Sunday, June 30, 2013

Anger Management: Goosefrabba

How do you constructively deal with the anger and resentment that arises as a result of living with migraines?

If I said I didn't have anger or resentment, I'd be a liar and my pants would surely catch on fire. When you live life with uncertain pains and agony, why wouldn't you be angry? Migraines can sneak up and ruin a perfectly planned day. So how do I keep from losing my mind?

1. Music is king - Many on Twitter see my constant posts that say "Music is king" because I firmly believe music is the way to serenity. No matter what you're feeling, there's a song for that. If you want to cry, there are plenty of songs to let it all out. If you want to be distracted, then there's some great jams to dance to and take your mind off the pain. If you need to just be alone with your thoughts, you can play music while gathering yourself. 

2. Dance baby dance - When I get really mad, I find dancing is extremely therapeutic. I play my Dance Cardio Pandora station and let all the anger out. My dog gets confused and thinks I want to play so that always turns interesting.

3. Watch a movie/TV - When I need to let all my emotions out, I tend to reach for my Nicholas Sparks movies. He's one sadistic man to create these sappy books, but the movies add the visual and make it that much sadder. "The Notebook," "A Walk to Remember," "Nights in Rodanthe," and "Les Miserables," "Armageddon" (just the last part when Liv Tyler and Bruce Willis say goodbye) all let me just flow those rivers out. I'm cleansed and ready for a new day!

4. Talk - We all have some kind of support system (friends, family, social media, therapist, doctor, etc) that is ready to listen. Please be open and honest to them. If you are having suicidal thoughts, then you need to get some help. No pain should be too much to leave behind the ones you love. 

5. Write - The great thing about writing is it can open gates to so many forms of creativity. You don't necessarily have to write about your pain, but some form of writing could be a distraction from your frustrations. You might have a best selling novel or award winning screenplay in your mind ready to pop out. Channel your anger into words and give all your expression to educate others. I wrote my emotions for one entire day and was amazed at the end of the day how many different things I felt with each type of pain. 

6. Paint - Some of the most amazing art can come from emotion. Get that brush ready for a masterpiece! 


Men in Black: Neuralizer

How do you cope with the way migraine can impact our memories?

This is such a good subject for me because I am constantly forgetting things. All day Friday I kept thinking it was Wednesday! Who does that?!?! Here's how I cope:

1. Keep a note pad with you ALWAYS - I have one in my purse, on my desk, a built in app in my phone, and at least two at work. I'm constantly writing things down. Whether it's a creative idea, something that needs to be remembered, or random thoughts, I've got it covered.

2. Apologize in advance - I find I'm apologizing in advance for being so forgetful, especially at work. Brain fog doesn't help you with your daily activities.

3. Alarms - Phone alarms are wonderful! I set an alarm when I need to get something done or be somewhere so I am not totally lost.

4. Remember, it's not your fault - This is the most important way to cope. You need to fully understand that this isn't your fault. Your memory just plays hide and seek at times due to migraine and it's okay. There's no use in getting upset about it, just breathe.

Bunny Jumping in My Head

One day, a child asked me what a migraine felt like. It's difficult to explain these pains to them so I made this poem:

The only way to tell you about the pain in my head, 
is to say there must be a bunny jumping on the bed


You see, he lives on my brain, but he doesn't sleep much 
because he has dance parties with friends and causes me to fuss


He doesn't want to leave or stay still for very long 
because everyday my head hurts, and I start to see a fog


He likes to visit my tummy to do cartwheels and flips. 
It makes me feel icky with lots of bathroom trips


He likes to play bumper cars all over my tired brain. 
His fun is never ending and neither is my pain


The doctor says he’s here to stay, but we can make him sleepy. 
With diet, exercise, and medicine I won’t be so weepy


Maybe one day we can be friends, and he’ll stop jumping all the time. 
Give me a day or two to rest before he has his fun tonight.






Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Journey to Diagnosis: An Ongoing Investigation

Any chronic pain patient knows this struggle. You constantly go to doctor's appointments, testing, blood work, labs, x-rays, and consults. What's the conclusion? For some, answers, for others like me, it's like a cold case that needs re-opening.

This morning, I woke up with my usual head throbbing, body aches, and weak gait. There was no way I was able to drive or function so I had to call in sick. Great, another vacation/sick day used for my mystery monster. I medicated, went to sleep, and woke up with the "hangover" that kept me miserable all day. Since an ER visit is so expensive ($125 copay upfront), I waited until the Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic was ready at my usual facility.

Once checked in, I was put into a room for the usual vitals and assessments from the nurse. A couple tests during the assessment had the nurse puzzled. She asked me to do the strength testing (squeeze fingers) several times and gave me the "what the heck" look. This chick did not have a poker face. So she brought in the Physician's Assistant on duty and they went over my assessment again. All my nerves checked out so we then did a blood pressure test while I was lying down, sitting, and standing. Since I was wobbly, the standing test was very difficult. Conclusion: my pulse got higher as I moved from position to position. Diagnosis: vertigo. Well duh! I could have told you that!

Next step: she ordered blood tests. While speaking she asked if auto-immune disorders ran in my family. My aunt has RA as well as chronic migraine, my mother hand migraines as a teen, and another aunt had daily headaches. This is all the maternal side of the family. The older I get, the more I developed traits from that side of the family. I did tell her that when I Googled my symptoms (yes, I know you shouldn't do that) the ones that kept coming up was lupus and MS. She didn't sound surprised because those do fit some of my symptoms. I'll definitely be discussing this with my neurologist next week for my follow-up. I'd like to take tests to rule those out.

As I wobbled to the lab, I kept thinking of what was next for this case. The tech of course had a difficult time finding my vein. I used to be a nurse's dream when it came to taking blood! While the blood was leaving my arm, my entire forearm and hand started hurting like crazy! I expressed that to the tech and she was surprised. I've never had that sensation with blood tests before. Definitely going to have a pretty bruise at the end the night.

Well the CBC came back normal, thank goodness, so no infection is the problem. The PA also ordered a CT so we can have that ready for my appointment next week and try to rule out these auto-immune disorders.

Here's what I recommend to the detectives of chronic disorders:
1. Write down everything - If you're like me, your memory is really doing down the drain, so by writing down times when you have to leave work, why you left, and all symptoms can help your doctor.
2. Work with your doctor - You are a team. If you feel your doctor isn't understanding your woes and providing the best care for you, then research a new provider. It's your health so be sure you're getting the care you deserve.
3. Do some research - I know they say don't Web MD your symptoms because the only thing it'll say is you're dying, but sometimes you'll come across a disorder that could fit your situation. At least ask to rule it out if it really seems like a culprit. It's better than to be misdiagnosed for years.
4. Seek support - Family and friends are an important part of your care team. They can be a shoulder to cry on or an ear for venting. Please be understanding that they have emotions about your health too so comfort them as well. I know sometimes I'm reluctant to tell my parents everything that's going on for fear that they'll be worried, but they are a big part of my support system and deserve to know.
5. Channel your feelings - Many of us bottle emotions and explode at inappropriate times. Find a hobby to channel your emotions in like painting, writing, music, carpentry, and others. It can help with distraction and coping.

How do you investigate your diagnosis(es)?
I didn't paint this, but it's a wonderful example of how to express pain through art.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lincoln

Who's your favorite historical figures who lived with migraines or another headache disorder?

I Googled "historical figures with migraines" and the most inspirational woman came up: Marilyn Monroe. Why do I say she's inspirational? The woman has curves and embraces them! She proved to women in the past, present, and future that curves are beautiful. She chased her dreams, inspired women everywhere, and battled migraine. Her triggers were more than likely flashing lights, sounds, and smoke. 

The Huffington Post did an article in May 2012 about 13 Celebrities with Migraines to include:

Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives) - migraineur since age 14
Lisa Kudrow (Romy & Michele's High School Reunion) - child migraines
Cindy McCain (Senator McCain's wife) - silent struggle with migraines
Ben Affleck (Argo) - treated in the ER in 2006
Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked) - uses Botox as treatment
Janet Jackson (music superstar) - vestibular migraine 
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (LA Lakers) - used alternative treatments like acupuncture and diet
Michele Bachmann (2012 Presidential candidate) - criticized by the public about migraines
Loretta Lynn (country legend) - migraineur since age 17
Serena Williams (tennis superstar) - menstrual migraine
Carly Simon (music superstar) - found alcohol was the biggest trigger
Jeff Tweedy (musician) - migraines connected to mood disorders
Troy Aikman (Dallas Cowboys) - believes fathers smoking as a child contributed

You are not alone! 


Risky Business

Each time you try a new treatment you take a risk. How do you initiate a discussion with your doctor so you can make an educated decision about trying it as a team?

When my doctor and I first discussed Botox, I thought what most people thought: oh great my face is going to be frozen and crazy looking. Then we did our research. Not only is the toxin completely different than the cosmetic Botox, but they way they administer it is different as well. Botox is injected in the areas that are most affected by migraines: the forehead, temples, back of the head, and side of the neck. Basically, it gives those muscles a breather while your other muscles take over. 

When talking about a new treatment, I am open and honest with my doctor. I express all fears, doubts, and hopes. You don't want to get set up with thinking it's going to be a miracle and you don't want to make doubts without even trying. If the risks sound too harsh, then take some time to think before trying. Sometimes the side effects of the medications/treatments are worse than the symptoms themselves (ex: Topamax). 

Your doctor wants to help you, which is why they suggest different treatments. No migraineur is the same so no treatment is exactly the same. Be open and honest and don't be afraid to ask questions. It's your body.

Temple Grandin

I'm not very spiritual so I chose am alternate post. Many of us wonder why must you live so loudly? How do you vote with photophobia (most sensitivity)?

My biggest pet peeve is the buzzing sound the fluorescent light makes at random times. It doesn't bother anyone but me. I feel like some my thought process is going down the drain, My hearing is becoming super powerful. One problem: loud noises trigger migraines. The clicking of keyboards, people gabbing about their weekend, doors squeaking, and loud chewers are my enemies.

So what do I do about it? I can't scream for them all to shut it (although I'd love to) because I'm not a rude person. I can't all for an office because I'm not in a position for one and that's not fair. All I can do is take a walk every now and then to escape the noise and take a break.

How do you cope with loud noises?

Walk the Line

How do you balance the need to avoid your migraine triggers with the equally powerful need to enjoy the things that give your life meaning?

Avoiding migraine triggers is a very difficult thing to do. My biggest trigger is the weather and hormones, both unavoidable. So how do I avoid them?

When the weather starts getting icky, I begin a summer party type night.  Pick out some movies (our scan the DVR), make some tea, and break out some fruit that's already cut up. By prepping for bad weather days, I can still enjoy my evening. Cutting up fruits and veggies the day before a bad forecast eliminates a need to use a spoon in an already tough day. Another way to conserve your spoons: making meals I'm advance and freezing them for bad days.

Hormones are another story. Sometimes no matter how you prepare, you just have to sleep and ride it out.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Oblivion

I'm the movie, Oblivion, Tom Cruise is on a mission and starts to question the orders given.

When doctors tell us what we need to be doing to find relief, sometimes we question it. Not because we don't believe them (Ok maybe that's sometimes the case), but it's more feeling lost. How do we find resources to relieve a lost cause? If this expensive item that's supposed to give me relief doesn't work, then why even try another? We may be given orders like soldiers, but we're still human and can have doubts. 

Star Trek: Generations

What role does migraine play in my family history?

My mother had awful migraines as a teen. She missed classes and of course had to deal with other teenage woes while suffering from migraine. She told me when she was am adult, she no longer had them.

Her middle sister gets them worse than I've ever heard of. She's paralyzed for days and is in so much pain. She's gone to many different doctors and, like me, they don't know what to do with her. She also has rheumatoid arthritis and blood pressure problems.

My mother's youngest sister used to have a headache everyday. She used Zomig and said after her daughter was born, she no longer had the problem.

My maternal grandfather has your two diabetes, My maternal grandmother has thyroid issues. My youngest sister inherited the thyroid issues.

And then there's me. I never had a problem with migraines until 2009 when a three day migraine kept me crying in bed. After that, I got a daily headache that was treated with Excedrin, the so-called savior to pain. Finally in 2011 after frequent migraines and a trip to the ER, I started seeing a neurologist. My diagnosis so far is Chronic Migraine and Vitamin B12 Deficiency.

I was cursed from the start I guess.

I'm an Electronic Device

It seems we have many ways to express what's going on with our bodies. A common way is to share The Spoon Theory (such a great reference). For me, I find that I lose spoons and gain one or two when I sleep, or recharge my batteries. Check this out:
In the morning, it takes me several snoozes too finally get up. I'm rebooting for the day as a computer would. When getting out of bed, I need to wait a couple more seconds because I'm not quite fully running yet. My body does a check to get all programs running. After the morning bathroom trip, breakfast, and taking the dog out,  I am mentally and physically booted to put my mask on. Just like a cell phone cover, it fits like a glove (though some days I have to squeeze a little more lol). My face, hair, and attire make me appear normal though my hardware underneath says otherwise.
During the commute, I'm catching up on news and music, which can be looked at as downloading updates to software. I finally reach my cubicle and the real work begins.
Throughout the day, I need small breaks just like your computer freezes up when you're doing too much at one time. Some parts of my system need to stop working to focus on another. Too much work at one time can crash an entire system. So take it easy, spoonie. Your system is more vulnerable than others.
In the afternoon, My battery always seems pretty low. I assume it's blood sugar so I have a snack and take a breather. There are some days when it seems you've contracted a complicated virus and need to go home to repair and reboot. There are days when you know what caused the virus and others that leave you clueless.
Bottom line: you know your own machine better than anyone else. So keep that anti virus up to date (doctor check ups and treatments) and know when to repair and reboot.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eat Pray Love

Today's challenge is about sex so since I don't really have a steady partner, it's irrelevant lol. I chose an alternate post that asks to share your favorite migraine trigger free recipe.
Since I've given up so much of my usual food,  I've had to rethink my meals. I used to have Chinese as my go-to quick fix. Well, it's just crawling with MSG so I've learned to make my own. I use a preservative free soy sauce, veggies, and a meat. I mostly use chicken or shrimp rather than red meat.
Squash is a great stir fry additive because it soaks up the flavor and gives you essential nutrients. I also like to add broccoli and mushrooms for nutrition and taste.
What's your favorite migraine free food? 

Die Hard

Yesterday's challenge asks us to devise a weapon to blast out migraines from my life. The only one I could come up with was a laser. Lasers can cut things and I'd like to cut the bad parts of my brain and keep the good parts.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Meds meds meds

I'm going to do a remix of the popular 90's hit "Bills, Bills, Bills" by Destiny's Child.

Can you fill my meds
Can you fill my nausea med
Can you fill my pain med
Then maybe the pain will leave my head.
I don't think you believe
That my pain is killing me.

Today was a very upsetting day because not only did I have a severe migraine, but my while body was so achy! My arms felt like I did 1500 pushups and my legs acted like I ran a marathon! I went to my walk in urgent care clinic and no one could see me immediately. They recommended I go to the emergency room. When I got there, they put me in a quiet, dark room. Thank goodness! The psychic on tv in the waiting room was driving me bananas!

They were pretty busy so it took a little bit to be seen. No big deal, I was resting so I didn't notice.

In pops a med student. He explains he's working with the doctor and is doing an assessment. No big deal. He then says (and I quote), "so I hear you have a headache?" Without skipping a beat, I growled with an evil eye and said, "migraine." Sure enough he corrected himself a lot throughout the assessment when he said headache.

At the end of the assessment he then says, "did you try Tylenol?" Steam came from my ears. I said (as calm as I could), "Tylenol is like a sugar pill. It does nothing for me." He thought that was so interesting and I doubt he believed me. He probably was testing me to see if I'd ask for a narcotic.

The nurse came in to administer my IV. Being anemic, My veins play hide and seek. They used to be a nurse's dream. Oh so painful! The medication itself burned like my Botox injections and rushes through my body. I kept thinking, "man I hope this works." Oh the things we do to reduce pain!

The nurse left and after a while I felt a sensation in my right leg that caused it to jump/twitch every other minute. That freaked me out. I pushed my call button and the other nurse was stumped.

Not long later, the doc came in to explain his treatment. He also gave me a "I don't prescribe narcotics" lecture and I immediately said, "good because I don't want them." I'd rather have medications that keep me active but reduce the pain than be knocked out and dopey.

Finally I got discharged and went home for a nap.  Woke up in time to see Danielle Bradbury win The Voice. Now my legs are killing me again! Got my prescriptions filled and ready to call it a night. Can I get a free pass tomorrow and have a low grade pain day? One can hope.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mission Impossible

Today's post asks what seems impossible while treating chronic migraine. Diana posted about having children and that's a fear of mine too.

Chronic migraine is matched with vitamin b12 deficiency and makes having children very difficult. Since I don't have much energy and have unexpected pain, how could I take care of a child? With the b12 deficiency, it makes it very difficult for me to carry a child. Even if I adopted a child, I'd still have fatigue and constant pain.

So what do I do? Do I just go with it and hope for the best? That wouldn't benefit the child if unable to fully care for him or her. Is it selfish to want children when I might not be fully able to care for them? So many questions I cannot find answers to at this time. Maybe when my treatments show more results I can explore it again, but what if I never get to that point?

Any other migraineurs struggle with this issue?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Riverdance

Exercise is an important part of any treatment. Lately I've been jogging. My ultimate goal is to do a 5K by Labor Day. With the help of the "Couch to 5K" program, I've ran more than I've ever done I'm the past six years. Sometimes I can't get too far without getting weak and lightheaded. I know my limits but it helps to keep trying.

Other great ways to exercise include swimming, aerobics, walking, and biking. Metro that blood pumping and drink plenty of water.

Evita: Don't Cry For Me Argentina

We don't want to be pitied. So how do we want to be helped?

The biggest impact in my life is to hear these words: I'm here for you. Sometimes just having an ear helps. So many emotions are kept in that sometimes I need to just let it out. My audience changes because I can't stand to burden just one person.

Music is another way to help. For every emotion, there's a song for that. I can't wait to make music of my own and share with other spoonies.

Letters to Julia

Dear Parents,

Thank you so much for getting me during my treatment of my disorders. For assisting me financially when I needed it. For putting on a brave face when I explained what was happening. For trusting my judgements on how to take care of my body. You've always been there for me and I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

Love,

Stef

Sophie's Choice

What's the toughest treatment you've had to face? Many neurological medications have so many side effects that it seems the migraine is so much easier. The toughest treatment for me is the actual treatment.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Box: You are the Experiment

What situation in your migraine treatment has made you feel like a guinea pig or lab rat?
When I started seeing a  neurologist in fall 2011, he admitted he had no idea how to treat migraine. It was the closest facility in a great hospital chain and I'd drive 90 minutes to get there. My first appointment was like a job interview. He asked me questions, the nurse took my vitals, he ordered an MRI to rule out tumors, and began the medication lab rat process.
After the first appointment and a clear MRI, I'd express my feelings of each medication. The first was Amitriptyline, an anti depressant and common migraine "savior." The two weeks of waiting for it to fully be in my system were hell. I had severe vertigo, nausea, and major brain fog. When I explained those symptoms the response was, "Ok let's try another."
Propanolol was prescribed for my blood pressure and he kept fiddling with the dosage until it seemed "right." When that med alone wasn't giving me relief,  he added Imitrex. I'd only take it when the pain was bad and it never seemed to get better. When we tried Relpax I found out why: I have an allergy to triptans. I would get the most intense pain I've ever experienced I'm my life and would be sent to the ER.
After that experience, My doc said, "Ok let's try another." By this time, I was so upset by the guessing game with my health. How can someone not understand your pain and frustration? Unfortunately he dealt with confused elderly all the time so he shrugs it all off.
Then came Topamax, My arch nemesis. I have another post explaining this awful med so I'll sum it up. My side effects were so bad, I had to very and beg to be taken off of it.
After that I told my doc I'd rather stay on my blood pressure med and deal with the pain than the outrageous side effects. Moving to Kansas City and meeting my now headache clinic was the best thing that's ever happened to me. They are migraineurs too so there's a lot more evaluation, testing, and advice.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Amazing Talent

Watch "Amber Carrington: "Sad" - The Voice Highlight" on YouTube

If you're looking for an amazing performance to help express emotion,  check out this video from "The Voice" by Amber Carrington.

Who's Playing Whack-A-Mole With My Head?

Today was very challenging for me. I forgot to fill my CoQ 10 and Vitamin B12 capsules so my body was very mad at me. Without Vitamin B12, I start to shake, feel faint, and have zero energy. Some of the challenges of having a vitamin B12 deficiency with migraines include never knowing what symptoms are affecting what, how to treat them, and which is worse. Now that I've filled my supplements, I'm hoping to be back to "normal" soon.

While at work, I kept wondering who was playing Whack-A-Mole with my head. It seems the pain was moving from spot to spot all over my head and then even to the rest of my body. My left hand started to hurt, my legs had "pins and needles," and I had lots of nausea.

This just goes to show you: keep your treatment supplements and medications filled! I tend to forget things very easily (thanks B12 deficiency) so alarms on my phone and little notes on my desk help.

Twilight

Today's post asks what power of a vampire or werewolf would you like to have to cope with migraine.

I'm sure many migraineurs would agree that a werewolf's ability to heal quickly would be the most ideal. I'll take that over super speed anyday.

Many of us have more than one disorder not linked to our minds such as gastro or uterine. To be able to heal quickly would mean more relief from all ailments.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ocean's Eleven

Today's MHAM asks who is part of your care team and what rules still need to be filled.

Doctors - It seems I have a specialist for everything: neuro, allergy, gyn, and soon gastro.

Family - My family has been very supportive of my migraines, especially since two of my aunts have the same problem. My mother had them as a teen but not as an adult. I was the opposite. My dad's side of the family doesn't quite understand but they know I'm hurting. The kids try to be quiet when I grimace and the smokers keep their distance to not trigger an attack.

Friends - As I've explained in the grief chat, I've lost touch with sole friends who were tired of my canceling on them all the time. I didn't blame them, and I have a tight group of friends who are more understanding and patient. You just take the good with the bad.

Bridget -I have a crazy three year old boxer named Bridget and she helps me so much. When I'm feeling bad, she cuddles up to me. Sometimes she acts out but that's lessened as she's grown. More that we go to the dog park when I'm feeling okay,  she is less disobedient.

Work Associates - The people I work with have been very understanding mostly because I make up the time I miss and I'm a hard worker. Sometimes I feel they resent me for leaving unexpectedly, but I can't help it. Most of them have a relative or friend who has a similar disorder so it helps with the understanding.

Roles needing filled - It would be nice to have a man in my life to take care of me and my dog when I'm having a bad head day. Due to the disorder, dating is extremely difficult.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mama Mia!

Today's blog challenge deals with financial hardship due to migraine. Not only do I have medical copays, medication, and travel expenses,  but there's also missed work, diet, auto wear and tear, alternative treatments, accommodating devices, and the list goes on.

One of the biggest is the doctor or hospital itself. Testing can take a huge chunk out of the budget. Thank goodness I have good insurance! My Botox doesn't cost as much as I thought and after I meet my deductible (normally in February lol), the out of pocket costs aren't as much.

The next big expense for me is missed work. Not only do I use sick time, vacation, and maybe FMLA, but there's invisible costs like coworkers not depending on you as much and not being able to move up.

Since my doctors are all within twenty miles, travel and auto costs aren't as much as others might pay.

What costs are weighing you down?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pretty Woman

Yesterday's blog challenge was what do you do to look good when you feel like crap. Sometimes all the makeup in the world won't make you smile.  Sometimes the prettiest nail polish won't make you feel like a superstar.  So what do you do?

First of all,  you can't feel pretty without loving yourself first.  Do the first thing I do is tell myself that I'm beautiful no matter how I feel inside.  One you believe what you're saying,  you'll feel much better.

Second,  I like to wear items that make me stand out.  Maybe if my earrings are super gorgeous,  no one will notice I'm hurting. Maybe if my nice dress is turning heads,  they won't see my pain. 
Last,  I smile.  Even if I really don't want to smile.  If you're smiling,  you look twenty times better to others. 

So keep smiling and standing out in a crowd.  You're beautiful :) 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Premonition

Today's MHAM topic is where would you like to see migraine and headache treatment go for the future. 

If I had a genie, I'd want a cure. Genies and migraine cures don't exist though. We try treatments, diets, alternate medicines, prayers, and so much more. So what does the future of migraine treatments go? I'd like to see more wholistic treatments rather than medications. Medications have so many awful side effects that the migraines sometimes are better. So why can't we find some natural ways to get relief? I'd like less side effects and more low grade days. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Steel Magnolias: That Which Doesn't Kill Us Only Makes Us Stronger

In what ways are you stronger because of your migraine or headache disorder? Today's blog challenge is actually an alternate topic because I'm not sure how to write the Carnival topic.

In some ways, I feel weaker because my nerves are so sensitive that the smallest noise can set off a migraine attack. People around me don't have this problem so I feel so inadequate. How did I deteriorate so quickly? I've never had these many problems before! I used to let my body take care of illness and never medicated. Now, I have to see a specialist for every little thing. All these tests brought up another problem and more stress. 

So how am I stronger? I can tolerate pain and put on a mask better than most people. When others get a migraine, they instantly cripple. I get them so often that it's second nature. Sometimes I can still smile and act like it's okay. Other times, I have to really work hard to look normal. 

See this more accurate pain chart to show how a chronic migraineur describes pain. 

Lobster Syndrome: My Common Symptom

I have a common symptom that drives me batty! I call it the Lobster Syndrome. Let me know if this sounds familiar to you:

1. My face and ears get really red

2. I feel like I'm boiling in a pot of water

3. I feel like clawing at anyone who annoys me or triggers more pain

4. All I want to do is take a nice bath to relax 

5. I'm pretty sure I'd be delicious if cooked and served with butter (now I'm just being silly)

Anyone else have these symptoms?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

Today's blog challenge asks how do you keep going in life when migraine or another headache disorder deals you a difficult set back. This has been something I've battled with today! I had to leave work due to weather triggers giving me extreme pain. I described it to coworkers as being in a "boiling pot of water." My face got extremely red and I was so warm to the touch on my face yet my fingers were cold. 

When that happens, I have no choice but to go home and get some rest. Sometimes medication just isn't enough. If I were to stay, the pain would only make me more miserable and my work wouldn't be productive at all. Luckily, I have a very understanding boss and coworkers, so it helps with the guilt. I do still feel guilty since that means I won't be getting as much accomplished at work. I tend to come in on Saturdays or staying late/arriving early to make it up. 

To cope, I try to look at the positives like I'm still able to work and I'm still breathing. Without focusing on simple positives, I'm pretty sure I'd go insane. Social media and blogging helps with coping too. I have many Twitter friends who go through the same and help me keep my chin up. With blogging, I am able to express my feelings freely without judgement. 

Overall, I look at the bigger picture. Everyday is a challenge and I hope to overcome it. 

The Hunger Games

Day 3 of the MHAM Blog Challenge asks what healthy habits have you adopted to put the odds of better migraine & headache disorders management in your favor.

Well in October 2012, my doctor introduced the Headache Diet to me and I couldn't be happier! I eliminated bad foods that I had no idea triggered migraines. I think MSG and dairy were the biggest impact on me. I ate fast food and Chinese food all the time! When food doesn't taste as great, cheese went on it. Now I have new loves: hummus, soy milk, soy cheese, fresh fruit, and new vegetables. I have a much healthier lifestyle and feel great. 

I've also recently started running. I haven't done any type of running at all since I was in the army so it has been a challenge. I have a short term goal of participating (and finishing) a 5K by Labor Day at my hometown soybean festival. Last night I ran a 400 meter dash for a corporate challenge and barely finished. The little victories make the biggest difference. Don't sweat the big stuff and make sure the small stuff gets noticed. It's the small victories that lead to a big one. :)

Have you tried the headache diet? What's your favorite food you just discovered?

X-Men: Migraine & Headache Disorders Super Heroes

Once again, I know I'm late, but here's my Day 2 of the MHAM blog challenge. Who in your life goes above the call of duty and how?

In my life, I have many heroes. My parents have always supported me and helped me when I needed it. Without them, I don't know where I'd be. I'm so fortunate to have all this support and love from them. I know they worry about me because of my health, but we keep an open relationship and I don't hold anything back. If I hid anything, it would only hurt our relationship.

Recently I've gained some new heroes: my Twitter migraineur friends. They know exactly what I'm going through and offer help through blog posts, pictures, interactions, and well wishes. Getting introduced to the Spoon Theory (Google it please) has changed my viewing of my condition. I'm constantly holding on to spoons and hoping for relief. So thank you tweeps! 

Who are your heroes?

Phantom of the Opera

I'm a little late but I wanted to share my Migraine & Headache Awareness Month blog challenge posts. June 1 talked about what do you hide behind your migraine mask? What do you let people see?

At work, I try to look like a normal person as much as I possibly can, but they see right through it. The picture I attached to this post is how I feel inside when I have an attack. 

To my family, I can't hide anything at all. They know I struggle and hurt, but they don't know what to do to make it better. I don't even know! My dog cuddles and tries to be as sweet as possible, but I still hurt. 

For the most part, looking normal seems like a stressful chore and it is. If I have the energy, I put on makeup and a fake smile. I walk like nothing's wrong because no one wants to see that things are wrong. It's a daily mask, but it must be worn.

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Road to Health

Part of my doctor's plan includes me losing weight and having a more active lifestyle. The difficult part is my migraines and vitamin b12 deficiency sometimes tells me that I can't. Here's the strategies that my doctor recommended:

Start small: Losing weight gradually makes it easier to keep it off. To reach your goal, focus on losing five pounds at a time. Then give yourself 5-6 weeks to lose each five pounds. With each small victory, you'll build more confidence and will be able to meet your long term goal.

Pair good eating with increased physical activity: You can learn the secret of weight loss from people who have already succeeded: managing calories in and out. From research, we know that people who've lost weight and kept it off have a level of control in their eating habits. By keeping the balance of calories and increasing activity can help decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and even certain cancers.

Use your plan: While on your plan, make sure to learn about what works for you and adjust accordingly. Along with the headache diet, an exercise program that adjusts as you progress will ensure success.

It's not all or nothing: It's okay to make mistakes and "cheat" every once in a while. You don't have to suffer while trying to be healthy. If you enjoy what you're eating and working out, then you can keep the weight off long term. If you stick to your plan 80% of the time, you'll succeed. You're not a failure because you had a cookie or some potato chips. If you make smart food and exercise choices most of the time, let go of the guilt about a few indulgences or "oops" times. Many give up after they have a first "cheat" when they should keep it up and keep working at it.

Eating well: Becoming aware of your eating habits gets you ready to make positive changes. Try taking stock of your eating patterns and discovering what type of eater you are. I am a fast eater, which might not let me stop eating when I am clearly full. When you indulge in that "cheat" snack, make sure you make up for it with a little extra cardio or yoga. To make matters worse, many people experiment with extremely low-calorie fad diets that promis quick weight loss. These can backfire. They force the body to feed off its own muscle instead of dietary protein. As muscle is lost, gaining fat becomes easier.

Eat Light and Eat Often: People who eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the day tend to eat less because they don't get overwhelmed by hunger. Healthy snacking keeps your energy up and prevents you from getting so hungry that you overeat later.

Last but not least: BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY!

What are your healthy diet tips??
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