Migraine Update: Rebound Headaches & Weaning Off Meds

I haven’t done a migraine update since July and SO much has changed since then. I’ve worked really hard the past six months or so on my health. Being in a vicious migraine cycle for the past 7+ years was a nightmare and I knew that something needed to change. I couldn’t continue being in constant pain everyday.

Before I continue, please read my migraine story and know that my journey will be different than yours if you also have headaches or migraine. I should write an updated migraine story since I wrote that one in 2018 but I have done many migraine updates since. It took me years to find a Neurologist that worked with me and understood me. My story would be much different if I hadn’t found my current Neurologist.

Muscle Relaxers

In July I wrote about taking muscle relaxers at night to help me sleep and lessen the tension in my neck and jaw. I was very skeptical when my Neurologist suggested muscle relaxers but I’ve been pleasantly surprised! I only take them on the weekends because I do sleep almost too well and have a hard time waking up on workdays. But I do notice a huge difference when I take them and it really has helped me.

Rebound Headaches

How many times have I mentioned rebound headaches now? For years I lived off of ibuprofen because I was in constant pain and it was the only thing that made the pain manageable. Taking all that ibuprofen was not only extremely unhealthy but also put me in an endless rebound headache cycle.

I made it a goal this summer to break my rebound headache cycle which meant weaning off of ibuprofen and any other pain medication that I was relying on. It’s almost like an addiction and I didn’t think that I’d be able to get through it. It’s been about 4 months since this journey began and I’m happy to say that I’ve only taken pain medication a handful of times per month since. I still can’t get through a bad migraine without rescue meds but I don’t take anything daily for pain.

I should mention that weaning off of pain medication was very painful. I had about a month of severe pain and basically withdrawal symptoms. I’m still in awe of myself that I was able to break the cycle. I still have daily headaches and migraine cycles a few times a month that last days but I know my overall health is much better now.

Weaning Off Medication

I’ve always wanted kids but it’s felt impossible because I was in constant pain and relied of medication to keep me going. Over the past few months I’ve finally felt like I might be able to start a family which is a huge deal for me. I’ve watched friends and family members start their families while knowing that I might never be able to have that same experience. Now I feel like it’s a possibility.

Because of that, I made the decision with my Neurologist to wean off of my daily preventative medication. These meds were also controlling my tremor so weaning off them meant that my tremor would come back full force. It took about a month for me to completely wean off of them and I really noticed a difference right away. I have a constant headache, tremor, and an increase in migraine days.

It won’t be easy but I hope that weaning off of this medication will be okay. It’s only been a couple of weeks now so it’s hard for me to say. I hope that one day soon I feel comfortable and confident in deciding to start a family. The thought of being pregnant still terrifies me but I hope it’ll be worth it!

So much has changed in the past several months and I feel like I have a lot to be proud of. My journey with Chronic Migraine hasn’t been easy but I’ve learned a lot.

Photo by Logan Nolin on Unsplash

2021: First Quarter Goals

I started setting quarterly goals in 2017 instead of a “New Years Resolution” and I’ve really loved it! Instead of setting goals for the whole year in January I set goals every quarter. This keeps me motivated to get things done and also feels more realistic for my lifestyle.

2021 is the first year that I don’t have all planned out. We don’t have any travel plans due to Covid and I’m not really sure what else will happen this year. So setting my goals for the first quarter feels a bit strange but I’m hoping that this will be a nice challenge and will be good to look back on for years to come.

Here are my 2021 Q1 goals:

  • Work-Life Balance: The end of 2020 was killer for me at work. I worked 50+ hours per week and had zero boundaries when it came to phone calls, e-mails, and meetings. I am in the middle of training two new hires and I get a new intern to mentor in a couple of weeks so I know that things won’t slow down but I need to be better about creating a balance and not over-extending myself. Right now my work-life balance isn’t healthy and I can’t continue working this way.
  • House Projects: Probably the most exciting thing that we have planned for 2021 are some house projects. Our main goal is to see if it’s possible to add a bathroom and walk-in closet to our second story. We live in a Cape Cod style house so the second floor is a converted attic with sloped ceilings. It’s a huge space but right now it’s just a guest room. We’d love to turn the second floor into a master suite so we will see what the contractor quotes us. We’d also like to re-do our kitchen and mud room floors and maybe splurge on new kitchen appliances.
  • Blogging: I took another blogging break at the end of 2021 because work was killing me and I couldn’t spend anymore time on my computer to write a blog post. I’d love to be able to post 2-3 times per week but we will see how realistic that becomes with my work schedule. I also failed at reading and commenting on posts so I want to be better about that because one of my favorite things about blogging is reading other blogger’s posts and it’s just not the same without that.
  • Monthly Date Nights: My husband, Brett, works nights Tuesday-Saturday so we don’t see each other that much and it’s been hard to schedule quality time together. One of my favorite things that came from being quarantined was our monthly date nights and I want to keep that up. I genuinely enjoy spending time with Brett and it’s really great for our marriage to have that time scheduled each month.
  • Health: There are so many things I want to say about this goal but I’ll keep it pretty generic. This is the first year that I can remember where I’m not setting a goal to lose weight or am starting a new diet. I’ve struggled with body image forever it seems and restricting myself to a specific diet has been really unhealthly. This year I want to focus on taking care of myself which means eating healthy most of the time, practicing self-care, and prioritizing the things that make me happy. Hopefully keeping this simple will work better for me and I won’t feel so bad when I “fail”.

2021 feels different for a number of reasons. I want to take the time this year to work on myself and stop putting my job before anything else in my life. I have to start setting some boundaries or I’ll be completely burnt out before I even turn 30.

2020 taught me some valuable lessons and I hope that I learned enough to make this year different.

Are you setting any goals for 2021?

Photo by Andreea-Maria Juganaru on Unsplash

2020: Fourth Quarter Goals Recap

Happy New Year, friends! I’m sure that we are all hoping that 2021 treats us better than 2020.

It’s time for me to wrap up my 2020 quarterly goals! I loved doing quarterly goals again this year and look forward to setting new ones in January. Setting these shorter term goals helps me stay motivated and get things done! My 2020 goals looked much different than I originally anticipated but I’m still happy with the progress I was able to make.

Here’s a quick look back at Q4.

  1. Be intentional about spending time with family. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years it was important to find ways to spend time with family while social distancing. My sister and her husband were able to come home for Christmas which was amazing and we had a bonfire to celebrate Christmas with my mom’s family.
  2. Create a new holiday tradition with Brett. This was our 10th Christmas together and we decided to open presents with just each other this year. Usually we open presents at my parent’s house Christmas morning or with Brett’s family later that afternoon. This year we opened presents Christmas night with just the two of us and it felt really special.
  3. Schedule my remaining annual and semi-annual health appointments. I wasn’t able to get into the dentist but I went to the Neurologist, eye doctor, and my PCP. I’ll go to the dentist in Q1 of 2021 and have some other appointments scheduled which is always fun.
  4. Save 50% of my holiday bonus for 2021 house projects. I am so grateful that my company was able to pay a bonus this year after all of the uncertainty of 2020. We put aside 50% of my bonus already to use for house projects and I’m really excited! I also made sure to make an additional 401k contribution which is something that I try to do every year.
  5. Stick to my current health/wellness routine. I did pretty good with meal prepping and drinking water. I spent less time outside as it got colder and work got busier. I did get an elliptical so I was able to do some at home workouts.

2020 wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for but I learned a lot and was really able to grow.

Here’s a look back at my 2020 goals: Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4

Were you able to complete any of your 2020 goals/resolutions? Are you setting any for 2021?

Photo by Adam Chang on Unsplash

2020: Fourth Quarter Goals

At the beginning of 2020 I was super motivated to make some lifestyle changes. I wanted to use this year to prepare myself for the next chapter of my life which might include motherhood. COVID forced me to slow down and spend some much needed time working on my mental health and my relationship with my husband. This year might not have gone according to plan but it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

To finish the year strong, here are my 4th quarter goals:

  1. Be intentional about spending time with family. We’ve had to be creative in order to spend time with family and friends this year due to social distancing. I’ve still been able to spend quality time with the people that I love and I don’t want that to change because of the colder weather.
  2. Create a new holiday tradition with Brett. We love the Christmas season but this year many of our normal traditions most likely won’t be happening so we will have to create a new tradition together.
  3. Schedule my remaining annual and semi-annual health appointments. Dentist, PCP, and Neurologist. It’s going to be a busy 3 months with all these appointments but I will be glad to have them checked off my list for awhile.
  4. Save 50% of my holiday bonus for 2021 house projects. My company is super generous and always has a year-end bonus for employees. If we have one this year I want to save at least 50% of it for future house projects!
  5. Stick to my current health/wellness routine. This includes past quarterly goals of spending time outside, meal planning/prepping, and monitoring my water intake.

We are almost done with this crazy, unpredicatable year. Who knows what 2021 will be like but let’s finish this year strong!

Do you have any goals you want to complete before the end of the year?

Photo by Maddy Baker on Unsplash

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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Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

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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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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2020: First Quarter Goals Recap

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I think we all can agree that the first quarter of 2020 didn’t turn out exactly the way we expected it to. I already threw out my 2020 goals for my professional life but these personal first quarter goals still seem relevant and I want to keep track of how I did.

You can read my full 2020 Q1 goals post here.

  1. Take better care of myself. I think I did okay at taking care of myself but I’ve never been good at it. I always tend to put others first and that really hurts my mental and emotional state. Q1 was really stressful and I didn’t make time for friends or prioritizing “me” time. I’ll try to learn from this and do better the rest of the year.
  2. Spend less time on my phone. I stayed really busy in Q1 so that helped keep my screen time low. However, I did watch a lot of YouTube videos and listen to music and podcasts which I count as phone time.
  3. Listen to more podcasts. I was hoping to listen to a ton of podcasts at work in Q1 but this was before I started my new role which didn’t leave any time for podcasts. It’s hard to listen to anything while training in a new role so I failed at this one but that’s okay.
  4. Focus on learning and growing at work. Ugh. It’s so funny that I added this as a goal! I went into 2020 feeling so confident about my job and ready to take on the world. I have to laugh at how hard that got thrown back in my face. I learned a lot but I feel a lot less confident and happy in my role. I’m questioning everything and wondering if maybe it’s time for a change of career. We will see how the rest of 2020 goes career wise.
  5. Finish 3 months of Keto. I successfully did keto for about 10 weeks and lost 15 pounds! I have fallen off the wagon a little due to the pandemic and being unable to have access to meat and vegetables the way I used to. We are trying to eat from our pantry and freezer but I’m still super mindful about what I’m eating and feel really good! I’m looking forward to continuing with the ketogenic lifestyle.
  6. Spend more time tidying and less time cleaning. Yes! I am counting this as a success! My house will never be perfect but I feel really good about the amount of time I spent cleaning this quarter. I used to spend the whole weekend deep cleaning my house and it was so stressful. This quarter I focused on tidying as I went so I could relax more on Saturday and Sunday.
  7. Schedule all of my annual health appointments. I failed at this but I had my reasons! First of all, I felt like I couldn’t leave work the way I used to because I was training on such a tight schedule. Then I finally made my appointments for after my sister’s wedding and we came home and Michigan shut down so all of my appointments were cancelled and re-scheduled. I’ll try again in Q2.

I’m not beating myself up about the failure of Q1 and I hope that the rest of 2020 is better. We are living through such a weird time right now and we just have to give ourselves some grace. Things are not going to go according to plan and we have to accept that.

Setting quarterly goals has never been about being so strict with myself that I can’t enjoy life. I set these goals knowing that I will have to be flexible and just go with the flow. I want a good balance of accountability and flexibility.

How were the first three months of 2020 for you? Did you set any goals for yourself?

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The Body Image Struggle

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When I was in high school I dated this guy who was really tall and skinny. One day someone asked me “does it bother you that you weigh more than your boyfriend?”. The thought had never even crossed my mind before that moment and looking back there’s no way that I weighed more than him. However, that one question haunted me and I made it my mission to be smaller than this boyfriend.

I don’t want to get into all of the details about this point in my life but it’s been 11 years and I still think about this question all the time. The question sent me into a spiral of body image issues that I still haven’t been able to fully recover from. 11 years ago I lost 20 pounds very quickly and still hated the way I looked. I basically starved myself and still couldn’t look in the mirror.

I think that body image is an issue that most people struggle with. I gained a lot of weight a couple of years ago but have worked really hard to remind myself that my weight is not a measure of my worth. Most days I do pretty good but some days I’m taken back to when I was 15 and someone compared me to my boyfriend.

On Saturday I went shopping for my Matron of Honor dress for my sister’s wedding. I’ve lost about 12 pounds in the past 6 weeks by eating healthy and moving my body. I’ve tried to keep this health journey really positive but the sight of me in a bridesmaid dress sent me back to a really dark place and I’ve had a hard time pulling myself out of it.

I’ve made so much progress in my body image journey but this proves that I still have work to do. I need to make decisions based on what’s best for my body and not the number on the scale or the image that I see in the mirror.

11 years ago I was asked a question that dramatically changed my outlook on life. Let this be a reminder that the words you say matter.

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