Friday, January 16, 2009

Migraines: GAH!

I get migraines. And they ain't no fun a'tall.

Though I remember a "more-than-headache" a time or two during my childhood, they started with frequency and severity at 19. I can say with confidence that, for me, they're largely caused by hormones. I do have other triggers, though, as do most: bright light (if you see me out in the sun for any length of time, it will be with both sunglasses and a hat), strong smells (concentrated candles or heavy colognes are the worst), constant sound (an ongoing radio), too much or not enough caffeine (this is sad news for the iced mocha gal)...

Aren't I just a sack of fun?

When a migraine first comes on, it's as pain across my hairline. If it progresses it becomes localized, feeling like an icepick was jammed through the crown of my head. If it worsens yet, the icepick completes its course, coming back out at the nape of my neck.

Pain that bad is a curse, because there's nothing to do but lay in a dark and quiet room. [Past attempts with prescriptions have given mixed results, OTC stuff rarely works. It's time to visit the doctor again.] But wheras my family always assumes I fall into a deep slumber, napping the day away, it's beneath the pillow I lay, awake and in misery. There's this hypersensitivity to any noise or movement, and my thoughts.

My thoughts won't slow up. I might figure out what to do for my best friend's birthday, or remember a bill was due yesterday. And of course thoughts turn to what I could be doing: Writing. Plot ideas and perfect phrases tease me. Blog posts write themselves in my mind. But what a joke! I can't move, let alone sit in front of the bright computer monitor, clackity-clacking away.

I was especially inconvenienced by this migraine, the one that surprised me early yesterday morning and is just now making a pathetic escape out the back door. See, I did really well on my WIP this week - 2000+ words and lots of direction, a newfound feel for my character's voice, in two days. I was going to keep up the pace, too. And then BOOM! The Migraine Fairy mocked me. She said, I'll show you progress. And my efforts were thwarted.

There's always something, doesn't it seem? A distraction, a "cross to bear."

Do you have one?

37 comments:

Ang said...

I share your same cross. And you are so dead on with your description. I can't even stand someone tip-toeing across a heavily padded carpet with their thick cotton socks on...makes me want to shoot them. Have you tried Excedrin Migraine medicine? I take 2 and lay down with a cold wash cloth on my forhead moving it around the temples and the back of my neck. Also another suggestion from my dear mom...strong black coffee...now here comes the bad part...it will make you nauseated and then releases the pressure from the migraine. Sounds bad but usually works for me.

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh, Janna, I'm so, so sorry. Headaches are the worst. HATE them.

I have tension headaches and almost no kind of medicine will make work. I had one when my mom was visiting and she gave me a sedative - didn't even TOUCH it. My stomach lining is probably ruined from all the stuff I've taken - tylenol is worthless. I have to take FOUR ibuprofen to get it to do anything.

The bad ones usually last two or three days and I just sleep for most of it (if I have the day off, otherwise I try and make it through work). I've had these headaches since the beginning of college and been to the doctor and chiropractor. My chiropractor actually found scar tissue in my neck and it was at that moment when I remembered an old volleyball injury in high school. It's been the cause of all of this pain.

Melissa Marsh said...

Sigh. Must PROOFREAD before hitting publish!

It should say, "...and almost no kind of medicine will work."

colbymarshall said...

As a diagnosee of chronic migraine syndrome, I so feel your pain. The best way to get rid of is to sleep them off, but the problem inlies that it is SO hard to get to sleep when you have one b/c you hurt to dang bad to.

Janna Qualman said...

ANG - Excedrin Migraine USED to work, but I think my system has built up a tolerance to it. My trick (try this, you may like it better than a washcloth - stays cool longer) is one of the gel pacs you freeze. I fasten it to my head with a headband and try the freeze the sucker away. You're right, there's the wave of nausea with it, too, but if I can let it pass (or throw up and get it out of the way), the pressure will let up.

Melissa - You poor thing! I hope your tension headaches don't come on too often. So since they're related to the scar tissue, nothing can be done?

Colby - *bumps fists* You got it.

Stina Rose said...

My husband gets migraines. The last one was on the morning of my grandfather's funeral, and we were scheduled to sing a duet. Thankfully, God allowed that one to pass quickly. Daniel uses a face mask with pebbles in it. He freezes it and that really pulls the migraine out of his head.

Janet said...

My migraines are not excessively painful. But between the flashing lights and the occasional incidence of aphasia, I'm still out. And afterwards, I'm not functional for a good day as I recover. Go figure.

My best bet, once I see the flashing lights, is to take a couple of extra strength Advil gelcaps and to lie down in a dark quiet room and fall asleep before the pain hits. I'm as limp as a dishrag when I wake up, but at least I've missed the worst of the pain.

My triggers seem to be sleep deprivation and extra stress and/or excitement. Which means Big Events can trigger them, which is really inconvenient.

Still, it sounds like you've got it worse. I don't envy you.

Barbara said...

I had those for years. They were just as you describe. I would be really sick for 24 hours and then the 2nd 24 left me in a fog. With me, it was hormones and fragrance. After many years, though, they became so bad that they began to last for two and three days every other week. After going for a dental check-up they found that I had a decayed tooth whose roots were touching on my sinus cavity. After the tooth was pulled out, the headaches went away. So to make a long story short...it started with my hormones and the fragrance, but worsened when the tooth became bad. Now at my age, I don't have the hormone problem and I stay as far away as possible from strong fragrance.
I really know what you are going through.

Barbara said...

I forgot to say that windy or rainy weather also triggered mine. The only thing that EVER helped me was SinUtab or something along those lines. It takes the edge off and helps you sleep.

Janna Qualman said...

Stina - Ooh, pebbles? What's their purpose?

Janet - My sister recently suggested stress could be a trigger for me, but I think that would be on my short list.

Barbara - Wow! To think something so seemingly unrelated was causing you such pain! ... And uncle of mine used to get horrid migraines, and he relieved them by taking Alkaseltzer. But then they took out a certain ingredient, and he didn't have the same results.

Terri Tiffany said...

Yay for the 2000 words this week!! I am hoping to do some really good writing next week with lots of time here to do it with the husband off and busy!

Heidi Ashworth said...

Oh dear! Was it being so intent with the computer monitor that brought it on? (sorry, I just found you but had to jump in). I wonder if one of those hand held recording devices would be helpful in this situation==that way you could make a note of things you are thinking about and don't want to forget AND you could even write a little bit that way . .

Janna Qualman said...

Terri - His absence should give you some ideal time!

Heidi - Welcome! I'm glad you jumped right in. :) To answer your question, I don't think so. The migraine came to me in the wee hours of the morning, and I'd had no stress or tell-tale signs the night prior. And come to think of it, I have a little recorder somewhere...

Jen said...

*hugs Janna*

I feel your pain. I hate migraines, and mine were also hormonal. They've really slowed down in the past couple of years, but when they hit, they're just evil awful.

Hot showers, Excedrin Migraine, Imitrex, ties around the head...one of those methods will usually work, and if not that, then sleep. Hard to come by when your head feels like a melon squashed in a C-clamp, as you point out, though.

Hope you find some relief, and they don't come back anytime soon.

Janna Qualman said...

Jen - Imitrex made mine worse, if you can believe that. I did have some success with Enderol (a maintenance pill), though, and will talk that one over with my doc when I go back. I've heard good things about Topomax, though my sister had bad side effects with it. Anyone here give it thumbs up or thumbs down?

Angie Ledbetter said...

I feel for you, and am blessed not to have that particular "cross." Mine comes more in the form of 10,000 things going on in my life with 3 teens and helping take care of Mom. :) But, I'm not complaining at all. I know there are much much much MUCH worse things.

Janna, puh-lease take yourself to the doctor again! Prayer power

Joanne said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your migraines. Fragrances will trigger severe headaches in my family, everything has to be unscented! I've heard hydration helps with headaches (I don't know if this applies to migraines, too), and that to drink a lot of water at the onset often helps, and I've found it sometimes does.

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I'm so sorry! I thought I felt one coming on earlier this week, but it passed. I have had bad tension headaches for the past two weeks and finally went back on coffee in the mornings, that's helped.

I feel my migraines start in my right ear (waaaaay in there) - feels like an ice pick jabbing me in the ear, then I get nauseated, then the pain moves behind my eye through to the base of my skull.

For instant relief I press the pulse point beneath my right ear but I worry about doing that for too long. I've actually given myself bruises that way. I freeze a gel mask (stays on by itself) to wrap around my head, plus I've taught my hubby where to squeeze HARD when my head is exploding.

I took Relpax in the states and loved it, but here I take some weird Mexican drug that also works fairly well. Good luck figuring something new out!

Ang said...

I will definitely try the gel pack next time. You're right--the wash cloth doesn't stay cool long enough.

Turkey Lurkey said...

Ouchy yuck yuck! Im sorry you go through these! I hope you get better soon!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Migraines sound horrible! I'm so sorry you are miserable and incapacitated! Yuk! My husband has cluster headaches and there are days in a row where they never seem to quit. He's done chiropractor, prescription pain meds, ice and massage. Some help for awhile. I know he can commiserate with you. Hope this one passes quickly.

Janna Qualman said...

Angie - I promise.

Joanne - My mom said the same thing about hydration, and I can see how it might help flush things out better. (I've been thinking, maybe correct amounts of water could even flush out the hormones?) If I can just get past the nausea to DRINK it, I'll give it a whirl.

Melanie - ROFL! So funny you say that; I'm still training hubby. I think he's afraid to push too hard. But it's the really deep down pushing on those pressure points that helps... until he takes his hands away, that is. I'll ask about Relpax!

Ang - Great! I think you'll love it. Let me know how it works for you.

Turkey - Thank you! *hugs*

Donna - Goodness! Poor guy. Days in a row? I feel for him.

Josh said...

I found from experience that a good chunk of people who get migraines, get them because of dehydration. Dehydration headaches are terrible.

Janna Qualman said...

Well Josh, you're the second to mention hydration. And the more I think about it, maybe I do have a valid concern with DEhydration. I'm really going to start drinking more water. I'll report back in a few weeks.

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I can't believe I forgot to mention dehydration. That's a BIG trigger for me, especially down here. I always carry water with me but sometimes I get stuck in the sun for too long. At least now I know the instant I need to get out of the sun and I no longer try to push it. Try adding a couple glasses of water to what you already drink - maybe that will help.

And no, more iced mochas won't help. :P

Janna Qualman said...

Melanie - You're right, of course. ;) It could be too much caffeine and not enough water for me. So, I'll adjust accordingly and see what happens. Thanks!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh god, Janna - I was plagued, and plagued is a good word, with bad headaches for years - and sometimes those "bad" headaches would turn into migraines - which makes the word "bad" seem like a cute cuddly puppy.

I once almost tore my hair from the roots - I pulled my hair so hard - anything to stop the monster stomping around on my brain.

Then, when I went through menopause (earlier than I ever thought I would!) the headaches stopped - not entirely, I mean, sometimes I get a "regular person's headache" - but, the bad ones and the monster stomping and the worse than monster stomping faded away --

Janna Qualman said...

Kat - I'm so glad you got through it! I wish that for myself, one way or another.

Janna Qualman said...

You know, I can't help but notice how many people suffer from the horrible, horrible migraines. It's a wonder they can't better track down the causes and treat them with more accuracy. Seriously, people are afflicted with them much the way they are the common cold. But give me a cold any day.

thedomesticfringe said...

Oh, poor you...I do feel badly. I get migranes too and I HATE it. I went to the Dr's this past summer because I just couldn't take it anymore, they were getting worse. He said it's hormonal...yippee! I've had them since I was a kid. I know they're coming because I lose my vision first. I'm practically blink. It usually lasts for 30 minutes and then the pain comes. Now the vision problems last longer and even come during the pain part...I'm whining. Sorry.
I'm glad you're feeling better. Congrats on all the work you got done. I bought the 2009 Writer's Market book...I'm going to learn. Thanks again for your help.
-FringeGirl

Kathy said...

Janna, I used to get migraines. The worst part for me was the flashing lights. One time I was at the drugstore when the flashing lights started. I couldn't see right. I had to go out to my car and just sit there until it passed. I can't drive like that since I would only see maybe half of the road.

Now that I've hit menopause, no more migraines!

Michele said...

Hey there, Janna. I used to suffer from horrific migraines so I can relate. I hope you're feeling better soon!

*smiles and hugs*
Michele

Yolanda said...

I know how you feel better soon.. I have fibromyalgia and it hurts like well you know.

Janna Qualman said...

Kathy - I keep hearing that, and I never thought I'd wish for menopause! ;)

Michele - Hiya, lady! Good to see ya. :)

Yolanda - I'm so sorry you struggle with FM. I've heard a lot about it lately, and I can only hope some stellar treatment or cure is found soon.

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Melanie Avila said...

Janna, my mom's migraines have lessened with menopause, too. I only have 20+ more years to go!

Janna Qualman said...

Naval - Thank you! I'd love you to come back.

Melanie - I know, right? ;)