Migraine Update // Muscle Relaxers & Anxiety

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Last month I went to my Neurologist appointment not really knowing what to expect. I wanted something to change but I wasn’t sure what to do.

It was extremely weird going into the appointment since I had to fill out extra forms and be temperature checked at the door. I wore my mask the whole time and felt safe but it was a much different environment than I’m used to.

Overall the appointment was really good. I do like my Neurologist and feel like he listens to my concerns and answers my list of questions that I always bring with me. He isn’t pushy and I really appreciate that since I had such a bad experience with my previous Neurologist.

We decided to take a bit of a different route this time around and try a muscle relaxer in addition to my normal preventative medication. The muscle relaxer is supposed to help relieve tension and can be especially helpful for people suffering from tension headaches. I had never considered taking a muscle relaxer for my migraines but my Neurologist was really informative and I decided to try them.

It’s been about a month and I have mixed feelings. I sleep so well when I take the muscle relaxer at night but I almost sleep too well. I feel like I’m in a coma and just pass out and then have a hard time waking up with my alarm. I also feel pretty groggy the next morning which isn’t great for working.

Lack of sleep is a huge trigger for my migraines though so sleeping this well is also great. I get more sleep than I used to when I take them. I haven’t really noticed a decrease in migraines but I think it is a little helpful to take the muscle relaxer.

I’ve also had an increase in anxiety over the last month. I have a small tremor in my hands that I take medicine for. I was so stressed out and anxious last week that my small tremor turned into a full blown episode where I was shaking so bad I couldn’t hold a drink. My mom thinks this was brought on by stress and I took a video to show my Neurologist at my next appointment.

Since my increased tremor last week, which thankfully lessened after a few hours of rest, I have been trying to take it super easy. My body obviously isn’t responding well to stress and I need to keep that in mind and stop pushing myself so hard.

I also had a level 10 migraine last weekend. I haven’t had one that bad in so long and I barely made the car ride home from my sister in law’s house. I laid on the bathroom floor for awhile before Brett helped me to bed. I think the trigger was a small glass of wine that my SIL gave me. I know I shouldn’t drink wine but I thought it wouldn’t hurt me that much.

I have a lot of notes for my next Neurologist appointment but I still feel hopeful. I have the option to do the Amiovig injections so that might just be my next path.

There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding the right treatment plan for migraines. I try to open to trying new things and I just remain hopeful that one day something will work!

As always, if you are suffering from migraines just know that you are not alone. There are millions of people suffering in America alone and I’m just trying to share my story and advocate.

Thanks for reading!

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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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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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Keto for Migraine: 1 Month Update

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I have heard SO many negative comments about the Ketogenic diet and I completely understand. For your normal everyday person a low-carb lifestyle might not doctor recommended. The Keto diet was created for people with Epilepsy and works well for other Neurological conditions. I have chronic migraines and there is no “cure”. I was told that Keto may lessen my symptoms and it sounded better than trying another medication.

One month ago I started following the Ketogenic diet. This is my third attempt and I was really successful on my first two so I went in very hopeful. My other two attempts were more for weight loss so I didn’t track my migraines as much as I should have. This time I’m trying to only focus on my headaches and migraines.

How were my migraines this past month?

I actually had a really great month overall! I caught a nasty cold but I didn’t let that stop me from following the meal plan that I had created. There was no guarantee that Keto would help me but I’m happy to report that I am feeling better! I’ve known for the past couple of years that sugar is a trigger for me so it makes sense that not eating sugar would have a big impact on my overall health. I basically cut my migraine days in half so far!

One of the hardest parts of chronic migraine for me is rebound headaches which are also called medication overuse headaches. I couldn’t beat my headache cycle so I started taking ibuprofen or another type of over the counter pain medication every day to get me through. This constant use of medicine started causing rebound headaches and I ended up in a never-ending headache. By eliminating my triggers I am hoping to be able to end this vicious headache cycle.

Have I lost any weight?

Yes, I’ve lost a little over 10 pounds in a month. In reality I’d like to lose 30 more to be at my “normal” healthy weight. I wrote my weight gain story here if you’d like to understand more about why I say my “normal” weight. Most of the weight loss at the beginning of Keto is just water weight and I’m really not concerned about losing weight at this point. I am tracking it in my migraine journal but it’s not my main goal right now.

Has Keto been hard? 

Not really! I have found myself reading my cookbooks and looking forward to grocery shopping and meal prep. I’m learning new recipes and I feel more confident than ever in the kitchen. My overall mood has improved so much and I think a lot of it has to do with Keto.

My sugar cravings went away after about two weeks. I don’t feel deprived of anything though! I eat a square of my favorite dark chocolate after dinner and that keeps the sugar cravings away. I’ve also found substitutes for my favorite snacks like salt and vinegar almonds instead of chips.

Let me know if you have any questions about Keto! I am not a doctor so please ask yours before you start any new “diet” program. I hate calling this a diet and I only feel the need to share how I am doing for others with migraines who may find this helpful.

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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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