Friday, August 31, 2012

Know Your Limitations

Being a disabled person, I hear this, "know your limitations," or "don't try to do too much," and similar pieces of advice all of the time. Good advice, I suppose. But, it is easier said than done for someone like me who has always tried to do my best, be my best and who has incredible responsibilities in my four children and aspirations for a better future for myself. I want to get well; I do not want to give up my former life of teaching forever. However, when I push too hard, I do get sick, then, I get sad and angry with myself, because I should know better. I should know that I cannot do all things that I want to do or that my kids want me to do. And, painful, as it can be, I have to live with it. I have to accept it. I can help myself by saying, "no" more. For example, to my preschool child's teacher, "No, I cannot volunteer to help in the classroom." All that fluorescent lighting and the shrill voices of a bunch of small children will trigger a migraine for sure. Do I want to help?  Sure, I do. But, it's okay if I don't. Class will go on. Life will go on. An open audition at a theatre a town nearby was brought to my attention. And, I really, really wanted to audition. I planned on it. The evening of the audition arrived, and I was planning to go. Then, I paused. I paused and thought about the long, possible late-night rehearsals, the blaring stage lights, and the stress.  I realized that, at this point when I am still getting the migraines every day, that I just could not do it. It was a sad thing for me, and I was quite bummed the rest of the night, but I knew I had made the right decision for me. I know my limitations. Sad, but true.

Friday, August 24, 2012


The other night I attended my two oldest daughters' middle school Open House. At the Open House, the parent(s) follows the child's schedule and gets a chance to listen to the teacher discuss his/her class and his/her expectations for the child. During the lunch slot of the child's schedule, the parent's congregated in the cafeteria to feast on cookies and bottled water and to chit-chat. Well, I nervously ate a cookie, even though I should not have as I am trying to eliminate sugar from my diet. I didn't need the water as I'd brought a bottle of coconut water. Why was I nervous?  I guess I wasn't exactly, nervous, but self-conscious, maybe. I felt awkward, much like I did for many of my junior high and high school years, because I didn't have anyone to talk to. As I looked around the cafeteria, through my sunglasses, of course, some of the people looked vaguely familiar. I knew that I had seen the some of the same faces at a Choir concert or a soccer game, and, yet, I did not know any of them well enough to approach them and begin a conversation, and I, certainly, did not count any friends among them. I felt sad about that. I realized that I really don't have very many adult friends, meaning friends that I have made in years since college. One reason for this--chronic migraines. The chronic migraines have kept me so shut-in that I haven't made any connections with other people. I have not been able to work for four years, so I have not made any co-worker friends, as most adults do. There are no lunch dates or work Christmas parties on my social calendar. I do not go to church, mainly because I usually cannot function on a regular enough basis to join a church, so you can cut out church picnics and prayer groups. So, I looked around and watched other parents who were also friends, or at least acquaintances, talk about their kids, church, town events, and so fourth. And, I just prayed for the bell to ring, so I wouldn't have to stand there like a loser, sipping on my coconut water all alone. There are a myriad of ways that having chronic migraines impacts my life, but this particular side effect, so to speak, did not really hit me until that night. So, what can I do?  I, unfortunately, do not see an end in sight for my chronic migraines, so there will always be missed sporting events, concerts, birthday parties and other potential friend-making events. The only thing I can do is try to make a real effort to spend my good days among other adults and not be afraid to approach people. I have to stop feeling ashamed of my disease and its impact on my life and simply accept my fate and celebrate the good days. A lot of the time, I don't want to make the effort to talk with others because I hate explaining why I am not working or why I have to wear sunglasses inside. It's time to let that go, to stop feeling bad about something that I cannot control, and, instead to try to "put myself out there" more and make new friends. Easier said than done, I know. However, I am up to the challenge, it cannot be harder than dealing with migraines, right?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Lovely Bunch of Coconut...Water

Staying hydrated is absolutely essential in the battle of the migraine! I always thought I was getting plenty of water to drink. I drink my 8 glasses a day, so I figured that was enough. It isn't. I was taken to the ER about a month ago when I got really dizzy and my limbs felt heavy. They told me I was dehydrated. I was shocked! I didn't think being dehydrated could cause heavy limbs, and I really thought I was getting enough fluids. Since that day, I have been making sure that I never get dehydrated again. I drink tons of water and have started drinking two to three coconut waters every day. Coconut water tastes nasty, it is a wonderous thing! It hydrates much better than Powerade or Gatorade and contains massive amounts of potassium and magnesium! Since, adding coconut to my daily regimen, I have noticed a decrease in the frequency of killer migraines (I still get them, but, overall, the intensity is not that bad). Furthermore, I have noticed a reduction in feelings of nausea and dizziness. Pretty remarkable...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Let Them Eat.....Flaxseed and Bran?

In the past few months, I have done a lot of playing around with my diet. I've experimented with dairy-free and dabbled in a pseudo-elimination diet (meaning, I couldn't quite pull it off, I didn't always recall all the foods I couldn't eat and, admittedly, sometimes I ate foods I knew I shouldn't). I did manage to stay almost completely tyramine-free this summer and greatly reduced my sugar intake, trying to ingest only natural sugars from fruits and juices. I did eat sweets on occasion but not nearly as much as I was wont to. Okay, now, what have I learned?  First, that sticking to any kind of diet is hard, annoying and, often, incovenient. Second, that it helps if you think of it as a lifestyle change and not a diet. And third, that caffeine, dairy and sugar are definite migraine triggers for me. I figured out that dairy is a huge trigger and one that I never noticed in all these years of keeping food diaries because I simply just never thought of it as being a possible culprit on the list of migraine triggers. I found that I can eat a little bit of dairy and not get a migraine. However, if I eat more than about one serving of dairy in a day, I will most certainly end up with a bad migraine! This has changed the way I eat very much. I rarely eat cereal anymore and skip the cheese on sandwiches and avoid adding it to pasta, soups, salads and so on. This has taken some getting used to for sure! Caffeine affects me in much the same way as dairy--a little is okay but only a little. No more venti lattes for me! Sigh...   Lastly, sugar, like dairy and caffeine, is okay in limited amounts, but  I have had to severely limit my intake of it. I try not to ingest any sugar aside from the natural sugars in fruits and juices. I love Coke, so, when I go out to eat, I will allow myself to have one, but I never buy it anymore and do not keep any sweets or sugary snacks in the house. I have the occasional candy bar or Twizzlers at the movies or with my kids, but that is it. I didn't even eat cake on my birthday! I ate flax-bran muffins (trust me, they are way more delicious than they sound), which I made myself; the only sugar in them was a small amount of light brown sugar. No migraines after enjoying a few of those!...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Migralex, now that's some BS!

Have the rest of you seen the ads for Migralex?  It is a supposed "break-through" drug created by a supposed "renowned is actually aspirin and magnesium oxide!!! Are you kidding me?! Most of the migraneurs I know are taking large amounts of Magnesium every day as a preventative and some have it injected or given intravaneously to treat, since when was magnesium and its effect on migraines news?  And, aspirin!--how freaking long has aspirin been around?! I can guarantee that we have all, at least once, reached for aspirin to treat a headache! If aspirin actually worked, we could have solved the migraine crisis ages ago! Does this quack Migralex creator really think that migraine sufferers are really that gullible? or desperate? or stupid? It really pisses me off!