what happened last. Making some topics off limits makes the most sense...and the wine. Once I'm relocated on the south side of town maybe we can meet for coffee sometime.

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  11. I have reread Saturday's blog many times and still found no reference to the shirts? None of my business, of course, but just curious.

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    1. Sorry, I should have said "I wrote my NEXT Saturday's blog about the shirts" and other downsizing. But since you went to so much trouble based on my poor writing I'll give you a hint: four went one way, and two another.

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  12. Eyes are amazing things, and it's just as amazing how many things can go wrong with them. I had some vitreous detachment many years ago, but it hasn't come back. The floaters I had after that little episode were like pepper grains -- similar to those fruit flies, I suppose. I've been lucky to never have headaches of any sort, except when I get dehydrated. What everyone's saying about the need for water, water, and more water really is true. When you consider that our muscles are 80% water, it's not hard to figure out how many things could go wrong when our water levels go down: eyes, heart, strength, and so on. I believe I might go get a glass of water right now!

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    1. I don't get many headaches either. If it wasn't so close to bedtime I'd go get a drink of water too.

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  13. Hi Jean When I was young, we used to always large family dinners on Thanksgiving, Christmas and even New Years. Today, I can't even get daughter and family over for any family dinner. I guess today, family dinners are over. Oh well. I have two special places to enjoy to eat. Breakfast at " Maria's " and dinner at " Riccardo's " . I would invite you over for a special dinner but even that is down the drain. My mom & dad would always have great dinners on special days. I had hoped to continue it but life changed. Oh well. Enjoy your day Jean.

    Cruisi Paul

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    1. Life and families do change. Women didn't work outside the home as much as they do now so big dinners are more of a stain on time in today's world, but on the other hand more men enjoy working in the kitchen than they did when you and I were young. Thanksgiving dinners are a LOT of work for the host family! And it truly doesn't bother me not to have any place to go on the holiday.

      "Families" don't have to be related and I have a wonderful dinner to look forward to with my Gathering Girls pals coming up.

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    2. Well done Jean. Enjoy your dinner with your Gathering Girls. See ya.

      Cruisin Paul

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  14. I have retinal migraines, too. They are scary but at least there is no pain as there is with the classic ones I get also. I think it’s lovely you have a group of ladies to dine out with and laugh yourselves silly. When I moved to South Carolina four years ago I left behind my dear friends and groups and I’ve not been successful in finding a tribe here. Not for lack of trying either. I hope you will enjoy your solo Thanksgiving and it will be a meaningful and delicious day. I’ve spent a couple alone and i can’t say I really minded!

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    1. I've been surprised at how common the retinal migraines seem to be. That's comforting to know, and to know they pass in such a short time.

      It took me several years of trying to find a tribe to actually find one so I can sympathize with the loss of your friends after the move.

      I'd rather be alone on a holiday than with a room full of strangers. It really doesn't bother me.

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  15. I'm not looking forward to Thanksgiving... we'll likely eat out at Boston Market and Hope that The Son can catch Public Transit there if they're operating on the Holiday? With the Issues he's moving thru on a personal level he would be not having Thanksgiving with anyone so I invited him to join us at our impromptu let someone else cook it decision. *LOL* Most of the kitchen stuff is at U-Haul Storage so we couldn't cook a big meal even if I was up to it, which I'm so NOT! I'm Thankful, but would prefer to boycott Thanksgiving this Year due to the Chaos of this Packing and Moving BS I've gotten us into. A Fine Mess... what can I say? Hope you get an invite... so you don't have to dine alone for the Holidays... if you lived closer you could join us... winks.

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    1. I don't think it will bother me to be alone, I've done it before. And last minute invitations are kind of a pain because I'd have to scramble to make a dish to pass. We used to have a Boston Market around here and I loved that place. You may have to pick up a meal the day before there and heat it up. The deli places around here have turkey dinners for four in a bag that you can do that with.

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  16. Just looking at the image you put on this post made me feel as though I was getting a migraine!

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    1. Imagine that image flashing for a half hour, it really was scary, not knowing what was going on.

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  17. Just want to add to make you less worried---I too have had those special pschedelic eye migraines. They have come and gone sporadically over 30 years. When I was working,mine usually came when a reflection off another car blinded me for a second when driving home from work in the afternoon. Now sudden flashes of sun light still do the trick.

    I usually pop an advil and rest for 20-30 minutes and I am good to go. So far so good.

    I have been a widow since 2011 and just came across your site which I find interesting.

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    1. That does make me worry less to know that others have had these for a number of years. The brain sure is a mysterious and wonderful place, isn't it. Thanks so much for chiming in and welcome to my blog.

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