Migraine Update: Elimination Diet & New Meds

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Everyday I’m worried about when I will have my next migraine. I always have pain medication on hand and an excuse at the tip of my tongue to leave early. I avoid making plans outside of work and family obligations because I never know how I will feel on that day. I’ve let my fear of pain control my life for years and the anxiety that comes along with this fear holds me back from doing what I love to do.

My migraines are genetic and I can go on and on about all of the reasons why I may never be completely pain free. My current neurologist is a headache specialist. He’s a great guy who wants to help me live my best life. But he doesn’t have all the answers. He’s willing to try new things in hopes of them working but a lot of it is up to me.

It was up to me to realize that I was taking too much ibuprofen. It was up to me to realize that I wasn’t fueling my body properly. It was up to me to realize that I was feeling sorry for myself and needed to change.

Last summer I read Grain Brain by David Perlmutter which was recommended to me by my physical therapist. I learned about gluten, carbs, and sugar and how they interact with our brains. I wanted to try an elimination diet but it seemed like too much work at the time.

This summer I’m willing to do anything it takes to live a pain-free life. I’ve changed my lifestyle to balance the amount of gluten, carbs, and sugars I am eating. I’ve made my health a priority.

It never feels like enough though. I’m on day 3 of a debilitating migraine right now. I’ve had to leave work early and sit in the dark with ice packs for hours at a time. I’ve had to miss meetings and time with my family. I’ve been angry at my messed up brain for constantly hurting. I’ve told myself that I’m a terrible employee and co-worker because I can’t stand being in the office when I feel like this.

I’m also having trouble sleeping again. I can stay up pretty much all night and have gotten used to functioning on very few hours of sleep. I feel like a zombie.My neurologist prescribed me a medication to help me sleep since I was going days without sleeping for more then a couple of hours. He also prescribed me a pain medication for when I have migraines.

I didn’t like the sleeping pills. I was dead asleep within an hour on the couch. Brett had to help me get to bed. I don’t like not knowing what’s going on and feeling helpless. The pain medication didn’t help and I don’t plan on taking it again. I ended up being sick to my stomach while on it.

I’ve felt pretty angry about my migraine situation lately but I’m trying to do my best to take care of myself. Whatever that means. I went 5 days without a migraine when I first started the elimination diet which is a long period of time for me.

Hopefully I will have a positive migraine update for you soon!

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Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

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National Migraine Awareness Month

June National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

I’m sure you have heard of other National “insert illness” Awareness Months before. June is the awareness month for migraines and headaches. The goal is to raise awareness and recognition for migraine treatment, patients, and more.

As a migraine sufferer I know how hard it is to have other people understand what it’s like to live day to day with the constant pain of a headache or migraine. I understand how debilitating and lonely it can be. What gives me hope is knowing that there are millions of other people who want to raise awareness too. People who want to share their stories and join the fight to find new research and treatment options.

My migraine story started when I was in high school and have continued throughout my twenties. I don’t know if I will ever not have a headache or migraine but the odds seemed to be stacked against me. However, three new treatments options were released in 2018 so I have hope that something will be created that will help me.

If you are struggling with migraines or headaches, just know that you aren’t alone. There are millions of other people in the world who are also suffering which is why it’s so important to raise awareness. If we all stand together we have the opportunity to have our stories make an impact and bring about real change.

Migraines are an invisible illness. When you call in sick from work with a “headache” most people think you are lying or should suck it up. But for some people, including me, living with the constant head pain is reality. We are told that we look healthy and not chronically ill.

Well, this is what chronic migraine looks like. I drag myself out of bed every morning, brush my hair, and throw on enough makeup to look somewhat decent. I don’t feel good, I want to go back to bed, but I go to work and continue living my life the best I can. If I really don’t feel good I work from home or take a sick day. I know I’m lucky to work for an amazing company but I’ve heard other people’s stories about being fired for not being able to come into work.

This pain could ruin my life if I let it. I could stay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself. But I won’t. I’m out living my life and talking about how I feel. I want spread awareness. I want people to know that headaches are a real problem. I want doctors to find new treatment options. I want to be taken seriously.

I won’t let migraines ruin my life. Some days are better than others. Some days feel like the worst days of my life. But I know that things could be worse. I’m still able to work, own a house, be a dog/cat mom, and travel. Migraines make all of these things so much harder but it’s rewarding to know that I am able to overcome the pain most days and accomplish big things.

June 21st is the Annual Shades for Migraine Awareness Day led by the Association of Migraine Disorders. If you see people on social media posting pictures of themselves wearing sunglasses with the hashtags #shadesformigraines and #MHAM this is why. These people are sharing their support for the millions of people worldwide with migraines.

I’ll be wearing my sunglasses on June 21st. Will you?

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Image via American Migraine Foundation

 

Anxiety Won’t Ruin My Life

Anxiety Won't Ruin My Life

I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately between my personal life, work, and my mental health. I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember and it seems to come in waves. Many days it’s smooth sailing and then other days I’m drowning in my worries. I’m normally able to function just fine but sometimes I can’t even make myself leave the house.

I think the trigger to these last couple of weeks of anxiety has been the fact that Brett took a new position at his job and has to travel a lot. I spent a week alone while he was in Atlanta and I barely slept the whole time he was gone. Every noise woke me up and had me searching all the rooms in our house for an intruder. I contemplated staying with my parents but I’m trying to be a “real” adult and suck it up.

I have come to the conclusion that anxiety is something I will just have to live with. It’s not always easy but I know I’m far better off than many others who suffer. I won’t let anxiety ruin my life or keep me from doing the things I want to do. I almost let my anxiety keep me from studying abroad and that would have been a terrible decision.

Sometimes you just have to throw yourself outside of your comfort zone and hope for the best. I’ve found that standing up to my fears has made me much stronger.

How do you cope with anxiety?

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6 Migraine Essentials

Migraine Essentials

I never thought that I would be blogging about my migraines.  I started getting them when I was young and I felt really alone in my struggle but since I started blogging I’ve found so many who can relate to my story. I hate that there are so many men and women struggling with migraines but it does help me to know that I’m not alone and there are a few things that can help.

Over the years I have come up with a list of essentials that I use when I have a migraine or in order to prevent migraines. My number one tip is to always stay hydrated. Everyone has their own migraines triggers but dehydration seems to be a very common one. I drink a ton of water everyday in order to make sure that I am hydrated. Being hydrated is the number one rule for me for my migraine prevention.

Here are six essentials that I have found work for me when I have a migraine.

  1. Headache Hat – This is basically an ice pack that wraps around your head and has velcro straps so that you can adjust the pressure. Basically it’s the best invention ever. You can buy one on Amazon for $40 and it’s worth every penny. I am also known to tie ice packs around my head with a scarf. It’s not the best look but it works!
  2. Electrolyte water or supplement – Like I said, hydration is key. But when I get a migraine I don’t want to do anything and that includes drinking water. I always keep a big bottle of electrolyte water in the fridge along with a Gatorade so that I can quickly hydrate during a migraine. You can also buy electrolyte packets to add to normal water.
  3. Blackout curtains – I am very sensitive to light on a normal day to day basis. When I have a migraine my sensitivity is even worse. We have blackout curtains in our bedroom so that no matter what time of day it is I can curl up in bed and try to rest. I also sleep on the couch in the basement when I’m in a lot of pain because it’s dark, cold, comfy, and quiet.
  4. Caffeine – This is a tricky one and can kind of work differently for everyone. I don’t drink coffee and the tea I do drink has very little caffeine. When I have a migraine I like to grab a coke/pepsi for a quick dose of caffeine. I have found the Excedrin Migraine doesn’t work for me and this method does.
  5. Ice roller – My neck tends to get really stiff during a migraine. I had physical therapy for my migraines so I know a few stretches that can help. But what helps more is having this ice roller ready to go in the freezer to roll over my neck and forehead. It feels so nice!
  6. Comfy Clothes – This sounds ridiculous but when I have a migraine I am looking for something to provide comfort. Putting on my favorite pair of pajamas or sweatpants automatically makes me feel better. Comfy clothes don’t make the pain go away but they make it feel more bearable than being in pain and wearing jeans, for example.

What are your migraine essentials?

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My Experience With Trokendi XR For Migraines and Headaches

Trokendi XR; Chronic Migraine Treatment

I’ve been working on this post of the past couple of months and I want to start off by saying that Trokendi and Topamax are two of the most prescribed medications for migraines and for some people they can be life-changing. I am part of a Migraine support Facebook group where people compare medications and I have heard fantastic reviews for both Topamax and Trokendi. If you are suffering from headaches or migraines please listen to your doctor and be willing to try new treatment options even if you have heard they may not work and remember that this is just one person’s experience with the medication.

You can find my migraine story here if you’d like a little background information on my personal journey with chronic migraines.

I’ve had two Neurologists recommend that I take Trokendi XR. They would have had me take Topamax but my insurance doesn’t cover it. I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to try Tokendi but I figured it was worth a shot.

I started off by taking 25 mg and increased my dosage gradually over a few weeks until I maxed out at 100 mg. Each time the dosage increased by 25 mg and I carefully followed the directions provided by my neurologist. The picture at the top of this post shows a couple of the sample packets that my neurologist provided. He also gave me a card that had a number I could call in order to receive Trokendi free for one year! I ended up calling the card and it was very simple to setup and for my pharmacy to figure out.

After a couple of days of taking the 25 mg of Trokendi I began to notice my fingertips tingling. After a week my toes and feet also tingled. It felt like my hands were asleep all the time and I had a hard time being on my computer at work which is how I spend my 8+ hour day. As the dosage increased the tingling also increased to the point where it was really painful.

The second thing I noticed were my sleeping habits. I am generally a pretty good sleeper, especially when I have a migraine. But when I was on Trokendi I could go days without sleeping. I was so uncomfortable that falling asleep wasn’t possible. If I did sleep for a few hours I would wake up super early and not be able to go back to sleep. Some days I’d be so exhausted when I got home from work that I immediately went to bed and slept all night. There was really no in between, I either didn’t sleep or I slept way too much.

My sense of taste and smell were the next things to go. My taste buds changed pretty quickly and I started to have aversions to food that I had always loved. The types of food that I could tolerate were few and far between. For example, I have always loved the lime tortilla chips but once I started this medicine they tasted so bad that I couldn’t eat them and still can’t to this day. Taste began playing into smell in November when we went to the casino for Brett’s birthday. I had been tasting metal for awhile but at the casino my senses were introduced to cigarette smoke and for weeks after all I could taste and smell were cigarettes. It was miserable!

I will say that my pain was different. I won’t say that my pain went away but it did change. I had more ice pick headaches where it felt like someone was stabbing me in the forehead. The pain was muted by the side effects but it was still constantly present. I had less migraines on Trokendi but the pain of my headaches was still unbearable.

The major side effect that I had heard about with Topamax was brain fog. Trokendi gave me the worst brain fog. I’d be in the middle of a sentence and forget what I was saying. I couldn’t find the correct words and it became frustrating and terrifying.

However, one of my worst side effects was depression. Suddenly I was crying and over-emotional without even thinking about it. I texted my mom one day saying that I think I needed help because I felt so down and I just couldn’t help it. I’m lucky to have such great family and friends who really stepped up during this time to make sure that I was fed and taken care of because I no longer felt like taking care of myself. Because of the depression I knew I needed to be weaned off Trokendi for good.

I’m once again so grateful to have a job with unlimited sick days and the option to work from home. The support of my team during this time was amazing because I was sick the whole entire time I took Trokendi. There was one day where I hadn’t slept in a couple of nights and the thought of dragging myself to work made me break down. I texted my bosses that I wasn’t feeling well and ended up in bed for over 24 hours.

After about 6 weeks on Trokendi I went back in to see my neurologist. After explaining the tingling and depression he decided that I needed to be weaned off of it right away. I spent another couple of weeks weaning off the Trokendi. It’s been a couple of months now and the majority of the side effects have gone away. I still have left over food aversions and my taste hasn’t come back all the way yet.

I really wanted to share my honest experience of what it was like to take Trokendi XR. If you struggle from migraines or any health related issues you know how hard it is to find good advice about what you are going through. I scoured the internet for information about Trokendi and talked to two neurologists about it. I’m by no means an expert but this is how I felt while I was experiencing the effects of Trokendi.

Have you taken Trokendi or Topamax for migraines? What was your experience like?

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My Acne Journey Over the Last 15 Years

Acne Journey; How to get rid of acne; acne diet; clear skin diet; teenage acne; best acne products

Last month I was hit with a major breakout all over my neck, chin, and face. I haven’t had a major breakout in over a year but have lived with severe acne since I was about 10 years old. I’m 25 now and not sure if I’ll ever have truly clear skin.

For years I let myself be defined by my acne. I didn’t want anyone to look at me during a breakout. I didn’t want my picture taken and I really just wanted to be alone. For me, having acne was like a prison sentence with no end date because I felt trapped in my skin that didn’t look like everyone else’s.

This is one of the things I never thought I would be sharing on the internet but this current breakout threw me and made me really grateful for how much my skin has changed in the past couple of years. While I was reminiscing on my acne journey I thought it would be important to share my acne story because I know there are other people out there who share my struggle.

Have you ever had a severe acne breakout? I’m talking volcanic pimples that seem to go all the way down into your core? The kind that make your face hurt when you aren’t even touching them? Well, that was my life for many years.

I first started breaking out when I was 10. I clearly remember this time in my life because it was right around then when I needed to change friend groups because my old “friends” started to bully me over my acne. Since my birthday is in October I was always one of the oldest kids in my grade and my body started changing way before my peers. I’m pretty sure I was the first kid in my grade to get acne and at the time I felt so self conscious and confused about what was happening to my face.

Middle school was the lowest of the low for me. I was bullied constantly and desperately wanted to disappear. I call this phase of my acne a “mountain range” because I had cystic acne. My face was red and bumpy always and I had zero self esteem because of it. Middle schoolers are ruthless and it was a really hard time for me.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up but my mom tried anything and everything to help me clear my skin. I had the nicest skincare products of anyone I knew. I remember one Saturday where my mom took me to the skincare counter at Macy’s. I cried when the skincare consult started talking about my skin because I was mortified. I left that day with a Clinque starter kit that helped me manage the redness.

High school was a series of ups and downs. I started to discover makeup which helped me cover up my acne scars and current breakouts. My skin was still covered in pimples but the makeup gave me the tiniest bit of confidence which helped carry me threw to graduation. High school bullies were endless but I was able to mostly ignore them.

In college my face was always covered in acne but it wasn’t as bad. I was always trying new things to clear my skin like avoiding dairy and eating lots of leafy greens. College is also the time in my life where I developed my go-to skincare routine.

When I was 22 and graduated from college my skin really started to clear up. I attribute a lot of that to starting a new job. I had worked in “fast food” for six years which usually made me sweaty and greasy. My post-grad job got me away from the restaurant lifestyle and I had way less day-to-day stress.

So here we are at age 25. I still have breakouts but they usually aren’t severe. That’s why my last breakout freaked me out so much. I was worried that my acne was going to be terrible again. Murad has been my go-to for acne products for years so I ordered their starter kit right away and my acne cleared up in less than a week.

Acne is hard. It’s different for everyone and can be incredibly frustrating. However, my acne journey made me a stronger person. It taught me that what’s on the inside counts way more than what’s on the outside. I believe that a lot of people have judged me during my life because of my acne and that is their loss.

My acne journey doesn’t define me. Your’s doesn’t define you either.

Do you also struggle with acne? Or know someone who has?

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Photo by Tirza van Dijk on Unsplash

What Are The Sunday Scaries?

What are the sunday scaries?

I love Saturdays but Sundays tend to be the most stressful day of the week for me. I try to relax Saturday and then cram way too many activities into Sunday. I hate starting my week off on a bad foot so I do everything that I possibly can on Sunday to prepare myself for the busy week ahead. This includes grocery shopping, deep cleaning, changing the bedding, and doing ALL the laundry. I also like to have Sunday night dinner with my family which means about an hour of driving added in.

I don’t know about you but nothing stresses me out more than a dirty house. My house is never 100% clean and most of the time it’s pure chaos. I love to re-organize our bedroom and closets which means that I usually have a few random piles throughout the house that need to be cleaned up. Our dog Oscar also likes to de-fluff all of his toys so we have tufts of stuffing floating about the house.

I saw the term “Sunday Scaries” somewhere on social media and I finally had a phrase for my Sunday stress. It seems like I’m not the only one who finds Sundays to be overwhelming and emotional. I love my job but I’m never quite ready to go back Monday morning and it’s even harder if I don’t get all my chores done on Sunday.

Keeping a clean house with a husband, dog, and cat is not easy. I know it will be even harder to maintain when we have kids so I’m trying to enjoy this time in our life where it’s just us. I dream of an organized, beautifully decorated house.

Do Sundays stress you out too?

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