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

 

Five on Friday #10

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TGIF! It’s been a longggg week and now I’m going to have a busy weekend. Here’s to hoping I’m able to sleep in past 7:30 Saturday morning!

  1. The first airshow of my season (Brett’s already been to a couple) is this weekend. I don’t enjoy airshows that much but Brett loves them and it gives me a chance to do a ton of reading!
  2. Brett and I got a couples massage on Tuesday after work and it was really nice! He got me a gift certificate for Valentine’s Day and we finally found time to use it. The massage was at a castle that is right outside of our downtown area. We’ve had dinner their a couple of times and I went to a bridal show that they hosted but the massage was a new experience. It was really nice!
  3. It’s been a dream of mine since I was really young to write a book. I’ve been bouncing around this idea in my head for the last couple of years and I’m finally getting to work. I don’t think anything will come from it but it’s still fun to brainstorm.
  4. Every summer my city has an art fair downtown in the park across the street from where I work. The art fair starts today and I can’t wait to explore during lunch with my co-workers. My mom is meeting me downtown after work to walk around too. It’s great to be able to support local artists and businesses!
  5. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM). This month is special to me because I often feel isolated because of my migraines. During the month of June thousands of migraine patients come together to spread awareness for their disabling conditions. I’m planning to do a post about it soon because I’m passionate about advocating for my self and for others who also suffer.

Do you have any plans this weekend?

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Photo by Ben White on 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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Migraine Update: Decision Time & Leaving my Neurologist

Chronic Headaches and Migraine
Hey, friends!

I finally had a Neurologist appointment last week after being discharged from PT almost a month ago. I thought about writing this after my appointment but I just felt so discouraged that I cried in my car before forcing myself back to work.

Basically, my Neurologist didn’t even read my discharge papers and wanted to put me back on the same medicine I was on before. I put my foot down and told him no because I was on it for YEARS with very minimal results. He was in such a hurry to move onto his next appointment that he didn’t even listen to what I was saying. He prescribed an anti-seizure medication that is crazy expensive.

I am managing just fine right now without any medication. I still have a headache every single day and migraines a few times a month. I really want to try out acupuncture or a chiropractor before trying the prescribed medicine.

I think I have made a big decision though. I don’t want to see this Neurologist anymore. I don’t know if this means seeing another Neurologist or finding a headache specialist somewhere else. All I know is that I can’t justify spending $200 per visit to talk to a brick wall anymore.

My old physical therapist called me on Friday to recommend a book called Grain Brian which apparently goes into how gluten and sugar work with our brains. I ordered it on Amazon and am looking forward to reading it. I really do not want to give up Gluten though.

I want to spend some more time researching before I decide what my next steps should be. Here’s the list of what I am researching:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractor
  • Elimination diet (gluten, dairy, etc)
  • Botox

Things I’ve already tried:

  • Massage Therapy (will do again)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Preventative/Abortive Medications
  • OTC Medications
  • Basic elimination diet (cheese, red wine, etc)
  • Trigger Identification

For now I am just taking it one day at a time and trying to remain positive 🙂 I think things will be much better once I ditch my current Neurologist and find someone who will actually listen and try to help me.

As always, thanks so much for all your support and feedback! I have loved reading your suggestions and have a running list of things to try based on blog comments.

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Migraine Update: Discharged From PT

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Hey, friends!

I took a sick day today for a migraine and slept on and off all morning and afternoon. If you read my Migraine Story you know that my Neurologist recommended physical therapy and weaned me off of the preventative medicine that I’ve been on for years.

Well, my headaches have been terrible since weaning off of my medicine. I have had to take ibuprofen four times per day in order to dull the pain enough to go to work. My long-term goal is to not need to take any pain medication unless I have a migraine because it’s extremely bad for my body.

So I’ve had this migraine for about four days now and haven’t taken any medication in 30 ish hours. The reason I’m not taking anything for my migraine is because I know that I’m having rebound headaches which are caused by overusing medication. I need to get to the root problem which means stopping any rebound headaches.

Today was also a scheduled physical therapy day for me which I did not want to cancel. I went to PT expecting to do the stretches I have been practicing and maybe learning some new ones. My physical therapist is awesome but she knew that our appointments were not helping me reach my goal of being pain-free.

I didn’t expect to be discharged today. I didn’t expect to cry over being discharged. I didn’t expect to feel a wave of hopelessness when she told me that she didn’t think she could help.

I did feel like she heard me and believed me. I felt like she wanted to help me find an answer. She empowered me to not take “no” for an answer from my neurologist and doctors.

She will be sending a note over to my neurologist with her treatment recommendations which include a pain clinic or headache institute in either Ann Arbor or Chicago. I am doing my research and will talk to my family and doctors about the next steps. I’m sad that another door has been closed but I am hopeful that another will open very soon. My physical therapist reminded me that on the outside I look healthy but I need to remind people that I’m still suffering.

I did take away one important thing from physical therapy that I wanted to share with everyone. I know that I am extremly lucky to not have a brain tumor or a terminal disaese. But just because I can’t be “diganosed” doesn’t mean that I’m not still fighting for my life. Every day I am fighting for a quality of life that doesn’t involve constant pain, sleepless nights, and bottles of medication. I am fighting for a life where Brett and I can start a family which is currenly not an option. I am fighting to travel and spend a day at the lake with my family like a normal twenty-something.

I’m not asking for a miracle. I’m just asking to feel okay again.

June is migraine awarness month. Hopefully me sharing my story can help others who are suffering the same fate that I am. I’m not alone in this and I won’t stop fighting for myself and everyone else who is impacted.

I’ve ordered some books and will be spending the next few weeks researching my next steps. Let me know if you like these updates and want to stay informed on my treatment options!

Thanks so much for reading!

 
Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 
Photo by Imani Clovis on Unsplash