When I Can’t Take Abortive Migraine Medication

Image by Seksak Kerdkanno from Pixabay

I have chronic migraines. You are defined as having chronic migraines when you have more than 14 migraines a month, I have more than 20. In the last month I’ve had 2 migraine free days. Due to the risk of Medication Overuse Headaches (you can read more about MOH here), and the possibility of some nasty side effects, you are only allowed to take abortive medications twice a week or a maximum of 10 per month. Abortive (also referred to as acute or rescue) medications are medications you take at the time of the migraine to stop it, they are best used at the first signs of a migraine. Abortive medications are analgesics (such as NSAIDS, Excedrin Migraine…), triptans, ergotamines, and on rare occasions opioids.

This week has been a rough one, I’ve had some intense migraines and I’d already used my abortive medications for the week. What’s a girl to do?

Suffer? Yeah, maybe, but I have found a few things that do help a little and sometimes they even get me back to my smiling self. 🙂 Like most migraine treatments these work best if you use them early, when the pain gets really bad, it takes much more to get it under control. (so it’s really hard when you wake up with a whopper) Here’s a little list of things I’ve been using that seem to help me, just keep in mind that everyone is different these might not work for you, or, who knows, they might work better for you than they do for me.

  • caffeine – one of the first things I reach for now is caffeine. I don’t use a lot, but I am using more than I used to. I always keep my consumption under 200mg a day (going over can cause rebound headaches so you have to be careful about this treatment), but when I have a migraine a little jolt of caffeine can help. I normally take it in conjunction with other things. (my usual dosage is about 41 mg in a 16oz drink)
  • ginger – Ginger has been shown to help stop a migraine. There have been a few studies showing how ginger helps with migraines, the one that impressed me the most was one that was held in an ER, the patients that came in with migraines were either given an NSAID with ginger or the NSAID alone and the group that were given ginger were more likely to find relief across the board. There is also a study that showed that ginger was as effective as sumatriptan (Imatrex) for some people. I’m not one of those people, but I do think it helps. So I take 500 mg of ginger now at the first sign of a migraine. Here are some links to studies about ginger Ginger and migraine treatment, Ginger efficacy compared to sumatriptan, Feverfew and ginger for migraine.
  • I decided to try a homeopathic remedy, I honestly didn’t think it would do anything, but it didn’t cost much so I thought I’d give it a go. Much to my surprise, it helps. It’s not a miracle, it rarely takes it all away, but it often lessens it enough that I can function. (I think it’s worth noting that I’ve never taken this without either caffeine or ginger) It’s called Hyland’s Migraine Headache Relief. It contains Glonoinum, Belladonna, Gelsemium, Nux Vomica, Iris Versiolor, and Sanguinaria Canadensis. I found it at Sprouts, but when I did an online search it looks like you can find it all over. The dosage is 1 or 2 tablets every 4 hours. You let them dissolve on your tongue, I like this a lot. If I happen to not have water I can still take this, and it doesn’t taste nasty. I always start with 2, and in 4 hours if I need more I then decide if I need 1 or 2 at that dose. I have noticed no side effects from this so far. I bought this product with my own money, I am not receiving anything from the company, they know nothing of me, this is not an official review or anything like that.) undefined
  • medical marijuana – I’m going to write a post about this soon, probably the next post I put out, but I thought I’d put a little blurb here that I do use medical marijuana to help with my migraines. It is not a miracle, but it does help. However, it is a lot of trial and error to find what works for you.
  • ice or heat – my head is variable, it sometimes feels relief from an ice pack, sometimes from heat, so I try both. Sometimes I’m afraid to try either for fear of making it worse. But normally I’ll try ice if my pain is mainly on the top of my head, if my neck is the main culprit I’ll use heat, if my forehead is where the pain originates I kind of leave it. I have an IceKap, I have found it works well when my head wants ice, but it’s heavy and my neck doesn’t like that so I don’t use it much. However, if you are someone who needs ice for your migraine, this cap is great for getting your head cold and it stays in place. It presses on my glasses though, I don’t like that, I don’t like to take my glasses off when I have a migraine because of the vertigo. (again, I bought the IceKap, no one knows I’m saying anything about it. I’m not getting anything.)
  • Epsom Salt Bath – I can’t do this all the time because of vertigo and other times when I’m hurting too much I just can’t get in the tub, but when I have a moderate headache a nice soak in a tub with Epsom Salts can really help. Add the scent of lavender or mint and it can really be relaxing, and I normally hate scents, but I really liked the lavender Epsom salts I tried recently. It wasn’t a fake smell, or too over powering. It was very relaxing. That’s a good thing.
  • That’s about it from me, other people really like essential oils, but for the most part scents trigger migraines for me, none have relieved them. I do find peppermint a little helpful sometimes, but other times it makes me nauseous, so I don’t like to risk it. Lemon is about the only smell that never makes me sick. Oh…Sometimes if I eat something spicy it will lessen the pain in my head for little while, but it doesn’t last. If you can trigger an ice cream headache, it’s supposed to stop a migraine, but dang! That’s something I don’t really want to try. Oh who am I kidding, I have tried, you know it’s hard to trigger one of those when you are trying to do it. I still can’t tell you if it works, and when I think about it I really don’t want to cause myself that much pain.
  • Note that I didn’t include things like massage, acupuncture…. because I consider those more preventative and today I’m focusing on abortive treatments. Also I’m focusing on things I can do for myself without help.

How do you treat your migraines when you can’t take your meds,?

Did I share anything that you found interesting?

How has your week been? I’m thrilled to say today I don’t have a migraine! The exact opposite of every other day this week. Yay.

May we all have a pleasant weekend. We are finally getting the rest of our furniture this weekend. Woot, Woot!

Ready for 2020?!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m baaaack! Whew, I didn’t mean to be gone so long. I actually did write a post during my absence, but, silly me, I forgot to hit “Publish” and it’s out of date now.

Let’s see what was going on when last I left you?

We were getting ready to move into our house. Check, that happened; there are still plenty of boxes and there is actually more to move from Stuart’s dad’s house, but we are in OUR house and it feels good, even if I’m extremely exhausted and flaring.

I had hopes that the nerve block injection I had in my neck was working, but it didn’t. I had a couple of good days, but I think that may have just been good days because it sure didn’t last. I saw the pain doctor again and I had an occipital nerve block on the right side on December 30th to hopefully help with my migraines. I actually do think this one is working. I have had migraines since the injection, but they did not start in that area. That’s great, because a LOT of my migraines do start in that area. It hasn’t been long, but so far I’m hopeful. I also had an x-ray of the thoracic region of my back and it showed no damage; I have to say I was surprised. I have so much pain in that area, and it feels like it comes from the bone. I’m happy I don’t have problems there, but I do wish I knew what the heck is wrong. It’s really hard when you can’t have an MRI. She also wants me to have a nerve conduction study to see what may be causing my arms to go to sleep since the nerve block in my neck didn’t help. I’m not looking forward to that test, it’s not very comfortable (to say the least), but hopefully it will provide some answers.

Right after my last post I had a severe gastritis attack accompanied by severe diarrhea (literally crapping my pants over and over. yes, I know, TMI). I had my yearly physical right after that and my doctor thinks I may also have diverticulitis. I’ve been referred to a gastroenterologist, but haven’t heard from them yet. The day of our move I woke to the all too familiar feeling of gnawing pain in my stomach, luckily it didn’t escalate to a severe gastritis attack, but it was a very uncomfortable day.

I can’t say much about the holidays because it is just a blur. I know they happened because of all the decorations in stores and specials on TV, but boy oh boy we sure didn’t have time to celebrate anything.

So now I am ready to say goodbye to 2019, and face 2020 with renewed hope and wonder. I plan to take each day as it comes, have more fun, and take things less seriously. I’m not going to make up a bunch of resolutions I probably won’t be able to keep, but I do want to face this year feeling a bit renewed. After all, I just moved into a new house, my life is drastically changing. I’m going to be changing places I normally do my shopping and even some doctors…because we now live on the other side of town. So much is changing, there is no need for me to make resolutions, things are just going to change naturally. However, I do plan to make some short term changes throughout the year. There are some things I want to try so I plan on doing some 30 day challenges for myself, perhaps some of them will last longer, I’m sure some won’t last the whole 30 days. For example, for 30 days I want to eat vegetarian, to meditate daily, to journal daily, to draw daily, to not eat out, to not buy anything new except food… Well that’s 6 months right there! I’m not going to be hard on myself if I can’t keep to these things, but I feel like if I put a short time frame on it then I can just try it out and see if it’s for me, who knows it may be something I just love and will keep doing forever, or it may be something I hate and quit in a week, no pressure.

I think that’s enough to get things updated and to get me writing again. It has been one crazy busy month! Not only have we been moving, during the holidays, I had 1-3 doctor’s appointments each week. It’s time to slow down and get this year started.

Happy New Year everyone! May this year be filled with love and happiness for you all.

Ending a Horrible Year the Best Way

Image from pexels

I’m still pinching myself, I just can’t believe how much has changed recently, and all for the better. Wow…just Wow.

Our new home

I’ll start with the best news first, we close on our house on the 19th and we move in on the 20th! Yes, we will be in our new home before Christmas! I’m so excited I could squeal! and I probably have! hahaha We found the cutest house in the nicest neighborhood, I just adore it. It’s not exactly what we were looking for, but I just fell in love as soon as we walked inside. The neighborhood is focused on sustainability. The houses are all energy efficient, the neighborhood has a lot of walking and bike trails, it has it’s own coffee shop, and a few other little shops. It has the greenest school in the country that also ranks very high academically. It’s beautiful. The house has enough room for us and Dad, without being too big, and it has a little casita (a detached guest suite) in the back that’s going to be my studio. And I’m going to plant a lemon tree right outside my kitchen window. Perfect.

I’m able to enjoy all of that because my antidepressant is working better. I still haven’t gotten the approval for the ketamine, but we increased the dose of the Fetzima and it is helping more, I still feel like I have this black cloud over me, but it isn’t dropping buckets of rain and hail on me all the time. I can see the sun, maybe even a rainbow.

I’ve also had a few migraine free days. Yes! I really said that! The days aren’t consecutive, but I have had one here and there. I normally do not wake up with a migraine now, I get them in the afternoon usually. I’m not having as many severe migraines. They are normally moderate in intensity, when they are severe the severe stage doesn’t last as long. For example, I might have a migraine that last 9 hours, 2 of them will be severe. I did have a severe day one day this week, so it still happens, just not like it was. It looks like the Aimovig is doing something. Yay!!

The nerve block I got in my neck started helping, not completely, but I have been waking up most days without my arm being asleep or aching terribly. Every once in a while it will happen, but most of the time nope, it’s good. My follow up appointment was rescheduled because my doctor was sick, so I don’t know what the next plan is, I’ll find that out soon.

I had planned to post much more often but I’ve been so busy with all of the house stuff, doctor appointments, holiday stuff….I am so busy! I will try to post more soon, but I can’t promise anything, the next few weeks are going to be crazy busy! I have a lot of post written in my head, I just need to type them up.

Not everything in my life is perfect, but I’m feeling so much better I can’t think of a better way to close out a really crappy year and start 2020.

I feel shame (Shame and Chronic Illness)

I’ve been trying to write a post for weeks now, but I just haven’t been able to get the words to come out. I had a CTA scan of my head and neck on July 26th, that’s a CT scan that shows your arteries. I had planned to post about it, to show you the awful bruise the contrast caused, and tell you how I freaked out when the contrast hit me, but I was actually ashamed that I felt that way. They had a hard time finding my veins, as usual, and I, once again, felt ashamed that I’m difficult. I had a bit of a reaction to the contrast and had a very debilitating migraine and nausea for days. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do anything. Lorraine was nice enough to do a Mindfulness Monday. I’m ashamed I haven’t written since then.

I feel that I have needed to write and tell you how I’m still struggling with the migraines, how the medication isn’t working, and how I can’t accomplish anything really. But I’m ashamed that I’m not better. I’m ashamed that I keep trying different medications and they don’t work on me. I feel like I’m failing. In our culture we are expected to take a drug when we get sick and get better, if we don’t get better then we aren’t trying hard enough. We should change our diet, exercise more…. You see the stories all the time, how someone beat this or that disease by doing these things. We are expected to fight our illnesses and get better, when we don’t we often feel shame. Or at least, I know I do.

With my migraines everyone has a solution. So many people have or know someone with migraine, it isn’t rare, but chances are it’s episodic migraine not chronic migraine. I’m asked so often, “Do you take medication?” and it’s followed by, “I take (or so and so takes)______ and it works!” I want to scream, “Of course I take medication! I take preventatives, and abortives, and supplements, and I use alternative treatments! Nothing is working but I’m afraid to stop any of them for fear it will get worse!” But instead I feel ashamed that I’m defective. Not only do I have migraines, I have migraines that won’t respond to treatment.

Weekend before last we went out for breakfast with Stuart’s father at our usual place. I ordered a gluten free pancake, when it came I suspected it was wrong, but they have never gotten my order wrong before, so I took a bite. I knew immediately it was wrong. I was poisoned. I called the waitress over and asked and sure enough, it wasn’t gluten free. She apologized and I smiled and just ordered a new one. I looked at Stuart with huge eyes and he just said, there was nothing that could be done now. His father said, “it was only one bite” Stuart explained that it only takes a crumb. I should have told the waitress that I didn’t want anything else and told Stuart and his dad we needed to go home, but instead I was too ashamed. I ate that new pancake knowing that I would be sick within an hour or two. I sat there listening to them talk, while my head pounded, my stomach started to ache and get tight and my bowels started to rumble. I ended up having to rush to the bathroom there and it was obvious my stomach was distended by the time we left. I felt even more shame that I could not hide it.

I’ve never been one who is ashamed of my cochlear implants, I know a lot of people like to hide them, but I like for people to understand that I have hearing loss, because I do get ashamed when I have trouble understanding people. I sit and “listen” to conversations, but I often don’t “hear” them, and I’m too ashamed to keep asking for people to repeat what they say. After you are told over and over that it’s not important, you start to believe it, so I don’t worry about it. Then I get more ashamed when I miss things that I needed to hear.

Yesterday I had a very bad day. I woke in so much pain, but more than that when I’d stand I would see stars and I’d start to black out. I asked Stuart if he could work from home, but before he could answer I told him no, I’d be okay, because I was way too ashamed that I needed him. I was not safe, but I was too ashamed to admit that. Last night was the first time I told him how I felt. Now he is afraid he has done something to make me feel ashamed, and I feel shame that I’ve made him feel this way. I’ve explained to him that it’s complicated.

I’m just coming to terms with these feelings. I’ve tried to put a label on this before and called it guilt, but that wasn’t right, it’s shame. Guilt is feeling that you’ve done something bad. Shame is feeling that you are something bad. So, yes I feel guilty about asking him to work from home because I don’t want to take him away from work (doing something bad), but I also feel shame about it because I am ill and have to ask in the first place (am something bad).

Do you have these feelings? This will be a major discussion coming up with my therapist. Shame is not a healthy emotion, this is something we need to battle sooner rather than later.

The Fight Continues

After a 76 day migraine it finally broke on July 6th, I then went 9 days with 2 migraines that were able to be treated with rescue medications. On Monday I posted about how I believed I was back to my baseline, but I mentioned that I had a migraine at the time and was excited I was able to take rescue meds and believed they would work, they didn’t.

can you see how the right side of my face is affected by my migraine?

On Monday I took Maxalt twice, and Toradol, it eased the pain some, but did not take it away.

On Tuesday I did not use my rescue meds, I used Ginger, my IceKap, and medical marijuana throughout the day, and this kept things to a tolerable level.

I woke Wednesday in excruciating pain, with severe light sensitivity and vertigo. I could not lift my head, or focus enough even read medicine bottles, but I could find the Maxalt in my night stand by feel, so I took that. I texted Stuart by talk to text and asked him to come home to help, because I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. He came home, got me more meds (Toradol, and another Maxalt) and worked from home for the rest of the day. I also used my alternative therapies throughout the day. Wednesday was a very challenging day, but by the end of the day my symptoms had improved dramatically and I was able to sleep.

Yesterday I woke feeling pretty good, the migraine was still there, but I thought it was on the way out. I decided to greet the day with joy and immerse myself in the pool. I had a nice swim, the water always makes me feel better, but I don’t get out there enough. When I came in, the pain started to increase. Then a little while later I stood up, walked across the room, and the pain hit like a hammer, I felt a whoosh, and the room went black. I slowly collapsed to the floor and spent the rest of the day in my chair fighting vertigo. I decided to break the rules and use a rescue medication a third day this week. My doctor had given me a sample of Migranal to try, it’s dihydroergotamine mesylate (DHE) in a nasal spray. I haven’t tried it yet because my insurance doesn’t cover it, but thought I should try it since I’ll be seeing her on the 26th and today would be a good trial. I don’t know if it’s just the sample that’s like this, or if it’s always like this, but this stuff is a pain to get started. You have to break a metal seal on the bottle, pull the plastic stopper out, take the plastic cover off of the sprayer, insert the sprayer in the bottle, prime the sprayer 4 times, THEN you are finally ready to use it. Then you spray it once in each nostril, and do not sniff or tilt your head back (that is oh so difficult) and repeat in 15 minutes. That’s a lot when you are in severe pain with light sensitivity, nausea, and vertigo. It did reduce the pain significantly, however it did not completely break the migraine.

That brings us to today. It’s still there. I’m getting a massage tomorrow from an amazing woman, the last time I saw her I left in the least amount of pain I can remember. It didn’t last long, but wow, amazing. I look forward to feeling her magic.

On the 26th I’m getting a CTA or my head, that’s a CT scan where they use a contrast to look at your arteries. I also see my migraine doc on that day. I don’t think the scan will show anything, but just to be sure. I’m a little wary of it, I’ve had a lot of scans over the last 10 years, that’s a LOT of radiation. How much it too much? Since I can’t have MRIs they use CT scans for everything, that has really been a lot of CT scans.

I am so very grateful for the days I had without a migraine, it is encouraging to know it is possible. I’m also encouraged that the rescue medications are doing something, even if they aren’t taking it all away this week. Living with chronic migraine is a challenge every day, I never know what to expect. I found myself leaving the moment, fearing the future, longing for the past, I am being gentler with myself now, and being here in the now. Today is all I have, I will be here in this moment and accept it as it is. I know I can handle this moment, it is all it is, a moment, and I will deal with the next moment as it comes, not before. There is so much more to my life than my symptoms, it is time to remember that and take notice, each and every day.

Relief. The Importance of Keeping a Medication Diary

Tucson night sky

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve been battling a severe migraine flare since April 20th, I’m so happy to share that I’m finally back to my baseline for my migraines and my rescue medications are once again working so I’m having sweet, sweet relief!! How did this come about? Well let me tell you, this was an ordeal! And it could probably have been sorted sooner if I had noticed something earlier, in the end, I’m glad I wrote about when I started new medications here.

One of the first things I did when all of this started was try to figure out if I anything had changed, had I started a new medication, was I eating differently, sleeping differently….anything? Well I had started Emgality, a migraine preventative, but I started it a month before this started and I was insured that it would not cause migraines. I had also started Viibryd, an antidepressant, but I (thought) I started it in March. Finally after my hospital stay in June, I went through my blog posts and found this post on April 27th that said I started an antidepressant the week before. https://picnicwithants.com/2019/04/27/little-update-from-travels-to-depression/ That was the week the intractable migraine started. The post also talks about how much better my migraines were in March after I started Emgality on February 28th. Ding! Ding! Ding! Could it be that this drug was contributing to this migraine flare? I was going to find out! I looked up the side effects for Viibryd and sure enough, one of the common side effects is “headache” (15%) and one of the lesser side effects is “migraine”. I put a call in to my psychiatrist and a message in to my migraine doctor. Wouldn’t you know it, my psychiatrist was out of the country! Ha! Glad to know my doctors had a good time traveling this summer! So, everyone knows what I did with my migraine doctor, if you missed it, you can check out my post on SPG Blocks here, but keep in mind that I was still on the Viibryd at the time. I got a message from my psychiatrist PA and they said that migraine wasn’t a side effect of Viibryd (Can you see me rolling my eyes?? I read the prescribing information handout that comes from the manufacturer, where did she get her information?) In the call I’d also asked about a couple of other antidepressants that are used at migraine preventatives to see what they thought, I was told that they didn’t go with Viibryd. Umm, I’m not going to stay on Viibryd! But she couldn’t seem to understand that. I can’t say it is all her fault, the front office there is awful! I love my psychiatrist, but it is horrible to try to get messages through, so I decided to slowly taper off of it by myself, and just wait for my appointment which is next week to discuss the rest. And guess what?! After being totally off Viibryd for about a week my migraines dropped to about my baseline, or below.

Since my birthday, I’ve taken a rescue medication once! Don’t get me wrong, I have had more than one migraine, but they haven’t been severe and I haven’t felt the need to take medication for them. At the first sign of a migraine I’ve been taking 500mg of Ginger and it has been helping (this is a great article about the efficacy of ginger in helping migraines). As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t take rescue meds more than 2 days a week, so unless a migraine is bad I normally don’t take it since I often have migraines an average of 5 – 6 days a week. I save those 2 days for days I have something planned, or days when it is very severe.

I just noticed that today is the 15th and I haven’t taken migraine meds since the 5th! Wow! Perhaps the Emgality is doing something too? I’m really thinking that the Viibryd was messing me up big time. And so far I haven’t noticed my moods dropping since I’ve been off of it. You know, I’ve been fighting a migraine today, but I think I’m going to take something for it. This is great! Maybe I won’t have to save my medication for worse days? Do I dare hope?

To close I’d just like to say that this has taught me to always mark on my calendar when I start and stop medications, and pay close attention to how my body changes. I really thought I was on top of these things, but obviously it can slip by you, especially during busy times and times of high stress. If I had been able to put together that this had been a side effect earlier I might not have suffered for so long.

My Story – A trip to the Hospital – Migraine Awareness Month

We all have our story, this weekend I added to mine.

I’d like to give you a little bit of background on my headache story. Two months before I turned eleven I had my first period, and my first migraine. It was labled a “menstrual headache” and I was told most girls got them. On my 11th birthday we were going to the lake to go swimming and I was hit with a nagging headache, this headache never went away. I was labeled with allergies and sinus headaches. These labels stuck for many, many years. Now my migraines have progressed to the chronic level, I have a migraine over 20 days a month, and it seems they are becoming intractable. The medications I used to use are not longer working, and I’ve tried many alternative treatments. My daily headache is never below a 3. I also have cluster headaches that normally show themselves in the Spring and Fall, but sometimes more often. I haven’t found any treatments for the daily or cluster headaches. Most days I haven’t given up hope, but I must admit that some days I feel like I can’t go on. That is my history in a nutshell, now for the story of the weekend.

Today is the 54th day of a running migraine. There has been no relief. The pain has been variable anywhere from a 6 to a 10+ (there have been times the pain has been greater than I could imagine).. No medication has helped to relive my symptoms which include much more than pain. When most people think of a migraine they only think of the pain, but it is so much more than that, I experience numbness on the right side of my face, sometimes traveling down my arm, my face sometimes droops, my vision blurs and will double and dim to the point I can’t see, I have extreme light sensitivity, and sensitivity to smells and sounds,, I experience dizziness and vertigo that varies in intensity, and extreme nausea….these are just a sample of the added symptoms that I can experience during at migraine, others can experience different symptoms. Migraines are so much more than a headache they can even occur without any pain at all.

At present my neurologist is out the the country. I messaged her office last week and told them my situation and they suggested I go the the Emergency Department to get a “Migraine Cocktail” and some hydration. I voiced my concern about the torture that an emergency department can put me through, the bright lights, the smells, the noise, the wait….but I was assured if I called and reserved a time to come in I wouldn’t have to wait long. We did call and set up a time of 4:30pm on Thursday, I arrived 10 minutes early and was triaged right away, then I waited SIX hours before I was seen. I realize I was low on the triage list, and they had a number of emergencies but sitting there in extreme pain was absolute torture. I almost went home. I had a seizure in the waiting room and no one paid any attention. I do have to put in there that we were in a quiet waiting room with dim lights because of my light sensitivity, but after they were informed, a tech came and took my vitals, but no one else came. I decided it was time to leave. Stuart went to tell them we were leaving and at that time they realized how long we had been waiting, and they got me to the top of the list.

After I was taken to a room I was surrounded by extremely nice nurses and doctors immediately. They made a plan and had medication going within just less than an hour. The doctor told me they had to start on the first cocktail, but he didn’t think it would work on me, because he had a feeling I was a tough case. He said after that they would do a second cocktail and if that didn’t work they would admit me and there were all kinds of things they could do then. Neither of the first two cocktails worked, although the second one did help me sleep. I was admitted, after many hours of waiting for a room

I was started on a new cocktail that was very much like one that I had in the ED, but they wanted to add Imitrex (sumatriptan), I refused this medication because it causes me to have tachycardia. I soon saw the neurologist and he put me on a cocktail of DHE, Toradol, Depakote, and Magnesium every 8 hours for 24 hours. He then told me that if it did not work he could do no more and I would be sent home to suffer there instead of suffering in the hospital.

The cocktail knocked it down to a moderate level, until they stopped it. After they stopped it a new nurse came on duty who had a scent that triggered me. My migraine shot up and I was terribly sick. It did not come down, and I was sent home “to suffer”.

Today I woke up in intense pain that continued to build, within an hour it was so excruciating it was beyond what I could imagine a migraine could be. I was not sure if the pain would diminish. If it hadn’t I would not have been able to carry on. I had to admit my thoughts have gone there, but migraine can kill. All I can hear in my head is, “You can SUFFER at home”

My doctor is the only headache specialist in this area. According to the American Headache Society currently only 416 specialist are certified by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS) to treat an estimated 36 million migraine sufferers over age 12 in the United States. I’m lucky to be able to see one, but when she is unavailable it is very difficult. She will be back in the office on the 12th, however she has jury duty the first week of July, I don’t have an appointment until July 26th. The doctor I saw in the hospital said he was going to talk to her office to see if he could get me an appointment earlier. I doubt that will happen.

There is a headache clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. If my doctor can’t help me I’m considering going to the clinic for an evaluation It is 110 miles away. Does anyone have thoughts on this? I’ve heard some conflicting results from friends about their experiences with Mayo, I’d like to know if anyone has any thoughts.

This is Migraine Awareness month therefore, I’ll leave you with a few more facts about migraine.

  • Migraine is the 6th most disabling illness in the world
  • Migraine often runs in families.
  • Migraine is often misdiagnosed as tension or sinus headaches.
  • Migraine also affects children.
  • Pain does not have to be present during a migraine.
  • More than 4 million adults experience chronic migraine with over 15 migraines per month.

If you know someone with migraine, be gentle, try to understand, Sometimes it can change you. It can steal your life. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to spend time with you, often it means they can’t. They still love you. Love them.

Migraines Suck

Warning: this post may contain whining, feeling sorry for myself, and just plain complaining, but most of it is simply the way things are right now….it sucks, I accept that, but no I don’t like it and I wish it were different.

The last two weeks I have experienced some of the worst symptoms I can recall in many years. I woke up one day a couple of weeks ago now, feeling pain creeping up the left side of my head, it felt like my brain was hurting, inside my skull, my brain was being squeezed. It started on the left side and crept up over my head until it covered my whole brain, I could not help but cry out. I woke Stuart and he could only hold me. The intense feeling of motion, the pressure in my skull, the extreme nausea…it was horrible. Finally it eased to the point that I was able to simply pass out. Then it came back! This happened three more times. I decided sleep was not going to help, so I got up. It continued to happen throughout the day, no matter how much medication I took. Nothing worked. That was the beginning of my walk deeper into hell.

I’ve barely been out of the dark, the light sensitivity has been more intense than I’ve ever experienced it. Often I have not been able to get out of the dark at all. For days on end I couldn’t look at my phone or computer. I’ve been having the feeling of intense movement all day, with visual vertigo on and off. My vision will tilt, double, and is constantly blurry. For 2 solid days I could not focus enough to see much of anything, I just sat in my chair curled up in a ball, with sun glasses on, a towel on my head to further help block out light, an ice pack on top of that, staring at the TV watching shows that I’d seen over and over, just so I knew what was going on, since I couldn’t really focus enough to read the captions and often couldn’t even see what was going on at all. It’s bad enough to be in severe pain and dizzy, but to be forced to have nothing to distract you from that is torture. I tried to meditate, I tried to make up stories in my head, I tried to think of nice places, nothing worked. I was trapped sitting in a chair with my pain, confusion, and vertigo with nothing to help relieve it. I knew at that moment, if I had to live like this forever, I wanted to die.

I continue to fight this. My baseline headache never gets below a 5 now (I have daily headache all the time that normally hovers around a 3 or a 4). Every day the pain gets to at least an 8 for a few hours, and will spike to a 10 on and off. I continue to have all the other symptoms, sometimes they are worse than others, but they are always there. The nasal spray (Zomig) she gave me to try did not work. It’s kind of obvious that triptans have stopped working for some reason. I believe my head has gone crazy because it has gotten no relief. Normally I do get some relief from triptans, so the nerves have some time to reset, a little at least. (my 10 precious days a month when I can take meds gave me a few hours) Now there has been no relief so the nerves are constantly firing and just going crazy. My neurological and vestibular system are on over drive, what is triggering me this much, I have no idea, all I know is that my head is a mess, and I’m miserable.

Now my doctor is out of the country until June 12th, and she has jury duty the first week of July, so she had to reschedule my appointment to July 26th. I admit when I heard this I had a complete break down. I sobbed and sobbed, which of course caused more pain…ugh. But them I thought, I’ve lived with this for so long, a couple more months will not kill me, and I can go to the ER if I absolutely have to. I must admit though, I’m afraid to go to the ER, they treat migraine patients like drug seekers or fakers, the bright lights and noise there is torture, the stress of waiting hours….it makes me worse before they make it better. It’s so scary.

The good news is, her office did get the sphenopaltine ganglion block approved, so I will be getting that when I see her. It’s very interesting, she will actually be teaching me how to do it so I can do it at home. They are also working to get the Migranal approved, it is the Dihydroergotamine (DHE) in nasal spray. I have DHE injectables at home. I haven’t used it because you can’t use it in the same day that you use a triptan, and I had gone over the amount of days I can take meds for the month. When I’ve had intractable migraines in the past, not with the extreme symptoms I’ve been having lately, my previous doctor prescribed a DHE protocol of having 3 shots a day for 3 days to try to knock it out. We are going to start that today. Hopefully I’ll get some relief.

This has taken me two days to write and I’m sure it doesn’t read quite right because my brain is mush, and I know there are things I’ve left out, but I really tried. I even put in a couple of links. Woot!



Week and a day in review

I didn’t do it. I intended to do it. After I missed one day, I still thought I would do it, but didn’t write a single journal entry this past week. I’m such a slacker! I still kept up with my migraines on the Migraine Buddy app, so at least I have that information. Now let me share some of what’s been going on this past week.

On Saturday I had a vestibular migraine so debilitating that I could not walk without assistance. I stayed in a dim room (I really want black out curtains), in silence, with ice on my head all day. (The symptoms I was experiencing included vertigo and dizziness, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, scent sensitivity, nausea, cognitive impairment, blurred vision, and numbness and drooping of the right side of my face. It was a cloudy icky day.  Finally around 8:30 that night it started to rain.  When the barometric pressure eased so did my migraine, just in time for bed.

On Sunday we went to have brunch with Stuart’s Dad and his wife at her home in memory care. It had been too long since we had been there for a visit, it was nice, but we sat in the little restaurant for way too long for my physical comfort level. By the time we left my back was hurting pretty bad, and I was starting to get pretty grumpy.  I had been feeling so much better since starting the new anti depressant, but Sunday I was touchy, sad, and down on myself. I knew I missed a dose on Friday, but dang. Then that night I realized I missed another dose, I was so angry and ashamed I couldn’t even look at Stuart. (overreacted?)  When I saw my psychiatrist on Tuesday I found out that the prescription she called in was for the wrong dosage, so for the last week I have been taking half the dose I was taking the week before. Oops. So no wonder it really messed me up when I missed a couple of doses!  I’m trying new strategies to remind myself to take my meds with breakfast!  So far so good!

Back to migraine talk. I mentioned in a previous post that I messaged my doctor and asked about a new rescue medication because the Maxalt isn’t working any more. I finally heard back from her, there was a problem with their patient portal, after it was fixed I heard from her right away and we’ve talked a couple of times since then, so I feel better about that. Here’s what’s going on there: She suggested one of two things, trying Zomig nasal spray (it is another triptan, but could help more in this form) or try Migranal nasal spray (it is DHE in nasal spray form). I’m trying the Zomig because my insurance will cover it (still cost a lot), my insurance will not cover the Migranal, however, if the Zomig does not work we will appeal to the insurance company to see if they will cover the Migranal. She is also trying to get another treatment approved, a Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) Block. The SPG is a group of nerves linked to the trigeminal nerve, the main nerve involved in headache, and is located behind the nose. They use a catheter through the nose to apply lidocaine to the SPG. I’ve been reading about it, and I’m not sure exactly how my doctor is planning on using it with me.  From what I’ve read it has been shown to reduce chronic migraine frequency and pain severity over a 6 month period after having the procedure done twice a week for 6 weeks. So yeah, I’d like to try that.

The above was written last night, May 16th, I thought I’d finish this up this morning and post it, but today did not go as planned, following is a recap of today.

Today started out pretty dang good.  I decided to try to start the day completely silent to see if my migraines would hold off for longer.  It was a nice way to start the day, the silence kind of forces me to be more mindful. I ate breakfast outside, sat out by the pool, did my breathing exercises, and started to do more of my yoga exercises, but the sun was too bright. I was still feeling good so I decided to sweep the front porch and patio. Gaah! That was the biggest mistake of the week! I got about half of it done when the pain in my back started to get too much, I slowed down and tried to get to a good stopping point. Then my vision got wavy, the pain started in my head, and my back seized. Oh boy. I dropped everything where it was and got inside as quick as I could so I wouldn’t fall down outside. Things calmed down and I thought things were going to be fine, I just had to rest. After about an hour things were going good. I was ready to get up and maybe do something, then the vertigo started, and I was not going anywhere. The rest of the day has been filled with these on and off sensations of vertigo and pain.  I wanted to try the Zomig, but I’ve already taken medication 7 of the 10 days I’m allowed in a month, I decided to save it for days when I have to be out somewhere, or really want to do something fun.

Speaking of something fun, we are planning on going to the botanical gardens this weekend, it is supposed to be a very nice weekend for it.  Cross fingers and toes we can make it there, I really want to go to the Butterfly House, and it closes for the season soon.

the photo above is by the pool, it was taken this morning.  It is my favorite spot in the yard, especially this time of year with the yellow, red and purple blooms.

Journal Days of May

from my walk on Sunday – Prickly Pear in bloom

This month I’m going to do something very different, I’m going to try to keep a running journal of the month, so you might get a bit tired of me.

The idea behind this is two fold, I want to pay attention to my moods, and really see how this new antidepressant is working; and I also want to have a goal of accomplishing at least one thing a day, no matter how small that one thing is.

I’ve been feeling pretty low lately about how little I’ve been able to accomplish because of my pain, I want to prove to myself that I am more than my pain and accomplishments come in all sizes and all should be celebrated. I’m hoping by committing to posting about this on a regular basis I will force myself to stop thinking of the things I can’t do and pay attention to the things I can.

Today I woke with the continuation of a migraine from yesterday, that continued from the day before. I had an appointment with my therapist at 11am so I took a Maxalt and drank a little caffeine hoping it would take the edge off and make the day more bearable, unfortunately, it didn’t. In the waiting room there was a lady sitting directly in front of me and one sitting beside me, they obviously new each other and were having a conversation in normal tones. I was struck by the fact that I could not understand more than the rare word here and there despite the fact that it was a very quiet room. Once again I wondered how I could meet people and socialize. When I left I planned to go by the grocery store to pick up a couple of things but the pain was so great I thought I would throw up before I made it home. I took a second Maxalt when I got home, but again, it simply did not work. I decided to message my doctor and ask if there is another rescue medication I can try as Maxalt seems to have stopped working. I am still hopeful that the Emgality will help, but I need something to get me through the moment.

Today I made it to my therapist appointment! I had a lovely mindful moment with my dog, and a few other mindful moments too. I attempted to do a Body Scan meditation, but I didn’t finish. I will try to do it again before I sleep tonight.

I’m trying hard to not focus on the fact that I can’t cook dinner tonight, or get the dishes out of the sink because my back and head hurt so damn bad. So I’m avoiding the kitchen.