Thursday, July 2, 2015

Oh My head...

If there is one thing that can stop me dead in my tracks, it’s migraines. 

I am not one of those migraine sufferers who get nauseous or vomit, but any noise above a whisper, or not at the right frequency, and lights that are artificial or way too bright, send my head into a temper tantrum.  It retaliates with a pounding drum in my head and threatens to spit my eyeballs out of their sockets.  The pounding is always off to one side and either top middle or middle back of my head.  So you can imagine the pounding resonating through my skull until the pressure builds up in my eyes.

My migraines last from three to ten days.  They usually only go away when they are ready to.  No amount of water, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen is a match for my migraines.  They will go away when they are good and ready.

In 2013 I was in control of my migraines.  The instances, although debilitating when they occurred, were few and far between. With careful watch of my diet and fitness, I was able to manage them quite well.   I knew my triggers and could sense them coming.  And sensing them coming is the key.  If I could sense it coming and tackle right then and there, I would usually get away with a simple headache.

But since the car accident, my migraines are unpredictable.  Any sudden change in movement, diet, weather, hormones, stress (good or bad), any change in anything really, and my head is pounding away, dictating to me what drum beat I will succumb to.  The worst part is now, there is no sensing them coming.  Because, they come in with a bang like no other.  They have changed a bit more than that too.  I don't get nauseous, but if I smell something "off" while in a migraine, a wave of nausea will hit me.  Oh how lovely!

Wikipedia tells us:
Migraine is a neurological disease characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches often in association with a number of autonomic nervous system symptoms. The word derives from the Greek μικρανία (hemikrania), "pain on one side of the head",[1] from μι- (hemi-), "half", and κρανίον (kranion), "skull".[2]
Typically the headache affects one half of the head, is pulsating in nature, and lasts from 2 to 72 hours. Associated symptoms may include
nauseavomiting, and sensitivity to lightsound, or smell. The pain is generally made worse by physical activity.[3] Up to one-third of people with migraine headaches perceive an aura: a transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbance which signals that the headache will soon occur.[3] Occasionally an aura can occur with little or no headache following it.
Migraines are believed to be due to a mixture of environmental and genetic factors.
[4] About two-thirds of cases run in families.[5] Changing hormone levels may also play a role, as migraines affect slightly more boys than girls before puberty, but about two to three times more women than men.[6][7] The risk of migraines usually decreases during pregnancy.[6] The exact mechanisms of migraine are not known. It is, however, believed to be a neurovascular disorder.[5] The primary theory is related to increased excitability of the cerebral cortex and abnormal control of pain neurons in the trigeminal nucleus of the brainstem.[8]
Initial recommended management is with simple 
analgesics such as ibuprofen and paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen) for the headache, an antiemetic for the nausea, and the avoidance of triggers. Specific agents such as triptans or ergotamines may be used by those for whom simple analgesics are not effective. Globally, approximately 15% of the population is affected by migraines at some point in life.

My best, and only, option is to take some super extra strength acetaminophen to dull the drum and go about my life the best I can.

I can have the best of intentions, be excited and ambitious of a goal I want to complete, but once that migraine hits, I trudge along with half a brain.  Everything I do accomplish is not done so to the best of my ability.  I do not have the luxury to be able to lie in bed in a dark, quiet room for three to ten days while the migraine takes over.  Nor will I give in to that.

Closing my eyes for a moment to regain some strength to finish out my day is also helpful.

I have learned to live with the migraines because life doesn’t have a pause button and I am not about to miss out on it.  Living with chronic pain sucks and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but I refuse to let it dictate my quality of life.

A balanced diet, regular exercise, work-life balance and love and support; these are the things that help me rise above that dreaded drum beat of a migraine.

(c) Rachel Rennie