Friday, December 24, 2010

Don't forget the Unavoidable

I know I overdid it a little on cookie weekend and still think I would have been alright, but there is one big thing I always seem to forget about. I have to leave room for the triggers I can't avoid.

Even if last weekend was not so busy, I would have been hit by this unavoidable trigger, but I don't think I would have been hit as hard as I was since I was a little more worn down than usual. My arsenal of medications probably would have worked a little better than they did too.

In someways, Migraine disease can remind me of when I was pregnant. I always had to know to stop things before I became tired. If I waited until it was too late, I'd be worn out for even longer than normal. I was tired after cookie weekend and didn't think too much of it until after the unavoidable trigger hit.

I left work early on Tuesday and ended up taking a new medication. I don't know if that is part of the reason I was off the remainder of the week, but I know I will need to try it another time to see how I react to it again. This is another very frustrating part of Migraine disease. We are constantly performing these experiments on ourselves. This testing could be with new medications, foods or just about anything. It 'simply' takes time and patience before we find whats right for us.

I now have a whole year to figure out what to do about next year's cookie weekend. There should be some difference that I won't have to worry about like I will not be in this phase of the elimination diet and will not need to go food shopping because of that. I don't typically go food shopping on cookie weekend, but needed to this year because I have to cook fresh foods for the elimination diet as I continue to delve through different foods.

I am open to any new ideas for what to do next year. I will still need to bake the cookies in one weekend and will be using my dough mixer again which was super helpful. I will not go food shopping, cook anything else and I will nap again. I can't get as worn down as I did this year. Do you have any suggestions about what to do next year?

Take it easy during the holidays. Try not to overdo it and leave room in case you run into some of your unavoidable triggers. I hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Migraine Site

A new Migraine site has recently been unveiled. It can be found at:
It's nice to have another trustworthy site available for us to visit where we can go to get more reliable Migraine information. We should also recognize many of the familiar Migraine names and faces on the site. They already carry a great reputation in the Migraine field and will be contributing material on where they can keep passing on more of their tremendous information! has: quizzes, Ask the Expert, Physician Experts, Healthcare Experts, Patient Advocates, suggestions on different ways we can Get Involved, a forum, blogs, articles and I could keep going on. There is also an on-line Migraine Journal which will have more great new features coming in 2011. When the Migraine Journal is officially launched next year, it will include a video tutorial and an expert physician article. You'll have to explore for yourself to see everything it has to offer!

Sometimes I have a harder time comprehending things than other times where I find it easier to listen to new items. If you would like to sit back, has a brief tutorial on the registration process on youtube where you can listen to and watch the activity.

If you know me, you know that I am a numbers person. There are polls all throughout the site. I like that I can immediately see how I compare to others on each poll and even long after I've taken the poll, I can see where I stand after new people have taken the poll; my answers remain in bold so I can see how I originally answered the poll without having to play the guessing game.

To introduce more people to and to communicate their own Migraine stories, the first 500 people who share their stories will be entered into a sweepstakes where someone will win an Apple iPad!

You can review the complete set of rules in the 'Share Your Story' section where you can also look at some of the interesting stories that have already been submitted as I have even added my story. I can't wait to read about the 500 different accounts that will inevitably be told. Maybe you'll even be the winner of the FREE iPAD sweepstakes!

Check out See what you think! I'd love to read about your Migraine story!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cookie Weekend

This was a weekend I try not to think about, but then instantly become concerned about once it is here for a few different reasons. This weekend was cookie weekend. I would give myself a passing grade in Migraine management this weekend, but I didn't do a great job.

I have been baking cookies for my family for over twenty years. Even though I enjoy it, it has been getting more difficult every year. I probably would have stopped making them a couple of years ago if it didn't mean so much to my boys and if I'm making cookies for my boys, then I might as well do enough for the rest of the family. Last year, the boys gave me a dough mixer for Christmas. This definitely made it easier to mix this year and I was not exerting myself the way I have in previous years. I hate to admit it, but I think the cookies look a lot better; perhaps because a lot more air gets in there when mixing.

A good rule to Migraine management would be to spread out cookie making over several weekends. However, I know all of the boys I live with. I would end up remaking all of the batches I made early because they would have eaten them up. This is the reason I wait until the last weekend before Christmas before I bake plus baking them last minute keeps the cookies as fresh as possible since we won't see the rest of the family until New Year's Day when we can all get together.

I don't think I would have made it through making the cookies if I didn't have the cookie dough mixer. It really saved a lot of my energy that I would not have had this year. I was also able to take a needed nap during the day. My youngest son has helped me decorate the sugar cookies forever and continues to do so. The last cookies I make are a drop cookie that must settle overnight and then I refrigerate them before bundling everything up. If I didn't package them the same weekend, they would also disappear and I wouldn't have enough cookies for everyone else.

This year since I am in the midst of the elimination diet, cookie making was a little more difficult. It is a good thing I have a lot of cookie testers around and they would even be willing to test every batch that came out of the oven if each batch needed that kind of quality control testing. Given that the dough was mixed differently this year, it was nice to have this upfront testing done - before everyone gets a chance to have these cookies.

I don't think I was real bad, but I wasn't as good as I wanted to be either. I have to keep telling myself every time I want to stray from my diet, there is a reason I chose to go back on the elimination diet. I want to identify if I have anymore food triggers as I believe I do. The only way I am going to continue to find them is if I stick with the diet. I can say that all I want since I don't want to break the elimination diet, but I did have three cookies while baking.

As I go through the ingredients, I had one chocolate chip cookie where the chocolate chips could be a problem for me, I can't think of anything in the sugar cookies and although I haven't retested everything in the oatmeal raisin cookies, I don't think there is anything that would stick out, but I could be wrong about that again. I didn't plan on having these cookies and even though overall I feel I showed self control, it still wasn't good enough.

What I find amazing is that I have gone to a nice Italian restaurant with a few friends and all I had was water as they had appetizers, meals, desserts and drinks. I was never tempted to enjoy anything but their company and conversations. I can forgo this nice Italian meal with all of the ambiance with a few friends, but I can't skip a couple of cookies. On the plus side, I did not touch any of the cookies I knew would be really bad for me like these fudge cookies that I used to love and everyone else still enjoys.

One other poor Migraine maintenance I did on cookie baking day that I would not have even entertained without the dough mixing machine was that I also took a break and donated blood. I think that speaks volumes for how well the dough machine worked. I had been looking for a few weeks for a time and place to donate blood and this was the only time I would be able to do it. Of course if I did not have the dough mixer or it did not relieve a lot of my exertion, there was no way that I would have gone.

Although I did make all of my cookies in one weekend, ate three cookies while making many double batches of cookies and I stepped out to donate blood, I also took my time throughout the day, used a great dough mixer to do a lot of the hard work and took a nap during the day to try to offset a busy weekend. This is why I would give myself a passing grade in Migraine management this weekend, but I don't think I did a great job.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pass It On

This weeks doctor's appointment was a visit like none I have had before. It was not what I expected although I had planned to fill my allotted time and even had some back burner items I was saving for another day that I did not need to talk about today. I ended up having an extra long visit with my doctor and not necessarily because we were talking through my questions.

The appointment started off very plainly, but I think I caught her off guard when I simply asked her how she was doing. She was tired and was going to have rounds again that night. She had already worked through the weekend and for some reason, had to work the extra night.

This actually compelled me to talk about one of my back burner items as it was too perfect of a scenario to let pass. To give you a little background, my doctor is also a Migraineur and has told me on previous occasions that stress is her biggest trigger. That never sat well with me although I had never challenged her on it before because of other things going on and lack of time, but I have wanted to talk to her about it for a while and couldn't let this opportunity pass.

I said I was sure that it was probably very stressful to work rounds like that. She nodded. I mentioned that this was the time that she needed to be careful about her own Migraines. She immediately confessed that she had a killer Migraine on Sunday which would just not go away. I couldn't refrain from asking about her typical Migraines and how this one was different. I know, this was a little role reversal, but I was curious and couldn't believe she was answering me. Next time, I'll have to ask how she treated herself. That should be interesting especially since she was working, but I really wanted to stay on my course.

Next I bluntly said that I did not believe stress was a trigger, but an exasperating factor. She tilted her head and smiled the way she does. I continued that even the International Headache Society took it off of their trigger list and moved it to an exasperating factor; that stress could make you more susceptible to your other triggers. She nodded again.

I continued by asking her when she is on call or doing rounds, does she lose a lot of sleep? Is she staying hydrated and drinking enough liquids? Is she eating right? She said she didn't get enough sleep, she would quickly grab crackers whenever she saw them instead of eating anything real and I could see her calculating everything I was saying.

I never got to give her the analogy of stress and catching a cold which I believe really would have driven the message home. Teri Robert gives a great example of this analogy in her Is Stress a Migraine Trigger? article. She says when we're stressed, we're more likely to "catch a cold." It's not stress that causes the cold; it's the cold virus. The stress just makes us more vulnerable to the virus. I think my doctor picked up on what I was saying without completing the analogy, but I may bring it up again in a future visit.

The other part of my appointment had to do with the elimination diet. The last time I saw her, I had just started the diet, but had not added any foods back in yet. She was still very curious about the elimination diet and during my last visit, had pseudo challenged me to convert her into becoming a bigger believer of the elimination diet. I have shared with you one of my graphs, but I have since put together another one and went over both graphs with my doctor.

The brown lines are from my first ediet while the gold lines are from my second elimination diet.

The first graph shows the first six weeks of each ediet while the second graph shows the first six months of the first diet and first three months of the second diet.

You can't really do a weekly compare after you start adding back in new foods because of the weeks you introduce a 'bad' food. You can see an example of that in week five of the first elimination diet. For me, I believe it takes a few weeks to clean out my system, but during the second diet, I had unavoidable triggers during each of the first four weeks.

I explained my diets and comparisons to my doctor as we looked through both charts. We thought the monthly chart was interesting where it shows the same slope down on both diets during the first two months and then how the end points were virtually the same during after the third month.

She kept asking how do you know what to add back, when do you add it back and how. She was genuinely interested in the answers I was giving and kept asking more questions. My first thought was why wouldn't she have looked into some of this already, but she had mentioned during my last visit that she thought the best way to find food triggers was basically by discovery. I think I have convinced her that the discovery method would not work at least for me.

I wanted to answer as many questions as I could for her. During the first visit I had with her, she said that eighty-five percent of her practice is with headache and Migraine patients. I feel the best way I can Pass On all of the information I have learned is to give it to a willing participant, especially a doctor who can Pass It On through her practice as she sees fit. I don't know if she is a total convert yet, but I will get her there. She did say she wants me to continue with the elimination diet; that she sees it is definitely working for me.

I went on to tell her how I started adding foods back in and why I chose a tomato as my first item. Since the tomato is simple, with no additives and the base to so many other foods, I felt it was perfect to add in at the beginning of the diet. We went over the Thanksgiving holiday food add ins and why my last food to add in was an orange. I want to do oranges carefully because of the reaction I had to a sip of OJ (half of my face went numb) one week into the elimination diet. So far, I seem to be doing well with the simple orange and explained how I plan to work my way up to our regular OJ.

I don't do everything this carefully, but things that I have reacted to need to be treated a little more delicately. For me, this is where the elimination diet can take a long time, but is well worth it in the end. She seemed to understand what I was saying and I also explained that I may need to breakaway from oranges for a little while to get ready for some Christmas foods. It is not easy to do the elimination diet the way that I do it. There are easier ways, but I think this is the best way for me and I have gotten my doctor to see this especially since she told me to continue doing the elimination diet since it definitely seems to be working for me.

You can see that these two areas of my visit this week were really filled with a lot of questions, mostly by my doctor. You can also see why my appointment took a little longer than usual and went over my allotted time. I also had other questions I needed to go over with my doctor which successfully included changing my rescue medication.

I really thought the visit went well. I hope she felt the same way and I believe she will pass on some of this information to other patients who could benefit from either doing their own elimination diet or trying to identify and manage their triggers better when they are in stressful situations.

I am grateful for all of the on-line help I have received from others which helped me to learn the information I have around Migraines that I want to Pass It On in any way that I can. Thank you.