Saturday, February 25, 2012

Migraine Biofeedback – Wires Crossed?

I’ve been having a tough time trying to figure out this biofeedback stuff and actually had Mr Biofeedback (BFB) ask me during our third BFB session if I thought I should discontinue the hand warming. I started off my second session by telling him I thought I was wired backwards and we spent the much of the third session talking about how he thinks my wires might be crossed too. Niiiice.

How would you feel if you ended up baffling your Mr BFB During my last two visits with him, he even ended up looking up different things on his iPhone that we were talking about. We didn’t do any BFB stuff during the third visit; new or old stuff.

In general, so much has been going on lately. I finally finished the increase of my medication. Everything went fairly well, but now that I am done, I am starting to feel some different side effects. I even increased the meds at a little slower rate than my doctor told me to although he did stress that slower was better. It took over a month and a half to increase the med. It’s hard to keep slow when all you want to do is feel better. But, slower is better.

Anyway, I’d been practicing the hand warming between the first two BFB sessions and didn’t have any real issues while warming. I usually hit well into the 90s and even raised my temperature by 20o a couple of times - without clenching my hands, without putting my hands on my thighs or anything else that would artificially raise my hand temperature. My hands were open to the fresh air.

I pseudo joked to him that I thought I may be wired backwards at the beginning of my second session, but didn’t elaborate any further than that. However, I did mention that I noticed I would warm a lot faster after I opened my eyes He reviewed what I was doing when hand warming and didn’t see that I was doing anything wrong either. He commented that if I warmed better with my eyes open, that I must be a visual person. Yes, I am very visual.

During this second session, we did the skin conductance at the same time we continued the hand warming with the other hand. He said I’ve been doing a really good job, but I still felt like something was missing; even after that second session.

The skin conductance was kind of strange too. After he hooked me up, I guess I didn’t quite grasp what was supposed to happen. I could see all of the pretty pictures on the laptop screen and the music was blasting away. I even felt like asking him to turn it down a little, but he seemed to be enjoying the results as I was trying to absorb everything and understand what was going on so I didn’t say anything.

To try to show me what was supposed to happen, he asked me to stress myself out. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time trying NOT to stress out and had a very hard time doing this. Do you know what finally stressed me? I got stressed because I could not stress out. I know, weird. I never said I was normal.

It was actually kind of cool to see how the skin conductance was ‘supposed to’ work. The pictures faded down, the music became quieter and some lines appeared at the very bottom of the screen that I did not see before stressed. These lines measured heart coherence and maybe some other things. I asked him about it. He understood what it was, but he either had a hard time explaining what it was or I was jumbling everything up as he was talking. I just remember his hands going off in all kinds of directions similar to when he was explaining that parasympathetic was better than sympathetic.

It was real interesting to see the difference in how the skin conductance looked and sounded between when I was relaxed vs stressed out. He also mentioned that it can take some of his patient’s months at three sessions a week to achieve the results I had with my first hook up. I’m not really sure how I should interpret that statement, but I can read it so many different ways.

My homework was to continue working with my hand warming. As I journal my results, I also try to jot down any silly comments, thoughts or observations I have while doing it. This helps refresh my memory and spark conversations while Mr BFB reviews my journal.

The Headache Center I go to does a complete evaluation of their new patients which includes different psychological profile tests to help get a more complete picture of their patients so they can treat the full patient and not give them medications that could be bad for another condition the patient may have that they may not even have been aware that they had. In between my second and third visits with Mr BFB, I received a call back from Dr Psychologist from the Headache Center. He gave me some of my results and also recommended biofeedback.

Well isn’t that just dandy! What’s a doubting girl like me supposed to do? What would you do if you had a Psychologist on the phone who just recommended BFB and you had some qualms about it? I picked his brain of course! He was happy to hear that I had already started BFB, but I don’t think he expected me to question him too. Oh well.

I gave him a high level overview of the two sessions with Mr BFB from a BFB perspective. I told him where I was having a hard time understanding BFB and wanted to know where or how he saw the benefits.

He explained that everyone has different approaches of going about BFB. Although Dr Psych’s approach is to give mini evaluations in five different BFB areas during his first sessions, it’s also ok to try the different BFB areas one session at a time like my Mr BFB is doing. Dr Psych likes to see which BFB areas get a good hit and then focus on those areas. This was enough to keep my attitude positive about BFB because I do still believe there are things I can get from BFB.

The third visit was nothing like I expected. It started by going through my journal. I told him that while I was warming at work, I had an incident that snapped me into sympathetic mode. But instead of my temperature going down as I would have expected, it shot right up. I watched it go up. I was definitely in fight mode as I could feel my eyes get bigger, I wanted to attack and I was not in a happy mood. I ignored the troublemaker and he eventually left. But why would my temperature go up?

I gave him another scenario where my temp darted up and another one where it plummeted when it should not have. We immediately started talking about these scenarios and other things that will make my finger temperature rise. This was when he said that maybe my wires were crossed. He also said that maybe I should stop the hand warming. I was totally confused at this point. I actually feel that hand warming is beneficial.

Sort of under his breath, he also pseudo joked that he thought I really might be able to pass a lie detector test. I know that during the first week we talked a little about BFB and lie detector tests, but I really don’t want to take one and don’t have any objective to falsely pass one. I just want my Migraines to get under better control.

Hand warming forces me to take a step back. It makes me relax. I don’t do enough chilling out. I have learned new techniques, but I still have a hard time staying relaxed for sustained periods of time. Yes, I go to extremes sometimes like trying to warm in the middle of work, in the middle of a loud office, in the middle of a very stressful day, but how else am I supposed to get better at relaxing? I believe in learning more under extreme conditions than giving up on something altogether that may have some merit.

Can you see my confusion around BFB? It looks like there are still three other BFB areas that I need to go through, to see if they may work better for me or maybe I can take something away to use as a new tool or technique to help bring my Migraines under better control.

What biofeedback stories do you have? Did it help teach you to chill out? Did it get you off of your preventatives? Reduce your preventatives? Did your BFB person look up stuff on the internet during your session?

No comments: