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Kerrie’s 2007: A Year to Forget

There was a theme consistently underlying my 2007 posts: My migraines were BAD. The year started with five months of being woken up by a migraine nearly every night and ended with more than two months of horrendous all-the-time migraines. I felt more beaten down than I have in the last three years.

Before you get discouraged by the following review, know that I am more optimistic about treating my migraines than I have been since I got my occipital nerve stimulator in December 2003. (Read more on that following the treatment review.)

Acupuncture
I revisited acupuncture, but my superhero acupuncturist told me that more sessions would be a waste of time and money.

Naturopathy/Homeopathy
Shedding tears in the naturopath’s office the first time was enough to keep me from seeing her again. Against my hard fast rule that I not take anything I can’t identify (which I also broke with the acupuncturist), I took the homeopathic remedy, vitamin D and magnesium supplements she suggested. They did nothing.

Chiropractic
I gave the chiropractor two months, which she said was the maximum time to see results. I went five times one week, four the next, three for a couple weeks and so on. Turns out I hold my adjustments very well. Unfortunately my migraines didn’t changed and having my neck adjusted freaked me out. Once she stopped asking about my headaches, I knew she had given up.

Sleep Specialist
Many people with treatment-resistant headache disorders become much more treatable once they have sleep problems resolved. Although my sleep seemed fine, I saw a sleep specialist with a background in neurology. Sadly, my sleep is practically perfect. I sleep eight hours, wake up rested, nap when I need to without having it interfere with that night’s sleep.

New Headache Specialist
I saw a new Seattle-based headache specialist in May. We hit it off immediately. Too bad we focused on my blog, headache patients in general and clinical trials. I left enrolled in a clinical trial for Lyrica (which I quit) and with a potential advertiser for The Daily Headache, but without having discussed any of my questions or other treatment options.

Food Trigger Diets
Food triggers were my obsession, even though I’ve always thought them to hog the spotlight in headache treatment (only about 25% of people actually have food triggers).

Although wheat and dairy aren’t considered headache triggers in the general sense, they were my target for months. My no-dairy foray lasted six weeks — until I discovered that I’d dropped 12 pounds in that time. Testing wheat lasted three months, yet I had no ill-effects when I reintroduced it.

After a couple years of avoiding them, I’m almost positive that beans, nuts and legumes are triggers for me. But berries, squash, sunflower and soy oil, barley, pineapple, onions. . . are all questionable.

I declared that I was going on a drastic food trigger elimination diet. A couple weeks later came this post: Drastic Elimination Diet for Migraine Triggers: What Was I Thinking? You get the point.

Myofascial Release
Finally some good news. In August I started myofascial release and noticed results quickly. The changes aren’t dramatic, but each treatment usually gives me some relief. The effects have never lasted more than two days — and sometimes only a couple hours — but I’m not complaining.

Craniosacral Therapy
Two sessions weren’t enough to judge if craniosacral will be effective. I’ll definitely try again, but it just didn’t work out this time. The woman I saw was wonderful and spent an extra 30 minutes with me each visit. Unfortunately, driving to her practice takes 30 minutes. After spending 20 minutes lost on the way there and another hour on the way home, the negative associations were too strong for me to go back.

What Now?
When the last migraine spell lifted in mid-December I remembered how good I could feel. Thinking about what I love about my life was no longer a reminder of what I couldn’t have, but of how wonderful it truly is. I am happy and getting out of the house more. I even get to see friends!

This year’s list of treatments to try is as long as it was last year. Its like I’ve spent the last 10 years whittling down possibilities and arrived at the most promising therapies. Having had this faith shattered in the past, I am cautious. Nonetheless, I’m positive a brighter path is ahead.

13 Responses to Kerrie’s 2007: A Year to Forget

  1. MaxJerz says:

    Thank you for this post, Kerrie. I started acupuncture in mid-November, and saw great results at first. She fixed my sleep problems, daily vertigo and nausea, and much of my chronic daily headache went away. Unfortunately, the daily headache was replaced by daily migraines, and most of my symptoms have come back. I’m realizing now that the acupuncture is not going to be as effective as I had hoped. This is a hard realization to have (as I’m sure you know). It helps me to know I’m not alone in this constant search for an effective treatment regimen.

  2. Vicki says:

    Hi Kerrie. It’s such a relief to read your entries on this blog. Your catalog of treatments tried looks a lot like mine. I’m also currently trying Qui Quong, massage, acupuncture, “healing therapy” (hard to describe…kind of like massage, but moving into spiritual/emotional release), NUCCA chiropractic, and another thing I don’t know how to describe but it involves very gently moving bones that are “stuck.” Sounds bad, but is very helpful to at least get locked joints moving again.

    And, in a couple of weeks, I’m going to the Michigan Head-Pain & Neurological Institute (live in Oregon, so it’s a big deal). When I kept praying in Dec. that an aneurysm in my brain would burst and kill me, I realized that I’m just at my wit’s end. This has been going on, and getting worse, for the past 23 years, with the last 3-4 being disabled by it.

    I’m both cautiously optimistic and nervous about Michigan. I’ve gotten my hopes up so many times…….

    Oh, I’m also trying the 1-2-3 diet, but find that I don’t have the ??? to stop using abortive or rescue meds. The pain is just too overwhelming. And I’m reading the Dr. Sarno book on back pain and mind-body connection. So I’m not giving up.

    Like you, Kerrie, I also revel in the few days when I actually feel good! It reminds me that I’m not running away from life, being “rewarded” by being sick (in some sick way), lazy, etc. All the guilt and self-questioning that seem to come with the territory.

    Anyhow, thank you again for your awesome blog. Having migraines is so isolating…I get tired of hearing myself say anything about the headaches, so I don’t even bother mentioning them to others if I can help it.

    Warm regards & happy new year!

  3. Great post, showing what you’ve tried. And this kind of detailed, organized list is just what your next doctor (who I hope is great!) will be able to use. I hope some success comes your way soon!

  4. Sue says:

    wow. What a year you’ve had. I hope things improve for you in 2008.

  5. Amy says:

    Hello, I just found your blog today and am trying to catch-up on past posts. I read your post about seeing a new headache specialist with much interest because I, too, am in the Seattle area. I think I used to go to that same specialist. Used to. If it’s the same doctor I’m thinking of, she’s great at research but wasn’t much help with my pain. Best of luck to you in 2008!

  6. Neha says:

    Hi! I came across your blog – and 2007 was a year of migraines for me as well! I’ve started keeping a food and activity diary to monitor what I’m feeling, eating, doing before these hit. They really are excruciating and not being able to pinpoint where they come from is frustrating beyond belief! But you have listed many different things here that I may try – I’ll report back if any work! Hope that 2008 alleviates these terrible migraines 🙂

  7. Kerrie says:

    Thanks for all the comments. I love hearing what others have tried. Take care of yourselves! I wish you all the best of luck.

    Kerrie

  8. Barbara K. says:

    I have great respect for how you have taken charge of your health and treatment regimen. I know when I am in pain, I often just want someone to make it better. It takes great self awareness and courage to keep trying new approaches and to recognize that you are the expert on your health status. This is something I learn each time I read your blog.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kerrie – sorry you had such a rough year. One of the biggest challenges with this disease, I think, is that there is no single thing that will make it go away. I keep looking for the one thing, even tho I know there isn’t one. And so many therapies – drugs, chiropractic, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, on and on, are useful as part of a bigger plan with a lot of pieces to it – and finding all the pieces is hard, and what pieces work shifts over time, and it is a full-time job just trying to manage it all, on top of whatever else we are doing in our lives…

    I’m re-reading Breaking the Headache Cycle by Ian Livingstone, MD – his relaxation techniques mad a huge difference in reducing my migraines a few years back – I’m trying to get back to them. Here’s to a better year for all of us…

    – Megs
    http://www.meganoltmanfreemybrain.typepad.com

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kerrie – sorry you had such a rough year. One of the biggest challenges with this disease, I think, is that there is no single thing that will make it go away. I keep looking for the one thing, even tho I know there isn’t one. And so many therapies – drugs, chiropractic, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, on and on, are useful as part of a bigger plan with a lot of pieces to it – and finding all the pieces is hard, and what pieces work shifts over time, and it is a full-time job just trying to manage it all, on top of whatever else we are doing in our lives…

    I’m re-reading Breaking the Headache Cycle by Ian Livingstone, MD – his relaxation techniques mad a huge difference in reducing my migraines a few years back – I’m trying to get back to them. Here’s to a better year for all of us…

    – Megs
    http://www.meganoltmanfreemybrain.typepad.com

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kerrie – sorry you had such a rough year. One of the biggest challenges with this disease, I think, is that there is no single thing that will make it go away. I keep looking for the one thing, even tho I know there isn’t one. And so many therapies – drugs, chiropractic, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, on and on, are useful as part of a bigger plan with a lot of pieces to it – and finding all the pieces is hard, and what pieces work shifts over time, and it is a full-time job just trying to manage it all, on top of whatever else we are doing in our lives…

    I’m re-reading Breaking the Headache Cycle by Ian Livingstone, MD – his relaxation techniques mad a huge difference in reducing my migraines a few years back – I’m trying to get back to them. Here’s to a better year for all of us…

    – Megs
    http://www.meganoltmanfreemybrain.typepad.com

  12. Andy says:

    Kerri, I am with you. Seems we are living the same nightmare. I went on long-term disability last Nov., and the migraines are winning, for now. I too am seeing a new specialist, although I am on the east coast. I am going to Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, and my doctor is the current Pres. of the American Headache Association. I am being admitted next week, and my confidence in results is as high as it has ever been. Thanks for writing your blog, even when it’s hard to open your eyes for the world.

    Andy

  13. Rlorence says:

    trying to break the daily headache & migraine cycle is a BITCH. For over 35 years I have been slowly torchured with various treatments, drugs that make me sick, botox & even surgery. The monsterous, life ruining headaches continue to plague me as they do many of you. Some doctors advocate withdrawal from painkillere. They are the pills that help sowhat to relieve our pain. Why would we want to give up painkillers and cause more pain with withdrawal? We all need help to end these disabling headaches! Feel free to email me anytime.

    flo_02472@yahoo.com

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