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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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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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Life Update

Life Update - You Got This - Chronic Migraine

Hey friends!

It’s been awhile since my last blog post and I have started writing this so many times but have never hit publish for one reason or another. The last you heard from me I was in Italy with Brett enjoying a much needed vacation. I want to do a full recap on our time in Italy AND Paris very soon because it was amazing but first I wanted to go over a couple of things that I have happened while I’ve been away.

The first big thing that I celebrated was my 25th birthday! My birthday always causes me to reflect on the reason why I started Life of Hayley. This blog began right after my 20th birthday as a way to document the 25 things I wanted to accomplish before turning 25. With that said, Life of Hayley is turning five! I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for five years already! A full recap on my five years of blogging will be coming your way very soon.

I also want to give a quick health update which is the main reason why I had to take a break from blogging. I did start seeing a new Neurologist in October and he started me on a new medication. I will probably do a full migraine update at some point but let’s just say this new medication say not agreed with me at all. I’ve been very sick for the past six weeks and it’s been taking a toll on my mental health. I hate that my health has once again impacted my blogging because I was really starting to grow this space but sometimes I have to take a step back and take care of myself first.

I promise that there will be more to follow soon. I don’t want to drop off the face of the planet again.

Thanks for reading!

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Image via Unsplash

Migraine Update: Feeling Discouraged

Migraine Update: Feeling Discouraged

It’s been over a month since my last migraine update and honestly not much has changed.

I saw my primary care doctor about 3 weeks ago and she referred me to a new neurologist at the other hospital in my town. There are two hospitals where I live and you either go to one or the other for everything health related not both. I have always gone to one but my doctor recommended that I try the other.

So, she sent the referral to my neurologist who had his medical assistant call me. Apparently, he can choose not to discharge me from his care if he feels that he can still help me. The MA asked me for the reason I wanted to change doctors and I was really honest with her. 1. I have been seeing him for over five years and we have only tried two treatment options and neither worked. 2. I want a second opinion.

The MA was supposed to call me back but that was over two weeks ago. I called yesterday for an update and he hasn’t even looked at my file yet. I tried to explain my frustration and pain but I really felt like it fell on deaf ears. To make matters worse, the new neurologist I wanted to see has switched to my current neurologist’s practice which will make the switch even harder. Apparently it’s rare that they will allow you to switch neurologists within the same practice and it sounds like that will be the case for me.

Yesterday I got off the phone and cried. It’s so discouraging to feel like you are headed in the right direction one second and then back at the beginning the next. This journey has not been easy and I’m sick of pretending like it has. I pretend everyday that things are okay and I feel fine. I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing all of the things I am doing. I try to put on this brave face but anytime someone asks me how I am feeling I fall apart.

Once again I am faced with a couple of options. The first is that I go back to my neurologist and try to talk him. I don’t think that this will be happening. The second is to find another neurologist at the other practice and see if he/she is accepting new patients. The third option is to finally make an appointment at the University of Michigan Neurosciences which I have been trying to avoid because of the distance and potential cost.

I have not had a headache free day at all in 2018 and that makes me angry. I’m not a neurologist and I have done everything that I can on my own to fix myself. I need a professional’s help and that professional will not be my current neurologist. I also suck at confrontation and am having a hard time advocating for myself. Hopefully if I do have to go back to my neurologist I can find a patient advocate to help me.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at with my journey to a pain-free life. It hasn’t been easy and I doubt it will be easy at any point. I am just hoping that somewhere down the line I can find a solution that will work for me. I’m trying not to give up hope. I am not currently taking any medication at all besides still overusing ibprofen in order to live a “normal” life.

Thanks for reading!

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