Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sleep Apnea

I’ve read about Migraineurs needing to take a sleep study due to the possibility of sleep apnea. I wanted to give you another reason to make sure you take the sleep test.

For years, I have been telling my husband he has sleep apnea. Yes, I know I was diagnosing him, but I wanted him to get it checked out by a real doctor. Somehow, he always knew better and just dismissed what I had to say despite his very classic symptoms. He would snore loudly, have breathing cessation and would abruptly take his next breath. Just to make it clear, none of his symptoms were subtle.

Sleep apnea finally caught up with him. He spent the last week in the hospital. In case you didn’t know it because we certainly didn’t, sleep apnea can lead to right-sided heart failure. Yes, he had all of the classic symptoms of heart failure too and we still needed to tell him he was going to the ER and didn’t have a choice.

Because he never had his sleep apnea looked at, he has many more issues to deal with now or should I say we have many more issues to deal with now. MedlinePlus gives a good explanation of what typically causes this type failure.

Normally, the left side of the heart produces a higher blood pressure in order to pump blood to the body. The right side of the heart pumps blood through the lungs under much lower pressure. High blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs is called pulmonary hypertension. The right side of the heart has a harder time pumping blood against these higher pressures. If this high pressure is present for a longer period of time, it puts a strain on the right side of the heart.

What I have found tough this weekend is trying to get help him, get him setup at home and caring for my Migraines which, of course, have been out of control. I usually take much better care of myself on weekends so I can make it through the workweek. How do you manage your Migraines when you are trying to help someone else get through their own health difficulties?

If you are asked to do a sleep study for your Migraines or even just because you might have sleep apnea, it is better to get your study done and take care of what needs to be done so you can help your Migraines and the rest of your body too. Please don’t keep putting it off.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Migraine Accommodation Pictures

I’ve talked about some of the accommodations I have for Migraines for a while now. I’ve also said how I am a visual person and believe a picture is worth a gazillion words.

I have recently taken pictures of a few of the accommodations I have and wanted to share them with you so you can see what I’ve been so excited about. I just hope the pictures are clear enough to display how awesome they really have been as I am by no means a photographer and just started taking any pictures this year. I also needed to turn on that flash component which I swore I would never use.

The first picture I have will be a demonstration of the knee pad in my car. I really don’t like this picture as it can hurt just looking at it, but I think you can relate to when the sun is shining through the driver’s side window and your visor just does not do the job.  The visor is just a little too short given the angle of the sun.  Ouch!
As I was in my car one day and found myself in this very predicament, I remembered that I had a simple knee pad in the car. I thought it was the right size and shape.  It was and fit perfectly on the end of my visor! I didn’t even have to worry about how to attach it since that is part of its makeup. It never leaves my car now and I've been keeping it busy at work protecting my head, not knee ever since.

The first picture above was also taken where you can see the driver’s side window of my car which was legally approved to be medically tinted at a 60% Visual Light Transmission (VLT). I would have preferred a little higher VLT percent because that would allow less light to come through, but it does help with the everyday light. Tinting Laws do vary by state so you probably want to check the laws in your state if you want to tint your car windows. My back windows have a higher VLT, but that doesn’t help me when I am driving and the sun shines directly on me as in the picture above.

I also believe there needs to be a nice balance between the VLT that we use on our front windows because we will have this same tint when we drive at night which could make it much harder to see. I still like my tint and want my next car to have tinted windows as an accommodation too. The chart above shows the different VLT percentages. You can see how it gets darker as the percentage increases.

My cube accommodation at work is what I couldn’t live without since this is where I spend most of my time. I also have a very hard time when I leave the safety of my ‘cave’ and either end up putting on a good front, only go out for short spurts at a time, wear a hat, get a Migraine I can work with or end up having to go home. I hope this picture does my accommodation justice as I don’t think I work in as dark of an environment as it may portray. I really do have plenty of light and actually have extra light sources that I have NEVER used.

I want to point out a few things in the picture of my cube. First and foremost, I will start with the lights. The picture to the right is an excerpt of the lights. In the two purple (for Migraine awareness) circles, you should see spotlights. The spotlight over my cube (on the left) has been disabled while the one over the cube behind mine is shining in all of its glory.

The other light in the picture that has the purple arrow pointing to it has light sleeves over the fluorescent light tubes. These sleeves reduce the light output as well as decrease some of the lights flickering effect. They are solid colored about a third of the way and then transition around to a clear color. The sleeves can be twisted around the bulb to allow different amounts of light to pass through.

I’m not sure if you can see the mug in my work cube. It’s one of my fun Migraine mugs and a way to help support advocacy efforts. Each item that is sold in the shop is designed to let us have some fun while making serious points. There are clothes, coffee cups, iPad sleeves and much more. The best part is that all proceeds from sales are donated to non-profit organizations for Migraine and headache research. Although I don’t drink coffee anymore, I use my mugs for water, an occasional tea and plenty of conversation. I love the different sayings you can get on the various paraphernalia you have to choose from.

I have a whole bunch of hats that seems to be multiplying. My family has even started giving me hats as gifts! I always have a hat in my purse, I keep one in my desk at work and even keep a bunch of them in a bin in my car where they are always readily available. I really like my hats as they are very comfortable and large enough to fit my big head.  My hats are big enough that they don't add any extra pressure to an already tender head either. I am not a photographer and hope you can make out some of my neat hats. There are even hats with sparkles in there which is something many would not consider my style.

The last picture I have today is the rolled up towel behind my rear view mirror. I think it's a little hard to see, but how many times do you drive down the road with the sun glaring between your two visors? As you can see in the pictures, the towel fills in the gap between the two visors nicely and makes a much more pleasant ride.  The top picture shows the visors up while the bottom picture shows the towel neatly tucked behind not only the rearview mirror, but also both visors.

There are some people who don’t understand my accommodations to the point where I still get funny looks or comments, but I don't care as I would not be able to make it through my day or drive without them. I hope these pictures were able to help you see what I’ve been talking about all of this time. Did the pictures help?

What other accommodations or devices do you use to help with your Migraines? 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Not to Handle a Concussion

My youngest son is headed into his final year of college this fall.  However, it looks like he may have played his last football game this past spring, but he should be finding out more after additional upcoming neurologist appointments.

He was hoping to at least remember the last organized football game he ever played, but it seems like that is not going to happen. College football has spring practices and then ultimately a spring game which is like an intra-squad game with a lot of strange scoring rules.

It was during this spring season and an internal game that my son received his concussion. He was tracking to have a very good year, but if you go out for one pass and hit your head hard into the ground, that can change many unfinished plans.

There are a few things around this whole incident that were not handled correctly and really infuriate me as a mom and especially his mom.

My son was able to review the play afterward on films. After the play, he could see he was laying still for a short time on the ground. He now believes that he was probably unconscious for even a few seconds during that time yet nobody came out to check on him and even left him in for another TEN plays. He had no idea what was going on during this time.

After the plays were over and when he got to the sideline on his own, his teammates noticed he was talking and acting strangely. They directed him to go to the athletic trainer. He got lost going the twenty or so feet over to him.

When they finally hooked up, the trainer did the right thing and told the coaches LittlePuppet was through for the day. Considering he couldn’t remember getting to football that morning, making his way to the sideline after the plays, he still thought it was spring break which was three weeks earlier, he couldn’t remember most of the day before and so forth; I would say the trainer made the right call about being finished for the day. At this point, nobody really knew what happened to him on the field, but he obviously had a serious head concussion.

The next step makes my blood boil. The trainer gave my son a few ‘simple’, but very dangerous steps to follow on his own. He wanted LittlePuppet to go to his dorm, take a shower, get a bite to eat at the cafe and meet the trainer back at his office. Deep breath…

My son would have needed to cross a busy road; by himself with a new head injury. Not only that, but about a month earlier, there was a student who was hit and killed by a car on that road. Enough said.

The trainer was sending my son, with a fresh head injury, back to an empty room ALONE. Enough said.

How would LittlePuppet be able to follow the ‘simple’ multi-step instructions the trainer gave him if he could not find the trainer who was a mere twenty feet from him on the side of the field? The answer, luckily he couldn't manage any of it.

Coincidentally, I received the phone call from the trainer about my son’s head injury as I was on my way to pick him up from school. I could not comprehend everything the trainer was saying and I was still forty-five minutes away from the school. The trainer had examined my son and decided to wait until I got to the school so I could take my son to the ER to get checked out.

After I made it to the school, my son was definitely not himself. He is usually very quick mentally, but he was not remembering much from that day at all and repeating everything he said. After we got to the ER, I was questioned by them about why the school didn’t send him to the ER right away. The people in the ER were great. Although there was a waiting line to register him, they took us in right away and brought us back into one of their critical care rooms.

The ER answered all of our questions and did a CT Scan that let us know he didn’t have any ‘bleeders’ in his head which would allow him to sleep as peacefully as he could that night; we didn’t have to keep waking him up as you always hear about with concussion patients which would help him heal.

My son has been back to the neurologist a few times since then and will be returning again next week. ‘Little’Puppet said it was funny when the neuro ordered the MRI. He said he didn’t fit in the machine and needed to squish his shoulders up to try to round his body off more. They were finally able to get the pictures they needed. What do you do if you don’t fit? I guess that’s where the open MRI comes in handy?

Since LittlePuppet still experiences symptoms from this concussion he received a few months ago, he has not been cleared to return to football yet. As the regular season is approaching, it looks likely that he will not be able to play football with his team this fall. This is also a little tough for him because he came into football camp last summer with a severly sprained ankle while getting in shape for camp and missed most of last season.   He is coming to terms with it, but he knows he will need his head and thinking capabilities for life. He knows that is the most important thing he really has to worry about.

One more thing about the school and his concussion which I have not mentioned before that is very important and probably pertains to his concussion or at least contributed to the degree of concussion he received. My son had a defective helmet.

With football and especially as the programs get more advanced where the players are bigger and stronger, the equipment must be top notch.  Some inside pads of football helmets are filled with air to make sure they fit each player snug. However, my son’s helmet needed to be topped off frequently – something I didn’t learn about until after. You can’t have defective equipment especially when it comes to your helmet and protecting your head!

I’d love to know what was discussed at this years American Headache Society Meeting about sports helmet design improvements which just concluded in June. Our children need the best equipment and helmets to give them the most protection.

There were too many errors made in the handling of my son after his concussion. Although he is still experiencing symptoms, I am glad things are not worse because there could have been terrible consequences to some of the actions that were asked to be taken.