Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Migraine Cometh

Pardon my lame attempt to be clever and also make a dramatic reference. Not dramatic as in over-the-top or melo, rather dramatic as in referring to the dramatic arts. Those of you who got it didn't need the clarification, while those of you who didn't.....well you probably didn't need the clarification either. Anyway. I like theater.

I don't like getting migraines, however. And I'm just now coming out of the migraine that got itself started on Tuesday night. Yep. My migraines like to take a full 36 to 48 hours to dissipate. It's jolly fun.

Yesterday's post was supposed to be about how we went about making our house into a home, but since that threw my entire weekly schedule off, I'm going to go ahead and throw it off a little more. I shall now catch you up on my little headache problem.


It's gone on much longer than just this last summer, but I realize that I haven't taken a lot of time to adequately write about it and the challenges it poses for me.

And before I get started, yes, I have seen a doctor about it. Yes, I was prescribed medication for them (Imitrex/sumatriptan succinate). And, like almost all people who suffer migraines, no, we could not find a definitive cause.

Over the last few years I've learned a lot about how my body works and responds to different things. It's amazing how much I didn't know before I had migraines. I never thought about the effects of things like sleep, diet, exercise, light exposure, hydration, stress, sight, and sound. And now I'm constantly weighing and evaluating the various combinations of these things created by my decisions and circumstances.

There are quite a few areas of my life that have changed because of this, and some will likely have to be permanent.

1. Diet

This is a big one. I've never been a woman who is picky about what I eat. I've also never been a woman to turn down a sugary snack, a greasy goody, or a generally unhealthy item. Now, let's just say that I am not the kind of woman who also has the metabolism that allows me to eat whatever I want and not have it appear on my frame, but I practice enough moderation and keep my activity up enough that it's not too terrible. 

This no longer means anything. Certain things manage to significantly shorten the fuse on the powder keg that is migraine. Sugar. Grease. Very salty foods. Alcohol. I no longer worry about what will happen to my waistline if I eat a cookie in the afternoon. Now, I fret about whether or not I had enough water that day, got enough sleep the night before, and ate a balanced enough diet for the rest of the day, because, sure enough, that cookie would be enough to send me over the edge for the next day. Also, I have to remember three or four days worth of what I've eaten because it's often something that's been building for that amount of time. 

What does this all amount to? Either I keep strict track of what I eat and drink (like a journal), or I abstain from these things completely. I haven't been able to bring myself to keep a journal yet, but I seem to have trouble abstaining. My will power and discipline are sorely lacking. And it's simply heartbreaking for me to admit that I just might have to give up my hot chocolate, sweet bread, cheeseburgers, fries, chicken strips, beer, and wine. And I've never been one to overdo it, so giving up a nice glass of wine while Levi and I have dinner......well it's just sad to think about. 

And I do understand that none of these foods are 100% healthy for me (well, some are downright unhealthy, let's admit it), and my body will be completely fine without chocolate and wine and all the antioxidants. I would just enjoy the chance to say yes to a cold beer on a summer evening with friends.

2. Work

I'm finishing up my time at a fun job right now. And my reason for leaving? My migraines are back with a vengeance. Being absent from work two days every two weeks is not my idea of being a responsible employee. So I'm stepping down from a great receptionist position so that if I have to be in bed for 24 hours, the only things to suffer are the dishes and the laundry. 

And that's all well and good right now, but what about when I'm a mother? I can't just take a day off from a newborn baby, and Levi can't stay home every time I have a migraine because then the bad employee thing would start running through my head again....except about Levi. This all means that I need to step it up in one area:

3. Discipline

Not just with diet. But hydration as well. Sleep. Exercise. And knowing my limits. My biggest problem right now is thinking that I can just push through it slow and steady and it'll be fine. That mentality is all well and good with some things (the beginning of a run, writer's block, sore muscles), but I've learned the hard way that it simply won't work with a migraine. When I feel like I might be on the edge, I need to humble myself and say "I can't." I can't stay up another hour. I can't wait for another drink of water. I can't have wine with dinner tonight. I can't eat cheesy pasta instead of beans and greens. 

See, it's so much more than just discipline. It's a new kind of humility. It's accepting the fact that I do not have a body that is strong and capable of functioning like it could at 18. It's admitting that I am weak and that I am utterly incapable of fixing that weakness. I can manage it, and I can live a disciplined life so as not to aggravate this weakness, but I cannot completely remove it from myself. 

You might say that I could if I took my medicine.

4. Medicine

There's the last category. Medicine. 

Let me start by saying that the medicine I was prescribed is quite effective, and I'm only knocked out for three or four hours. That's a lot better than 36 hours. Plus, it's pain-free. Major bonus.

I prefer to be someone who takes as little medication as possible, especially medication that has such a profound effect on my body (we're talking knocked out, fast-beating heart, vertigo-like feelings, and a feeling somewhat like heartburn). Though those effects are all "normal," it makes me wary. Unlike many people in the world, I do not enjoy losing control of my body due to a substance--even one prescribed by a doctor and one that helps my painful migraines. 

But sometimes there's no choice. And I have to take my medicine. 

Except right now I'm not. Right now Levi and I are trusting the Lord to start a family through us. And since my midwife told me it would not be recommended to take this medicine while pregnant.....well, I'm not taking it. Even though I'm not currently pregnant, there's always that lurking phrase, As far as we know. As far as we know, we're not pregnant. I could be four weeks in and not know it. And seeing as I don't want to take any chances, especially after this summer, that means that I'll just have to wait until we're no longer trying to get pregnant to take my medicine. 


I think I may have gone on long enough about my migraines. 

I'd love to hear about those of you who struggle. What are your triggers? How do you cope? 

My favorite way to cope is a dark room, a flat pillow under my head, and a body wrap draped over my face. You know the kind? Like a thick pillow filled with rice so all the weight can settle into your eye sockets and put some pressure down on where the pressure wants to come out. No food and light covers are essential, as are no bright lights and no sudden, sharp sounds. 

At least now I've reached the stage where I smell rank, but I can have a kitty draped over my arm, and I can manage the glow from a computer screen long enough to type this. 

Now that I'm done, I better see about a shower because, phew!


Keep it real, 

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