How I Manage Working with Migraines

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One of the most popular questions that I get about having chronic migraine is how I manage to hold down a full time job. In honor of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month I thought I’d share a few ways I have learned to manage working with migraines.

I have been working consistently since I was 17, so almost 10 years. I worked all the way through college, excluding the few months that I studied abroad in London. After my college graduation I found my current role and have worked here for almost 4 years.

Working isn’t easy and I’ve really struggled to balance everything. 2018 was my worst year by far and I really considered taking FMLA. However, I am very fortunate to work at a company with unlimited sick days. They truly care about me as a person but I never want to take advantage of their generous sick leave policy.

Here are a couple of ways that I manage working with migraines.

  1. Open communication. My co-workers know that I have migraines. They have asked me questions and we have discussed them at length. Having them know makes me feel a million times better because they can tell just by looking at me if I’m having a rough day. It’s easy to talk about and I don’t feel overwhelmed trying to act “normal”.
  2. Working from home. Again, I am extremely lucky to work for a company that values me and my individual needs. I am able to work from home whenever I need to. Sometimes the biggest trigger for me is just waking up. I wake up and feel like I’ve been run over by a bus and there’s no way I can drive to work. I always have the option to work from home and take the day at my own pace.
  3. Taking frequent breaks. I work at a computer all day and even with blue light glasses my eyes get fatigued which causes me to have a headache. I make sure to take frequent breaks to re-fill my water, talk to a co-worker, or walk around the building. Working from home is nice because I can walk outside and sit on my deck or snuggle with my puppy for a few minutes. Taking breaks is super important for everyone!
  4. Planning ahead. I am always ready for a migraine. I have all of the essentials at home, in my purse, in my car, and at my desk. It depends on the level of migraine I’m having but sometimes I am able to work through them if I catch them soon enough. My migraine essentials include electrolyte water, caffeine, magnesium, and an abortive medication if needed.
  5. Sick days. As I mentioned, my company has unlimited sick days and while I never want to take advantage of those day I still appreciate them. My mindset on sick days is that I’m going to have a migraine no matter what. It’s not going to go away and I’m not going to get “better”. If I can work through my migraine I will but sometimes I really do just need to lay in bed all day with my ice cap on. These are the days I will take a sick day and just focus on myself. I appreciate these unlimited sick days more than anything.

I know that I am extremely lucky to have the job that I have. I work hard and put a lot of pressure on myself but I always know that my team has my back with whatever I need. I have heard so many horror stories from the migraine support group that I’m part of where people have lost their jobs or have had to go on disability because of their migraines.

It is hard to balance everything and there’s no right or easy way to balance work with any type of health condition. I have had my fair share of struggles and an embarrassing amount of tears while surrounded by co-workers. At one point I thought I’d have to quit because there was no way I’d be able to face them again but I did.

If you are struggling just know that you are not alone.

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Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

 

Five on Friday #21

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It’s finally Friday, friends!

It’s been a sad week but I’m going to continue to work on educating myself to be a better ally. I’ve ordered books, listened to podcasts, and have tried to be as educated as possible. History is happening right before our eyes and it’s easy to stay quiet and let it happen but it’s important to stay involved. Right now I am trying to listen and learn as much as possible.

Here are five random things for this Friday:

  1. Our stay at home order was lifted early this week. It was supposed to last until mid June so I was really surprised when it was lifted. We did have a 7 pm curfew for a few days because of the riots and looting. The protests in my city were mostly peaceful though. Were you able to attend any protests this week?
  2. I have a certification class and exam in July that I’ve been studying for. I’m really excited for the class even though it’s been moved to a virtual class format. Like I’ve said before, my background is not in finance so I feel like I still have a lot of catching up to do in terms of my knowledge of the financial industry. This is a huge step for me but I really need to focus!
  3. We actually have plans this weekend! We are going to hang out with some of Brett’s friends (while social distancing) in our backyard. The weather is supposed to be really nice and it’ll be good for my extrovert husband to spend some time with his friends. I think it’s been hard for him to not see his friends as much as he was used to.
  4. When I was planning our wedding I got really into hand-lettering as a hobby and stress relief. I still have so many pens and brush markers but haven’t really touched them in a couple of years. I started hand-lettering again last week and have been loving it! I keep extra paper in my desk drawer and whenever work is feeling too stressful I sketch something and it makes me feel much better. I used Creative Lettering and Beyond with these Sakura brush pens when I was learning.
  5. The mosquitoes are so bad this year! We are thinking about getting our backyard sprayed just so we are able to sit out. Have you ever had your yard sprayed for mosquitoes? Did you think it was worth it?

How was your week? What are your plans for this weekend?

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Photo by Niklas Veenhuis on Unsplash

Migraine Update: Rebound Headaches & Caffeine

Chronic Migraine

It’s been a couple of months since my last migraine update where I decided not to try Amiovig and instead work on diet and lifestyle changes. The past couple of months have been weird for everyone but it’s given me plenty of time to work on my next plan of attack for my migraines.

In honor of National Migraine and Headache Awareness month, I thought I’d share another update.

Since I’m at home with nothing better to do, I decided it’s the perfect time to wean myself off of my abortive medicines. I’ve been in an endless cycle of rebound headaches for the last few years and this was the perfect time to break the cycle. This has meant days of extreme pain but I know it’ll be better for me in the long-run.

I have also been experimenting with my caffeine and magnesium intakes. I don’t drink coffee so my caffeine intake is typically zero but I’ve started drinking Sparkling Ice + Caffeine waters which have 70 mg of caffeine per can. I do think it helps, especially if I drink one during lunch which is typically when I start to get another headache. I also take at least 250 mg of magnesium a day. I take mine at night and I’m planning on gradually increasing my intake as needed.

I’ve also weaned myself off of the Keto diet. I really did like it and do think that it helps my migraines. I want to go back to a full Ketogenic lifestyle soon! I was just having a hard time staying on track during quarantine. We are only going grocery shopping every 2-3 weeks so it was hard to maintain eating only fresh veggies and meat. We also had a hard time finding eggs which was a staple for me!

The biggest change for me has been working from home everyday. Not going into work has helped my pain so much. I think the stress of driving and being “on” all the time didn’t help with my headaches and migraines. Being home is so much more relaxing and I’m able to rest when I need to without feeling like a failure.

Brett and I have talked about trying to start a family in the next couple of years and I know that I have to take better care of myself if I have any hopes of being able to have a baby. I can’t be in constant pain and be taking so much medicine. That’s been my main motivation because I know it will take time.

I have a couple of other migraine related posts for this month. There is so much going on in the world right now. So much that it almost feels wrong to continue sharing my journey. I know that this is also important though. I know there are millions of others struggling everyday with headaches and migraines.

Thanks for reading!

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

 

Black Lives Matter #blackouttuesday

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I’m sure you’ve seen it all over social media. I’m sure your feeds are full of little black squares and #blackouttuesday. I’m sure riots and protests are all over your news stations.

I grew up in a school with very little diversity. I didn’t experience racism first hand until college and I didn’t understand. I still don’t understand and I never truly will. But I can listen, I can pray, and I can educate myself.

I don’t have words to explain the heartbreak I am feeling right now. I can’t find the proper words but I at least wanted to say that I am listening. I see you, I hear you.

Please take this time to educate yourselves.

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Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

 

Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

National Headache and Migraine Month

June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness month.

In June, the migraine and headache communities come together to raise awareness and recognition of migraines and headaches as debilitating diseases. June is also a time to encourage people suffering in silence to find a specialist or a doctor to help them. It’s a month to talk about current treatment options and new ones that are being created. It’s a time to celebrate how far the community has come in the past few years.

One of the hardest parts about having chronic migraines is feeling alone and misunderstood. I really struggled trying to fit in while being in constant pain until I found the migraine community. Now I feel like I have people in my life who understand how I’m feeling and who I can turn to with questions.

I wrote about my migraine story in 2018 and a lot has changed since then. The biggest thing that has changed is that I learned to advocate for myself. Instead of staying with a neurologist who pushed the same medication over and over I found a new neurologist who actually listens to me. I have so many more treatment options and I feel like a whole new world has been opened up to me.

I have put so many medications and treatments into my body in hopes of treating my migraines. I have had horrific side effects and have been sick for months because of these medications. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, and felt really crummy. I’ve tried diets, physical therapy, and different doctors. There is no cure but there is always hope. 

I’ll be talking about migraines and headaches a lot this month. I never expected to find a migraine community through blogging but I have. Blogging about my migraine journey has been really beneficial for me and I hope I’ve been able to help others know that they are not alone in this.

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Five on Friday #20

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Happy Friday, friends!

It’s been a pretty challenging week but I’m feeling energized and ready for the weekend! Our stay at home order in Michigan has been extended through June 12th so we are just hanging out at home but I am perfectly okay with that. I will never take time with my family for granted.

Here are five random things this Friday:

  1. I accidentally bought 5 tomato plants on Monday. I thought I was only buying 2 and it would be an easy way to start a container garden but there were actually 4 tomato plants in one of the containers. I have found gardening to be super relaxing so far. I have a little herb garden, my tomatoes, and some various flowers. I really think I needed a relaxing hobby to de-stress. Do you enjoy gardening?
  2. A couple of month’s ago Influenster sent me their Be Mine VoxBox which included the Live Clean Apple Cider Shampoo and Conditioner. I was skeptical but excited to find that they were 97% plant derived, cruelty free, and free from dye and parabens. They are also under $5 a piece on Amazon so they are super budget friendly! I’ve been using these products for about 2 months now and I really love them!
  3. For most of my life I have believed that credit cards were bad. I got my first one at 21 that had a $500 limit to take with me to study abroad. I just got my second credit card in 2017 which is the one that we mostly use for purchases. It has great cash back rewards and I’ve been trying to utilize those. I never buy anything that I couldn’t afford to buy with cash unless it’s a well-thought out and very necessary purchase. Because of that I am able to pay off my credit card each month. I have found that paying the balance every other Friday on my payday is super helpful instead of paying one lump sum at the end of the month. How do you feel about credit cards?
  4. I’ve started re-reading the Harry Potter series and I almost forgot just how much I love the books! Reading them reminds me of being a child and being so excited to go to bed every night just so my mom could read us another chapter of whatever Harry Potter book we were currently reading. I fell in love right away and they are still so comforting to me.
  5. On Wednesday night Brett and I went to my grandma’s house for dinner. That sounds anti-stay at home but we had a nice little social distancing dinner with her, my mom, and my dad. We sat in her garage 6 feet apart and caught up on life. My grandma lives alone so I think it was really good for her to be around people safely for a couple of hours.

How was your week? Do you have any plans this weekend?

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Photo by Max Eberlein on Unsplash

 

Marriage in Quarantine

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One thing I quickly realized because of quarantine was that my marriage was far from perfect.

Every relationship has it’s problems. You can’t have a relationship without fights and disagreements because each person has their own ideas that make them an individual thinker.

I realized that my marriage wasn’t perfect because I didn’t feel like I had enough one on one time with my husband. I didn’t feel loved or appreciated because I wasn’t spending enough time with him. I guess it can be considered a good problem because after all these years all I wanted was to spend some time with him. I craved an at home date night consisting of dinner and a movie. Nothing complicated or expensive.

Being asked to stay home has been a blessing because I’ve been able to spend so much time with Brett that we normally don’t get to have together. I realized how much I missed him even though I see him everyday.

Brett has a million hobbies which means that he is always on the go. I travel with him some of the time but it’s too overwhelming for me to go to every single airshow and amusement park especially when I have migraines. This has forced him to slow down and stay home with me.

We still aren’t perfect but I’m so much happier. I know once our stay at home order is lifted Brett will be right back to traveling but I hope this time has shown him how important our time together is too.

How are your relationships holding up?

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2020 Spring Cleaning List

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I shared my spring cleaning list for 2019 and really enjoyed having it to reference this year. 2020 is a bit different since I’ve been home basically 24/7 for the past 2 months so my house has been a bit more organized than it normally is. I still have some deep cleaning and organizing to do though!

It’s been raining pretty much non-stop in Michigan which means our water table is super high. We have a partially finished basement and have never really had any issues with flooding. This week, however, we started to get a puddle of water on the finished side of our basement. It’s leaking up through the cement and into the carpet. There’s not a ton we can do about the situation other than to try and keep it dry. We will most likely need new carpet though! I will just have to live with the fact that my basement won’t be clean and tidy this spring.

Here is my 2020 spring cleaning list. Let me know what’s on your list to tackle this year!

  1. Move furniture and clean the floors
  2. Clean and organize the fridge and freezer (house and garage)
  3. Dust the blinds and wash the curtains
  4. Organize the basement “pantry”
  5. Deep clean the laundry room
  6. Clean out and re-organize the storage room
  7. Dust the shelves in the dining room and re-decorate
  8. Mount the TV in the living room and clean out the TV stand
  9. Take out winter clothes from our closets and add in spring clothes
  10. Deep clean the mudroom and put away winter boots and shoes
  11. Finish painting the rest of the furniture
  12. Clean out dressers and donate/sell clothes
  13. Power-wash the outdoor furniture and patio areas
  14. Dust the walls and ceilings

It’s Memorial Day on Monday which means we have a 3 day weekend! I’m hoping to cross off a few of the items on my list this weekend since we can’t go to the lake like we usually do for Memorial Day.

What are your plans for the weekend?

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

An Introvert In Quarantine

I’ve been working exclusively from home for the past two months but it feels like it’s been only a few days. I’m from Michigan and our state is supposed to be re-opening at the end of the month so my work has been coming up with a re-entry plan but I’m not ready to go back. I’ve enjoyed working from home so I plan on continuing for the foreseeable future. Overall I feel less stressed and have had more time to take care of myself.

I know that many people are struggling because they have to social distance at home. For introverts such as myself, I think this has been a good opportunity for us to re-charge our “introvert batteries“. One of the characteristics of introverts is the need to be alone to re-charge after social situations. The lack of social anything has given us ample opportunity to re-charge our batteries. I know that my battery will be drained again after my first social experience.

This period of social distancing has also shown the importance of the little moments such as visiting friends and family, hugs and handshakes, and quick trips to the grocery store. I hope this helps us to not take those things for granted when society re-opens.

Being an introvert in quarantine has it’s perks. My husband is an extrovert and has been so bored. I don’t typically get bored very easily so I’ve been able to keep myself busy. I’m stuck inside my own head most of the time and enjoy being around a very small group of people. I like going for a drive with Brett every once in awhile for a change of scenery but for the most part I’m a happy camper.

I do think that it will be hard for me to go back to “normal”. I feel safe and comfortable at home but I know that I can’t stay here forever. At some point I will need to re-enter society and that is pretty terrifying. Social distancing feels like the ideal situation for avoiding draining conversations and eye contact.

My whole life has prepared me for social distancing. The new problem I face is dealing with the anxiety of re-entering the world when things start to re-open. I will always crave the safety and security of my house. I will always crave alone time or time with just Brett. I hope some of the things we all learned during quarantine will stay even after everything re-opens.

Are things starting to re-open where you live? Are you ready to get back out into the world?

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

 

Meet My Husband & His Blog

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Over the past 6+ years I have mentioned Brett a million times but have never really introduced him. Brett and I have been together since 2011 so he’s been part of this blog since the very beginning and was my original fan and supporter.

Recently Brett decided to launch his own blog, Universe of Adventure, so I thought it would be fun to do a little Q&A with him. It’s still a work in progress but I know he’s worked really hard on it and it’s been a fun project for us to work on during quarantine.

I came up with some random questions to ask Brett and I thought I’d share his answers.

  1. How did we meet?
    “We met through a mutual friend that I did theater with. We started texting and went on our first date a couple weeks later.”
  2. What is your blog about?
    “My blog is about all of my interests. I chose the name Universe of Adventures because a universe can be broken up into different worlds. I will be blogging about beer, travel, amusement parks, weather, aviation, and sports.”
  3. Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
    “100% an extrovert but I sometimes have introverted tendencies.”
  4. What is your dream vacation?
    “I would have to say Prague for the beer and the history.”
  5. What’s your favorite blog post that I have written?
    “Probably all the posts about the trips we have taken. All the way back to 2014 when we would visit my grandparents in Florida.”
  6. What was your major in college?
    “I was a double major in Aviation Science and Administration and Geography with a focus in Economic and Regional Geography.”
  7. What is your favorite part about being married?
    “Ummm…..having someone to share everything with and to create memories with.”
  8. What are 3 words that describe you?
    “Interesting, fun, and smart.”
  9. What’s the first thing you want to do after quarantine?
    “Travel but I might not be able to do that right away. So I want to just be able to leave the house and go to a bar or a restaurant. That would be really nice.”
  10. Where’s your favorite place that you have traveled to?
    “This is hard for me to choose because there are so many good places. If I had to narrow it down to my top 3 I’d say Florida, England, and Italy.”
  11. If we started a band, what would our band name be?
    *thinks hard and giggles to himself* “I honestly don’t know. I’ve never thought about it.”
  12. What’s your motto in life?
    “Take your life seriously but don’t forget to enjoy it. It’s okay to have fun.”

I hope you enjoyed meeting Brett! We had fun working on this post so let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to answer together!

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