Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Once Upon a Time

I remember well my first migraine. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. My best friend from high school was at my house and we were watching tv when a piercing pain shot through my head. After watching my mom suffer migraines for many years, I kind of figured that's what I had. I sent my friend home and went straight to bed.

I'm very fortunate that my migraines were very mild and infrequent during my time in college. Even for several years after college, my migraines were very manageable. It wasn't until this last couple years that they have become more severe and frequent. Before this last year, I went to the ER with a migraine maybe two or three times per year. Now I go about once a week.

I've learned a lot during these last couple of years. When I've been inpatient at the hospital in Chicago where my neurologists have a wing, I've been required to attend classes about migraines. I've learned what my food triggers are (aged cheese and caffeine) and I've learned how to be assertive without being aggressive about my pain. I've learned the most common food triggers and even if they don't trigger a migraine in me every time, I've started avoiding them. The most helpful "class" was a support group meeting. It was so nice to know there are other people that feel exactly like I do. Diamond Headache Clinic makes you really take advantage of every opportunity when they hospitalize you. As I've worked my way through different neurologists it's been frustrating, but I'm grateful for where I've landed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On the Rebound

I just typed a whole post and it disappeared. I'll try again.

There's a condition Migraineurs can suffer called rebound headaches. They're also referred to as medication overuse headaches. They happen when someone takes too much pain medication, although they feel just like a regular migraine. The only way to get rid of a rebound headache is to stop taking all pain meds. It's brutal for a while, but eventually the pain goes away.

I'm currently rebounding. Sunday I decided to go off all my pain meds. Tuesday night I ended up in so much pain I couldn't take it anymore. I gave in. I took pain meds. The same thing happened last night. Now, instead of being five days post-medication, I'm only 11 hours. I don't regret taking the meds. I was in incredible pain. But it's frustrating that I keep giving in. I know I will eventually beat this rebound headache and go back to having regular migraines, but I sure wish that would happen soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Intruder That Did My Laundry

Right now I'm on a med called DHE. It's used to break up a migraine cycle. I give myself a shot of DHE every 8 hours for 3 days with shots of pain meds in between. I always forget the side effects of DHE until I'm on it again. For one, the shots bruise me terribly, worse than any of my pain meds that are shots. Also, the DHE causes me to have super weird dreams. I just woke up from a short nap, and as I was trying to wake up, I became convinced someone had broken in. See, I knew my load in the dryer had already buzzed, but I was sure I heard the dryer running. Clearly someone had started it up again. And every creak was someone walking through the house. So I wondered if I should pretend to be sleeping (which I still sort of was) and hope the intruder left without hurting me, or should I force myself to wake up, grab my phone and keys and make a run for it? I forced myself awake enough to reach for my phone and became aware that the sound I thought was the dryer was the fans running downstairs (we had a minor flood and we're trying to dry out). Wow. What a dream. While the DHE is necessary for pain management, those side effects are something else.