headaches

My 2018 Migraine

I had one migraine in 2016, and one migraine in 2017.

Let’s just call the migraine I got this past Tuesday, January 2nd my 2018 migraine shall we?

My migraine began while I was out to lunch with my son.  When I got back home, I laid down and slept for 2 hours, thankfully.  When I woke up, I walked into the bathroom and I couldn’t see myself in the mirror.  The aura had returned after it had completely left before I had laid down.

Is this a double migraine?

All I know is that the enormously painful headache lasted a double amount of days than usual following the onset day of my migraine.

Not that I can’t probably track where it came from…large doses of pizza, wine, chocolate and treats over the Christmas break.

Back on the wagon of reeling it in on the food front, as well as making sure not to miss a day of my anti-migraine smoothie.  I had gotten busy and lazy at making my smoothies and missed a day here or there lately.  No more.  Tightening up the ship.

So, I’ll take the annual migraine two days into the year.  I can respect and accept that.  Just please don’t become a regular occurrence again!  I am now used to my one migraine each year I get older rather than when they were 2-3 per week at their worst!

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99 Problems but a Migraine ain’t one!

Day 99 of no migraines.  Oh ya.

And I don’t actually have 99 problems.  Just giving a nod to Jay Z.  I mean, if I had to start a list, I may be able to come up with some stuff, not sure about 99.   And I hate the word ain’t.  Actually had to google how to spell it.  No lie.

And I digress…

99 days of no kaleidoscope eyes.  No dullness for up to 48 hours with a halting headache, where I do not bend over or stand up quickly for anything short of a fire due to the insanely intensified pain.

Still drinking my anti-migraine smoothie daily, changed it to before lunch a few months ago, along with my herbal supplements.  I drink so many of these, that I’m like a green smoothie connoisseur.  Not sure if that can turn into something lucrative… I do notice when my smoothies are spicier than other days, and I recognize that one type of green is more present than others.  Pretty sure that just makes me a nerd.

99 days is cool.  And within this 99 days, Disneyland was included.  Disneyland.  Crowds, walking somewhere around 10 miles a day…IN CROWDS most of the time.  But the most amazingly surprising part of these 99 days including Disneyland?  I went on the Tower of Terror ride.  Never, NEVER in my life would I have wanted to, or thought I would be participating as a rider on that ride.  All I knew is there was a drop.  My 12 year old couldn’t wait for that ride.  I was going to walk her up the line so she could go on it.  As we were in line, there were tiny kids, like 4 years old in line.  None of them were scared.  I started to psych myself out.  “It’s Disneyland, how bad can it be?  Little tiny kids are going, suck it up man!”  And before I knew it, I was about to be seated on the ride, and my daughter looked at me and said “I guess you’re going with me!”  At that point, my heart was beating so fast that I became a bit light headed.  The ride started, only after meeting another rider who was as terrified as me, and we agreed it would be totally appropriate to hold each others hands if needed.  I can handle the dark, or the trying to be creepy Twilight Zone themed movie clips that were being played to set it all up.  I could not at all handle the drop.  I even more could not handle the going up at the same gravity like speed as the drop.  No less, I absolutely shut down because this up and down stuff, kept happening, with no pattern at all.  All I could do is shut my eyes and hold onto the handles for dear life.  No screaming came out of my mouth.  This is the picture that was snapped by Disneyland when the doors opened and all of Disneyland could be seen from the top:

IMG_7370

I am the adult in the upper left corner.  I must have opened my eyes just a bit to see the light, and to reassure myself that I was still living, although I’m pretty sure I was crying in this picture.  Who is the guy on the right that has their wits about them enough to get a selfie?  What?  I almost couldn’t open my eyes, and this guy is making his Christmas card?

I had jelly legs for 40 minutes following this ride.  My kid, she thought it was the best ever.  I would have rather have had a migraine.  Not kidding.  At least then I know what to expect.  Although that would have thrown off my no migraine streak.  Worst ride ever.  And some people LOVE it!  Good for them, they can have my spot in that line forever.

Anyhow, had to write on day 99, because I’m a bit superstitious, didn’t want to bank on 100, but I am planning on it!  Then I’ll take a look at my first day 100 migraine free post here:  100th Day of no migraines!  Weird, it was 12/21/14, almost a year ago to the date I was celebrating 100 days!  Well, on to aiming for over 200 again!

Imitrex fail!

‘Here are some samples of Imitrex. Take one as you feel a migraine coming on.’ Was what I was told by my doctor early in my migraine career. Up to that point, I had taken ibuprofen, and as it made a slight dent in the pain, I was hoping for bigger results.

Then came game day…

I was going to a good friends house to visit with her and let our kids play.  It was about a 30 minute drive.  As I pulled up to her house, my eyes began doing their kaleidoscope tricks.   Oh wait!  I have a pill that can help me!  I took the prescribed Imitrex.  Full migraine to follow 20 minutes later as the kaleidoscope eyes relieved themselves to leave me with an overall dull feeling.  Then, something that I hadn’t experienced yet in my migraine career, praying to the porcelain gods as I vomited in my good friends bathroom.

toilet-thumb-450x450-17583

Snapshot of that moment:  my two small children (didn’t have the third yet) running around with my friends’ two small kids, playing, my friend is watching the children, and I am puking in her downstairs bathroom.  (Can I say how happy I am that she had such a wonderfully clean home?  I don’t know how to express my appreciation for a clean toilet when puking in another’s bathroom.)

After I returned from the bathroom, I laid on the floor of the living room on my back.  Although the back of my head was on the floor, it felt like I was raising it up, my neck muscles were sore and tightened. Scared, and so thankful this was a good friend that I wasn’t embarrassed to be in front of during all this crap, I read the paperwork that came with Imitrex.

  • Vomiting, check.
  • Drowsiness to the point of barely able to keep my eyes open, check.
  • Tightened neck muscles, check.  See below more specific details of the tightened neck:

‘Chest/jaw/neck tightness can commonly occur soon after using sumatriptan. Only rarely are these signs of a serious condition. However, you may not be able to tell it apart from a serious reaction due to a lack of blood flow to the heart, brain, or other parts of the body.’  How nice.

Fast forward about an hour, and my husband was at my friends door to take our kids and I home.  I went straight to bed and stayed there until the next day.  I vividly remember telling my husband that I am happy to stick with ibuprofen as treatment for migraines for the rest of my life.

I am sure Imitrex and other drug treatments have thankfully been successful for many people.

I am the person that gets every random side effect with prescription drugs, including the antibiotics that were prescribed to me just last year that stated you may experience ‘psychotic episodes’.  How lovely, crawling out of my skin and not being able to sleep is a side effect to trying to get rid of bronchitis.  Lucky me.

I know my body is sensitive to prescription drugs, therefore I choose to be very careful before taking any.  I weigh out the side effects vs. benefits before I commit to taking anything, for fear of it negatively impacting my life.  This is why I felt it so necessary to try each and every thing I had ever read and learned about migraine relief and prevention before filling my Topamax prescription back in August of last year.

I am so thankful that up to this point it has not been necessary to fill that prescription.  I was literally sick reading through the possible side effects, preparing myself for all that were listed.    Although, that was the point I was at, the migraines had gotten so frequent and life impacting, the benefits of taking Topamax were winning the side effects battle of the two.  I don’t take for granted that my anti migraine potion has been successful for me.  And I’m not naive, there may be a day where I need to look at the benefits of another prescription that could overrule the possible side effects if my migraines were to change course or get worse again.

Here’s to having hope that I won’t need to fill prescriptions in the future with lists of side effects though!  Because I don’t know that I’ll keep getting invited over to friends houses if I continue to lay on their floor and puke when I arrive!

10 days is NOT the business.

10 is much different than 205.

10 days ago, I had my first migraine in 205 days.  Today, I had another.  It bites.

I met my friend to get our toes done (very rare occurrence, about twice a year, so this was a big day!)  As I entered the nail salon, the wall that is a glass waterfall seemed to encompass every single prism of light in the universe and laser it my way.  I’ve gotten a migraine in this place before, but I’ve also gone there and not gotten one.  Not my lucky day today. The prisms of light that seem to only be attracted to my eyes, in combination with the endless can lights in the salon above my head said ‘You’re out.’

As soon as my eyes went full kaleidoscope, I was calm.  I know what to do and what to expect when I get to that point.  It’s the before that is not fun, wondering if the migraine is or is not going to rear it’s ugly head.

My friend and I talked about the need to find a dark place that does pedicures.  Then we quickly retracted that and laughed thinking that may not be a place that we’re supposed to visit!

My kaleidoscope eyes let up just in time for me to see the end result, pretty toes.  Then, with heavy heart, I entered my migraine into a new app I just got last week called Migraine Buddy.  All the information that I’ve been keeping in the notes of my iPhone for years, now is stored in a convenient little app.  It tracks migraines, as well as provide reports to target triggers and similarities.  Cool.

10 is no 205.  Still optimistic though thinking since it was the glass wall of water that brought it on, maybe they aren’t back to stay quite yet.

And on we went to drown my migraine frustrations in some Chili’s chips and salsa and tacos.  Migraine smoothie will come a bit later today, hope it can reel this in a bit.

Good thing tomorrow’s headache can hold hands with a mellow day without big plans.

You are not welcome here migraine anxiety, please go away.

In case you missed it, last week I celebrated day 200 without migraines, and then on day 205 got a migraine.  Still a win for sure.  I’ll take 205 days between migraines in comparison to two a week any day.

The problem with a migraine returning is, it brought it’s friend anxiety.

Last night I went to work.  I am a Recreation Therapist, and I work as a consultant in care homes with adults with developmental disabilities.  I love my job, it’s awesome.  Last night, as I walked into one of my care homes that I’ve been with for many years, my migraine signal number one began.  I became dizzy, things became a bit blurry, and it didn’t stop after a few seconds.  Oh no.  This is usually my first indicator that a migraine is coming.  I told the care home staff that I thought maybe I was getting a migraine, put my hands on my face, messed with my ears, and began to force yawning (all random things that I’ve read here and there that I am totally willing to try).  As I was trying to take a moment to see if this would pass, I had one client excited to see me and eager to begin our routine conversation about TV channels.  As my hands are over my face, “J” is about 7 inches from my ear ‘Jennica, WB is on channel 3?  The Frog says WB?  WB is on channel 3?  What channel is that?’  This goes on without pause for quite a duration.  I love this guy, and I am usually so game for this conversation, but this is not the constant conversation you want when you are trying to determine if you are, or are not getting a migraine.  Even the staff picked up on the fact that something was not good, they quickly intervened, ‘Come here “J”, Jennica needs a minute.”

It’s amazing what anxiety can do.  It fires up your brain to such a ridiculous speed.  This is what went on in my head within about 3 seconds:

  • Oh my gosh, is this a migraine?
  • I’ve never gotten a migraine at work.
  • Am I going to need to go home?
  • Am I going to be able to drive home?
  • Did I take my vitamin supplements today?
  • Yes.
  • Did I drink my smoothie today?
  • Yes.
  • How many days is this from day 205?
  • I don’t want this to be my new normal.

I slowly lifted my hands from my face and looked around, settling in to my surroundings.  ‘I don’t think I’m getting a migraine,’ I tell myself.  Then I have to explain myself to the staff of the care home where I have worked for years.  I hate having to explain that I get migraines, and that they level me, and that is why I plug my ears, shake my head, and rub my temples all in an effort to out fool the migraine from showing up.  Did I fool this migraine from showing up?  Why didn’t it come?  I had step one of my migraines happen, the dizziness, why didn’t step 2, my kaleidoscope eyes happen?  I know I’m not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth, but what do I expect now?  I am not one that is good with surprises, I like knowing what to expect.

I went on with my night, all was good.  All but my amped up body by the time I got home.  There was no reason for my body to be so many steps up, the only way I can describe it is when I put my hands up near my head and say ‘I’m about right here now, all amped up.’  And that, my friends, is anxiety.

I’ve written about my anxiety a few times, once devoting an entire post to it, likening myself to Bob Wiley of What About Bob, you can find it here.  I hope you can get some laughs, let me know if you can relate!

I’ve so enjoyed my new sense of normal without migraines for 6+ months, and the lack of migraine anxiety that has come with it.  Walking into businesses, restaurants, stores, just walking in, like a normal person, not worrying about wearing my sunglasses a bit longer than socially normal, wearing a hat to set off light glares.  I’m not ready for migraine anxiety to make a comeback as my new normal.  It’s not welcome here.

I’m guilty of ‘just going through the motions…’

 

It’s funny how sometimes, something seems off, and as I’m trying to work it out in my head , something comes along that I either read or hear, and it helps me move along and make sense of things.

I’ve found myself very busy lately, and getting things done.  I wonder if it has to do with the fact that I have more days to get things done, they haven’t been taken over by migraines now for over 200 days as I had written about last week.  (Sidenote…looks like 205 is my number.  205 days following my last migraine, I got one as I was in Raley’s shopping for dinner the day before Easter.)  As I have been working more, as well as busying myself with things that have been waiting to get done, I think I’ve maybe (embarrassingly and regretfully) been going through the motions with my family.  Everyone gets fed, loved, tucked in, kisses, and I love you’s, but, at times it’s while I’m busy getting things done.

Back seven months ago, it was familiar for me to hear my youngest ask in a worried voice, ‘mom, are you getting a headache?’  Back then, I was getting roughly 2 migraines per week.  That’s two days of my life affected for each migraine.  So, about 4 bad days, and 3 good days per week.  Lately, as I’ve been ‘checking’ myself (think Ice Cube), I’ve wondered if I was more present seven plus months ago because the days that were good, I really tried to get the most out of.

I don’t believe that you can live ‘every day to the fullest’.  I think that may be a bit unrealistic, even though I’d love to think I could make it happen.

I do believe that moments can be celebrated on almost a daily basis.  When we went away for a quick trip a few weeks ago, no one day was perfect.  There were however, moments.  Sitting on the beach listening to the waves and watching my family, everyone happy, that was a full moment.  The next day at the park (which my older two swore they  were too big for, but ran around with my youngest as they created their own game), I sat next to my husband with the sun on my back, not really talking, just hanging out, it was another full moment.  After that short get away, I realized that a day doesn’t have to be perfect to be a success.  To have those moments that are to the fullest matter, and they have the ability to make me feel whole.

I began to write this post between the celebration of day 200 of no migraines, and before day 205.  With the return of a migraine on day 205, I recalled how I’ve often wondered if when I need to slow down, but don’t, is a migraine my body’s way of saying ‘ya, I’ll take care of this, you are going to be slowing down right now’?  Day 205 definitely slowed me down.  Most of the migraine bells and whistles were present, even some that rarely show up to the migraine party such as the cold chills.  No numb lips and arms though, so I guess that’s good.  My husband pointed out that getting a migraine once a calendar year may not be so bad.  And I agree.  They still suck, yet suck just doesn’t fully encompass the definition of a migraine.  The sledgehammer that hits you down, with the pain afterwards, does more than suck.  But, it’s funny, as I was driving home from Raley’s, knowing I was right ahead of the full kaleidoscope eyes storm, the point at which I would not be able to drive for at least 30 minutes, I found myself smiling.  A slow, undercover smile, while thinking to myself, ‘alright, ya got me, I’m due, 205 is pretty good stuff.’

As I mentioned above, something I came across and read recently had parts that really spoke to me, and helped me move past some things that seemed to be taking up too much real estate in my head.  Some of this article posted on handsfreemama.com is heavy, take from it what may apply to you:

http://www.handsfreemama.com/2015/03/23/the-life-of-the-party-is-closer-than-you-think/

So, “Could I be the party”?  Yes.

I didn’t expect a kick-my-ass migraine reminder that I definitely needed to slow down, be the party, and take in the moments, but I’ll take it.  Maybe a migraine for me at times can be a really sick, twisted gift that reminds me to slow the ____ down.  Please just let my body go back to keeping these reminders hundreds of days apart.

200 Days. Boom! Drop the mic.

Today marks 200 days since my last migraine.

 

 

200 days of no kaleidoscope eyes.

200 days of no numb, anti-present feeling for hours following the kaleidoscope eyes.

200 days of no head splitting headache the day after the kaleidoscope onset of my migraine.

Green migraine smoothie, B-2, Feverfew, Butterbur, (aka my anti-migraine potion), no afternoon coffee, and monthly chiropractor visits.  These are the things I’ve done consistently for 200+ days.  Something in this equation is working for me right now.

200 days.  Boom!

Bargaining with my body.

One of the worst migraines I’ve had, one that’s definitely on my top 10, was a couple of years ago.  I was in Safeway, grocery shopping, when all of a sudden, there went my eye sight.  And then, through kaleidoscope eyes managed to finish my shopping needs (thankfully I know that place like the back of my hand).  By the time I waited out my eyesight return, it had been well over 30 minutes.  When I arrived home, all I wanted to do was the Nestle Tea fall into the couch, but I realized that may give me vertigo.  I didn’t need vertigo.  After lying down, my lips felt tingly, then numb, along with my arm.  I freaked out and called the nurse on call, and she said that happens sometimes with migraines.  How nice.  Another goodie to add to the bag.  The vice like headache when standing up or bending over of course arrived the following day, along with the dull, not 100% present feeling that is my headaches best friend.  A few days later, I was able to determine that this nasty migraine was the start of me coming down with a flu.  Just in case the flu isn’t bad enough on it’s own, let’s have it joined by a migraine to really give you the 1-2 punch.

Last Friday I left my long term 6th grade sub gig early because I was sick.  3 out of the 5 in my family have been sick within the last 10 days, and I was sure I wouldn’t be joining them.  Wrong.  I was lucky number 4.  (Really hoping number 5 somehow dodges this one, it’s her birthday this week, that would really suck.)

I found myself bargaining with my body when I finally got home and into bed.

‘Ok, if I’m going to throw up, if it’s just one time, I’ll feel better, and that may be better than bronchitis, but only if it’s one time.’

‘If I get a fever, I may feel like I need to call 911 if it reaches 100.1, but it’s better than a migraine.’

Side-note, how can my kids cruise around with a 102.5+ fever and still be coherent, yet last summer when I had a 101.1, I really did consider having my husband bring me to the ER for the splitting headache that accompanied it?

I am on day 3 of feeling like I’m car sick, the dull headache and all.  But no migraine.  It’s almost like I’m in a competition I can’t lose, I do not want to get a migraine.  I’m around the corner from 200 days migraine free, and since I’ve done so much rounding with my 6th graders in math, I know that’s closer to one year than zero years migraine free.  It feels like as soon as I get one again, I’m back to square one.  I know that’s silly, but it’s in my head.  Nothing makes sense inside there sometimes.

So, back to bargaining, with migraines being the top number, and me willing to sell almost anything not to have to buy one.

 

Image @ pixabay.com

Keep fighting the fight.

I am very fortunate that at this time I seem to be in between rounds of my fight against migraines.  I am a realistic person, and not going to say that I am retired from fighting.  I just know that what I’m doing right now, is winning the fight.  What started as a blog surrounding my migraines, has allowed me to write about all sorts of things while I’m in between rounds, and it’s been fun.

During this time, I’ve referred back often to my ‘anti-migraine potion‘ that seems to be what’s working for me.  I’ve recently talked to two people I know about their current struggle with migraines, and the frustration that comes with it.  I wish there was a magic one size fits all pill for migraine sufferers, but there is not.  The pill that I was instructed to take unfortunately held hands with possible side effects of suicidal thoughts and the lack of being able to put a sentence together.  That was when I knew I had to try everything else I had ever read about before succumbing to that option.  Some people are lucky and are able to find the right fit to help combat their migraines.  For the ones who haven’t found their answer to help relieve their migraines yet, keep pressing on, keep exploring options for what will work for you.

I went to the doctor yesterday for a routine physical.  As I arrived in the office, I semi-panicked wondering if the spots in my eyesight were from the bright sunlight coming though the windows, or if a migraine was coming on.  Anxiety and panic swept through me as I began to rub my forehead, and then press my earlobes closed multiple times.  Not sure why I feel like this helps maybe prevent one, but I do feel that, so I had no shame in putting my fingers in my ears and pressing repeat as I was in the middle of talking to the receptionist, reporting to her that I was worried a migraine may be coming on.  I then went on to make myself yawn a few times (I read somewhere that yawning relaxes your body and could prevent a migraine from coming on.  Whatever, it’s now part of my routine.)  No shame.  I don’t care about looking cool, or even sane if any of my weird habits work.  No migraine came, and I  think it’s safe to say it’s not because I closed my ears about 20 times, but it makes me feel better.  My migraine fear was still on my mind as I realized it was funny to list my vitamin and herbal supplements as the three things I take as my ‘medications’ for the first time in that doctors office, the nurse not familiar with what any of them were.  The doctor, after learning about my migraines, pulled up some information on an electronic headband type thing that is supposed to be beneficial to migraines that he recently read about and found interesting.  Here it is.  You never know, it may be an added step to accompany my ear closing regimen in the future.

 

http://www.cefaly.ca

Migraines are so much more than just a headache.  Migraines often come with, or lead to, both anxiety and depression.  These are the things that at times can take a bigger toll than the actual migraine itself.  Having people around you that listen to you, and respect what you are experiencing makes such a difference.  Be your own detective, keep pushing the envelope if and when your doctor wants to give you their auto-migraine-sufferer-speech and auto-prescriptions.  Research.  Not only medical research, but research other migraine sufferers.  I have found a wealth of information through following people who blog about their migraines.  Find the best option for you!

I am going to continue to celebrate between my rounds of this fight.  Good luck to you, keep fighting the fight!

 

Food vs. Migraine

I think I love food more than I hate migraines.

This is a problem.

I don’t know if certain foods trigger my migraines., I’ve never been able to identify a certain trigger.  But even if foods were for certain a trigger, there are times that I may choose food over preventing a migraine.  Crazy, I know, but I’ve been told by my dear friend who has been my friend since the first grade that she doesn’t know anyone else that loves food the way I do.

My house is in complete chaos, we are remodeling a room.  Call it a future episode of Hoarders due to my two daughters room contents strewn across my house.  Their mattresses are in my room.  I’m at the point where I have started to just wipe the crumbs off of the kitchen counter onto the floor with no plans to clean them up, because, really, who cares when there is drywall dust everywhere already?

I made brownies today.  Really, really, good ones.  I ate a row already earlier today, and I just now really wanted to go face first/Christmas Story’s ‘mommie’s little piggy’ into the rest.  I’m not usually this bad.  And my general practice is to exercise it forward to support my love for food.  I just keep looking around the house and seeing complete disarray everywhere.  Everywhere except for the brownie tray.

Here’s the sad part, just now I only took a small nub off of a corner of the brownies.  Not for the fact that having that many brownies are not good for me, but I’m scared of what if an overdose of brownies causes a migraine.  Probably a good fear, for both migraine prevention, and the added benefit of my waistline combined.

There are things though, that if I knew were migraine triggers, that I would still have to go for from time to time:

  • For sure these brownies sitting on my kitchen counter right now.
  • A great piece of pepperoni pizza.
  • See’s Candy (more on that at a later date).
  • Chicken nachos.

Hoping for a migraine free day tomorrow so I can come home in the afternoon and slice off a hunk of these brownies.  They better not all be gone by then.