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

How I Manage Working with Migraines

working with chronic migraine

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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Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

 

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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Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

 

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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Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash