“Choose Health”

Hello to all! This is a brand new work-in-progress I wanted to share with you. It’s a thematic art journal entitled, “Choose Health.”


The journal is an altered children’s board book, the first one I’ve ever attempted. So far, only the cover is finished.

The theme of healthy living is one that has recently become very important to me. A few months ago, I began experiencing chronic headaches and migraines, primarily caused by increasing stress at work. I began using over-the-counter pain medications constantly, to the point where I was taking them most days of the week, and had to take more and more pills to get even the most minor relief. One of the drugs I was taking frequently was Excedrin, which contains a significant amount of caffeine. After doing some research, I learned that many OTC drugs, especially Excedrin, can cause severe rebound headaches if used more than 15 times per month, and may lead to organ damage. It was a wake-up call I couldn’t ignore; I decided I had no choice but to discontinue the use of these medications. After stopping, I felt horrible for about two weeks. I had a constant headache and also struggled with other withdrawal symptoms, such as dizziness, brain fog, and light sensitivity. I scheduled an appointment with my doctor, who confirmed that I was most likely suffering the effects of OTC withdrawal, and we discussed safer treatments for my chronic headaches, as well as my stress. She prescribed Imitrex, but warned me that I should only use it as a last resort for the most serious migraines; she suggested that I explore essential oils, acupuncture, and massage as alternative options for day-to-day relief. Until this point I’d never done any of these things, but decided it was worth a try. Within weeks, I’d purchased a bottle of peppermint oil and made appointments for both acupuncture and therapeutic massage; I also began seeing my therapist more often, and she and I discussed methods of stress-relief. Fortunately, thanks to these interventions, I’m feeling much better. I’m experiencing far fewer headaches, and have only had to use Imitrex for migraines twice in the last two months. This journal will serve as documentation of my journey to better health, as well as a celebration of it.

The cover features a background collage of patterned papers as well as pages from vintage health and medical books, which have been distressed with ink and covered with gesso and crackle paint. I used a graphite pencil to draw lines over the collage and to circle key words and phrases peeking through for emphasis. Over the background, I layered a scrap of handmade paper, a piece cut from a lace doily, a canvas square, a strip of embossed paper, a muslin scrap, a length of fabric trim, and a gessoed piece of corrugated cardboard. I added an image of a skeleton, green yarn (the color symbolizes nature and health) and sewn vintage buttons as embellishments.

I’m looking forward to working on this journal in the coming weeks, and will share more of its pages as they are completed.

Thanks for stopping by — and stay well!






About Jenny Petricek

I am a mixed-media artist who loves collage, bookmaking, journaling, and memory art.
This entry was posted in Art Journaling, Mixed-Media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to “Choose Health”

  1. Jade Sutton says:

    I’m so sorry you have felt so terrible!! I’m so glad the massage and therapy are working for you. I understand all to well about migraines. I am a human barometer. When a weather front comes in I get a migraine. Where I live we get fronts all the time from all directions. The cover of your new book is beautiful. I love how light the whole cover is. I seem to have a huge aversion to white. Wishing you a speedy recovery!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Jade! I’m also a human barometer!! I tend to get a lot of cluster headaches in the spring and fall, when the temperature and barometric pressure are constantly rising and falling as weather systems move in and out of the region. One of the days back in February that I had to use Imitrex was a day where a warm front had caused temps to increase by 40 degrees overnight. I always thought these headaches were migraines, but according to my doctor they are something quite different.


      • Jade Sutton says:

        What did your doctor say is the difference between being a barometer and migraines?

        Liked by 1 person

      • She told me that a high percentage of the headaches caused by temperature/barometric pressure changes are actually cluster headaches. Cluster headaches typically are on only one side of the head, in the temple, and feel either like pounding or like someone is trying to drill into your skull. I find that they get worse when I lie down, and apparently this is common. The Imitrex I was prescribed actually is quite effective in getting rid of them, within 20-30 minutes.


  2. What a wonderful piece of artwork to illustrate what you’re going through. I used to take Advil every night to get sleep. I suffered from almost constant headaches (they were so prevalent that I didn’t always realize I had them!) My cure was getting off gluten and GMO food. But boy, do I understand this journey you’re on, Jenny. Thanks for sharing and I hope you continue to improve by leaps and bounds!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Laura!! So far things are going well…I’ve definitely cut down on my OTC’s, and now I just need to make sure I keep a commitment to stick with the alternative therapies moving forward.

      Incidentally, I have also wondered about gluten and how it may impact my body. This is something I will be asking my doctor about the next time I see her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jenny, good luck. A good holistic doctor will probably understand what gluten does. The rest in my experience pooh pooh the whole thing. My advice is to google “300 symptoms of gluten intolerance” for a complete list. Books such as the Whole 30 diet are also really useful. According to my research, gluten isn’t good for anyone, but it’s a matter of degree. There are some who say that frequent headaches are a good sign that food or foods don’t agree with you. If you want to do a little experiment, I suggest getting off gluten for between 2-30 days. My holistic dr suggested 30 days but I started seeing results after 2 days, and more after 2 weeks. According to her it takes 1-2 years to fully detox from gluten. I hope this is helpful. I do think OTCs can really be bad news. I think a combination of Advil and genetically modified soy and corn wrecked my gut. Corn was the other big culprit for me, in addition to gluten. Corn is in almost everything tho. It’s just not obvious because it goes by names like dextrose, maltodextrin, etc. packaged foods are a really good thing to reduce or eliminate, if you can. And you can get off GMOs by going organic. (This was another suggestion my dr gave me. It’s helped a lot.). Something else to consider are the Bach flower remedies. They are IMO a miracle and have no side effects. You can buy them in preparations or in singles and make a custom dose for yourself. Luckyvitamin.com carries them. Most pharmacies now have Rescue Remedy. It works wonders for anxiety. There’s also one for sleep called Rescue Sleep. They are IMO way better than any anti-anxiety or antidepressant without the addictive and other side effects. Good luck and let me know if I can help you with anything. It’s been a long road for me, since 2012, and it’s a slow process but I’m healing. 💜

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply, and for including such detailed info! I’m almost completely clueless on the topic of gluten, and definitely needed a general overview. I know I don’t eat the way I should, and I have no doubt that my food choices are contributing to my headaches and other health problems. This is a great springboard, and I plan to do more research in the next few months! Thanks again! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just wrote a really long reply and I hope it’s in moderation and not lost in cyberspace. Let me know if you didn’t get it, and I’ll re type. Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much! I think it came through! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • I really hope that telling you about what I’ve learned can in some way help you, Jenny! I wish we weren’t all different but in some ways I do think we are alike. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Laura! It’s so true that we do have a great deal in common, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to know you here in the blogosphere! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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