Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Review: Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches

I'll be completely honest...a lot of people recommended I read Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches by patient advocate Teri Robert, but I was hesitant because of the title. I don't want to "live well" with pain - I want it to go away!

After reading the book though, I too am joining the fans who recommend it. It's different from other books I've read by doctors who simply go through the types of headaches and a few drug treatment options. This book includes that information but also gives personal stories, including Teri's, and educates you on terminology and our legal rights as patients. Some of the personal stories are extremely sad, but you need to read them to know that the worse thing that can happen - stroke for example - can and has happened, so it's important to have that knowledge and be aware of what's going on with your own body.

Everyone who suffers from chronic headaches and migraines, or "Migraine disease" as Teri calls it, should read this book.


A quick update: My MRI was canceled because the MRI office couldn't get in touch with my neurologist for a signature which was required by insurance. I spoke with my neuro's assistant and she said that wasn't the case; my neuro had to speak with a doctor on my insurance's medical board and wasn't able to get in touch with them in time. I'm going to guess that my insurance is holding things up so that I'll have to wait until January for my MRI, which means I pay my full $500 deductible because it starts over in 2010. Ugh.

I'm starting my rice and water diet January 1 (please don't try to convince me not to do it, unless you're a nutritionist), so I'll keep everyone posted on how it goes. I'm also headed to the library to pick up another book to help me do the elimination diet, so I'll have another book review coming soon.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Webinar Notes - Avoiding Holiday Headaches

I attended the holiday headaches webinar by the National Headache Foundation and I wanted to share my notes. A big thank you to Dr. Sylvia Lucas, the NHF and Merck & Co. (for sponsoring).

How to manage holiday headaches/migraines:
  • Identify your triggers (environmental, diet, stress, sleep, etc.) using a headache diary.
  • Avoid triggers you know, plus common triggers (sometimes it takes a combination of triggers to bring on a migraine).
  • Avoid disrupting normal sleeping and waking patterns – make sleep your #1 priority.
  • Social engagements expose you to smoke and perfume – get fresh air or try to move to an area that’s relatively clear. If you can’t get away, try breathing through a scarf (during a play for example).
  • If you must drink alcohol, alternate between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, mix drinks with other fruit/vegetable juices, drink slowly, and avoid red wine.
  • Don’t skip meals; if unable to follow a normal eating schedule, at least have snacks – always keep snacks on hand (not salty though because they can lead to dehydration). Good options are fruit, peanut butter for protein, crackers, and nutrition bars (Kashi, Luna, etc.). For bars, check for those with the lowest sugar and highest protein.
  • Avoid ripe cheeses, processed meats and chocolate.
  • Schedule personal time to give yourself a break.
  • Traveling tips: plan in advance, be prepared for lines/long waits/traffic, and pack migraine meds.
  • Rest, exercise, ice/heat, massage, biofeedback.
From the Q&A session:

- Are there programs to help cover cost of migraine medications? See drug company Web sites for programs, coupons.
- What are ergotamine derivates? Cafergot, DHE, etc. – older than triptans but highly effective. Can cause nausea and the caffeine can cause trouble sleeping.DHE-45 is a good rescue drug (injectable).
- (One of my ?s) If I do a two-week rice diet, slowly adding foods back, is that healthy? It shouldn't cause harm but you may not need to do it a full two weeks. It's better to do it under a nutritionist's guidance.
- Can neck/shoulder tension cause migraine? 75% of migraine sufferers have neck/shoulder pain so it can be part of a migraine – many people think muscle tension is causing the migraine but that’s not the case.
- Can stress cause migraine? Headaches in stressful occurrences can be triggered by adrenaline/nervous system changes.

Hope these notes aren't too scattered or out of context.

I'm going to take a short break from all things computer, including this blog, so I want to go ahead and wish everyone a Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Forehead Lift for Migraines

My Twitter friend whose sister suffers from migraines told me about today's The Doctors TV that talks about forehead lifts for migraines. Check it out here. Has anyone tried this? Something to add to my wish list of future migraine treatments...especially once I start getting wrinkles! ;)

*Warning - not for those with weak tummies!*

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ulcer med caused headaches, go figure!

I was on 40 mg of Pantoprazole Sodium for a stomach ulcer, but I realized after being on it for a month that it was giving me a constant headache and migraine attacks too! The first side effect listed was headaches, but that's a common side effect - even for medications I've been given to treat headaches - so I thought nothing of it. But after 29 headaches in November, I decided to stop taking it. My internal medicine doc told me to take two 150 mg Zantac pills a day for a month instead. So far today's my first day with only a minor headache.

An unfortunate update: I was supposed to be having an MRI right now. But my insurance requires a form to be signed by my neuro and the MRI people weren't able to get in touch with my neuro to sign the form. I could have had the MRI anyway and tried to get the form signed later, but there would be no guarantee that my insurance would cover any of the MRI. I'm already going to have to meet my deductible, which my husband is giving me the hardest time about ("You don't need any Christmas presents - you're getting an MRI" - he better be kidding), so there's no way I can pay in full. So I had to cancel it. I'm going to call my neuro's office to reschedule and ask them about the stupid form.

Oh and regarding biofeedback, my insurance doesn't cover it so I'm trying to found out how much it will cost. I'm probably not going to do it, unfortunately.

Sorry for the negative updates. I guess the lessons learned are to make sure your meds aren't giving you headaches or making them worse, and maybe we do need some sort of health care reform!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Free Headache Webinars

Join us for
Headache Health Talks
 ~ a FREE Webinar series.

Get the latest information about headache causes and treatments from the nation’s leading headache specialists and participate in a question and answer session to learn how to better manage your headaches.

Enjoy Your Holidays: A  Guide to Managing Migraines

This program covers basic information about migraine, as well as how migraine sufferers are affected during the often stressful holiday season. We will discuss common holiday-related triggers, including family stresses, seasonal food triggers and changes in schedule, and how to avoid them to make the best of your holiday season. There will be Q&A sessions with the presenting headache experts after the presentation.

December 8, 2009
12 PM CT - Dr. Traci Purath

6 PM CT - Dr. Vincent Martin

December 9, 2009
6 PM CTDr. Sylvia Lucas

December 10, 2009
1 PM CTDr. Traci Purath

December 16, 2009
4 PM CTDr. Sylvia Lucas

Register today by emailing nhf1970@headaches.org
Include the program name and date in the subject line and your name, city and state in the body of the email. Send to nhf1970@headaches.org. You will receive instructions via email with a toll-free number to call to participate in these educational and interactive teleconferences.

Sponsored by National Headache Foundation through an educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc.