I just started blogging last week as a way to cope with some health issues, infertility, and grief. I was happy to learn that, by coincidence, Invisible Illness Awareness Week is coming up (Sept 28-Oct 4, 2015). I feel overwhelmed when I think about writing about my fibromyalgia, endometriosis, or – even worse – the combined effects of these conditions on my life. I’ll get there, but one step at a time. In the meantime, I thought I could start with one of the “easy” ones – migraines. Oh, migraines…
Migraines are part of my #invisiblefight. I think most people who know me don’t know I have migraines or how they affect my life. I think most people who haven’t had a migraine don’t understand how different they are from regular headaches. My doctors have told me most of my medical conditions, including migraines, would be expected to worsen during pregnancy (if I actually got pregnant) to a severe extent. I do wish more people understood how painful my migraines are, how much they affect my life, and how afraid I am they’ll continue to get worse.
I get hormonal migraines every month with my cycle. I don’t remember when I had the first one. I didn’t have migraines consistently until after my endometriosis surgery and hormonal treatments 2 years ago. Since that time, I have had a migraine nearly every month. They’ve also gotten worse over time. At first, I would have a migraine one afternoon per month. I got a prescription for Maxalt from my doctor and it worked really well. I didn’t like the spacy feeling it gave me, but at least it relieved the blinding, debilitating headache. Over the last year, they’ve become more long-lasting and resistant to the medication. I started to have migraines that would last for days. After one lasting most of a week, I went back to the doctor and he gave me a new prescription. He also recommended I start taking an anti-inflammatory a few days before I expect my period to start. I have tried that and found some relief. I’d like to try acupuncture, but don’t currently have the resources to make it happen. I also find cold compresses really helpful.
They range from annoying to incapacitating. I get sensitivity to light and sound. I need to lay down somewhere cool, quiet, and dark. I usually try to work through them, but often need some time off on the worst times. Distraction is one of the tools I generally use to deal with my chronic pain. With a migraine, I sometimes can’t really read or watch TV. Sometimes I’ll put a cold wash cloth over my eyes and turn on an e-reader (quietly) to pass the time. If I’m lucky, I’ll fall asleep. It can be a scary feeling to have so much pain in something as important as your brain…
I’ve also tried cutting out caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, cured meats, fancy cheeses, etc. that might be migraine triggers. I love all of those things. I still got migraines. I also tried adding a daily allergy med, to no effect. I really believe, for me, it’s a combination of hormones, fibro, and stress.
I absolutely hate migraines. They are extremely painful, I can’t function, can’t think straight. I lose several days every month of my life from migraines. They’re the most acutely incapacitating of my medical conditions. I’m afraid they’re going to continue to get worse and I haven’t found any great way to prevent or treat them. I pray for relief and continue to do what I can.
If you have any insights or helpful suggestions for migraines, please let me know!
Image: Demeter Mourning for Persephone by Evelyn de Morgan.
Text Copyright Snowdroplets 2015