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Out of Comission

My health has been on a steady slide since June. I’ve spent the last six weeks mired in horrendous fatigue. I cannot think and can barely function. My frustration is high. I’m scared of what’s to come and grieving for what I’ve lost. Overall, I managing to stay relatively optimistic and present in the moment, but I have some bleak times.

There’s more to tell you than I’m able to write. I’ll leave you with the best news I have right now: a gastroenterologist has finally agreed to see me. There has to be a reason I get a migraine every time I eat; whether or not that reason can be found remains to be seen. My appointment is on October 6 and I see my headache specialist on October 7.

 

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Migraine Stories: 14-Year-Old Raises $12,110 for Migraine Research

Daisy Griffin, a 14-year-old who has chronic migraine, raised $12,110 for migraine research by sailing alone across the Long Island Sound. She will donate 100% of the money raised to the Migraine Research Foundation.

Daisy’s Migraine Story

Daisy has had severedaisy_griffin_sail migraine attacks since she was four, which have progressed to chronic. Like so many of us, she has tried a slew of treatments, from medications to supplements to yoga to biofeedback. She’s had two in-patient hospital stays to treat migraine. Thanks to a couple preventive medications, she’s feeling better now, but still has a headache every day and migraine attacks at least a few days a week.

When I asked what she wished people understood about migraine, she said, “I really wish that people would get that I’m not just having a headache. I have a headache all the time and a few times a week it becomes a severe migraine. A lot of times people tell me how lucky I am that I miss school all the time. I actually feel lucky when I can make it to school, or even when I can get out of bed.”

Sailing for Migraine Research

Daisy has been sailing avidly since she was eight years old. It’s one of her great passions and she fears chronic migraine could force her to give up. Since she’s been feeling better, she sees this sailing trip across the sound as “sort of like me saying: Take that migraines! I can still do what I love!”

Daisy sailed an 18-foot spinnaker, the largest boat she’s ever sailed by herself. The sailing itself was much easier than she expected because the wind wasn’t very strong. But little wind also made for, in Daisy’s words, a “loooong” trip.

Having chronic migraine meant that Daisy’s trip could have be derailed by the ever-present threat of another attack. She was hopeful that even if she had a migraine attack, sailing would distract and relax her, as it usually does. To prepare, she made sure she got enough sleep and drank a lot of water before the trip. It worked! Daisy’s head hurt a bit, but she didn’t have a migraine attack. (Her father trailed at in a motorboat, so she could radio him for help if she had an attack. But she didn’t need to.)

Fundraising

In addition to the sailing trip, Daisy has raised awareness and donations through a booth at local fair (where she hosted a migraine trivia game) and a lemonade stand with her siblings and cousins. She wrote to groups and individuals to solicit donations and publicize her trip. A generous donor agreed to double the amount that she raised, which brought the total to $12,110.

You can still donate to Daisy’s campaign and the Migraine Research Foundation through CrowdRise.

Way to Go, Daisy!

I’ve never met Daisy, but I’m tearing up as I write about her accomplishments. Much of her young life has been dominated by migraine. Instead of trying to forget about migraine as soon as she felt better (as most of us would have done whether 14 or 57), she threw her newfound energy into raising awareness and funding for research. Her efforts took remarkable dedication and resourcefulness. It’s an impressive feat at any age.

Learn more about Daisy and her trip on her website, Sail for Migraine Research.

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Tipsy Turbulent

While responding to a Migraine.com email about a post I was scheduled to do this month, I tried to say it was unlikely to happen because my health was still topsy turvy. My phone autocorrected to tipsy turbulent, which I may like even better. Though tipsy implies fun, which this has not been.

The short version: my migraines are different than they were before the infusions, but still come on every time I eat. I thought I had them figured out, then got a doozy. Then I thought I found a medication that helped, but it made things worse. I’m recovering from that medication now.

I move from optimistic to panicked to OK-maybe-I-can-figure-this-out, usually multiple times each day. I told a friend that I couldn’t get together because of a health crisis. This scared her. When I said it wasn’t life-threatening, she responded that she was glad it wasn’t serious. Except that it is. It’s not going to kill me, but it is serious. It could completely change what my days look like, moving me from writing and working and taking care of myself to a lump on the couch. It could mean that the freedom I enjoyed for a year will once again disappear. My drug-related freakout last Sunday made it all too clear that I’m terrified to go back there.

I told my doctor before the DHE infusions that if I got back to eating 40 foods without them triggering migraine attacks, I’d be thrilled. Now, I’d be thrilled to go back to being able to eat those 40 foods and controlling the ensuing migraine attacks with naratriptan and Midrin. It’s not a long-term solution, but it would be better than feeling like I’m in freefall.

So, yeah, things are topsy-turvy… tipsy turbulent… incredibly scary. I hope I’m headed in the right direction, but won’t know for at least a few more days.

P.S. Blurry vision is a new migraine symptom I developed this spring. It comes and goes; it has been in full force this week. I’m adding your 30 Things each day (we have more than 100 now! plus more on other blogs and Migraine.com), but that’s all the screen time I’m getting in. My spirit is with Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and I will highlight your stories, even if it’s long after June is over. Thank you all who have shared. I love learning about you and seeing your optimism, perseverance, and strength. If you haven’t had a chance to read these stories of fellow readers, please take a look at 30 Things. Want to share your story and enter to win a pair of TheraSpecs or a coaching session with me? Take a look at these instructions and be sure to submit before midnight Pacific time on June 29.

 

 

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So Much Better Today!

Stopping the methysergide seems to have resolved my migraine crisis. My mood has been fine, though I still feel fragile. I’ve had no aura since Sunday and have only had mild migraine attacks the four times I’ve eaten. And that’s without taking triptans or Midrin after eating.

As I was puzzling over the weirdness of this, I got a text from a friend who had a similar response after an IV of DHE, compazine, and a steroid a couple years ago. (Not the aura, but the emotional surge.) She had physical symptoms, but also described being terrified that she would never again feel better. It started the day after the IV stopped. I started to suspect the steroids, then heard from a reader who had a similar response to an ergot. While I still don’t have any answers, knowing I’m not the only one makes it a lot less scary.

I’m still a bit out of it and fatigued. I’m not sure if it’s the small migraine attacks being triggered by food, if I’m recovering from Sunday’s breakdown, or if my body is still adjusting after ending the infusions. Whatever the case, I’m not freaking out.

As always, thanks for your concern and kind messages.

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Crisis, Fear, Heartbreak… and Peace of Mind?

lightning“Hellish” does not sufficiently describe the last couple days. 16 hours after the last infusion ended, I suddenly, shockingly developed a migraine aura. This is disconcerting because I have migraine without aura. The closest I’d come to an aura before Saturday is that I occasionally get faint flashes in my peripheral vision after a migraine attack is already well in progress. These are so minor and indistinct that my diagnosis is still migraine without aura. This time, bright, flashing lights filling my vision marked the start of increasingly severe auras that come on each time I eat. They aren’t just visual. I feel dizzy and like I’m going to faint, I become bereft and irritable, I see gray splotches and flashing lights and have tunnel vision. (Interestingly, of the four times this has happened, the aura has not been followed by other migraine symptoms.)

I know enough about migraine to know this is not an unusual aura (so I wasn’t worried I was having a stroke), but the sudden, dramatic change was scary. More terrifying were the thoughts that this would become my new normal, that the life I knew six months ago will never again be mine, that yet another treatment I tried would worsen my symptoms permanently, that I will never again feel like my migraines are manageable.

With the second aura, Sunday morning, I started methysergide, a migraine preventive my doctor prescribed for me to start after the infusions. Like DHE, methysergide is an ergot. Also like DHE, methysergide cannot be taken with triptans or Midrin. A 24-hour buffer between an ergot and triptans or Midrin is required. I had that because of the DHE infusions, so it seemed like a good time to start.

Things just got worse. I was still testing to see what my food reactions were, so I was eating more than the usual twice a day. Sunday, I had three auras, each with worse mood symptoms than the previous one. Those words are ridiculously insufficient to describe what I felt. The last aura left me sobbing, heartbroken and terrified. I was in some of the most intense grief I have ever endured. I felt like someone dear to me had died. I felt like my life was ending. This was the migraine talking and I knew it, but that didn’t stop the fear. Hart found me crumpled in a heap on the bedroom floor, wailing and keening. He held me until I calmed down enough to fall into an exhausted sleep.

It is Monday afternoon. After some reading, I have cobbled together a biological explanation for the new-to-me aura and mood changes. This has soothed my mind somewhat, but is based primarily on conjecture. I have a call into my doctor. I have an appointment with him in July. I swallowed the last methysergide I will ever take at 10 p.m. last night. I ate for the first time today an hour ago and the aura symptoms seem to be taking longer to develop than yesterday. If a migraine/aura hijacks my mood again, I will listen to podcasts and follow a guided meditation on fear. Tomorrow, I will return to two meals a day followed by Amerge and Midrin. I have a plan.

I am still scared, but am no longer frantic. Loss of the life I’ve come to know no longer feels imminent. I have steps in place to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks that I believe will also reduce their severity. It may or may not work. Instead of worrying, I’m trying to stay with what is, not what might be. While panicking last night, I tried to remind myself that I only know this moment and cannot know the future. This has been a useful practice the last few months, but wasn’t comforting last night. Today it is. To say I am calm is a lie, but I’m experiencing some peace of mind. I am focused, determined, resolute, committed, resilient, present.

I can do this.

Whatever “this” turns out to be.