About Me (5-4-13)


Julie Head Shot (2)

I have got a lot of questions about myself and my experience that contributes to my blogging. I am the sole writer on this blog and any links or quotes I may use from other sites I will indicate so.

So this post I will dedicate to the boring aspects of my life that have led me onto this journey of blogging about a subject I am very passionate about. Passionate because it is a major part of my life-Chronic Migraine Disease, Depression, Panic Attacks PTSD, OCD, IBS, SAD, Fibromyalgia and CFS. I write about subjects I know because I suffer from them and I have done exhaustive research to learn as much as I can to be a better educated patient and in the interim in return I’ve had to educate some of my doctors along the way as they are not as well-versed in Daily Intractable Migraines. I was just recently given the official diagnosis of FM/CFS in the winter of 2012 so I am still in the process of trying to gather information and learning materials to be better educated on that. But an educated patient is a better patient. It teaches you how to manage your disease, how to manage the doctors that care for your disease, and along the way you pick up tips, tricks and ideas from fellow sufferers and some I just picked up on my own. I am the sole writer for this blog and I admitted from the beginning in the fall of 2012 that I am a novice to this media and I am still learning-a work in progress. I try to use the spell checker that is available in this blog editor for WordPress but it’s not as efficient as the one I’m use to in Microsoft Word. So if my spelling seems off at times I try my best, but suffering from daily Migraines where the lowest pain level might reach a 6 the Migraine Fog and the Fibro Fog kick in and I’m not 100%, but I feel it’s still important to communicate and to share what I know and what I learn, as we chronic pain sufferers rely so much on media for their information and interaction with fellow sufferers alike. So bear with me as I learn to blog better and hopefully write better content.

I was born in a very small town in Missouri called Ste. Genevieve. Most of my family originates from Missouri. Due to my dads job we relocated several times and I have been to about 4 different schools when we arrived in New Buffalo Michigan in 1974 for good-our last move and I was currently in 5th grade at the time. I did have a long bout of stomach ailments for that year due to the yet again unsettling move. It seemed that as soon as we got settled into a place and made friends it was time to move yet again. So it was nice to hope that this would be the last move. We were a close-knit family and we were not raised in any particular religious preferences, but we were taught the ethics and morals. We were taught right from wrong and got a paddling when we did wrong to reinforce it so we would not do it again. But it was done in love. Every night we got hugs and told we loved each other and when we went to school, off to work or moved out of the house it was likewise. When we became adults and lived on our own and came over for visits there was always hugs and the I Love you’s said. Never take those moments for granted. So we were raised very strict. I was not allowed to date until I was 16. As was my younger sister. I’m the 3rd in line of 4 children my parents had. My mom did have a stillborn before she had me but refused to talk about it. I have 2 older brothers. The family relationship is strained for various odd reasons. It became more apparent when my mom passed in May 2003 from a sudden stroke at the age of 69. She was diagnosed in 2002 with stage 4 colón cancer that spread to the lymph nodes. She had Alzheimer’s and CHF. The stroke was an end result of the colon cancer. My dad was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes in 2001 after almost losing his leg to cellulitis. He had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He had a sudden hemorrhagic stroke in April 2005 just shortly after turning 77. Watching him in the nursing home struggle for breath as he held on for 3 weeks until he passed was agonizing.

I turned 50 years old late last summer of 2012. I have suffered from infrequent Migraines for over 25 years but on May of 2010 they became daily Intractable Migraines-that was how it was diagnosed at that time. My panic attacks also became unmanageable through will power alone as I was not officially being treated for them at that point. I had IBS I was suffering from since about 2000 and I learned on my own to control it through restricting or refraining totally from dairy and soy based products. At that time there was not a lot of education, or rather should I say, there were not educated doctors that would tell you how to control IBS on your own. They were just ready to get out their prescription pads and write you out a quick fix instead of digging into the problem as most doctors do. I had suffered from an arrhythmia problem called SVT around about that time as well and it was mostly controlled by medications as I was too leery to have the than older version of the Catheter Ablation they used to go into all 4 of your major arteries and insert a 5th electrode into your heart to kill part of your AV Node natural pacemaker. So I struggled with that for years trying new medications as the current ones my body adjusted to and would not longer work. I’d have spells of uncontrollable heart racing that would have to run its course until it decided to stop. When I started having problems with this the doctors at first said “your drinking too much caffeine, cut down”. So I would and problem persisted. Then I was told it was exercise induced so I cut back on my strenuous aerobic exercise and that didn’t curtail it either. Then they decided to try one of those 48hr Holster Monitors to monitor heart rate and function. Wouldn’t you know it of course it wouldn’t act up in that 48hr time frame. Then they started hinting I was a hypochondriac. I had to argue with them and reason with them I was having a real problem until they finally decided to put me on a 30 day monitor. So here I’m going about my regular routine and I didn’t change anything more and I was getting distressed because it wasn’t occurring. I was beginning to question even my sanity when the month was almost over until on day 28, remind you it was 28 days until I got a flare up. And it’s a flare up I will not soon forget. It started at work (I was working in an elementary school at that time as a Head Cook) and the monitor kicked in. I was trying to slow down my pace at work hoping it would go away like it usually did. Well, it didn’t. I was starting to get really weak and jelly legged as the adrenaline was rushing through my veins. I eventually had to call the doctor who dialed into my monitor and said I needed to go to the ER for intervention as it was not going to stop. They said I had an arrhythmia that will not correct itself. I had to call my husband to come get me as I was not able to drive and called my boss to tell her what was going on.

In the ER they hooked me up to IV”s and started pushing meds into me that I cannot remember to try to halt the arrhythmia. It was not helping and I was panicking and the nurses as well as the ER doctor attending me were getting quite worried kept trying to keep me calm. It was into about 8hrs of non-stop heart racing and I was weak, clammy and getting nauseated. I cannot remember what last med they used but they were getting ready to get the shock paddles out to shock me back into rhythm. I remember praying so hard for the medicine to work as I didn’t really want to get electrocuted into a normal sinus rhythm, or worse. Thank God the medicine worked. They kept me there for a while to make sure I was under control before they’d release me. Then I was referred to a Cardiologist that I didn’t like at all. His bedside manner was horrendous and I fired him after 2-3 visits and told my GP to refer me to a better one. I got a nice, elderly, very patient gentleman who came with a good referral by my husbands then boss. I stayed with him until he retired and my GP took over my medicine care. I would get regular stress tests and EKG’s once or twice a year. He informed me about that procedure but I was still to chicken. I didn’t want my 4 arteries compromised and all the listed complications that they listed that could happen w/the procedure. In 2008-2009 they arrhythmia started getting out of control and occurring at more frequent intervals and medication was no longer working. I had actually ran out of medication options by that chance. I was referred to an amazing Cardiologist in Memorial Hospital. He’s the head of the Cardiovascular Institute and I immediately like and trusted him. He told me I basically had no other options but the Ablation procedure. They had perfected it by then and would only go into 1 artery instead of all 4. So I agreed and had the surgery as outpatient on Sept 11 2009. Problem corrected so far-knock on wood.

All this time I was still having the migraines, chronic upper back, shoulder and neck pain. The shoulder pain didn’t help when I had taken a fall down our narrow and steep basement steps and put a slight tear in my rotor cuff. I had PT and Cortisone shots through South Bend orthopedic and it did help for a while. When I re-injured my shoulder at work they repeated the Cortisone shots but to no avail. I would not have surgery to correct it because A. it was too small of a tear and B. a close friend of ours had the surgery, was laid up for 6 months and had just as much trouble with his shoulder afterwards than he did before. So nix that option. I said “no way Jose”. I also had infrequent bouts of panic attacks but they were not uncontrollable at that time.

Up until 2010 I had several alternative treatments to try to help my Migraines and these were options I started back in the late 80’s and they were not doctor recommended or approved-at that time GP’s thought alternative treatments were bogus and not credible and these were the treatments I found online as I was constantly searching to find my own answers as I was not getting them from my doctors. But I have tried:

  1. Chiropractic Manipulation
  2. Acupuncture
  3. Acupressure
  4. Massage Therapy
  5. Vitamin Supplements
  6. Herbal Supplements (discovered I cannot take Feverfew due to a reaction)
  7. Water Therapy-Jacuzzi
  8. Binaural Beats Meditation Music
  9. Guided Imagery
  10. Progressive Relaxation Therapy
  11. Moderate Exercise
  12. Elimination Diet-I did this on my own to find food triggers and I’m aghast it was not suggested to me prior

Then when I went to Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago in 2006 through 2007 I tried the following therapies, some were at their recommendation and others I still found on my own:

  1. Biofeedback
  2. Meditation
  3. Relaxation/Stress Therapy
  4. Specific Stretching Exercises
  5. Elimination Diet-again to pinpoint more food triggers
  6. Migraine Diary
  7. Low Tyramine Diet

This in addition to the medications they experimented on me. After a year of traveling in horrible traffic 2 hours there and 2 hours back and spending countless hours in the waiting room to be seen behind schedule-they were always behind schedule when I was there-and the hassle of my husband and I having to take off work as I would not drive myself into Chicago traffic. Are you kidding? Me with Panic/Anxiety issues drive in bumper to bumper traffic? It didn’t bother my husband as he is from that area so he was in favor of it to begin with as he was the one that suggested it. But after a year with no real results I quit going and asked my GP to take over if he was able and at that point he said he could. So my status as a profession un-paid lab rat continued with the medication trials, and in the meantime I continued to search online for answers and to see if there were any new treatments. At that time of course there was not much in the way of Migraine treatments. My Chiropractor did write a letter to my then manager to ask to have my work station altered to be more friendly to my neck stress which she thought was adding to my Migraines. So my PC monitor was put on a stand so it would be eye level. I asked several times at my former job to have the stereo sound lowered above my desk-each speaker in the ceiling had an adjustment knob where it could be turned down. After a while those requests went unheeded. I was becoming a nuisance to them and during that time I think is where the Red Bulls-Eye was put on my head and they were going to pressure me to quit as they could not legally fire a person w/a disability, at that time the Bush administration included Chronic Migraines as a disability, little good that did at that time or today as people who suffer migraines are still discriminated against.

My then current boss would deliberate walk by my side of the cubicle doused in a whole bottle of cologne, strutting his stuff (of stuff he thought he had worth strutting which was nothing, trust me) to make my work situation more unbearable. I do have to say that boss was as intelligent as a pea pod. I called him a Baboon silently and away from work. He was not smart enough to manage a banana cart out in the parking lot, so how he got this job was retarded. He only got it because he was married to the owners daughter, who also works there. It’s a family run business and past history shows that most family run businesses end up running themselves into the ground if they don’t have the qualified management team in place. And he was fast on his way to running the company down, honestly. Why else would be have all of a sudden left that job a little over a year of my leaving? My then Team Leaders who were all part of a close-knit group of friends in high school were conspiring to put pressure on me. I was criticized all of a sudden for work I had done the 12 years prior with no complaints until now all of a sudden. All my calls were monitored. I know they are to monitor calls from everyone in the call center from time to time but mine were ALL the time. Two of them were even making a point of talking about me behind my back, over their phones which they were just one cubicle apart, but making sure I could hear it. They would call in sick for no reason and of course never be called into account. One girl often had hangovers as to why she called in and the boss even had a running joke about it, but then she never was held accountable. A lot of them did personal online shopping and checking of personal email accounts, but my computer was closely monitored for any of these actions because then it would be grounds for termination.  For a few years when I had to call into work and call off I would be the only one required to bring in a doctors excuse, but no one else was. It was out-and-out discrimination and I finally filed a complaint with the manager and then of course I was made out to be in the wrong! I knew then my days were numbered. But I didn’t know it was my health that would ultimately pay the price but at the same time come to my rescue. The pressure got so bad that a week prior to my leaving work on FMLA and then Temp Disability I was having frequent panic attacks. On my last drive home from work my panic attack was so bad I didn’t think I was going to make it home. How I did is a miracle. My last day of work was May 10 2010 when my FMLA was put into effect and I left that toxic hell hole. In hind-site that was the best thing that ever happened to me. The worse was of course my health suffered for it.

My GP at that time put me on Temp Disability, where he’d been trying to do for the past couple of years but I held off thinking, stupidly, that things would get better. Of course they didn’t. He started trying different medications on me and raised my Topomax to 300mg per day. He put me on Xanax and another anxiety drug I cannot remember the name to save my soul. But after being on it a couple of weeks I had hallucinations that scared the holy crap out of me. I’d see moving black ink blobs moving on the wall in my peripheral vision. I hear semi-trucks blaring their horns at me when none were around. I imagined things missing and blamed innocent people. Of course later when taken off those meds I discovered what I did I apologized for my behavior and at least one member of my family has yet to forgive me for. Resentment runs high in my family they tend to harbor grudges than to forgive and forget and move on. That is the same in my husband’s family as well-hold those grudges until the day you die. How productive and healthy. NOT. So not only was my workplace toxic so too my family life. I had it coming and going and I didn’t know which end was up. All I know was panic attacks were frequent and the Migraines now became daily. I was put on a waiting list to see a neurologist because my GP said he was out of options and didn’t know what more he could do. My best friend and patient advocate was with me on my last few appointments as I was not able to drive myself. The Migraines had gotten so bad they affected my vision and made me a danger on the road. Besides the doctor wisely banned me from driving. I had to wait 3 months to get into seeing this Neurologist who’s last name starts w/an A so I named him Dr. A-Holio. His bedside manner was non-existent. He was a jerk. Plain and simple. He made me feel like I was wasting his valuable time with my “trivial” complaint. He said on my 1st visit which was my referral consultation that I was not disabled and to go back to work! WHAT?? I cannot see straight to drive a straight line, horrible Migraine pain daily and everything that accompanies that! My IBS was flaring up again but I was not eating dairy or soy so I had contributed that at that time to the stress I was undergoing.

And stress is a mild word. I was sinking into a deep despair. My best friend came over to check on me and I walked her out to the car when she was leaving. I cannot remember exactly how it happened but I was leaning onto her car door for dear life to keep from falling flat on my face. I almost blacked out. She had to physically guide me into the house and made me sit down and she ran out to the pole barn to get my husband for help. I was having issues with Hypoglycemia as it turns out. It would run in the AM low 50’s and after I’d eat it would get up to 90. At that time believe it or not I was borderline “UNDERWEIGHT” I was so sick I could not stomach anything. Well the Neurologist took care of that real quick. When he tried a new med and it didn’t work he’d order a steroid to break my cycle. Now mind you I have not NEVER abused my medication. I’ve never overused it. In fact I could be blamed for sometimes not taking it at all because it scared me first off and I didn’t want to get used to it and have to go to something stronger. I do not react well to steroids. I pack on the pounds fast and I’m a witch on wheels (broomsticks are outdated). I lost track of how many times I was given steroids when he would run out of solutions. But it was too many because by the end of the year I had gained a lot of weight. And it was December 2010 when I got my 1st round of Botox for Migraines. It had just been approved for that type of therapy in Sept of that year. The insurance at first approved it, then denied it. We appealed with them 3 times, the doctor’s office appealed 2x. I appealed to the state of Indiana Insurance appeals to no avail. We, or I should say my spouse paid the then $1500.00 out of pocket expense for this treatment that did not take effect. My spouse has always resented “me” for this, for some reason, instead of the insurance company where the fault lies. But this remains a sore subject with him as he kept stating all along I couldn’t all of a sudden be that sick I need to get a job. But when I did have a job and had to call off he’d tell me I better not call off or I’d lose my job. My mind was spinning-make up your flipping mind, but no matter what I was in no shape to work. I could barely stand up w/o falling flat on my face.

In the meantime I went online and did exhaustive research on food additives and all the hidden names that these poisons go by. I’m sensitive to just about every food additive there is but what appalls me is that manufacturers are allowed to put the names of “hidden” sources for these additives but can boldly put on their label “no MSG added” when yeast protein, or glutamic Acid (the list is too long to name each one but that is just 2 of many) is listed in the ingredients and they are hidden sources of MSG!! Same goes for Soy and Gluten. See these sources I have bookmarked for more information:

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_geneticfood01.htm

http://www.balancedconcepts.net/3moprog/soy_sources.pdf

http://rense.com/general92/hidename.html

http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/hidden-sources-of-gluten/

And go to my Face Book Page-I have a lot of links to food additives, red dye and the likes and the hazards related:

https://www.facebook.com/Julieg350dayinthelifewithmigraines

I found out on my own all the toxins I needed to avoid that were migraine triggers. I also purchased a book (one of many) that became my food additive bible: Excitotoxins the Taste that Kills by Russell L Blaylock MD who is at that time of the books publishing a practicing board certified neurosurgeon. He points out these Excitotoxins (MSG, Soy, etc) have led to the epidemic of Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s and many other diseases including Diabetes. And while your at it get this book as well: The Whole Soy Story, the dark side of America’s favorite health food but Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. A real eye opener. It was after this I decided I can only eat fresh prepared foods made from scratch. Nothing canned, pre-mixed, frozen, prepackaged and no fast food.

During this time my friend had to intervene because I was so depressed I didn’t want to go on anymore. And a very nice pastor came once a week to counsel me until he got to the point that he professed I needed professional help. Finally by May 2011 I asked the nice nurse who worked for Dr. A-Holio to refer me to a therapist I found online who specialized in women’s issues and pain management therapy. During several sessions and after voicing my dislike of my current Neurologist she recommended one that specializes in Migraines and she had personal experience with him through her father’s illness. So in Sept or Oct of 2011 I got into to see my new and still current Neurologist. He has been a Godsend. He also has empathy for what I’ve gone through and what I suffer because he too suffered Migraines. He vowed he will try every trick in the book and find new ones and he will not give up on me. My Professional non-paid lab rat job was still intact. I have always and will continue to be willing to try new treatments and drugs to try to find a solution that helps.

All this time during Oct 2010 I filed for permanent SSD. Of course my spouse was not supportive. He said I won’t get it, don’t bother with it, it’s a waste of time and then of course his famous line during this period “go get a job”. In May 2011 I got denied as I knew I would. They always deny you on the 1st try to try to discourage people from appealing and to get benefits. Of course my husband delighted in telling me “I told you so, now go get a job”. I didn’t give up. I can be a stubborn as he is if not more. I appealed and got a good appeals attorney that wouldn’t take a fee unless he won. He worked long and hard to gather up all my old medical records dating past 2006 to present and he said I had a good case because I had a lot of medical documentation. I repeated this info to my hubby and he was his usual gruff non-supportive self. He was non-believing, as usual. he gets that from his mother’s side, sorry to say, being very negative, non-supportive, borderline hateful, resentful, nasty, non-trusting and hording grudges. As he gets older he gets more like her. It’s pretty scary at times but the sins of the parent fall on the child and it is oh so true in his case. Why do I stick around you ask? Well, like my parents I take the vows I made serious-always have, always did and always will. I’m not a quitter. In fact when faced with a challenge sometimes I fight harder. I almost gave up the summer of 2012 when I again hit rock bottom and my best friend had to intervene again and this time hospitalization and intense personal and group therapy had to take place. Of course I was blamed for that too-it was my fault, all in my head, it’s you not me-on and on, yada, yada, yada. But anyway to finish the story of the SSD appeals I had my appeal hearing in April 2012. My Neurologist submitted a letter on my behalf per the request of my therapist. My therapist even showed up at my hearing and testified on my behalf which just blew me away. She believed in me and my case so strongly that she wanted me to win my SSD appeal. The appeals judge was impressed by this and declared me totally disabled on the bench that very day, Friday April 13th 2012. My husband’s reaction was he told me it was just “good luck”. My best friend was ecstatic for me as was my therapist and attorney. I was in a fog as I was fighting yet another migraine and had to take medication right after my testimony to the judge, when I was allowed to leave the chambers. During my hospital stay was when I was diagnosed with PTSD stemming from a past childhood memory that happened to me at the age of 11 by another family member. I had repressed it for so long it was coming back in night terrors that I found out later were causing my severe insomnia.

Since that time I have tried more alternative therapies that I have come up with my own and some I learned in the hospital and from other bloggers, as I was starting to get involved in blogging late 2012:

  1. Guided Meditation
  2. Meditation Music Therapy
  3. Subliminal Music Therapy
  4. Winter Light Therapy for SAD
  5. Nintendo Wii for hand to eye coördination (recommended by PT Therapy staff at hospital)
  6. Aromotherapy
  7. Cupping
  8. Journaling
  9. Individual Therapy
  10. Pets as Therapy (I already knew this from past experience)
  11. Elimination Diet-yes, again. I tested negative for Gluten but could be intolerant to it and it was expanded that I cannot eat any leftovers more than 6-8 hrs old. If I was going to have something as a leftover it had to be frozen immediately and once thawed heated immediately and then eaten right away. I joke that pretty soon I will only be allowed organic home grown grass and drink distilled water. So my diet got even stricter.
  12. Bible Study Group-as social interaction is vital to ones overall health and well being.

In the fall of 2012 I got into blogging after I was journaling for a while. I got turned onto it by http://www.terirobert.com/ and http://somebodyhealme.dianalee.net/. Every month this is a Migraine Carnival Blog where you create a post that fits that months theme and out of all those that are submitted (the number I’m not sure of) they select about 6 posts. Of course you must have a blog to send a post and so I got started. Prior to that I was an almost daily regular on http://migraine.com/blog/ and would learn more about Migraines, treatments, medications used and at that time I found a blog from Dr. Dawn Marcus on co-existing conditions that can occur with Migraines. It was this link in particular: http://migraine.com/blog/migraine-comorbidities-fibromyalgia/ That is when I started putting 2 and 2 together. Through the years I was developing Fibromyalgia because all the pieces started to fit together in a jigsaw puzzle. Slowly it dawned on me as I thought back all these past years as my health started to take a nosedive. The light bulb went off! Are the Migraines part of the FM. Is the non-stop neck and shoulder pain along with the back pain related to the Migraines or the FM?? I took this newly learned info to my new GP where blood tests were done to rule out Lupus, Lyme and Thyroid along w/a slew of other things and I passed my Tender Point Test-I had all but 1 that responded. But now that 1 that didn’t respond before has now been responding. Figures. This cartoon sums up my history thus far with doctors when I have to take them the information to be diagnosed:

Doctors

So I take Cymbalta and Lyrica along with my other Migraine preventives and abortive. We’re still in the experimenting stage and my next appointment with my Neurologist is this May 6th. This will be to the follow-up of the 2nd Botox treatment for Migraines I had on April 16 2013. I got major eyebrow issues and eye dropping from this session that I did not get before. Still having the Migraines but was told can take a min of 3 wks to kick in and up to 4 wks to see results if it’s going to work. So on this coming Monday I will find out if we yet again change medications as it’s been 3 months on Cymbalta and Lyrica-at the same dose I started. I think it’s time to change it up again as the Lyrica doesn’t seem to be helping with the constant muscle spasms. That is a real bothersome pain and prevents me from doing a lot of lifting and a lot of the exercises I want to do.

But I will still continue to experiment with items I find online on my own or as suggestions by a great online support group I have acured over the past few months. I keep searching for pain relieving gels and liniments, pillows (just now got a buckwheat pillow and so far neck not hurting as bad but jury still out as I will not rate it yet) my bed of nails for at home Acupuncture treatments, my Breo-eye massager. I have yet to find a really dark pair of sunglasses for outdoor use. I’m trying to do Gentle Yoga but the poses you get on your toes sends my feet into major cramping and spasing. I have learned to be more organized in my Migraine Rescue Regimen. I put together a large kit on my bedside table with everything I need during a major Migraine attack. I have that featured on an earlier blog. I then decided I had better duplicate that kit in a smaller scale and carry with me in my purse because I’d borrow a med from my kit to take with and forget to return it or visa versa. It’s a bad, bad situation to be stuck out away from home and needing your abortive and pain management meds. So I have learned how to organize and streamline that to make things easier for me. Well, as easy as they can get.

Through therapy I have learned to be more calm and at peace with myself and my disease. To be angry, bitter, resentful and upset makes more stress which in turn makes muscles stiffer and does add more to the chronic pain. I lean more on Meditation and prayer to see me through the rough spots and my meditation music. I’ve made my bedroom my fortress-where I can seclude myself and be in the dark and quiet with most everything I need. I only need to leave to refresh and Ice pack or reheat a heating pad. Those Bed Buddies and those Bed Buddy Booties are great but don’t stay hot for long. I like to share new ideas and tips when I come across them and I just love getting ideas in return because I’ve said before and I will say it again-I’m always willing to try something new and see if it helps. And I owe a lot to Teri Robert, Diana Lee, Dr. Marcus, Ellen-all those on Migraine.com and the fellow sufferer’s I’ve encountered as well as to my FB support group CMA-Chronic Migraine Awareness and The Coolest Fibro Chicks around town for Support and Love. Without all those wonderful outstanding members on all these groups I’d be lost. Social Media does play a key role in Chronic Illness. I wish I had it to have tapped into it earlier in my disease but better now than never. Always try to stay positive. That is my goal and to get well. I also plan to connect with as many as I can that suffer the same as I do. If I can help ONE person it’s worthwhile.

I hope this answers everyone’s questions about me. If you have anymore please feel free to ask. You can also go to my FB page and post a question as well. I do have Twitter and I don’t know why I’m having so much trouble with it. I try to update to get current tweets and it crashes. I reload it and try again and it still crashes. I’m trying to get to the bottom of that so in the meantime if you send me tweets and I don’t respond right away that is why-technical or user error problems. But I will get to the bottom of it. Again I apologize if there are any spelling errors that irritate any of you. I am using the Word Press spell check and it is not as good as Microsoft Office but this is all I have to work with. And I cannot yet afford to add media to this site. In the late fall when I upgrade this site I will be able to do so then, but I cannot do so now and I hope you understand why.

Until next time praying you all have a Blessed and pain-free day. Julie

Encouraging-Quotes

People in the ICI Community need to be more supportive and less judgmental of fellow sufferers


dawn breaking

I was dismayed, sad and shocked by recent posts in the Invisible Chronic Illness Community bashing, criticizing and cussing out another in the community that found a way out for “himself” and he posted and shared his experience because he was finally able to break free from the vicious pain cycle and find happiness. I thought in this community and in the midst of all this blogging we were to share our experiences w/o fear of repercussion from another in the same category. I thought we were to be supportive of one another and encourage each other on, and then rejoice if someone has a breakthrough and feels better. I’m shocked at the lack of support I found. If a person was diagnosed with cancer and then was found to be in remission and for the time being considered “cured” that person would be ecstatic and that person’s supporters and other cancer victims would cheer that person on now that they don’t have to fear cancer anymore. Cancer is an Invisible Illness and often misunderstood and stigmatized as well. So when a fellow Migraine sufferer finds a way out of the dark tunnel we bash him? That would be like telling the cancer survivor “you don’t deserve to be better and happy-suffer with the rest of us and be ill!” Now I’m sure if you all sit back and think about it you would agree-we would not wish for a cancer sufferer to regain their cancer, so why would we want a Migraine sufferer to continue to suffer?

I have blogged about my 25 year journey with Migraines and how in May 2010 they progressed to daily intractable Migraines for no apparent reason, and I was not misusing my medications either. My panic attacks also got out of control as well as the Deep Depression I was in over the years long battle with what I then called the Migraine Curse and then everything else piled up on top. I felt like I was drowning in a deep dark abyss of pain and suffering. I had heart surgery Sept 11, 2009 for my long battle with an arrhythmia problem called SVT and by May 2010 I felt my whole world was caving in because one thing after another seemed to go wrong. I was battling Hypoglycemia and non-stop pain. I don’t have to tell all you Migraine sufferers out there how debilitating a Migraine is. You know all too well. But to recount my spells I can have them for 2-3 days at a time, get barely a break for a day and here comes another cycle. I have bad Aura’s prior and during an attack. I’ll  get a partial blind spot in 1 eye and very dizzy and easily confused and lose my balance often. I was already clumsy to begin with but the balance issue just gets worse with a Migraine attack. I get those lovey Icepick Migraines which I renamed Jackhammer Migraines-the stabbing pain behind and in the eyeball was so intense I’d think it would fall out if I bent over, or actually the pressure increased when I did bend over. I think whoever penned the name Icepick never had one in his/her life or they would not have labeled it with such a lame term. That temple on the same side hurts like heck and the skin will be sore to the touch all over my scalp. In fact after I get one of these Migraines I cannot not wash my hair until the pain subsides and even then it’s often too sore to wash-my scalp has always remained tender and sore to the touch and I’d lose more hair than I would have normally pre-2010. If I come into contact with anything artificially scented-someone wearing cologne, scented lotion, hairspray, cleaning supplies, candles, soaps-it will set me off. I am so hypersensitive to smells. Even the smell of Bacon is evil and I cannot tolerate it, but still my husband and daughter love for me to cook bacon, and I suffer afterwards.

I get very nauseous as a result and sometimes if I didn’t hurl into the porcelain throne I’d dry heave, which is worse than the actually vomiting. And I will often get chills or break out in a clammy sweat-it all depends I guess on how my internal thermometer wants to operate on any given day. If I get chills they seem to be deep to the bone and I put on my electric blanket for a couple of hours before I will stop shivering, yet my skin would feel normal if my husband or daughter would touch my forehead. Explain that phenomenon if you can. I cannot tolerate bright light or those artificial fluorescent lights. My husband will come home from work and complain the house is always dark because I live like a vampire-the curtains and shades will be closed and I will not turn a table lamp on unless I absolutely have to and I make sure it’s not too close to me. I have yet to find a dark enough pair of sunglasses to block the sun, that is how much the bright light hurts my eyes and adds to the pain. I cannot watch TV for long or read a good book, oh how I miss reading my books, because of the constant pain, the lack of visual focus and the side effects of the migraines is that I cannot comprehend what I’m reading most of the time because the confusion sets in. I have a ton of books and I love to re-read them but I have a lot of new ones I cannot even crack open and start and it’s like they are just begging me to pick them up, and I so miss my reading. I cannot stay on the computer long because the screen glare (even with the additional anti-glare applied to it) makes my eyes water, burn and adds still to the pain. How I’d love to go to the Movies when a new one comes out-but the noise and the moving screen would be too much. At home I can walk away every 5-10 minutes to recover and come back.

I turned my bedroom into a dark cavern I call my Fortress. Window darkening blinds, cark foam backed curtains, dark walls, dark floor, dark sheets-everything dark. My husband is not too happy it’s so dark but that one room is my Fortress-to slink away, curl up in bed with my ice packs and heating pads, turn on the fan and ride out the storm. I have my Migraine Survivalist Kit on my bedside table. A kit I put together over the past couple of years based on what I found were my essential needs during an attack to make it easier on me, and some various tips from other bloggers. So I only have to get out of bed to go to the bathroom or get more ice packs-everything else is within arms reach. I have an emergency kit in my purse for when I got out with my rescue meds and Migraine essentials. It makes my purse weight a ton and it’s a burden and my husband always loves to rag me about my “suitcase” but hey, I’m prepared.

And the noise. When I’m home alone during the day the TV is off! But when my husband and daughter come home the 1st thing they do is turn it on and ramp up the volume like they are deaf. OUCH! When I can get control of the remote (yep, good luck on that one) I will turn it down. Way down. When I use my iPod for meditation with my soothing meditation and Binaural Beats tones to relax and meditate during the pain I have it turned as low as possible where I can barely hear it. But then when my husband drags me out to his “playhouse” which is the Pole Barn to help him with his car project the noise is horrific and I must wear those noise reduction ear muffs. But the sound still comes through them. In the house when someone comes to the door the dogs bark like crazy and the one will howl like he’s on the hunt (he has Beagle in him) so imagine hearing that when your head is in excruciating pain along with everything else. Or when a major project is going on in the house and the spouse rips out the saws, electric drills, mini-compact air compressor, nail gun-HORENDOUS!! And then he likes to think I’m part male with as much testosterone as he and haul a monstrous humongous frig through the front door that barely fit through the doorway! Just to name one of many, many times I’ve been called upon during my Migraine pain the tasks to help him perform! But I’m not allowed to say “no” because he has no one else that can help him and then he rampages and goes on a tirade. Best to tough it out and suffer more later.

So I know all too well what goes into having Migraine Disease. And I was in such a dark hole of despair, anger and resentment I seriously considered ending it all. Yep, I actually considered suicide. Not once, or twice but a few times. My best friend intervened twice to stop me. The other times I  just chickened out and could not go through with it. But I was in the planning stages the other two times and I was so close to going through with it and I think that is why I told my friend so she could intervene and stop me. I was in such a dark hole of despair and thought I wanted to die to get away from it all, but deep down inside a voice told me NO. So that is why I believe I told my friend, so she could stop me.

That was a turning point for me. I realized that I had become so unhappy, bitter, angry, resentful, sad, lonely, lost, isolated and I blamed everyone including myself-even though I was doing everything right by avoiding all my triggers, trying to eat right, exercise and follow my doctors instructions and to not over-medicate to get caught in the rebound cycle. I was in such despair and mad at the world. I’d hear people make friendly suggestions to me on what they read or saw and I would blow up-I was so angry because I had done so much research all these years to learn what I could and even take info I found to the doctors to try out. I would think they were criticizing me for not doing enough when I was already doing more than my fare share. For someone to give me advice on a book to read because they just saw it online, but I had the book already a few years prior to their suggestion and I’m like “hey, I know this stuff already, so tell me something I haven’t tried cause I’m already doing it all”. I’ve done holistic, natural remedies, diet elimination and raw foods along with vitamins, supplements, massage, biofeedback, chiropractic, cupping, meditation, acupuncture, acupressure-the list goes on and on what I’ve tried to get these blasted things under control. And that’s not counting the traditional medical approaches. I’ve been to Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago Illinois. All they did was experiment on me with drugs like the other doctors out here were doing. After a year of driving into Chicago with no improvement I quit going there. The drive was too much for me and would trigger a bigger migraine because my schedule would be so disrupted. I tried Botox in Dec 2010 a month or 2 after it was approved for Migraines. The insurance denied it because they were trying to argue it was NOT approved, then I had to have the doctor submit detailed documentation it was medically necessary due to the severity and duration of the migraines and to state even at that time I’ve tried everything else to no avail. The insurance company still found a way to deny it stating it was not covered under “preventive protocol” in their handbook and guidelines. So my husband had to fork out the THEN #1,500.00 out of pocket for the full cost and paid it monthly. I will never hear the end of that from him! I had written pre-certification from the insurance it would be covered, then they don’t and deny it. I fought the insurance and appealed, they still denied after all the documentation was submitted and I even went through the Board of Indiana Insurance appeals and they sided with the insurance company, of course.

So that added to the stresses mounting up on my marriage. I was unemployed and getting temp disability at that time. My husband puts a lot of importance on money and when he had to fork over that amount it just put a bigger strain. He could not understand for one how bad the migraines were even though he saw me in bed with ice packs and in a pitch black room, and all the doctors I’d been seeing and the new medications to try. Even telling him how much pain I was in with all the other effects of the Migraine, and still he doesn’t get it. Then I’m not working which is a big no-no with him. He kept railing on me to get another job so I can contribute. It was a sin to him that I was not bringing in a regular paycheck. When I applied for SSD he was against it saying I’d never get it and basically implying I’m not that sick. Yes I was denied the 1st time because they do that to discourage people. They don’t want to pay out anything unless they have to. So I was told “I told you so” too many times to remember. I appealed my denial and got an attorney that deals with SSD appeals. He would not take payment unless I won. He worked hard on my case and gathered my long extensive list of medical records from all my doctors over the last several years. He said I had a good case. My spouse was still not supportive and still ragging on me to get a job and give up on the appeals. When I had my appeal hearing my best friend drove me because again I was not safe to drive myself. At the hearing my therapist showed up to testify on my behalf, she felt so strongly for me. I did win my appeal and got my back pay and my monthly benefit. All my hubby said was that I was “lucky”. So that is the support I’m dealing with while I’m going through this ordeal-no support from the spouse I have to get it from other sources.

I was hospitalized in August of 2012 for a week. That was my turning point. With intense therapy I realized I could not let my negative feelings rule my life as they were making me more miserable and contributing to the pain, stress and suffering I was enduring. I realized through counseling that how you perceive things in your mind and how you process them effects the body as well. So if I’m all stressed out and negative it adds additional stress to the body and therefore increases the pain because that is all I’m focusing on. I was so intent on focusing on the pain and how miserable I was that I blocked everything else out. No wonder people would not listen to me anymore. Who wants to listen to someone complain all the time and being negative about this and that! I couldn’t blame them when I stepped back and took a good long look at everything. I realized attitude is part of the problem, but not all of it. I started to journal and then blog and interact more with people online who are going through the same thing. I began to realize if I started being more positive about things in my life and learn to accept the fact there is no cure for Migraine Disease and let go of my anger, hate and resentment over it, and just learn to accept it and that all I can do is find ways of managing it better. If I would meditate more during the painful cycles it would distract my mind from the intense pain and I would not feel it as much as I would if I was tuned into that only and all the negativity surrounding it. Yes, Migraine Disease sucks. It’s horrible. It’s terrible. It’s a curse I would not put on another person. The side effects from the countless medications suck. The cost of the medications suck. Going to the doctor all the times sucks. But you know what, if you just learn to go with the flow and accept it you can go with the flow a little easier and be a better person to be around. So I focus on that-being a better person and going with the flow because I cannot change what I cannot change. If that sentence makes sense to you. Why vent and rant and get all tied up in a knot over something you cannot change or cure? At the end of 2012 I was diagnosed with FM and CFS. I was a little deflated at first and almost got into that mind-set again of “oh great, another curse”. But with the support of a network I set up of people who provide positive influence and positive feedback I got back on track again.

Now I’m in NO WAY preaching to people that you need to be more positive to “cure” Migraines. Heck no!!! I know there is no cure for one thing, and what works for me may not work for everyone else! I know that. I get that. I am only blogging about what works for ME and I am in NO WAY telling everyone out there that suffers with ICI MUST follow my thought process and my routine. NO. You can disagree with how I handle migraines or my thought process to make it through a bad cycle all you want to. It will not change the new way I’ve come to handle them. I found that for ME being positive and focusing on what I can do instead of what I can’t do is a big help. And I did use my positive reinforcements this past weekend when I had a horrible 3-day Migraine attack when I had to use my Imitrex Injections. I tapped into my friend “hotline” I call it for a moral boost and it helped. It didn’t take away my pain, but it helped me to battle through it with no anger, bitterness, resentment, malice or being mean. I stayed positive which is a day to day, hour by hour process. I have to be constantly conscious of it and work on it for it to work for me. And I state “work for me”, not a “work for everyone else”. I do not profess to be a doctor and have the answers for everyone but I can go by my own experience and what works for me. Period.

So if someone writes a post about how they found a way that works for them and that they found happiness in the middle the deep dark abyss, I am happy for them. I will not resort to being angry, bitter, resentful nor criticize them or curse them. If someone finds some kind of relief from this horrible pain I say “all the more power to you” and that will be it. And if I see a post that I don’t agree on I just pass it by and I don’t let it phase me because you know what? It’s not worth the extra energy your putting into bashing that person when you could be putting the energy into yourself. Now if I do come across a site that states “guaranteed cure” I will speak up because I know enough that a statement like that is a bunch of bunk! BS if you prefer. So I’m happy someone could find a way to be happy in spite of suffering from a horrible disease like Migraine. Yes, I know it’s a neurological disorder that has genetic factors to it. I had 2 parents that suffered from it years ago when there were no medications for Migraines. My sister suffers from it and has told of many terrible, horrific ER stories. Which in fact I’d rather roll around in my bathroom floor in extreme pain like this last weekend-a pain level 8-9 and deal with it on my own than go to an ER, thank you very much!

I feel sorry for those who are bitter and angry over someone that has found a way out. Someone who can be happy in spite of it all. I don’t envy the contempt this person is facing and which I might face as well after this post. But life goes on and you get out of it what you put into it. And for me I will put in positive attitude and deal with this my own way. I do not force anyone to read my blogs or agree with what I’m saying. But we can agree to disagree in an agreeable fashion. There is no need to curse or be vile over it. That is an attitude I cannot accept. That is nothing short of Cyber-Bullying. Have we stooped that low?

For that I will sign off wishing you all better health, peace, harmony and good will. Try to have as pain free a day as possible and I wish I could make it all go away for everyone, but that is not in my power. Instead sending you all good wishes to be Happy, Healthy and Be Well.

Julie

DISCLAIMER: THIS SITE IN NO WAY GIVES MEDICAL ADVICE OR DIAGNOSIS. SEE YOUR OWN PHYSICIAN FOR ANY CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE THAT ARE MEDICAL. THIS SITE IS TO JOURNAL AND BLOG ON MY “OWN” PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND WHAT WORKS FOR “ME”. THIS DOES NOT INDICATE IN ANY WAY THAT I SUGGEST THAT OTHERS MUST FOLLOW MY THOUGH PROCESS OR MY WAY OF DEALING WITH CHRONIC PAIN. THIS IS WHAT I HAVE FOUND TO WORK FOR “ME” IN THE 25 YEARS I’VE BEEN DEALING WITH THIS CHRONIC CONDITION AND HOW I FOUND A WAY TO COME TO TERMS WITH IT. YOU MAY OR MAY NOT AGREE-THAT IS YOUR CHOICE. BUT I AM STRESSING THIS IS WHAT WORKS FOR “ME” AND I’M ONLY JOURNALING TO INFORM MY PROCESS ALONG THE WAY FOR “MY” BENEFIT AND FOR ANYONE THAT WANTS TO LISTEN. NOT INTENDED TO BE A LECTURE FOR HOW OTHERS SHOULD DEAL WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS OF ANY SORT.

So

My tricks and tips for dealing with unexpected changes in day to day life due to Migraines


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First and foremost I make sure I stay hydrated each and every day by drinking a lot of water during and cut back on caffeine. Dehydration is a #1 cause of most migraines and if your dehydrated I found out personally it can take longer for your medication to kick in and take effect and compounding the situation. Other than that I have found the following my best way of trying to cope in a day to day basis that is so unpredictable:

I have a few tools that I use to keep ahead of the weather, as some of my migraines are weather related due to changes in the barometric pressure. On my iPod I have three go-to tools: Migraine Mate which will let me know if my risks for that day are elevated based on weather patterns due to my GPS location-I can add my pain rating and it will keep a Migraine Log that tracks your Pain vs. Temperature; Barometer which will give me the constantly changing pressure, temp and wind speed based also on my GPS location; and ecoHeadache paid version so I can customize with all my medications and alternative therapies-this is my migraine log and I can print a report to take to my doctor based on my documentations and settings. I downloaded those apps from Apple online store and they are very helpful in helping me keep track of migraines and triggers. On my cell phone I have a paid app through Google Play Store called My Pill Reminder: I have all my meds listed with the doses and times and it will sound an alarm that will not stop until I shut it off so that I do not forget to take my preventive meds on time. Missing doses or forgetting the times and not being on schedule is another big trigger for a Migraine to take root. You must take your meds on time and the same time every day and if you take the same med twice you enter it in twice and have the times set. The night before I have a pill box where I put my doses for the next day so I can have them ready when my timer goes off, that way there is no confusion and no forgotten pills.

With those techno tools I can try to keep ahead of any of those migraines that are weather created by taking my abortive at the 1st sign of an attack to hopefully prevent a devastating migraine. Along with watching the weather updates on TV there isn’t much more I think I can do in that department.

And then I make sure that my Migraine Survivalist Kit on by beside nightstand is replenished often-after each and every use. I will do an inventory and pre-fill any anticipated RX’s in advance regardless if I need them at that moment or not. It’s best to have them on hand so that I do not run the risk of running out in the middle of an attack, which would be a nightmare and unimaginable.  I also ordered a couple of those old fashioned ice caps, the kind my mother use to have years and years ago. The bag you fill with ice cubes and it has a screw on cap and the outside of the bag is cloth covered so you don’t have to use a hand towel with it. I found these last longer than the gel filled and cost around $6.00 to $10.00 depending on where you buy them. I got mine on Amazon for about $7.00 each. Any freezer gel packs I have I will often check to make sure they have not developed a leak. After repeated use of thawing and being refrozen the plastic weakens over time and I have had some of the gel ooze out and get on my dark navy sheets. Plus with a dog around I’m sure it’s toxic and I won’t have to worry about my dog getting into it 1st If I don’t catch it in time.

If I try to make any plans with friend or family I always leave an opening in advance. I will tell them I’d love to have them over or go with them, but I forewarn them that if I get a Migraine that will prevent me from participating to not get upset and be prepared if I have to call or tell them I cannot make it the day of so that they are not caught unprepared. I know no one likes to be cancelled on last minute, but my family and remaining friends have known me long enough and know what I go through and they have learned to expect a possible last minute no-show. Family might get a little upset but friends are more understanding. So on that point I try to maintain and keep open lines of communication with everyone I relate to on a day to day basis and keep them informed of medication and therapy changes as that can play a role as well. Communication is key.

When I actually do get to make it out of the house, I have learned to carry a couple of pairs of ear plugs in case I end up in an environment that is too loud since I’m really sensitive to loud noise. I have also learned to carry with me at all times, regardless of the weather, my sunglasses because I can even use them indoors under that terrible florescent lighting. I might get some odd looks if I use them but it’s to my advantage and not those passer-bys. I always make sure I have back-up medications with me as well and even have a pair of my Sumatriptan injections w/alcohol swabs just in case. In my cosmetic bag that’s been changed to my medication bag I also carry a printout of my current medications, OTC supplements, current doctor information and contact information-just in case an accident should happen it’s in print so that there is no lack of communication or confusion when the occasion occurs. In an emergency who can remember the names of the meds, doses and all their OTC items-or those of their doctors contact info or who to contact in case of an emergency? I sure couldn’t. I also carry a mini tablet and a couple of pens to document when I take meds away from home along w/a few short notes so that I don’t lose track of that information. And I will have my mints as well that will soothe my stomach and a pair of Sea Bands for the nausea if it should hit me all of a sudden. And I do a last minute check before I go anywhere that I have my driver’s license and insurance cards and a method of payment in case I end up in the ER to pay the co-pay, so my checkbook or debit card is always with me as well. I’ll have some portable wet wipes with me as well, just in case……….

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(My cosmetic case that I have made my Travel Migraine Emergency Rescue Kit)

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(As you can see it’s stuffed to over capacity w/anything I can think I’d need away from home to abort a Migraine)

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(These are the essential items as I had listed them out for display-a duplicate set of my backup abortive meds and the rest-medical info printout, etc)

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(My billfold clutch that contains checkbook, coin and paper money along w/ID’s, insurance card, medic alert card and debit card & store discount cards)

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(Once this items are loaded into what I once thought was a good sized purse it’s bursting and any extra room for anything is pretty sparse)

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(I add my sunglasses and by the time I’d put my eyeglass case and cell phone in there I can barely zip it up. I guess it’s time for purse shopping, UGH)

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(The front zipper pocket barely has room for lip balm and house keys. I hate to purse shop because I’m so picky about what I get)

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(this is my new purse, or should I say “suitcase” to carry my On the Road Migraine Kit. I’m already catching jibes about it-hey Julie, couldn’t you have picked out something a little bigger-sarcasm abounds. I’m not too happy w/it myself but I need the size and it’s leather and it was under $30.00. Sold)

I make sure my cell phone is always on a full charge and I have my contacts phone number information updated. I have my most important ones set on speed dial and I love the feature where I can put my important contacts as a direct dial app on my home screen, so then I just click on their picture and it will automatically dial them up. That would be a great life saver when you can’t think of a name off hand-you turn on your phone and your screen lights up, you see a picture of a face and you select that picture and it direct dials. Because oftentimes when a migraine strikes confusion sets in and you cannot think too clearly, so this is a good tool I like to use even at home. Technology is so amazing this day and age we need to take advantage of every tool as well as the tricks learned on these amazing devices to our advantage. And I make sure in my phone settings I have my GPS turned on so that it’s track able.

If I leave the house I will always let someone, spouse, daughter, and friend-know where I’m going and what route if possible. And I’m learning that I need to take the GPS with me so that in case if I get confused if a migraine hits and I cannot find an alternate way home, that I will not get lost and if I have to call someone for help the GPS will show where I’m at. In the past when I’d get lost on my way home I’d call and I’d be embarrassed to say I didn’t know where I was for sure. That is just not a safe place to be-it’s terrifying and could be life threatening if something else should happen like if you get too dizzy to drive or your vision gets too obstructed w/an aura. When you’re out on your own a GPS device and a cell phone are a must have. And if you think you may be gone longer that a couple of hours take along a cell phone battery charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter. And make sure someone checks out in advance the cigarette lighter actually works so that you know you can use it if your battery runs down. You don’t want to be stuck out away from home with a dead battery. And I make sure I have a bottle of water to stay hydrated and of course in case I need to take pills.  And I try to concentrate on staying focused, calm and not to panic.

If I get a migraine at home and need the quiet and silence I will put a sign on my front door that will state a Migraine is in process and please do not disturb. Many people have been very courteous and have not knocked or rung that God awful doorbell when I put that sign out. So that is a good way to deter unexpected would-be guests or solicitors when you’re in a not so hostess friendly mode. And if I’m home I retreat to my bedroom that I have made a dark and quite fortress, I will shut off the ringer to the phone, turn on the fan for white noise and use my iPod with meditation music and have turned down low, and I now have an aromatherapy humidifier on my side of the headboard w/soothing essential oils to calm and soothe me.

My Comforting Blend Recipe:

5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
5 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
4 drops Clary Sage Essential Oil
4 drops Tangerine Essential Oil
2 drops Vetiver Essential Oil
2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
1 drop Marjoram Essential Oil
1 drop Sandalwood Essential Oil
1 drop Myrrh Essential Oil

I combine these oils in a European dropper bottle and keep in a dark, dry cool place-my bedside stand drawer. I will add 8-10 drops in my diffuser because it can take that amount. Some diffusers take less and some might take more. But I found that the pure unadulterated essential oils do not irritate nor do they trigger a migraine. Only the commercialized, manufactured scented items will trigger me. This will not abort my migraine but it will soothe, comfort and relax me so that I can better endure and ride it out.

All the essential oils I use are pure therapeutic oils. They are not pre-blended nor are they perfumed oils-those would trigger a migraine, so stay away from perfumed oils.

(I will carry a small vial of pure essential Peppermint oil as well to sniff if needed when a migraine starts to flare up)

And I avoid my triggers: food, beverage and atmosphere like the plague. I eat freshly prepared food and stick to the NHF Low Tyramine diet guidelines where 1 restriction is to not eat anything that is more than 6-8 hours old-so no leftovers. Protein the longer it sits the more Tyramine builds up and is a major migraine trigger. And of course I avoid my other triggers: MSG, Nitrates, Nitrites, Diary, red wine, aged cheese…..

I hope some of these tricks and tips will help out someone. If you have a few of your own to share or add to this list please let me know. I’m always on the lookout for new tools and tricks to use for my own intervention.

Check out this months Migraine Carnival Blog postings listed as of 5-13-13 for other bloggers tips and tricks and coping with Chronic Migraine Disease:

Coping with Change May 2013

DISCLAIMER: THIS SITE IN NO WAY GIVES MEDICAL ADVICE OR DIAGNOSIS. SEE YOUR OWN PHYSICIAN FOR ANY CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE THAT ARE MEDICAL. THIS SITE IS TO JOURNAL AND BLOG ON MY “OWN” PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND WHAT WORKS FOR “ME”. THIS DOES NOT INDICATE IN ANY WAY THAT I SUGGEST THAT OTHERS MUST FOLLOW MY THOUGH PROCESS OR MY WAY OF DEALING WITH CHRONIC PAIN. THIS IS WHAT I HAVE FOUND TO WORK FOR “ME” IN THE 25 YEARS I’VE BEEN DEALING WITH THIS CHRONIC CONDITION AND HOW I FOUND A WAY TO COME TO TERMS WITH IT. YOU MAY OR MAY NOT AGREE-THAT IS YOUR CHOICE. BUT I AM STRESSING THIS IS WHAT WORKS FOR “ME” AND I’M ONLY JOURNALING TO INFORM MY PROCESS ALONG THE WAY FOR “MY” BENEFIT AND FOR ANYONE THAT WANTS TO LISTEN. NOT INTENDED TO BE A LECTURE FOR HOW OTHERS SHOULD DEAL WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS OF ANY SORT.

May 2013 Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival: Theme-Practical tips & tricks for coping with the changes brought about in our lives by Migraine & Headache Disorders. Posted 4-8-13

Migraine survivalist kit and tactics


My Migraine MUST HAVE Survivalist Kit  

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(The Step Bench is for my Dog to get on bed)

1. Dark Bedroom (shades closed, curtains closed, door shut, and cell phone shut off-sanctuary in place

2. Several Ice packs (different shapes for different applications all frozen and ready to go)

3. Cool washcloth to wipe off face or place on forehead

4. Bed Buddy (1 for neck and shoulders and 1 pr for feet for microwave, and a few homemade rice packs)

5. Warm fuzzy socks 

6. Warm, loose fitting, comfortable fleece pajamas (or men’s over sized fleece separates-the baggier the better)

7.*1-2 bottles of water for bedside table (I can tolerate water at room temperature better and keep nearby at all times)

8.*7-up at room temperature (room temperature settles better if I need to take w/saltines so I keep one nearby at all times)

9. Ziploc bag w/straws for 7-up

10.*Abortive Medication on bedside table (Imitrex injector pen kit w/refill, alcohol swabs, Migranal Nasal Spray w/portable O2 tank nearby)

11. *AYR nasal gel packaged in small Ziploc bag w/Q-Tips for use w/O2 to keep nasal passages moist

12.*Backup Medication on bedside table (Indocin and Fioricet-experimenting w/herbal Hylands Homeopathic Migraine Headache Relief Tablets)

13. *Anti-Nausea Meds (Zofran)

14. *Sea Bands for nausea

15. *Organic all-natural peppermints (Yummy Earth Organic Refresh Mints, Wild Peppermint-got these off Amazon.com) great for tummy upset

16. *A pkg of saltines (in 2 large Ziploc bags (to keep from going stale faster)

17. Notepad on bedside table to document medication w/ 2 pens and 1 pencil 

18. Post-it notes for spur of the moment thoughts or to-do’s

19. **Box of Kleenex

20. **IPod loaded with soothing meditation music w/comfortable aftermarket ear buds

21. **Over sized eye mask to block out light

22. **Package of ear plugs to use when IPod not in use

23. Electric Fleece Throw (under comforter on top of blankets and sheets)

24. Extra pillows

25. *Essential Lemon Oil (for use on temples only-massage in and on tender points on scalp)

26. *Small package of hand wipes 

27. Small bedside lamp w/dimmer setting or switch

28. Small flashlight to use in middle of night to get medications and document on notepad as to not turn on any lights

29. Picture on bedside table-family members, friends, or scenic to comfort and focus or meditate on (I change randomly depending on mood)

30. A lined waste can (Just in case)

31. Nightlight in bathroom so you do NOT have to turn any overhead or bathroom lights on

32. Cell-phone w/ringer off (we have no land line)

33. Timex watch w/Indi-glow face (emits a soft glow to tell time to write down medication doses so no need for lamp or blaring screen on cell-phone)

34. My glasses (of which without them I am totally blind as a bat when it comes to reading)

35. *Un-scented lip balm for dry lips (seem to get extra dry during a migraine attack and if using O2 w/Migranal)

37. Heavenly Acupressure MAT & PILLOW Combo (got this off of Amazon as well. I use it on the bed as the floor is too uncomfortable)

38. I make sure to try to remember to post my re-usable laminated “do not disturb-migraine in process” sign on front door

39. My bible and Journal if I feel up to trying to read a scripture bookmarked for inspiration and my Journal to write down something positive for gratitude to focus on positives and not negatives

40.  And last but not least, my most important Migraine Med-my little cuddly dog Paco who snuggles and keeps a watchful eye over me when I’m ill. 

*(I keep most small items in a small basket on my bedside table in an organized layout and what doesn’t fit **I have on my little cove on the headboard, all easily accessible. The only things I need to get up and get is the ice packs in the kitchen and re-heat my heat pads in the microwave)

When I first started getting Migraines over 25 years ago the house we had then had a window in it so when we built the house we live in now we customized it and I made it Migraine friendly, which meant NO windows in the bathrooms. A lot of people thought that was strange but I spent a LOT of time on the bathroom floor in the early stages of my Migraine episodes (and still do from time to time) near the toilet, or porcelain throne if you’d prefer to call it that. And also the feel of the cool floor against my head was comforting in a strange way as I made a pallet to lie on as comfort was not the main focus at that time. Little was known about Migraine disease and there were no medicines at that time targeted to abort nor prevent them so it was just riding the storm out the hard way. Earlier in those times my dad brought me over my mom’s Darvocet as that was all she had been given to fight her migraines. Now I know that is a big no-no sharing ones medications but there was nothing for me to take that would take the edge off. 

Thank God they were not that frequent but after a few years Imitrex came out and I went to see my family MD. I was officially diagnosed with Migraines and when I got my RX filled I about had a heart attack as this was a new medication, not yet covered and had to pay full price for 9 pills and it was an ungodly amount of money-almost $200.00 at that time! But by then I learned to add to my arsenal Ice packs for my head and neck as they seemed to favor one side of my head it was a challenge to keep the ice pack in one place. So I moved to the bedroom and tried to make that a refuge. When we designed the house I made sure that the only bedroom window was facing North, so no direct sunlight would come through and that side is mostly in the shade, but any light is agonizing. The bedroom was still too light so I got room darkening curtains and tried to make due. Then I got soft over sized eye mask and that seemed to work. I used an ace bandage to try to keep the over sized ice pack in place, but that was a hassle when it was time to swap out ice packs when the one I was using melted and I needed a fresh one.  Plus sometimes I got it either too tight or too loose.  I cleared all nick knacks off my side table to keep meds handy and a glass of water. Then later on to keep a notebook to keep track of when I took my meds and what the pain level was-I started keeping a pain diary of sorts,  and also a small lamp that was adjustable in brightness in 3 clicks-from low on the 1st click to too bright on the 3rd click. I know have a handy organizer tray on my bedside table to keep almost everything I need in one spot. 

Then I painted the bedroom a soothing dark blue, the curtains a dark blue and I installed room darkening shades to cover the windows, and I call it my little cave-my sanctuary. I have a dark blue comforter bed set and when the bedroom door is shut and the shades and curtains closed it’s nice and dark.  At first I liked the room cooler and had a small fan on the floor for white noise. I searched online and found ice packs that would form to the head but it was a narrow one, but I got it anyway figuring it was better than nothing. Then later on I connected with a fellow migraine sufferer and she sent me a skull freezer cap! Kathy has been amazing and I will not share her full name but that we met when she posted on Migraine.com which I have followed for a few years. I don’t know what I would have done without Migraine.com!

Then I started getting a lot of neck and shoulder pain and found that heat worked better than ice so I had gotten one of those bed buddies that you warm up in the microwave. I also made some of my own out of men’s white tube socks and raw long grain white rice to use on other body parts that hurt and felt raw-back, hip, knee, shoulder, and elbow and in the interim on my neck when I was waiting for the bed buddy to heat up. My daughter got me Bed Buddies Heat warmers for the feet. Wow, do those feel great. And I am once again a big fan of over sized loose fitting fleece pajamas. I don’t care what the size label says anymore-the bigger and looser the better. Anything that is constricting adds to the discomfort. Even in the summer I am too sensitive to the temperature and now I found out why. I also have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. That would explain the muscle spasms, sensitivity to temperatures, chronic fatigue and maybe the daily chronic Migraines. But that is a different story for a different time. I cannot do aromatherapy but I found that lemon oil was suppose to be good for migraines after researching online so I got some and apply it only to my temples and tender spots on my scalp and neck. It warms up and does something-I cannot explain it, but it smells fresh and doesn’t overpower and I can tolerate it. I cannot tolerate lavender oil as it is too overwhelming and for those that are the same way try lemon oil. I have read that eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils are good for sore aching muscles so I might try those at some point down the road. 

I turn on the fan and point it away from me now, but the white noise helps drown out any noise that goes on the other side of the door and through the house. I will pop in my ear buds and turn the volume on low and play soothing meditation music and focus on an object in the room-picture on table or wall or maybe a statue and meditate. Sometimes a 7up will help the stomach instead of water and saltines. When it gets bad eating solid food is out of the question and I know they say not to skip meals but come on! When you’re so sick you cannot keep anything down the last thing on your mind is food. So I try to Zen out, chill out and replenish my ice packs as needed and reheat the hot pads also. If I’m home alone that means I am disrupted a lot. If I’m not then I can ask for help when others are in a fair mood. I try really hard to focus on the positive and when others around me are negative I still try to maintain a positive attitude and if I find it hard to do I focus on trying to block it out because negativity makes the pain worse. I found that out by concentrating on it and focusing on it and realizing that it was true. Being positive does not take away all the pain but it makes the burden easier to bear and being negative or around negative people not only brings you down it magnifies the pain. So meditation and chanting a mantra on staying positive helps and working really hard on keeping that up, and I cuddle with my little dog Paco who turns into a little nurse aide and he keeps a watchful eye on me when I’m ill. He will not leave my side and is extra cuddly and affectionate and gives me the unconditional love that I need the most to help me endure and pull through yet another bad spell. 

If my migraine lets up some to where I can semi-function I will get out my laptop or tablet and connect online to get a pep-talk of sorts. But that is only when I’m up to it because sometimes, well most of the time, when I get online I don’t know how to cut it short. I start seeing topics or conversations and I get carried away. Or I think of something I want to search about and before you know it I have a lot of pages bookmarked that I have to check out later when I’m functioning better. I try really hard to keep technology out of the bedroom as it’s suppose to be a sanctuary, but once in a while I break my rule. That is something I’m working on really hard. I have to admit last week I did really well and I did not take them into the room with me, so I’m making some progress there. But this is how I survive my Migraine episodes. Some of these I picked up on my own by trial and error, some from blogging with others on Migraine.com and from other bloggers. 

I hope I have something in my “Kit” and “survival tactic operations” that might help someone else. This is how I stack and prepare my safe zone as I call it-to feel like my sanctuary to ride out the storms and have most of what I need at fingertip reach. Looking into a very small freezer for bedside, but not very practical at this point, but my ice packs would be a lot closer-not that it kills me to go to kitchen except if the lights are too bright. We have a skylight in the kitchen ceiling-that was a bad idea-and a lot of sun comes through it. 

DISCLAIMER: THIS SITE IN NO WAY GIVES MEDICAL ADVICE OR DIAGNOSIS. SEE YOUR OWN PHYSICIAN FOR ANY CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE THAT ARE MEDICAL. THIS SITE IS TO JOURNAL AND BLOG ON MY “OWN” PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND WHAT WORKS FOR “ME”. THIS DOES NOT INDICATE IN ANY WAY THAT I SUGGEST THAT OTHERS MUST FOLLOW MY THOUGH PROCESS OR MY WAY OF DEALING WITH CHRONIC PAIN. THIS IS WHAT I HAVE FOUND TO WORK FOR “ME” IN THE 25 YEARS I’VE BEEN DEALING WITH THIS CHRONIC CONDITION AND HOW I FOUND A WAY TO COME TO TERMS WITH IT. YOU MAY OR MAY NOT AGREE-THAT IS YOUR CHOICE. BUT I AM STRESSING THIS IS WHAT WORKS FOR “ME” AND I’M ONLY JOURNALING TO INFORM MY PROCESS ALONG THE WAY FOR “MY” BENEFIT AND FOR ANYONE THAT WANTS TO LISTEN. NOT INTENDED TO BE A LECTURE FOR HOW OTHERS SHOULD DEAL WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS OF ANY SORT.

How my Furry Little 4-Legged Family Member is the Best Therapy as I cope with my Migraine Disease


There are definately divided camps when it comes to preferred companions-cats, dogs, fish, rabbits, hamsters, ferrets and even the slimy and sometimes odd ones like snakes and yep even rats, mice, spiders, snakes-yuck. I’m sure I’m missing some but I prefer to stick with the norm.  I hate creepy crawly things and the abnormal. Not for me, no sireee Bob. My daughter was a true Tomboy. She had the slimy ones-Salamanders, tree frogs, some freaky spiders that thank God she had when she moved OUT of the house a couple of years ago. But unfortunately she had some of those tree frogs when she still lived at home just out of high school and those things are nocturnal and the noise…………. lets just say many a night they almost ended up being flushed down the toilet. Here we are trying to sleep on one side of the house and on the other end this horrible noise from a tiny big mouth frog. During the summer we cannot sleep with the windows open. The noise from those frogs

I cannot remember a time when I was growing up not having a cat or dog, sometimes more than one dog and cat at a time in the house at all times. We were animal loving people. I always had a dog or cat to chase around when I was little and because I was too young to sometimes appreciate how fragile they could sometimes be I would often get paddled on the rump while being told-No Julie, you cannot squeeze the cat or dog until they stop breathing and their eyes bugg out. I eventually learned that lesson to only learn another valuable one-you don’t try to fight a dog over a bone. Oh geese, I was still in diapers and my mom tured her back for one second and we all know that’s all it takes for a kid to get in trouble. And when your only a couple of years old anything and everything looks pretty appealing to you. Even a dog bone. I didn’t get paddled for that one. My mom figured the dog reprimanding me and scaring me was enough punishment. That was a Cocker Spaniel and I cannot remember her name but after that incident I kept my distance when she ate and played with her when she gave me permission. But of course as I grew older through the years and learned more under close supervision how to love and respect our animals we developed close bonds and it broke my heart when they got old and sick and had to pass on. I had always hated that part of having animals when I was younger.

It was when I started getting the migraines when I had dogs of my own when I moved out after getting married and had a child that I started developing really special bonds with them. I remember my yellow lab Willow. When we first got her and two of her liter mates, all three sisters, at first they were all just a bunch of lively loveable dolls that just made the family feel complete and we loved and adored them. I was experiencing migraines at the time and at first I was not really noticing it until my daughter pointed it out to me but Willow would be extra attentive to me and would shadow my every move and would not let me out of her sight. When I would lay on the bathroom floor if I would close the door and not let her in at first she would whine until I’d let her in or my daughter would and she would lie down beside me as close as she could like she was either trying to comfort me or keeping guard over me. She would not leave the bathroom until I would. If I laid in bed with an ice pack she would stay in the bedroom on the floor on my side of the bed. I would call her my babysitter. I loved that dog. She saw me through the passing of my mom, her litter mate both in May 2003 and my dad in March 2005. Then in Jan 2006 she became stricken with acute Pancreatitis. She was so horribly sick. I stayed up with her all through the night and day following her around cleaning up after her. She could not keep anything down. We took her to 2 different vets against my better judgement when I wanted to take her to the one we ultimately took her to finally, but it was too late. She was going into organ failure and I had to have her put down. I held her as they injected her with the medication to put her to sleep and I just bawled my eyes out for what seemed like hours holding her and apologizing for letting her down when she was always there for me when in the end I was not there for her and in the end I let her down. To this day I still miss her and still feel guilty for her getting sick and not listening to my inner voice and taking her to the last vet in the 1st place and being let around by the other vets wasting time and letting it progress to that lethal state. I lost one hellava wonderful friend.

So I went friendless (in a canine way) for a few years and it felt so empty and lonely, especially lying on the cold bathroom floor alone with no cold wet nose to nuzzle me to let me know it will get better soon, or a furry head to rub to feel some form of comfort. I had begged and pleaded with my husband to let me get another dog but he was not giving in. He didn’t want to go through the loss of losing another friend. No one does but the longer you let the loss remain the wounds say open and raw and you don’t fully heal. So one day he finally relented. My daughter had been working on him too and she’d been bringing her dogs over and one was a Min-Pin mix and he was pretty darn cute and his antics wore down my husbands defense. I had never been one to favor small dogs. I had always liked larger dogs but I could not get another Lab because that would be like trying to replace Willow and she was one of a kind. So on a whim I looked on Craigs List and saw this listing for a male 3 month old tri color Chihuahua. The pictures they had online were so flipping adorable and I could not resist looking further into it. He was just a town down the road from us, about 10 min. So we emailed and set up an appointment to go see him. He was adopted but not working out because he was in a house w/small kids and cats and those kind of dogs don’t mix well in that enviroment, so there was a re-adoption fee of $100.00. When we met him face to face it was literally love at 1st site on both sides. I reached for him and it almost seemed like he was reaching out for me. I cuddled him and he just snuggled up to me and nuzzled me like he was saying “hello mommy take me home please”. My husband was sold on him. Before he could get the words out “so do you want him” I almost yelled out “yes”. We went off to the nearest Wal-Mart to get a crate and bed and all the essentials for him. Not that he stayed in his crate at night for long. It was probably after a couple of weeks he was sleeping in bed with us. He’d burrow under the covers and snuggle up against my back giving me a feeling of comfort.

As he grew up he’d continue to snuggle under the covers at night, curled up against my back giving me comfort. During the day he knows when I don’t feel good and he will follow me around. From the bathroom to the kitchen, to the study-where ever I go he’s right there where ever I turn. When I sit down he will snuggle in my lap and give me extra attention. If I accidently close the gate to the bedroom door on him and he can’t come in he will sit there and whimper until I let him in. I put that gate there to keep the other 2 dogs and cat out. If I have to lie down during the day he will come in the bedroom and snuggle with me. Now that our daughter has temporarily moved back in with us and brought her 2 dogs and cat, he loves to play with them and snuggle with them. But if he knows I’m ill he will ignore them and come pay attention to me. He will curl up against me and nuzzle me and give me his little kisses on my cheek or chin and lie with me until I get up or until his “daddy” gets home. Then he’ll play for a while but if I go lie down again he’ll come check on me and he shows his concern. He just turned 2 years old the end of this October 2012 and he’s still got a lot of puppy in him and when he plays he plays till he’s pooped, but he seems to at times put me 1st.

It’s amazing that I have found two dogs in a row that can sense when I’m getting migraines and will go out of their way to comfort me when I’m sick. Now he will act up and bark if someone comes to the door-he has not learned to be quiet yet like Willow did, but he’s still young yet. This is the 1st male dog that I have bonded with and have had such a close relationship with. I don’t know what I would do without him and don’t even what to think about it. I had posted pictures of him on Face Book and had a breeder tell me he’s a Deer Chihuahua. I don’t care what he is. I know I love him and he loves me, unconditionally both ways. He will never judge, critisize, rant nor rave at me. He will not roll his eyes at me and say in an exasperated voice “what, your sick again-when are you ever going to feel better” or “your always sick”.  He really is my best friend of the 4-legged kind and he calms me and soothes me and it helps when I’m in pain to feel him there in bed curled up beside me and I can pet him from time to time and get a little sloppy kiss as his way of saying “it’s ok I’m here and I won’t leave you mommy”. He always has time for me as I do for him. He doesn’t care when I get up in the morning and my hair looks like a rats nest-no, he keeps a straight face and does not roll over and laugh his tail off at me and tell me how horrible I look. I have to wait until I go into the bathroom and screech in terror and turn to look at him and he’s still wagging his tail good naturedly with that look of love and adoration.  And that helps release some of the tension knowing I have him to count on. He is so much more than just a dog to me. My Little friend Paco is part of my family and I dare anyone to say otherwise. I love him because he’s my best buddy and he’s much more than a dog to me.

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