My migraine journey

I have had terrible terrible headaches for as long as I can remember. I didn’t know they were migraines until I was married.

For a very long time, I was never headache free. I ate OTC pain relievers trying to gain that relief, but it just didn’t come. Migraines only came a few times a year – maybe four or five. I went to bed and they eventually went away. I remember one time when the boys were very little and Ron was traveling. I prayed that if I died, God would keep the boys safe until Ron got home. I should have made more of an effort then to find relief. That’s not the kind of prayer you want to utter several times a year. But the few things I’d been given only dulled the pain and made me foggy brain. Better to suffer through.

About ten years ago, the frequency increased. At first it was several times a month and then it was several times a week. I had to go to the doctor then. I felt like a human experiment for several years. The first preventative medication was a low dose of verapamil which was slowly increased to a much larger dose. I was put on an antidepressant which really helped but I was in a fog the whole time I was on it. Then it was Topomax. When I was coming off the antidepressant and building up the Topomax dosage, I went 30 days without a migraine. It was wonderful, except the Topomax made me manic. I was giddy, talked all the time and never slept. When I reduced the dosage, I crashed and burned. The giddiness turned into fear and nearly constant crying. How I managed to go to work each day was a wonder. One night, I got in the car to go to a WFU game with Ron and couldn’t pull myself together. He had to bring me home. This was the end of my rope with preventative medications.

I started searching for natural remedies then. I found an elimination diet that focused on pain-free foods and started out with brown rice and cooked green veggies among a few other things. (There are several elimination diets out there. The one I linked was the one I liked the best.) Two weeks on and then, after your body was clean, I added one thing every 2 or 3 days to find out what my triggers were. I found quite a few including many products with gluten, so I went gluten free. At one time, I was on a gluten free vegan diet. That one got a little hard, but it helped considerably. ┬áThe problem with such a strict diet is that it becomes the center of your life. AND you have to tell everyone you go out to eat with or work with or anyone who might give you a present of food what’s up. It’s also very difficult to stay on day in and day out.

So at some point, I started looking for other natural helps. I was already taking feverfew three times a day. I found information on B2 and Magnesium that was encouraging. Most of the information I found was from sites that had some product to push, so it took a while to get through the junk. It took almost a year of experimenting with dosages to find that 400 mg of B2 and 800 mg of magnesium citrate work well for me. I can frequently go a couple of weeks without a migraine on this┬áregimen. I even hit 29 days once. Drinking hot ginger tea helps too, although I can’t say that it will ever be a favorite drink of mine.

There are certain things that will bring on a migraine that I don’t seem to have any control over. Severe changes in the weather are about a 50/50 chance of inducing a migraine. Not sleeping well will cause one. I do everything I can to make sure that I’ll sleep, but I wasn’t a good sleeper ever. Right before I get really sick, I’ll get several – same for sinus headaches, but after, not before. There are certain smells and still some foods that I know I just can’t have. MSG and soy sauce – regular and gluten free are killers. I still eat primarily gluten free, but a little isn’t a hindrance anymore.


Dud week blogging

I wake up and am generally ready to hit the day with a cup of coffee in hand, and I look forward to writing (or quipping depending on the content), but this has been a hard week to blog.

I’ve been fighting a migraine all week. I know it’s because I’ve been eating junk. Why do I do that when I know the results? What a ding dong!

I’ve been interviewing all week. Lots of focus needed – researching the job and the company or school. Lots of variety in positions, company types, demands – even the drives have been all over the chart. Lots of adrenaline needed for the interviews themselves. The shortest was 30 minutes and the longest was 1.5 hours. And even with interviews, I still can’t relax with a job well done. It’s not well done yet. No matter what I think of how an interview went, until I get a job offer, my work is not finished. NO job means more searching, reading, weeding and then shooting off that resume attached to yet another compelling cover letter.

Between the two, my blogging has suffered. I’ve started several posts that are sitting in the draft widget now. They just haven’t come together. I’ve missed blogging. I’m amazed at how much I enjoy the medium.

Two coffee pot family

In October I noticed my migraines were way up again. Time to make some more changes. I’d become careless in what I was eating.

Back on the elimination diet. More research, more purging of bad foods.

This time, in addition to gluten, dairy, and aspartame, I kept off the plate (or cup) – caffeine, chocolate, nuts, pickled things. It’s helped tremendously. Took a bit, but I’ve seen a great decrease. Only 2 in January so far with a minor one that didn’t require meds.

So the second coffee pot. Obviously a source of caffeine. During the week, we just drank decaf since Ron could get his caffeine fix at work or on the road. Weekends, I’d fix a pot of caffeinated for Ron, and then fix me a few cups of the other.

Last night, Ron surprised me with a pot of my own.


It’s been a week . . .

I went a week in between migraines this time. Not a pain-free week mind you, but a week in between the kind that make you have to lay down and take major pain meds. THAT is a miracle! AND I’m really grateful.

It might have been longer if I’d not been careless at dinner Wednesday night. We went for Mexican and I ate hot sauce with reckless abandon, thinking while I ate it that this would be trouble. It was. Two days worth. One of them a traveling day even.

oh well.

You know, I did have a thought this past week. It was probably completely bizarre and makes no sense. I did an internet search and only found one other reference and it was in another blog. But I’ve thought and thought about the time my migraines went from several a year to the time they went to chonic and it seems it was about the same time I had shingles. It’s also in the same location – same side of my face and down the same arm. Probaby a crazy thought, but I did think about it.


I’ve had severe excruciating headaches for as long as I can remember. My dad must have had them too because I remember he took goodies or ate aspirin and he’d squint and rub his fingers or palm across his forehead.

To mother’s credit, she did take me to the eye doctor a once when I was a girl to see if my vision was so terrible that might be the cause of them. When it wasn’t, however, that was the end of that.

What it taught me was to carry pain in silence because we did not discuss things without a cause. Things without a cause were not real. And we all know what things that aren’t real are *wink* *wink*

It was with such relief as an adult to finally be diagnosed. Well, I suppose relief is a funny word. I’d rather not have a chronic illness. But in reality, it’s better to give it a name than not. It’s better to research it and try remedies – both pharmaceutical and herbal. And again, I do owe a debt of being able to work, host, teach, converse, write through small, medium, intense pain.