Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017 Update

Hi! I've stopped blogging (well, aside from this post), but I'm keeping my blog up as a way to document my migraine journey for myself and others who may be researching for themselves or loved ones. It's amazing how many things I've tried to stop the pain - and what's just as amazing is there's still so much I could try!

If you've been following my journey (and thank you for that by the way!) here's a personal update. Our family is now a family of 4 with the addition of my second daughter last August. She's quite the handful so any crazy notions of picking up blogging again flew out the window with her. She is a blessing, and one for which we prayed and prayed, don't get me wrong. She's just a firecracker and likes to voice her distress. In her defense, she has reflux and spits up all day long; I'd be cranky too. I still do freelance graphic design. I still have chronic headaches and migraines. I manage them with Fioricet and Extra Strength Acetaminophen/Tylenol, and I avoid certain things like blue food dye, synthetic scents and bright lights. I'm taking a break from neurologists. My pain has been pretty manageable, it's something I've learned to live with and hopefully will one day outgrow. I still pray that it will go away, of course, but I've accepted it (I say this now that I don't have a migraine at the moment!!!).

So some quick housekeeping...I've turned off comments and deleted the email address tied to this blog since I wasn't checking it. If you need to get in touch with me, see my Contact page.

If you're here seeking help or advice for migraines, please don't give up the fight. You probably won't find a cure, but at least keep trying things until they're manageable for you. Life can still be good with migraines, I promise. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015


In my previous post, I mentioned I was trying MigreLief, a combination of riboflavin, feverfew and magnesium. I tried two different brands, this one and this one, and with both a had a NOTICEABLE decrease in the frequency and intensity of my migraines. That is huge. Something about the combination of these three ingredients works for me. *Note: I am not getting paid by these companies nor did I receive any free samples (although if they want to send me some, they can email me and I'll send them my address in a heartbeat, wink wink). Definitely worth a try in my opinion!

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And now just for fun, I'd like to tear apart a photo that I frequently see circulating on Pinterest and Facebook. I don't know the source, but I don't intent to be mean...just wanted to add some humor to it. I'm sure you can all relate!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Ectopic Pregnancy

Hi, dear blog readers! I fully realize that I deserted my blog for a while...no good excuses, life just got in the way. I get overwhelmed easily, and this was just one more thing I "had" to do, so I needed a break.

I'm taking a break from the break to share some things going on with me and to talk about something new (new for me, that is) I'm trying for my headaches/migraines.

First, how cute is my little girl?! This is her at Christmas. She is such a blessing.

Hollis, 17 months
Second, and this is the bad news, I just had an ectopic pregnancy. My husband and I had been TTC (trying to conceive) baby #2 for eight or so months when it happened. My endometriosis caused it...apparently my only remaining fallopian tube (the other was removed when I had the ovarian cyst) is a hot mess. Thankfully, we caught it early.

Let me interrupt to say that I read the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, years ago and it has really helped me understand my body. Without that knowledge, I may not have even known I was pregnant and my fallopian tube could have ruptured. Let me also say that if you're TTC, Dollar Tree pregnancy tests are super accurate and the way to go...no need to spend tons of money on fancier ones.

I had bleeding from the start, so my husband and I never had the chance to get excited or get our hopes up. I thought it was miscarriage, but my doctor had me get blood tests done regularly just to be sure, and when my hcg levels went up a little, she had me come in right away for an ultrasound. If she hadn't been on top of things, my fallopian tube could have ruptured, which requires emergency surgery. I was given a shot of methotrexate which, surprise surprise, caused a massive migraine (plus cramping and exhaustion, but then again it did save my tube, and possibly my life). I have a follow-up appointment next week to talk about next steps.

Sweet baby feet
I bought this charm from Etsy to honor my baby. The footprints are the size of a 10-week fetus (my baby was around 5-6 weeks...I think 10 weeks is when the toes form). I believe that life starts at conception, so this was my way of honoring the sweet baby who is now in heaven with his or her paw-paw (my husband's dad), who passed away a few days before I got the positive pregnancy test. January was a tough month, to say the least.

Third update: Since I can't try to get pregnant again for another three months (or maybe more, if I can even try again...we'll see what the doctor says), I decided it's the perfect time to try something new for my headaches that I otherwise wouldn't be able to try! Turning a negative into a positive. :) A friend from church recommended Migrelief...she said it hasn't gotten rid of her migraines, but it has reduced the frequency and the pain level. There are two kinds, but it the ingredients are similar. She uses this one (MigreLief), but I bought this one by mistake, but I'm going to switch over to the brand she uses once I finish this bottle. (Side note: I just saw that Vitamin Shoppe's current web special could have saved me $11.00...excuse me for a moment while I go punch something). The kind my friend uses has a refund program if it doesn't work, but you have to buy three bottles and then send two back. I've tried magnesium and feverfew separately, but not together. I don't think I've tried riboflavin, the other ingredient.

Oh, and I can finally take Aleve again (it was a no-no for pregnancy and breastfeeding) for my headaches, woohoo! :) As for the migraines, I've been taking Fioricet as needed (even during pregnancy/breastfeeding) and am pretty happy with it as long as I limit how much I take.

I'll update again after I give the Migrelief/MigreLief a good try (at least three months, unless I have bad side effects). Peace and love to you!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I'm in a magazine!

I did public relations in my past life (it was my first career), but I promise I don't go out promoting myself and my blog. (Why would I? I rarely write posts these days!) But recently I received an interview request through my blog from a writer (and senior medical correspondent) who was doing an article for Living Without's Gluten Free & More magazine on gluten and migraine. She read about me going gluten free briefly (here are the posts if you're interested) and wanted to include my lack of success in her article. I was definitely on board because I can't stand when articles about migraine only include success stories (I don't think I need to explain why...that would be preaching to the choir).

The interview lasted a while and it was a great conversation. Even though going gluten free didn't help me, it does help some people so I was glad the magazine was doing this article while also showing both sides.

The writer sent me a copy of the issue:

Just noticed that my thumb is an extension of the popsicle stick
Here's the article, but unfortunately you won't be able to read the full thing without a subscription. I was in two paragraphs that basically mentioned how I tried the gluten-free diet for my migraines but it didn't help. The article had a call-out box titled "Is It Migraine?" and a sidebar with migraine and celiac disease resources.

If you're reading this and haven't been tested for celiac disease or tried going gluten free, it certainly wouldn't hurt to try!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Expiration Dates

Don't worry, this post is about medications, not people. It is true that we're all slowly expiring, but that's a whole other monster. :)

Unless you're reading this post in the future, this med is still good!
You probably don't need this reminder, but boy did I need it a few weekends ago. So here it is:
Make sure your medications haven't expired!!!
I keep Fioricet and Tylenol (the only meds I can take for head pain right now since I'm still nursing Hollis) in my purse at all times. But when I travel, I pack a separate pill container that fits my multi-vitamins. Since I stay at home quite a lot, I don't go through the pills in my purse very quickly, so they end up expiring. A few weekends ago I was three hours from home visiting my in-laws for the day when I got a migraine. We saw my husband's dad first and that's when I took Fioricet, but the migraine didn't decrease by the time we got to his mom's house. Usually I feel the effects of Fioricet within 30 minutes (depending on if I take it with food - food helps!), but this time I felt nothing but pain and nausea. I ended up staying on their couch while everyone went out for dinner, but the pain was so bad at that point I couldn't sleep. I was popping ginger mints the whole ride home. Lesson learned - use my purse stash before the pills expire!

After that incident, I checked my huge bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol (generic brand) and realized it had expired in January! I was hoping that's why it hadn't been working too well, but I just took some new generic Tylenol for a headache yesterday and it didn't help much...probably because it's just acetaminophen.

Speaking of Tylenol, the Target bottle was about $4 cheaper than the name brand. Have any of you noticed the name brand working better than generics? If it does, it would be worth it because it's still cheaper than a prescription. I might have to try this out sometime.

Hope you all are well. Sorry I haven't been blogging much - there's not a whole lot I can try right now, so not a lot of blog material. :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

I Love My Husband, But...

I love my husband, but he just asked me, "What's the difference between a headache and a migraine?"


We've been married ten years, and he still doesn't understand. I had a migraine today and I mentioned that it was starting to get a little better, and he said, "You still have a headache?" and I corrected him - "migraine" - and that's when he asked what the difference was.

I guess moral of the story is, nobody's going to truly understand what you're going through unless they go through it themselves. So instead of getting angry at him, I'm going to drop it. Because anger would just make my head hurt worse.

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Random update: I've been using a mouth guard at night for years, and recently I came across something saying that mouth guards could have BPA. I'm not sure if mine has it or not, but it got me thinking, why am I still wearing it every night if it hasn't helped my headaches and migraines? So I stopped using it and haven't noticed any difference other than jaw pain for one day. I might have TMJ, so if my jaw starts popping a lot I'll start using it again. For now though, it's nice to have one less thing to do each night!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: My Head Hurts!

If you want to read a good, and dare I say, entertaining, headache book - this one's for you. It reminded me of the book Chocolate & Vicodin which I reviewed three years ago (wow, time flies!).

In My Head Hurts!: My struggle with the headache that refused to stop, author Jonathan Larney very openly discusses his constant headache and how it affected every aspect of his life. His headache started suddenly one day when he was lifting weights, and it remained constant for more than two years.

So how could a book about pain possibly be entertaining? Thankfully, Jonathan has a wonderful sense of humor - which is pretty much a necessity in order to survive constant pain. In the prologue, he writes the following which literally made me laugh out loud:
"I will attempt to lighten the mood, because reading about someone's headache seems thrilling enough to give oneself a headache. If smiling at how I illustrate my own misfortunes isn't entertaining enough, I encourage you to make this book into a drinking game. Each time I mention the word 'headache,' you take a sip of alcohol. The unique and clever part of this idea contributes to you waking up with a similar headache as I do every morning."
 Hilarious, right?! I also enjoyed the chapter titles. A few examples:
  • Karma, You Have the Wrong Guy
  • This is Your Brain on Optimism
  • Turn Your Head and Cough
  • I Didn't Choose the Headache Life, the Headache Life Chose Me
  • The War Against My Headache
That last one is my favorite, naturally.

Jonathan is great with metaphors, and he cleverly put into words how physically and emotionally draining it is to be in pain. While my pain isn't constant like his, I can still relate to having headaches/migraines that wear you down, but I often have trouble explaining them to people who rarely get headaches. Now I can use some of the metaphors or even have them read the book if they're close enough to me.

The author shares stories about others' reactions to his pain - which made me want to punch some of his co-workers. Most of the time he tried to act as though he wasn't in pain, but then people - doctors included - didn't take him seriously. I can identify with him, as I'm sure most of you can as well. It's frustrating when you hurt so bad that you can hardly stand it, yet on the outside you look fine and people treat you as though you're fine and should function at 100 percent. But you can't show how you really feel because then you would just be whining all the time. This is why a lot of pain sufferers keep to themselves and end up being depressed, which is what happened to Jonathan for a while.

The book describes the many treatments Jonathan tried and the different emotional stages he went through, including acceptance. Like him, I've always been afraid of that word because I figured if I accept my headaches, I'm giving up and allowing them to take over my life. In Jonathan's words, "acceptance is not about giving up though, but rather understanding and recognizing the need to retake control and resume living your life."

Does Jonathan still have a constant headache? Did he find the cause? Is he now headache-free? The book keeps you in suspense so I'm not going to give away the ending. But that's not really the point of this book. It's more about the journey and the laughs (and tears) along the way.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of My Head Hurts! in exchange for this blog review. My review is 100% unbiased.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Migraine & Headache Answers

This is the first of two book reviews I'll be doing - finally! Special thanks to the authors because it took me months to get these done and they have both been very patient with me.

Cover from amazon.com

Migraine & Headache Answers: Find Out How to Heal Your Migraines is by migraine sufferer Michelle Tweedy and her partner, Bryan Inkson. If you don't have time to read my entire post, here's the main takeaway: the book contains a wealth of information and unique things for migraine and headache sufferers to try.

I was provided the e-book version, but since I don't have an e-book reader I read it all on my computer. That made it a little harder to read and follow as compared to a physical book. Also, the authors are from New Zealand so the dialect was a little different from what I'm used to (the terms "bloke" and "crikey," for example), but at the same time that made it more interesting. The journalist in me (I'm not actually a journalist, but that was my minor in college) picked up on a few errors that weren't just from the different dialect, but most people probably wouldn't notice or mind them. Not judging though because I'm sure I make mistakes on this blog all the time! ;)

Aside from the above, I enjoyed reading the book. It starts by telling Michelle's story and switches between Michelle and Bryan's perspectives. The book reads almost like a journal and does a great job of covering all that is involved with chronic migraines - the emotional side, trying many things, reactions to those things, looking into the cause of the pain, etc.

What I liked most about the book was all the ideas! I've been blogging for a long time now and have researched the heck out of headaches/migraines, and I hadn't even heard of some of the things Michelle tried until reading the book; for example, deer placenta (!). It's almost overwhelming, but it gives me hope knowing that there's still so much more I can do. While Michelle doesn't promise a cure and she does acknowledge that everyone responds differently, she has gone from 26+ migraines per month to one per month - and she can manage it without medication. Although the book covers non-medication tools for helping migraines, it points out that if you have to take medication, it's okay and do what you feel is best. I'm thankful that the book stresses that because I hate taking medication, but some days that's the only way I'm able to survive.

This book inspired me to stay at it and keep fighting my war on headaches. It talks about juicing from raw fruits and veggies, and last night I made a big batch of baby food for Hollis and I set aside some of the foods and made a green juice for myself, something I haven't done in a long time. I also plan on having a hair analysis test done - an entire chapter of this book is devoted to the importance of that test.

If you're interested in purchasing the book, please click on the link above.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of Migraine & Headache Answers in exchange for this blog review. My review is 100% unbiased.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fenugreek is a Headache Trigger

Fenugreek can help a long list of things, but I started taking it for milk production since I'm still breastfeeding my baby. I tried drinking Mother's Milk Tea at first, and it seemed to help a little (I only had one cup a day but they recommend more than that). Not that I really had a problem with milk production, but I figured it couldn't hurt. But when I took Hollis to her six-month checkup, she was only about 14 pounds and in the 8th percentile for weight, so her pediatrician asked about my milk production. She said that fenugreek was safe and worth a try, so I got serious about it and switched to the stronger pill form. In the back of my mind, I had this crazy idea that maybe it would magically help my headaches too. Well, it did increase my milk supply, but it also increased my headaches and migraines. Boo! A friend on Twitter later told me that fenugreek is notorious for triggering headaches. She also informed me that it's an ingredient in curry powder (I immediately went to the kitchen and threw out my curry powder). So in case you didn't know, fenugreek can make headaches worse. You live and you learn!

Also, a quick alert to pregnant women in case you didn't hear about this today: acetaminophen exposure during pregnancy has been linked to ADHD, but it just slightly increases the risk. Here's an article from Reuters. Yes I took a LOT of acetaminophen during my pregnancy and I still take it now that I breastfeed. It helped my head (when it decided to work) which lowered my tension and in turn was better for the baby, and if I could have avoided taking it I would have. Which makes this quote from the article hilarious:

Nevertheless, "it's reasonable to say that there's no reason to use these drugs during pregnancy unless there is a clear medical indication," said Olsen, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA and at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Because, ya know, pregnant ladies generally take acetaminophen just for fun. ;)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Christmas Present from the Husband: TheraSpecs

Hey, I'm still alive! Yes, it's been a while and I also have two book reviews that I'm behind on, but moving on... :)

I asked my husband for a migraine-related Christmas present - time out - speaking of Christmas, as a new mom I have to share the cutest Christmas card ever (I'm biased):

She was smiling at Daddy, of course

As I was saying, I asked Jonathan to buy me TheraSpecs for Christmas, specifically the indoor aviators. If you haven't heard of them, the company was developed by Hart, whose wife, Kerrie, is a fellow migraine blogger (The Daily Headache).

Light doesn't necessarily trigger my migraines (although fluorescent lights including CFLs may do so; I'm not certain because I try to avoid them), but when I have a migraine any light feels like it's entering my eyes via two knives. I keep my curtains closed at home and wear sunglasses outside, but I work on a big iMac and if I have a deadline, I have to try to work through the pain. Why not just wear sunglasses inside? They would be too dark and end up hurting my eyes in the long run. So my sweet husband got me these:

Pilot TheraSpecs - Indoor

Good side coverage to keep the light out

When I start to feel a headache coming on while working, I'll put these on and suddenly the light from the computer screen is no longer piercing my eyes. They're very lightweight although one time I had to take them off because I had a migraine where anything on my face hurt, but that doesn't happen too often. I also wore these once outside when I had a migraine on a gloomy day and even the small amount of light was bothering my migraine, and they were very soothing.

I've had a lot of migraines lately so I'm happy to have one more weapon in my arsenal!