Catch Your Zs With Good Night Relaxation Drink

Counting sheep is my pastime and the moon is my best friend.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had difficulty falling asleep. I will have to be dead tired before I can fall asleep because I either cannot find the right position or my brain is just still too full of seemingly endless energy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking of the same difficulty sleeping as when I was having PTSD from an earthquake last April. I just was never a person who could fall asleep as soon as her head hits a pillow. So, when I found out that a colleague went on sick leave because of insomnia, I felt bad for him because I could understand the struggle.

yX9VdQSOR96oFRVG8igy6gI was in a 7-Eleven branch near my office, looking for something refreshing to drink when my eyes landed on this purple can. I love purple, which was probably why it caught my eye. But, when I saw what was written on the can, I knew I had to get one for my colleague and for myself to try. Priced at Php 85.00, this Good Night Relaxation Drink isn’t cheap, so I had high expectations.

On the can, it states that the drink contains herbal extracts, lemon balm, and hops. These help with stress and allow one to sleep more peacefully. The can contains 250ml, making a total calorie count of 50kcal, 12.5 grams of carbohydrates from sugar. It claims to not have artificial flavor enhancers, preservative or colorants.

XsmzmypcRhui0zhDoY+4oAThe drink is carbonated, making it like your regular sparkling water. It has a lighter color than a beer and has a taste of a very watery pear. I am not a huge fan of the taste, but I do not mind it that much. It’s not unpleasant at all but, I just never got the point of flavored water.

The website of this drink’s company says it’s made in Austria, but the idea started at the end of a couple’s vacation in Thailand. This was meant to be a substitute for drinking alcohol to aid sleep because alcohol can do more harm than good. Taken 30 to 45 minutes before your intended time to sleep, it can be taken on a daily basis. It’s not meant to knock you off because it is not a sedative, but it will help you sleep better through the lemon balm and hops in the drink.

Our work starts at 3PM and ends at 12MN. That’s why it’s very important that we manage to sleep right away before the sun rises because it will be harder to sleep then. So, I took the drink at 1AM on my first attempt with this drink. True enough, I didn’t find myself getting sleepy until it was already 3AM. I cannot remember anything else after I fell asleep.

You see, I don’t remember waking up in the middle of the night whether to pee or to drink or do anything else. I slept straight until 10AM the following day. The funny thing was, I was so bothered by my alarm clock that won’t stop buzzing despite all attempts to turn it off. It turned out that I was turning my alarm clock off in my dream and not in the real world. Thankfully, my Mom decided to wake me up properly.

How did I feel upon waking up? Groggy. I was so groggy that it took me another hour to get up. I felt like I was in cloud nine and without a worry about not making it to the gym that day to work out before going to the office. It sort of reminds me of the side effects of Lagaflex, a muscle relaxant I take for stiff neck and muscle pain, as prescribed by my doctor.

 I tried to understand why, despite not making me feel sleepy, it made me feel as if I took a sedative the night before. I came across articles saying lemon balm and hops have sedating effects. That being said, I wonder why the website states it’s non-sedative.

That being said, I strongly feel that people who have a high dependency risk should consult their doctor prior to taking this drink. I am not sure how much lemon balm and hops are in a can of this drink, but my how groggy I felt upon waking up was no joke. I seriously felt like I took a sleeping pill the night before. Whether I am just highly sensitive to the ingredients, I do not know for sure.

However, if you’re not someone who has a risk to be dependent on this drink to get a good night’s sleep, I can tell you that this works like magic! I slept peacefully through the night and was almost dreamless (damn that dream about turning my alarm clock off). I feel like it would work really well if you’ve been sleepless for a couple of days and you badly need sleep but do not take this when you have an early and important meeting or event to attend the following day.

Will I try it again? Yes! In fact, I have already taken half a can before I started writing this entry. I shall update you on the effects on taking just half a can. I hope I won’t feel as groggy tomorrow as I did on my first try.

Good Night Relaxation Drink is available in the Philippines through select convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Mini Stop, Circle K, Lawson, and San Mig Food Ave. It is also available through Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, All Day Supermarket, and BeautyMNL. Check out the drink’s Philippine Facebook page too for more info.

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Trying Mostly Korean Skin Care

“Look after yourself from within, and your beauty will shine through on your skin.” -Shanina Shaik

I have always believed that one’s personality makes him or her more beautiful. I have met people who just became so much more beautiful in my eyes the more I got to know how good they were. While I advocate for inner beauty more than appearances, I also have to admit that taking care of our skin is one way of being kind to ourselves.

I’ve had acne since I was eleven or twelve. To be fair, my acne wasn’t that terrible. I did not have a lot of them and usually broke out only when I was on my period. However, my skin is so sensitive that I scar very easily. When I scar, they take years to get rid of.

I started wearing powder foundations early, in attempts to hide the imperfections on my skin, not realizing that they were making my acne worse. The worse they became though, the more dependent I became on makeup and the less confident I was to get out of the house barefaced. The makeup felt like a security blanket of a sort that I couldn’t go without.

fullsizeoutput_a4e-e1560190863853.jpegThese days, I still get acne, most of them the hormonal ones around my chin and jaw. They aren’t as plenty unlike when I was in my teenage years, but they still do scar. I have learned to accept them as a normal part of life and putting on makeup because something I enjoyed as a means of expression rather than a means to hide imperfections.    Most recently, I decided to try Korean skin care as opposed to just my usual face wash, toner, and moisturizer routine.

My ever loving sister who spoils me all the time recently went to South Korea and got me lots of Korean skin care products, most of which were from Innisfree’s bija line. I just loved the pretty blue color of the packaging! Aside from these products, she also gave me a Foreo Espada, Blue Light Acne Treatment, a Petitfee Koelf Madecassoside Clarifying Body Spray, COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, and COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad. Whew! So many products!

For myself, I bought bentonite healing clay from Luxe Organix, which is an alternative to the Aztec Healing Clay that went viral in 2018. I also got the Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Lotion from The Face Shop. Lastly, I got myself some lip care products such as the Bubblegum Lip Scrub from Lush and a sampler of Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask.

Currently, here’s my skin care routine:

1. Micellar makeup remover wipes (Night)

IMG_0864I use waterproof mascara and eyeliner pen every day, so it takes me a while to get rid of them. I use makeup remover wipes that I soak further with micellar water to get rid of my makeup.

When using wipes soaked with micellar water, I first wipe off the makeup on my face and neck before focusing on my eye area. That would help make sure I do not squeeze some of the micellar water and get some in my eyes because it stings.

I also like the micellar water from Garnier and from Nivea so you can try those as well.

2. Bija Trouble Facial Foam (Day and Night)

IMG_0851I only use a tiny bit because it suds up really well. I still wash my face to get off any last bit of makeup remaining on my face. I also read somewhere that micellar water shouldn’t really be left on the face, hence I make it a point to still wash my face.

This facial wash does not give me that squeaky clean feel, but I do feel like my skin has been cleansed thoroughly without being stripped dry. It smells more medicinal than the rest of the products in the Bija Trouble line. That is probably the soap content of the facial wash that makes it smell the way it does. Thankfully, I am not bothered by it when I wash my face.

3. Luxe Organix Bentonite Clay Mask (Once every two weeks)

img_0826.jpgThis dupe gets the job done, but I still prefer the original Aztec Healing Clay one. The dupe does not bubble and dissolve in apple cider vinegar, but dissolves well in water. It’s also a sickly kind of green that reminds me of Shrek and Fiona. After rinsing off, I still use a wet wipe on my face because I still get some green stuff that rinsing alone couldn’t get off completely.

Still, it still feels like the Aztec Healing Clay once it’s on my face. There is the familiar pulsing feeling on my skin and the warmth after rinsing it off. It helps dry my zits more quickly too.

4. Foreo Espada Blue Light Acne Treatment (When I have acne breakout)

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This pretty, pink baby uses blue light technology to get deep into the skin and kill acne-causing bacteria. It has a laser-precision targeting mechanism that allows you to target the imperfections you want to expose to the blue light. And because it has T-Sonic pulsations functionality, this little baby vibrates as you bathe your blemishes with light.

The wand does not react to anything but skin.

My sister swears by this device, but I have not tried it enough to know if it works as it should. Maybe that is something I can discuss in a separate post.

5. COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad (Day and Night)

I love the packaging, but I love the contents even more! Inside the pretty tub are 70 very thin cotton pads soaked in a toner that smells wonderfully of lemons! My day brightens when I smell the toner they used on this product and I feel instantly energized!

The toner does not sting my face, but it does contain a type of alcohol called Ethyl Hexanediol. I used the product on my face, neck, and chest too, because I also suffer from chest acne. I actually get acne on my back too, occasionally. The alcohol content makes it refreshing to wipe all over your face and neck.

IMG_08616. Any brand and type of sheet mask (Once every two weeks when I use the clay mask)

I go crazy when these go on sale and I then buy a lot of them. Yet, when I use them every now and then, I find the process a little too messy and wet for my liking. I am not exactly sure how sheet masks make skin care better and how it is better than just smoothing serum all over my face.

Anyway, after putting on the sheet mask, I leave it on for ten minutes, then take it off. I rub the crumpled mask all over my neck and on some parts of my body like my knees and elbows because there’s still so much product left of the sheet after ten minutes. Plus, there’s also so much serum left in the pack so I make sure to use that up as well.

7. Koelf Madecassoside Clarifying Body Spray (Day and Night)

IMG_0865I normally spray this on my chest and back after I shower, but at night, I spray it on my chest after using COSRX Original Clear Pad.

This product does not have a terrible smell, unlike other back acne sprays I have tried. It does not sting my skin either, so I like it a lot! I have actually noticed the acne on my chest (cystic ones most of the time) starting to become smaller and flatten out. If only it helped with scarring too…

8. Bija Cica Skin (Day and Night)

IMG_0852It’s another toner that moisturizes the skin while protecting it. I use this to bring back the moisture on my face that might have been dried by the COSRX toner pads with their alcohol content.

I like the texture of this toner; not too runny and not too thick. Because of the texture, I do not use a cotton pad anymore to apply the product on my face. Instead, I pour some on my hands and then I pat it all over my face.

The product does not smell like anything at all. I mean, I tried sniffing a little of the product that I poured on my hand and could say that it is fragrance-free.

9. Bija Trouble Lotion (Day and Night)

IMG_0853The lotion is lightweight and gets easily absorbed by the skin. It has a very faint scent that there’s almost none. It smells around 80% lighter than the facial wash from the same line.

I use only half of what I would normally use to moisturize my face because I am using another lotion as well. I use it all over my neck as well.

10. Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Lotion (Day and Night)

IMG_0854This product, I like so much! It smells lovely because of the citrus fruit peel oils in the ingredients such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit. The scent isn’t as strong as the COSRX toner pads, but the lotion smells fresh and fun.

This lotion is not as lightweight as the Bija Trouble Lotion, but I like that it has volcanic ash that aims to absorb excess oil on the skin. I use this on my face and neck.

I am not a huge fan of sheet mask despite my habit of buying them, haha. I find it a little messy to work with and am not exactly sure how different it is from just putting

11. Whitening Pore Cream EX (Night)

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My skin scars very easily, but the scars take very long to fade. I need to use whitening products to help speed up the fading.

It smells faintly of citrus and it is not as lightweight as the Bija Trouble Lotion. It’s expected anyway because this is cream.

I use this product all over my face and neck with more concentration on areas with acne scars. I use it on areas of my chest with acne scarring too.

12. Bija Trouble Spot Essence (Day and Night)

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The product has a light beige color. It’s also thicker in consistency than the Bija Trouble Lotion. I use a tiny amount over trouble spots.

13. Capsule Recipe Sleeping Pack (Night)IMG_0856

To seal everything in, I use a sleeping pack which I believe is made with Jeju bija and tea tree. It smells stronger than the Bija Trouble Lotion, and I actually love the scent of this clear gel sleeping mask.

It’s so tiny, but I was able to stretch the contents to 10 uses because the product is easily spreadable all over my face and neck.

14. COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch (At night on cystic acne)

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I love these hydrocolloid patches! With these, I noticed that my cystic acne clear faster than they would.

The patches come in three sizes and there are twenty-four patches in one pack. I love the big ones for my cystic acne, but I kind of which there were more of the tiny ones too. Maybe they can increase the number of patches in a pack because quite frankly, twenty-four pieces only per pack is a huge waste of packaging materials.

So far, I still get hormonal acne breakouts, but they heal quicker than they normally would. I also noticed that my skin has become way more moisturized and soft unlike when I did not use all these products. Even after putting on mineral powder foundation, my skin has a dewy glow, which I am not used to because I’ve always loved the matte look. I still oil up a lot, as if I were still a teenager, but it’s not the sticky, grimy, yucky kind of oily. I just blot throughout the day with a paper towel.

I will keep using these products and see if my skin will improve over time. Since these products are not cheap, I guess I will have to use them up until I empty the containers. That’s going to take three to six months, I think.

Another Reason to Love OWNDAYS

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” ― Helen Keller

I have shared with you my awesome experience buying spectacles at OWNDAYS. Today, I had another reason to love this optical shop.

This is my current eye prescription:

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Without glasses, I can still make out shapes and colors, but I cannot distinguish small features. For example, my laptop is currently an arm’s length away from me. Without glasses, I can just make out the edges of the picture above, the black lines, and some black, blurred stuff that are the letters of what I am typing. I know there’s a pink section in the paragraph above (hyperlink) but I cannot read anything at all. That’s how badly I need eyeglasses.

This morning, my eyeglasses met an accident. I forgot that I put it on the bed so I could put on my makeup while standing up. After doing my makeup, I sat on my bed, a little forcefully that I should have. I sat on my glasses because I wasn’t able to see it. The frame got a little deformed and the lens of the left eye popped out. Thankfully, I had contact lenses at home as a backup.

I called up OWNDAYS at The Landmark Makati to inquire how much they charge for fixing my glasses after what I had done to it. Turns out, I didn’t have to pay anything anymore and I could get my glasses after 20 minutes, just like their service time when you get new specs. It was convenient that I was going to Greenbelt to have lunch with my high school friends and that Landmark was only five minutes away.

After giving them my specs, I immediately saw three, beautifully designed cases for eyeglasses. I was drawn to the one with the panda design. Then, I turned my eyes to the sign that gave information on what these cases were about. Turns out, Owndays Philippines is currently helping raise funds for three organizations in the country: World Vision, PAWS, and WWF. For more information on this collaboration, please check out the video below from OWNDAYS Philippine’s FB page.

When I returned for my glasses, they looked like they were brand new. I guess they also performed cleaning on the lenses and the frame.

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Very much pleased, I decided to buy a new case because I was always conscious of the white case. It was the one that I got for free when I bought my glasses and I always feared that it would eventually be looking dirty and yucky from stains or whatever. I got the Panda design for Php 500 and the purchase helped support WWF. They also gave me a free wiping cloth.

OWNDAYS has not disappointed me yet. I hope the company continues being awesome!

I Mixed Lola Remedios With White Tea

I was not prepared for the number of people interested in the Lola Remedios supplement. In fact, my previous post about it surpassed all the combined views of my other posts on my blog since it started in January of 2018. That’s just mindblowing!

Anyway, I woke up with a stuffy nose today. Whether that’s due to the a/c in my room or the summer season (I always get allergic rhinitis during summer), all I know was my nose felt stuffed. So when I noticed that Mom was able to buy another box of Lola Remedios, I had the idea of putting it to another test; mixing it with white tea. I’ve only ever drunk this supplement from the sachet and have never tried mixing it with something else so, I figured that there must be some other ways to enjoy it and while reaping its benefits.

I poured a sachet’s contents to a cup of hot white tea and inhaled the minty freshness from the steam coming from my cup. It was like Vick’s inhaler in steam form. Did my nose feel less stuffy right away? Nope. Yet, the smell was comforting and calming at the same time. God, I love minty stuff so much!

Once the tea has cooled down enough for me to handle the heat while drinking (my temperature receptors are so sensitive to heat), I finally got to taste the concoction I have made. Basically, it tasted like watered down Lola Remedios syrup. Despite that, I was still getting the same feeling of warmth spreading throughout my body. Perhaps it was due to the mint reacting with a warm temperature that was coming from the tea. It’s rather a different feeling than if I downed cold water after drinking Lola Remedios syrup, which would have been more refreshing than comforting.

Unfortunately for me, before drinking the last 30ml or so of my white tea and Lola Remedios concoction, it started tasting like I was drinking toothpaste highly diluted in water. It was not such a fun experience anymore, so I decided not to finish my drink anymore. I guess I should not have diluted the syrup with too much tea.

A few minutes later, my nasal congestion went away. Hours later, I am still fine and writing this post. Too bad it cannot stop my emotions from bursting every time I see MCU actors over IG.

Damn, why did I have to follow a lot of them last night? If you haven’t watched the latest Avengers movie, please go watch it soon! However, be prepared to feel things that Lola Remedios will not be able to handle for you (insert cheeky wink here).

I’ll still try to find ways to drink up the Lola Remedios syrup apart from drinking it from the sachet. I’ll probably try the same with its competitor, Tolak Angin. I will be sharing with you whatever I will discover. See you next time!

Lola Remedios vs. Tolak Angin – Battle of the Herbal Supplements

“I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it. We just need to keep discovering the properties for natural healing.” ― Vannoy Gentles Fite, Essential Oils for Healing: Over 400 All-Natural Recipes for Everyday Ailments

I cannot believe I am writing about herbal supplements. I am officially a tita!

Tita in Filipino means auntie. Your auntie can be your mom’s sister or female cousin. We also call female friends or colleagues of our parents as tita. Sometimes, we use tita as an endearment to a much older female (around our parent’s age) when referring to them and we do not know their name.

These days though, young female adults already consider themselves a tita when they start behaving less of a young adult and more of a middle-aged adult. That includes carrying bags that contain essentials that your younger self normally didn’t bother like tissue, wet wipes, umbrella and, sometimes, a first-aid kit containing medicines and multi-purpose minty liniments. Grocery and household items shopping has also become more exciting than shopping for clothes and shoes at this point.

Another sign that one is turning into a tita is when one starts turning to herbal food supplements for remedy. This is where Lola Remedios and Tolak Angin come in.

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Despite being manufactured in Indonesia, Lola Remedios seems to have been made for Filipino consumers. Lola is the Filipino word for grandmother and Remedios used to be a common Spanish name for females. My own maternal grandmother was named Remedios. This Spanish name means “remedies.” Smart branding!

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Going back, Lola Remedios was an item I used to see a lot on the pharmacy counters of Watsons and Mercury Drug, but I never paid much attention to it. Sold in sachets in 7-eleven stores as well, I thought it was just one of those alternative medicines that older people would be interested in buying. I saw it a lot two years ago but never thought of buying one because I just never saw the need for it and, frankly speaking, I also thought it was going to taste nasty.

A few months ago though, I suddenly had a high fever after going to the church and the mall. How I suddenly fell ill when I was very healthy that morning was something I could not explain. My mom said it was probably what Filipinos call lamig (literally translates to “coldness”). It’s that sudden feeling of being under the weather or just feeling generally unwell with no telling signs and symptoms to help gauge what has gone wrong with you. For that reason, she gave me a sachet of Lola Remedios to try. I did not expect to love it so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I did not suddenly feel well and it did not get rid of whatever I caught that was making me feel ill. What it did give me were a warming and soothing sensation. The liquid inside the sachet tasted of mint and honey with hints of ginger and other spices. The mint lover in me loved it so much! I knew that it was going to be an awesome herbal supplement to take when one has sore throat and coughing problems because of the minty sensation it leaves the throat.

 

 

 

Around that time as well, I learned that what I used to ignore in the convenience stores and pharmacies is now highly in demand that they always get sold out. It has now become very difficult to get your hands on this supplement and I have come across several people who looked for it as well (and failed to find it). Even a close friend of mine drinks it when she is unwell!

img_0922So, when I fell ill two weeks ago (I had a terrible sore throat), I felt sad that there was no Lola Remedios available in all pharmacies near me. I was longing for the minty sensation for my terribly sore throat. Unexpectedly, it led to the discovery of Tolak Angin.

Tolak Angin is another Indonesian product that is very similar to Lola Remedios. The first time I heard its name, I found it very familiar and a tad bit funny. You see, tolak in Indonesian translates to “push.” In Filipino, we say tulak. On the other hand, angin of Indonesia and hangin of the Philippines are the English equivalents of  “air.” Thus, Tolak Angin is the literal translation of “to push air.” By air, I think this also refers to lamig. 

I decided to give Tolak Angin a try. The first thing I noticed was that it’s mintier and spicier than Lola Remedios. It was so potent that even my clogged nostrils felt like it was getting decongested from within. I had to pour the remaining half of the contents into a glass of warm water because I could not handle how strong it was. It also made me feel warm and it did an awesome job soothing my aching throat.

Luckily for my sister who is based in Hong Kong, we were recently able to buy one box of Lola Remedios from the pharmacy. It was the last box so we didn’t let it go. Mom promised to send my sister some so she can try it out as well. Fortunately for me, I get to compare the two products.

Ingredients

Lola Remedios: Zingiberis officinale rhizome (ginger), Foeniculi fructus (fennel bulbs), Mentha arvensis (wild mint), Mentha piperita (peppermint), Helicteres isorae fructus (Indian screw tree), Syzygium aromaticum folium (clove), Sucrose (table sugar), Mel Depuratum (honey), Palm sugar, and Purified Water

Tolak Angin: Honey, Asian rice, Fennel, Indian screw tree, Clove, Mint, Ginger, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Indonesian Cinnamon, Gotu Kola, Tree Bean, Usnea, Emulsifier (E 435 and E 471), Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate

No wonder Tolak Angin was more potent! Look at all the other spices in it!

Lola Remedios seems more natural though because it does not contain emulsifiers and food additives.

Looking at nutrition information though, Lola Remedios has more sugars, explaining why it was very sweet despite the spices in it.

 

 

 

Contents

Both products come in 15ml sachets and 12 sachets per box. For some reason though, Tolak Angin feels a tiny bit heavier.

FDA Approval

Both packagings show their FDA registration. Still, both explicitly state that there are no approved therapeutic claims for these products.

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Important Dates

Lola Remedios shows manufacturing and expiry dates. Seems like it’s good for two years from manufacturing date. On the other hand, Tolak Angin only shows the expiry date. I wonder when the batch of my box was made.

 

 

 

Manufacturers

Lola Remedios: PT.Kino Indonesia, Tbk

I strongly feel that there’s no Indonesian version of this drink and that it was made especially for Filipinos. I cannot find any version of it from the manufacturer’s website.

Tolak Angin: Sido Muncul (Company Name: Industri Jamu dan Farmasi)

I cannot find an English website but I did come across some information about the business. It appears this is a family-owned business that goes back decades. I also came across its history on YouTube.

Whether Tolak Angin is the first of its kind, I am not sure. What I found out though was that our famous boxer, Manny Pacquiao, endorsed this product way back 2016.

[Update: 01-May-19 – I just discovered that Tolak Angin has a Philippine website already. Perhaps it was created by the Philippine distributor of the product.]

Anyway, regardless of which came to the Philippines first, I liked both products. While I feel I’d reach for Lola Remedios more because it is not as spicy, I would not mind taking Tolak Angin as an alternative or when I am more ill than usual.

Will I take these herbal supplements as a replacement for doctor-prescribed medicines? No, I don’t think so. Still, they are nice to have around for when I want some quick relief from lamig.

Damn, I really have turned into a tita… Hahaha…

If you want to read about my experience mixing Lola Remedios in white tea, click here.

Inches and Pounds

23592317_544254172580427_3302538673682091850_o“I have everything to gain and nothing to lose but all of my excess fats.”

I’ve never been a skinny girl. I have always had chubby cheeks, rolls in my stomach, flabby arms and thighs that touched. Even in my “skinniest days,” I was still bigger than most other girls my age at that time. Because of that, I have endured years of body shaming and ridicule from a lot of people.

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Left to right: Me, my sister and our nanny.

Sometimes, I would make myself feel better by blaming it on genetics. Yes, I come from a family with a lot of our women full-figured. Given that my Mom had Spanish and Chinese ancestors, I often joked that such mixture of races did not result nicely in me. Spanish curves and Chinese height resulted to a little teapot (me) that’s short and stout. I learned to make fun of myself so that when other people made jokes about my size and weight, it would not hurt as much anymore.

I remember loving volleyball and dancing when I was younger. When I grew older though, my asthma became worse. I had something else to blame for my lack of physical activities when one instance of strenuous exercise ended with a terrible case of asthma attack. I still played volleyball and I still danced, but I automatically branded any other physical activity that had my heart beating fast as asthma triggers. I settled into a sedentary lifestyle, spending free time on non-physical hobbies like reading, watching movies, listening to music and the like.

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I think I was 18 or 19 at this time.

The first time I truly attempted to lose weight was in college. I was envious of the skinny girls and my sister who suddenly dropped weight. I was tired being the “fat” one in the group, so I looked for ways I could lose weight without that much of physical activity.

I turned to slimming coffee drinks that were sold online. That was back when Multiply suddenly became an online platform for sellers more than a mere social media account to store photos. Boy, I was dropping 2 pounds per day, so I kept drinking box after box after box. I saved my allowance to keep on buying them, even switching among brands to find which one made me lose the most weight in the least amount of days.

How did the coffee make me lose weight? They claimed it was because of the garcinia cambogia ingredient. The effect on me was that I did not feel hunger at all. I could go on the whole day with just breakfast (and I only ate so my parents will not think I was being anorexic). I also ate significantly less in school, partly because I was not feeling the hunger. My other reason was that I was saving enough money to buy my next box of my slimming coffee. However, I remember that I kept on drinking water and I sweated a lot even if my activities during PE class were not really that tiring.

Did I feel any side effects? No headache, no nausea, and no sleepless nights. But, I was felt so lonely that I was entertaining thoughts of wanting to die. Despite losing weight, I still felt unworthy, “unpretty” (remember the TLC song?) and undesirable. I still felt fat and ugly. I still felt I was not enough. It got so bad to the point that I suddenly crossed the street knowing a car and a motorcycle were moving fast towards my direction. It was only when the motorcycle driver screamed at me, “Gusto mo bang mamatay?!” (“Do you want to die?”) that I realized my obsession with losing weight has gotten bad.

10151625290235923.jpgAnyway, I eventually learned that there was some drug in the coffee that was causing the weight loss and that it was dangerous for the heart. No wonder it wasn’t FDA approved. I decided losing weight only to die was not worth it. I stopped drinking the coffee and threw away my last unopened box of it.

Stopping the slimming coffee meant rebound weight gain. I gained back everything I lost and gained even more. That and combined with the stress in school (I was taking up accountancy which was my dad’s choice instead of mine), I gained the bad habit of binge eating when I was stressed out.

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On my graduation day at 21 years old.

When I realized how much weight I gained back, I stopped caring. I felt like no matter how much I starved myself to death, the moment I stopped dieting, I was going to gain everything back anyway. I started using all my past excuses again, plus more. And by the time I was reviewing for the CPA licensure exams, I’ve gotten fond of salty nuts and instant noodles, justifying my consumption of these foods as being hungry from all the studying.

When I eventually started working, earning my own money allowed me to spend on what used to be luxury for a student. It was drinking Starbucks and CBTL coffee daily. Working for an audit firm then, I justified my need for coffee as necessary to keep myself awake for all the overtime I had to render. Having discovered my tendency to be workaholic, I was chugging down fancy tea and coffee.

Eventually, I started getting my period every two weeks. A trip to the doctor had me discovering that I had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which was coupled with insulin resistance. For a few months, I was on birth control pills and metformin to fix whatever needed to be fixed. At that time, I was only worried about getting diabetes because my Dad’s family has history of it. Looking back, despite not being a fan of sweet foods, I did chug down a lot of sugary drinks from the coffee shops I frequented that year. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

10153158853595923I shed some pounds from the medicines I was taking. However, my life as a bank auditor in my second job was filled with out-of-town travels and plenty of overtime hours. Fast food restaurants became our go-to places when we were hungry, KFC being at the top of the list (there was a branch beside my office building). When we were stressed out, we ate out. When we had something to celebrate, we ate out.

The fact that we traveled often for work also meant getting to try foods from different provinces and regions across the country. We had lots of opportunities to eat but we mostly stayed sedentary because of the nature of our work. That awful lifestyle, coupled with my PCOS (I stopped the meds already when I was on my second job), had me packing on pounds. I had no time for any gym membership since I still worked overtime on Saturdays (voluntary because there was simply too much work and too little time) and Sundays were for sleeping and recharging for the next week of work.

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Some of my colleagues and I did try yoga for a bit, signing up for GuavaPass by my second year of auditing for the bank. We also took advantage of promos over MetroDeal for discounted yoga class passes. There were also days when we jogged at night while waiting for traffic to ease. On some days, we played badminton as well.

Despite learning in 2016 that I had sinus bradycardia (athlete’s heart), all those activities did not make me feel anywhere near being an athlete. I got tired easily and would always have to pause and catch my breath. One time, I was telling them how I constantly had to pause during jogging because I was out of breath because I also have a bad habit of holding my breath when I am focusing on something. My colleague was teasing me that I was jogging to lose weight; not jogging to die.

I have been in my third job since December of 2017. I went back to yoga in 2018 but I had to stop for a few months because of complications from a sprain injury early that year. I had to go back to PT sessions and make sure to have my foot completely healed before going back to yoga.

I guess I am lucky that my third job is with a company that values employee health so much. Work-life balance is given utmost importance by our employer. While we still get busy, it was still far from how busy I was in my two past jobs. I actually have time for myself that I never had in the past. It’s only this time that I started truly having the motivation to want to take care of myself and my health.

img_8379-1I am attending yoga classes once again. I am trying my best to be as consistent as I can possibly be because I joined our team’s “Biggest Loser” challenge. In this competition, we all contributed to the pot money that will go to the winners. Any weight gain meant having to add to the pot money. Therefore, if I want new dresses, I’m going to have to lose weight and not lose money to the prize fund.

Currently, I got all the work done with our clinic in order to have passes to our office’s gym. I am also looking into exercises from Blogilates that my sister has been insisting for years for me to try. I also cut down on carbs, mainly by avoiding rice (Asians, feel my pain!).

I do not want to hide anymore behind my asthma or my PCOS. I will just make sure not to push myself beyond my limits so much that it will be bad for my health. I truly want to be more fit and healthy. I truly hope to have the will to be consistent and persevere this year as I work on myself and my health. I don’t think I’ll be sharing “fitspiration” posts just yet, but I hope that the next time I write about my weight, I will have lost lots of it already.

 

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P.S. I do not have diabetes or thyroid problems. All my blood tests showed normal results although I know I can still improve on a few aspects about my overall health. 

I know I do a lot of baking. Trust me when I say that I give 95% of them away. I also post experiences when eating out. I only pig out when I get cravings during PMS but mostly, I do not eat that plenty. In fact, I get full easily because I have a habit of drinking A LOT. I drink more than I eat. Also, I know people who ate twice or thrice of what I eat but are still so damn skinny! Where the hell is justice?!

My doctor told me not to be too hard on myself. Women with PCOS have a harder time losing weight but an easier time gaining pounds. That being said, I need to have twice the self-discipline to make sure I don’t give in to cravings during PMS days. I also need to be smarter with my food choices.

 

Getting New Glasses

“Looking but not seeing is the hearing but not understanding of the eye.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Before knowing my eyes are weak, I was in second grade. One day, the writings on the blackboard were just too blurry for me to understand. I always had to sit on the floor in front, very close to the board, so I could take down notes. Some days, I had terrible headaches that had me throwing up and dizzy.

I was eight when I learned I have weak eyes, mainly because of genetics.  On top of that, I had astigmatism too, which explained the dizziness and vomiting. I didn’t like to wear my glasses which had frames that were round. They were like Harry Potter’s, except that I didn’t know Harry Potter existed yet at that time and the movies were not out until I was ten. Else, I might not have disliked my glasses that much.

I started at -0.50, I think, and some level of astigmatism. Almost twenty years later, my right eye’s at -5.25 while my left is at -5.50. No astigmatism. However, it’s been tough seeing in the dark as I may have some mild kind of night-blindness. It’s self-diagnosed so I cannot say for certain, haha. All I know is in the dark, I am freaking blind.

The rate by which my vision worsens has tremendously decreased over the last five years. Before, I had to change my glasses every year and that was very expensive. My astigmatism came and went. When I had it, getting eyeglasses was even more expensive because I had to pay extra for “special” lenses.

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Been wearing this since 2016 because my old pair broke in half due to age. It was a rush purchase on a very limited budget. This always falls of my face when I look down or bow down.

For the past four years, my eye doctor has been Dr. Richard Nepomuceno from Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute. My sister recommended him after her successful PRK procedure that brought her vision back from -7.50. If you want to read about her experience with Dr. Richard and the procedure, click here. Trust us. He’s an amazing doctor.

For the first time, I tried getting my glasses from OWNDAYS. Originally from Japan, this optical shop attracted me because of the gorgeous frames on display that one can try on without having to ask for assistance from the staff. Typical optical shops would hide the frames in glass display cabinets and you will have a hard time pointing exactly which frame you wanted to try on.

The other thing that attracted me to the shop is that OWNDAYS is able to give you your new spectacles in twenty minutes! Other optical shops will make you come back the following day or the day after that before you can go home with your purchase. Some can work on your glasses within the day but they take hours to do it. That can be too much of a hassle when you have no spare glasses to use in the meantime.

The best part, though, is that whatever price tag is on the frame, it’s already inclusive of the clear, ultra-thin lenses with UV protection and soil-resistant coating. Plus, their FAQs page says there’s no additional charge for astigmatism correction. Yippee! Although, they will give you an option to get their more expensive lenses with sort of a brownish tint that has higher protection for those who frequently use computers. I didn’t get that anymore because I was being stingy. Haha…

I used the prescription from my doctor so, they made me sign a waiver that I instructed them to use that prescription. You see, part of their services is getting your eye grade right there in their shop.

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Anyway, except for the fact that a staff member kept on tailing me every time I moved around the shop (I hate it when sales peep do that!), they were very accommodating and very thorough in their explanations of the warranties, after-sales services and some FAQs. There was no mild pressuring on you to buy a more expensive pair, which, I also hate having to deal with.

My new glasses came with a white, sturdy case that feels satiny on the outside. Inside is black velvet, I think, and a wiping cloth for the lenses. The design of the case is so minimalistic, sleek, and chic! I love it so much!img_9428

They also gave me a Php 500 discount coupon that is valid for one year from the date of my purchase. It can be used to discount any Php 2,990 and up worth of prescription glasses purchase. It is transferrable so that a friend or family member can get their pair and have the same amazing experience as you without being too hard on the wallet.

Currently, I am saving up for my own refractive surgery. I might have it in a year or two. I will also have Dr. Richard restore my vision as he has become our trusted eye doctor over the years. My sister and I, including our mom, go to him for our eye check ups and we’ve established a good patient-doctor relationship with him already. Until then, I shall be wearing my glasses and making sure I do not lose them because it’s tough having a blurry world.

Please do check out Dr. Richard Nepomuceno’s clinic at Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute and OWNDAYS for your eye care needs.

Out of Breath and Paralyzed

My aunt died of an asthma attack. I wasn’t going to let it be the end of me.

I have had asthma since I was a kid. While others grew out of it, I didn’t. Blame it on genetics, I guess.

I don’t really recall being on maintenance meds for a long time. I did take Seretide everyday until I used up the whole inhaler, but that’s pretty much it. We never saw the need for maintenance meds since I didn’t have it often like every day or every week. But, when an attack comes, it can be very bad.

The first time an asthma attack was almost the end of me was when I was ten. For some reason, I think I pissed my Dad so bad he started yelling at me. With his deep, big voice, I got so scared that I locked myself if the bathroom and cried so hard. Half an hour later, I was having an attack.

They had to unlock the door and get me out. I don’t what else came with the attack but my hands were locked into fists so tightly that even the adults couldn’t pry them open. They put me on the nebulizer and they tried to get my hands to soften and open up. It took so long before the medicine kicked in that they almost had to bring me to the hospital.

My Mom was panicking and I remember being told not to do it to her again. Apparently, she was traumatized already from her eldest sister having asthma. Hers was so bad that Mom always had to rush her to the hospital. Her perspiration already smelled of her asthma medicines and she was so frail. She was so frail that a verbal fight with a foreigner customer in the resort of their aunt caused her to be angry and get an attack. That was her last attack. She didn’t make it to the hospital.

It was then that I understood why my Mom didn’t like dealing with my attacks. She bought me my meds and brought them to me when I get attacks but that’s pretty much it and a scolding to avoid doing what she thought might have been the trigger. Heck, I learned how to operate my nebulizer on my own! There were even times that I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to assemble everything by myself while having an attack.

Night. Most of my attacks come in the middle of the night. And while the attacks have been months and years apart as I grew into adulthood, they were still very bad.

What’s worse than an asthma attack though is one that comes in the middle of a sleep paralysis episode; another sleeping problem I get every now and then.

Last week, I had an asthma attack and wanted to get out of bed to get my inhaler. But, I found myself locked in a sleep paralysis episode. Tried as I might not to panic, the fact that I was having difficulty breathing made me feel like I was going out of my wits. In my mind, I was fighting to fully wake up but my body won’t respond.

The harder it became to breathe, the more I tried to wake up. Still, I remembered Mom’s warning. So, as difficult as it was, I tried not to panic anymore and to remember the drill when having a sleep paralysis episode.

I read somewhere that one cannot really wake him/herself during sleep paralysis and that one must simply wait it out. I guess though that try to focus on body parts one can start moving helps in getting the mind off panic mode. So, I tried moving my eyes, looking from left to right. Then, I tried wiggling my toes.

Eventually I woke up. Then, I woke my Mom up. She got me my inhaler and scolded me for not buying a replacement for the reserve inhaler I kept on my study table beside me bed after it has expired. Gosh, thanks Mom. If only you knew how I panicked a few minutes before thinking I was gonna die in my sleep.

I bought a new inhaler the day after.

Back on the Mat

“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender — between pushing and letting go — and when to push and to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your well-being.” -Joel Kramer

Around this time last year, I made up my mind to quit my previous job. It was a difficult decision because I have come to love my teammates and the work allowed me to travel to places around the country that I never thought to go to. I learned a lot from meeting new people and trying out new experiences with friends, old and new. But deep inside, I was not happy. I was longing for more.

With all stress I was under with the 90 days I had left with my previous employer, my good friend, Joan, led us to discovering GuavaPass. It’s a subscription-based service that gives you access to a community of fitness studios, allowing you “passes” to a wide range of fitness activities. At the time we learned of it, there was a promo to avail 4 classes for only ₱499 instead of ₱1,399. We opted to try yoga but it had to be from four different studios.

I enjoyed yoga even if I was far from being as flexible as I was when I still 15 and did dance classes (I could split and cartwheel back then). Yoga felt like my kind of exercise because it forces me to learn how to breathe properly. For an asthmatic, it was a good workout for my lungs as well.

I loved it so much, I bought a set of gear for it.

But a wrist injury and a resignation later, I had to stop yoga for a bit. I am pretty sure I did not injure my wrist at yoga but there was a small swelling in my left inner wrist. So, I found my hand in a splint that the doctor had me wear for a month. I would cheer myself up by pretending laser beams shot out of it, aiming at my friends at work and pretending to blast them one at a time (work drove me crazy that way).

I wanted to be back earlier but I sprained my ankle badly last March. Damn, I am injury-prone.

With new members joining our team, my network was also expanding. Thanks to our new colleague, Rina, I got to enroll and get a 30-day unlimited package with Bliss Yoga. It is conveniently located where I work and the schedule pretty much works for me. I now have to reason to get back on the mat. I have missed yoga terribly and being on a yoga mat again excited me.

What have I noticed now that I am back to doing yoga?

  1. My wrists still hurt when I exert effort for certain poses and when I struggle to keep myself from slipping. The yoga mat I bought was made from PVC material and it meant being slippery until such time it’s been used enough that it starts giving traction. So, I got myself a new TPE yoga mat. It’s not slippery from the start and is more environmental friendly. Got mine at ₱895 from Planet Sports in Glorietta. I am currently looking for yoga gloves to prevent slipping even more.
  2. I still hold my breath in when I focus on a certain pose. I have that bad habit of forgetting to breathe when focusing on a physical activity. That’s why I run out of breath when climbing the stairs or jogging/running. My officemate once teased me, “Monmon, nagpapapayat ka, hindi nagpapahukay puntod (roughly translates to “you’re trying to lose weight, not preparing to go to your grave”).
  3. My left knee has not completely healed. Remember when I sprained my ankle? When I lost my balance, I landed on my left knee which had a rather large bruise that took weeks to go away. Turns out, it still hurts to this day even with the bruise gone. I must have bruised my bone in the process. So, I’ll go back to my doctor to have it checked.
  4. I still take mini breaks. One of the things we are taught in yoga classes is to always listen to our body. If we feel we can push further, we are encouraged to do so. But, if a pose feels compromising, we are free to modify or to not do it at all. We are taught to respect ourselves by acknowledging our limits and accepting the extent of our abilities at a certain point in time.
  5. I forget all my problems when I am on the mat. Maybe it’s because I’m more focused on surviving the class than anything else, haha! But, a good one hour of yoga allows me to quiet my thoughts and focus on myself. I also find that I am better able to focus on work afterwards.
  • Through more practice, I know I can become stronger and more flexible. I cannot expect to be already as good at it as those who have been practicing for years. One push and one stretch at a time, I’ll get there.

Eight Months of Migraine

It started with a stye back in 2016. It’s going to be a loooooooooooong story.

I do not know how I got it but I did. I went to my eye doctor to get a prescription because apparently, even if your eyes are red and swollen because of a stye, the pharmacies won’t sell you any medicine. The doctor prescribed an ointment to put in my left eye a couple of times a day. I was on an out-of-town assignment in Tarlac at that time and that meant doing audit with one eye closed.

One day though, I was so damn sleepy for no reason and the eye that had a stye kept on closing shut. It was weird because I was not putting on any ointment anymore because the stye was gone the day before. But my eye had other plans. It kept wanting to remain close. The next day, a terrible headache followed.

After one week of having terrible headaches as soon as I woke up, I knew something was wrong. My left eye won’t stay open for more than a few minutes (with blinking, of course) and the headache became worse when I try to stop it from shutting close. My head felt like it was being sliced in half and I would cry in the middle of work because it was just so painful. At times, it would feel like there were mini electric shocks going through my head or a hundred mini stabs in a matter of seconds. I also saw splotches of color floating around.

So, I searched for a neurologist (let’s call him Dr. V.) from the hospital closest to my work. The first thing he asked me was if my family had a history of aneurysm. It scared me because I had an aunt (mother side) and a cousin (father side) who both died from aneurysm. He took my blood pressure and it was a soaring 140/80! He ordered me to get a brain MRI and MRA right away. And Lord, was it expensive!

The hospital staff involved in my MRI and MRA scan were all pretty awesome people. They made sure I was not worrying too much and assured me that all was going to be well when I go through the process.

I think I had to wait going 2 to 3 days before the results came out. It felt too long for me. Finally, I got to know my results were ready and so I rushed from work to the hospital to get them. My hands were shaking at that point because I was worried about what I was going to read. Still, I opened the envelope and read the results. My world came crashing down. It read “2mm outpouching arising from the A2 segment of the left ACA.  Possible small aneurysm.” It instructed to go see my doctor immediately.

At that point, I was already imagining about my head being split open and my blood getting everywhere. I was so damn scared. But, after reading the results, Dr. V. just said, “It’s just 2mm. It might be nothing. Let’s try a CT-scan with contrast.” He reassured me that aneurysms that small should not make me think of the worst possible scenarios just yet because they aren’t usually very alarming.

Another scan. This time, it was much more expensive than the first. I maxed out my HMO coverage already and had to pay with my own money. I did not know anymore if my excruciating headaches were from whatever medical condition I had or from the stress of having to pay for medical bills.

The CT scan experience was not as smooth as the previous procedure. For one, the staff who had to test whether my vein from my right arm could take the amount of dye they had to inject managed to burst it. All because she would not listen to me to use my left arm instead. The next staff to take her place used my left arm, confirming that there’s no difference if they used my left instead of my right arm. Anyway, the dye felt very warm and I even thought I peed and wet myself during the procedure. I was so conscious about it but I couldn’t do anything about it because I had to stay still. Thankfully, it was just the dye that made me feel that way.

Another three days later, I got the results. It negated the results from the MRI and MRA. I was aneurysm-free! Dr. V. ruled it as a migraine with aura. I was told to stay away from a lot of stuff like caffeine, red wine, MSG and cheese. Cheese! Well, aged cheese. He told me mozzarella was okay. Whew! And, he did tell me to stay away from Chicken Joy (Jollibee’s signature fried chicken). Humph!

The medicines that were prescribed to me were topiramate and orphenadrine citrate paracetamol. However, the headaches still kept on coming at the most inconvenient times. It hurt worse and getting up to go to work was extremely difficult. To top it off, my boss could not understand how painful a migraine was.

A week or two later, I had go to Surigao and Cebu for audits and was away from home for around 2 months. At that point, Dr. V. has already added pregabalin in the mix of meds I had to take.

Because the headaches were becoming worse while I was still in Cebu, I had my mom go to Dr. V’s clinic to try if we can talk over the phone and get him to prescribe me something else. At that time, I have also started throwing up. I was also worried I might get addicted to pregabalin because I read that some patients get dependent on it. Dr. V. was laughing and teasing me that if I got addicted to it, I’ll be the first person in the history of that drug. He increased my pregabalin dosage and told me not to worry about dependency issues. It should not be a problem.

The problem was, the higher pregabalin dosage was knocking me asleep. I could not work properly and it was a very stressful period in our work. My team leader and I would stay up until 3 in the morning because we had to juggle three types of audit all at the same time. And so, as painful as it was, I had to stop taking pregabalin.

When I got back to Manila, I went to see Dr. V. again. He changed pregabalin to gabapentin. He did warn me that it will take me around four days to get used to gabapentin. That same night, after taking gabapentin, I had a crazy dream that I was a medical student and Dr. V. was my professor/superior. He was throwing all his medical books at me because he was so angry that I forgot to check on a patient. So, that patient ended up in coma. I was crying and told him it was his fault for prescribing me a medicine that would make me lose focus and that he should be understanding because I was having daily migraine attacks. So much for my dream of being a doctor. At least Dr. V. got a laugh at it when I told him about it.

The combination of topiramate, gabapentin and orphenadrine citrate paracetamol seemed to be the perfect mix for me. I noticed a huge improvement although I would still get terrible headaches from time to time that lasted for hours. The mini stabs and mini electric shocks in my head dramatically reduced.

It took me eight months before the daily headaches stopped. At one point, I woke up to realize I could not see anything from my right eye. Granted that it was dark in the room at night, my left eye could still make out some images but my right eye could only see pitch black. I thought I was going blind. Turns out, it was still related to my migraine.

It was a difficult eight months for me and my pocket. My medicines were crazily expensive even if I only bought the generic kind. Check-ups were also costly. Still, I was glad I had a doctor who was kind and patient towards me.

To date, I still get an attack from time to time but it does not last for more than two days anymore. I can enjoy my caffeine fixes again but some Chinese foods that are packed with MSG still give me migraines. I guess it’s going to be a lifetime of making sure I stay healthy and staying away from my other migraine triggers.

Migraines are not just simple headaches. Some people just take it lightly (take my former boss for example) and think you’re just acting up or making excuses. So, the next time someone says they have a migraine attack, please think first before making a curt remark that might make it harder to the person to feel better. You might not be able to imagine the pain they are in.

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