Rebound headaches

The word rebound is listed in the dictionary as a verb and a noun, and whether it’s used as a verb or a noun, the meaning is rather positive.

As a verb: “To spring or bounce back after hitting or colliding with something. To recover, as from depression or disappointment. To retrieve and gain possession of the basketball as it bounces off the backboard or rim after an unsuccessful shot.”

As a noun: “The act or an instance of taking possession of a rebounding ball. A quick recovery from or reaction to disappointment or depression”

I’m not sure why it’s been attached to headaches caused by the overuse of medication (whether over the counter or prescription) as an adverb, but it has, and that’s what I recently experienced.

I’ve had migraines since I was 12, so I’ve learned a few things about trying to keep them under control. I need to have regular sleep patterns, eat regularly, exercise regularly and make sure I’m hydrated. Doing these things won’t keep me from having migraines, but will limit the frequency and severity.

My rebound headaches started with a stomach virus. All the things I need to do to keep migraines controllable went out the window. I won’t go into the disgusting details of my affliction, but let’s just say that I was not in control of my bodily functions for more than 12 hours. For the next few days I was very cautious of taking in food or liquid. Sleep wasn’t too much of an issue since I was exhausted. Exercise was not even a consideration!

The first migraine hit about 20 hours into my ordeal. I took my medication in shot form. Ah, sweet relief! Eight hours later, another migraine. This time I felt I could keep down the medication in pill form. Again, I achieved my desired relief – for a while. Ten days and ten migraines later I knew I was in a cycle that needed to be broken, but to break it meant suffering through a migraine without medication. I lasted for about six hours before reaching for the shot. The next day I resolved I wouldn’t medicate.

I’d forgotten how painful migraines can get. The prescription drug Imitrex had been a life-changer for me, which I wrote about it in a previous blog. Regardless of the fact that the change in my hormone levels has caused it to be less effective, it still keeps that awful “I wanna chop off this side of my head” pain from fully developing.

Ten hours into the migraine, I couldn’t stand the pain any longer and reached for the shot. However, this time I’d apparently broken the cycle because I didn’t have another migraine for five days. Whew!

Migraine sufferers are taught to take medication at the first sign of a headache. That may not be the best advice. I now try using essential oils, stretching and drinking lots of water before reaching for the pills. I’ve only had one time that I tried that and didn’t have to eventually take my medication, but that’s one less dose I had to take. I see that as a positive!

My pain management finesse level:
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

Fear of flying

I know people who have a fear of flying. They’d do and risk almost anything to stay off an airplane. When they are forced to fly, they have a white-knuckle grip on the armrests during take off and landings. Their blood pressure is elevated even on a smooth flight. A little turbulence and they begin praying to any and all deity.

I have a fear of flying, but not for the common reasons. I fear coming down with a migraine while in flight. I have written a few posts about my struggle with migraines. My Imitrex medication works, but only if I take it at the first sign and immediately lie down in a dark room for at least an hour. That’s not practical on a plane. I tried just popping the pills and closing my eyes on a trip to Phoenix in April. The migraine only increased in intensity. Fortunately that flight was only two and a half hours.

It’s not surprising that I was more than a little concerned about my Alaska Airline flight to Orlando. My itinerary was to fly out of Portland at 5:30 a.m., land in Seattle about 30 minutes later, then fly to Orlando at 8:55 a.m. I wouldn’t land in Orlando for five hours. If a migraine attacked any time within the nine hours I would not have access to a dark, comfortable place to rest, I was going to be in a lot of pain – maybe even to the point of vomiting. Fortunately, I was migraine-free during the flight. I had taken my injections just in case, but I’m not sure if they would have worked any better than the pills.

Why risk it? I guess I’m only willing to let migraines have limited control over my life. They caused me to resign from a job I loved, and have robbed me of time (sometimes days), so I wasn’t willing to let them rob me of a chance to travel with the husband.

Am I concerned about the flight home? Absolutely, but the only other option is to not travel, which is not living life as I’d like – with *finesse!


*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Plowing through the pain

There are many things I can’t do when I’m experiencing pain. However, for me living with finesse* means plowing through the pain to do those things I can. I was faced with this challenge last week while on a trip to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the ordination of my son.

Slide at Rustler's Rooste

As I mentioned in a previous post, my life-long friend Carol met me, my mother and mother-in-law at the airport and took us to dinner at Rustler’s Rooste before dropping us at our hotel. Rustler’s Rooste is a fun steakhouse with great ambiance, great view and great food. You can either enter the dining room by going down a set of stairs or by going down a slide. (I said it was a FUN steakhouse!) Unfortunately, I had developed a migraine during our flight and my medication was not working. From experience, I knew taking another dose of Imitrex would not be effective until I could lie down for at least an hour, if it would work at all.

Now, if anyone but a family member or close friend like Carol had met me at the airport, I probably would have apologized and explained that I’d become ill on the plane and needed to go directly to the hotel to rest. However, Carol has seen me with migraines many times before and everyone needed to eat, so I plowed through the pain and went to dinner.

The steaks smelled wonderful, but as soon as I began thinking of actually eating a bite, I became extremely nauseous. Everyone’s food looked and smelled so good, and my dinner companions confirmed such with their “mmmms” and hearty eating, as I sipped on Sprite and nibbled on the dinner rolls.

The choice was to forego an evening with my friend and force my mother and mother-in-law to eat at a fast food establishment adjacent to our hotel, or plow through the pain. I couldn’t change how I was feeling, but I’ve learned enough tricks over the 40 years that I’ve had migraines to manage a small degree of normalcy for an hour or two. Was it pretty? Probably not, but part of living with finesse* is exhibiting skill, poise and assurance. I have the developed skills to plow through pain when necessary. I have learned I can exhibit poise while in pain. I am assured that friends and family allow me to do those things I can, and understand when I determine I simply cannot do anything.

My pain management finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert             

What’s your pain management finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

P.S. I understand there are many people who live with constant chronic pain who have little choice about what they can and cannot do. My heart goes out to them along with a prayer that they will find relief.

Eliminates wrinkles and cures migraines!

As someone who suffers (and suffering is exactly what it is) with migraine headaches, my ears perked up when I heard a story on the evening news regarding a new treatment using plastic surgery. My neurologist generally keeps me posted on advances in treatment; however, I wasn’t aware of the use of plastic surgery, so I sat down and listened.

The subject interviewed, Mariclaire Buckley, very accurately described the life of a migraine sufferer; not being able to care for her children, not being able to make plans. I was nodding my head as she said, “I’ve done physical therapy and the chiropractor. I’ve taken every new drug when it comes out.” Nothing worked. (full article)

The difference between Buckley and me is that I did have success with a drug. When Imitrex came out in the early 90s, I tried it right away and it was nothing short of a miracle. To say it changed my life is no exaggeration. I was able to schedule birthday parties for my kids without having a “migraine backup plan.” I went back to college. I got a job. I enjoyed being “normal” for the first time since I began having migraines at age 12.

Since I found a treatment that works, why the interest in the plastic surgery treatment? While I love the idea of erasing wrinkles, my interest goes beyond vanity.  Unfortunately after 20 years, Imitrex has stopped being an effective treatment for me and I’m back on the hunt for “normal.”  I’ve had Botox injections, which were not successful and since the plastic surgery is an extension of that treatment, it’s doubtful that a brow and forehead lift would cure the migraines.

However, it’s always encouraging to hear of a greater understanding of migraines and new treatments, even if they won’t work for me. I’m generally an optimist, and believe there’s another miracle in the wings that will return my life to “normal” just as Imitrex once did. In the meantime, I’ll keep striving to live my life with as much finesse* as I can muster!

My wellness finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert      

What’s your wellness finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)