Saturday, May 29, 2010

Approved so Quickly

It took only two weeks for me to mail in and receive back the approval to have a medical exemption for my vehicle sun-screening (car window tinting) due to Migraines. I honestly expected it to take a lot longer, but it has forced me to complete my research now.

Did you know you can even have your house windows tinted? Did you know that window tinting will reduce heat inside of the car? Will reduce glare? Will block Ultraviolet (UV) Rays? You can get a clear window film, with no tinting, that will block UV Rays and some glare.

I don't think any states legally allow any tinting on the front windshield, but when I received my exemption, I was also approved for a clear windshield sun-screening which I was not expecting. The approvals I received were for minimum percentage levels of visible light transmission (VLT), UV transmission and visible light reflection.

The VLT is a measure of the amount of total visible light that passes through the glass. Different tints will offer different VLT amounts to help vision in various light conditions. UV light is a portion of the light spectrum that is not visible to the eye. There are two bands of the UV spectrum, UVA and UVB. The light reflection is the percentage of light reflected by the surface of the glass.

The lower the VLT number, the darker the tint. To test to see if I wanted tinting, I drove a truck with a VLT of 20. I was approved for the front side windows VLT of 60. Although this is much lighter than the 20 I had driven, I believe it will be much easier to drive at night and in the rain. More importantly, I think it will help me during the day when the sun is beaming in and with the sun glare. I am hoping it is going to take the edge off of the pain from the sun and other lights. To give you a visual, here is a sample chart of different VLT spectrum's:

(click on picture to get a better view)

I think I am going to go ahead with my vehicle sun-screening. I'm also toying around with having a lower VLT number for the rear door windows and maybe an even lower number for the rear window.

In my state, once you receive a medical exemption, they only have a few state licensed sun-screening facilities which we must take our cars to in order to get our windows treated. I called one of these places this morning and it will cost a little more than I anticipated if I want to get the windshield done too, but I think it will be worth it too. When I asked how much it would be to have the sunroof done, this place said they would throw it in for free. I really think he was holding back a laugh, but I'll take it.

Besides medical or aesthetic reasons, there are other benefits to having your windows tinted. The sun-screen can greatly reduce the level of heat that gets inside of the car because of the solar control properties of the tint. It will minimize the level of glare that enters through a car window which helps improve vision and I can only imagine that it will reduce the pain from the sun glare too. Tinting will also block some of the UV rays from the sun.

I'm starting to get excited to try the tinted windows, but mostly because of the anticipation of how it will help my Migraines. Now I just need to find the time and get the money together to have it done. I can't wait!


Friday, May 28, 2010

99 Things

I saw this fun meme on Somebody Heal Me and thought it might be a fun way for you to get to know a little bit more about me. How many of these things have you done? Copy this to your blog and bold the items you've done!

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visted Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone Rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Effel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone Whale Watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Save a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Publish a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stanger at midnight on NYE
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Gotten a tatoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Thursday, May 27, 2010

To Tint or Not To Tint

I had posted a question on the MyMigraineConnection site about what alterations/accommodation have you made to your car for your Migraines. Some of the answers I received ultimately led me down the path of investigating having my car windows tinted.

My research taught me that it is illegal to have any tint on the front side windows of your car in my state unless you have a medical exemption. I would need to fill out an exemption form and then have my doctor complete it before sending it into the state for approval. I really wasn't concerned about my doctor signing off on it, but if you tint your windows, it is a permanent fix and not like a temporary solution I received in the original question I posted.

My next step was to try to find out if other Migraineurs have tinted windows, what their experience is with them and especially how they are at night when you can't remove them so I submitted a post on MMC asking for any ones knowledge about tinted windows where I received some more excellent responses.

In the middle of my doctor's visit last week, I started off telling her that I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet, but my research had shown me that having my front side car windows tinted might be good for my Migraines, but that tinting is illegal in my state unless you have a medical exemption. As I started to pull out the partially completed form, she said that she would sign anything I wanted her to and finished filling it out right then.

My biggest fear with tinted windows is driving at night especially if it's raining or if there is some other inclement weather where I can't remove the tinting and put it right back. In the first answer I received to the original question I posted, Teri said she "uses thin grey plastic pieces which she found that adhere to the side windows and help so much during the day and can be taken off when there's less light."

If you know me by now, you know I have to analyze everything before I decide what I want to do around something new to me. I have already mailed in the completed exemption form to the state even though I am not totally set on having my windows tinted yet. It will take a few weeks before I find out if I am approved and what percentage of tinting I am approved for.

I know someone who has a big pickup truck (four doors, extra long bed and it takes a big leap to get up into the truck) with tinted windows. My friend also said that it didn't cost him too much to have his truck windows done. So what do I do about this situation? I take the truck out for a spin at night down a dark, dark windy road with no street lights or houses while it is drizzling. I normally drive a compact car everyday. This is a big contrast in vehicles not to mention the windows. On the bright side? It wasn't pouring down rain when I went out for my spin.

It did take some getting used to the windows especially after I first got into it and needed to back out of the driveway while using the mirrors since I refused to roll down the windows so I could get the full effect. I needed to be especially careful as I know this is not a game. I would never forgive myself if I ever caused harm or worse to someone else while I was behind the wheel.

After driving a little and getting used to both the truck and the tinted windows, the window tinting does seem to become a little less visible. It really seems like it would be something awesome during the day, but I also have to look at the worst case scenarios of the situation before I can jump right in. I think what I'm going to do, if I am approved for the exemption, is to take the truck out for another spin after just to make sure everything would be safe and the way I need it to be before making my final decision.

If you are interested in what your state laws are on having your car windows tinted, here is a link to a website that lists all of the state tinting laws. Some states have no tinting limitations while others are very restrictive. Of course, if you get more serious about having your windows tinted, you should go to your state site to look up the window tinting laws there which is also where I got the forms to apply for my state exemption.

Do you have any experience with window tinting on your car? I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Intermittent Leave

As a precautionary measure, I've considered applying for intermittent FMLA for a while because of Migraines. The biggest problem I see with me applying for this is that I try to work through most of my Migraine attacks and don't take off as much sick time as I should or need to take off.

I actually had a conversation with my boss about a month or two ago where I mentioned what I was thinking about with this to him. He seemed a little surprised about it as he said he gives me whatever latitude I need. He does and is really good about things like that even though I don't take any advantage of it. I responded to him that he definitely does; much more than any manager I have had previously. He knows some of the struggles I've had with my old managers even though they weren't Migraine related. I also told him that we never know what the future holds or what changes may be in store for us, but I really appreciate how much he does work with me on things.

Now with that said, at the end of last week, I was in a meeting with a bunch of managers and our HR Director. She mentioned that there is a new sick time policy coming out corporate wide that affects everyone. It has to do with counting every single 'unplanned' absence an employee has. In my imagination, this would include the times I leave early because of Migraine since it is an unplanned absence for at least part of the day.

This policy is the part of the 'never know what the future holds or what changes are in store for us' that I was talking about to my boss. Although I try to stay optimistic, I don't know what the future of my Migraines holds for me. Again, although I haven't taken off much time this year because of my Migraines, I have left early, should not have been at work on a few occasions and don't know how tomorrow will look. How can you plan time off for Migraines?

As you can already tell, I have been interested in intermittent FMLA already, but am more piqued by it now even though I don't know exactly what is going on with the new policy. During the meeting, the HR Director talked about different leaves not counting against the policy and even mentioned intermittent FMLA although she had only heard of it being used for chemotherapy. (Great, another area I would need to be a ground breaker in...) I haven't decided what to do yet, but I am nervous about this new policy that I don't have the detail around yet. Just to stress an understanding around intermittent FMLA, I posed the 'question' in the meeting about any absences covered by an Intermittent FMLA leave wouldn't count as an occurrence. Of course she agreed.

I don't think I call out much now because I've always been scared of losing my job and have been second guessing this decision about applying for intermittent FMLA for sometime now. Do you think I would have problems getting intermittent FMLA if I don't call out of work too often now?

I have a history of my Migraine charts going back to January of 2007 when I started charting them. These charts show a graph of all of my Migraines since that time along with a trend line. I think this would help show any patterns my Migraines have followed since then and my current doctor has all of these charts. It's funny how she looks forward to my new graphs with every visit.

My work knows about my Migraines and has even made job accommodations for me. I would not be able to work at work without these. My boss is aware of some times when I was not as effective at work as I should be because of my Migraines although he has no clue as to how often I actually have Migraine attacks. I fight hard to be as 'normal' as I can be, but also know this can be detrimental to me in more ways than one.

Do you think I would have problems getting approved for intermittent FMLA if I don't call out of work too often now? I don't know that I really need it, but I don't know that I can really afford to be without it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Trip

That title, My Trip, makes me feel like I've just returned from summer vacation, about to start the second grade and have been given a writing assignment to talk about something I did during my summer break. This trip, was actually a quick business trip I had to take this past week.

I'll start with the fun filled weekend before while preparing for the trip. I don't travel often any longer so I'm not as ready for trips any longer plus this trip was with people who were at my boss' level and higher with a couple of people at my level. Last weekend started off with with my Migraine trigger filled grocery trip. Luckily, I have learned to manage this much better than I used to handle them. My next plans were to do laundry, pack and see what else I needed for my trip so I could enjoy my Mother's Day the next day.

My weekend plans were very short lived. As I started preparing for these domestic duties, my power went out. We were having extremely forceful winds where many of the counties in my state had many different areas that lost power. The next morning, still no power. I even contemplated going to my sister's just to finish laundry and shop for the little things I still needed while on the way to her house, but since she lives about an hour away, that would be a lot of precious time lost. Luckily before I started to make alternate plans, my power went back on. Yeah!

As I was running around picking up some last minute items, that is when I got a textbook Migraine with aura. The aura hit, then a short time after, the Migraine which I was able to take care of before it got too out of hand. I really didn't want to treat anything during the weekend as the trip was going to be too trigger filled. I hadn't realized how much room my Migraine medications would take while packing either. Before this trip even started, I was faced with too many Migraine triggers - stress, lack of sleep, stress, lights, stress, forgot to eat, stress, etc. Oh, did I mention stress and that I also needed to figure out a way to get my son home from school while I was away? I know stress isn't really a trigger, but it will exasperate the many triggers that were present for me.

After a few conference calls on Monday morning, I left for my two hour drive to the never been to before airport. Actually, the travel went very well getting to my destinations. I met my boss at the airport as his flight landed within a half hour of mine. I looked forward to kicking back as he drove to our city, but that's not what ended up happening.

There was some type of a mix up with his drivers license so guess who needed to do ALL of the driving? Yup, me. Yuck. I typically like driving, just not in this type of a scenario, but at least I got the satisfaction of teasing him every chance I could get which is not something I normally would do plus I got the scare him a few times. Hehehe.

The next morning, I asked him for a favor at breakfast. I took off my Migraine mask (I like to hide my Migraines even before I have them) and told him my fear about the room we would be sitting in. I explained how I typically pick my seat in a room is based on the lighting. He listened and just said he would follow my lead and would let me pick the seat. Good thing he listened. As soon as we got to the building, we were split up and he ended up picking where we sat. I have to say, he really did a good job for the room.

This was all good, but when the nighttime came, I started having problems with one of my prodrome symptoms that I can't stand! I don't even like talking, but I can't stop talking and will talk way too much even though my inner voice is yelling to shut up sometimes when I am in prodrome. I already told you the levels of who was on this trip and many of these people I had never met before which typically keeps me very quiet to begin with. Sure enough, the next morning I found myself taking a triptan (very early) to try to relieve my head and make it through the day desperately hoping to keep some semblance of normal cognitive function.

This next day was a different story around the conference rooms as we found ourselves in a new conference room which had a whole bunch of round tables. When we entered the room, there was one other person already in there. Of course my boss just sat down there next to the other person. I tried and sat with them for a little while and then finally got up to move. There was absolutely no way I was even going to make it in that seat for a half an hour. I wasn't rude or anything and explained to the other person that I have light sensitivities and needed to move to a different table. My boss did catch on to my issue as he knew I wanted to be as discrete as I could be around my 'sensitivity'. From a personal standpoint and as much as I would love to, this is not the place to educate people about Migraines. Since we were also there early enough, I was able to play with the dimmer switches for the lights after I moved my seat and made the room exactly as I needed it to be. Yeah!

I won't go into my journey back home that night as I sat on the plane because of some air traffic squabbling, with screaming kids all around or my two hour ride back home after we landed, but I was real happy to be back home and in my own bed where I could start to catch up (eventually) on all of the sleep I had just lost.

When will we be able to handle everyday normal things without the fear of pain hanging over our heads? When will we be able to go on a quick trip without having to bring our drugstores with us? Without the fear of forgetting any of our meds? Without the fear of being incapacitated with pain and other symptoms? Without worrying about these 'nonsense' things that are so normal to everyone else?

I am still recovering from my trip, but will hopefully be back to myself tomorrow. This really is ridiculous.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Migraine Shadows

It's nice to know the Migraine triggers you have so you can try to avoid or at least control them when you can, but lights can be a totally different story. I have noticed that whenever I go into a room, I immediately look around to see where the lights are and where the shadows are in the room. Guess where I usually choose to go? I'm sure you guessed right, the shadows.

Do you play this same game with lights in a room too? Do you also get scared to death whenever you're told you need to go someplace outside of your normal light zone? What I mean by that, is if you're asked to go visit someplace different, where you don't know what the lighting situation will be at all and will have little control over the lights.

This goes on in my mind more and more all of the time. I am going on a business trip soon and have no idea what I am going to do about the light situation yet. I am very comfortable at work with the lighting in my office and with my lights at home, but can only imagine what the lighting is going to be like in the meeting room I am going to be in for a couple of days on this trip.

I always have to be careful about the conference rooms I go into even in my own work building, but I pretty much know where I need to sit in our rooms now to help minimize any damage. To set the stage for this trip, I will be meeting my boss in this city along with a whole bunch of people his level and above with a few people at my level sprinkled into the mix.

I always find myself in this quandary around lighting and still don't have any suitable answers yet. I've said it before about CFLs, but lights in general are the devil! I've gotten horrific Migraines before from being out at client sites because of their lights and I can not use my Migraine light helpers in this atmosphere. I can not wear sunglasses or my trusty hat during these meetings so the only thing I see I can fall back on is looking for the best shadows to sit in.

I'm also going to have to get my boss on board ahead of time or just grab the seat I want even though I know he is going to want to sit next to me during these meetings. I will get him on board before hand because I have to even though I don't like pointing out my Migraine difficulties any more than I have to with him or at work in general.

I'm pretty sure that if I can't find the right seat to sit in, that I am not going to fair well on the trip Migrainewise. I will have plenty of abortives with me and will be able to take care of myself properly once I finally make it back to my room, but I'd rather not have to go that route especially since the abortive can affect my mind until it really starts kicking in.

This disease is so frustrating. Everyday things can be a big deal. Who, besides a Migraineur, would even begin to understand this ridiculousness around silly lights and none of this even deals with the drug store of medications which must go on that plane ride too, but that's another story for another time.

There are so many more things we must consider before doing anything 'normal'. Who would think about sitting in shadows because of our vulnerability to everyday light and making other adjustments like that.

When will there be a cure for this nonsense?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pharmaceutical Scientist

I have a close friend who is a scientist for a large Pharmaceutical company. I don't normally talk to her about drugs and such because who wants to talk about work on fun time? But we were out on a small girls night out with one other person. Since the two of them are new moms, our conversations covered a large variety of topics usually surrounding little girls.

I decided the time was right to ask my pharmaceutical researcher a general question about drugs. We are close enough that she is very familiar with many of my Migraine challenges. I asked how she felt about brand meds vs generic meds. She quickly answered that they were EXACTLY the same. To use the generics if you could. That the FDA has certain guidelines the drug companies have to follow so they are exactly the same.

I told her that I read about how the FDA allows a 20% variance, either way, in the bioavailability of generic medications. (Bioavailability is the rate at which a medication is absorbed into the body). I continued that I could get one prescription from one manufacturer which was 20% below the brand and then the next prescription could be from a different manufacturer which was 20% above. That could be a 40% difference from one prescription dose to the next.

She muttered some technical mumbo jumbo terms as she processed the information and threw in some FDAs and some pharmaceutical words. Finally she said that that makes sense and given the medications I have taken along with the difficulties I had with the generics, these generics probably wouldn't be a good choice for me. She knew about my trials with Topiramate even though I had never gone into my specific reactions with her.

My friend is someone who runs huge drug studies which go down to the metabolic level. Her exposure to drugs is very different than that of a pharmacist on many different levels. I was surprised and encouraged that I could pass new information about something I am uncomfortable talking about to someone who is very knowledgeable.