Monday, April 28, 2014

Multiple Triggers = Nasty Migraine

Yesterday showed me what combining triggers will do for pain.  Wow!  What a nasty one.
Trigger: Exercise Stress.  On Saturday, Almira had a town yard sale.  While that can be very fun (and it was), it was also a bit stressful.  Our town is 7 blocks by 7 blocks, so driving to each of the yard sales just wasn't feasible.  While walking that might not seem like much, for someone as out of shape as I am, it was difficult.  Between all the walking and the small hills in town, my body must have thought I was trying to kill it.  This also leads to the next trigger.

Trigger: Dehydration.  All that walking kept us out for quite a few hours.  Not thinking, I didn't put on any sunblock or take any water with me.  By the time we got home, I was feeling almost feverish.  I worked on drinking water while cleaning and filling the dresser we got for my girls.  I'm still feeling a bit dehydrated, but it's not as bad as it was.

Trigger: Rough Sleeping.  Saturday night was my sleep study.  That wasn't bad, but it sure didn't offer any real rest.  Having wires attached to my face, scalp, chest and legs was not comfortable.  The breathing sensor inside of my nose and taped underneath it was not at all pleasant.  The oximeter wrapped tightly around my finger made placing my hands comfortably even more challenging.  The band around my chest was just shy of painful.  Add to all of this was a strange bed, different pillows, and lights I am not used to.  This all adds up to a rough night.  While I slept fairly well (I only woke up a couple of times), I didn't really get any rest.  So little rest that when I woke up at about quarter to 5, I thought it was closer to 2 or 3.

Trigger: Weather.  On my way to the sleep study, a storm came in, sort of.  It was more of a light sprinkling.  Sunday morning, however, was very different.  Cold rainstorm.  That hurts my head more than just about any other trigger I have found.  And it continued most of the day.

By the time I got home yesterday, I was ready to drop.  Unfortunately, I had a few things to do before I could.  Once I did, however, I took a 3 1/2 hour nap.  I felt almost normal when I woke up, though by the time dinner was done, I was back to being in pain.  I actually sent myself to my room because I was so very cranky.

I know triggers are bad.  When you combine a bunch, it's so much worse.  Hopefully, that won't be happening again.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Medication Shuffle

I saw my neurologist again today.  He got to see me have a bit of a breakdown.  I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not, but he is aware of my mental state and how these constant headaches and migraines are affecting me.  

We have decided that the Topamax is not helping.  Since I am already having side affects at the relatively low dose I am taking, he wants me to stop taking it.  I am to start taking Trazodone instead.  The hope is that helping me to sleep better might help lessen the number of days I have migraines.  Right now, I am at a state of near-constant migraine and it's wearing me down very quickly.

I know there are many (100+) medications out there that are used for migraine prevention.  Since I haven't taken very many different ones yet, I know that finding the right combination could take some time.  It's just hard to be patient while in pain.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Symptoms or New Awareness?

This will be a longish post. Please bear with me and thank you very much if you make it to the end.

Less than a week ago, I told you about a new symptom I'm having. It's still there. Since I will be seeing the doctor on Monday, I plan to ask him if it's migraine related or if it could be a side effect of the medication I'm taking.

I've also started to notice that I'm hearing things that either aren't there or just that no one else is hearing. I don't know if this is a new thing or if I'm just becoming more aware of it. It's got me to thinking of all of my migraine symptoms.

First and foremost is the headache. This can vary from day to day. I know that the most common is on one side. For me, that is actually the least common. Mine is usually all over. It is still the throbbing/pulsating of a migraine, but it is almost never just on one side.

Nausea seems to cause me the most discomfort, after the head pain (sometimes more than the pain). I do not like to throw up. Luckily, I can usually avoid it. Unfortunately, the nausea makes me not want to eat. Since I tend to have low blood sugar, this can be a bad thing. It also doesn't help the headache.

I also get sensitive to light, sound and smell.

Photophobia, or light sensitivity, makes it difficult to be in bright rooms and
almost impossible to go outside. My optometrist actually explained it best to me a couple of weeks ago.  A child's pupils are normally larger than an adults.  When my girls and I got our eyes checked at the same time, my were larger than theirs, before dilation. I get dizzy and feel like I'm going to faint. When I was working as a cashier, this was a scary thing. Passing out at a cash register was not a thing I wanted to experience. Driving this way is even scarier. I'm finding that I prefer having others drive more and more.

Phonophobia, or sound hypersensitivity, is another one that plagues me. This is a difficult one in my house. I have 2 young daughters and 2 young step daughters. Young girls have high pitched voices, especially when excited. My 4 also like to sing. Now I don't mind that they like music; in fact, I love it. However, when I have a migraine, it's excruciating. They also have toys and electronics that make beeping noises. Those are to me what nails on a chalkboard are to most other people.

Osmophobia, or psychological hypersensitivity to odors, tends to affect me all the time, but especially during a migraine. Strong smells, whether good or bad, have always bothered me. Cleaners, perfumes, and fish are the worst culprits for me. I don't have to deal with perfumes in my house, yet. (With 4 girls, it's only a matter of time.) However, my fiance and his dad both like seafood. As for cleaners, I've yet to find one that my fiance likes to use that doesn't bother me.

The symptom that bothers me the most, I think, is the extreme irritability. This usually hits at the beginning of a migraine. Kerrie Smyres said it best in her blog post on For me, every little thing my children or the cats do starts to absolutely piss me off. I become downright mean. I try to catch these mood swings before they become so bad that hurt someone. I don't mean physically. I don't want to yell at my kids when they don't really deserve it. I'm so very grateful to have Ted, who has put up with my temper while I have worked on learning to notice when I'm getting a migraine. If not for him, things might have been so much worse these last few months.

There is also the aura. This has been a recent discovery for me. I've always had it, but I've never know it was my aura. The closest description I've seen for what I experience is the Alice in Wonderland syndrome, though on closer reading, it doesn't seem right either. My aura is only experienced with my eyes closed. My imagination/brain sees things and then expands and shrinks them constantly and rapidly. This has recently started to cause me some anxiety.

I recently read a blog post on called "What's your strangest migraine symptom?". There is a picture with a bunch of different symptoms that other migraine sufferers have experienced. I have found a few more of my own there.

Speech difficulty is one of my more frustrating ones. This one tends to work against me during my irritability phase, especially when dealing with the children. There have been a number of times while trying to scold them I have had to walk away and let Ted deal with it instead. The words won't come out right, this causes them to laugh, which only infuriates me further. Bad combination.

Hunger has either become a recent one or recently come to my attention. I find it strange. Either I'm nauseated or I have the munchies. I don't like it. I'm desperately overweight already. I don't need any encouragement to continue this fashion.

Restless leg is a symptom others have noticed. When I asked my neurologist about this, he was of the opinion that this is not a migraine symptom. However, it is family trait. Since my mother has both migraines and restless leg syndrome, it makes sense that I would also have both.

Then there is what is called the postdrome. I call this the “migraine hangover”. With my migraines coming so frequently now, I'm not sure that I really experience this anymore. I will, however, tell you what they were like for me. You are drained. You have just come from being sick for what feels like at least a week and your body is still recovering from it. Your head hasn't fully recovered, your stomach hasn't fully recovered, and your mood hasn't fully recovered. You are truly not at your best.

As you can see, this is a lot to think about.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Another Day in the Migraine World

I think I have a new migraine symptom, though I'm not sure. In the last few days, I have noticed a vibrating sensation in my body. I only notice it when I am lying down or completely relaxed. I'm not sure if it is happening at other times, I just don't notice it then. I've also noticed that the anxiety that I get from my aura has gotten worse. I don't know if it's because I'm getting the aura more often, if it's because the aura seems worse, or if there is some other reason.

I'm getting nervous about my sleep study next week. I “know” what to expect, both from what I have read and what my fiance has told me. Since I have never gone through one myself, however, I find myself a bit jittery over the prospect. I've also never been away from home overnight on a school night. I know that Ted and the girls will do just fine, but it's just one more thing for me to worry over.

I have a surgery scheduled (finally) in June. The check in time is 6am. That means either leaving my house at 4am or finding a way to stay overnight in Spokane the night before. If it was just myself to worry about, I would just deal with the drive. However, I won't be able to drive myself home and I don't want to ask Ted to get up and drive 2 hours then sit for however long it will take and then drive us both home.

I'm trying not to worry about all of this, but it's not an easy task.  

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Migraine Mutterings

I just went through my first Spring Break since I quit working. It was a small taste of what summer break will be like. I must say that I am not looking forward to it. I don't know how moms stay at home without going crazy. I love my children, but I miss working.

I am currently in the process of applying for disability. I have been denied twice because "my symptoms have not changed". No they have not changed. They are still as bad as they were when I first applied. If there was a standard for migraine in the Blue Book of Social Security, it wouldn't be so stressful and harmful for us to apply for benefits. For most migraine sufferers, stress just makes everything worse. I've been told that I can "work around my headaches". The problem with that is I can't guarantee they will hit on non-working days. Finding a job that is low stress enough or is willing to work around my illness and still pay enough to support my family is stressful.

It's not just the pain that disables me. There is the nausea, which makes me not eat. Since I tend to be hypoglycemic, that is bad in and of itself. There is also the dizziness. I used to work at clerical jobs. Working on a computer while dizzy is not fun. Trying to read while dizzy just makes your head hurt worse. I also worked as a cashier at Walmart for awhile. You can bet that is not pleasant during a migraine. Trying to help a customer during a dizzy spell is excruciating and scary. I kept expecting to pass out from it.

There is also the disconnected feeling. This happens more often in a crowded area. I can't hear or focus very well. I've had someone tell me it sounds like the beginnings of a panic attack. It very well could be. I'm unconsciously panicking at the thought of a migraine hitting me out in a crowded area where I can do nothing about it. I am also one of those people who gets very irritable. And that is a nice way to put it. I'm going to use a foul word here; feel free to skip a line or so. I get down right bitchy. I hate it. That is not me. Everything sets me off and that is just not fair to the people who have to deal with me. There is no way I could work that way, especially since that can hit hours before a migraine.

Yes, I am working with a neurologist to hopefully get things under better control. Right now, I have daily (almost constant) headaches with near daily migraines. We are hoping to decrease that. I know it will happen, but I don't know how long it will take.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Let the Updates Commence

I saw my neurologist again yesterday.  I had the beginnings of a migraine while I was in his office and he got to experience some of my mental mix up.  We talked about how I feel during some of my migraines, which he said were normal for migraine sufferers.  While I know in my head that I'm not alone, it was good for my heart to actually hear this.

We also talked about my medication.  Since the Gabapentin is working for my restless leg issues, we are leaving that alone.  As for the Topamax, he started me out on the lowest dose, so it has now been doubled.  One of the things he asked before upping the dose was if I had noticed any tingling or numbness in my fingers, which I hadn't.  I think I jinxed myself because this morning the tip of my right ring finger was pretty tingly.

We also talked about where to go from here.  I asked about feverfew and magnesium, since I had read a few things about them.  He said, between his experience and the research he had done, feverfew wasn't helpful at all.  As for magnesium, while it is good if I have a migraine bad enough to send me to the ER and they give it to me with iv fluids, it does nothing in small doses to prevent migraines.  We talked about the new Cephaly device.  He is still researching that, but is willing to try it if my insurance will cover it.  In the research he has read so far, it is only marginally helpful (1-2 less migraines a month), but that is better than nothing.  

I go back in 3 weeks.  By then, I will also have the results of my sleep study and we should have a better idea of where we can go from there.  So, fingers and toes crossed!

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