Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dog Sitting


I've been begging my husband for a dog, but we live in a condo and that's his excuse to say no. Plenty of our neighbors have dogs and we have a Greenway nearby, but...still no. Lucky for me, he LOOOOVES my sister and bro-in-law's dog, Colt. So much, in fact, that agrees to dogsit. At first we had to stay at their house because he didn't want a dog here, but the last two times Colt *was allowed* to stay here. Starting today, we're watching him for about 1 1/2 weeks!

This isn't news, but pets can be good for your health. We already went on a 45 minute walk today, 10 minutes of that running without stopping (huge for me). He's a sweet dog who stays calm unless you want to play, and then he gets all wild and energetic. I don't think I've ever met a dog who listens as well as he does, and I'm not just saying that because he's my "nephew." Maybe one day (when we go back to a house) I'll have a dog of my own.

Not related to Colt, but I haven't done a health update in a while, partly because my health has been weird. Of course I'm still having the headaches and a lot more migraines than I'd like. Luckily Aleve (for headaches) and Butalbital (for migraines) still help, as long as I limit my use. Which means the majority of the time I suffer through the head pain (it's not as hard to do since I'm not working full time anymore, but it still sucks). The thought of the meds not working in the future absolutely terrifies me, to the point of tears sometimes. I hate relying on drugs like that, but at the same time I'm thankful for them.

But here's the weird part (dudes will probably want to stop reading at this point). Twice over the last few months I had bad cramping incidences that weren't during my period. The first one woke me up at night and I went to the computer to research it but I couldn't figure out what it was. I finally was able to go to sleep once I got my heating pad. The second incident was a few weeks ago. It felt like I had menstrual cramps and they kept getting worse and worse over a few days until finally it was almost like I was in labor; it would come and go in waves and I'd almost have trouble breathing the pain was so intense. I made an appointment with my gyno because I was due for an annual visit, but the pain went away that day, until she did the exam and felt my ovaries, that is. Ouch. She said the left one, which hurt the worst, felt weird (I can't remember the exact word she used). She wouldn't do a consultation with me about the issue in addition to the exam, I guess because my insurance would want them to be two different appointments - lame, I know - so I didn't find out anything else.

When the pain went away, I assumed I had an ovarian cyst that ruptured. But then when I started my period yesterday the cramps were way worse than normal, and "normal" is bad for me. Last night I read about endometriosis, one of the conditions that came up in my earlier research, but reading the description and diagnosis options made me so nauseous my face turned green (seriously), so I had to stop.

Maybe all this is related to the progesterone I'm taking, who knows. I'll probably schedule an appointment with my gyno. In the meantime, if you think you might know what's wrong with me, I'm all ears. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

News: Migraine Genes Discovered

My pastor sent me the link to a newswire article, "Scientists find genes linked to migraines." An international study was published in a British publication, Nature Genetics. As the article states, "The influence of these genes is probably not large enough to be immediately used as a diagnostic tool. But the result is an advancement of the understanding of migraine biology."

"Advancement" and "migraine" in the same sentence? Works for me! I hope something will come of this study.

Speaking of my pastor, I've requested a fragrance-free policy, or at least a fragrance-free zone, for my church. She's completely on board and ran it by the senior pastor and church council. I've been having bad migraines after church, and although it could be the lighting, I'm almost certain it's the perfume that some people seem to bathe in. I did some research and turns out a lot of churches are adopting similar policies, so I sent the pastor some examples of ways we can implement it in our church. I'll keep you posted on how things go!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Interview with Serene Branson

Today I had the privilege of interviewing Serene Branson, an Emmy Award-winning journalist for CBS. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps this video will. Serene was covering the Grammy Awards in February when she suffered a complex migraine, which caused her to jumble her speech on live television.

Serene is now teaming up with the National Headache Foundation (NHF) to raise awareness of migraines through the “More Than Just a Headache” campaign.

Here’s some highlights of our conversation:

Me: When did your migraines begin?
Serene: Probably in college/post college I started to get really bad headaches but I thought they were a stress of the job kind of thing - long hours, etc. - and I brushed them off. Looking back I realize they were probably migraines, but they were nothing like what I experienced in February. That was the perfect storm; all the triggers aligned.

Do you have any known migraine triggers?
For me, caffeine can be a trigger, and stress.

I know you’ve been asked a million times what was going through your head when you were on camera at the Grammys, but did “migraine” ever cross your mind?
I had no idea it could have been a migraine until my mother, who gets migraines, brought it up that next day. I was thinking it was much more serious because in my mind migraine was just a bad headache. My symptoms, including numbness on one side, were like stroke symptoms and migraine never entered my mind until my mother and doctors brought it up. I saw a variety of specialists and when my brain scan came back normal, that’s what they came up with. My mother hadn’t taken time before to talk to me about her migraines because it wasn’t considered a “serious disease.” She had them sporadically in her 30s and 40s but she has only had one since then, and that was after all this (news coverage from the February incident) happened to me.

Have you had any similar incidences since then?

Not similar, no. I’ve really been trying to watch the triggers, and I monitor my symptoms. I see a neurologist and have found a medication* that works for me. I also exercise because it helps relieve stress.

Have you had to change your workflow any because of your migraines?
I haven’t; I’ve just been very mindful about how many hours I’m working in the day and I’m trying not to say yes to everything - which can be intimidating because you want to be the hard worker and go getter who takes on everything, but you can’t.

Do people on the street recognize you from the video? If so, what reactions do you get?
Some people definitely have and it’s honestly been a very positive reaction. So many people came up to me and said “We were praying for you” and “Thank you for having the courage to speak about it.” This motivated me to open my personal health file and talk about it. People are hungry for more information, support, treatment and research. The NHF has recognized this need. It’s really important that they’re trying to raise awareness of migraines to recognize that they have an impact not just on individuals but family/children and the workplace. A lot of productivity is lost from migraines and if people take it more seriously they might be willing to talk. Had I known I was having a migraine I could have said I wasn’t feeling well. Not that we should use migraines as a crutch, but we should recognize it as a disease. I did more research on migraines recently and realized it’s one of the top five most disabling conditions in the world! The more education and support people can give to migraine sufferers the better. Letting people know it is a disease and a disabling disease is important. You are not alone, you have nothing to be ashamed about; over 30 million people suffer from migraines in the U.S.


*I asked Serene what the medication was but told her she didn’t have to say, since different treatments work for different people. She preferred not to say.

Serene is doing additional interviews this week to share her story and help raise awareness. I’m thankful that she and the NHF are doing this. It’s good to be understood.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Door to the Cure Sweepstakes

I know a lot of other migraine bloggers have already blogged about this, so consider it a friendly reminder:

The nonprofit Migraine Research Foundation has an online sweepstakes going on now through June 9. All proceeds will go directly to the foundation's research program investigating the causes and better treatments of migraine disease, according to the MRF's press release.

To enter the sweepstakes, visit I bought a ticket for the Puma gift card. :)

I admit, I typically don't give money to migraine organizations because I spend enough money on my own treatments, and plus I plan on donating a fortune to these types of organizations when I get rid of my migraines and get rich (ha! to both). But $10 is not much, and every little bit helps. By the way, upon my request, the MRF sent me documents to show that they are a valid foundation.