By

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.

By

Excedrin Migraine Campaign Trivializes Migraine & the Women Who Experience it

Two-thirds of women would give up shopping at their favorite store for a year to stop their migraine attacks. Excedrin Migraine has launched an advertising campaign with this so-called fact. Seriously? The willingness to give up shopping at a single store exemplifies the impact of migraine a person’s life? Could they have trivialized migraine or women more?

Here are some real statistics from the World Health Organization:

Daily, migraineurs struggle against the misconception that migraine is “just a headache,” with families and employers who don’t believe or understand how ill they truly are. Advocates have begged Congress and the FDA to notice how debilitating and woefully underfunded this illness is. The last thing we need is an advertising campaign that diminishes the seriousness of migraine and the women who experience it.

The “fact” about shopping and migraine prickles another nerve by asking what someone would give up to eliminate migraines. For a year, I would live in a cave with no human contact, surviving on rats and cockroaches as my only food source. And, yes, I am completely serious, provided that I have fire to cook the rats. Unfortunately, migraine isn’t a game where you can choose your terms; treating it as one only increases the desperation and lack of control that someone this sick already feels.

If you are as horrified by Excedrin Migraine minimizing migraine and treating women as a superficial, please express your outrage on Excedrin’s Twitter and Facebook pages. A consumer boycott of the magnitude I’m likely to launch from The Daily Headache won’t have much of an impact on such large product, but commenting through social media will at least get their attention. As soon as I finish this blog post, that’s where I’m headed. And I still recommend voting with your pocketbook by buying a generic version or mixing your own (250 mg acetaminophen, 250 mg aspirin and 65 mg caffeine).

By

Trip to Ikea Without a Meltdown or Migraine!

Fluorescent lights, new furniture smells, swarms of shoppers wandering without regard to others, groups enraptured by the store’s wonders and standing in the walkway, the inability to get through the store without walking the predefined path. The joys of Ikea. Despite these obstacles, I like the place.

It’s just that I have a meltdown nearly every time I shop at Ikea. The plethora of migraine triggers and my inability to regulate time or make decisions while I’m there add to the aforementioned obstacles.

I strategize before each Ikea excursion. I need:

  • To eat enough ahead of time to sustain me
  • Caffeine, but not too much
  • A large, full water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • To go when the store opens
  • Hart, to keep me on track (although this often backfires as he is mesmerized by the possibilities)

I usually don’t follow my guidelines. This was no exception. I’d eaten, but was hungry by the time I parked. I ordered three shots in my latte instead of the usual two. My large water bottle was dirty, so I had to settle for the 14 ouncer. The sunglasses spent more time on top of my head than on my face. I arrived an hour after the store opened. Hart was at work.

I kind of stuck with the plan and it seems to have worked. No shaking, fuming or tears. No migraine. I did however, buy more curtains than I have windows to cover. The kicker is that I ran an hour of errands afterward, drove the 30 minutes home and rested for another 30; then I wrote for two hours before picking Hart up.

The day after wasn’t even too bad. My head was bad in the morning, but no other symptoms were present. I met Hart for lunch and ran some errands. I felt icky and headachy in the afternoon, so I rested for a bit between doing things around the house.

It was a big accomplishment. I feel like I can tackle the trip to return the extra curtains. If I adhere to my strategy even better, I might achieve a greater level of accomplishment.

By

Shopping for a Migraine

From a good day to migraine city was my reward for running errands this morning. It’s the almost-Christmas thing, when I’m pretty sure every store pipes cinnamon air freshener into the heating ducts.

Joann Fabrics was the worst offender and, unfortunately, my first stop. The cinnamon took no time to perfume my newly washed fleece. The scent had, of course, snuggled deep into the fiber of the flannel fabric I bought.

Decontamination was in order. The flannel went into the washer, I shed my clothes on the basement floor and showered. The smell is at least contained in the basement now, but I’m doing laundry rather than lying on the couch.

The last few days have been so bad. I so wanted to revel in the good health I enjoyed this morning. It probably would have disappeared by 1 p.m. anyway, but five whole hours would have been blissful. I feel so cheated.

I hate that I’ve become such a complainer. Honestly, I can’t keep up with news or other blogs, so I haven’t had much else to write about. Besides, I know you understand. I hope my struggles will make you feel less alone in your next migraine or headache.