"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Teradactly Dinosaurs with Messy Hair.

Today, I will be discussing how to spot someone with a migraine thats trying to hide it. Eesh, I sound like a PBS video! Ah!

We migrainers know how to spot other migrainers, despite our best efforts to hide it. However, we are usually pretty good at hiding it to everyone else because we don't want everyone to feel sorry or annoyed by us. If lucky, migrainers will have a good spouse/boyfriend/bestfriend/closeperson that can recognize these weird quirky traits and get help for the migrainer because usually, the migrainer might appear to be listening to you or involved in the current action he/she is doing, but really, they're not. In fact, they are lost in space. Or their head. You know.

This is me when I am in the comfort of being alone when suffering from a migraine:

Its painful. Usually when its at this point, I had spent most of the day hiding it and then when I can *finally* CLOSE MY DOOR and be free of all plans for the rest of the day and hide under my covers, this is what I look like:  A teradactyl tongue-sticking out dinosaur with messy hair. Why does acting like a teradactyl (is this even how you spell teradactyl? I'm thinking of that flying dinosaur that screeches and stuff.And has arms like those shown above), help? I don't know. Why does sticking out my tongue help? I don't know. ITs probably psychological.

So enough for the comedy. Today I went out to brunch with one of my best life time friends. We have been friends since preschool, and about 6 or so years ago we found each other again and started meeting up every once in awhile. Well a couple years ago I found out she suffers from the same problems as me- the stomachaches and headaches, multiple times a week, if not every day. So over the years we have been swapping tips on what helps and what doesn't. So I conjured up a simple list for anyone out there that reads this that has migraines & nausea, maybe this can help.

Migraines: (Its a long transformation) It can go in *any order* but this is the order I am randomly putting it in. As you take out items one by one, track how you are feeling.


1) Week One: Take out chocolate. Don't worry...this may be hard for some people    ALL people, but don't worry. After this whole transformation, there is relief. Keep reading.
examples of chocolate: Milk chocolate, fudge, icing, m&ms, Oreos, chocolate flavoring, etc.

2) Week Two: Stop eating ham and turkey deli meat. THIS INCLUDES!: Hot Dogs, Pork- anything from a pig. (Again, there is relief later). Ham and all related deli meat and pork products are full of Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite. Try switching to Boar's Head deli turkey, and Holmel's (I think thats brand name) brand for ham. Nature's Promise also sells a nitrate-free ham for big meals (Easter, Christmas, etc.) for the holidays.

3) Week Three: Stop using perfume, if you have any, and do your best to stay away from frequent users in your household, or ask friends not to use it when they will be with you. Wash clothes that still carry even the slight fragrance, and sheets too. Also, take out any air fresheners in your house or car. These are not head-friendly. Also watch out for scented hairspray. Anything that is cosmetic and smells good, try and stay away from.

4) Week Four: When is the last time you have washed your bed linen? This tip is for migrainers that often wake up with it and it lingers all day. 1- Wash your sheets. *Wash your pillowcases*. What happens is you are breathing in excessive amounts of dust on these sheets as you sleep. Believe it or not, some migraines are triggered by allergies. Try and get a prescription from your doctor for Flomax, or Veramyst (What I use-it helps). These are both nasal sprays. I always know when its time to change my sheets like clockwork because I wake up with a migraine one day. When imerged in this cleaning spree, pull your bed out and vacuum underneath. Dust your entire room (preferably in the morning so the remainder particles can have time to settle and not circulate while you are in there sleeping).

5) Stop drinking wine. In fact, stop drinking alcohol. You can reintroduce it back later, keep reading. Wine is full of nitrites. I think white wine is worse...?

6) Make sure you are not skipping meals. Sometimes low blood sugar can trigger a migraine. Drink plenty of water.

7) Check your eyesight. If you don't need any assistive devices, maybe its time to make an appt with an opthamologist and get your eyes checked. If your eyes are straining daily, this causes major headache pain. Also, if you already have glasses, is it time to get a new prescription? Also, make sure you always have plenty of light when you are reading. Are you reading in bed before you sleep? Turn on the overhead light instead of just a book light. Don't stare at a bright computer screen or TV screen when the rest of the room is dark.

8) Watch your caffeine intake. I'm not going to be the type to say take caffeine out of your diet, because I know the withdrawal effects on taking it all out suddenly. Instead, just evaluate how much you are taking in. Write down a sample day record of what you take in. Check medications. Check your vitamin. Check your headache prescriptions! Excedrin (OTC) has a lot of caffeine in it. Caffeine has very powerful vasoconstriction actions and helps minimize the blood vessels in your brain, therefore taking away the pain. So I'm not going to say avoid caffeine- because that would make me a hippocrate. I very often turn to caffeine to make my pain go away, but does that mean I am addicted? No. What you need to do is look at your balance. I know I can afford to take the caffeine in excedrin because I don't get caffeine elsewhere- I do not drink coffee. Green tea does not have a lot of caffeine (my only caffeinated tea I drink). So, look at your daily intake- Is it a lot higher than you thought? Maybe its time to dwindle down a little....*little by little*, every day. Every week. Do it slow. This way, you lower your tolerance. This way, with less constant caffeine in your system, it can be a reliable vasoconstrictor when you need it most. I find that If I take excedrin every day for a week long headache, by the fourth or fifth day- its not working. However, If I don't take it for a month, Excedrin will work within fifteen minutes. I can go from lying on the floor to bouncing and cartwheels in the street.

HARDER (If you're still not noticing ANY improvement):

9) Take out all obvious dairy. This INCLUDES: milk, yogurt, CHEESE, butter, cream,  etc. After a week of that drastic food change, now you have to complete your dairy free movement- Check labels! Dairy is in many things you might not have expected. Nilla Wafers, i found, for example, has milk. LOTS of cookies have milk, and some crackers. Some bread companies. Some restaurants (and homecookers) use milk to make scrambled eggs. So now its time to play detective. Read labels on everything. TV DINNERS more often than not use milk (I don't know why). Luckily- Milk is considered one of the (4?) Major allergens in the U.S. and the FDA requires that nutritional labels list it at the end of the list in bold if it is in or may be in the product. So this makes it easy for you- you don't have to read through a long list of ingredients.

Example. Left Lower side.
 10)  Try taking out obvious artificial flavoring. (i.e. all candy). Watch out for red candy- swedish fish, strawberry candies, fruity candies, anything with a color. This works wonderfully for some people, others see no effect. So, try it. Also, stay away from smoothies that use a fruit mix and not real fruit. You don't know true pain until you find out fruit mix for smoothies will cause you to be on the floor.


I don't have much for nausea, because not only is it a tricky business (The GI system is very complex) but I have a couple tips. Please, if your symptoms persist, go see a doctor. I am not a doctor. I am not even a registered nurse yet. I am just speaking from *personal* experience and none of this information is proven.

1) Try drinking green tea. Not from dunkin donuts! (Although I do use them as a last resort for GT if I cannot find it ANYWHERE else). Green tea was suggested for me to try a couple of years ago by an oriental nurse who was well acquainted with traditional herb relief. It has proven to be 98% effective in treating my nausea. If it doesnt help my nausea, I know I have a stomach bug or something serious. But the rest of the time it *really* helps! Try it! As for personal taste, I loveeeee Tazo's brands, Particularly "Zen" or "China Green tips".   tip- Don't put milk in!! ;)

2) Try finding a candy cane or mint of any kind that has actual peppermint oil. (Read labels). If you like your teeth and prefer not to suck on a candy cane, many vitamin stores will have peppermint oil you can put in tea or take in capsule form. This was suggested to me by an old friend's mother, when I was a child. I have followed it religiously ever since, although now as an adult I tend to use green tea more. Its healthier for my teeth! Note: If you have heartburn, supposedly peppermint is harmful rather than helpful. So this is why it is necessary to be *checked out by a doctor*. The Peppermint supposedly relaxes the esophageal sphincter and therefore lets food back up into the esophagus, causing your pain.

3) Stay away from all dairy products. See paragraph above.

4) Take tomato products out of your diet. This includes: tomato sauce, tomato dip, actual tomatos, pizza, spaghetti, KETCHUP, etc. Tomato's are very acidic and very very very cause GI upset, even with people that don't normally get nauseous on a daily basis. Oranges and Orange Juice are very acidic too.


After you have wiped all of these common food triggers out of your diet...are you feeling better? If not, (Like, no improvement at all), you need to see a doctor. Right away. Also, did you do everything right? If you choose to take out dairy, are you sure there isnt a sneaky source of it somewhere?

If you ARE feeling better, YAY! It feels good, doesnt it? Now, if you realllllly miss one of the things I told you to take out, here is what you do: reintroduce it. Not a lot at once. And introduce one product at a time. Do it a week at a time. For example, if you have a negative reaction to chocolate after 4 months of not eating any, you know you are probably allergic to that. But take a week off again. THen try it again. Did it cause a reaction again? If so, you can say good bye to chocolate. Unless you like pain. Or, I've heard from some and can *sometimes* attest with personal experience that dark chocolate does not cause as many headaches, but i daresay, use it sparingly.

Are these tips fool proof? No. I follow all of the above tips and I still have frequent headaches and nausea. But, they are no where near as bad as they used to be, and I can usually tell what I did or didn't do to cause the symptom and then I can treat it and it goes away. So if you're a teradactyl dinosaur with messy hair like me, the least you can do is try some of these tips. Can't hurt!!

And as a reward for making it this far in this blog, (I think this may be my longest entry EVER), you get a reward:

This my friends, is what I'm talking about.

~ A Writer in a Nurse's Body

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