Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Be safe and have fun as you celebrate the new year. I hope 2008 is headache-free for me and everybody else out there suffering.

In January this year my neurologist told me he thought this would be a good year for me and I would find a way to fight my headaches. It's been a great year, but my headaches are as present as ever, and I have one right this second that I've been fighting all day. I hope 2008 will be better!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fioricet = Butalbital

I was just doing some reading on migraines and my medications when I realized that Butalbital, my go-to drug when nothing else works for migraines or bad headaches, is also called Fioricet. I guess maybe Butalbital is a generic name. Click here if you want to read more about Fioricet.

Quick recap on my killer (aren't they all) migraine: Sunday I had a migraine and took Butalbital in time, and it worked. Then Monday I woke up with it again and it was much worse and I had to miss work. I took two Excedrin Migraines because I didn't want to overuse the Butalbital since it can cause rebound headaches (of course so can the Excedrin) and it worked pretty well. Unfortunately the migraine came back Tuesday while I was at work, so I took Butalbital again, and so far it hasn't come back.

One thing I didn't mention was that I stayed up late and slept in longer than usual over the weekend, which may have brought on the migraine. I still need to stay focused on keeping a regular eat/sleep schedule. Then maybe I can beat these things.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Migraine Times Two!!!

Yesterday morning I woke up with a migraine. I went mountain biking Saturday and fell trying to do the teeter/see-saw thing (which, for the record, I had done successfully before), and I heard my neck crack a little. Maybe that brought it on, or maybe it was because I hadn't had a headache since the Tuesday before so all those days of potential headaches added up. Anyway, yesterday I was able to catch it in time to take medicine (Butalbital - which my neuro prescribed - pretty much strong Tylenol and caffeine), and I went to church and was just fine. Too fine, in fact...I went to Costco and Wal-Mart and spent about $300 to stock up my kitchen, and since I live on the first (technically second) floor of a condo and took the stairs for about 10 trips to and from the car, I think I overdid myself.

Here's where the "migraine times two" comes in. I woke up with one today and had to miss work. It was so bad that I couldn't move to get out of the bed and take medicine and eat. Finally I had my husband come home on his lunch break and he helped me out of bed so I could get some food. He left, and once I started eating (Cream of Wheat and a Propel) and took two Excedrin Migraines, the nausea hit me in a big wave. I went to the bathroom and hunched over the toilet, but I never did throw up. Thank God I was able to go back to sleep. When I woke up around 4:00, the migraine was pretty much gone, and I finished eating.

After every migraine, it feels like I've been in a car crash. I am sore, can't stop shaking and feel like crap. I'd rather have my typical 15 headaches a month than migraines like that. I'm terrified I'll wake up with it tomorrow and have to miss work again, and I'll probably start getting rebound headaches if I have to take more medicine. Since I don't get migraines often and Aleve usually helps my headaches, I don't take the strong stuff like Imitrex - plus I've tried it and it doesn't work every time.

I need to get away from the computer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lexapro Times Two

First of all, I don't think I get any visitors, at least not regular visitors, to this blog other than my dad who also gets migraine headaches (Hey Dad!), but if I do, I apologize for not updating it in a while. I've been crazy busy, which is a good thing because I couldn't be doing half the things I'm doing now if I had headaches/migraines like I had at one point.

Yesterday I had a headache that Aleve only helped for a few hours, but it wasn't too terrible. I was still able to teach Bible study, actually.

At a recent neurology appointment, my neurologist doubled my Lexapro from 10mg to 20mg. He wanted me to keep taking Desipramine also, which I want off of because I don't like being on too many meds, but he advised me against changing too much right now since I'm finally having fewer and less painful headaches. Makes sense. My side effects (from either or both, not sure) are still dry mouth, dizziness upon rising, rapid heartbeat, loss of appetite and, I'd like to add, excessive yawning. Very weird but it's got to be from my meds because it's a yawn that's so strong it makes me feel like my jaw's going to pop out and it happens over and over, especially while I'm driving.

I haven't kept my sleeping/eating schedule and haven't exercised lately, so I think if I discipline myself, maybe I can improve my headaches even more.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

So long, Mr. Chiropractor

Quick update.

I let my chiropractor go. It was actually kinda sad, because he seems like a nice guy who really cares about his patients. I told him that my insurance was no longer covering my monthly appointments because they were for preventative maintenance, and since it wasn't helping my headaches, there was no point in going. Plus, I think the pillow I bought (in earlier post) is helping my neck pain. I told him I'd recommend him to anyone I come across who's looking for a chiro, so if you're looking for one in North Carolina, send me a note.

Last week I had headaches Monday-Friday, on & off. I had one yesterday too. The last few weekends I rode my new bike several miles. I'm going to exercise tonight too while I watch The Office, so maybe extra excercise will help my headaches. I'm still trying to keep a regular schedule, but I'm chaperoning a youth group lock-in tomorrow that goes from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., so I'll be a little off schedule this weekend!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Migraine Diet - NY Times Blog Post & Comments

I don't think I've heard of Judith Warner, but she appears to have a blog on the New York Times Web site called "Domestic Disturbances." In a post October 25 called The Migraine Diet she talks about her struggle with migraines. It's an interesting post, but what really peaked my interest was the comments section. I started reading people's comments and realized that the blog had a total of 572 comments, and the only reason there aren't more is they had to no longer accept comments, probably because there were so many. I haven't read them all, but when I have time, I will. Here are some samples:

I’m a huge fan of your column and also a cronic migraine sufferer. I encourage you to try Topamax. Years ago my worst migraines were put under total control by “calcium channel blockers” (Cardizem). I was migraine free and drug free for about 13 years. But migraines tend to come back and mine did. This time, calcium channel blockers didn’t do the trick but Topamax did. You start on a higher dosis and then you slowly reduce. I was scared when I heard the word “antiseizure” medication. I thought to myself, “I don’t have epilepsy…” But it’s been just a miraculous drug. Good luck. Only someone who’s felt the loss of control that suffering from migraines represents can truly understand you. Be healthy!
— Posted by Nancy Lisker

Wow, you just wrote the story of my own migraine-afflicted life. We migraineurs are the only ones who believe it’s really like that, which skepticism can be added to the list of burdens. But what I’m actually writing to tell you is this: Don’t go near the topomax! You could easily end up twitchy-faced, crawly-skinned, blurry-visioned, and dull-witted — and not necessarily migraine free. For that kind of outcome, I’d opt for the Peanut M&Ms every time. Happy Halloween!
— Posted by Janie Stoehr

(Note from Header - It's sadly kinda funny how different people are in their reactions to medications. FYI - I've tried Topomax...didn't work.)

My condolences. Good luck. My sister had migraines starting in college. Infrequent, then frequent, then crippling. After a million doctors who helped almost not at all, one finally gave her a list of things to try not eating. Turns out wheat was one of her major triggers. Ordinary, ubiquitous wheat. No wheat, no migraines. Instant cure for her. A few years later I started having my own odd sensitivities, and again wheat was a culprit, along with soybeans for me.
So on the one hand, after Halloween, you might try un-exploring a wider range of foods, perhaps including (excluding?) wheat. On the other hand, you might look around your family tree to see if there are any interesting food or other sensitivities, and try experimenting with avoiding those things.
Condolences also for having such a snarky neurologist. Some try to help their patients in every way possible; some prefer to paint themselves into narrow little mindsets.
— Posted by Ken_K

(Note from Header - I've seen four different neurologists...keep searching until you find a good one who doesn't just shove drugs down your throat. It's fine to try different medications, but make sure the neuro cares about you, warns you of possible side effects and frequently schedules checkups to make sure your body is functioning!)

Check out the blog link for the post and tons of comments!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Helping others with headaches

Last night I was at the grocery store when the lady bagging my food commented to the cashier that she had a bad headache and she hardly ever gets headaches. Another lady who works there heard her and told her she was lucky because she always gets headaches. I desperately wanted to give them both advice. "I get headaches all the time - abc works wonders, and if that doesn't work, try xyz."

Obviously, if it were that easy, if one or two headache solutions worked for everyone, lots of pharmaceutical companies would not be making as much money as they do now, and this blog would have stopped at my first post.

I feel helpless not only when I get headaches but also when I hear of others struggling with them. There are worse things - brain tumors, starvation, fibromyalgia (which my dad has) to name a few. But living with headaches is tough and sometimes depressing.

So I was very relieved tonight at the end of Bible study, when everyone lifts up prayer requests. The older lady who was leading our study had been dealing with vertigo and eye pain. After getting an MRI, her doctor recommended that she see a neurologist, which she did. She told me she had been looking forward to tonight because she knew I saw a neurologist, and she wanted to ask me about the medication her neuro wanted her to try.

"It starts with an 'A' and ends in 'taline,'" she told me.

"Amitriptyline!" I said, proudly knowing what she was referring to. She was concerned that it was for depression, and the potential side effects scared her.

I told her that when I was on Amitriptyline, I was seeing a bad neurologist who did not check my vitals to make sure my body was handling my medication. She upped my dose of Amitriptalyne, and the morning after I took it, I felt so bad I went to the urgent care. At the urgent care's reception area, I fainted.

Where does my relief come in?

I am thrilled that I was able to warn her and tell her that although she can give it a try, she needs to be very careful.

Finally these years of experiencing headaches and migraines have some meaning. I can help others who are going through this, because I went through it.

I wish I could do more and offer a secret remedy that beats headaches every time, but I can't. At least I can help a little, or at least listen and empathize.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Headaches Not Over Yet

It seems the serotonin-increasing Lexapro may not be helping after all. Since my last post, I've had 4 headache days - 3 were in a row. This is probably getting too personal, but my Mirena IUD has been acting up because I've been spotting for a month now. I'm actually surprised my headaches aren't much worse. I have killer cramps right now (but I'm not taking meds for them because if I take Aleve too much, it won't help me when I have headaches and I'll have to go with my stronger prescription of Butalbital).

I'm supposed to see my gyno next month, which would make it a year since the IUD was inserted. I do NOT want it out because I don't want kids right now, and I had to pay for it in full which was more than $1000 (if I didn't mention this before, the insurance I was on at the time did not cover IUDs, a form of birth control, but they covered "pregnancy terminations" - that was the most pissed off I'd been in my life when I found that out, and not because of the money), and they last 5 years. I'm planning on keeping it at least 4...but I've got to do something about the spotting. Ugh.

Meanwhile, the Tri-Core pillow seems to be working. It took a while adjusting to it, and I actually lost a lot of sleep from it, but I'm finally used to it and haven't been having neck pain.

On a non-headache note, I had a work "meeting" today and I was told to wear short sleeves. Turns out we had an office pumpkin-carving party. It was awesome! I saved the seeds to bake - yummy. I'll try to post pictures here later.

Hope everyone has a headache-free Friday and weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Good news and bad news.

Bad: I went to my chiropractor this morning, and since I'm doing it once a month now and it's considered "maintenance"/"preventative" care, my insurance is no longer covering it, so it's $40 each time. I might stop going, but I think I'll give it one more try.

Good: While I was getting my neck popped, I told my chiro my headaches were getting better due to a new medication. He asked if it was a serotonin med, and I said I wasn't sure but that it is called Lexapro and is commonly used for depression. Then he said that meds for depression usually work by increasing your serotonin levels. I looked on Lexapro's Web site on my lunch break, and sure enough, that's how it works.

What's neat about that? Last week I posted on's headache forum on headaches and hormones, and the response I got was from someone who said I should get my serotonin levels checked.

More good news: I bought the Tri Core Pillow at the chiropractic office this morning. I'm hoping it will correct my neck's reverse curve and improve my headaches even more.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Positive Neurology Appointment

Yesterday I had a pretty nice neurology appointment. I showed my neurologist my headache calendar for the past month, and although I had 12 headaches, many of those being close together (which makes it even harder), the past week I've been almost headache-free. My neurologist said that my headaches started getting better right when the Lexapro kicked in. I'm now taking 10 mg of Lexapro a day, and I'm also still on 30 mg of Desipramine.

Two other possible reasons for the improvement of my headaches:

1. I have been pretty good about keeping a regular eat/sleep schedule, but I haven't been perfect at it, so I can't really say if it's made a difference or if it's the Lexapro.

2. I'm participating in a Bible study on prayer, and last week we had to come up with a "breath prayer," something you can remember and say over and over. Mine was "Great Physician, heal my headaches."

I'm scared to say I'm getting better because I still have had two slight headaches recently, and I don't want to speak too soon, but I'm absolutely going to keep doing these three things - Lexapro, maintain a schedule, pray my breath prayer - and maybe I'll start getting better!

FYI: My side effects from the Desipramine and Lexapro have been dry mouth (which I don't mind too much - I now have an excuse to eat lots of candy and chew gum; plus I drink a lot of water), rapid heart beat (about 105/min) and loss of appetite. The loss of appetite would be wonderful for most people, but I've always been thin and am now down to 106 (I am 5'7")...that's not very healthy. I'm trying to force myself to eat, and my husband's been looking out for me too.

For more information on Lexapro, click here

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Schedule update

I'm such a loser. I've been keeping the same schedule all week, and then last night I stayed up until midnight and this morning slept in until almost 9. That's better than I usually do, but it still messes up my schedule. I have a slight headache right now, but I also have a cold so it may be from that. But - I didn't have a headache from Monday through Thursday! That was nice. :)

Oh I figured out how to do links, as you can tell from my last post. Turns out, I have to use HTML code to put them in because I have an Apple computer and the link button doesn't show up on it. I forgot that things are different with Apples.

Signing off to enjoy this beautiful day! I hope everyone with headaches and migraines has some relief this weekend!

Monday, September 24, 2007

News Item - How to stop a headache before it starts

Interesting article from SELF magazine on today...the first one relates to my last post. I shortened the others, but you can click on the link to get more information. I don't agree with the caffeine one, because why would you have caffeine every day if you can't skip it without getting a headache? That seems like a bad idea. I limit my caffeine intake to once a week, if that. I do just about everything else on the list though, especially the ones about drinking water all day and avoiding MSG (monosodium glutamate) - it makes me miserably sick, so I avoid it anyway.

How to stop a headache before it starts
8 drug-free tips to avoid agony and painproof your day

By Jaydine Sayer
Updated: 2:17 p.m. ET Sept 23, 2007

7 a.m.: Abide the alarm
Snoozing in for more than an hour can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, and anything that tinkers with your body’s natural rhythms may prime you for pain, says Lisa Mannix, M.D., a spokeswoman for the National Headache Foundation in Chicago. Commit to waking up (and going to bed) at the same time every day — yes, that includes weekends, too.

7:45 a.m.: Get caffeinated
10:45 a.m.: Do a posture check
11:30 a.m.: Break for H2O
12:30 p.m.: Skip the sandwich
3 p.m.: Take a time-out
6 p.m.: Slip into your sneakers
8:30 p.m.: Wind down slowly

Copyright © 2007 CondéNet. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Headache Prevention: Keeping a Routine

Over the weekend, my husband and I went on a beach retreat with our church's youth group as chaperones. It was pretty fun, but the living arrangements were not really ideal. The Christian retreat center was a block from the beach, but the buildings were dorm-style. The girls and boys each had one big room with bunk-beds and a side bathroom. About 40 people went.

So how does this relate to headaches? Well, I've decided after this weekend to make a routine and keep it (as best I can). See, over the weekend, I couldn't go to bed until everyone else decided to go to bed since the girls were loud and the lights were on. Same for getting up - there wasn't a door between the bathroom and sleeping areas, so if I showered early, I'd wake everyone up. Then there's the eating schedule...we ate at different times each day, especially when we were on the road (we ate a late dinner on the way there and a late lunch on the way back).

Needless to say, I had an awful, almost-migraine headache that kept coming and going. Some medication helped, but I'd wake up with it the next morning. I think the bunk-bed may have contributed too - not the most comfortable mattress.

I'm going to try my best to keep a consistent sleep and eating schedule: up at 7, breakfast at 9, lunch at 1, dinner at 7, bed at 11. Tuesday dinners will be earlier since I have Bible study at 7. I just got an invitation to a midnight bowling night next month; that will have to be an exception too. It's going to be really hard to stay on schedule. What if I have a 1:00 work meeting or my coworkers want to eat out at 12? What if I'm stuck in traffic and don't get home from work until 7:30? Do I have to give up MadTV on Saturday nights? I'm not sure if a few minutes would throw off the schedule, but I bet an hour or more would.

This schedule trial means I'm going to have to give up a lot and possibly be hard to get along with, but if it really reduces the occurrence of my headaches and migraines, it will be worth it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Headache Blogs

I've found several headache and migraine blogs, such as these two:
(I'm sorry; still haven't had time to figure out the link thing.) It is no surprise, because headaches are so common, and blogging is so popular. It's sad to see others are suffering like me, but it is helpful to read experiences of others and to know that I'm not the only one going through this.

Medication update: I'm taking Desipramine and Lexapro, both for depression, but they're supposed to help headaches too. My noticeable side effects are major dry mouth and loss of appetite. I'm having to force myself to eat and that's weird for me because I have a high metabolism and am used to eating a lot. I am 5'7'' and normally weigh around 115, but I was around 108 last time I saw my neurologist. I also have a rapid heart beat (around 105 beats per minute). I was on one medication once for high blood pressure (I think it was Toprol) which, of course, I was taking for headaches, and my heart rate got down to 40 beats per minute. So 105 seems high, but maybe it's not that bad.

I did some quick research on feverfew, and here's some info from WebMD:

Feverfew and migraines
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is an herb that has been used for years to prevent and treat migraines. In recent scientific studies, it has shown some promise in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines. However, more research is needed to confirm its benefits.
Inflammation of tissue around blood vessels in the brain is thought to play a role in headache pain and other symptoms associated with migraines. It is thought that feverfew reduces inflammation in blood vessels, which seems to decrease these symptoms. The active ingredient in feverfew is parthenolide, which acts similarly to a combination of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as aspirin, and a corticosteroid, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation and pain.
Feverfew is available as dried leaf powder, tablet, capsule, and tea. It is important to find feverfew that has been standardized (which means you receive the same amount of active ingredient in every dose) with guaranteed potency. It can take several weeks of use for feverfew to become effective. For long-term treatment and prevention of migraines, use feverfew daily for several weeks to months or longer.
Side effects of feverfew are usually mild but can include stomach upset and allergic reaction, such as a skin rash. People who chew on the feverfew leaves sometimes develop open sores (ulcers) in the mouth. Feverfew is not recommended for use by young children or by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

I might pick up some feverfew next time I go shopping. My neurologist doesn't think it will help though, but I say it's worth a try.

I'm praying to God that my headaches go away, and I will pray for everyone else out there with pain too. They'll go away eventually, one way or another. For now I am just thankful I'm able to live my life.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Two words: dra - ma

It all started on Tuesday. My husband commented that our credit card bill was too high this month and told me I spend too much money. I dared him to actually total how much I spent on ME (not groceries, gas, etc.) and he came to $300...about $250 of that was medical bills/copays/prescriptions. I don't think he should have counted medical things because it's not like I WANT to spent that much on doctors instead of clothes or something fun! Ugh.

So then on Wednesday, I had my chiropractic appointment. It was my 14th visit and I had been going for about a month, so they did a re-exam and I filled out more paperwork. When I met with my chiropractor, he told me that it looked like there was nothing he could do because my type of headaches don't seem to respond to chiropractic care. I actually started crying - how embarrassing. I guess I had felt like it was something new and since they did find a problem with my neck in the x-ray, maybe it would work. But no. I'm still going to go for "adjustments" once a month and I might still get the neck pillow just to keep my neck loose and in the right position.

Then on Wednesday afternoon, I had my neurology appointment. I told my neurologist (who recommended the chiropractor) that it didn't help, and again, I started crying. He gave me samples of Lexapro, which is an anxiety/depression medicine, and said to keep taking it with the Desipramine, also for depression. He said my headaches seem to have characteristics of tension headaches, and Lexapro should help within a few weeks. I took it last night; no headache today (yet), but I think it's because I just started to get out of a 4-day headache yesterday evening.

My chiropractor recommended taking feverfew, but my neurologist said it would have little impact on my headaches and wouldn't help prevent them. I still need to find time to research feverfew.

I'm on my lunch break at my desk, and all I want to do is sleep!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Cervical Pillow for headaches

©2007 Core Products International, Inc

My chiropractor has been letting me try out different pillows for neck pain and headaches. The pricey TempurPedic pillow was way too firm for me, but I think I like the one I'm trying now, called the Tri-Core Cervical Pillow. To see their Web site, click on the title to this post (I haven't figured out how to add links in the message yet, sorry!). I may end up buying one.

Unfortunately, my headaches have not changed since seeing a chiropractor (it's been a few weeks - 11 sessions). I actually had a migraine last night and this morning, but the Butalbital got rid of it (80% of it anyway). I'm so scared that I'm going to get bad migraines again like I did when I was on the birth control pill because I have had the IUD for about a year now and my headaches are getting worse. I did go to bed late (by late I mean 1 a.m.) all weekend though, so maybe it's the altered sleep schedule.

I have a neurology appointment Wednesday. Am I the only person who actually looks forward to these monthly appointments? I'm ready to try something else. If insurance covered acupuncture, that would be awesome...I've heard a lot of hype lately about it helping headaches.

More updates after my appointment.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

News Item

Heart repair may give migraine relief

By Tina Hesman Saey

Doctors soon will know whether sealing a small hole in the heart can cure a big pain in the head.

In worldwide clinical trials, researchers are closing a passageway through the heart in migraine sufferers and then waiting to see if the headaches go away or get better.

Click title to read more.

Friday, August 31, 2007


I have a 5-6 hour drive coming up tonight. My husband and I are visiting my father-in-law in the Georgia mountains over Labor Day weekend. A lot of times I don't get headaches when I'm on vacation, which is interesting. Maybe because I'm more relaxed, who knows. When I went to Vegas last year, I didn't have a headache the entire time except for the last day. Two years ago I was in Atlanta for a show at the Hard Rock Cafe on New Year's Eve and I had a migraine. My medicine wasn't working and I thought I was going to die. I went to the car to get away from the loud music, but my husband wouldn't let me stay there alone (it was in a parking deck a block away). I didn't want him to miss the last band (his cousin is the lead singer), so I ended up going back in the club and sitting against the wall holding my head. Great way to start a new year...

Anyways, MOST vacations I'm good...I hope this one will make the "good" list.

Stay safe and headache-free!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rollercoaster vs. Headache

(2007 Cedar Fair Entertainment Company)

Rollercoaster won! I hadn't been on rollercoasters since college when I went to Kings Dominion in Virginia and rode every single one. When I was little, I was deathly afraid of them, but my courage came from peer pressure on the college trip. I tried the scariest one first (one where you're strapped in standing up) and it was AWESOME.

Well last week, my husband and I took a day off work to go again, this time with my cousin who is in 7th grade, her parents - who don't ride coasters and wanted us to go to ride with her, and another cousin who is my husband's age. Because my neck was still sore from the chiropractor visits, I was terrified the coasters would kill my neck. Plus, during the college trip, I had a minute-long mini-migraine after each ride.

Fortunately, I was able to ride four rollercoasters, including my favorite the Anaconda (above), without too much pain. I stopped when my neck started bothering me and took some Aleve because I started getting a "glare headache" when the sun came out.

But I survived, and it was a blast!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I have cramps, therefore I have headache

In honor of my current headache which is more than likely related to my awful menstrual cramps, here is an article I stumbled upon from the National Pain Foundation. If you have had headaches for a while, it's nothing new, but if you're just now starting to get them, the article may help you. It's a good idea to try different things to see if you can get rid of your headaches, but just FYI - the chocolate thing is silly. Who can go without chocolate?

Just kidding - if it meant not having headaches, I'd drop it like it's hot.

Quick updates before I post the article: I'm now taking Desipramine, recommended by my neuro for headache prevention. It's for depression, and similar meds I've tried did not work, but he said I need to try it for a while and said it's the "most tolerable" one as far as side effects go. I'm also still seeing a chiropractor, but they were charging me toward my deductible even though I was only supposed to be paying copay, so I worked that out after several phone calls.

LESSON: Never trust anything related to insurance. Pay attention and make sure you are not being overcharged.

Now for the article. Here is the link:

And here are the highlights:

Non-medicinal Treatments for Menstrual Migraine
Women with migraine are generally more susceptible to dietary, physical, environmental and other triggers for migraine attacks during the week before and the first few days of their period. Following are some guidelines that can decrease the likelihood of having a migraine from these triggers.
1. Eat regularly scheduled, well-balanced meals. Avoid missing meals because low blood sugar and hunger are frequent triggers for migraine attacks. On the other hand, avoid eating sweets or meals the contain a lot of carbohydrates because doing so might lead to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels two to three hours after you have these foods (this is sometimes called a "sugar or carbohydrate crash").
2. Drink plenty of fluid. Avoid dehydration because this too is a frequent migraine trigger.
3. Get a good night's sleep. Follow a regular and consistent schedule of waking and sleeping. Avoid going to bed late, "sleeping in," becoming sleep deprived, or a haphazard sleep schedule.
4. Stay away from well-known migraine triggers such as wine, beer or other alcohol containing drinks; chocolate and other sweets; aged cheeses such as cheddar or Brie; and salty foods, especially during the week before your period.
5. Participate in a regular aerobic exercise program. If you have not been exercising regularly, discuss exercise plans with your doctor or a personal trainer and set up a physical conditioning plan that matches your needs. Start your exercise program slowly and gradually build up your level of activity as your physical condition improves. This type of treatment works best if you continue the exercise program on a regular basis, not just on weekends or only once in a while.
6. Learn and regularly practice biofeedback and other relaxation techniques. These types of treatment have demonstrated excellent benefit in clinical studies; and best of all, there are no potential side effects.

Short-term Prevention of Menstrual Migraine
Short-term migraine prevention, often called "mini-prophylaxis," can be used to preemptively manage predictable migraine attacks such as those related with menstruation or ovulation. Your physician may prescribe a medication that you begin taking a day or two before the expected onset of headache and continue taking on a regular daily schedule for five to seven days. There are several medications that have been used for mini-prophylaxis of migraine.
1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, in "prescription strength" dosages have been used successfully for the prevention of menstrual migraine. Women with stomach ulcers or certain kidney problems usually cannot use these medications. Consult with your physician before taking any over-the-counter medication.
2. Migraine-specific drugs such as triptans or ergot derivatives also have been successful for short-term prevention of menstrual migraine. Women with certain heart or circulation problems might not be able to use these medications.
a. Ergot derivatives, such as ergotamine tartrate, dihydroergotamine or methylergonovine, have all been used for mini-prophylaxis. Nausea and muscle cramps might occur in some women. Dihydroergotamine is available as a nasal spray while the other two are tablets.
b. A few triptans have been found effective for mini-prophylaxis of menstrual migraine in clinical drug studies. The medications that have been studied specifically for this purpose are frovatriptan, naratriptan and sumatriptan. These medications generally are better tolerated than the ergot derivatives.
3. NSAIDs can be used together triptans or ergot derivatives in cases of menstrual headaches that do not respond to any of these medications alone. Triptans and ergot derivatives should not be used together or within 24 hours of one another. Non-medicinal treatments can certainly be added to any of these medications, and this often is a way to get the best results.

Long-term Prevention of Menstrual Migraine
Long-term prevention, which means taking preventive medication(s) every day of the month, might be required if migraine attacks occur too frequently (ie, averaging more than four headache days in a month), migraine attacks cause too much disability, or medications used for mini-prophylaxis are not effective, too expensive, or unsafe to use because of other medical conditions. There are many different kinds of medications prescribed for long-term migraine prevention. The medications most often used for migraine prevention are blood pressure lowering drugs such as beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers, antidepressants and antiepileptic drugs. Each medication in these classes of medication has its own benefits and side effects. Your physician will determine which medication is best for you. Sometimes you may need more than one medication to control particularly resistant headaches. It is not unusual to try several medications or combinations of medications before the best treatment is found. It might take several weeks for a medication to demonstrate its benefit.

This article is written by David M. Biondi, DO.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The anti-meds

Although I am still trying out different medications, I wanted to try some alternative headache treatment. Acupuncture and Botox injections were out of the question due to insurance - again, no comment - so I went to see a chiropractor last week. He took x-rays and found out I was born with a condition called congenital fusion where two of my neck discs are fused together, and I also have a reverse curve in the neck. I'm not sure if this is causing my headaches since they seem to be affected by hormones more than anything, but I do get neck pains and some of my headaches are in the back of my head, so you never know. I'm just excited that the doc found something - now we can work on fixing it.

The treatment so far includes neck-popping (or "realignment") and a thing that shoots electric currents in my neck. I had these procedures done on Friday, and that night and the following day, I was HURTING. I actually woke up with a migraine Saturday too, but it went away when I took medicine. It didn't hurt at the time it was done though. I'm scheduled to go to the chiropractor three times a week for probably the rest of the year...$20 copay each time, plus I had to pay for the x-rays...let's just say my husband's not the happiest! He is skeptical, as I have discovered that a lot of people are skeptical of chiropractic care, but I told him it'll be worth every penny if it works. I don't think he gets why I can't just live with the headaches. People who don't get headaches tend to not understand how disruptive and painful they really are. In fact, I've never had a baby, but I might dare to say these headaches are preparing me for childbirth, and when I am in labor, it'll be a breeze. If you are a mother you're probably laughing at me right now.

I'll keep everyone posted on the progress!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My History with Headaches

Welcome to my blog! My goal is to share my struggle with chronic headaches with others so that together we can find a way to bash these painful life interruptions. I do not intend to complain and will try to write in a hopeful tone.

First, a little background info. I started getting headaches my senior year of high school, they got worse in college (probably due to my awful sleep schedule) and became migraines, and when I graduated college in 2004 they were back to bad headaches. I have seen four neurologists and have tried too many preventative medications to name, but none worked and I have had side effects including partial hair loss, dizziness, fainting, ringing in the ears, dry mouth, weight loss, weight gain and others from these drugs.

My current neuro said I have chronic daily headache. I usually have 15 headaches a month. Right now I take Aleve for some (which causes rebound headaches so I don't take it much) and Butalbital for the bad ones, which is a combination of Tylenol and caffeine and other things in one prescription pill (which can also cause rebounds). The traditional drugs - Imitrex, Frova, Rexpax, etc. - did not seem to help and actually made my headaches worse at times.

Birth control may or may not have affected my headaches; I've tried many forms of the pill, the patch, and currently have an IUD (Mirena) - I am married and have not had children, nor do I intend to have them until I get my money's worth out of the IUD, which insurance did not cover, but I will not even get started on insurance...

Legal stuff I should probably add - I am not a doctor and have not had any medical education (although my mom and sister are both nurses and I volunteered in a hospital for a few months). Please consult a doctor/neurologist before trying anything I might have tried. If something ends up working for me, which I pray to God it does, it will not necessarily work for you, and vice versa.

Thanks for reading, and please add your comments so we can have productive discussions. I now declare a war on headaches.