migraineAfter being hit with a doozie this week, and a friend asking for migraine info I decided just to put it all in one place here on my blog where I can add to it as I remember things or try something new.

This week I was reminded just how bad a migraine could be, bringing my day to a screeching halt to retreat into the dark bedroom. I am SO thankful they don’t get me like that much anymore. Mine used to be a lot more often – like double digits per month. My day started with my head feeling a little off, but instead of a slow progression across the left side of my head, the migraine hit fast and furious from the back left thru the left side into my left temple and eye- it even threw in some nausea. The Imitrex that usually helps. Didn’t.

Migraines are a chemical change in the brain and are often hereditary.  A migraine brain basically overreacts to stimuli and blood vessels contract. On the DNA test I did, it did say I was more likely to have them but since several people in my family suffered from them and I’d already been plagued with them for years, this wasn’t new news. 

The Migraine book helped a LOT in understanding and I highly recommend it  http://amzn.to/2givvre

Meds I’ve tried Imitrex/sumatriptan oral and nose spray, Fioricet/ butalbital-acetaminophen-caffeine oral, Maxalt, Relpax, Fiorinal, Flexeril/Cyclobenzaprine, Diclofenac, Topomax. There is a more expensive drug that combines naproxen with Imitrex. I can get the same effect with the plain Imitrex and an Aleve- but the combo can greatly increase your risk of stroke or heart attack. The abortive (triptans) worked better for me than the preventatives (anti-seizure and antidepressants) I was almost glad Topomax didn’t work because I was such a zombie and didn’t even care that I was. Nortriptyline helped a little bit for awhile but then quit being as effective. It was either up the dose or let it go. I chose the later based on the limited benefit. I never tried the blood pressure set, but everyone is different. When they were trying all those I was getting 10-17 a month. Now thankfully I can go months w.o one and just need to keep Imitrex, Butalbital and Flexeril on hand.

The other stuff I’ve tried:  Ice packs, curcumin, chiropractic, Ibrupfin and Acetomietaphin together, Excedrin Migraine which is just acetaminophen with caffeine, Goodies powder (quick deliver aspirin) allergy meds, expectorants like Mucinex, CBD oil. Brain Freeze with ice cubes or popsicles. Taking a cold shower, sitting in a hot steamy shower.  Magnesium but be careful with that one- too much and you’ll spend all your time in the bathroom. Essential Oils (peppermint and lavender), but that’s harder to do with cats since most are harmful to them and I put it on my wrist and had to make sure the cats didn’t touch it. Massaging my earlobes and hands, Feverfew, Butterbur, Vitamin B, smelling I think it was oregano or lavender, CoQ10, magnesium, capsaicin based and other muscle rubs like Icy Hot. Oh and I saw a nerosuregeon but that just helped me empty my wallet.

I’ve been told that if a migraine is different than the others that you should seek medical help. I didn’t want medical help. I didn’t want to move. It was the worst one I’d ever had and told my hubby I loved him because I was sure that my head could not contain that much pressure and something would burst leaving me dead before morning. He made me go to the emergency room. I leaned the ER is no place for a migraine. The nurses were great, turned the lights off and shut the door. The doctor came in, turned the lights on, shined a light in my eyes, told me I should’ve taken more Imitrex than prescribed for me, gave me shot of something that made me tired but didn’t touch the migraine and sent me on my way.

What I didn’t try: Hypertension preventatives, beta blockers or calcium channel blockers. A whole slew of other prescription meds. Yoga. Going gluten free. St. Johns Wart.  I don’t really drink much soda so I never swore off aspartame because I drink mostly coffee or water. Never tried a detox bath, taking a walk or having sex. All things I heard helped but didn’t want to do anything but lay in bed in the dark.  I didn’t try anything you attach to you like the headband things like Cefaly or earseeds. If I didn’t have such a needle problem I would’ve tried acupuncture, piercing your daith (part of the ear), or botox.

They are coming out with new meds or things you wear on your head all the time.

My migraine triggers: Some can cause one all on its own, some need another one and some just make it worse when I’m already fighting a migraine. Worry/stress, especially emotional stress, lack of caffeine, bad sleep, getting overheated, dehydration, Ibuprofen rebound, the weather, alcohol especially if I don’t have a lot of water with it. Light. Everything seems too bright but flickering lights are the worst- like a fan turning below a light is horrible. I take ear plugs every Sunday we go to church because it actually hurts my ears. Migraine sufferers are more sensitive to light, sound and smells, are more prone to motion sickness or anesthesia sickness and are often low on magnesium. Perfume used to be a trigger back when I was able to smell. I really noticed how much people talk with thier hands when I have a migraine coming on. The movement really bothers me.  Fluorescent lights bother me and sometimes I’ll wear my sunglasses in the grocery store as I can’t count all the times I went to the grocery store fine and left with a migraine. The only food I found in my log that caused them was KFC chicken but I can’t have sweets once I have one or it gets worse.  My thyroiditis does it too. When my thyroid is off my migraines are worse. The biggest culprit I think was the birth control pills. When I quit those my endometriosis flared up so it was one or the other until my hysterectomy. If they had known it was my pills I could’ve tried something different.

Did you know there are several types of migraines and they don’t all involve excruciating head pain?

Ocular migraines:  My eyesight bothers me with both and things are blurry but this was different. I kept seeing light spots like I’d been in the bright sun then like bright white heat waves. They were to the left of field of vision and were there regardless of which eye I closed. I squeezed my eyes shut and that didn’t stop it. I checked my bp and it was good. I did the self stroke test and held my arms out and they were level, I smiled my normal crooked smile at myself in the mirror and continued to drink my coffee without it running out one side of my mouth. I put an eye drops in but nothing was getting rid of it. I tried to keep looking for an invoice but whole parts of the paper were white and the computer screen too. Now my vision has slowly gone downhill but nothing like this and it was really scaring me for several reasons.

1- I’ve lost my sense of smell years back, my ear has been ringing for with tinnitus for years and I didn’t want my sight to go too.
2- I use my vision for work plus ya know I really like being able to see.
3-my uncle lost his sight when plaque broke loose and hit his eye.
4- my arms and legs go numb for no reason.

After 40 minutes I took an aspirin and went to my eye doctor, where of course it had started to subside. They fit me in and did a very thorough exam. After being slight scolded for not having a family doctor his best guess was an ocular migraine. Now I’ve had regular migraines with the debilitating head pain but this didn’t hurt. I don’t have auras with my migraines and I wasn’t really seeing things but lack of things in bright white. They said it could be a sign of stress and sleep problems. Which both of those affect the regular migraines I have.

What I discovered about my own migraines:  My migraines have always started in the back left of my head except for 2 times on the back right. I feel nauseous about a third of the time. I don’t see flashing lights or auras with a typical head pain migraine but my vision gets worse.  It’s never my whole head – it’s one side. Others can often see I have a migraine by looking at the left side of my face before I acknowledge one is hitting. When one hits my left side of my face droops. My husband and sister-in-law can hear it in my voice. I need a dark room and then still something to put over my eyes and I need to just stop and lay down and let the meds work. Nothing I tried cured them. Imitrex helps the most. Back when they were taking over half of each month and with the limited amount insurance covers, I would wait till one was horrible, to take one or cut the pill in half so I had more than nine per month.  Imitrex works best if you take the full pill, it at the start and stop doing everything and let it work. Time/age helped, and I think getting off birth control helped a lot. I know my thyroid is involved too but they never said that. The journal I kept for years helped me see things I would’ve never put together by memory alone. In hindsight, it would’ve been helpful to keep that journal on one that also showed weather. I know they now have apps for tracking them too. Despite all the male doctors writing it off to my menstrual cycle, there was no correlation when I kept the log. I was haivng hot flashes from too much estrogen (hormone imbalance) so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise when they decreased when I went off birth control.

My father-in-law used to say he didn’t know how I put up with them. Basically, it is because I didn’t have a choice. Part of dealing with it was learning my triggers I think and part was due to age I guess as everyone in my family that has had them all of us have gotten less as we got older. My last twenties and thirties were the worst. I’d had one as a kid and one as a teen. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer they took on a whole new level of intensity. They decreased a lot in my forties and after my hysterectomy.

I am very thankful for my understanding husband and blacked out dark bedroom and the ability being self-employed to just go lay down instead of pushing like when I had my retail store. I’m thankful the migraines are not near as often as they used to be – on the bright side I noticed my shoulder pain less and it’s gone except for the migraine hangover and body pain feeling that happens after a bad one

My advice: Read the book. Keep a daily log. Take an abortive at the START. Find a doctor willing to try to find the best souluion for YOU. Keep an eye open for new migraine options.



2 thoughts on “Migraines

  1. AuthorJoePerroneJr

    I feel your pain – I really do! As a kid in school, I suffered from unbearable migraines. I used to use suppositories that contained codeine for them (I know – wrong end!), and they worked. Then, for the longest time (40 years) they were gone.
    One day, I was operating a cash register, when I noticed I was having difficulty seeing the keys. No matter how many times I blinked, or moved my eyes up, down, and left to right, there were holes in my vision. It was as if I were looking through a piece of Swiss cheese. I called the ophthalmologist in a panic, and told him of my “vision” problems. He chuckled, and then proceeded to describe my symptoms better than I could. He said I was having a “visual migraine,” and that I would be fine. But to be on the safe side, I could stop by his office and he’d examine me.
    Long story short, his assessment was absolutely spot on. Since then, I have experienced many “visual migraines,” and have learned to detect them as soon as they begin. If I am fortunate enough to be home, I immediately take three Advil, and the symptoms nearly always dissipate before an actual “headache” has a chance to overcome me.
    I can certainly sympathize with you, Kim, and I hope your migraines go away (they often run in cycles, with many years inbetween spates).
    In the meantime, try the Advil thing; maybe it will work for you. Speed in attacking these painful incidents is key.
    Good luck. 🙂


    1. KiM Post author

      Well, I’ve never gone more than probably 6 weeks without one but that’s way better than what they used to be. This last one was just worse than normal as it stopped me from doing anything. My first ocular migraine (that you call a visual migraine) was scary. The holes thru swiss cheese was a great way to describe the nothingness of white. Those never turned into a painful migraine for me and after knowing I was losing my sight I’d prefer those without the pain. Ibuprofen which is Advil can cause a rebound migraine for me ~



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