Sunday, January 31, 2010

Isn't any Migraine Press better than none?

I am having a hard time understanding some comments I read recently when the whole ordeal was in the press about Percy Harvin and his Migraine attacks. Yes, I agree that he was getting an extraordinary amount of press because he was missing some football practices and might miss a big play-off game.

I admit that there was a lot of press about his Migraines, but I don't understand how we could get upset with the coverage of Migraines or even him. I know I am in a unique situation where I may use Percy or even Terrell Davis by name if I need to explain to my son's football coaches about his Migraines, but I think all of this coverage is something they have read about and would understand. At least I hope so.

Although my son plays division I football, he will never be at the same level as Percy or Terrell. He is going to be a very ordinary man (although extraordinary to me!) with Migraines who will never get this type of press. Football is a means to my son's education. I don't know if his coaches would understand Migraines without this press around Percy. I don't know that they would ever read about Migraines under any other circumstances. I am just glad that the publicity is out there around Migraines and hitting a different demographic of people.

I also try to turn this around. What if I lost my job because of Migraines? How would I feel then? Of course I would want this injustice to be broadcast for the world to see and read about. I would be very upset that I wasn't valuable enough to my employer to want to keep me while I try my hardest to work through this disease that I have little to no control over.

Some have said that Percy should become a spokesperson for Migraines because of his special treatments. Percy is a 21 year old rookie. My own opinion is that he is far from understanding or even accepting his Migraines. I also believe that this 21 year old football player would lose his job in a heartbeat if he could not hold up his end of the deal and play a good game of football for his team. I don't think he would understand that right now either. The average life of a professional football player is only about three years.

If a Migraine can bring a professional athlete down like this, they must be bad. I have read a lot of the articles around Percy. I have found some good information and even one article with a link to even better information about Migraines. The publicity has opened up some communications between some Migraineurs and their loved ones who have struggled to get them to understand and the barrage of Percy articles have helped them to better understand what they are going through.

I am scared every time I have a Migraine and it interferes with work even if I don't call out and even if my boss doesn't know about it. Migraines do affect my work no matter how much I don't want them to. I still believe that one of my co-workers was laid off a few months ago because of her Migraines and all of this upsets me greatly, but I don't see getting mad at all of Percy's coverage. I am lucky in that my immediate boss understands Migraines, but I also know I need to watch myself, that it wouldn't take much to cross a line. My Director of HR does not understand Migraines and has made so many stupid comments.

All of the fighting among us only makes me more nervous about my own Migraines and educating my son's coaches about his newly discovered Migraines. If we can't agree this or any press is good, how is the average person/boss going to feel about it? Am I better off hiding my son's and my Migraines from coaches and bosses? Hiding Migraines comes too easy for me and something I struggle with all of the time - to not hide them.

Isn't any Migraine press better than none at all? Isn't this our chance to use the overvalued sports figures to educate others about Migraines? To use this to help us get the word out too?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Walking Migraine

I really don't like calling in or out of work. I'm not really sure why, but I think one reason is that it's a sign of weakness or that these Migraines are getting one up on me. Trust me, I know that's not the right, true or a healthy way to look at it.

This past week was not so good. The week started off with buckets of rain, adding in some additional hormones and topped off with some snow by Thursday morning. I lasted at work until Thursday afternoon when I finally called it quits. I did leave work on time the other days this week which I hardly ever do.

The week was like torture week. I felt like I had 'walking Migraine'. Kind of like walking pneumonia where you know something is wrong, but you don't listen to yourself. It is still our very busy time of the year and I didn't want to give in even though I knew I wasn't doing anyone, especially me, any good. It didn't matter where I went, everything and everyone bothered me.

I also noticed that I was walking around a lot with my head down. This made me realize that I do this pretty often and decided I wanted to walk with my head straight up; looking at everyone and everything around. But it wouldn't take very long before my head would drop down again. I didn't want to look at the ground. I wanted to look up like everyone else!

After a few nodding episodes, I noticed that when my head was down, it was in the shadows. Damn. That also brought on the realization of why I walk around a lot with my head down and it isn't because I'm a small tall woman. I couldn't stay in one place for too long either which included visiting my team's aisle or even in my office where I have lighting accommodations.

I finally decided to call it quits after someone on my team stopped me to ask me a question while I was walking by her desk. Even though I mentioned I couldn't stay out on the floor for long and another team member, who picked up on my issue, reiterated the same sentiments, I ended up spending another twenty minutes with her underneath these interrogation lights helping her with her problem. Final decision made. Go home.

The last obstacle of the day was to call my boss to let him know I was 'ringing the bell' for the day. Ahhh, voicemail. Left message. Finished the fifteen minutes or so to log out of everything process and I was out of there. After I got home, I took an over the limit number of triptans for the week and fell asleep; only waking up to take my nighttime meds. I don't like taking triptans more than two times in one week, but it was four times this week with a couple of days of using alternate methods to only chill down the Migraine a little.

My boss really is good about things, but I still hate admitting defeat to these Migraines. After I got in the next morning, my boss called to see how I was doing. He said that coincidentally his wife was also struck down and in complete darkness on Thursday. I let him know it was still lingering around and I was all maxed out on meds. He told me that I knew I could do whatever I needed to do to take care of myself and asked if I ever considered going to get a shot. So much flashed through my mind before I just basically said thanks and that I really appreciated that.

What flashed through my mind? The big thing that flashed through was that I recently found out my doctor stopped prescribing rescue medications to at least one of her patients. Although I've never asked for rescues, this week made me rethink that and I wanted to try to bring up this subject matter to her after I heard about her not giving out rescue medications any longer too. This is my opportunity as I feel this week I needed something a little more than taking too many triptans.

I know I need to stop or at least slow down when I have walking Migraine. I will try. It definitely helped with recovery time going home early on this day. Now all we need is to defeat this thing once and for all...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Migraines may sideline NFLs Offensive Rookie of the Year for Championships

The NFLs offensive rookie of the year and an All Pro team selection for this year may miss this Sunday's NFC Championship game. Why? He has missed the last two football practices due to Migraines.

Percy Harvin has had Migraine disease since he was a child. Migraines have already cost him one other game this football season. Percy plays for the Minnesota Vikings who will compete against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday for the NFC Championships. Whoever wins this game will make it to this year's Super Bowl game!

Percy also missed a few games while playing college ball with the University of Florida Gators. The Vikings knew all about his Migraines before selecting him as the 22nd pick overall in the first round of the NFL draft. Quite an accomplishment for a Migraineur!

His Migraines seem to be coming more frequently lately and can vary in duration. This was the first time he has missed any practice since going to the Mayo Clinic for treatment last month when he missed his last game due to Migraines. They don't know how long Percy will be sidelined. He has not been able to find his Migraine triggers yet. He has worked with numerous specialists and been given many new treatment plans to try.

Percy needs to find something that works for him soon. I don't like to see anyone brought down because of their Migraines. I have developed a new respect for the Vikings as they picked him number 22 overall in the draft while knowing about his Migraines and they seem to be very supportive of his Migraines.

I hope this 21 year old can continue to thrive in what he loves to do as he has had a very successful year despite his Migraines this year. Who knows, maybe he'll be another Terrell Davis - make it to the Super Bowl, have a Migraine, abort the Migraine, score three touchdowns in the second half and be named the MVP of the big game. That sounds nice, except for the Migraine part. Here's to him making it back and playing this Sunday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hippie Freak because of Migraine Lighting

I have this one guy at work, Bill, who stops outside of my office when he walks by and starts laughing. He thinks it's funny how dark my office appears. Lately, Bill keeps asking me if I was a hippie freak growing up. Honestly, I don't think my office is that dark. For me, my lights are perfect and just has that extra zing off of the lights.

I have a workplace accommodation where my employer puts a sleeve like filter over the fluorescent light tubes in my office. These filters reduce the light output from the fluorescent lights as well as decrease some of the lights flickering effect. I would not be able to work in the office if I didn't have these filters. I know this definitively because I have problems in every other office in the building and cannot stay in them for long.

In general, I work really hard not to loose my cool especially while at work which I can easily do while Migraining. I actually first started looking into my just headaches after a bad incident at work where I didn't remain as calm as I should have which really isn't my character. I had finally learned and attributed many of my work Migraines to the lighting. If you have or think you have a problem with the lights at your work, you may want to read Migraines at Work? Check the Lighting.

Anyway, most people who question why my office is a little darker than the other offices accept what I tell them. As an ice breaker, I usually joke about how my office has a nice ambiance and how comforting it is. Although I guess I'm not entirely joking since it is so much more soothing, but it helps put them at ease. Then, I feel it is my duty, as a Migraineur, to go into the explanation around why my lights are the way they are. I want to educate people about Migraine disease plus this has been known to generate other questions around Migraines especially when they or someone they know have Migraines.

I had gone through this routine with Bill a few times, but haven't the last few times. He knows my deal. His office used to be two doors down from mine, but luckily he's on a different floor now and he doesn't come upstairs very often even though I've seen him a few times recently.

Since Bill's not really close to me and just a co-worker, I have printed out the Understanding Migraine Disease and Migraineurs letter and will personally hand it to him the next time he comes by. It will happen and he will comment again. I look forward to this contact as I am ready for him now and know what to do with him. I have to believe that Bill just does not understand Migraine disease and Migraine triggers as that is the way I will approach the whole situation when we talk.

I really am learning to stand up to these types of things as I actually stood up to my father at a recent family gathering. This is a big deal. My father is not someone anyone stands up to and I think this was my first time.

Again, my issue was around the lights. My sister Pam was running late and my father wanted me to help save seats. Fine, not something I like to do, but I was willing. Unfortunately, I had a CFL staring me down. It doesn't take long for CFLs to hit me and I immediately feel when they are around even if I don't see the bulbs or even know they are there.

I mentioned something to dad about the lights and how I had to move. Talk about feeling like a kid again, he told me to stay there until Pam arrived. It took me about 30 seconds to think of all of the progress I have made, all of the doctors I have fired for their ignorance's, the pain I was going to endure for the next day or so and the wrath from all of you if you knew I would allow someone to make me endure a Migraine trigger situation if I stayed there.

Anyway, I stood up and told him I could not stay there any longer, that I would leave my drink there to hopefully save that spot and I walked out. When I returned, he understood. I think my mom talked to him and we talked a little after that. Then he helped unscrew some of the CFLs in the restaurant in the area. I am glad I did not stay there. CFL Migraines are really bad and last longer for me.

So you see, I can't let my co-worker go around not understanding. I think I am strong enough to take it since I will do what I need to do, but I believe Bill needs to understand Migraine since there are so many Migraineurs out there and he may run into one that is not too strong.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Person Progress with Understanding Migraines!

We all know that Migraine disease is something we could do without and definitely not something we want to pass on to our children or get aggravated when we learn someone else close to us has joined our ranks. I know I've been talking a lot about my son lately as we try to weed through his newly discovered headaches, but I wanted to talk about a conversation I had with someone who is close to my son and me.

When I mentioned to Terry about my suspicions around my son having headaches, I was met with a lot of resistance. I was basically told I was probably overreacting and shouldn't put any ideas of Migraines into his head. This was not a total surprise for me especially given the fact that Terry was the same person who accused me of jumping to conclusions when I suspected my own just headaches as actually being Migraines. Naturally I took this comment about my son from where it came. Terry is someone close to us who can offer good advice, sometimes, and needed to know what was going on.

I have talked a lot about why I suspected my son might have Migraines, what we had done and what we were doing before taking the next needed step. The brief details about my son and his headaches - I became aware of my son's headaches just as finals were about to start for his first semester of college. Before I could get together with my son to really talk about Migraines and to not get him too worried, I only told him to keep track of his headaches and symptoms until he came home so we could review it.

After he got home is when we went into a lot more detail about Migraines especially when the quick diary had too much stuff on it to just blow it off. Since he has been home, he has recorded a few bad headaches which also had a few Migraine symptoms. I've given him the "Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches" book to read while he is on break too.

My son said the book has been very informative and I'm sure this is not the type of book an 18 year old boy would choose to read (at least my boy), but he seems to appreciate learning the facts around headaches and Migraines. We will have another big talk when he's done; before he goes back to school. After Terry saw my son with the book, I was told it would put ideas in his head about Migraines and didn't think it was a good idea for him. Ugh!

Anyway, I spoke to Terry again recently. I was asked about my son's headaches and what I thought was really going on. I'm sure I winced and shook my head a little as I said I think he is getting Migraines. I continued that my son had a really bad one last week with many Migraine symptoms and that I gave him the book to read to learn about headaches and Migraines; not to put thoughts in his mind, but to educate him.

After I finished with my longer than necessary explanation, Terry apologized! Terry said, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said what I said. I just didn't want him to have them."

Wow! I guess some progress has been made in Terry's own education. I didn't say much with the first go around of talks because I had already been down this path with Terry and I would have lost all sense of calmness which I try to keep and I knew the subject would be coming up again. I also knew the path I was taking with my son and I wasn't going to deviate from it unless I thought something different would be better for him. I have to do what I feel is right for him; no matter what anyone else might say.

I still think Terry has a little way to go with the Migraine education thing, but this was definitely a giant step.

Do you have people in your life who Still Don't Get It? That article has materials you can share with someone you know who doesn't understand how debilitating Migraines and headaches can be. There is another article to Help Us Deal with People whose negativity and lack of support are sapping us of our will and energy to manage Migraines and headaches. You are not alone!

We're all in this journey together and some people may eventually start to 'get it' like Terry did. This was actually one of Terry's first signs of understanding. There is hope for those who don't get it now.

Good luck if you have a Terry in your life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Elevator vs Stairs - Stackable Trigger Follow Up

I had asked for advice a while back on an issue I was having with a stackable Migraine trigger. I was having problems when taking the stairs at work. I prefer taking the stairs up to the 4th floor rather than the elevator since I don't get much exercise plus I like taking the stairs, but it only triggered my Migraines sometimes.

Teri Robert gave me some questions to think about and Nancy Harris Bonk some alternative exercises I could try along with other things to think about around the stairs. So why do I bring this up again now? I wanted to share with you what I have been doing around this issue since I received their responses.

I was asked about my preventative medications, how often the stairs triggered me, what other triggers had to be present and if I could avoid any of them. I have had my preventatives tweaked a few times starting just before I posed my question and my doctor had added in dietary supplements. I'd been trying to keep track of different things that may have aggravated my walking up the stairs too.

I stumbled upon some of the other stackable items when I wasn't feeling well for a while and needed to take the elevator. Slowly different things started to sink in. It turns out that one of my biggest issues with the stairs is taking them up in the morning while carrying my super heavy laptop bag which I take home every night. This added too much extra exertion when I walked up the stairs in the morning. The stairs also have unprotected fluorescent lights which stack up with the extra exertion of walking up the stairs with the bag.

I can still take the stairs down and I take them up when I am not carrying heavy items. I feel so much better when I take the stairs, but would rather not do anything to trigger more Migraines.

I was given a link to 10 Ways for Migraineurs to Sneak in Some Exercise which gives some simple exercises that we can try to manage even on days we aren't feeling well. However, I just found out that I need to be careful if I follow item number 6, Park Further Away, on the sneaking in exercise list. I was also given another link on a study that showed Certain Exercises Won't Make our Migraines Worse. I've got to do something more about exercising since my pants keep shrinking. :-)

Someday I'll figure this disease out for me. I have to. Right now, I feel like I make some steps forward which is better than no steps at all.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weirdest Migraine Trigger

With the weather getting cold, icy and snowy, I bumped into a very weird trigger the other night. I left work late. It was dark, cold and we were expecting some overnight snow.

As I left the building, I was very tired and it was breezy out. I walked to my car with my head down trying to get there in one piece. It was then that I realized that I had just discovered the weirdest trigger I think I've ever had.

They had already salted the walk and parking lot by the time I left. As I walked toward my car, the salt kept sparkling and twinkling and sparkling and twinkling. Then that familiar twinge started coming on quickly. I tried closing my eyes and walking, but I'm not too coordinated when my eyes are open; why would I think I could walk straight with my eyes closed?

What is the weirdest trigger you have bumped into? Is it as weird as a salted parking lot?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

CFLs are the Devil

I have to decide what to do about going to my sister's house especially during one of our large family gatherings. You see, she uses CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) which are huge Migraine triggers for me. We had our family Christmas get together yesterday at her house and I'm just starting to feel normal again since taking my triptan earlier today.

Usually when I go to her house, I turn off her kitchen lights where most of the CFLs are located and turn on a smaller, non-CFL light. However, with a big family party, I knew that would be impossible to do and was going to avoid the kitchen as much as possible. I was able to stay mostly out of the kitchen, but was not able to avoid the nasty rays and invisible flickers as much as I would have liked to.

What I found really weird is that she has some CFLs behind thick, cloudy light covers, where I can't even see the bulbs, and these CFLs were just as bad as the exposed bulbs. Most of the time I stayed in the living room where it was a little darker and nothing loud going on. The problem turned out to be that the living room is next to the kitchen and the CFLs weren't enough out of my sight so everything grew very slowly in my head. It wasn't until we were headed home that it really started getting bad.

This was my family's annual Christmas party. It is hard for my large family to get everyone together because of all of our crazy schedules and occupations plus we need to be in a house that can accommodate all of us especially in the winter months when we can't go outside. My sister's house fits this bill in so many ways except I'm not sure I should go there during these big indoor gatherings any more.

Please don't get me wrong, my family is good about my issues and some even offered to go into the kitchen to fix me a plate. The problem with that is I have too many food triggers where it is really easier for me to go in and fix the plate myself.

I just don't understand why you hear so much talk about how wonderful CFLs are and then don't hear too much about all of the health issues they can bring about too.

My vote is to ban the CFLs and keep the incandescent bulbs! The national efficiency regulations for light bulbs will start a phase-out of the incandescent bulb starting in 2012. Isn't that just plain silly!

An alternative, I haven't tried yet, is the LED (Light Emitting Diodes) bulbs. I have heard they are so much better for us with health issues than the CFLs and I've also heard that the price of LEDs are coming down all of the time. I think I'll consider getting my sister some LEDs for Christmas next year. Maybe that will be the solution...