Category Archives: migraines

My Migraine Story

I’m setting aside the selfies and lists today to get serious for a minute (right) and talk to you today about migraines. Nothing like a nice, upbeat, topic for a Tuesday huh?

A large reason behind why I started this blog was to share my experiences as I learned to manage my health and wellness, and learning to manage my migraines has been a large part of that (let’s be honest managing these makes Celiac look easy).

I had my first diagnosed migraine over 2 years ago now (diagnosed by the ER doctor) though looking back with my neurologist at the number of “sinus” headaches I’d been experiencing since high school I’d probably been having low grade migraines for much much longer.

Since then I’ve been to the ER on 2 other headache related occasions, tried various combinations of emergency and preventative medications and supplements, read pretty much every book in the library on the subject, had 2 CT scans, 1 MRI, and thankfully had a wonderful neurologist throughout it all.

headache

I still don’t have my headaches completely under control, I’d been going good for months back in November and suddenly BF had to take me to the ER at 4am because my headache had gotten so bad I thought I was having a stroke (scariest headache to date so far I actually lost function/sensation in my arm for a while).

That being said I haven’t had a major headache since then, and I’ve only had two minor ones. I rank a minor headache as one I can cure with a half dose of my rescue medication and a nap, a major headache requires at least a full dose, an anti-nausea pill, and usually a full night’s sleep.

I don’t claim to have all the knowledge when it comes to headache, and truly everyone is different, but with the help of my neurologist I have hit on a few key things that work for me. These are not meant to be medical suggestions and you should talk any concerns you have for your health over with your doctor.

  1. Water. Nothing is more important for your body in general than to stay hydrated, but it’s especially important if you’re headache prone.
  2. Getting enough (7-8 hours) sleep on a consistent schedule.
  3. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, and not going too long between eating (this one has been hard with my current schedule but I try my best).
  4. Yoga, and relaxation in general. When a headache gets really bad I try my best to calm my breathing so that I keep my overall body calm. It’s also been great for stress in general which is my biggest trigger.
  5. Hot compress. Some people swear by ice but that never worked for me. I have a wonderful old tube sock (not as gross as it sounds) filled with rice that I heat in the microwave for a few minutes. The heat combined with the heavy pressure either on my head or the back of my neck always helps to relieve some of the discomfort.
  6. Vitamins. Many migraine sufferers tend to be magnesium deficient. On top of that I take a multi-vitamin on a regular basis to cover my bases on those days when school really does keep me too busy to eat. I also take Maca powder to help with hormone regulation since that seems to be one of my regular, monthly, triggers 😉

2014-03-09 10.06.32I don’t take each of those supplements everyday, I have them in a balanced cycle which keeps a low dose in my system at all times.

I know that I am probably going to have headaches for the rest of my life, but I am glad that I have gotten them to a manageable state. Compared to the near daily headaches I was having at the end of college I’d say I’m doing well, but I’m always going to be on the lookout for ways to improve my overall quality of life. With the approval of my neurologist of course.

Any other migraine sufferers out there? What’s your go to for when a headache gets bad? Any lifestyle changes you feel have helped you?

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WIR #42: The Listography edition

Can I just say I’m not a huge fan of this “spring forward” thing? True the extra daylight is nice, as is the reminder that spring might actually be on its way, but losing an hour in my already short weekend? Let’s just say I had to get creative to pack it all in this week.

2014-03-09 20.17.45

My to-do list, blog post/workout schedule, and stress frog (what you don’t have one?)

wir42_foodprep

My weekend food prep. Granola (of course), rice with spinach and caramelized onions for a few lunches, and freshly bottled kombucha.

But since I recap the same sorts of things week after week (the joys of being a full time student who works weekends) I thought I would start this week off with a different sort of list.

listography_cover

I got this book ages ago (sometime in High School judging by some of the content) but basically each page is a prompt to start a different sort of list. Guilty pleasures, people you wouldn’t mind sleeping with, past hangouts, bad habits… 

Basically it’s a list lovers dream in terms of memory collecting, and since lists are the thing of the day for Monday’s I decided to share a page with you 🙂

My one major accomplishment last week was my first interview for a real job, coupled with filling out even more applications over the weekend (school’s are finally starting to post openings for next year). Since I’ve got job hunting on the brain I decided to share the “past jobs” page out of my Listography book.

  1. Babysitter 6th grade-current (yes I still babysit on occasion)
  2. Waitress at Steak’n’Shake, 2006-20011
  3. Campus Rec Customer Service Agent, 2009-2012
  4. Language Acquisition Lab Assistant, 2010-2012
  5. Red Lobster (aka Dead Lobster), summer 2012
  6. My current job as an aide in a local clinic, 2012-current
  7. Studypoint Inc. Test Prep Tutor, 2012-2013
  8. Applied Behavior Analysis intervention provider (my current weekend gig), 2013-current

Not bad for 8 years out in the job market 😉

I’m thinking of sharing more lists from here as weeks go by, just as a way to spice up the recaps, any of the above mentioned topics pique your interests?

Week-In-Review-Button-Final

Be sure to go visit Meghan and see what everyone else listed up!

What was the best thing you did this weekend? What’s the last job you’ve held? What was your first ever job?

WIR #29: The ER edition

Hey guys! Getting this in just under the wire today, but when I fill you in on what my Sunday consisted of I’m hoping you’ll cut me some slack…

But before we get there I have lots of other great things I checked off my to-do list in the last week, so let’s list those first shall we?

Big thanks as always to the lovely Meghan

The work
Did a few hours each at jobs 1 and 2 and picked up some bonus hours tutoring geometry for an old tutoring client of mine. I have lots of hours lined up at job #2 for when my client is on holiday breaks which will be awesome for my bank account. Did a couple of papers and clinical reports for school. There’s only 2 papers, 1 demonstration, client conferences, and comprehensive exams (those are next week already… yikes!) are all that are separating me from the last winter “break” I will ever have as a college student. Now if only these papers would go ahead and write themselves…

The workouts

Were less than stellar, I’ll admit. I went for about 8 miles total of run/walks last week, which means this weeks 5k may very well end up being the death of me. At this point I’m shooting to finish in 28 minutes and hoping my competitive spirit will kick in when I see all these people (including my baby brother) going so much faster than me. On the good side I foam rolled like a champ last week AND found a new yoga video I’m addicted to. I also signed up for the Elf 4 Health challenge and got paired with an awesome elf for the first round. 

The eats
Nothing crazy exciting here last week, except for the day I gorged myself on sweet potato fries…

And the pancakes BF and I made for lunch on Sunday, well after the ER incident…

But I think there will be enough food going on THIS week to make up for it.

The life
So this is the part where I fill you in on how I “ruined” a perfectly good weekend with the BF by getting the WORST migraine I have ever experienced at about 2am on Sunday. We’d had a great night out, shared a few drinks (nothing excessive or out of the ordinary), met some interesting characters at the bar (like the pair of recently divorced wives out to find some “young love” their words not mine), and cheered the hawks on to a nice win (even though the cable cut out literally seconds before the final buzzer). 
All in all a great night for us, made better by the prospect of sleeping in the next day (one of my favorite weekend activities). Well apparently my brain had other ideas. I woke up at 2:30 with a horrible migraine. Okay fine, life happens. Took my triptan, rolled over in bed and tried to go back to sleep. The problem with pills is that they only work if you can keep them down and this time around my stomach was having none of that. I’ll spare you the details but after a few quick runs to the bathroom I was feeling pretty icky and the headache wasn’t fading. Next thing I know the pain spikes like crazy and I lose feeling/control of my arm. 
Needless to say I woke the BF up at this point asking to go to the ER. 20 minute car ride, 1 full trashcan, and a struggle with paperwork later and we were settled into a room for the next 2 hours. I got countless pokes and prods, a CT scan (even though my MRI a few months ago was clean), and an IV full of something. Once the head pain faded some control of my arm came back, it was tingly and stiff but at least I could feel it. No one could find anything wrong or any reason as to why I should have been having arm problems associated with my headache. We left around 6am with instructions for me to make an appointment with my neurologist ASAP to follow up. 

Needless to say I spent most of Sunday sleeping, including a nap on the BF while he watched football, and going to bed way way early, and I am kind of grumpy that such an incident happened. I was all excited last week when my perscription came (my insurance refills automatically through the mail) and I still had a month and a half of my last three month supply. I thought I had been getting my headaches under control and was so happy that their frequency and severity had lessened. But this last one was scary. Majorly scary. So it’s back to the drawing board in terms of management, but no doubt I’ll figure it out eventually. 
Are you a competitive person when it comes to exercise? Any other migraine sufferers out there with advice to share? 

WIAW #26: The photo dump (with a tease) edition

Happy Wednesday everyone! I’m keeping things short and simple this week 1) because I don’t have that many photos to share and 2) because I have fun things planned for this morning (more on that below)

Like all other Wednesday’s be sure to stop by the party at Jenn’s 
(she’s the queen of all things veggie and her chickpea has the cutest smile, no joke!)
After recovering from all the headache craziness last week I’ve been trying to keep things a little cleaner. While I don’t cut sugar out of my diet on a regular basis when my system goes into overload a little cutting back never seems to hurt. Adding in extra fruits and veggies is good to.
Especially bananas of the public variety

And apple cranberry crunch (2 fruits in one!)

And more apples mixed with apple butter and EXTRA cinnamon. 

Veggies were found in (and under!) Tzatziki sauce.
(we put this on roasted veggie wraps that I may have been too hungry to photograph…)
Tostada Tuesday with extra veggie fixings!

Now the other reason I’m keeping it short and sweet this morning… if you follow me on Instagram (which you totally should be doing, because you love me) you’ll be getting updates all morning of my adventures in the kitchen. I actually set aside a few hours before class to just enjoy myself and see what comes of it, things could get crazy!

 Remember that Chopped Kitchen Challenge to use all the flavors of fall this month? Well I’m getting a head start on my cooking so I can actually share some recipes this time (I know, shocker right?) which means you can get a teaser of all the tastiness I’m dreaming up (as long as you promise to come back at the end of the month to share your own, deal?)

30 Days of Fitness: The importance of self care

Good morning everyone! I don’t know about you but this week in particular I am more than happy to say TGIF. The headaches have really been knocking me down this week and combined with the horrible (hormonal? stress? sweat?) case of adult acne that is taking over my neck and back I’ve been feeling a little less than loving towards my body lately.

Which is frustrating because a big part of the program I’m committed to this month is learning to love your body… I’ll admit to being skeptical  at first because I don’t usually buy into the touchy feely, think about your relationship with your body, aspect of fitness. I can understand it’s importance for some people (especially those in recovery) but for most of my short life I have been blissfully unaware of how it feels to be uncomfortable in your own skin.

Which is why this sudden upswing in headaches (an area of my health I can’t seem to control) and increase in acne (to the point where I’m starting to resemble my teenage brother) seem particularly ironic considering I’ve spent the last 10 days journaling and meditating on all the things I love about my body.

I’m the one who made the decision to make my health a priority. I’m the one who has enjoyed the rush of a (terrible yet invigorating) run, a boot camp class, and my at home weight sessions with Steph, despite my body’s best attempts to lay me flat on my back for a better part of the week. 
So the fact that my body chose now (while I’m actually trying to make some changes for the better) to stage a mini rebellion is both frustrating and enlightening. 
The biggest thing I am gaining from this months challenge so far (besides some pain in the triceps!) is a new found insight into my body. While taking the time to reflect and write and meditate I am learning to listen to myself. While trying to make it through another day of clinicals and the commute home before passing out into bed while the headache passes I am learning to be respectful of my limits. While working to place priority on all the aspects that make up my life I am learning the importance of personal time (and space). 
This is a work in progress. I am a work in progress. And I am learning and growing every day. I encourage you to listen to yourself today, really listen, and see what your body (not your mind!) has to say. I never explored the difference between the two before, but I am working at it day by day and loving what I find. 
Do me a favor and indulge in a little self care this weekend, will you? I promise it’s worth it 🙂 

WIR #22: Headaches and getting ahead

Ever feel like just when you are starting to get ahead life comes around to remind you “un uh nope” and sends you spinning 2 steps back.

Welcome to my life this week. After spending a great weekend at job #2 and then hanging out with the BF to celebrate passing my SLP content test (only one more big exam to go and it’s next week! YIKES!) I come home from work Sunday evening with the mother of all migraines. Took my pills and a nap, trying to get myself to at least a functional level for the rest of the evening… 
I ended up passing out in my bed around 9 pm, not completing any of the homework that needed to be turned it at various points yesterday. 
Needless to say waking up Monday morning with a migraine hangover (the best way I’ve come to describe the lingering pain and fuzziness that comes with my REALLY bad headaches) mad my placement and my afternoon scramble to complete my work before class really fun. Thank goodness I felt like an almost human being by the middle of the morning and the day managed to get progressively better from there. 
Setbacks like that make week in review even more important because looking back on all the things you are able to cross off your to-do list is the best inspiration to get through the seemingly impossible task of pulling yourself back from a setback. 
And if you don’t believe me just ask Meghan
the Queen of all things inspirational and listy. 
So before all that went down in the last 48 hours I wrote and published 4 blog posts, including an awesome (if I do say so myself) fall flavored link up and a public commitment to fitness both helping to keep me committed to finishing my second year of grad school on a healthier and more positive note. 
I got back a passing score on my SLP content exam (a requirement for state board of education licensure in Il) and celebrated with a giant pumpkin spice latte (the final free drink on my starbucks card so I can now fully cut that expensive addiction) and another practice test for the Praxis (my national board/licensing exam) which I take next Friday. 
I know how to party, huh?
Other than that I had great sessions at my off campus placement, did some language screenings on preschoolers, stressed over where I’m going to get another 47 hours of therapy before the end of the semester (I need to clock 200 on campus before going off to clinicals full time next semester… soo close yet SOOOO far). 
I had some great sessions with my kiddo at job #2, including a really fun team session at the library. I ran a couple miles (not giving that up even though it’s not part of Steph’s program) and did my exercises, meditations, and journal entries for for my fitness commitment. 
I savored my 18ish hours I got with the BF since I probably won’t see him now until after I take the Praxis on the 18th (I have a full weekend at job #2 plus studying kind of eating up my free time to be driving up there for the next week and a half). 
And then yesterday I finished a paper, read and reviewed two research articles, wrote 3 lesson plans, and just tried to catch my breath. 10 days from now and life will be good and this chaos will be over… let’s just hope the headaches hold off until then 🙂 

WIAW #21: The no regrets, photo dump, edition

So you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been AWOL since last Thursday (if you didn’t it’s okay I forgive you). Since one of my goals for self improvement this year is no excuses I’m not going to offer up a list of why I was too busy. 
Life happens, and especially this first full week of clinic my life  tends to get out of control which requires me to take a step back and refocus (and also take a step back from the caffeine but we’ll get to that…)
And anyways you came here for the food, right?
 
Proud momma to the worlds most adorable chickpea Jenn is hosting the party as always. So you should go check out her tips on how to have fun with you veggies, and offer her your congratulations on her baby girl!
This is a weird Wednesday for me because it’s been a weird week… Breakfast has ranged from whole grain waffles topped with the worlds easiest fruit “compote” (which is really just thawed frozen cherries and berries mixed with fresh ginger and lots of cinnamon) to cookies from my lunchbox scarfed down during my morning commute (yes it happened, I’m not proud of it but I make no excuses either!)

Lunch has mostly been this leftover sweet corn and poblano soup my dad made. Sweet and summery with just a little bit of heat it’s been a nice treat since I’ve been too scattered to think (let alone think about packing a full lunch) the last few days.

Said soup has been eaten over piles of client notes and/or praxis notes as I try to remind myself why I signed up to take this test in October (when I don’t have to have it passed until sometime next spring). Nothing says back to clinic like piles of paperwork!

I did really good on Monday with a nice greens and green tea pick me up for the afternoon slump. Tasted good, left me feeling good, I was patting myself on the shoulder a bit for having the organization to get this treat together for myself.

Then Tuesday hit. Didn’t make it up with my first 3 alarms which I how I ended  up with cookies for breakfast and a jar of soup for lunch, and nothing else to get me through the day. Which is how I found myself at CVS buying one of those bottled Frappuccino’s, and since they were buy one get one free I bought 2. And then because I was in such a brain fog I drank both. And thoroughly regretted them both when, by the end of my mommy-daughter date night yesterday I had triggered myself into a major migraine. 
I know. My bad. Some days the boost needed to get through the day is worth a bit of a headache. Some days the resulting pain is a lot worse than any good I got out of the caffeine buzz.  Yesterday was kind of in the middle, but I was happy to sink into a nice hot bath and then my bed after yesterday (more in the date night in my WIR when I get that up!)