Category Archives: health

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #67


The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #67 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman 12 February 2023


The stress secret: 12 ways to meditate – without actually meditating | The Guardian
Meditation isn’t for everyone. Or at least not when life has taken you so far from calm that your brain is soup. “It’s the nature of the mind to have this ongoing conversation in the background,” says Joy Rains, a mindfulness practitioner and author of Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage…


Morning Migraine Again? How to Wake Up Pain-Free | Migraine Again
One of the most common migraine patterns many of us experience is going to bed feeling fine then waking up with debilitating headache pain.
Learning About Long COVID From Other “Invisible” Illnesses | Psychology Today
People diagnosed with ME/CFS must manage extreme fatigue, and their experiences have implications for those with long COVID. A challenge of managing an illness like ME/CFS is its invisibility to others, despite its severe impact on a person’s ability to function. Ensuring people feel believed is…

Trauma and Sexual Abuse

Self-Care for Trauma Survivors Dealing With Noisy Newsfeeds | Psychology Today
Sexual abuse fills our daily newsfeeds. Just this month alone, there is sexual assault news from the Boy Scouts, Catholic Church, US Hockey, Hollywood, and the White House. How can victims and survivors heal effectively while being constantly triggered as the stories, lawsuits, and judicial systems…
RAINN Online Hotline
Do you need help dealing with sexual assault, rape, or incest? Call @RAINN ‘s Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) to talk to a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. Don’t feel comfortable talking? Use chat/text instead.

Mental Health

4 Questions That Can Reveal Your Psychological Needs | Psychology Today
Self-reflection can help you better get to know your psychological needs and how these are being met or not met. Try these question prompts for learning insights into yourself. The best compliment I received this year was when I was telling my doctor about breastfeeding struggles with my newborn.


How Chaucer’s medieval Wife of Bath was tamed and then liberated in the 21st century | The Conversation
Chaucer’s Wife of Bath is one of the most famous characters in English literature. Since appearing in the Canterbury tales in 1387, her tale has been rewritten and adapted by authors from the French philosopher Voltaire in the 18th century to the contemporary author Zadie Smith in 2021.

Cooking and Baking

The rise: a history of American biscuits | King Arthur Baking
Flaky, fluffy, buttermilk or baking powder, biscuits are as old (and as complicated) as the country itself. Trace their history and their evolution across centuries.

My Books

The Lies Our Parents Tell Us (a poem)
The Lies Our Parents Tell Us begin in childhood: you’re not dumb, you were not an accident, the sight of you doesn’t make us sick, we don’t think you’re ugly, and we swallow the lies, with open hands and grateful hearts, because we’re so hungry, because the lies are all we have.
Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman

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Filed under #CSA, Baking, Books, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Chronic Illness, chronic pain, Cooking, health, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, Mental Health, migraine, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, PTSD

Gifts for People with Migraine or Other Chronic Pain

It’s not as difficult to buy gifts for someone with migraine or other chronic pain as some you might imagine. Think “comfort” instead of “cure” for neurological disorders and you’ll have a better time finding gifts that anyone would appreciate. After the onset of neuropathic facial pain (formerly called atypical trigeminal neuralgia) three years ago, and an intractable migraine that’s lasted almost 20 months, I’ve been looking for additional products that might bring me comfort or help relieve the pain. I’ve found several that have become my constant companions, so to speak. Here are my favorite products to relieve pain and comfort someone with migraine or other chronic pain.

Essential Oil Aromatherapy Roll-Ons

Essential oil aromatherapy roll-ons, which come in a variety of scents, are portable, cost only about $10-13 each, and have been a life-saving product for me the last several months. My favorites are Migrastil Migraine Stick (therapeutic grade spearmint, peppermint, and lavender essential oils in a base of fractionated coconut oil), Aromata’s Headache Be Gone (lavender, peppermint, and wild-grown frankincense essential oils in almond oil), and Lavender Calm (organic essential oil of lavender in almond oil).

Some people may have sensitivities to lavender, so they might like the lavender-free Prime Natural Headache Relief (peppermint, Spanish sage, cardamom, ginger, and fennel essential oils in grapeseed oil). I like these roll-ons so much that I bought a second set to carry in my purse (the Aromata brands come in a small bag, so I store a few roll-ons in one of those pretty bags and toss it into my purse.) I swipe the essential oil roll-ons along the trigeminal nerve, from my temples to the spot in front of my ear, on both sides of my head (even though I only have pain on one side), on both sides of my collarbone, on the back of my neck down the center and on the back of the neck from the center outward at the hairline. These roll-ons immediately reduce pain, and though the scents only last about half an hour, they are not overpowering.

Essential Oil Aromatherapy Balms

Since someone else wearing perfume or other odorous products can trigger attacks, I try to be extremely conscientious with fragrances in public spaces, even if the fragrances are therapeutic ones. For people who need more subtle or short-lasting essential oil aromatherapy products, I recommend Badger Balm’s Headache Soother and Stress Soother, which are under $10 for a single balm or under $15 for a two-pack.

Headache Soother contains the following certified organic ingredients: Extra Virgn Olive Fruit Oil, Beeswax, Castor Seed Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Menthol, Peppermint Leaf Oil, Sunflower Vitamin E, Eucalyptus Leaf Oil, Mandarin Peel  Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Calendula Flower Extract, Rosehip Fruid Extract.
Stress Soother contains the following certified organic ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Fruit Oil,  Beeswax, Tangerine Peel Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Cedar Wood Oil, Sunflower Vitamin E Oil, Spearmint Leaf Oil, Damascene Rose Flower Oil, Calendula Flower Extract, Rosehip Fruit Extract, Roman Chamomile Flower Oil.

Since Badger Balms have more ingredients than any of the roll-ons listed above, I was initially hesitant to try these pain relief products. However, I’d used Badger’s Muscle Balm with great success, so I decided to try some of their other Soothers, which are more portable than their balms in a tin and don’t require you to dip your fingers into the balm to apply it to your skin.

All of these essential oil aromatherapy products, roll-ons and balm sticks, are portable and can be applied directly to the skin (barring absence of any allergies to the individual ingredients). Because these products contain essential oils, already diluted for application to the skin, and because they are portable, they would be weelcome additions to any chronic pain or migraine warrior’s self-care bag.

Heating & Cooling Sacks

SacksyThyme All Natural Premium Herbal Heating and Cooling Sacks are filled with organic flaxseed, or a combination of organic flaxseed and cherry pits, in a woven 100% cotton cover, and cost $30-40 each. The Sack can be put in the microwave for 90 seconds for warmth, misted with a little water before heating for moist heat, or placed in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer for 2 hours for chilled relief (and then stored in the sealed bag in freezer for instant comfort). I bought a Medium Unscented (13″ x 7.5″) one, which has no odor at all from the cloth or the filling; they also have an XL Unscented (16″ x 13″), covered with woven cotton on one side and cotton fleece on the other. The Sack comes in various sizes (L is 22″ x 7.5″), colors (blue, green, black, grey, etc), and prints (paisley, houndstooooth, plaid, leaves, bubbles, etc.). SacksyThyme also offers the same organic flaxseed or cherry pit filling with a proprietary blend of essential oils (lavender, cherry, eucalyptus, and lemon verbena). SacksyThyme makes an Unscented XLong Neck Wrap, filled with organic flaxseed, that can be heated in the microwave and won’t fall off your neck (22″ x 6″, and available in charcoal, hot pink, or dark red).

All SacksyThyme’s heating/cooling pads come with a one-year warranty.

Guided Meditations & Self-Hypnosis

Guided Meditations or Self-Hypnosis can reduce pain, and I’m a big fan of Belleruth Naparstek and have used her guided meditations since the early 90s (when they came on cassette tapes only). I regularly use her Meditation to Ease Pain and Meditation to Help Relieve Headaches, which features a guided meditation for relief of headache pain as well as a meditation designed to help prevent future head pain. Health Journeys has guided meditations specifically for the pain from TMJ, and Naparstek, one of the founders of Health Journeys, has meditations for traumatic brain injury, migraine, to increase healthful sleep, to promote general wellness, and more. These audio guided meditations are available in MP3 or CD format ($11.98 or $17.98, respectively) and are also available to stream from Health Journeys app for Android and iOS, which features a 7-day free trial. Though I still have the original cassettes with these guided mediations, I prefer the MP3 versions since I was able to make a playlist out of all the Belleruth Naparstek guided meditations: I put the volume on Low, put in my wireless earphones, and play the meditations on Repeat all day long to relieve pain.

Health Journeys sponsors a large library of guided meditations, with many of them devoted to pain relief and healing. Health Journeys also has other items for pain relief and healing, including guided meditations by Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the leaders in holistic medicine (CDs only), essential oils, books, pillows, lotions, etc. Health Journeys has gift cards ($15-$100) so that recipients can choose their own gifts. Health Journey’s catalogue is available online or by mail. If you or your give receipients have any questions about Health Journey’s Guided Meditations or other products, founder Belleruth Naparstek is available via email to answer questions.

It doesn’t take a great deal of money to comfort people with chronic pain and migraine. Most of us have to spend a great deal of time at home, and virtually all of us with migraine or other chronic pain have to invest a great deal of time taking care of themselves. Gifts developed specifically for people with chronic pain make holiday gift-buying easier. Everyone with migraine or other chronic pain will appreciate receiving gifts that will help with their self-care.

Related Posts on Migraine & Chronic Pain

For more of my articles on migraine or chronic pain,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.

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Filed under Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, Caregivers, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, healing, health, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Panic Attacks, Panic Disorder, PTSD, Self-Hypnosis Apps, Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps, trigeminal neuralgia, trigeminal neuropathy