Thoughtful Things To Do For People With Migraines 

Sometimes we all need a little help

Migranieagain.com recently shared a post that I couldn’t not share with all of you on my own blog. While I found myself relating to it’s content so easily, it’s more geared toward the loved ones of people who suffer from migraines.

As someone with chronic headaches and migraines, even when I know I need help, I still hate asking for it. It’s very common among spoonies to feel like we are a burden on our loved ones: needing to be taken care of, having to cancel plans with them last minute, occasionally letting our frustration out on them.

It is often hard to ask for someone’s well wishes and good intentions. And I know that many people in my life, even when they try their best to help, still feel helpless. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the help, but often there isn’t much another person can do to help.

This post shows how people can help migraine sufferers in their life suffer a little less, live a little more, and feel cared for even when it’s too hard to ask for the extra bit of care.

(You should go through and read the entire thing, but I will just list a few that really stood out to me)

  • Ask “what would be fun for you?” -Often, certain events like concerts, going to smokey bars, and hiking cause migraines to pop up. Try suggesting activities like yoga, crafting, or seeing a movie instead.
  • Say “no problem” when plans get cancelled: -It’s an awful feeling to have to cancel last minute on a close friend or family member due to a migraine. Try to remember how upsetting it is for the person with migraine (uh, hello FOMO). The guilt is strong. Even if you are frustrated or upset, just saying “no problem” even when a person has to cancel plans on nights like birthdays or holidays shows immense compassion and kindness.
  • Make a migraine care package-So many things are helpful when trying to get rid of a headache. Earplugs, blankets, water, lavender, etc. Why not package them all up for someone for easy access!
  • Make a donation to Migraine Research in their name-Migraine disorder needs much more attention. So many people suffer from migraines and it needs the research and awareness it deserves to prevent the next generation from suffering as well.
  • Drop them a note-Whether it’s an email, handwritten card, or scribble on a post-it-note, getting words of encouragement and good thoughts is so powerful in helping a person continue to fight their daily battle.

(**The post I referenced throughout my own post comes from migraineagain.com )

Headaches Always Steal The Spotlight 

There are many tough truths that spoonies have to accept after dealing with a chronic condition throughout their life. Even when you accept these truths though, they still can be hard to swallow.

One truth that I’ve recently learned to start accepting is that headaches and migraines present themselves whenever they want. Headaches don’t care if you’re at work, a social outing, in class, at a concert, or just hanging at home with family or friends. Headaches don’t care if it’s an anniversary, your birthday, a holiday, or just what you had anticipated to be a relaxing Saturday evening.
How do I know? Experience and the knowledge that headaches have taken over the control room.

This year on Christmas Eve, I got a migraine. Whoopee, right?

This led to a few hours of frustration (but that was already higher than usual due to other health problems) and tears. Yeah, I would admit that I didn’t hold up as well as I would’ve liked to.

My migraine controlled my emotions and mentality for a few hours that day. I thought, angrily for a while, “Seriously? Christmas Eve?” Had to spend a few hours napping, away from my family. I felt isolated in so many ways. Felt like this only would happen to me. “Just my luck.” Felt like I wasn’t able to turn my thoughts from negative to positive ones. Felt defeated and like I had zero control over my life at the moment.

After moping, napping, crying and laughing at my situation,I mentally reminded myself that if this is how bad I have it on Christmas Eve, than I am the honestly one of the lucky ones. I thought how there are so many other people out there who have incredibly worse situations than my own and who are dealing with things beyond my comprehension. I thought about the many people who don’t have a roof over their head, who are enduring illnesses that keep them on bed rest and worse, and people who don’t have family to share their Christmas with.

These thoughts not only humbled me, but gave me the physical and mental strength to get up and move on with the night.While I know I sound dramatic, at the time it didn’t seem possible to get myself out from under the covers.

Even though the head pain was still there, (not as bad as it had started out as, but still there) I was still able to turn my night around and ended up having a wonderful time with my family that consisted of laughs, smiles, and tons of delicious homemade snicker doodles (made from scratch by yours truly.)

The truth is: headaches, chronic pain, or any chronic disorder, etc. will remain in control of your body, probably more than a majority of the time. You, however, can be in control of your mentality and good spirit. Learn to take control and turn your “woe is me” moments into “glad to be me” moments.

It’s advice that I need to learn to take more often, myself.

 

 

Giving Tuesday

I stand behind today, but also stand behind the idea that we should live with a generous heart every day (not just days labeled for giving). I try my best to be active with and donate to the causes and foundations I hold close to my heart, including but not limited to: The Make A Wish Foundation, St. Jude and Relay For Life.
However, today I decided to set my focus and money on The National Headache Foundation. As someone who deals with daily headaches, migraines, and exertion headaches, I hope that this foundation gets the awareness and funding it deserves and needs. Like all illnesses, conditions and diseases, headaches do not discriminate or sympathize. This foundation works toward bettering the lives of people who fight daily invisible fights. Even though I’m slightly biased, I encourage you all to check out their website, read some of their articles and help me spread awareness! 

Even Big Names Suffer From Big Pain 

Redskins player suffers from and raises awareness of cluster headaches
As a headache sufferer, I have often felt like the only person in the world who experiences this type of debilitating pain. However, there are way more people than we think who are going through something similar: which is why we need to raise awareness of this actual neurological disorder. It’s great seeing a big name player speaking out to raise awareness (even though it’s terrible he has to experience it.)
While I’ve never experienced a cluster headache (honestly the only type I’ve never experienced) I can understand the amount of pains and fear Terrance lives with and I can sympathize with him. I’ve been in the situation where I’ve had to play through a game with a migraine, but I can’t imagine being a professional athlete with that condition. Headaches don’t care what your profession, ethnicity, age, or gender is. They do not discriminate. 

We need to spread the word that headaches aren’t just something you feel when your laptop takes forever to load or you realize you drank one too many Jack and cokes the night before; they are a widespread neurological disorder that needs attention. And I’m glad someone with a bit of pull is finally stepping out for the cause. 

Chronically Grateful Day 10: What is Something You’ve Done That You Might Not Have Otherwise Done Without Your Chronic Illness/Disorder/Pain?

Simple answer: this blog. 

I would have never started writing this blog had I not been going through this journey. I’m grateful to be writing again, and so often at that, because it’s an emotional release and a creative outlet for me. One that I had a hard time keeping up with in the past. Now though, it’s become part of my daily/weekly routine and I love it. I’m not always able to write about positive results or about getting answers to my headaches, but at least I am able to find positivity and relief from writing about it.

Since I’ve started my blog and my Instagram account (@theheadacheheroine) I’ve connected with some truly inspirational and strong people. I’m motivated by others to keep fighting for myself. Before I started this blog and that Instagram, I felt very alone in this medical journey of mine. Now I know that I’m nowhere near alone. 

Chronically Grateful Day 3: How Overcoming A Hard Situation Can Leave Us With A Grateful Heart

We all have our own hardships and face our own demons. However, it’s important to be able to look back on our hardships with a grateful heart in order to see the good that has come from it. 

I will share a story of mine about a hard situation I overcame that has left me feeling grateful for having gone through it and hopefully you will be able to do the same about a hardship in your own life.

I started playing softball at a very young age. My older siblings played softball and baseball and my dad coached for all of them. He introduced us to the game that he fell in love with so long ago, and I happened to fall in love as well. I played on a competitive fastpitch softball team for my entire childhood all the way until almost the end of high school. Throughout its entire era, my dad was the coach and we had more or less the same group of girls throughout the years. 

I started getting exertion (exercise induced) headaches when I was about 12 years old. It started as headaches that would come on when I was active in the high heat and humidity. As time went on, the headaches became more frequent and intense. I started having to sit out large portions of practices and games because my headaches were so bad. Time continues and the headaches are brought on any time I ran a lot even if it wasn’t hot or humid. I started to feel useless and inadequate as i sat on the bench wishing my pain away while my teammates continued to play. 

I started to try to play through my headaches. Even when it felt my like head was going to explode into millions of pieces, I still went up to bat and still ran out to centerfield so I wouldn’t have to tell my dad “I have a headache, I need to sit out.” Time and time again. It was getting repetitively upsetting to have to ask to sit out when all I wanted was to stay in the game. Looking back on it though, it was dangerous to myself and my health to play through migraines. I had no focus at bat and only thought about how soon I could get back in the dugout instead of actually wanting to be out on the field. 

As the time came around that my teammates were actively trying to get looked at by college coaches, I had a decision to make. I made the decision to stop playing the game I loved because my headaches said so. It was the hardest decision I had made at that point in my life. As a result, the team dismembered and my dad stopped coaching. I was devastated. 

This was my junior year of high school, and it’s one I will never forget. I was sad a lot of the time, I cried myself to sleep more often than I’d like to admit and I missed the people I had come to consider family. There was a hole in my heart that had before been filled with my ability to play the game I so badly wanted to continue playing.

Softball was all I knew. I spent every weekend and multiple week nights with these people and I loved every minute of it. The thought of losing those friendships killed me. Even more, the thought of never being able to hit a line drive over the shortstops head to win the game or throw a girl out at home from centerfield broke my heart even more.

I’ve since been able to reflect on this. I see now what would NOT have happened had I been able to keep playing and face the possibility of playing college ball.

I would not have attended Virginia Tech for the four most amazing years of my life. Therefore I wouldn’t have made the amazing friends that I did or have all of the exciting (sometimes ridiculous) adventures and experiences that I had. I mean I consider myself so lucky to have met people that even from my freshman year to this day, I consider to be my best friends. 

If I hadn’t gone to Virginia Tech, if I had possibly ended up playing college ball at some other school, I wouldn’t be the person I am today writing this post. Because I was made to overcome this hard situation in my life, I ended up going to a school in a town with the most amazing people that I now can’t picture my life any other way. And for that, I am grateful. 

Once In A Lifetime People

  
I consider myself so lucky to have these kind of people in my life. I’ve been blessed with people who stand by my side and support me in everything I’ve been going through. They don’t falter or leave me alone. 

These people help me find silver linings when the clouds seem too grey. They keep my faithful and help me stay proactive in my search for answers. 

These people love me for me: chronic pain and all. They love me even though I much too often have to cancel plans with them because I don’t feel well. They stay in with me when everyone else is out having a good time. These people love me even though sometimes I get sad, frustrated and angry because of my health problems. 

I hope that you all have found your once in a lifetime people as I have. And when you’ve found them, don’t let them go. 

My Headaches, My Life, My Story.

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This is what someone with an invisible disorder and chronic pain looks like. While it’s not visible on the outside, it’s very much real on the inside. Even though I look like I feel ok, most of the time I don’t. Starting this blog and my Instagram account (@theheadacheheroine) has allowed me to open up more than I ever have before about my health journey. However, it has also left me feeling very vulnerable and nervous of what others may think. Still though, I’m so happy to be doing it because it allows me to spread positive vibes while supporting and reaching other people who may be feeling the same way about something in their life, health related or not. I hope to be able to support fellow chronic pain and invisible illness warriors stay strong through their own journey.

Therefore, I’d like to share my story with you.

I started getting exertion headaches around the age of 12. It was a new and terrible feeling. I played competitive fastpitch softball at that time (and up until I was 16) so I was exercising and exerting myself almost daily. When the heat was bad and the humidity was high, and I was exerting myself out on the field, I would always get terrible pounding headaches.Resulting in me laying down, sitting out games and practices and feeling like a bit of an outsider compared to my teammates. I wasn’t sure what to do about it, so I just ignored it for a couple of years.

By the time I was 14 I started looking into seeing a doctor for my headaches because they hadn’t gotten any better. Between the time I was 14 and 16 I had seen neurologists, ENT specialists, allergists, and general practitioners. I had undergone an MRI, CT scan, allergy tests and IV’s. I had tried a wide variety of medicines as well. Nothing seemed to help.

During my teen years, I also found myself in the ER more times than I ever wanted. Dehydration, repeated fainting, more dehydration, extreme stomach pains, and more dehydration (or what they claimed to be dehyrdation.) I never truly understood what was happening to my body. I was constantly interrupting big plans (New Years Eve parties, Mother’s Day, and surprise parties for family members to name a few) because my health kept sending me to the hospital. It’s a terrible feeling knowing that you’re the reason parties got canceled and peoples nights were ruined due to worrying about and taking care of you. (s/o to my older brother who didn’t get mad when I threw up on his shoes outside the house next to the ambulance, my best friend for sticking by my side in the ER on News Years Eve instead of at a party with all our friends, and for my parents for always telling me they didn’t mind spending hours upon hours in a cold, stale hospital room.)

It had come to a time where I had to decide that my health was more important to me than playing the game that I had such a passion for, which was softball. I was an athlete at heart. Since my dad was the head coach, him and I were the glue that kept our team together. Therefore, my quitting resulted in the disbanding of a team that had been together for 7 years.) It was the hardest decision of my life at the time, deciding to quit playing for good. It definitely had a significant impact on me mentally and emotionally. It led me to a sad period of my life. I didn’t know how to fill the hole that was once occupied with the love of the game and my teammates that I considered family. After a year of being sad, I decided to take charge of my health and see more doctors. This time, I was prescribed Topamax (an anti-seizure drug that is sometimes used to prevent headaches and migraines.) I was hopeful that this medicine would help me, but it did just the opposite. I experienced major negative cognitive side effects. I couldn’t retain information, my short term memory was crap and I just felt foggy and dumb. After a while I knew I couldn’t be on that medicine anymore. But this only lead to more disappointment and being unsure about the future. While I was still upset to not be playing softball anymore, I knew it was in my best interest and that it would open up new doors for me. Which it did. Instead of trying to get recruited to a school to play ball like most of my teammates were doing, I ended up at Virginia Tech. Which was the best thing that had happened to me in so long. I met lifelong friends and made incredible memories that I will never let slip from my mind.

During my time at Virginia Tech, I did trial and error with a number of prescriptions given to me by different doctors. Beta blockers, blood pressure medicines, anti-seizure drugs, OTC meds,etc. You name it, I tried it. I’ve gotten multiple blood tests done (one time 8 viles of blood at a time, to which I of course passed out during the process of taking my blood.) None seemed to do anything helpful. It was getting frustrating and redundant. At school, I ran into my other fair share of medical problems that either landed me in the ER or another type of doctor’s office. Thankfully, I had family and seriously amazing, loyal friends who sat by my side in waiting rooms and who drove me when I couldn’t drive myself. (You all know who you are, and I am seriously forever grateful and blessed to have you in my life.)

It kind of became my “thing.” You know how people have “things?” Some people have a singing talent, some people are always the top of their class in school, etc. Well my thing was always being in a doctor’s office or hospital. My thing is that I’m always getting blood taken. My thing is that I have a fainting problem. One time I called my dad from school and he answered with “What hospital are you at this time?” (Granted he was saying it in a joking manner…I think…but to his credit I actually was sick at the time.)

It’s not a “thing” I’m very proud of. But it’s something I’ve embraced.

Flash forward to now and I’ve kind of started from square one again. I’m consistently seeing my neurologist, trying out acupuncture, sleep studies, allergy testing, eye doctors etc. It’s such a trying process, but I don’t want to just give up even when I don’t see results. The thing is, I know there are people out there fighting for their lives. People who live at the hospital. People who have to deal with chemo and things so much worse than what I’m going through. People who are so much stronger than I’ll ever hope to be.

While I constantly pray for those people and hope with all of my heart that they find the answers and cures they deserve and need, I’m still proud of myself for fighting my own battle.

I’ve learned a lot about myself throughout this whole process. I’ve learned that I can get knocked down and get back up again. I’ve learned that no matter how many times I get blood taken, I will never get over my uneasiness and hatred of needles. (seriously, I get weak every time.) I’ve learned that it’s ok to cry. To feel sad and frustrated. Defeated and broken. But in contrast, I’ve learned how to make myself keep being proactive and not to give up. I’ve learned coping methods and survival techniques. (AKA I’ve learned how to really binge watch Netflix and how to match my mood with a fitting ice cream flavor.)

I’ve learned a lot about the people around me as well. I’ve learned that people come and go and that that’s ok. Some don’t understand while the others try their best to. I’ve learned that I have the most amazing parents and siblings who go to doctor visits with me, check in on me, encourage me, and do whatever they can to help me feel better. I’ve learned how to tell who my really close friends are and how to never let them go. Meaning, I’ve learned who my “people” are. The ones who encourage me when I’m discouraged. Build me up when I’m feeling broken. Be strong for me when I’m too weak to be strong for myself. They can say the words I need to hear even when I don’t want to hear them.

I’m not sure what I really expected people to think about me and my thoughts when I started this blog. I obviously knew I was letting people, friends, family and strangers, into my mind after I published my first post. People will have their thoughts and opinions, I’m ok with that. I’m ok with people reading every post, looking at my blog once in a while and I’m also ok with people not ever even taking a glance. That’s because I started this for two reasons, and two reasons only. I started this blog to help me find solace through writing. To really create an outlet for myself as I continue to go against this obstacle that doesn’t seem to have an end in near. Secondly, I started this so that I could maybe reach other people who are struggling with something similar. I hope to encourage other people and create a support system for someone who may not have the support they need. I do this to hopefully help people stay positive even when the day seems to have nothing positive in it.

So I thank you for reading, supporting and encouraging me.

Maybe now, someone else will find inspiration to take their own personal story and struggle and turn it into something positive as well.