A Migraine Saga Part 2

Read part 1 here.

After my one glorious month of no headaches whatsoever, the next few months were quite different. I had at least one headache every week and 4 migraines over a 14 week period. I was starting to get desperate again, but I really didn’t want to go back on propranolol until I had exhausted every other option. So I tried a few more things.

Massage therapy
A co-worker really suggested I try this as it helped her when she used to get migraines. Let me tell you, these are wonderful. My therapist focused mainly on my neck and shoulders, as apparently I was very tense. She told me the benefits of fixing my posture, taking breaks at the computer and maintaining a lower level of stress. We also discussed how my body runs warm and how my face turns beat red when I exercise. I’d really benefit from ice packs on my neck and shoulders after working out and during my massages. Keeping that area from tensing up as it could be preventing normal blood flow and could be causing my headaches. I went a few times, once during a migraine and it was alleviated soon afterword. She then recommended going to a chiropractor also.

Chiropractic
I was so terrified of going to get all my bones cracked, but I went and had my consult done.

Those are the xrays they took. Obviously I have some slight curvature of my spine, haha. He also pointed out that my neck is quite straight with a tilt forward and it’s probably from me hunching and looking down. This probably doesn’t help my tense shoulders so I went a couple times a week for a month and I ended up loving it, even the neck cracking. I tried my best to stay relaxed and take breaks to stretch my shoulders. I had fewer migraines, but just as many headaches and they began to cluster. I was getting 2-3 a week, every other week.

Then my chiropractor asked about my poop. Don’t be embarrassed, we’re all friends here. I confessed that sometimes I go 3 days without pooping and that my idea of eating vegetables was “eating a salad a week.” He really suggested I try eating better and maybe taking some magnesium supplements to help regulate myself. I worked myself up to 500mg a day and I’ve been taking it ever since. I don’t know if it’s helping with the headaches, but I do poop everyday now!

Birth Control
I also stopped taking birth control. Last year, my doctor told me to try being on bc constantly, i.e. not have a period, since most of my headaches occurred either before, during, or after my period. I didn’t like this at all as I was constantly spotting and it was difficult obtaining enough Nuvarings to keep up with the schedule. So I stopped taking it altogether. Besides the other regular side effects of having a normal period, my headache patterns have not changed.

Where I’m at now
My headaches haven’t been as bad as they were last year; I still haven’t had more than one migraine a month. I have a few other things I can try including seeing a neurologist and trying “feverfew”. I have noticed that when I wake up with a headache on one side of my head, the sinus on that side is also stuffed up and I can usually get those to go away with sudefed. I don’t know if sinus problems have anything to do with headaches, but I wish all my my headaches were like that. So I’m at an okay place for now, but not as cured as I want to be.

The saga has now caught up with real time, so part 3 will happen eventually and hopefully it will be the last!

A Migraine Saga Part 1

Hello Steffi! This is most likely going to be a boring post, but if you are interested in reading about my history with migraines, please continue. And if anyone reading this has or knows anyone with migraines, I hope this helps in some way or gives you ideas of what to try if you haven’t already. Here’s my journey; it’s long and it’s not even over yet.

What’s a headache?
I got my first migraine…I don’t know when. I probably didn’t realize it was a migraine because I never even had headaches. I wasn’t even sure what a headache felt like until almost 4 years ago. I started waking up with these dull aches in my head that wouldn’t subside until 2pm. They weren’t miserable, but I would be relieved when they finally went away. Then I started getting them once a week, and then a couple times a week, and then 2 days in a row. And it sucked. This went on for several months and somewhere in there I had a migraine. Blinding pain that makes me throw up. Got it? Great.

Constant Possible Causation Analysis (CPCA) don’t look that up, yes I just invented it.

  • People would tell me I wasn’t drinking enough water. So I sat at my work desk with a brand new water bottle in front of me. It even had a straw.
  • Then someone said it’s because I look at the computer all day so it might be my eyes. A doctor visit and $300 later I had a pair of glasses and a solid “I suppose you might possibly have a slight need for reading glasses.”
  • Then it was because of the weather. Oh, it’s cloudy today? That’s why I have a headache? What about all the other days I have a headache and it’s NOT cloudy?
  • Sometimes it was because I slept too long, or not enough. Even laying in bed too long after I was awake.
  • If the sun would shine in my eye at just the right angle for long enough…
  • Working out too long
  • My time of the month
  • Doing handstands, trampoline jumping
  • Sitting in a car too long

Basically it seemed anything could’ve caused it and there was always too many variables to try to prevent it from happening again. Keeping a headache diary is very helpful when trying to narrow down the causes; it’s even more helpful to keep a food diary with it in case your headaches are caused by certain kinds.

Let’s cover it up.
Since these headaches starting happening all the time I had to try to actually stop the pain even if I couldn’t prevent it from happening. I hate taking pills so I started with just drinking caffeine. Some days that helped. Then I took tylenol and advil and usually those would work. But since I woke up with most of my headaches, it was a long process to go from waking -> eating -> pill taking -> relief. When I’d have a migraine I’d feel so sick, I couldn’t eat anything so I’d stumble to the excedrin and hope I wouldn’t throw it up. I would. Sometimes they’d go away easy and sometimes they’d last over a day. The headaches just kept coming and I’d eventually start missing work and I would pray before bed that I didn’t wake up with one the next day. I dealt with this for almost 2 years.

TO THE DOCTOR WITH YOU!
At the advice of many friends and family I finally went to the doctor. He diagnosed me with migraines and at 4 or more a month, plus additional headaches, he suggested I try medication. He also wanted to do an MRI because he didn’t like the fact that I woke up with them. (I did the MRI, almost fainted, but I did it. It came out clean, no worries.) I was prescribed a blood pressure medication, Propranolol, because of its popular adverse effects on people with migraines. I was warned about being medicated right away, but at this point it’s been 2 years and I wanted to try anything. He also gave me Sumatriptan, which could be used to cure a migraine at the first symptom. Since my first symptom is simply waking up in agony, I asked for it in non-pill form. It was either nasal spray or a shot so I took the nose juice. We’d try this for 6 months and see where I was at.

The meds.
Propranolol lowers your blood pressure. I didn’t notice any side effects except weird dreams at first and easily getting lightheaded. I took it in liquid form at first because I didn’t know how big the pill was and if I had to take it twice a day and it was any bigger than a grain of quinoa I couldn’t do it. Turns out it’s really quite small so I switched to the pill and took it twice a day for 6 months. It worked. On the rare occasion I would have a migraine, I could spray medicine up my nose and I would have relief in 20 minutes. I had a few headaches too but they were manageable. So I went back to the doctor and reported my findings and he said I could take the medicine the rest of my life, or stop later or stop now, and the headaches might come back or they might not. I really hated taking 2 pills everyday at scheduled times and there was also being terrified I’d lose my pills and die because my blood pressure would spike from lack of the lowering of the pressure. So I opted to wean myself off of it and see if my headaches came back.
Coming off of this medicine is terrible. I’ve had fluttering heartbeats before, but once I was no longer taking any of it I endured a month of random and frequent heart flutters. It sort of feels like your heart forgot and hadn’t been beating and then all of a sudden it remembered so it fires off a few real quick. It was scary.

Once that was over I had one blissful month, May of 2015, where I wasn’t taking any medication and I was headache and migraine free. Then they came back and one day every week I either had a headache or a migraine for the next 2.5 months.

To be continued.

A Serious Post: My Experience with Eating and Body Dysmorphic Disorders

Hi Keddah,

So, I feel a bit weird. I want to talk about something important (to me) and serious, but I’ve never really spoken about this in any sort of coherent or public way. And we’ve never been serious on the blog before. But I feel compelled to talk about this and I don’t think I’ll be satisfied with anything I put up here until I do.

I guess I’ll just jump into it. Also, trigger warning? Cuz that’s a thing on the internet.

Continue reading