What’s so important – and stressful – about family dinner?

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Stress is something we migraineurs try to manage as much as possible. Those of us with families, however, often experience the day-to-day obligations of family life as one of our most potent stressors. If that’s you, and you (like me) struggle with stress over family dinners, check out this great post over at Science of Mom.

The Science of Mom

A recent study about the stress of getting family meals on the table has been getting lots of attention from both the media and moms. A Slate piece, “Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner,” posted Wednesday, has already garnered 3.5K comments on the article itself and more than 26K Facebook shares. This has obviously struck a nerve. While feeding a family is a big and often stressful job, some perspective about why we do it and what matters most about family meals might be helpful to families feeling the mealtime crunch.

The study itself, titled “The Joy of Cooking?”, was published in Contexts, a publication of the American Sociological Association geared to be accessible to the general public. The paper itself is a really interesting read and freely available online.

Researchers in the sociology and anthropology departments at North Carolina State University conducted the…

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30 Things You May Not Know About Me, #Migraine, and #ChronicIllness

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In honor of the upcoming Invisible Illness Awareness Week and as part of this month’s Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival, I’m participating in the 30 Things meme. (Additional entries can be read at http://invisibleillnessweek.com/submit-article/30-things-meme/.) Read on for my answers, and if you’ve written a similar post, please link to it in the comments. I’d love to get to know you all better!

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

1. The illness I live with is: chronic migraine
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2008
3. But I had symptoms since: high school
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: setting time/energy boundaries and limiting the number of things I try to do in one day, even when I feel well
5. Most people assume: that migraine is nothing more than a severe headache. In reality, the pain is often one of the easier symptoms for me to deal with. The nausea, dizziness, and Alice-in-Wonderland syndrome effects are often more disabling for me personally.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: waking up with a migraine. Mine generally get worse as the day goes on, so if I wake up with one, I know it will be a hard day.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House, followed closely by Grey’s Anatomy
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my laptop computer
9. The hardest part about nights are: getting to sleep when/if the pain is bad.
10. Each day I take 6 pills & vitamins. (No comments, please)
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: have tried most of them, and find a lot of relief from preventative yoga and meditation.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I can’t make that choice, really. There are pros and cons to invisibility, much as I assume there are with visible illnesses. Having never had a visible illness, I can’t make a decision on which would be “better.”
13. Regarding working and career: I’ve had to accept that there are some things I simply can’t do (anything that involves working under fluorescent lights for example) because of my illness, but living with it also gave me the courage and the motivation to commit to my dream of writing full-time.
14. People would be surprised to know: I consider some aspects of this illness a gift. (For more on that, take a look at my book: Finding Happiness with Migraines.)
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: the amount of down time I require to function at my best.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: launch a successful company.
17. The commercials about my illness: are all about the drugs.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: staying up all night reading and/or talking.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: corn
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: meditation
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: go see a loud concert.
22. My illness has taught me: perspective is everything.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: have you tried … ?
24. But I love it when people: express that they care.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: Everything is temporary.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Your life will be different from here on out, but it isn’t over.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how much our society is built upon the assumption that we are all well and able-bodied.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: take care of my family and my house while I slept it off.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: spreading awareness is one way we can support each other.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: supported and grateful.

Great Post on Topamax Alternative

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As many of you know, I tried Topamax for a while back in 2008 with high hopes. Instead, of offering me relief, however, it turned me into a confused, emotionally unstable, skeleton. Now, there may be a new drug that offers an alternative to people for whom Topamax should work but doesn’t, and for whom the side effects make it unpleasant to take.

According to James at Headache and Migraine News, the drug study targeted people who had mild reactions to Topamax and didn’t see the improvements they and their doctors expected to see. This means that it probably wouldn’t be much help for me, seeing as my reactions to the drug were anything but mild. However, this may be of interest to some of you.

Read James’ full post here.

June #Migraine Blog Round Up: #MHAM Review

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As most of you are aware, June was Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Writers, bloggers, and patients across the web participated in photo and blog challenges, offered their personal perspectives on living with migraine, and discussed a variety of new developments in migraine research. Here are some of the month’s best posts:

My Posts

Other Favorites

Did I miss anything? Please leave your favorites in the comments below.

May #Migraine Blog Round Up

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The past two-and-a-half weeks have been a dizzying blend of migraines, family obligations, writing assignments, and introspection, which means I am just now (two weeks late) putting up the May migraine blog round up. I apologize for the long delay, but I know y’all know how it goes.🙂

Here are some good posts you might have missed:

My Posts

Other Favorites

That’s it for this month. Happy reading!

Did I miss something you found particularly helpful? Share it here.

#Weaning and #Migraine – Treatment Update

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My little man will be 19 months old on the 12th, and with his increasing independence comes a number of changes, both for him and for me.

I’ve been practicing baby-led feeding and baby-led weaning, which means we’ve had fewer struggles than we might otherwise have had along our journey but it also means the weaning process is taking significantly longer than it otherwise might. That being said, my son took the lead on night weaning about four months ago, and I am happy to report that we are now officially done with the 2 a.m. (and 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.) feedings. In fact, we’re down to just two nursing sessions a day: one before nap and one before bed. Neither lasts longer than 15 minutes, and I’m hoping to drop both soon. While this is really good news for me (I can’t wait to have my body to myself again), it is also not so good news.

Hormones change and fluctuate a lot during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They also change when we begin to wean, and again when we finally drop that final nursing session. For some women, this isn’t a super big deal. I’m not one of those women.

As I shared on this blog, my migraines were terrible during the first half or more of my pregnancy. They eased up a little during the third trimester and were largely absent during those first few postpartum months. Then, they kicked in again, and as we’ve progressed through the postpartum period and into the toddler years, they’ve gotten worse. This is due in part to the hot and ever-changing Texas weather and in part to weaning.

Weaning related migraines are nothing new. If you search the internet, you’ll find a large number of women discussing how much worse their migraines got when they stopped breastfeeding. Somehow, though, it was something I wasn’t entirely prepared to experience.

Unfortunately my expectations had little to no effect on reality.

The last eight weeks have brought a migraine more days than not. While I have a lot of non-prescription tools for coping with migraine and a supportive family, it’s become necessary to go back on medication. Thankfully, Kellymom.com, a wonderful resource for nursing mothers and their doctors (my neurologist even references this site), offers a pretty in-depth look at almost all of the common migraine and pain medications. Taking both the website’s information into account and the age of my son (babies older than 3 months usually aren’t as affected by medication in mothers’ milk as much as younger babies), my neurologist and I have crafted a new plan. For those who wonder:

  • I’ve started amitriptyline as a preventative. As of now, I’m only on 10 mg once a day, but I’m working myself up to 30 mg. We’ll reevaluate my progress when I go back for a follow-up at the end of the month. I’m still taking 400mg of Magnesium as a preventative as well.
  • I have prescriptions for a tablet version of Prodin for use as an abortive. I also have a few samples of a Zomig nasal spray, though I haven’t used it yet. (Triptans generally don’t work for me, and I figured I would wait to try this until I’m completely done weaning, just because it makes me more comfortable. Despite the fact that I’d heard somewhere that triptans were no-nos when breastfeeding, Kellymom.com actually says Zomig is “moderately safe.”)
  • I also have Fioricet and Promethazine tablets and a nasal spray version of Toradol for use as rescues.

I haven’t used most of these medications yet, as I try to avoid medications as much as possible. I have taken two of the Fioricet tablets, but so far I’ve experienced little relief. I’m hoping the amitriptyline will bring help. If it doesn’t, I believe we’re going to try a calcium channel blocker, which is one of the only preventatives I haven’t tried yet. If that doesn’t work, we’ll wait until my son has decided to completely give up nursing and then try a few other things. I trust that eventually either time or a medication will help.