Thursday, February 27, 2014

Migraines

Sometimes I can go for almost two weeks without a migraine. In the past two weeks I've had nine. Nine! And I'm not sure why. A doctor can give you pills, which is great, but it's not enough.

Everyone who gets migraines experiences them differently. Some people don't get help from drugs. Some drugs help me, except when they don't. Either way, even if the pain is manageable the zombie effect is not. I slouch through migraine days dragging my body along like it's a bag of rocks, which, come to think of it, is also a good description of my thought processes.

Migraines are confusing. I thought I was going to have a tenth in the wee hours of this morning. The circumstances were the same as always. The pain in my head was in the same place. My brain felt dull and my vision pulsated. Rather than try to sleep I got up and went outside. It was cold and that felt good. I exercised for a while. Then I came in and made coffee. Slowly, whatever it was went away.

If that would work every time I'd be a millionaire. Or at least muscular.

Maybe it wasn't a migraine. But I haven't had a plain old headache in almost twenty years.

My mother had migraines. She was the most stressed-out person I've ever known. That tells you something about my upbringing and what I imprinted on.

So although some will tell you to omit wine and cheese from your diet, in my case migraines might not be based in physical causes. I don't have a problem with wine, cheese, coffee, chocolate or many of the other conventional "triggers" (an apt word).

But maybe I could limit my migraines by limiting my stress. I think this is a great idea. The only things I stress over are being out in public and being home in private.

Do you get migraines? If so, please don't share your cures, I've tried them all (except this one). But please do share the following:

Are your migraines caused by physical things? (food, drink, smacks to the head)
Are they caused by emotional things? (stress, fear, Mac vs Microsoft)
Do you continue working when you have a migraine? What makes this possible?

 
How do you relieve stress? Or are you out of ideas?


27 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I bet it was stress.. My friend who had migraines would always take an Extra Strength Tylenol & a pseudophedrine .. she swore by it. She would see a white light whenever her migraines cropped up... and yes, her life was stressful.

altadenahiker said...

How awful. My mother used to get migraines, and they just knocked her flat. I don't know anything about cures, other than I read somewhere that botox has been effective in some cases. There's a lot of info re: this on web; I just chose this link at random: http://www.healthcentral.com/migraine/c/6490/14716/botox-migraines/

LOLfromPasa said...

I am absolutely not going to be able to offer any constructive ideas here.

Is okay instead to wish you well and hope you never have another migraine. Doesn't sound like much fun at all. Please take care, Petrea. Lauren xx




Book Dragon said...

I thought is was stress because they stopping when I stopped working (my Mom was babysitting) but now I'm not sure. They've changed and are now visual so no, I don't continue to work. As long as I can get to a place I can shut my eyes for a while I don't get the headache but don't ask me to drive.

sending quite thoughts and a cool clothe

Petrea Burchard said...

I was actually trying to make light of it, but I guess some of these jokes need a good polish.

I really have tried them all. Except Botox. Only a few people are candidates for it, and I'm not. Too bad, I'd like to get rid of this little crease on my brow and have insurance pay for it.

Retail! Shopping is a problem. If only I never had to buy anything!

Bellis said...

Those are very interesting photos you've chosen. I've never had a migraine, thank goodness, but I have occasional panic attacks that are awful; I used to think I was going to die. Stress, or not having enough blood sugar, seems to bring them on. A slug of whiskey (or two or three) controls the attack, but I don't know if that's a good solution for a migraine.

Petrea Burchard said...

It's worth a shot, Bellis.

LONDONLULU said...

Oh Petrea, I'm so sorry you get migraines. I'm the only one in my family with migraines so I guess it's at least not hereditary in my case. Mine are brought on by stress (I also get those visual "auras") - but I've figured out it's linked to the physical too. One extremely stressful summer, I got them horribly frequently and finally starting keeping a careful "diary" of what I did/ate/felt. Seems when I'm stressed from overwork, I have little time to sleep properly or hydrate properly during the day, as a result I'm dehydrated and exhausted and when my body reaches a certain threshold of consistent exhaustion/dehydration (say 2-3 weeks of pushing myself), the migraines start. It takes more than 2-3 weeks of rest to be back to "normal." I tend towards insomnia, so it's hard to help the non-sleep, but nowadays I try my best to stay hydrated no matter how tough/busy the day is...I think it's helped a little (I managed to get off the drugs a few years ago - I used to take zomig/zolmitriptan, a wonder cure - but I also didn't want to always depend on a drug.) I guess that's my long-winded way of saying it helped to keep super-careful track and discover my "trigger" was really a constellation of triggers, all interlinked. And trying to address just one piece of it sorta helped...

Ms M said...

I don't have any tips or cures to offer, but I do send wishes of peacefulness, relaxation, good health, and being pain-free. (And maybe some good dark chocolate or a serving of your fav comfort food).

Petrea Burchard said...

Lulu, that's great that you got off the drugs. I'd really like to, they make me feel stupid. And I think you're right about a combination of causes. I've been keeping such a diary for years.

Ms M, I'm fortunate: chocolate is a trigger for some people but not for me!

sonia a. mascaro said...

I'm so sorry you get migraines, Petrea. It is really awful. I suffered so much with migraines and it was correlated to my menstruation and hormonal levels. The migraines stopped during the time I was pregnant of my daughter and son. So the doctor said that my migraines sounds to have hormonal causes. He was correct, because migraines goes away entirely with menopause. I am glad for that. I hope you will be free of migraines soon! :)

Petrea Burchard said...

Oh dear, Sonia, that's when mine started! I guess everyone truly is different.

Deb said...

You have chosen some very apt pictures to illustrate your theme Petrea. Thankfully I don't suffer myself, but I have loved ones who do.
Stress buster for me is either listen to music, I mean really listen not just on in the background, or a Pilates session.

Ann Erdman said...

My friend Stephanie used to get terrible migraines, which she knew were coming on when she started seeing spots and feeling a little nauseated, then she would just have to go to bed until they subsided. She missed a lot of work, visited a couple of medical specialists and shrinks, did everything she could to find answers. Then she saw an article about keeping a migraine diary. Now she still gets one occasionally, but the discipline of keeping the diary (she has an app for that!) has helped her realize that (sadly) wine, caffeine and chocolate are the biggest contributors to her migraine onset. Those wonderful substances are out of her life now. This little comment of mine may or may not be helpful to you, Petrea, but I thought I'd pass it on just in case.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Ann. The diary has been helpful to me and I've been able to watch patterns over the years. And I didn't know there was an app! Yay!

Adele said...

My list of triggers is long and varied. One new thing I've discovered is that when I get stressed I clench my teeth. I've been able to avert a migraine by relaxing my jaws. This also stops me from looking like an angry person! Sugar on an empty stomach seems to be an issue, as well as lack of hydration, and sitting across from a person who is in front of a well-lit window (such as in a restaurant). But the big one seems to be making sure I have some coffee in the morning. That could be listed under addiction, but I'm unwilling to give it up!

Petrea Burchard said...

Yup. For me, too much freeway driving, fluorescent light, and you'll rarely see me outside without sunglasses, even on a cloudy day.

Coffee. Oh my yes. For some people it's a trigger, for some it's a cure.

Dina said...

I'm sorry about your suffering, Petrea; I can't even imagine how bad that must be to have a migraine.
A few years ago I was in a stressful couple of months and in that time I experienced 4 or 5 episodes of zigzags flashing in my eyes, about 10 minutes duration. It was very scary. A neurologist thought it was something called migraine without migraine (i.e. no pain).
Good luck to you in your various ways of coping.

Petrea Burchard said...

Flashing zigzags! I've had those and thought nothing of it. They weren't anywhere bear ten minutes--maybe ten seconds at most. I guess they could be migraine related. Very strange. Thanks for sharing that piece of the puzzle.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I've probably told you this, but my father suffered from cluster headaches. We once had to pull him from a wall because he started repeatedly pounding his head against it. They would come and they would go. Help eventually arrived when he started renting a canister of oxygen. When he felt them coming on, he'd start gulping the air and it would avert the headache.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

interesting choice of photos to illustrate the pain

Petrea Burchard said...

PA, cluster headaches sound worse to me than the migraines I have. It's hard to compare, I guess. But that air gulping thing makes sense to me. It's probably why going outside in the cold felt so good.

José Mendonça said...

Love that top shot! What is it?
Hope you're feeling much better now, Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

I don't know what it is exactly, José. A winter berry tree.

Nathalie Beaumes said...

I've had migraines since I was about 14, and I'm the only one in the family who has them. They typically last 3 days and 2 nights and disappear after breakfast on day 3. They tend to come on a roughly monthly basis. There have been times when they tended to come around my periods (a few days before or after, or during them) but it hasn't always been so and I've never been able to ascertain that they were hormone-related. I was hoping that menopause would make them disappear but it hasn't happened.

I've never been able to find a clear trigger, food or otherwise, but at times I have found that harsh light was it.

I can completely relate to your line saying that "even if the pain is manageable the zombie effect is not". I've often felt that my migraine days were days when I hadn't lived, merely survived.

I am usually able to continue working when I have a migraine, and in fact I have found that the worst possible thing to do for me is lie down. The worst pain is at night in bed, when the pulsating pain keeps me achingly awake. I much prefer daytime when a variety of activities manage to keep the pain at bay, sometimes almost forgotten except for the zombie effect.

Imigrane has been the magic thing for me but I only discovered it recently. I have a 40 year history of zombie days...

How long do your migraines last if you've had nine in two weeks?

TheChieftess said...

All my life I used to get headaches..not migraines, but fairly regular headaches...sometimes it was from stress, loud and continuous noises...or sometimes, when I was a kid, my girl scout meetings gave them to me!!! (a lot of cackling women in a small room can do it to me now too!!! No offense ladies!!!)
Then, when I hit menopause, I had one migraine which hit when I was on my way to work. (there's that stress trigger!) I was fortunate to have a doctor who believed in bio identical hormone therapy and have been on that ever since...and now...a headache is a rarity!!! I have struggled with some low grade depression, especially up here in the mountains in a fairly dark home, and very rural lifestyle which quite honestly has begun to drag a bit for this lifetime city girl. I've been experimenting with some natural serotonin boosters such as SAMe, 5htp, and Garcinia Gambogia...all of which mention potential relief of migraines. Funny thing is that with each one that I've tried, I can feel it in my head...I know that sounds weird...but it's like the circulation in my head expands a bit...weird...and no...I haven't found the right solution. Warm sunshine is what I really crave!!!

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm seeing a new doctor next week and will tell her all your suggestions. Hoping for the best.