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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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

 

I Can Be Healthy (And You Can Too!)

Health and Wellness

It’s been a few months since I posted about gaining weight. The cold hard truth is that I’ve only lost ten pounds since then and have been struggling to keep the weight off.

I’ve struggled with headaches and migraines for the past 7ish years which means that I’ve been on and off medications more times than I can count trying to find a solution. In 2017 I started to gain weight from the medicine that I was on and couldn’t seem to lose it. I gained about 40 pounds very quickly and there wasn’t much I could do. I know that sounds like an excuse but the medicine I was on really does cause weight gain and at the time it was prescribed I was a healthy 23 year old so my neurologist wasn’t worried about that particular side effect.

In 2018 I stopped taking that medication and stared taking Trokendi XR which I’ve talked about a few times in past posts. I was so sick the whole time that I was able to lose 10 pounds in under a month. One of the side effects of Trokendi is weight loss so I worked with a doctor and knew that it was “healthy”.

Now I have about 40 pounds to go before I’m back to my healthy weight. I only really weigh myself when I’m at the doctor because I have such a negative association with the scale.

I wanted to share this post to let you know that my mindset towards weight loss and being “healthy” is going to change. For the past year I have beat myself up every single day for letting myself go. I’ve refused to look in the mirror or be in pictures. I have told myself over and over again that I’m fat, worthless, and that I’ll only love myself if I lose weight.

But guess what?

All of those statements are wrong. I’m not worthless. I shouldn’t be embarrassed of being in pictures or looking in the mirror. I should love my body for carrying me through every single day of my life thus far.

I can be healthy. We all have choices everyday and these choices lead us down a certain path. In believing that I am worth the struggle, worth the time and energy I will start working towards a healthy lifestyle.

This is my year and I can choose to be anything I want to be.

I choose to be healthy and you can choose to be too. You first need to find the mindset and make the choice.

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Migraine Update: New Neurologist & New Preventatives

Migraine Update - Chronic Migraines and Headaches - Trokendi XR

Hey friends!

After my last update about feeling discouraged in my migraine journey I have finally found a new source of hope, a new Neurologist! This Neurologist has his own practice separate from the hospitals. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be seen by a small practice instead of a hospital. I have seen this new Neurologist a couple of times now and he listens to what I have to say and is open to trying different treatment ideas when others fail. 

During my initial consultation I explained to him how frustrated and hopeless I was feeling because of my migraines and headaches. I always cry when I’m explaining how I’m feeling because I just feel so depressed about the situation. I think he could tell how desperate I was for a solution and started coming up with a treatment plan right away.

He prescribed Trokendi XR which is an extended release version of Topamax, an anti-seizure medication. I want to do a full post about my experiences on Trokendi at some point but the short and sweet version is that I spent the next six weeks or so pretty miserable. Trokendi can be a lifesaver for many people with migraines and I was really hoping that it would work for me. Unfortunately, it also has nasty side effects that left me feeling worse than normal. 

I went back yesterday afternoon to see my Neurologist to discuss Trokendi and my next steps. After explaining to him just one of the many side effects he immediately decided it was time to wean me off. I was so anxious to visit him yesterday because I so badly wanted to stop taking Trokendi but my old Neurologist would have wanted me to keep trying. This new Neurologist listened to how miserable I was feeling and decided to try something else. I honestly think my old Neurologist scared me away from doctors and now I have this fear of telling them how I feel. 

The new plan is to try a beta blocker and a round of steroids to break this headache cycle that I’ve had for almost a year. I also have to wean off of Trokendi too. I’m a little nervous to start the steroids but I’ve read that they can be miracle workers for people suffering from rebound headaches. 

I’m feeling hopeful because this new Neurologist is willing to try new things to lead me towards a pain free lifestyle. He listens to what I am saying and how I’m feeling and never rushes through my appointments. If I have questions I can always call his office between appointments and talk to him. It’s been a whirlwind to get here but I think I am at least headed it the right direction now. 

The hilarious part is that the other hospital in my area is finally willing to take me as a patient and has graciously booked me an appointment for January. I’m planning on cancelling. I think I need to be done with hospitals for awhile. 

What I’ve learned through this whole process is that sometimes you just have to learn to be your own advocate. I’ve been fighting for a pain free quality of life for eight years so far and I will continue to do so for as long as it takes. This journey isn’t easy and it will never be easy. It’s going to be painful, annoying, and depressing but the goal is to one day be able to travel and have a family with Brett. To me, that goal is worth it. 

Thanks so much for reading!

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My Migraine Story

 

Chronic Migraines, Chronic Headaches, My Migraine Story, Migraine Treatments

Hey, hey.

It’s me, back with one of the most personal posts I have ever shared on the internet.

It’s no secret that I have been living with daily headaches and chronic migraines. I have often shared my struggles with balancing life and work with the constant pain. I still don’t have any answers and I may never receive them but I thought I’d share my story because I know that I am not the only one struggling.

I can remember having headaches as a pre-teen but they never lasted that long. My junior year in high school was when my headaches started to become a routine problem but I was able to take an ibprofen and be fine to go about my day.

My mom, sister, and I got into a car accident that same year. My head went through the passenger side window and I still can’t remember the accident. I have a brief memory of waking up in the ambulance but I mostly just remember waking up at the hospital.

After the car accident, I continued to have headaches but they started to get a little stronger. I also started to get migraines that made me sick to my stomach. Senior year was when they became an almost constant problem. My eyesight started getting blurry and it was painful to wake up in the morning. My brain felt like it was pressing up against my skull at all times.

College was when I started to see a neurologist. My headaches had become constant and I was getting migraines a couple of times per month. I was living in the noisy dorms and trying to balance 5 classes, a part-time job, and a minimal social life. It was not how I imagined college to be. For the first time, I was prescribed something for the pain. We discovered early on that I have a bad reaction to most of the commonly used medicines for headache pain. My stomach could not seem to handle it.

I went to London and hoped for the best. My headaches followed me and I spent more time then I want to admit in bed with the blankets covering my eyes. I had to say no to experiences with my friends and missed many of our lunch time adventures. I vowed to make a change when I got home. I didn’t want to keep missing out on things due to my headaches.

Not much changed when I got home and I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment where my headaches started to rule over me. I needed to take ibprofen three times a day in order to function. My head hurt the worst in the morning when I first woke up and at night when I was trying to sleep. The pain would wake me up from a deep sleep. I started to become dependent on ibprofen because it was the only thing that made me feel normal, if only for a few hours.

Now I understand that my constant intake of ibprofen actually began to cause rebound headaches. My body became dependent on it and it made my headaches even worse. I actually felt like I couldn’t function without it. But what was I to do? I was a full time student and almost full time employee at a job where I couldn’t just call off work if I didn’t feel well. It was a never ending cycle.

I graduated in April 2016 and began looking for a full time job in my field. I spent a lot of time in bed in between working and applying for jobs. I was exhausted and didn’t take care of myself. I stopped taking the preventative medicine that my doctor had given to me because it wasn’t working and I felt hopeless.

Fast forward to me accepting my current position and being thrown into a field that I I knew very little about. I thought that college had prepared me for a corporate job but I was very wrong and very out of my element. I was depressed and sick. I started seeing my neurologist again and we discussed the lifestyle changes that I would need to make in order to start feeling better.

It’s been a year and a half and very little progress has been made. I have a headache every single day and am almost constantly nauseous. I struggled a lot in the beginning of my career because the pain made me feel really self conscious and I didn’t want my new co-workers to know my problems. But now they know and understand that sometimes I need to sit in my corner quietly and just work. I try to miss as few days as possible at work but my boss is very understanding if I need to take a break.

So, that’s where I am at. Many years and no answers. I should mention that my mom and grandma both have these headaches so the doctors know that it is genetic. I am also consulting a neurologist when taking medications. It is very important to speak to a medical professional when taking any sort of medication.

I am trying to stay hopeful that my neurologist will find something to help me. At my last visit we discussed trying physical and massage therapy.  I start physical therapy this week and am super hopeful that it will help! And now you know that if I ever go a long time without blogging it is most likely due to having a bad headache week.

Let me know if you have any recommendations! I might write a post on all my tips and tricks for dealing with headaches or migraines.

Thanks so much for reading!

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

Image via Unsplash

2018: Second Quarter Goals

2018 Second Quarter Goals
Hello there!

I didn’t think this post was going to happen but here we are. What’s new with you? Are you crushing your 2018 goals?

I am back with another quarterly goal list and I just wanted to mention how first quarter went for me.

The first three months of 2018 went by so quickly. January was a blur of excitement, anxiety, and many, many tears. February featured the birth of my co-worker’s baby which means three months of maternity leave for her. In other words, I am swamped at work but thriving. I am learning every day and my team is simply amazing. March feels like it didn’t even happen. March meant long hours, lots of meals at my desk, and an overflowing calendar. In other words, tax season. It’s been a rough three months but I am grateful every day for the opportunities that have been thrown my way.

We are almost one month down for the first quarter. I still can’t believe how fast this year is going! Can time just please slow down a bit?!

So, here are a few of the things I am hoping to accomplish during what is left of the second quarter.

  1. Create healthy habits. What does a healthy lifestyle look like for me? I am still trying to figure this out but I will not stop until I have the answers that I am looking for. I don’t like what I see in the mirror and I am going to change that. Baby steps are needed but little by little I will get to where I want to be.
  2. Family First. My grandparents are back from Arizona which means that summer is right around the corner. I want to spend as much time as I can with my family. I want to go camping, spend days at the lake, and just enjoy as much time as I can with the people that I love most.
  3. Make our house a home. If you didn’t read my last post, Brett and I bought a house and moved in last month! We are so excited to decorate and really turn this house into our own home. We have dreamed of this for so long and still can’t believe that this is our reality. This is the beginning of another chapter in our story.
  4. Me Time. I find myself putting other people first a lot of the time. I often forget to take care of myself. I want to find time to do things that help myself like get a haircut and buy some clothes that will flatter my new, curvier figure. I have spent so much time the last couple of months being really negative about my body so I need to spend some time on making myself better from the inside out.
  5. Blogging. Is this still a thing? Does Life of Hayley even exist or matter? It’s time to figure it out. Maybe I will never be full time writer or have the most pin worthy posts but sharing pieces of my story impacts my life is a positive way. I need to figure out a way to make this blog work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! 🙂
  6. Get my head in the game. A huge thing that is holding me back is my health. I mentioned in a recent post that my headaches and migraines have been getting worse. It’s miserable. I have an appointment with my neurologist in mid May. I am hoping to discuss some next steps with him that could improve my quality of life. Right now I feel like I am just trying to make it through each day in one piece.

Wow, I had a lot to say. I sometimes forget how much I love having an outlet for all of these thoughts that usually just bounce around in my head.

I would love to hear from you so please comment below with questions, words of encouragement, or just a simple “hello”. I love to hear from you.

As always, thank you so much for reading. Hopefully I will be back soon with more. 🙂

 

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

I will survive

Migraines, headache, survival

 

Hey there. Long time, no blog.

“Where have I been?” you ask?

The main reason I took a random leave of absence from the blogging world was my health. I have mentioned before that I have struggled with migraines for the last several years. During the month of December I had three blissful weeks without a migraine. But once January started my migraines were back and were the strongest they have ever been. I felt like I was barely functioning.

I had a good visit with my Neurologist at the beginning of February. Unfortunately, there’s not much more he can do. I will be getting another MRI done in the near future just to make sure that nothing has changed since my last one. My doctor also prescribed another medicine that I could take up to 7 times per month. I ended up not picking this prescription up because a.) the side effects are terrible (I have taken it before) and b.) it was almost $120 for 7 pills.

Other events have also played into my break. I did check one super exciting thing off of my 1st quarter goals which I will be sure to share soon! I am a bit behind on my 2nd quarter goals but hopefully they will be up soon too.

This post was mostly to let you guys know that I’m still here and I still care about my little piece of the internet. I’m just struggling with things that I can’t control. Hopefully my regularly scheduled content will be back soon.

Thanks for reading!

 

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley