Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Track Migraine Triggers

I had been testing the My Migraine TriggersTM app for almost a week before I went to NY for its official unveiling. The makers of Excedrin® Migraine developed this app along with one of the top Migraine neurologists (one who I’ve written a little snidbit about in the past) which is available for free on iTunes.

While I was showing some people the app, the comment was made about how big of a trigger sleep must be for me since that took up a large piece of the pie chart the app offers. The picture of my pie chart as it appeared on that day is pictured above.

I will admit that the items in the chart can be big triggers and exasperating factors for my Migraines. It was a busy week with a Migraine every day. During this trial time, I still had a few cold nights without power because of the hurricane, we had a snowstorm before the power was even restored and this was still a very stressful time.

Those triggers are easy to identify and track. For me, it’s harder to identify the not so obvious triggers such as some foods.  Did you know that food triggers can trigger a Migraine up to 48 hours after you consume the food?

The My Migraine TriggersTM app has the flexibility to add in the foods I eat so I can track them on days I don’t even have a Migraine to see if they may be a delayed trigger. It’s easy to add foods or anything I might want to track.

I can add the foods I eat and track other possible triggers by putting in a new entry every day and answering the question 'Did you have a headache?' with the answer 'No, I did not'.  I can track the foods I ate that day, barometric pressure changes, temperature changes and really anything I want because of the app’s flexibility.

By entering a comment to this post or my previous post, you will be entered into a drawing to receive one of two Excedrin® Migraine Relief Kits. Winners will be selected at random when you enter any family friendly and non-commercial comment to my blog post. This kit contains the following items that can help manage some common Migraine triggers or exasperating factors:
• Sleep mask
• Noise cancelling ear buds
• Branded stress ball
• Herbal compress
• Branded water bottle

The Excedrin® Migraine Relief Kit giveaway winners will be announced in my post the first week of December when I review the My Migraine TriggersTM Mobile App.

What’s your Migraine relief story? Everyone is different and we all find our own way of trying to deal with our Migraines. Share your story and knowledge of how you treat your Migraines and you could win $5,000. All of the prizes, details and official rules can be found on the Excedrin® Facebook page.

Did you know that less than one-quarter (22%) of women surveyed find their current tracking method effective in managing Migraines?

Besides foods, weather, stress and sleep patterns like me, what other things would you want to track to help you or someone you know try to manage their Migraines?

Disclosure: I am an Excedrin® Migraine brand ambassador. One iPod Touch to test the app was provided by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc., the makers of Excedrin® Migraine; my journey for a migraine-free experience is my own.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Migraine Relief Kit Giveaway

How do you track your Migraines? My tracking is somewhat convoluted and I am always looking for a better way to track and report them to my doctor.

I have been asked to introduce and review a new Migraine application. The makers of Excedrin® Migraine developed a new app, My Migraine TriggersTM, with a leading neurologist that is available for free on iTunes. With this app, Migraine sufferers can track their Migraine triggers and gather the data put into reports and charts that can be easily shared with physicians.

This new app was unveiled at a media event in NYC with actress/singer and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. Jordin seemed so down to earth and told us about her Migraines and how her mother has real debilitating Migraines. She said she won’t be back home until the day before Christmas when she plans on doing all of her holiday baking and hopes her friend will be able to get all of the ingredients she will need for her baking.  I also hope Jordin paces herself as I know I've learned my own lessons from holiday baking over the years and try to be careful not to overdo it.

I will be giving away TWO Excedrin® Migraine Relief Kits.  Two of my readers will be selected at random when you enter any family friendly and non-commercial comment to my blog you will be entered for a chance to win an Excedrin® Migraine Relief Kit. This kit contains items that can help manage some common Migraine triggers or exasperating factors such as irregular sleep habits, loud noises, stress, etc:
• Sleep mask – soft & smooth / cotton & silk with adjustable strap
• Noise cancelling ear buds – high performance with interchangeable silicone ear pieces for a perfect and comfortable fit
• Branded stress ball – my boys like when I squeeze the ball rather than them!
• Herbal compress – place it in the microwave for heat or the freezer for cold therapy
• Branded water bottle – we have to stay hydrated

The Excedrin® Migraine Relief Kit giveaway winners will be announced in my post the first week of December when I review the My Migraine TriggersTM Mobile App.

I always struggle with how I should track my Migraines. Currently, I carry a planning calendar in my purse and then translate it onto an electronic spreadsheet where I can make it report different things for my doctor.

The smaller calendar makes it more convenient to carry and write some things down, but it also limits the amount of information I can track due to space constraints in the daily boxes. I battle capturing the information I need to write down if I’m trying to identify a new trigger or answer the question as to why my Migraine patters seemed to have changed.

I had only been using this app for about a week before the media event. However, being a chronic Migraineur, I was able to have some good conversations around it. There was someone at the event who was also trying out the app. She can have red wine sometimes but not always as it sometimes triggers a Migraine for her. She was trying to think of sleep deprivation or dehydration and other triggers like that which may have contributed to her Migraines when she had the red wine.

I asked if she tried to track what she ate when she drank red wine. She hadn’t. I mentioned it could be every time she has shrimp and red wine that this combination may trigger her Migraine. She hadn’t really thought about food and we talked about how easy it was to add additional possible food triggers to the My Migraines TriggersTM app to try to identify them. The app will gather your Migraine data that can be put into reports and charts which can be printed or emailed to share with your doctor. Here is a sample of how easy it is to add shrimp as a food you eat and to try to track different foods you try:

The left box shows the foods that are listed and that you can add your own.  The right side show how easy it was to add shrimp and then how it was checked off as one of the foods that was consumed that particular day.  It really is that easy!

Migraineurs know that identifying and tracking triggers is one of the most important tools for managing our Migraines. As I mentioned, I still struggle with the best way to record and report my Migraines. I am testing this new app and will provide my honest feedback about this new app – what I liked, didn’t like, would change, etc.

I can be very particular in this area and already know I have a few things I would love to see, as a chronic Migraineur, added to any app I may use. I also know that I don’t like the double entries I currently use or carrying around the extra bulk and weight of the planning calendar.

I’d really like to hear more about how you currently track your Migraines. What tools do you use? Do you find the reporting capabilities from your app or tools you use are what you need to share your information with your doctors; are they effective?

Disclosure:  I am an Excedrin® Migraine brand ambassador. One iPod Touch to test the My Migraine Triggers mobile app was provided by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc., the makers of Excedrin® Migraine; my journey for a migraine-free experience is my own.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sandy Migraines

In our community, we hear how difficult it is to handle weather because of barometric changes, but this past week has probably affected millions of Migraineurs when hurricane Sandy came rolling through the upper east coast of the US.

Besides barometric pressure, there are other things that can help us with our Migraines. Some of these things we have to be prepared with ahead of time while others I don’t know if we could ever be prepared to really deal with them.

The biggest factors that I can think of right now are food, if you have food triggers, and light if you are light sensitive and need to deal with alternative light sources. I sit here typing on battery power and a borrowed internet supply while under a few blankets and listening to my husband snore away as he cannot use his CPAP machine right now.

I have a lantern that I must hide behind something else so I don’t have the light directly shining in my eyes. If I dared to put sunglasses on, I wouldn’t be able to see anything at all as it would be way too dark. This often makes me wonder if I will ever become normal again as far as lighting is concerned.

Before the storm, we tried to prepare the lighting and lantern situation as much as possible. I have to say, almost a week into this blackout, and the lights seem to be working fine except that I find I cover them up either with a blanket, my hand or any miscellaneous object I can find so the direct light does not affect me.

We needed to make sure that I had some nonperishable foods available around the house that would not trigger me which basically rules out any canned foods. While I am at home, I do have some special granola bars, PBJ (but I can’t have too much or it will trigger) and other small things, but these do grow old very quickly. I also have to make sure I do eat or I will trigger. I am definitely not complaining because things could be a lot worse. I have a roof over my head, food to eat and everyone I know of is safe. Last I heard, they anticipate having our power restored midweek.

Where I want to give my biggest and unexpected kudos as a way to deal with hurricanes to is to my place of business. I’m not saying that because I’ve someplace warm to go to everyday or even charge my batteries, but they have done some very big little things that have helped employees which have also helped relieve some of the strain from my Migraines.

Last week I didn’t need to worry about lunch for most of the week as they provided that plus I could pick things I could eat.  Last week and this coming week, I can wear jeans so I don’t need to worry about cloths as much as normal. I had a place that I could go to, to take a nice warm shower every morning before work.

On the bigger picture and beyond managing my Migraines, I just have to add that my company has not only donated a very, very generous amount to the hurricane, but they will be matching employee donations too.

They have also opened up their facilities this weekend to family members so they can take warm showers, have a place to use the internet, watch some TV, use a gym, a game room (they must have brought some things in because I don’t think we normally have one!), have a bite to eat (the café will be open) and so many other nice amenities.

During the week, my team let people go out during business hours to get gas. That might not sound like much, but the gas lines here are like they were back in the ‘70s. I hope they will start easing now that more people are getting their power back; it has been ridiculous and just another stress on top of a very taxing situation.

Despite trying to be as prepared as I could be, it was not a fun Migraine week. I managed the best I could and did go to work every day as most of my team was affected by the storm. I still believe the Botox helped during this time as it kept some of the clarity I don’t think I would have had otherwise. I’m still trying to figure out Botox, but hoping to get a better handle on it when things go back to normal in my life when using it.

Food and lights were the triggers I thought of that we could prepare for ahead of time since these are things I deal with all of the time. What other triggers can you think of and how would you help prepare for them ahead of time?