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Trying Ritalin for Migraine Prevention… and Loving It

Wait-and-see-if-it-goes-away is my method of dealing with house problems. Not because I want to see if a minor issue will develop into a major problem, but calling someone and meeting with a service person is an exhausting proposition when you have a migraine all the time. So yesterday when Hart told me the shower was backing up, he was astonished when I immediately asked if I needed to call a plumber. That’s just not how we do things around here.

Until now. Now my mind is clear(er), I have more energy, and my migraine pain is improving. Today is my fifth day on Ritalin (methylphenidate). My headache specialist suggested it after a number of patients reported a decrease in their headaches and migraine attacks after starting it for ADD or ADHD. Though I’m taking it primarily as a migraine preventive, the fact that it is a stimulant definitely adds to its appeal — the fatigue has been more debilitating than the migraine pain since I started cyproheptadine. The reprieve from my mental fog was entirely unexpected, but so, so welcome. Carrying on an intelligent conversation and following complex tasks without trouble is blissful.

Oddly, the frequency of the migraine attacks is still the same — of the five days I’ve been on Ritalin, I’ve had migraine attacks on four of them, including today. A couple times I wasn’t even sure I had a migraine. The pain was only at a level 3, but I was having trouble staying awake, which indicates a migraine attack for me. I was able to “sleep off” the worst of those attacks with hour-long naps. The overall throbbing pain I’m so accustomed to has diminished, so the pain is mostly localized and stabbing, but mild.

This is a strange and exciting new world and I’m loving it!

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Good News & Bad News in Last Couple Weeks

Bad news: The migraines have reached a level 8 or 9 nearly every day. Being on the computer has been a huge trigger.

Good news: Although the pain levels have been high every day, I was only laid flat one day. I’ve gotten out by myself several weekdays each week, seeing a therapist and a physical therapist, going to the grocery store and even doing some retail therapy (Buffalo Exchange opened nearby in October!).

Hart and I have gone out at least one day each of the last three weekends, visiting the aquarium, the natural history museum and the science museum. We’ve gotten coffee, crepes and hamburgers. Maxalt, a triptan, has been working for me lately, and I’ve taken it for nearly all these excursions. Even then, I usually wind up taking Midrin, naproxen and sometimes Zofran. (I’m careful to not overuse any of them.) The benefits to my spirits are worth taking meds.

Exercise is becoming a more regular part of my days. I try to walk a couple miles a day, whether on the treadmill or while out and about. Today I jogged on the treadmill for a minute! A yoga therapist has come over for a few private sessions. I’ve learned an excellent restorative pose and a modified sun salutation practice. Moving my body is blissful and my body feels better when I move it.

In my outings, I’ve spent some time in Davis Square, a neighborhood that feels homey. (It’s where Buffalo Exchange is.) Getting excited about a place here is reducing the homesickness a bit, though knowing that Seattle has been in bloom for a month is troublesome.

Tomorrow I head to Phoenix for a week. My sister and I are meeting to help our mom prepare the house to sell in the fall. I’m eager to bask in 70 degree weather while wearing summer clothes. Going through storage sheds and closets should be fun, too – an archaeological dig of sorts.

So the news is mostly good. I still have awful hours every day, but I feel more like I’m living life than I have in years.