Friday, April 27, 2012

MRI Trigger

Have you ever had an MRI trigger a Migraine? My son's Migraines have been under great control for the past two years, but when he had his MRI, it triggered a 2+ day Migraine.

Of course this brings on my worst fears - that his concussion will have triggered more Migraines to come his way. I can hope and pray that they haven't made things worse for him like a few other people I know. My son's neurologist ordered the MRI after his cognitive test to return to sports was lower and slower than his baseline test was and he still had too many symptoms a week after his concussion.

When we discovered he had Migraines, we were luckily able to identify his Migraine triggers pretty quickly. He has been doing a pretty good job with his sleep schedule, staying hydrated and taking his supplemental vitamins.

Let's face it, it's tough to discover you can have some debilitating Migraines during your freshman year of college. He never realized, nor did he tell me that he was experiencing some headaches in high school. He would just take some Tylenol, get a little rest and would be mostly good.

The 'headaches' he got his freshman year of college were much different. I don't know if it was because of all of the additional pressures he was under plus all of the triggers he was faced with like he really hadn't been before. I didn't find out about his headaches until his 1st semester finals were about to start and I wouldn't be able to have a good talk with him until after he came home which is when we really started addressing them and educating him.

His freshman year was also difficult because his roommate was also a night owl who would pride himself on staying up all night and sleeping all day. He is really a great guy who comes from a really nice family, but you can see the huge Migraine trigger for my son who needed his sleep. He did work it out that second semester and reduced the number of Migraines he was getting tremendously.

It's been three weeks since his concussion. He is much better than he was, but has not been cleared to start the step progression back to competition yet. Their spring game is this weekend which he will spend the time cheering on his team. I am glad he was not pushed back into the game where he could risk more or even permanent injury to his head and grateful that he is bright enough to know that his mind is not worth risking to play in a few more football games.

Have you ever had an MRI trigger a Migraine?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Inspiration and Poem

My son recently sustained a concussion while playing a college football intra-squad scrimmage game. It inspired my poem entry into this year’s Putting our Heads Together Poetry Contest 2012. Are you going to put in an entry this year? You have until MAY 4TH!

Nobody noticed my son had hurt his head and he was only looked at after the trainer overheard him comment to a teammate “How did I get here” once he walked to the sideline on his own.

The trainer asked, “Are you f’n with me LittlePuppet?” After talking with him slightly, he could tell that he wasn’t. My son couldn’t even follow simple instructions so the trainer became his babysitter – as he should. LittlePuppet had no idea what he was doing, where he was, how he got to football that morning and couldn’t even remember most of the day before.

It may sound funny, but I have a new found respect for the brain. My son is a very bright boy, who was actually inducted into one of the national college honor societies this week. Kind of ironic. He had always said that if he ever hurt his head he would take himself out of play right away. He knows how important his head is; that his life is not defined by football.

He can’t believe that he stayed in for ten plays after he hurt his brain. He said he had to be out of his brain because it was not a conscious decision. When the coaches looked at the films afterward, that’s when they could see everything that happened. Luckily, he did not hit his head a second time during these ten plays or I can’t imagine what he would be like now.

The other weird part is that while his brain was still funky, he did not feel his other pains. He had prior knee, ankle and a fresh groin injury that he did not feel at all until his brain started coming back around. At first they came back as dull pains, but as his brain started recuperating, he started feeling these other injuries more and more. These injuries are having a chance to heal better this spring season as he has already been out of practice for this week and will be out longer.

Sleep is very good for a concussion. Since he had a CT Scan done and it showed there was no bleeding in his head, we did not have to keep waking him up the first night he was home. He slept fairly well that night which he really needed.

The second night, he didn’t sleep as good and we suspect it was because he was playing some video games which can be a big no-no when you have a concussion. Some of the flashing lights were bothering him when he was playing. With no video games on Easter and another quiet day with plenty of good food for him to eat, he had another a fairly restful night before going back to school on Monday morning.

During his freshman year, he was given a baseline cognitive test. He was given another cognitive test this past Thursday morning before he went to a follow up visit with a neurologist. He scored lower on his test and it took him longer to do the testing; two things they assess when retaking the test. The neurologist recommended that he go for an MRI next week just to make sure everything is ok. At least all of these safe guards are in place now and he cannot go right back into football practice to risk further injury.

In order to return to play, an athlete must be symptom free for at least 24 hours and then it will be a graduated return with a step progression that the team and player must follow. If the athlete feels symptoms at any of the steps, they are supposed to stop, recuperate, start at step one and progress through the procedure again as long as they remain symptom free. Nancy Bonk wrote an article on Returning to Play After a Concussion. It’s really not good to try to return too soon and great these new guidelines are in place for the safety of our players.

Of course I’m going to worry about my son; he’s my tough little big guy or is it big little guy. Below is the poem I am entering into the contest this year that was inspired by my latest journey. It goes through the impact, the symptoms, recovering and returning to play.

I want to preface this poem by saying I don’t want anyone to think I make fun of memory loss as my son does not have memories of that day and a half and many things still seem like a dream to him. Also, when my boys were in middle school, they lost a friend who ‘slightly’ hit his head. He even finished walking home on his own after his ‘little’ fall. Concussions are not funny, but something to take very seriously and important to know what to do with if you are faced with someone who bumped their head - even if you don’t see anything on their head. It is worth reading Concussion – The Basics written by Teri Robert.

Are you going to enter the poetry contest? You still have until May 4th!


The most complex organ
More delicate than an egg
A little bump, crack or hit to the head
Enough to cause this form of TBI.

No need for loss of consciousness
May occur without visible injury
Can last a few days, months or even much longer
Not usually life threatening; can be quite serious.

Trouble thinking, concentrating, remembering new things
Amnesia, memory loss, blurry vision, memory loss
Headache, nausea, dizziness, memory loss, fatigue
“How did I get here?”

Rest helps the brain recover
Don’t take one for the team
No drugs or alcohol to slow down healing
Refrain from yard work, video games and physical activity.

Fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion
Gradual step progression and cognitive function checks
Return to play slowly when no signs reappear
Better education, improved equipment, safety for players.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Football and Concussions

Despite all of the reading I do, I knew I needed help and guidance this morning. As I was driving down the highway, I picked up the phone to get the support I so desperately needed.

My confusion started when I received a phone call on my way to pick up my son from school for Easter weekend this morning. My son called me and then immediately asked me to hold on. He didn’t come back on the phone, but the trainer from his football team did instead.

The trainer started talking nonsense. I wanted to cut to the chase so I jumped right in and asked if my son was hurt. Why else would the trainer be on the phone with me? He said he suspected a concussion. A lot of things raced through my mind and then my mind went blank. Crap!

The trainer was happy I was already on my way to the school and said he would give me more details when I got to the school.

My son has been playing football for a long time and has been very blessed to have been kept relatively safe through all of those years. I also thought about how we were able to get his Migraines under excellent control after we discovered he had them two years ago yet my sister Pam is still struggling to get her head pain controlled after she had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) last year. I don’t want him to start going through this regular head battle.

After hanging up with the trainer, I needed to put my head back on straight so I called Pam. Luckily she was there and answered her phone.

Before Pam had much of a chance to say anything, I jumped right in and said, "I know I should know what to do, what to say and what to ask, but my mind is completely blank. I need your help."

Not only has Pam suffered TBI, but she is also a nurse, an EMT and I have been sending her links for a while to some great articles on TBI and now it was my turn to lean on her. It was nice that she was able to calm me down enough to start thinking rationally again.

Here are some of the great TBI articles that I need to familiarize me with again and to hopefully look forward to future treatments for TBI:

Migraines, TBI & Short Term Memory Strategies by Diana Lee - For patients whose migraines are the result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), memory loss is a huge, frustrating obstacle. Particularly short term memory issues. Certain medications can cause memory problems, too.

Traumatic Brain Injury & Migraine by Nancy Bonk - Every year close to 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Most people will recover after a few days of rest and return to their normal activities without any residual effects. Others will have a long, arduous road to recovery due to the extent of their trauma and may have lingering problems for years to come.

Migraines and Brain Injury Awareness Month by Teri Robert - Although a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can't cause us to have Migraine disease, it can cause Migraineurs to be more susceptible to their triggers. Brain injuries can also cause headaches that are considered Migraine-like and may even respond to Migraine-specific medications....

Traumatic Brain Injury: The 2012 Congressional Hearing by Christopher Regal - On March 19, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health held a hearing with regards to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), designed to review the efforts for prevention and treatment of TBI (Committee on Energy and Commerce, 2012).

After I got to the campus, I met up with the trainer and my son. The trainer said nobody saw my son get injured. That he walked to the sideline where he overheard him make a comment to another player about not remembering how he got there. The trainer started questioning him and immediately told the coaches he was done for the day.

My son did not have any short term memory. He could not remember much from today or even the day before. He had problems following simple directions since he would forget them shortly after they were given to him. This is all scary stuff for any kid, but he has also been on the Dean’s list the last few semesters too.

After the trainer filled me in on everything, we went to the ED. I have to say, they were really great there. They brought us back immediately where he was seen by a doctor pretty quickly. They ordered a CT Scan to make sure there was no bleeding. Luck was finally on our side and the CT Scan was clean. He was not himself all the way to the hospital and started retaining some of his memory as we were at the hospital.

We went back to see the trainer after the hospital. He filled us in on what happened as they pulled the films of the plays since nobody knew what really happened to my son as he walked off of the field by himself and no one saw anything.

The trainer said he actually played ten more plays after he injured his head. How scary is that? He went out for an overthrown pass. He was hit in his side where his head was drilled into the ground and bounced up, but he also appeared to get up right away.

For the next ten plays, he was right on target with what he needed to do for some plays, but was floundering for others. I think it’s amazing and a miracle that he didn’t hit his head again. I can’t imagine what he would have been like if he had. I also can’t imagine that no teammates would not have noticed him in the condition he was in.

I am very thankful for our early Easter miracle and pray he keeps going in the right direction. I am also glad that he will be home for the next few nights where I can keep a close eye on him.  Do you get forgetful when something affects your child like this out of the blue?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Be a Migraine Winner

Sharpen your pencils! Ok, limber up your fingers. It's time for the annual headache and Migraine Poetry Contest!

You don't have to be a writer or even a poet to enter. Just writing what you think or feel is sometimes enough to feel better and have others agree with exactly what you wrote about too. This helps bring support and awareness around some of what we go through too.

Poem submission entries started today and have a deadline of midnight, May 4th 2012. Here is an entry form  link you can use to submit your poem. Please don't miss out!

The subject must be headache or Migraine related, but may be metaphoric or abstract and must be your own original work.

This is a fun way to try to get the 'better' of Migraine or headaches. You can show how clever you are or even just be straight forward as you write your poem about Migraine or headache.

You can find a complete set of rules on Help for Headaches & Migraines. Winners will be announced on Friday, June 1, 2012 in observance of National Migraine Awareness Month. The Poetry Contest will be judged by Teri Robert and the Migraine Research Foundation.

Would you like to see some of the prior year entries and winners? There are also links to all of these winners on Help for Headaches & Migraines. Of course everyone who enters is a winner as it really gets you thinking about Migraines and headaches on many different levels and perspectives as we're writing our poems.

Give it a try! Good luck!!

Migraine Vacation Concerns

It's been a long time since I've been on a real vacation. I planned a vacation last year after my mother and godmother asked me to join them on a trip they were putting together for this coming May. It sounded like fun and a great opportunity to spend time with just them. Of course after everything was put into place, I started wondering what I was supposed to do about my Migraines, medication and still enjoy the vacation.

This vacation is coming up so quickly and since it was planned, my sister invited herself along, my mom dislocated her shoulder and my sister was in her accident where she had some mild traumatic brain injury that started her almost daily head pain too. Won't we be a pair on this trip! Luckily, mom's shoulder is doing great.

As far as Migraines are concerned, this trip is going to consist of a very long plane ride and a lot of outdoor time with plenty of sun. Summertime and heat usually increase my Migraines. Oh boy...

I know I have to do much more planning for this whole trip than my business trips. I will be around more of my summer and outside triggers, but hopefully I will be able to unwind and won't be stressed about anything either. I don't plan on having any stress anyway!  :-)

The plane ride will have a connecting flight going and will be a direct flight coming back so the travel times are approximately twelve hours and then ten hours. I know I will need to drink lots of water and bring my own meals with me for the plane ride. I've never traveled this long on a plane, but eating and drinking are really the two big things I'm worried about unless of course, you count someone wearing some smelly stuff. What do you do if someone is wearing smelly stuff while you are trapped on a plane? What else do I have to plan ahead of time for the plane as far as my Migraines are concerned?

We have some down time after we get to the island which I think we will need especially since we will have to adjust to the new time zone too. We have some excursions planned; some are all day trips that I'm hoping we will all be able to enjoy since they sound wonderful. My biggest concerns there are going to be the sun and the lights in the rooms.

I am packing my own light bulbs. This has worked out so well on prior trips I have taken. When I get to a hotel room, I will switch my lovely incandescent bulbs for those devilish CFL bulbs that all of the hotel rooms seem to have anymore and then change them back once I leave. This is the first time I will be bringing my own bulbs on a plane. I have a small plastic container that fits a box of light bulbs perfectly. Other times when I have flown, I have called the hotel ahead of time to ask them about switching the bulbs in the room. We will be changing hotels a few times during our vacation so I thought this would be the best way to handle my light sensitivity issue.

As for the sun, I have my hats and my sunglasses. I just hope that will be enough. The sun is really what terrifies me the most. I will have to be outside. Let me reword that, I want to be outside. I want to enjoy a little life, history and nature! I don't want Migraine to take over. Although I've decided not to invite Migraine along with me, like my sister, it may decide to come along anyway and I must decide how to handle it if it does visit even with the precautions I will have tried to take already.

I will take more preventative medications in my carry on than I will actually need for the entire trip. I will take my abortives and rescue meds with me in my carry on too. This has been a very tough year. I've had a rough time with medication adjustments and will be going back to my doctor one more time before my vacation. Like so many of us, I really need to get away, unwind and it will be nice to spend time with the girls while doing it.

What helpful hints do you have for a vacation? How have you found it best to manage the sun? Do you have any helpful hints for the plane?