Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More on the migraines

Some answers to questions I've gotten:

Why wouldn't you want to take a medicine that causes you to gain weight? It seems like a small price to pay.
I did try taking the medicine, and I gained 8 pounds in five days. Not good. Plus, I have a history of, ummm, anorexia. When I get stressed, or depressed, or otherwise feel like my life is out of control, I stop eating. Having rampant migraines AND gaining weight triggered some bad behaviors on my part. So after two months, I stopped taking the medication, lost the weight almost immediately without starving myself, and stopped beating myself up about not being able to fit into my clothes.

What are your triggers?
I've been able to pin down some things that pretty much guarantee a migraine: red wine, strawberries, lack of sleep, allergies, ozone days, and stress. There are other things that might trigger a migraine if the conditions are right, or wrong, depending on how you look at it: running, not running, heat, humidity, margaritas, and chocolate.

Are there different levels of pain?
Yes. I have some migraines that are mostly the side symptoms - like the visual distortions and sensitivities - with pain that's a 3 or 4 on a scale of 10. Those are the migraines that tend to go on for a week or so. Then there are the migraines that go all the way up to 11. Those are the ones that put me in bed in a cold, dark room in a haze of hydrocodone. As bad as the ones that go to 11 are, it's the low-level migraines that last for several days that take the most out of me. I get so worn down from feeling just well enough to function, but not well enough to thrive. Before I had kids, I'd go to bed when I had one of these and sleep it off. I don't have that luxury anymore. I have to save my retreats to bed for the really, really bad ones.

I've had bad headaches before, so I know how you feel.
Umm, no offense here, but if you've never had a migraine, you don't know how one feels. Imagine your worst ice-cream headache. Now multiply it by ten, have it last 36 hours instead of 30 seconds, and just for fun, throw in nausea, sensitivity to light, smells, and sound. Then maybe, just maybe, you'll feel like you have a migraine. My husband, who is really very understanding about my migraines, had a sinus infection last year that was so bad he spent two days in bed. He said later that the sinus pain gave him an inkling of what migraines were like and apologized for any of the times he wasn't as sympathetic as he could have been. And even then, he didn't claim that his sinus pain was close to a migraine in intensity.

Do you have one again today?
Yes. For the record, that's three days in a row. This one's an 8 or so.

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