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Ritalin Three Weeks In: A Turbulent Relationship

Like so often happens with love at first sight, the spark I initially felt with Ritalin has faded. That first week, I had energy and a clear head even when I had a migraine. Week two began with a five-day migraine full of fatigue and head fog. Since that attack let up, I’ve had intermittent bursts of vigor and mental wherewithal, but also daily migraine attacks, during which I’m back to physical and mental blah.

Despite my freakout, I don’t think Ritalin is directly making the migraines worse. I’m pretty sure the five-day migraine was the result of unwittingly (or half-wittingly) reintroducing salicylates to my body. Since then, the weather has been erratic. My sleep is off, too, which could definitely be a Ritalin side effect.

On top of those issues, whenever one migraine dissipates, I have enough oomph to do something that triggers another migraine. That energy is a positive effect of the Ritalin that I have yet to figure out how to manage. I unintentionally over-exert during yoga or on the treadmill as I try to find the balance point of good exercise without triggering a migraine. Or I go to a place that I don’t know will be perfumed. Or I have sex (damn those orgasm-triggered migraines!).

Could it be that if I went two days in a row without a migraine, the next attack would be less debilitating? As if I need to recharge between migraines to get back that lovin’ feeling even when I have an attack. I also wonder if my body is acclimating to the medication and it is becoming less effective.

Ever a romantic, I still believe Ritalin and I can work through these difficulties and create a loving, supportive long-term relationship. Maybe we’re not meant to see each other every day, but would be better off having fun together a few times a week. I’m sticking with daily for now as I try to manage all the other triggers. That’s always hard work, but not as exhausting as it was before Ritalin came into the picture. Every relationship has its tradeoffs, but the good ones are worth the effort.

4 Responses to Ritalin Three Weeks In: A Turbulent Relationship

  1. Chris says:

    “Head Fog” It is interesting that you mention this. Today I spent the first half of the day in exactly that, a head fog.
    I awoke at 4:30 am (early for me) with a migraine. I hit back hard with abortives. Between the migraine itself and the side effects of the medications I found myself fogged up.
    I went to work, but had trouble focusing and being productive.
    As the medication began to wear off the pain of the migraine returned (less than this morning but not by much).
    As I write this I am really starting to feel the migraine more and more. Now, I fight to focus, but not because of medication grogginess, rather I fight the distracting and disorienting pain of migraine.
    About six weeks ago I had my first Botox treatment. Since that time I have been watching and waiting for the effects. I can report that my migraine free days have increased. Prior to the treatment it was a rare occurrence to have a day completely free of migraine. Now I am starting to see days here and there. Last weekend I even had a three day period where I had two migraine free days!!! This is great and such a welcome relief!!!
    The down side of such moderate improvement is that during my migraine days I now fight to keep from falling quickly into a dark hole (as I have been reminded of what it is like to have a pain free day).
    Today is such a day. Beyond the pain and head fog I am feeling anger and frustration.
    The best thing for me to do during such times is to be meditate and work on mindfulness. There are positives and each moment brings fresh experience. If only I could break away from today’s pain and truly enjoy this Friday afternoon.
    Tomorrow is a new day and a fresh chance!

  2. Ann says:

    It’s all so complicated. Have you read a book on fasting, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman? He has a good chapter on migraine.

    You could also check here: http://www.drfuhrman.com/disease/Headaches.aspx

    I know it sounds drastic (his recommendatios), but drastic times call for drastic measures.

    I’ve had a lot of improvement doing this.

    All the best,
    Ann

  3. Nilofer says:

    Sometimes I think that what we need, as a patient cohort, is adaptive software. I feel like I need a second brain in order to keep on top of the triggers. I have a migraine right now which started yesterday late afternoon, day 10 of my cycle. If I had remembered to take my Exedrin with me, I could have caught the headache when it was in the ‘regular’ headache stage of pressure and general malaise before it turned to a right-sided migraine. I also wonder why this one didn’t respond to my generic triptan. Is the generic inferior to Maxalt? Was my diet the day before or the day of enough to bring me over the threshold? Have I been too cavalier with dairy lately? I have a goal to go 1 full month without a migraine but so far, the longest I have been able to go is 10 days. I know that there are food trigger apps, but I want something that tells me what to do . Gives me a green light or red light or yellow light for every food I eat before I eat it and reminds me what day of my cycle I am in. Maybe something that can read biometric patterns too, like blood pressure, sugar level, etc. Something that also alerts me to the pollen level and the barometric pressure.

  4. Chris says:

    I too long for a tool of some sort…

    I have created a “HUGE” spreadsheet where I track not only the migraines, but also, what I eat, when I eat, when I go to bed, when I wake up, what stress I notice, what preventatives I take, what abortives I take, what supplements I take, how much caffiene I intake, how much water I drink, the barometric pressure and many more data points.

    It is time consuming to log some much information and, to be honest, there are days when I skip filling out every data point. I do, however, strive to make this a habit.

    What does this do for me? Well, it provides for an accurate look-back when I hit a bad stretch. What triggered the migraines, what was different from the last “good” stretch?

    I can better answer questions like that when I have the data.

    What this does not do is predict. It does not tell me what is coming or when.

    It is a tool for recording and tracking. If someone had a predictive tool I would love to get my hands on it. I fear it does not exist. So, for now, I record and track!

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