Quarantine Tips from a Professional Shut-In

If there is anything I’ve gotten to practice since dealing with chronic intractable migraines, it’s being stuck at home.  On some days, getting out of bed was even an accomplishment.  So though the times are unprecedented, globally, they are extremely precedent-ed to me, personally.  The whole country is now homebound, like I have been for nine months!  

Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way from the bedroom to the kitchen to the bathroom and back again. I hope you find them helpful for surviving shelter-in-place.  

  1. Fashion really doesn’t matter anymore, so stop trying.  When I was in the hospital for my inpatient migraine treatment, I was briefly kicked out of my room so that my nurse could give me a new bed.  Why did I need a new bed?  Probably not for the reason you think, but I’ll let you use your imagination nonetheless.  I grumbled as I walked into the hallway, complaining that she hadn’t given me enough warning to let me change out of my pajama pants (which had donuts printed all over them) into my yoga pants (which had flowers printed all over instead).  I was embarrassed to be seen in my donut-ty attire, but my down-to-earth nurse scoffed and said, “Really?!  You’re in a freakin’ hospital.”  She was so wise.  Now I proudly go outside in sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and strange socks that I’ve worn three days in a row.
  2. Focus on one chore, abandon the others.  This creates a lower threshold for feeling a sense of accomplishment.  I choose to focus on keeping the house well vacuumed, because we have a Roomba so I can press a button and feel like I did something 30 minutes later without having actually done anything at all.  Let’s ignore the fact that there are dirty dishes in the sink, and we don’t have any more Kleenex or toilet paper.  Because the floor is vacuumed, until the dog moves and sheds all over it again!
  3. Practice culinary creativity.  I’ve had many good days recently, when my headache is just a headache and not a migraine, and I feel on top of the world!  These are the days when I make two loaves of sourdough bread, a new recipe from The Joy of Cooking, and some fresh vegetables for dinner (my dietary restrictions have somewhat lessened, which is an encouragement for cooking).  But other days are the type of days when I’m craving something more…lazy.  Do you have these days?  If you do, there’s still plenty of room for creativity in your cuisine!  You can, for example, make everything you eat the same shape: fish sticks, fries, and carrot sticks.  Or, go for a matching color palette: fish sticks, fries, and carrot sticks.  Or, declare it a kid’s meal theme night: fish sticks, fries, and carrot sticks.  I find that even on lazy days, there’s lots of room to express myself through food.
  4. Share your life, somehow, with someone.  I chose to do this by setting up a blog about headaches and wrapping my sorrows in funny stories, because really, who wants to read about migraines for this long if it doesn’t make them laugh?!  But every time I post, I say a quick prayer that what I write will encourage someone else.   And I end up hearing from many folks that do still read, and are encouraged.  I never imagined that sharing my thoughts and experiences about chronic pain would resonate with so many, but it turns out that deep down, lots of people can identify with loneliness, and hurt, and darkness.  We fight it together when we share our lives with each other.
  5. Remind yourself of true things on the bad days.  This makes encouragement from others into a nice bonus, instead of what strings you from one agonizing moment to the next.  When I’m having a “bad” day (like today, my headache is worse than it has been this whole week), I tell myself that there will be a tomorrow that’s better, because I’m almost certain this is true.  And I also tell myself I am loved in spite of my mess.  Because I’m very certain this one is true.

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