Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tinting Helped

A couple of months ago, I wrote about having sun-screening put on my car windows as a way to try to help with my Migraines especially with the summer months coming. Everything seemed to make sense and it was an expense we decided was worth trying.

Every state has different tinting rules and regulations. My state doesn't allow any tinting on the front window or windshield, but you can apply for a medical exemption which is what I did and was approved for. You can tint the back of your car any tint level you want in my state.

I was approved for a 60% visual light transmission (VLT) in the front and also a clear window sun-screening for my front windshield which helped reduce the sun glare and UV rays from passing through. The VLT is a measure of the amount of total visible light that passes through the glass. Keeping my car legal in my state, I had the front tinted according to my approved exemption and decided to have the back tinted at 15% VLT.

I can say that I really like the back having as low of a VLT as I had tinted. The only precautions I must take are when I need to backup at night as it is a little more difficult to see. I try to back in any parking spots whenever I know I will be leaving after dark. I especially like the tinting when the headlights of cars and trucks behind me are shining through the rear window into my rear view mirror. It does not hurt me!

The front, legal tinting has been a little different. If I had my choice, I would want the front, side windows to have a little lower VLT. I think I'd be happier with a 40 or 35 percent and still be able to see comfortably at night or in the rain. Although I do believe the 60% does help, I can still feel lights reflecting off of the side mirrors into my eyes as well as the sun through the windows. As I said, I do think it's helping and am glad I did get this tinting too.

Now my front windshield was approved at a clear tinting and I always questioned how much it was actually helping me if at all. I finally got my answer.

Yes, the clear tint on the windshield was definitely helping! How do I know for sure? My newly tinted windshield developed a spider crack in it. Unfortunately, the clear window screening film didn't stop the spider from spreading and I needed a brand new windshield.

As I was driving my son back to school after a weekend break today, the glare from other cars was very evident as it was shining through the windshield and lighting up the whole interior. My son also commented on how he thought the car was hotter. That was one of the things the tinting people said is that the car would be a little cooler. I can't put another screening on the windshield at this point, but this will be something that I will keep in mind for the future.

Overall, I think having your car windows tinted or sun-screened will help with your Migraine management. I have to say it has helped with mine through the summer months and I believe it would help with the snow glare in the wintertime too.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Migraine Patterns

I realized a couple of things as I was preparing for my last doctor's visit. Although I keep a daily diary, I really don't look at my diary until I prepare to go to my next doctor's visit. My Migraines get worse in the summertime.

How often do you tally up your Migraine diary to figure out how you are doing in a given Migraine period? What I mean by a Migraine period is from one doctor visit to the next. I keep track of my Migraines in a daily diary, but I really don't look at it or analyze it from that diary.

As I prepare to go to my doctor, I transform my scribbled daily diary into a spreadsheet that spits out into a weekly and monthly graph. I can immediately see how my Migraines are evolving week after week and month after month. I also take the monthly Migraine values and add them to the end of a chart I've been keeping for almost four years. This gives me the visibility of how my Migraines have been doing over an extended period of time.

After evaluating my last set of graphs, I could see that my Migraines get worse every July/August and December/January for the last few years. I also take this graph and break it out by the doctors I've had over their given periods of time. On each doctor graph, I added in a trend line to easily see how my Migraines have reacted under each doctors care. It's really not as difficult as it sounds.

As I reviewed my graphs, I could see that my Migraines under my current doctor are still on a downward trend even through it is August and my Migraines are increasing as my annual tendencies indicate they would. I did have a good visit with her about a week ago where we discussed several paths we could take for my treatment. She went through the various medication classes and how my options are limited because of a medication I take for another disease. We decided together which way to proceed and that I will check back with her in another two months.

I am getting very discouraged with Migraine disease. I know that sounds funny; who wouldn't become dissuaded by chronic Migraines especially during their peak months and after having Migraines for most of their life. They are starting to affect too many other things in a negative manner now.

I try to question things in my control all of the time. I frequently question myself about the medications I take, different non medical options I can try and even if I have the right doctor for me at any point in time. Medications are frustrating because it takes a while to see if a new medication or dosage is helping before you can decide if it's helping or what to do next.

I also run through the pros and cons of my doctor. I believe she is still good for me. She is so much better than any of the previous doctors I have gone to for treatment. We definitely work together on my next steps. As a double check, I have taken the test; Is Your Doctor Right for You? a few times. She passes with flying colors whereas previous doctors had failed miserably even though I didn't need this test to tell me that. Other doctors had passed, but I knew I still needed to move on because they were good doctors and just couldn't help me with my Migraines.

My current doctor knows Migraines and Migraine medications. Although she is very good, I know she is not the top in her field, but I do believe she is still good for me right now. My doctor is also a member of the American and International Headache Societies and has gone to some of the conventions they offer.

I am also comforted in the fact that I do have my next doctor picked out, who is tops. It's nice to at least have that next plan if or when it is ever needed. There is nothing worse than not knowing where you need to go next. I've been there too many times in the past too; where you don't know who to turn to after and just stay with an inferior doctor getting substandard care. That is no good.

With this next doctor, my biggest hurdle is that money issue. I would have no right to complain about the distance to get to those offices even though it would be very tiring to get there. I hear all of the time how the money thing would be worth it, but it's just a hard thing to comprehend as bills pile up and unexpected expenses keep hitting home.

I don't know whether I should be encouraged or discouraged about finding this latest pattern of additional summer and winter Migraines. I think my Migraines are just getting the best of me lately and maybe because it is a peak Migraine period. I want to break all of these patterns now. I am ready to be Migraine free...


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Applied for I Leave

I finally did it. I had my doctor's visit this week where I brought up applying for intermittent leave. My doctor has really been good about all of the different things I bring up to her and has even called me a pioneer for some of the ones she had never heard about.

I explained to my doctor that my company will be cracking down on our sick policy. I don't take advantage of it, but once in a while, I will leave early. Leaving early, arriving late or missing a day for Migraine would all count as an occurrence or 'against' an employee unless they were under fmla protection. After so many occurrences, you would be put on verbal warning, then written warning which could lead to termination.

I honestly can't say I'm against the policy as I see people abuse it all of the time, but it scares me because of something that is beyond my control and something I lean over backward not to take advantage of. I probably 'over stay' my welcome at work to prove something I have no right to try to prove as it is totally against what is best for me and my health. I told my doctor that I probably trudge through too many days when I really shouldn't.

My doctor's only comment, after shaking her head disapproving and whispering under her breath about trudging through the day, was that I should have done this a long time ago. She happily took the paperwork and will be sending them into my company's leave department.

My next step was that I didn't want to formally apply until I had talked to my doctor and to Bart, my boss. As luck would have it, Bart was going to be in the office the day after my doctor's appointment as he does not work in the same building I work out of. I really wanted to talk to him in person about the leave as I had mentioned it to him in passing about four or five months ago before I even knew the policy was going to change.

Back then, Bart was a little surprised by it and seemed a little taken back as he has really been good with me and gives me the latitude I need. At that time, I told him that we never know what the future holds; little did I know it held this change in the sick policy which took away any manager discretion around the subject.

I was nervous about talking to Bart because I didn't want to alienate him, but given everything including the fact that I am still getting too many Migraines and my tolerance threshold is wearing thin, I forged forward. Bart took everything great, not that he really had a choice, but it made it so much easier. I sent in my application, am awaiting my doctor to complete her portion and then will see if I get approved (not really concerned about that) and how often I will need my doctor to fill out a recertification form.

In this time since May when I started seriously contemplating this, there have been many occasions that I have asked myself three questions: Should I leave now? Would I leave now if I was already approved? Am I going to leave now? Many times I would answer these questions and do what was contrary to my health. I even told Bart this when I talked with him. I told him that I feel I am much harder on me than he is in this respect. He just gave me a crazy look.

I hope I have nothing to lose by applying for intermittent fmla leave. I know a job is important for everyone, but I am the only income and health insurance for my family that includes two college aged kids. I am hoping that I will feel easier about taking care of myself under this protection and will see if it makes a difference to me. I do know people who have had their jobs saved by this protection. I don't think my job is on the line right now, but I have to prepare and be ready for what tomorrow holds as I am not the employee I could be either.

Are you on intermittent leave? Do you feel it has benefited you? Have you / are you going to recertify to extend your intermittent leave?


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ran Away

After I dropped my son off at school, I decided to grab the dog and run away. I really didn't plan on this at all as it was all spur of the moment.

Following the rules set by my Migraines, running away meant I couldn't leave until the next morning and I had to return the day after no later than dinner time. Sigh. I guess any time like this is a good time and I won't complain. I really can't.

We ran away to my parents house. My parents weren't home for the two days we were there which was exactly what we needed. The dog had an excellent time. She loves to run and swim which she still could not get enough of during this time. I brought work to do, but luckily, I mean unfortunately, the internet connection was not working properly there so I could only do limited work while there.

Maybe about every two hours or so, my work blackberry would get enough signal and send through my work emails. After I would read them, I would know I really needed to be off off from work and take the dog out for another run and swim. I bet she was never so happy to see me get frustrated. It guess it was good for both of us.

This time away was good although when I am out of my element, I can be very absent minded where I forget how I have to live my everyday life. I don't understand how or why I do this. I've been living this way for a long time, yet change a couple of things or do something last minute and I forget everything. Go figure.

There was nothing to eat at my parents house which meant I needed to pick up a few items that I could fix while I was there. I was good about picking up some foods, but others I was not. Not even a second thought while I was in the store or consuming the products at my parents house.

Do you ever get this absent minded? I'm usually pretty good about it even if I see a food I am craving. Or after I get home, I can leave it alone, but not there, not these days. It completely didn't register until it was too late.

I don't know, maybe next time I will actually plan to run away and I'll put sticky notes everywhere to remind me to eat my approved foods. Food triggers still sound so silly to me although I do believe totally in them. I still don't understand how some good foods can make you feel so bad and strange. Someday, I hope we'll have the answer to all of this gobbledygook. I know I have to work on being better when I am out of my element. I thought I was past this...


Thursday, August 12, 2010

My College Student/Athlete and his Migraines

I drove my son back to school today for his second year of college. He will be starting his second semester of college since we discovered he inherited Migraine disease from me. I'm hoping he will have even better coping skills for this semester.

He actually had a lot of Migraines during his first semester last year, but he didn't know what they were and didn't mention anything to me until he was about to start his finals. Of course as soon as he started talking about how he had been feeling and what symptoms he had, I knew he was getting Migraines although I wasn't ready to accept it.

Since then, we have put in a lot of education time around Migraines along with one pretty successful semester. We have done a lot to prepare him again for this semester. This coming semester is going to be different and tougher than last because he is a college football player and football will be much more intense during the fall semester. It is one more thing he must deal with over the spring semester. They do have spring football, but it does not start as early in the morning and is not as extreme or concentrated as the fall.

Although we have been getting ready for football and school all summer while preparing him to prevent Migraines as much as he can, we had our final talks while driving back to school this morning. We didn't talk about anything he hadn't heard before, but as much as I like to feel that I am helping him by giving him the same advice, I believe he likes to hear it again to try to have it sink in better too.

When we went through to try to identify some of his triggers, we found he needs to be very careful about his sleep schedule and hydration. These items are very hard to do when you are a teenage college athlete. Luckily, he will have a few weeks to get used to the intense football schedule, drinking lots of water and he won't have the option but to go to sleep early before classes start. One reason is because the coaches have a lights out time and another is that they are exhausted and fall asleep even before lights out.

We also talked about spreading out his workload after classes start. It is very important for him to not stress out. Although stress is not a trigger, it will exasperate the triggers he has very easily. By spreading out his workload, he won't put himself under the pressure of everything being due at the same time or not being able to complete an assignment because of the intense pain and not keeping dinner down. He understands all of this; I just hope he remembers and keeps up on everything he needs to do.

Over the summer, we also started him on B2, magnesium and calcium. The problem is that he's not always good about taking these supplements. We recently got one of those seven day pill dispensers with the am and pm compartments for every day. That seems to make it easier for him to remember. I do believe the supplements have helped him as he only had one Migraine this summer. I hope he can keep up this improvement during school.

His first semester was really tough especially when he had a three hour night class. After getting up early in the morning, he had a very hard time managing this night class. This semester, his latest class ends at 6pm plus he knows he has Migraines now. I believe knowing this will make a big difference to him and the way he will manage this fall semester will help him balance classes, football and his Migraines better.

My son will be very cognizant of his sleep schedule, hydration and not putting every thing off until the last minute. This year's fall schedule timewise will be much easier on him in that he will not have any late night classes to cope with while having to get up early every morning.

My fingers will be crossed that these precautions will help him and I will be checking on him as often as possible, especially when I get to see him at his games.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

What We Do with What We Got

Migraineurs are remarkable people. Just think about it. Think about the everyday things you do while having a Migraine attack. What I find amazing is that your head is what controls you; what you do, how you think, how you act and so forth. Yet, we sometimes still manage to function even if it's not at our optimal level.

Sometimes at work, I can sit in my office getting barraged with questions from all different sources at the same time. I start to think about how it's no wonder I feel the way I feel. I am being asked to give complex answers while talking on the phone at the same time I am getting other questions by someone who is sitting in the office with me listening to the same call as I am, through email or instant messaging which are both popping up on my screen and a growing line of other people outside of my office.

I think to myself, does anyone really know how I feel right now? Would they really care? What would they do if they were getting bombarded with questions from only one of these sources and felt this same way? Am I stupid for still being here? (that's a rhetorical question) Could I really leave now? Should I leave now? Can I take a pill to help chill out my head which may also dumb me down more? You know exactly how frustrating all of this can get.

This is when I can have a little hissy fit to myself while shutting down email and instant messenger to give me a little more peace. I also point to the phone for the people outside my door to signify that I am on the phone and give other hand signals indicating that I don't understand what they want right now while making it clear to the person in my office that I need to answer the question asked on the phone and we can talk through their question or clarify things for them after.

I usually end up with a secondary internal tantrum. Why am I doing all of this? I can't get to anything else I need to do if I am always on the phone and always answering questions that I have others who should be answering some of them, but they want, no they demand the quick answer from me. Yes, that is my problem and I am working on it.

I know that Migraine is a neurological disease. I know Migraine is not caused because of everything happening at the same time or everyone wanting everything yesterday, but it certainly exasperates all of the triggers that are hanging around ready to fire off at any moment.

Think about what you do everyday while you have a Migraine attack; how you push yourself to do everyday things others don't even think about. This could include taking care of children, an elderly person, an animal, everyday work stuff and so much more. How remarkable is it that you do what you do when not only is your head pounding, but you have other Migraine symptoms you have to deal with at the same time.

This really is what my normal work day has been like recently. I've read a lot of other Migraineur's similar type of accounts. What is your day like? How do you handle it?