Search Results for 'migraine'

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    In reply to: Introduction to Week 1

    Awaken with daily migraine; takes me half- hour to one hour to take additional meds, and relax enough to get out of bed. Since I’m already a night-owl, this is anywhere from late afternoon, towards evening.Theodore Roethke wrote a poem about slow waking. I think it’s a Sestina? (Theodore Roethke)

    #migraineur #daysnightreversed #migraineuponwaking #slowgettingoutofbed #TheodoreRoethke #Sestina


    Over the years I have tried many, many, many different techniques to reduce stress. In my experience, the technique used is unimportant – it can be meditation, but it can also be breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, whatever. The regular practice of the technique is what allows me to recall the relaxation response in times of stress to return my usually involuntary body functions back to their normal, unstressed rates.
    I have found that my best and favorite techniques are walking meditation, guided imagery, reiki, and breathing. While most techniques when practiced regularly and with intention will provide relief from stress and often also from pain, I think the tendency is for us to gravitate to one or two which fit into our lifestyle and belief system. I had been meditating for decades, and using guided imagery and reiki for the same, but breathing practice always was an issue. I used to sing for recreation when I was young and still automatically practice diaphragmatic breathing. But whenever I tried to do a breathing meditation or slow, controlled breathing practice I would always feel like I couldn’t catch my breath (as in a panic) and it would actually add to the tension in my body, and to my stress. Although over time I developed some control and slowed my normal breathing rate, I could never understand what caused my breathing issues and I couldn’t fix them.
    Fast forward to 2013 when I was enrolled in the Comprehensive Pain Management program at Sharp Hospital in San Diego. They did my intake and decided I needed to work on several areas, which included two types of biofeedback: muscle tension and cardio-respiratory. From the awareness that I developed through cardio-respiratory biofeedback, I learned that I hold my breath automatically when I am faced with a stressor, no matter the source. (I just caught myself holding my breath again, simply from retelling this.) It’s kind of like when you are watching a thriller movie and you know something really scary is going to happen and you take in a breath and hold it due to the suspense – I did this constantly. The more pain I had, the more stress I felt from the problems it added to my life, and the fewer regular breaths I took. I wasn’t breathing, yet we have to breathe to live! Is there any question why I felt like I was just going through the motions, and not really living?
    I don’t know how many biofeedback sessions I had – probably only about four or five, but the technician also directed me to practice breathing daily using one of the free breathing smartphone apps. I tried MyCalmBeat and Breathe2Relax. I practiced twice a day – morning and evening – for 20 minutes. I started out with these apps and found that with regular practice, eventually I needed something that could handle an even slower breathing pace. So I found a metronome app called Metronome Beats and programmed it to fit the rate of breathing that brought me the best results. One day I woke up with an awful migraine headache and I found that when I had completed my breathing practice, my migraine was almost gone. Now I use this 20-minute, slow and controlled breathing exercise whenever I have a headache. This is the relaxation response at work!
    Another benefit has been the effect on my blood pressure. I’d never had any issues with my blood pressure, historically it has been on the low side. But I would always be rushed when going to my doctor appointments and arrive breathless and with elevated blood pressure. I decided to ask the nurse to wait five minutes so the reading would be more accurate. For five minutes I would practice my slow breathing, and my blood pressure would return to normal. Then one day I forgot to ask for the five minute delay. So while my blood pressure was being taken I practiced the breathing, and it returned to normal, right then and there. For me, this is the reason to practice a stress reduction technique and develop the relaxation response. I can now call up this response on demand! I just have to always remember to do it when in the throes of stress. :-)
    WebMD has an overview of the uses and benefits of biofeedback here:
    Here is a Youtube video about MyCalmBeat: Available for iPhone and Android.
    Breathe2Relax: Available for iPhone and Android.
    Metronome Beats:
    Available for Android.
    #relaxationresponse #biofeedback #breathingpractice #mycalmbeat #breathe2relax #metronomebeats

    Gail Moser

    I am lucky to have a flexible work environment where I can work at home if I don’t need to be in the office. This is especially useful on days (like today, alas) when I am having some GI issues that necessitate me being near a bathroom, I have the ability to stay home and not have to walk down the long hallway and make noise around others.

    Just to reply to what you mentioned above, Jerrie – most people don’t know that fluorescent lights are a trigger for migraine sufferers. I am happy to report that the VA hospital in the city I live in has recently been making the change from those to LED lights. That will be good for the patients as well as those who care for them!





    Living with any chronic condition is a challenge but living with a chronic condition and managing work is a whole adventure of its own. It is essential to listen to your body so as to find the right balance at work. Finding a balance also means understanding how much you can handle and learning to clearly articulate your needs. So what does this mean? For me, it means knowing what symptoms will affect me the most and taking the time to start brainstorming ways of alleviating the symptoms.

    For example, I suffer from migraines often triggered by the fluorescent lights found in many offices. Every time I was at work I would not be able to concentrate because of the discomfort. Once I realized the lights where a major problem I spoke to my doctor first to see if she would be willing to write a note that I could use with my employer explaining the need to adjust the lighting. Armed with support from my doctor I asked my boss if the lighting above my desk could be removed. It was a relatively easy adjustment to make so they were able to accommodate my request. I had the same issue at another job but they couldn’t remove the lighting due to the way it was set up so I bought myself prescription sunglasses which I wore while at the office. I also would ask staff if I could turn off or dim the lights when we had certain group meetings. It was a hard exercise because it meant being vocal but it was my first lesson in advocating for myself in the workplace.
    How have you found balance at work? What are some of the things you have done to adjust?

    Jerrie Kumalah

    Supporting someone I care about often means learning to listen to their body too. Just as my friends know that a hand or a glass held to my forehead means a migraine is brewing, I have learned to watch my parent’s walk to understand how much pain they’re in at that moment. When did they/we learn? Are we ever “done” learning? Lots to mine here.


    Samantha Kaplan

    The patient becomes the educator in how the condition manifests in them – teaching both provider and non-provider, but the transition from listener to teller isn’t always smooth. What happened when you tried to tell others what your body told you? What did you try to tell them? When did you try to tell them? I’ve tried to explain certain migraine triggers to friends only to experience eyerolls or laughs. Efforts to share other, more personal, triggers have been rebuffed because they might require change in the person I’m sharing it with. #listentowhatmybodytoldme #evenwhenitaffectsyou

    Samantha Kaplan

    When I was in my early 20s, I learned that there was a name for these terrible headaches I was getting all the time: migraines. Someone I knew had some Tylenol 3 and that helped, so one day I went to my new doctor and asked for a prescription for T3s for my migraines. It was then (1998?) that I discovered that there was a whole arm of pharmaceuticals devoted to migraine relief. My doctor suspected that one of the triggers for my migraines might have been the birth control pill I was on. So during the next 8-12 months, she gave me tons of samples as we experimented our way through finding the right pill that would mitigate all my symptoms while giving me as few migraines as possible, and then finding the right migraine drug to help when I needed it. I learned a lot about my body and its response to stimuli – for a long time I could not drink red wine, have any cured meats, etc. But it was precisely because I had not been listening to my body that it finally said stop and I had to re-learn how to take care of myself in order to address other less-than-healthy behaviors in my life. I am thankful for the diligence of that doctor who was willing to work with me to help me function in my life. #collaborativehealthcare #supportivedoctor


    I am happy to report that I seldom get migraines now and I can drink a glass of red wine whenever I want (as long as it’s just one!)


    In reply to: Hitting your limit

    Fibromyalgia has been very isolating experience for me.  The “adrenaline rush” kicks in and I gain a lot of energy and enthusiasm being around others. Fun activities help me to distract me my pain and focus on an exciting & enjoyable experience. I still have my limits even during the most fun activity. If the lights are too bright or music is playing too loud I can get a migraine. I am not shy about asking to have lights and music turned down.

    Last weekend I took a two hour art class using the ZenTangle technique for drawing artistic doodles using specific patterns and techniques. I find art and craft activities to be very therapeutic & fun. I enjoy any excuse to get out of my house & be social. Isolation only triggers depression.

    I also enjoy photography. I am just an amateur but it brings me great joy to capture natures beauty or take a great photograph of an individual.I find I get lost in the moments and am not aware of the strain I am putting on my arms and wrists until after a long photography session. I need to be better about setting time limits and wearing a watch. I should set the alarm on my cell phone so that I do not overdue. I can be very stubborn and I often fight through the pain because I want to continue doing activities that bring me a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment.

    Although I know my body will need a full day to recover from even a few hours of activity I find the trade of worth it. I purposely try to not schedule Dr. Appointments on Mondays because I am my most active on weekends having fun  with my husband.

    #Setting limits #Scheduling downtime#pain triggers#Adrenaline rush#Isolation and depression#Art is therapeutic

    #Social activities # distraction from pain

    # set time limits #cell phone alarm

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    In reply to: What do you call it?

    Such rich insight! You’re really onto something with mental healing! Your comment about “Grief – why did my body let me down” resonates with me. When I started experiencing migraines multiple times a week, part of me didn’t want to seek treatment because I had to acknowledge that my body had “let me down” so to speak. I certainly identify with your other stages and still struggle with this! I feel betrayed by my body at some points, but I also have to learn to forgive it.

    #mentalhealing #bodybetrayal #forgivethebody

    Samantha Kaplan

    Once I started trying to listen to my body – trying to detect where pain was centered or if the early markers of a migraine were present – I realized I wasn’t always sure what I was hearing. Was a twinge in my eye always going to be a migraine?

    What have you learned about your body’s sensations and pain over time, and how do you use this knowledge?

    #whatelseamihearing #startingtolisten #awholenewbody #learningovertime #everydayisalesson

    Samantha Kaplan
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