My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How To Survive A Migraine

The last time I met with the attorney representing me in my disability case he asked how often I have migraines. I said, "oh, about three times a month...". Since then I have had a headache almost every day or at best have one every other day. I haven't had two days in a row headache free in several weeks. It's frustrating and annoying BUT I am glad that I'm not trying to work while dealing with these nasty brain pains.

There are a few people I know who suffer more frequent/more severe headache than I and I've tried to be a good steward of their knowledge and experience. I've also developed a few tried and true things that make the time pass with as little misery as possible. I'm sharing my knowledge here to remind myself in the future. If you have any tips I'd love to hear them.

How I Survive A Migraine:

1. Cosette. Oliver. Because seriously, getting through the pain means getting to be a Nana to two precious babies. (Photo credit: Candi Franklin, Rose Studios)

2. Advil liquigels or generic equivalent. It has to be ibuprofen and it has to be a liquigel. Even though I've had recurring headaches almost daily, the advil does work for a certain amount of time and makes it possible to get through the day. I have a prescription for percocet but honestly, it does nothing for my headaches. It's so weird to me how different painkillers affect different maladies but whatever it takes. In my case I would rather be out of toilet paper than be out of advil.

3. Order and organization. I'm not a neat freak. Not even the least little bit. I have been walking past the same pink sock on my bathroom floor for a month. But there's something about exercising control over the things I can control that makes me feel less overwhelmed about the pain that I can't control. This really only pertains to headaches. Back pain is a completely different animal for me and I can't explain why. Yesterday morning I got up and folded the laundry that has accumulated on my bed for... months. I didn't finish it and I didn't put it away but for some reason the fact that it was somewhat folded made me feel better.

4. Eat what I want. That's not terribly different from what I do on other days but a little indulgence goes a long way in soothing the brain pain. Right now I'm drinking a dr. pepper and I never drink soda. Never. Ever. I drink wine more often than I drink soda and I never drink wine so... yeah. I don't know why but it helps. Honestly, my treats may also be my triggers, who knows at this point but I don't have any other vices so food wins the day.

5. I try to fight off the dwarfs... you know, Sleepy, Grumpy, Meany... well, whoever they are. I am not always successful but if I can stay on the bright side with my attitude it doesn't feel like such a tragedy.

6. Continue with as normal a schedule as possible. Obviously, for me, it's not like I'm running marathons or working in a coal mine or doing anything that is physically demanding BUT I do wake up at the same time and do things like sew, do genealogy, read blogs and watch vlogs on a fairly predictable schedule. Sticking to that schedule even when I'm in pain keeps me from going insane and sort of harkens back to the theory of controlling the things I can control.

7. Ice, ice baby. These headaches I'm having lately involve a throbbing vein on my right temple. Putting something cold on it helps a lot. For instance, when I get my Luigi's Mango Italian Ice out of the freezer for my evening snack, I hold it on the side of my head for about fifteen minutes. Or even a cool bottle of water. It doesn't have to be ice, necessarily, just something cool.

8. This is new to me but my pain doctor has recommended an herbal blend that seems to work for a lot of his patients with chronic migraines - magnesium, coQ10 and vitamin b2. He said if it was too expensive to do all three (and coQ10 is really pricey) to at least do the magnesium. I don't know the science behind it but I bought a big bottle of magnesium and I'm taking a dose every day as recommended. (disclaimer, I'm not a doctor, I just spend a lot of money seeing doctors and google a lot. Consult your real life doctor before adding or changing medication or supplements).

9. Lights low. Sounds muted. Avoid strong odors. Wear comfy clothes. Environment is everything. I'm fortunate to be in a very peaceful place - other than the sound of a barking dog who shall remain nameless but his initials are O-S-C-A-R - but there are rarely sirens or honking horns or noisy neighbors and I am grateful for this.

10. Keeping my jaw unclenched and muscles relaxed seems to help. Last night I tried sleeping laying down - I normally sleep in a recliner because I have a hard time achieving the perfect position for my spine otherwise. Last night I decided that headache trumped back pain and constructed a cozy nest that helped me relax my neck and shoulders. I woke up to horrible muscle spasms in my back BUT it relieved the headache for a short while.

11. And if all of that fails to make things easier, I just go to sleep. Better Living Through Pharmaceuticals... it's my motto.

So that's what works for me... I'm interested in hearing what you do to beat a headache.

Cosette is three weeks old today... even on headache days, good things happen! Thanks for letting me whine. Love and hugs!


Anonymous said...

I usually don't get migraines much but the past 2 weeks, I've had them almost every day. My pain mgmt dr. gave me Maxalt because my Imitrex was not being paid for by my insurance. I put Maxalt under my tongue and it melts. Migraines keep me awake. I always have a terrible time trying to stay asleep. Sometimes I get them for lack of sleep. A few days ago, I came across an app in the Google Play Store called Sleep Hypnosis - Cure Insominia. I was so skeptical but I downloaded it. Started listening to it and fell right asleep and slept very well that my migraine was gone. It's 30 minutes long and I still haven't made it thru the whole thing.