Melatonin for #Migraine Prevention

I was finally reviewing my backlogged RSS feeds this afternoon (after months and months of being too tired to even glance at them), and I came across a wonderful post by Diana Lee on Migraine.com about melatonin and migraines. It seems a study released in 2004 and discussed at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 65th Annual Meeting in 2012 indicates that taking 3 mg of fast-acting melatonin between 10 and 11 every night significantly reduces migraine frequency with little to no side effects.

As someone who is always looking for scientifically sound natural remedies and supplements for migraine treatment and prevention, I think this is terrific news.

I currently take magnesium, B-2, and CoQ10 supplements for migraine, and I would certainly be open to adding melatonin to this list. (I have a call in to my pediatrician to find out if it is okay to take while nursing. Online facts were inclusive.) Until then, I’d like to hear from all of you.

Have you tried melatonin for migraine or would you be willing to try it based on the study?

Returning Fertility, Returning #Migraines

My son is almost 10 months old, and though I am still nursing him about every two hours, my monthly cycles have finally returned. For many women, this would simply mean returning fertility. For me, it means both this and the return of a particular kind of migraine: menstrual migraine.

The vast majority of my migraine attacks are not triggered by my menstrual cycle nor are they affected by hormones (other than cortisol). Some of my attacks are, however, and this was especially true this past week. For almost six straight days, a low-grade migraine kept me and my cramps company from the time I woke up until the time I finally nodded off to sleep.

Thankfully, my menstrual migraines are never as intense as my regular migraines, but their long stay can make them difficult to take. And, because I am still nursing, my methods for dealing with such a long migraine attack are limited. This time, I settled in with a heating pad on my abdomen, an ice pack on my head, and a bottle of ibuprofen to my left. It wasn’t the best treatment I could have tried, but it was the only one I had at my disposal.

I’m hoping my body and brain were simply unfamiliar with the flood of hormones associated with my cycle, and that they forgot how to handle them. I’m hoping that next month will be a little easier to take, with less cramping and fewer days of migraine pain. I’m hoping that eventually my brain will remember how to handle the ebb and flow of my feminine hormones and let me off the hook entirely. We’ll see.

 

Handling Anger and Resentment: Migraine Awareness Month #27 (#MHAM)

Some days, I wake up with a migraine, live with it (irritably) all day, and go to bed with it. It escalates throughout the day, ramping up from a three or four on a ten-point severity scale to a seven or eight by nightfall. By the time I get my infant son to sleep and can finally crawl into bed myself, all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry.

On those days, it’s hard not to feel resentful and angry.

This isn’t what I expected from my life. I didn’t expect to be limited by a genetic disease that means I can’t enjoy the hot, sunny summers of my youth; work at a stressful but fulfilling, high-pressure job under fluorescent lights; or make concrete plans two weeks or two months into the future without worrying that I’ll have to cancel at the last moment.

I never imagined that I would miss feeding my son his first foods because I had to lie down in a dark room, or that I wouldn’t be able to supervise my daughter’s class field trips because I couldn’t promise I’d feel well enough to attend. I never thought I would elect not to go to medical school because I knew I’d never survive the 36-hour shifts in a brightly lit hospital that my internship would surely require.

I didn’t expect to feel so powerless so much of the time, but I do.

All these things  I never would have expected, all these scenarios I never could have imagined – they happened. And, they keep happening every day. This is my life. But, I continuously remind myself that this disease is only a part of my life.

Yes, I have migraines – an unpredictable, ever-changing, invisible illness that steals many, many precious moments of my life, moments I can never get back. But, I also have a wonderful family that challenges me and brings me more joy than I ever could have hoped for; a career I love; friends who support me; and a warm, comforting place to call home.

All in all, I’m very blessed – even with migraine disease. Keeping sight of that fact helps me stay positive and banish any anger or resentment I may occasionally feel.

What about you? What do you do to feel better and stay positive?

For more tips on how to handle the anger, resentment, grief, and loneliness of living with migraine, check out my new book: “Finding Happiness with Migraines:  A Do-It-Yourself Guide.”

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.

The Heredity of Migraines: Migraine Awareness Month #20 #MHAM20

It was 2008 when I learned I wasn’t the first in my family to suffer from chronic migraines. I had been diagnosed about six months prior with “intractable migraine with aura,” and I was feeling the loneliest I’d ever felt. One day, while talking to my dad on the phone, I found out understanding was much closer than I’d ever thought.

“Oh, the doctors don’t know what to do, Dad,” I said. “Nothing seems to work.”

“You should talk to Grandma,” he answered.

I was bewildered. Why should I talk to my grandmother, his mother, about my symptoms?

“She’s had them for years,” he said. “When we were younger, there were lots of days she could barely get out of bed.”

I was stunned. I knew migraine disease was at least partially hereditary, but I’d never known that anyone in my family suffered from the disease.

When I called my grandma later that day, she admitted that she’d had them for decades.

“I thought you knew,” she said. “It was awful. In my day, they didn’t really believe they were anything more than a woman’s hysteria, but I was lucky enough to have a doctor whose wife got them, too, and he tried everything he could to help me.”

Figuring out the genetic link for my disease helped me tremendously. I didn’t feel angry or victimized that I got stuck with the migraine genes when neither my father nor my younger sister did. Instead, I felt blessed to have a living relative who knew the agony I experienced every day. A woman who had been where I was and lived through it. Knowing that someone close to me suffered as I did also gave me some idea of what to expect (a true blessing for such an unpredictable disease).

While most women’s migraines go away as they age and/or with the onset of menopause, my grandmother’s never have. She still gets an average of at least one per week. And, while we don’t have the same kind of migraines (I have aura, she doesn’t; triptans help her, but do nothing for me), this knowledge of my genetic past has helped me recognize how important it is to learn how to live well with my migraines, just in case they don’t go away.

Strangely, I don’t find this a depressing thought. I see it as a lesson in preparation, and a reminder to be thankful for all the other things my grandmother passed down to me.

 

— Are you suffering from migraines that don’t respond to treatment or simply overwhelmed by the emotions and day-to-day difficulties of living with this life-changing disease? Check out my new e-book: Finding Happiness with Migraines: A Do-It-Yourself Guide. It’s available for sale on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.

 

Finding Happiness with Migraines

Living with migraine disease isn’t only about dealing with pain, nausea, fatigue, and other physical symptoms. It’s also about handling the accompanying emotional and mental challenges.

In my new e-book, Finding Happiness with Migraines: A Do-It-Yourself Guide, I offer tips on how to create a daily life filled with joy, appreciation, and confidence – even in the midst of a migraine. Readers will learn:

  • Which yoga poses can help with a migraine attack;
  • Why you should throw away your daily migraine journal;
  • How do-it-yourself therapy can create positive change;
  • Techniques to connect with your body and intuition; and
  • How to fight the fear, isolation, and anger that so often accompany the disease.

I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to share the wisdom and insights I’ve gleaned from six years of chronic, often “intractable” migraine. I hope you find it worthwhile! The book is available on both Kindle and Nook, or as a PDF. Find out more here: http://www.absolutelovepublishing.com/Happiness_with_Migraines.html.

 

Overcoming Setbacks: Migraine Awareness Month #4

Living with migraines can be disheartening. Too often, the disease ruins our plans and makes us feel like we can’t accomplish our goals. On those days, it can be difficult to pick ourselves up out of the puddle of doubt we’ve landed in and forge ahead. But, it can be done.

If my experiences living with migraine disease have taught me anything, it’s this: I am stronger than I thought I was. And, so are you.

Living through the pain, nausea, vertigo, fatigue, uncertainty, and light and noise sensitivity of migraine isn’t easy. It takes bravery to make it through each day and an often unappreciated optimism to continue setting goals for ourselves even when we don’t always achieve them. These are characteristics we all share, and yet few of us routinely see ourselves as courageous, adventurous, and full of hope. But, we are. And, acknowledging that we are is one way we can overcome the setbacks migraine throws at us.

When I’m feeling particularly down or discouraged about my ability to make my life into what I want it to be, I remind myself of this: I’m still here; I’m still fighting. Migraine, despite everything, hasn’t beaten me. And, that is something to get excited about.

—-

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.

 

Migraine Superheros: Migraine Awareness Month #2

As is so often the case these days, I’m running a day behind.

I had planned to post a blog every day this month in honor of Migraine Awareness Month and the Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge. Unfortunately, June 1st turned into June 2nd without my having even logged onto the Internet, let alone posted a migraine blog. This time, however, I have a very good reason for missing my deadline: I was finishing my e-book Finding Happiness with Migraines, A Do It Yourself Guide, which will be released sometime next week!

I’ll be posting additional details about the book in the upcoming days. For now, I turn to the MHAM blog challenge of the day:

If I were to chose just one person to be my Migraine Superhero, it would have to be my husband. Though he doesn’t truly understand what a migraine feels like, he always understands when I need to take a break because of a bad one. On those occasions, he helps me get into bed, turns out the lights, instructs our ten-year-old to “let Mama rest,” and takes care of the baby. He cooks dinner, reads to the kids, and brings me whatever I need to get comfortable.

In our busy, busy household, where neither I nor my husband ever has a second of downtime, his actions are nothing short of miraculous.

He also never resents me for my illness nor shames me for feeling badly. He doesn’t try to make me feel guilty, and he always lets me know how much he loves me and appreciates me. I wish every migraineur a “superhero” as warm, loving, and kind as mine.

 

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.

Migraines and the Changing Seasons

March kicked my butt. Seriously.

Austin is infamous for its extreme weather changes and its year-round allergies. Time between seasons is the worst, and this March was particularly painful.

At 8 a.m. on a Monday, for example, it would be 34 degrees and overcast. By 5 p.m. the same day, it would be 84 and sunny. Tuesday would be the opposite. The morning would be hot and clear, but the evening would be cold and grey. Wednesday would be hot and overcast all day. Thursday would be sunny and cold. By Friday, it could be either almost snowing or 95 degrees.

Basically, it was a weather-trigger nightmare.

I spent four straight weeks with a level 4 or higher migraine. Most days, the pain reached a 7 by nighttime. There were a few particularly bad days when the pain was a constant 8 all day long. Thankfully, my husband (a private school teacher) was on vacation for half of the month and was able to help me with the baby. The days he wasn’t there – and there were many – were nearly unbearable.

One of the things being a new mom and a migraineur has taught me, however, is that what I used to consider unbearable is now something closer to unpleasant. I may wish to stay curled up in bed all day (and doing so would certainly curtail the migraine more effectively), but I don’t have that option. No matter how badly it hurts, I have to get out of bed. No matter how badly I feel, I have to smile at the baby. (After all, if I don’t, who will? And, the baby needs smiles!) While this helps ensure my son isn’t left to cry alone in his crib all day, it – like all true tradeoffs – has its downsides, the largest of which is my neglect of my husband.

On a bad day (and in March, they were all bad days), I simply don’t have any energy left over to take interest in or spend time with my husband. Caring for the baby, working, homeschooling my daughter, and trying to fight off the pain until he gets home is really all I can handle. The moment he gets in the door, all I want to do is curl up in bed, in the dark, and cry from the pain. This is not the way to sustain a marriage.

Thankfully, spring has finally sprung (well, almost; today is wet and cold, and yesterday was hot enough for my daughter to go swimming), and the endless migraines have ebbed. Here’s hoping they stay at bay long enough for me to get some quality time with my guy. 🙂

How is everyone else holding up? Have you noticed a change in your migraines (either pain or frequency) since the weather changed?

 

It Can’t Hurt to be Prepared

My son will be born sometime in the next seven weeks, and I’m anxiously attempting to get everything ready. My husband, bless him, has dealt well with a wife whose ideas of preparation include making and freezing soups (two months in advance); stocking up on toilet paper, Ziploc bags, shampoo, laundry detergent, and stamps (two months in advance); and purchasing Vaseline and infant Tylenol (also two months in advance). I’ve seen a few eye rolls, and I did have to explain why I felt it was necessary to purchase the infant car seat/stroller system and the wearable infant carrier at 32 weeks, but overall I think he sees my preoccupation with preparation as a benign symptom of the eighth month of pregnancy. For me, however, it is something much more.

Based on my pregnancy, labor, and delivery 10 years ago, I already know that I have to have a c-section this time around. As a second timer, I’m not too worried about the surgery itself. However, I am very aware of the limitations it will place on me afterward: I cannot climb up or down stairs for two to three weeks (which will be difficult seeing as we live on the third floor); I am not supposed to do housework for at least four weeks; I cannot drive for six weeks; and I’m not supposed to lift anything heavier than my baby or begin exercising for up to eight weeks after delivery. For me, this basically means I’ll be living on my couch for the first four to six weeks with an infant attached to my breast.

I also have migraines, and those migraines often affect my energy levels, my speech patterns, my vision, my concentration levels, and my ability to handle light and noise. They often come on quickly, ramping up to excruciating and debilitating within as little as 20 minutes, and they’re most frequently triggered by lack of sleep, changes in eating schedule, lack of exercise, stress,  dehydration, and hormonal changes – all commonly experienced by the mothers of newborns.

Taken together, these two things (the impending c-section and the ever-present threat of migraine) mean I absolutely must be prepared for my return home before we’ve ever even left for the hospital. The more plans and preparations I can make now, the less I’ll have to worry about or tend to when we get home. Granted, if everything goes according to plan, I still have seven more weeks to wrap up any last minute food prep and laundry tasks, but – as many of us know – things rarely go according to plan, especially when infants or migraines are involved. Adding them together seems to ensure a chaotic start.

I can only hope my relentless drive to prepare helps in the months ahead. I’d hate to spend the first couple of months of my son’s life curled up in pain, unable to soothe his cries because they hurt my head too much. Just in case, though, I’ve decided I’m going to start experimenting to figure out which earplugs block the most noise. We’ll call it one final pre-baby preparation.

With the Dawn of the Third Trimester, Migraines Return

I entered my third trimester of pregnancy last Friday, and within days my migraines returned. Those of you who have been following this blog may remember that I spent my first trimester primarily in bed, watching TV shows on Netflix and trying to distract myself from the relentless pain. Then, about mid-way into my second trimester, the migraines eased up and my energy returned. Now, it seems my reprieve has come to an end.

Once again, I find myself suffering with a migraine almost every day. Thankfully, though, they’re not as painful or as symptomatic as my first trimester migraines. Unfortunately, with the lack of sleep, the extra weight, and the dehydration that so characterizes the third trimester, it’s unlikely that I can do much to reduce their frequency. So, with only 11 weeks left to go, I’m crossing my fingers that my relative good fortune continues.

How about the rest of you pregnant ladies? Where are you in your journey, and how are you feeling?