Opioid Prescriptions and Headache Patients in Primary Care
12 Things You Should Never Say To A Chronic Migraineur
*I lose chunks of my life to migraines, so I agree with the serious nature of suffering from them and what to say to those who get them. They’re not easy to cope with.*
When Your Neighbors Give You A Headache, Literally
I experienced a lot of this when I lived in an apartment. I had neighbors above me who were constantly noisy as all hell, the only time they were quiet was when they weren’t home. The TV was always blaring, or video games, or music, and it was way too much for me. I can’t tell you how many times I had to ring their doorbell and tell them to take it down 20 notches. They’d do it in the moment, but a few days later they’d be back at it. It’s one of the reasons I don’t think I could ever share walls with people again. I have noisy neighbors here too, but I have no qualms whatsoever about telling them to knock it off, especially when I’m sick.
MSG & Migraines
I have found that I’m sensitive to MSG, but not all of the time. If something is heavily dosed, I will get a headache pretty quickly from it, but if it’s a small amount, it won’t affect me. We’re all different in this respect, but this is still good info to have.
“Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” It’s often a bit of an odd phrase/question, especially if you wake up on the same side of the bed most mornings (or for those of us who suffer from any form of depression or chronic pain, whenever the hell we are able to wake up, thanks!), but today I definitely woke up as Vicious McVickerson.
I’ve been having some very real problems with post-concussion syndrome for the last month or so. I’ve had concussions before (I could rival most hockey players, and that’s not me being cute or funny. I had my first documented one before age 3. My second was acquired by age 4. Way too early a start, believe me.), but the side effects have, up until now, rarely started to slowly change my life. Other than migraines and a lot of the Fibromyalgia/Migraine related side effects that a lot of people are familiar with, I’ve pretty much stayed the course with small doses of weirdness thanks to old gymnastics injuries, but this time around, it has affected so much more than I thought it ever would. Seeing stars the next morning should have clued me in, but I was trying to stay calm and positive. I’m an idiot. You’ll never get me to admit that openly again because I refuse to make the same mistake twice.
My memory is really horrible. Post-It Notes and notebooks are my new best friend, but finding and keeping a pen is hard because I am constantly putting them down, throwing them into my purse, my laptop bag, my nightstand, you get the drift. I can lose and systematically re-locate about ten pens in a day, it’s awful. I go into rooms now and have absolutely no idea why I’m there. It might take me an hour to remember why I walked into the laundry room, the kitchen, or even the bathroom. I just stand there and say “What am I doing here? Did I need something?” I’ll walk upstairs and stand at the top of the staircase with a questioning look on my face, and suddenly remember I need to be downstairs.
The nausea, dizziness, balance/coordination issues are insane. I’ve also noticed some changes in my vision, and in the severity of my headaches, so I am going to get my eyes checked ASAP to make sure everything is status quo. The only thing I should need is a new prescription for contacts and glasses, and hopefully that is all that will be found since I won’t be able to make it out to my normal eye doctor who is familiar with my case and who I trust. I hate not going back to her this time around, but I honestly can’t sit for 45 minutes, or longer, just to get there, and then have to do it all over again to come home. I don’t have the patience to sit and focus, and my pain levels, while significantly lower for now that the weather has gotten a bit tamer, are slowly creeping back up. Stress is not a PCS sufferers’ friend, which rings true for PTSD, and chronic pain of every kind.
Today is a blah day for me, even though it’s gorgeous outside, unlike yesterday where the entire day was primarily dark grey, cloudy, and had more than its fair share of torrential and less intense downpour. I think the world will be a better place if I just stay in my room until I calm down from whatever it is that set me off. I’d rather growl at the right people, as opposed to those who don’t deserve it. Call it community service. LOL.
I promised a post on migraines and since I woke up with one the other morning, hopefully this post will help someone.
I have suffered from migraines for 15 years. I do have a family history of migraines, but that’s not always the case for all sufferers. Technically if someone else in your family has experienced just one migraine in their life, that is considered a “history”, and even if they never get another migraine again, they are still considered someone who suffers from migraines.
I have a pretty high threshold for pain, so when a migraine takes me down, it messes with my mood and world view more than the previous migraine. I am extremely photo-sensitive, so on any normal day I avoid the sun, bright lights, and anything that bothers my vision. A cool, dark room is my preference, but this works best during the summer months. In the Winter, no one wants to be freezing through a migraine. I am also highly sensitive to smell on a regular day, and it becomes more intense when I’m in “migraine mode”. When things are really bad and I’m dizzy and nauseous beyond belief on top of all that, I find that not moving around a whole lot helps, as does ginger (Ginger ale, ginger candy, ginger tea, etc.). When I’m going through a really bad period of migraines, I subsist on soup and ginger ale almost exclusively, with ginger tea and ginger-snaps being the only things I can truly keep down. I didn’t have nausea with my migraines until a few years ago. The fabulous benefit of getting older. <rolls eyes>
If you suspect you suffer from migraines, find a really good neurologist. Let he/she run all the necessary tests to eliminate any other possibilities, but don’t just take over-the-counter analgesics and allow yourself to suffer. My methods are tried and true, and they work. Unfortunately every migraine is a little different. I try not to treat a migraine medically if I’ve had to take more than three rounds of medication in a 12 hour time period. It just doesn’t seem to work, so why continue medicating?!
My first step is to attempt to remain calm (I often fail here.). I won’t lie, migraines can ruin more than just a single day. Anyone who suffers from them knows that you can be out of the game for over 4 hours, or a week depending on the severity of the pain, how long it took the pain to stop completely, and the recovery process. If the first migraine tapered off for a few hours and you got hit with a second soon after, it makes your recovery time hard to pinpoint because it can suck the life out of you fast. The second I feel that “Uh Oh” twinge anywhere in my head, I take what I’m supposed to, which is supposed to stop the migraine in its tracks. When I am on Relpax (Not paid to say this.), which is a prescription only migraine medicine, I find relief generally without having to take more than 1-3 pills in a 24 hour period. These suckers are expensive, even with insurance, and I literally get 6 at a time when they’re prescribed because my insurance doesn’t like paying over $22 per pill, but there are other ways to get them to pay for this if you need it. If this medicine works for you, stick with it. If it doesn’t, don’t worry, because there are a lot of other migraine medicines on the market that help to prevent migraines, and so many others that handle the pain when you suffer an attack.
I am not a doctor, but when you suffer from something consistently, you start to feel like one at times. It took about two and half years before I was put on a preventative medicine that actually lowered my percentage of migraines. Before that, it was one drug after the other that did not work, and the side effects were almost as bad as the constant headaches. Many of them made the headaches worse. I lost my patience with the first neurologist who didn’t believe in managing the pain once it was trying to tear its way through your head. The one time I had to have him paged in the middle of the night because I was a step away from the emergency room, his response was obnoxious. He called something into the pharmacy for me that night, the headache stopped after a few days, but I never went back to see him because I felt he wasn’t properly handling things. If I’ve been a patient of yours for a year or two, and you can’t seem to think outside the box, I do have the right to seek a second opinion. Be your own best friend here. If you and a doctor fundamentally disagree on how you should be treated, find a new doctor. You’re the patient, you don’t deserve to be treated like someone’s odd science experiment.
Neurologist #2 probably saved me from drastic measures. To this day, he is someone I respect highly and trust to help me. I have recommended him to other people and will continue to do so. The very first medication he put me on dropped my almost daily migraines down by about 75%. I took it on and off for close to ten years before it stopped working completely. For me, that was still considerable progress.
A lot of people that are on the homeopathic route should know this: Certain essential oils might help. I use Lavender. Sometimes I add a little Vanilla to the Lavender because that’s a calming combination for me, but Chamomile is also really helpful. I purchase these oils from TheOrganicWitch.com. Her prices are very reasonable for a 1 ounce bottle, and she often has a Buy 3 or 4, Get 1 Free deals going, so you get the oil you need, and often find a new one that helps with something else. Find out which oils work best for you, but know that not every one of them is safe for direct skin contact. Peppermint needs a carrier oil (in a pinch, olive works just fine since most of us have that on hand.). I find that Spearmint doesn’t irritate me or my skin when applied directly, and it’s easier on the senses, especially if you are super sensitive to fragrance, which I am. With Lavender I literally dip a Q-tip into it and apply a little to my temples, the spot on the forehead that is the “Third Eye”, behind my ears, and on my wrists. When using these oils, try your damndest to stay away from your pets to avoid direct contact with fragrance itself. Continued exposure to most is poisonous to them, but occasional exposure will not kill your dog/cat. Tea Tree Oil is the exception, they shouldn’t EVER be exposed to it as it is 100% toxic to them. My cat automatically moves away from anything she finds repulsive scent wise, so I don’t worry about her being curious. If you can’t flush the used Q-tip, toss it at the very bottom of your garbage can/bag. Your garbage will smell fantastic, and it will keep your pet away from the remnants of the oil.
Hydration during a migraine and throughout the recovery process is key. I’ve had people say “You need to drink more fluids. When you get a headache your brain is thirsty.” I honestly don’t think it’s possible for anyone to drink more water than I do, but I did have to work on this theory of the dehydrated brain. Initially I experimented with things like Gatorade and Powerade (not in large amounts), but have since moved on to Coconut Water which can’t hurt. I tend to keep Zico Dark Chocolate Coconut Water on hand for migraines. If it’s not cold, I pour it over a couple of ice cubes and sip as much of a bottle as I can. I cannot begin to tell you how many times this has saved me from additional pain and suffering. There are many times I drink one as soon as I’ve taken migraine medication, and if I then take a short nap, I wake up feeling like I never had pain in my head. Not all the time, but a high percentage of the time. I recommend Zico’s Coconut Water because all of the other brands I’ve tried tasted vile to me, including Zico’s Natural and other flavored products (I think it’s Pineapple or Mango, I don’t remember for certain.). If you’re already used to the taste, go for it, but the one I’ve recommended is, by far, the superior tasting product and when you have a migraine, taste does often count.
I’ve got other migraine tips, but these are the ones that most come to mind right now. If this helps just one person, then it was worth the effort.
Do you have any migraine or pain related tip(s) you’d like to share? If so, leave a message in the comments section or feel free to send me a private message.
Until next time…..