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Terrible Migraines: Is it birth control pills? Allergies? A bad spell?

My brain has had a rough month. I’ve had brief reprieves, but most of my time has been occupied by terrible migraines. I feel better this morning and am taking full advantage of it.

I’m in my fourth week of birth control pills. I’ve been spotting for the last 10 days, which I assume has contributed to the migraines. I plan to give the experiment a couple more months, but am not sure if I can make it that long.

I’m increasingly certain that allergies trigger at least some of my migraines. You may remember last spring was also horrible for me. Magnesium certainly was a factor. I wonder if allergies were also involved. Taking a Zyrtec yesterday appears to have reduced my agony tremendously. I had to reschedule yesterday’s appointment for allergy tests (for the third time) for later this month. (Please note that although allergies don’t cause migraines, they can be a trigger.)

My outlook is surprisingly good. Especially considering a bad appointment with my headache specialist Monday. The gist of the appointment: I have headaches and migraines that haven’t responded to treatment. With time, headache research will uncover more clues. Until then, why not try some more things in case they help? And I should think about medication to “make life bearable,” like morphine. (That’s a can o’ worms I can’t open right now.)

Back to the good outlook: If I have to live with migraines and headaches, at least I can do it the best way possible. I have a comfortable home; supportive, patient friends and family; and an understanding husband. My insurance covers a variety of treatments. I can stream NPR and audiobooks from the library. I eat good food that I don’t have to make. My life is as good as it can be right now.

I’m sad to not post more on the blog. I want to write about news and research. I want to share resources. I want to write about myself less. I want the blog to be like it was two years ago. Change is inevitable, so I’m trying to not worry about it much. Maybe I’ll get there again, maybe not.

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Trying Again After Migraine Cancels Plans

Knife_skillsI woke up Tuesday wishing I could be somebody other than me. My head hurt and I was nauseated, dizzy, sensitive to light and sound. … You know, the usual grab bag of symptoms. I can handle that, but I’m not happy when a migraine tromps on my plans.

Hart and I have talked about taking a knife skills class for years and were scheduled for one that night. For the last week, every time I used I knife, I’d think “Ooh, we’re going to our class soon soon.” Seriously.

I had a physical therapy appointment and felt a ton better afterward. We didn’t do any new exercises, he just massage my neck and shoulders. His efforts were enough to get me to Whole Foods, the gas station and back home. Sadly, the relief didn’t last much longer than that.

The pain wasn’t so bad, but my mind had taken a leave of absence. I continued to feel worse as the day wore on, so we skipped the class. Not making a knife skills class isn’t high on the list of things I’ve missed because of migraine, but I’m disappointed every time it happens.

I managed my disappointment well this time. By Wednesday it was already a story to tell, not a source of frustration or sadness. Instead of worrying that a migraine will keep me from attending classes in the future, I’ve resolved to keep signing up.

Hibernating is way too easy — I know because I’ve been doing it the last few months. I miss being in the world. I probably won’t make all the classes I sign up for, but at least I’ll try. How else can I be sure to enjoy the good parts of life?

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Baseball & Headaches, More Alike Than it Seems

What a glorious day! It’s opening day of the baseball season. I’m excited not only because I love the game (I became a huge fan after a spinal tap left me with a three-week headache that glued me to the couch), but it’s a daily reminder of hope, glory and being in the moment.

Each season start anew. No matter how bad the previous year, this year could be different. Players change workouts, work through their last season troubles, and refocus their energies in the off-season.

No worries if your team loses today or your favorite player falls into a nasty slump next month. Tomorrow or the next inning or even the next batter can make the difference.

I’ve had a migraine every day for more than a week, but it was fairly mild this morning. Instead of heading straight to the computer, I saw my chiropractor, walked the 2.8 miles around Green Lake, and went to Lighthouse Roasters, my favorite coffee shop, and drank my latte on the bench outside.

If my current headache pattern holds, I’ll have a migraine within an hour. But that may be a few more innings away. Might as well play my heart out until I have that game-ending injury. Perhaps I’ll even avoid the injury.

History has been written, but the future’s up for grabs. Day to day, moment to moment.

Go Diamondbacks!

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Optimism’s Health Benefits

Well-intentioned yet completely misguided friends, family members, and even strangers often say that all it takes to get rid of your headaches is to “think positive.” You won’t be surprised to learn that this infuriates me. Headaches are a physiological illness that can’t be whisked away with happy thoughts.

Yet there’s evidence that the outcome of being optimistic about your diagnosis and treatment is better than if you are pessimistic. Optimism isn’t about thinking positive or pretending the illness doesn’t exist. Instead, it’s someone who “takes action through health-enhancing behaviors, even under very stressful circumstances. . . . Pessimists may create more distress for themselves by distorting, denying and avoiding the situation.”

This information is from Accentuate the Positive: How Optimism Can Boost Your Health, an article in the the National Women’s Health Resource Center‘s October newsletter. The article goes beyond telling you to be an optimistic to recommendations for making changes in your own life. Mainly it’s a matter of changing the way you cope so that you problem-solve instead of shutting down in the face of illness.

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Looking for Good

Tracy, of Moogle’s Thoughts, blogged on Saturday about the constructive ways she deals with sadness and tries to find something positive in all the sadness of pain.

“Basically, you have to CHOOSE to see the positives no matter the situation. It doesn’t just happen. It is a choice that you must struggle with to make reality. Every thought must be captured. It is something that you work on every minute of every day.”

For Jess — Positives shows Moogle’s great attitude and is full of specific examples.

But I’m pretty sure that I have the best husband ever.

😉