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No one wants to be a migraine warrior

When I was in college, my secret ambition was to be a drummer in an all-girl rock band. I had never played the drums but I felt like I would be a natural…some years later I found myself with a set of drums to bang on to test my prowess. I think I’m “ok,” but I wouldn’t bet the farm on winning any freestyle competitions. To my neighbor’s delight and my disappointment, it has been months since I could go in my loft and play, largely because I can’t handle the auditory overload due to an increase in my migraine intensity and frequency.

My wedding planner interviewed bands for my reception and we only considered those that would allow me a little number on the drums.

Our family curse beset upon my during my Junior year in high school as I was beginning to apply to colleges for early decision. In each generation of my family, about 5-6 of us are plagued by migraine headaches. I recently found out I am stating that incorrectly, as it should be “Migraine,” as in a condition and not a singular or plural incident. However you say it, the condition equates to a host of painful symptoms and effects. Migraine with aura can come on with visual or auditory disturbances that one might consider a foretelling of a bad one in the works. Usually, I will see pinpoints of light and my field of vision may narrow. Sometimes my hearing gets really fuzzy also. If you can think of it, I have tried the remedy or medication, literally every class of drugs and home remedy, physical therapy, etc. I am a migraine poster child. Lately, I am starting to get a handle on the frequency with breakthroughs being limited to the worst of the worst. Those are the ones that make me wonder if I am going to meet Jesus in the very near future. If you haven’t curled up on your cool bathroom floor in the pitch dark, unable to move your head to even get up to reach the toilet to vomit your ineffective medication, you most fortunately don’t know exactly what I mean.

I have pretty recently put together a migraine checklist because I tend to get the dumbs when I’m affected. Here is my checklist of things to try when I feel a migraine coming.  I will detail my triggers beneath the cures.

  • Oxygen  If you cannot get a prescription for a little oxygen bottle, you can likely find an oxygen concentrator machine.  I have both and they work the same.  I have had a deviated septum and really bad sinuses until I got surgery last year, and I would have some of the signs of hypoxia, a lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain.  Headache is actually one of the first symptoms, and then confusion, so it made sense to me and I gave oxygen a try.  if I catch a headache when it’s progressed up to about 25%, I can beat it back with oxygen.

I found an oxygen bar when a migraine ruined the first day of vacation this Fall

  • Vitamin patches  I recently discovered Migraine Relief patches from Vici Naturals and I will slap one on at the first sign of a headache.  I am shocked at how effective they are.
  • Vitamin B Complex This helps with blood flow and blood vessel condition.  Many migraines are vascular, which to me is the worst kind ever.  I call those “brain migraines,” and those are the ones that bring me to the ground in the worst pain of my life.
  • Magnesium Magnesium works similarly to Vitamin B.  I quit taking it about a year ago because I was taking so very many supplements, but if I feel like I have one coming in, I will take 400 mg. I did that just yesterday, along with a patch and I was ok!
  • Caffeine A Coke Zero or cup of espresso is my most common savior.  I got a handy little espresso machine that’s easy to use, even with dull migraine brain.  This is the one I got first.  My husband bought me a fancy new one for Christmas and I have not even unboxed it yet, so I will wind up with one in the upstairs kitchen and one downstairs so I can grab and go back to work in my home office. If you have issues with Aspartame, consider that before you pop a Coke.  It doesn’t bother me but I do try to limit myself to no more than 1-2 per week.
  • Frozen ice hat It is what it sounds like.  Ice helps, and it is surely hard to balance even a long gel ice pack on my head while I am at work.  I thought I’d invent this, but someone beat me to it.  This one works really well and stays very cold for a long time.  I let it thaw a little and work the gel before I don my ice hat.
  • Baltic Amber Way back when dinosaurs roamed, lovely amber deposits were formed and now they make fabulous anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving jewelry.  I used to sell this in my boutique and I still wear my bracelet every single day.  There are many types, but I would say avoid the raw since it may be scratchy.  For me, the lemon and the multi-color worked best.  Sciatic acid in the amber is released when your body heat warms the beads.  Que the mad science stuff and you have a nice little preventative measure that’s halfway cute.
  • Drink your water, all of it! Dehydration is a huge trigger for me, so as soon as I start complaining my employees or husband know to ply me with water and lots of it. This alone can turn you around if you are being triggered.
  • Migrelief M This is a feverfew supplement.  It’s actually the menstrual formula which I chose because that one has the highest concentration of Puracol extract. There is also a Migrelief Now that is for migraine attacks rather than prevention.
  • Daith piercing I got this piercing done about three years ago. I think it helped a little at first and now it’s just a random piece of jewelry I have to deal with when I shampoo or clean my ears. I have heard that some people get good results when they pierce the other one, but until I get more desperate I am going to wait on poking more holes.

Today, as I am posting this, I have my first migraine in probably a month. I’d been doing well with a new medication. It’s been a tough week at work with a lot of long hours and eye fatigue. Workouts have also been intense, and I haven’t slept enough thanks to the dog acting like a newborn. My Botox is wearing off and I’m waiting and waiting for my new insurance to approve it. At this point I am just about ready to pay out of pocket to get the ball rolling back to my corner. The weather has also been hot and cold so much it has my sinuses going nuts and the forestry is burning, so that’s been an allergy disaster. All told, anything could have triggered this migraine.

Here’s what my migraine day has looked like so far.

  • 7AM breakfast and feeding horses. All is well.
  • 8 AM on the job and getting a dull pain all over inside my skull. Uh oh…
  • 8:30 I took two Migrelief Now capsules as it became apparent it was go time. My vision is waning, so I put on my blue light glasses. I already have blue light filters over both monitors.
  • 9:30 No improvement…slapped on a Vici patch and hit my temples, neck and wrists with migraine oils. It was time to get real so I took a $96 Ubrelvy. We have a big crew of landscapers here to tear out all of the mature landscaping and replant. The sound of shovels chopping at roots is getting me. I can literally feel it inside my head, throbbing in time with the shovels. They’re right outside my office window.
  • 10:30 It’s getting bad. I heated some broth to try to quell the gathering nausea and went upstairs to my dark room to escape the noise. Along the way I grabbed a lavender bead pillow from the freezer and threw it in the microwave. I can’t stand the cold, so frozen stuff was out for today.
  • 11:03 work won’t stop calling my cell, so I shuffle off the warmie and go back down to my desk.
Pitifully juggling phones with my ali-gator warmie
  • 12:27 work got quieted down so I could peace out. I hear the emails dinging again but I am going to stay out on the sofa. I think the lavender helped some, if all things! Now that I’m off the phone I can turn on my oxygen concentrator if I can handle the noise. TGIF!!!
  • 1:44 back to work for another crisis. This is the last one, I promise myself!!

Here’s hoping this migraine leaves me alone for the beautiful weekend. I have all of my migraine meds in a bag labeled so my husband can find them if I get bad and can’t get up myself. I’ll hunker down and wait it out for now. I hope my tips will help you, and if you have any to share please do comment!

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