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Restaurants, Sightseeing & Shopping for AHMA Patient Conference-Goers

Wondering what to do in Phoenix/Scottsdale while you’re here for the American Headache & Migraine Association patient conference? Here are some highlights within a free shuttle ride from the Hampton Inn.

Food (listed in order of where I’d eat if I were visiting)

  • Pizzeria Bianco — This wood-fired pizza place has received rave reviews nationwide, including from Martha Stewart and Oprah. The original location boasts at least two-hour waits, but the new Town & Country restaurant often has no wait, even on weekends. It’s not cheap and the service gets spotty reviews on Yelp – and it’s so delicious that I still recommend it. (And you can walk here from the Hampton Inn.)
  • Beckett’s Table — My favorite restaurant in town. On the expensive side (for Phoenix), but well worth the price for perfectly prepared American and comfort food made with local, seasonal ingredients. Dessert offerings include s’mores with chocolate-covered bacon.
  • America’s Taco Shop — Excellent, relatively inexpensive Mexican street tacos (and burritos, tostadas and tortas). The meat’s the star here, though I’ve heard the vegetarian burritos are good, too. A casual, order-at-the-counter spot.
  • Los Dos Molinos — New Mexican food. Spicy and delicious.
  • Chelsea’s Kitchen — With old-growth trees, climbing bougainvillea, and a huge outdoor fireplace, this is one of the best patios in town. Good food, though pricey (part of what you pay for is organic and/or grass-fed meat). Only worth the cost if you can sit outside, IMHO, and the indoor dining space is loud.
  • Oregano’s — Calls itself “your neighborhood pizza joint,” but has a variety of pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches. The decor is quirky and the food is tasty, it’s also fairly loud and there’s usually a wait.
  • La Grande Orange — Serves food all day, but breakfast is the best, particularly the housemade English muffins and sticky bran muffin.
  • Ajo Al’s — Typical Tex-Mex, fairly heavy and usually cheese-laden. And yummy.

Shopping

  • If you’re a bargain clothes and accessories shopper, check out Nordstrom’s Last Chance. It’s the final clearance shop for Nordstrom and the prices are dirt cheap. Be forewarned: it’s often crowded with long lines.
  • Camelback Colonnade, where Last Chance is located, also has a smattering of discount chain stores, including Old Navy and a nice Marshall’s.
  • Biltmore Fashion Park is mostly high-end stores and boutiques. It’s a fun place to wander around and has a ton of restaurants to choose from.

Architecture

  • Arizona Biltmore Hotel — Designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, this beautiful hotel was built in 1929. You can wander the grounds, take a guided tour, eat at one of the restaurants, or even visit the “secret” Sunday speakeasy (password required, find it on Twitter @Arizona Biltmore).

If you have a car…

  • Desert Botanical Garden — This is a stunning botanical garden that showcases the diversity of desert plants. Even better, there’s currently a Chihuly glass exhibit. Chihuly’s work is always spectacular, but it’s extra-special with desert as the backdrop.
  • Hiking — Only a short drive from the hotel, Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak/Dreamy Draw, and Papago Park are beautiful places to experience desert landscapes without leaving town. South Mountain is farther, but also a little more isolated and nature-y.

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How to Respond to “How Are You?”

When someone asks how you are, how do you respond? It’s a tough question when you have a life-altering illness — should you shrug it off with an “OK” and deny your own experience or be truthful and risk scaring off the other person?

My response varies depending on the person, how I feel in that moment, how much energy I have, and if I really want to get into it. It’s usually along the lines of “I’m still here,” “I’m alive,” “I’ve been better,” or “OK right now, though it’s been a rough week.” If I don’t want to talk about it, I immediately follow my response by turning the question around. Most people love to talk about what’s going on in their lives and are thrilled to have someone who is ready to listen.

100 Ways to Answer the Question “How Are You?” (PDF) is an excellent new resource from ChronicBabe that’ll help you answer that difficult question. There’s bound to be a suggestion that will help you no matter how you’re feeling on a particular day and how much you want to talk about.

I particularly like the section on authenticity where she points out that answering the question honestly can establish intimacy and trust, leading to a deeper connection between you and the people in your life and, thus, greater support. Need more encouragement to open up? Check out The Power and Strength of Vulnerability.

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Great Price on Sumatriptan (Imitrex) at Health Warehouse

HealthWarehouse, a licensed U.S. pharmacy based in Kentucky, charges even less for sumatriptan than Inhouse Pharmacy Europe, which I told you about last week. Bonus: it’s entirely legit and there’s no question if it’s legality, though you’ll need to send them a prescription.

I’ve ordered other meds from Health Warehouse and have been pleased with the service. The prices are low and shipping is prompt. The only drawback is that they don’t take manufacturer’s coupons.

Wherever you buy sumatriptan, you can try to simulate the effect of Treximet by taking naproxen sodium (Aleve) along with it. (See paragraph five of Save Money on Sumatriptan (Imitrex/Imigran/Treximet) for details.) Some people find mixing their own medication cocktail is as effective as Treximet, others swear by the all-in-one Treximet. It’s worth a try to save money, but be sure to let your doctor know what you’re up to — safety is even more important than frugality!

Thanks to The Daily Headache reader on Facebook who told me about HealthWarehouse’s price on sumatriptan. And thanks to Timothy who suggested asking your doctor for triptan samples at every visit and thanking them profusely for them. He also pointed out that if you take a low dose of a medication, you can ask your doctor to write a prescription for a higher dose and split the pill in half. This doesn’t work with every medication (some have a time-release coating, others aren’t tablets, others don’t come in a dose that’s easily halved, etc.), but it’s something to ask your doctor about.

If you know any other sources for good prices on sumatriptan — or any other meds! — please leave a comment. Your help is invaluable to me and to other readers as well.

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Directories of Headache Specialists for Adults, Children

The Migraine Research Foundation has released updated lists of doctors certified in headache management, including a list of doctors who treat children. Anyone can hang a shingle saying they are a headache specialist, even without any special training. MRF’s lists only include doctors who have passed a certification exam verifying their knowledge of headache medicine. Check out this excellent resource if you’re looking for a specialist to treat your (or your child’s) migraine or headache disorder.

 

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Mindfulness: An Amazing Tool for Coping With Migraine

“[T]echniques based on the Buddhist teaching of mindfulness have reliably been the most effective, helpful coping strategies I’ve used in my 25 years with chronic migraine. While plenty of people approach Buddhism as a religion, I think of it more as psychology; a collection of wise insights to help people live their fullest lives.”

Migraine & Mindfulness — “Bruce Almighty,” my favorite of the posts I’ve written for Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is now up on Migraine.com. No matter what your religious or spiritual bent is, mindfulness is an amazing tool, not only for coping with migraine, but with all of life’s stresses. To make this wonderful technique accessible to everyone, I focus on a secular approach to mindfulness in the beginning of the post, then include links to other incredible leaders who are more religious in their teachings.