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My Ideal Headache Specialist

Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge #19: “The Match Game” — Describe your perfect doctor to treat your migraines.

My ideal migraine doctor attended Hogwarts and then completed four years at a top-notch magical medical school. After a four-year residency in neurology, she did a two-year fellowship in headache medicine at the world’s best magical headache clinic. She’s kind, compassionate, brilliant and innovative — and she’s never had a patient whose migraine attacks couldn’t be controlled. Chronic migraine is her expertise and her typical patient goes from 25 migraine days a month to five. The treatment is complicated, painful, time-consuming and, of course, expensive, but it works beautifully.

I feel a little snarky writing that I want a magic doctor in response to the blog challenge, but I’m tired and fed up as I begin week four of severely disabling migraine attacks. I have seen so many headache specialists, including some brilliant, well-respected, highly regarded, compassionate, academic superstars and yet I still have a migraine nearly every day. My current headache specialist and the person I saw in Boston are my favorites. I trust them both tremendously and know they have my best interests at heart. And yet I still have a migraine nearly every day. It feels like my migraines are beyond the current understanding and experience of medicine and that only a Hogwarts graduate has the knowledge to get them under control.

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by Fighting Headache Disorders.

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A Letter to Myself: Replacing Guilt, Shame & Self-Hatred With Love, Compassion

Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge, Day 13: “You Are Beautiful” — Write yourself a love letter. Tell yourself how wonderful you are. Remind yourself of the things you have accomplished despite migraines. There are times when we need to be reminded of the good things about ourselves that others see that we may have missed.

Dear Kerrie,

Today you are hunched over on the couch, weak, nauseated and in pain with a throbbing head and hyper-alert senses. Many days are like this, though fewer than even six months ago. All those things you are worried about — not calling your niece on her birthday, missing physical therapy yesterday, not updating The Daily Headache or Facebook frequently enough, not figuring out Twitter etiquette, not calling your mom or sister or friends… — none of these change who you are fundamentally. You are still bright, caring, loving, ambitious, eager, strong-willed, kindhearted and funny. Migraine may prevent you from engaging in life and with other people as much as you would like, but it doesn’t mean you are selfish, self-centered, lazy or weak. No one loves you any less for your behavior (or lack thereof); your family and friends know who you are and that your illness dims your light. They do not feel slighted, they only wish you felt better. Now it is time for you to embrace their understanding and love yourself with the same compassion.

This is a perfect day to write this letter. Your mental ability is so compromised that you aren’t censoring yourself or even editing this post. Tears are running down your face as you write because you know you are right. You are loved and lovable whether or not you have chronic migraine — perhaps in part because you have chronic migraine. Do not hate or berate yourself for being sick. It is not your fault.

Your lack of connection to the outside world, your lack of accomplishment and productivity are not a reflection of your ineptitude. In fact, the amount you have accomplished, the degree to which you seize the day are remarkable considering how disabled you are. Take some of that overflowing compassion and empathy you have for others and give it to yourself. You deserve it. So very much.

I love you and am amazed by your ability to function with such a debilitating illness. That you maintain such a positive attitude sometimes astonishes me. Release the guilt, shame and self-hatred and you will be amazed by your strength and inner beauty.

All my love,
me

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by Fighting Headache Disorders.

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Migraines and Zombies Have a Lot in Common

National Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge, Day 12: “Let’s Do the Monster Mash” – choose a movie monster that reminds you of your migraines and tell us why.

I examine the similarities between migraines and zombies in this Migraine.com post. Appropriately, I’ve been brain dead since Sunday from one of the worst migraines I’ve had in months. Hope to have my mind back in working order tomorrow.

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by Fighting Headache Disorders.

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An Ideal Day, Migraine-Free or Not

National Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge, Day 9: “Daydream Believer.” Describe your dream day — without a migraine to hold you back.

Describing an ideal migraine-free day is empowering for many people, bolstering their hope and motivation. For me it is distressing, as it threatens the acceptance of my illness that I’ve fought so hard for. Part of accepting that I have chronic migraine and chronic daily headache has been understanding that I may never again have a headache-free moment. I do not strive to be pain-free, but to live as well as possible given my circumstances. This doesn’t mean I’ve given up my search for relief — I will be overjoyed if treatments ultimately result in the cessation of my headaches and migraines — but that I can be happy even though I have migraine and chronic daily headache.

I try to make each day as perfect as possible. If a migraine attack dominates the day, “perfect” may be getting settled on the couch with a good book. On other days, I seek to do what I need or want to do in the time I feel well enough to do so. If I waited to be migraine-free to enjoy my ideal day, I would stew in resentment until it arrived. I try to make every day, however mundane, as daydream-worthy as possible. That’s one of the beautiful, torturous lessons of chronic illness.

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by Fighting Headache Disorders.

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Migraine Light Sensitivity and Fluorescent Light Headaches

National Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge, Day 8: “Let there be light.” Most migraineurs have issues with light sensitivity. What do you do to cope with it?

Well, this one is easy for me: TheraSpecs migraine glasses! TheraSpecs was born after my headache specialist warned me that wearing sunglasses all the time was actually making my eyes more sensitive to light and that a special precision tint was available for glasses that would help with photophobia without increasing my over all light sensitivity. Researching that information, we found that this tint is also excellent for managing sensitivity to fluorescent light.

Many people report headaches from fluorescent lights, either in the long tubes like you see at stores or CFLs for home use. It appears the problem is that fluorescent lights flicker faster than the eye can consciously see, but the brain still picks up on that flicker, which can cause many people to feel sick. TheraSpecs protect the eyes and brain by filtering out the wavelengths of light where the flicker is concentrated, relieving the symptoms fluorescent lights can cause.

Learn more about TheraSpecs and get your own pair (and relief) today! US shipping is free and international shipping is half off through Friday, June 15 in honor of National Migraine Awareness Month light sensitivity day.

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by Fighting Headache Disorders.