I need to send out a huge thanks to my social media friends and followers! You have been my support system throughout this horrific time in my life and I love you all! One of the worst side effects of chronic illness is the loss of friends. For whatever reason, be it cancelling on them one too many times, or their own inability to deal with illness, they seem to just disappear from your life. Some are long-term, even “best” friends, some, former work friends, some even family. They have their own reasons, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. The hardest part is when there’s no explanation. No goodbyes. No “I’m sorry, I just can’t.” They just disappear. Like it’s nothing. I have always thought of myself as a good friend. I’ve tried my best to always be there to laugh, cry, comfort, support, or just give an ear or a shoulder. I sometimes wonder if it’s my fault. I know I’m not who I used to be, but pain changes people. Especially chronic pain. I’m not sure I’d want to be around me now, but I like to think I would stay. Thankfully, my social media network support groups, chat rooms, and friends have stayed. Some because they are going through something similar to me, others because of our common interests. Regardless, they are here and always happy to listen, give advice, comfort, support, and everything I need right now. Really that’s all anyone could wish for and I have it! I am so thankful! And again, I love you all and will always be there for you!
I used to love the sunshine. I lived for a sunny day. Looking up at a cloudless blue sky. I loved how it felt on my face. A bad mood would turn good. A drive wouldn’t seem so far. A chore wouldn’t be a chore, so much as a reason to go outside. A trip to the beach. Laying around the pool. On a lounge chair on the patio. It felt like instant energy. I never imagined the sun would become my enemy. A reason to hide under dark glasses and hats. A reason to stay inside and close the blinds. No more beach, pool, patio, drives with the sunroof open. Wishing for the clouds to block my precious sun so I could get on with my day. Yet another treasure lost. Another win for my demons.
If any of y’all have dealt with anxiety, you’ll understand. If not, it’s extremely difficult to explain. I experienced panic attacks as a child, and being so young, doctors didn’t diagnose or treat like they do now. Things were different then. Doctors told my parents that I was “acting out”, looking “for attention”, having “a tantrum”. Truth be told, I was terrified of something I couldn’t even describe. I’d get this horrific fear that I was going to die, shortness of breath, chest pain, sweat, shake, cry, tremble, close my eyes tight, and scream. My parents were terrified and felt helpless, unable to do anything to calm my fears. As an adult, I can’t even begin to imagine how they felt. The scariest part was being asked “what is scaring you?!“ and not being able to express my fears because I didn’t know. I was treated inpatient in the hospital for depression and generalized anxiety disorder. The treatment then was heavy sedation so outbursts were kept to a minimum, and the psych techs on hand wouldn’t have much to do. If an attack fought its’ way through the medication, isolation was the punishment. Whether you’ve experienced a panic attack or not, common sense should tell you that isolation alone in a locked room is not the best choice for an already terrified child. I survived, and as I got into my teens, the medications improved. I was given anti-anxiety meds for the panic and meds for stabilizing my chemical imbalance to help with the depression. I went into therapy with a wonderfully kind and empathetic psychiatrist. He explained that I was experiencing “anticipatory anxiety.” That is, expecting something horrible to happen with no actual basis for the fear. I learned how to do breathing exercises to calm myself. And how to talk myself down until meds kicked in. My world changed! I felt in control of my emotions and fears. I knew when to take what I needed to curtail the panic. I’m not saying that the attacks have stopped, or will ever completely stop, they probably won’t as I’m prone to them in times of stress, change, pain, outside influences, and life in general. But I feel much better equipped to fight my demons with my learned battle tools!
In the U.S., more than 37 million people suffer from migraines. Some migraine studies estimate that 13 percent of adults in the U.S. population have migraines, and 2-3 million migraine suffers are chronic.
Almost 5 million in the U.S. experience at least one migraine attack per month, while more than 11 million people blame migraines for causing moderate to severe disability.
ABOUT MIGRAINE SUFFERERS
Migraines occur most often in:
Women (18 percent of women compared to 6 percent of men)
People between the ages of 35 and 55
Lowest income groups
More Migraine Statistics:
91 percent miss work or can’t function normally during migraine attack
More than 70 percent have a family history of migraine
70 percent of those in a Canadian study said migraines caused problems in their relationships
70 percent of all migraine sufferers are women
69 percent have consulted a physician at some time seeking treatment for migraine pain
63 percent have one or more migraine attacks monthly
59 percent missed family or social events
53 percent have severe disability requiring reducing activities or bed rest
51 percent said migraines cut in half their work or school productivity
Almost half of all migraine sufferers are have not been diagnosed
49 percent said they had to restrict activities for at least one day during a migraine episode
49 percent restricted their activities at least one day during migraine attacks
47 percent of people who have symptoms that meet the guidelines to be diagnosed with migraines thought they had a tension headache, sinus headache or another type of headache
31 percent missed at least one day of work or school in past three months
25 percent have one or more migraines a week
24 percent have gone to the emergency room because the migraine pain was so severe
6 percent saw a doctor at a hospital for a migraine in the past three months
The most common migraine symptoms reported by migraine sufferers are:
Throbbing, pulsating pain — 85 percent
Light sensitivity — 80 percent
Sound sensitivity — 76 percent
Nausea — 73 percent
Pain on one side — 59 percent
Vision changes, blurred vision — 44 percent
Aura — 36 percent
Vomiting — 29 percent
(Note: these figures are from the American Migraine Study II of almost 4,000 migraine sufferers in 1999.)
Economic Impact of Migraine:
Because migraines strike during the most productive, working years for sufferers, the pain takes a financial toll. The World Health Organization’s disability rating for migraine, ranks migraine as the 19th most common reason for disability. Migraine sufferers use twice the amount of prescription drugs and visit doctors and emergency rooms twice as often as those who don’t have the disorder.
One study estimates the loss of productivity in the U.S. to be between $5.6 billion to $17.2 billion per year because of missed work. The average migraine sufferer misses two days of work per year. Some who suffer from persistent migraines work during a migraine attack, which they say lowers productivity. It is estimated that migraines are the reason for 36 million days of bed rest, plus 21.5 million days of restricted activity.
Migraine sufferers also spend much more on their health care than those who don’t suffer from the disorder. Migraine sufferers use 2.5 times the amount of prescription drugs and have six times as many diagnostic tests and services. The average monthly healthcare costs for migraine sufferers is $145, while those who don’t suffer from migraines pay an average of $89 per month.
We’re in pain. We go to the doctor. He/she prescribes medicine. We go to the pharmacy and get the medicine. We go home and take the medicine. We feel better. Right?! Or we develop a rash, nausea, worsening headache, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, vertigo, diarrhea, breathing problems, wheezing, jaw pain, flushing, itching, vomiting, etc. Wait a minute! I’m supposed to feel better, not worse. What’s in this stuff anyway?! How many of us actually read the accompanying insert about the drug?! I am one of those people who tend to over analyze. I Google, WebMd, NIH, Drugs.com, every drug I’m given. Mostly because I’ve taken so many, and feel a responsibility to myself to know what I’m putting into my body. It is scary to read the possible side effects of any medication, but to also remember that your doctor feels that the benefit of the medication outweighs the risk for your particular condition. As most side effects are only experienced by a low percentage of patients, and will go away as soon as med is stopped, you as the patient must make an educated decision. I admit that there are some meds that I flat out refused to take, and my doctor knows me well enough to trust me to know my choices are for my own well-being. Luckily, there are many options out there. It’s a hit or miss type situation with migraines to find something that works and has bearable side effects. Do your due diligence, trust your gut and what your body tells you. Do your best to use the same pharmacy for all of your meds. Develop a trusting, open relationship with your pharmacist. They can become your best resource for information. This will also greatly lower the risk of a drug interaction. It’s a game of chance for sure. Best of luck!
When migraines first develop, they often feel similar to bad cold or flu headaches. However, migraines can (and often are) accompanied by other symptoms that aren’t common with regular headaches. People with migraines often feel disoriented or confused, or have cognition issues. Other symptoms of migraines include blurriness or other vision problems; many people with migraines see auras of light around various objects. They may see things or hear noises that aren’t there. Hypersensitivity to noises or light commonly occur with migraine headaches. Sensory overload, such as the chaotic activity in a grocery store, such as flashing lights, bells, and intercoms, is common in migraine. That’s why many people who are experiencing migraine pain seek out dark, quiet places to rest while waiting for their pain to subside. Migraines can also cause pain on one side of the head, (hemiplegic), which is different than the pain caused by normal headaches. People who have migraines may also suffer from nausea, diarrhea, bloating and other stomach problems. Dizziness and vertigo are often present. Mood changes, such as quick to anger, may be present, as well as crying.
For those who can’t get in to see a doctor, many drug stores offer various types of over-the-counter migraine medication. Many of these over-the-counter treatments work great in treating mild migraine symptoms, although for people with excessive or severe migraines, prescription medication may be the only way to find comfort again in a timely manner. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin can often be bought over the counter and are very effective for many patients. Specialists can provide these medications in greater strength. Nausea medications are helpful for people who experience stomach symptoms during migraine flare-ups. In the midst of a migraine, anything people can do to be more comfortable can make the migraine much easier to deal with.
One of my demons has me in it’s grasp and I can’t fight back! I’m too tired and in too much pain. Depression and anxiety are comorbidities with Chronic Daily Migraine/Intractable headache, and Fibromyalgia. Meaning they go hand in hand. I have dealt with these issues in the past and antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds always worked. Not this time. I have crying jags several times a day, whether home or out. I just cannot control the tears once they start. Then I get angry because realistically, I know that I should be able to control my emotions. But right now I can’t. I’m horribly depressed about my situation, and in turn, my life. I can’t find a positive thought or a short term goal to work toward. I don’t have the energy or impetus. I’m on new medications for depression and anxiety. Also one for panic attacks. My question is, are the psych medications not strong enough to contain the 24/7 pain, cognitive issues, weakness, side effects of pain meds, nausea, vertigo, and vision problems?! Or are the psych meds the wrong ones?! Prior to my illnesses (the time I call my previous life), I had functioned and even excelled at whatever I did. New situations, new jobs, moving, going back to finish college, making friends, etc. With the help of my old friend Prozac, which I had taken steadily since it came on the market. It was my “miracle drug”, the first of its’ kind to target my chemical imbalance. I stayed on it even after I wasn’t sure it was still working or I felt I just didn’t need it anymore. I had never been brave or secure enough to discontinue taking the Prozac. It was my security blanket. And my weapon of choice to keep the old demons away. Since becoming too ill to work, which my pain management doctor and psychiatrist agree I am, my old demons have returned with a vengeance. Of course that is what demons do! They make their presence known loudly and widely. They take any and all control that you think you still have left and wrest it away until you have nothing left.