Thursday, December 27, 2007

Firing and Hiring Doctors

This maybe a stupid question, but how exactly do you “fire” a doctor? With my recent experiences, I feel this is something I definitely need to start doing, but I’m not sure how to exactly go about it. Do you send your doctor a letter stating that you no longer require their services? Or do you call their office and say you’re discontinuing treatment? Or do you just never go back and forge onto the next doctor?

I did find something cool online that may help me hire a future doctor. There are websites that score doctors. It’s a lot like students scoring their teachers online. You can check out your future doc as well as add your own input about your own experiences. I’m not sure if a doctor would even take these scores into consideration, but I know I’m going to use these websites in the future.

Here are the sites I've found so far. If you know of any others, please let me know.

Doctor Scorecard Doctor ratings, reviews and scores.

Dr. Score Physician Reviews and Ratings. Doctor ratings and reviews.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Migraine Barbie and The Christmas Chicken

Look who Migraine Barbie met under the Christmas Tree. A Christmas Chicken!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Migraine Barbie Tries to do Christmas

Migraine Barbie was trying to get in the mood for Christmas, but The Christmas Morning Barbies from Target were really getting on her nerves with their pain free gossip about how she couldn't cope with a little headache during Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This Little Piggie Went to The Market

Last weekend, I went to my first reflexology appointment. It was at a natural healing center, which was located in a big Victorian style house in a historic town of suburban Detroit. The lobby and waiting area had loads of bookshelves filled with books on healing and spirituality, rocks and crystals, healing cards, incense and aromatherapy products. The smell of the incense was a little strong for me, but I liked the calming music they had playing.

My reflexologist was a super nice young woman who immediately put me at ease. We spoke first about what was going on with my migraines and then she had me lay down on a massage table, which had a lovely heating pad that made me feel all warm and comfortable.

The actual treatment was not like a foot massage. It was more like pressure and touch. Apparently, your brain nerve is located in your big toe and that was sensitive for me. For a while, it seemed like she was playing “This Little Piggie” with my toes, because she was squeezing each one individually.

Afterwards, my neck felt so relaxed. It was amazing because I had forgotten what a relaxed neck felt like. I felt like a huge weight was off my shoulders. My brain was thumping away still, but feeling relaxed about it was a nice change. It was truly a nice experience.

I think even for the few days that relaxed feeling lasted it was worth it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Morning Migraine Blues

I was trying to capture the Monday Morning Migraine Blues with my Inderal and my camera. I used a pill container for the background. I think it turned out looking more like modern art than an actual mood, but then I guess art does express moods.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Things I've Tried....

Since my post in June about what I've tried so far this year to help my migraines, I've been keeping a list of the new things. Again, I don't seem to be getting very far. Sometimes, I feel like I'm playing mad scientist and guinea pig with myself.

Ginger-a woman at work told me she read something in a newspaper about ginger helping migraines, so I looked it up online. I tried it in capsules and mixed in water (gag) The capsules settled my stomach, but my migraines were no better.

Gelstat I came across this surfing the web and it was really hard to find in a store, so I ended up ordering online. It's ginger and feverfew in a liquid and you hold it under your tongue for sixty seconds. To me, it tasted like ass, and I couldn't get the taste out my mouth for hours. Again, my migraines were no better.

Sinol /All Natural Nasal Spray "Capsaicin is the all natural active ingredient in Sinol and is a clinically proven analgesic or pain reliever."

I found a way to stick a hot pepper up my nose. (See my post Would you do this?) But since I bought it, I haven't had the balls to try it. It scares the shit out of me. I've been trying to get some of my guy friends to try it first, thinking I can watch their reaction, but none of them will volunteer, so officially I haven't tried it, but I might get a bug up my butt and do it before the end of the year.

Free Meditation Podcasts I came across The Meditation Society of Australia on I-Tunes and they offer podcast lessons on how to meditate. I've listen to four of them so far and they are helping me to relax.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

“P” is for persistence

Do you want to hear what happened with my primary care doctor’s office who sent in the lunatic in the white lab coat during on one of my doctor visits from hell? I posted the original story in Another Doctor Visit From Hell

I left a couple messages for the site manager, and when I got no response, I composed a letter, detailing my horrible experience, and I mailed it off. A month later, I still had gotten no response.

Therefore, I forwarded my letter by email to the health systems corporate office. Guess what? That same day when I came home from work, I had three voice mail messages from the site manager, desperately wanting to speak to me about what happened. She even gave me her personal cell phone number so I could reach her.

I called her back the next day. She spent 20 minutes apologizing to me with a lot of corporate speak about how my letter had exposed a lot of flaws in the office, etc… and she was going to send a report to her higher ups about how she was fixing things.

It turns out the guy in the white lab coat was a medical student! (He was one-step up from a psycho disguised as a doctor.) She said he should have never said those things to me. No shit.

She told me that everyone involved in my DVFH got into major trouble, from the office staff, to my doctor, and to the white coat dude. Apparently, I really took a really big poop in everyone’s breakfast cereal by sending my letter to the corporate office, and the site manager said she appreciated my persistence in getting my bad experience noticed.

She even said she was worried about how many other patients may have tried to express their displeasure with the office and they just gave up when their calls weren’t returned. She told me that she had never seen my letter until corporate sent it to her. It had just been stuck in my file by the office staff.

So how much of this do I believe or was she just covering her ass because a higher up came down on her. She said she wished I would come back to the office to see the changes, but I'm still not sure if I want to go back there. Would you go back?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Surviving the Holidays

The first edition of the Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival is posted at Somebody Heal Me, and the lovely Diana Lee invited me to submit a blog post about holiday-related topics and dealing with migraines, so I sent her my Christmas Klutz post. I've read the other posts and they are chock full of Holiday Advice.

Surviving the Holidays: Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival

"The holiday season can be a fun time of year filled with high expectations, special events, family and friends and lots of great food. But it is also a minefield for headache and migraine sufferers. The first edition of the Headache & Migraine Disease Carnival is filled with commiseration and ideas to help you cope."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More Migraine Rodents!

I have found more proof that rodents are associated with migraines. Check out these super cute mice having headaches. Poor babies.

Plus, I listened to the podcast of the My NPR Interview On Chronic Pain from Sarah Whitman at The How to Cope with Pain Blog, and they even mentioned chronic pain in your brain being a lot like a gerbil on a wheel!

I tried to find a picture of a gerbil on a wheel, but the only thing I could find was a hamster in a ball. Close enough! This could a hamster in your skull!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Christmas Klutz

I’ve still been feeling pretty grinchy about the upcoming holidays with all my migraine pain this year and my bad luck with doctors, so I was thinking about giving the whole Christmas decorating thing a pass.

A dear family friend had other ideas though. He decided I wasn’t going to be green in more ways than one this season. First, he didn’t want me to be a grinch, and he wanted to get me a real Christmas tree this year to cheer me up.

We drove to a Christmas tree farm out in the country. I was feeling dizzy with some pounding pain in my head, but I didn’t want to ruin the trip. I thought I could handle it, but as we were traipsing around the trees, I stumbled on a stump and fell to the ground, bashing my knee.

My friend teasingly called me a “klutz” which hurt my feelings a little.

I said, “No, I’m dizzy because of my migraine. That’s why I fell.”

Then once we got the tree back to the car, I managed to stab my finger on the saw blade. Ouch. There was some blood involved and some minor moaning about pain. Instead of strapping the tree on top of the car, we shoved it into plastic bags like body bags and we slid it inside the car through the trunk with the back seat down. The top of the tree came between the front passenger seats.

I hadn’t considered the tree smell though until we took off. With it being so close to me, it was making me nauseous, but I rolled the window down a bit, rubbed my knee and looked for a bandage in my purse for my finger.

By the time we got to my house, I was positive nothing else could go wrong. In my utility room, my friend went up into my attic to get down my Christmas decorations, and he was handing them down the attic stairs to me. Like a silly girl, I was worried about where a big basket was stashed. I use it to hold all my little Christmas stuffed animals. I climbed up a few steps to see if I could spot it, promptly slipped, fell against the shelf on the wall and landed on the bench below it.

The shelf came crashing down. All the stuff on it went flying. It was chaos. I caught most of my weight on the front of my leg and I wrenched my back, but I wasn't dead.

There was more moaning, but after my injuries were attended to and the Christmas decorations were finally up, I saw that my house was looking quite pretty. The tree smell wasn’t going to be that strong after all, either.

I decided that even with all the chaos caused by migraines, I was glad that I wasn’t giving into the grinchiness of it all. Even when you’re a chronic pain chick, you still need the holidays, but you need to diligently watch where you are walking, avoid saw blades and don’t climb stairs.

It was then my friend gave me a look and shook his head.

“You are such a klutz,” he teased.

“I’m not,” I insisted. “I told you that I’m dizzy today because of my migraine.”

“Well, you’re being dizzy is making you a klutz.”

Monday, December 3, 2007

Chuck The Migraine Squirrel is a hit!

I've been telling my friends and family that a squirrel named Chuck has taken up residence in my head, and he is causing the migraine pain, and guess what? They really like the idea of Chuck. No one has said I'm crazy. In fact, everyone likes Chuck far more than me bathering on about how much my head hurts. I've gotten a better response about him than my describing my actual pain. Some of them have even asked me how Chuck is doing, and they have never asked me how my migraines are doing.

Does anyone think this is bizarre? Is it because it gives them something visual to latch onto? On one level, I think it's truly sad that I have to use Chuck to convey my pain to my friends and family, and on another level, I'm glad because it's opened up some dialogue.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My favorite lists!

As part of The Lists Group Writing Project, I'm supposed to vote for my top favorite list posts, and here they are. I didn't go strictly by pain blogs, but by things that were just really interesting. Just so you know, two of the quotes I submitted to the "your top 10 inspirational quote list" by Sparky were included in her list. I'll include the quotes at the bottom of this post. I still really like them a lot.

Your Top 10 Inspirational Quotes by Sparky

40 ways to make your mind your playground by Fier

10 Ways to Survive the Writers’ Strike by Cynthia Boris

5 Ways to Become the Perfect Idiot by Lori

The pain quotes I submitted:

Pain is not a punishment; pleasure is not a reward.
~ Pema Chodron

Life is what happens while you are trying to get well.
~ Patrick Mason

Friday, November 30, 2007

November Pain-Blog Carnival!

The November Pain-Blog carnival is up at How to Cope with Pain

"How to Cope with Pain is now offering a monthly Pain-Blog Carnival during the last week of every month, to include each month's best posts. November's carnival is now posted. New bloggers are always welcome to contribute."

The theme this month is thankfullness. I just read most of the posts and they are really awesome. They are just what I needed during this bad luck doctor time. I was getting into a major funk this morning about the whole thing, and the posts snapped me out of it.

My post "Thank Heaven For Little Things" is included.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Rat's Ass

Why is it so hard to find a doctor who gives a rat ass about you?

I went to go see the neurologist, the one who prescribed the Amerge Nightmare for me. I had decided to give her one more chance, which was a huge mistake.

The first thing that tipped me off that this wasn’t going to go well was when she came into the examination room without my chart. She asked me why I was there. I explained the history about my migraines again, repeated the story about the Amerge and told her that I had tried the Midrin three times, but it had done nothing more than make my dizzy.

She said the only thing left was anti-inflammatorys. Huh. At My Migraine Connection says there are over a hundred different possible combinations of drugs to try. Telling her that those had never really helped me, I pressed her further. She brought up Topamax, which I had already told her gave me bad side effects in the previous visit.

She asked me what else I was doing for my migraines. I told her that I’ve been taking Inderal, and I used cooling patches for my forehead, and I take a Tramadol sometimes when it gets really bad. Mostly I end up in my bedroom in the dark, crying into my pillow because the pain is so bad.

This is when she shrugged. I had just told her that I was crying into my pillow and she shrugged.

“Are you taking any supplements?” she asked.

Having given up on the magnesium, I told her that I was taking soy for my hot flashes. She got all wide eyed and exclaimed, “Soy is plant estrogen, and it will give you cancer.”

What? I thought. I have researched soy because I’m a vegetarian and I’ve never seen anything about it giving you cancer. What about all those Asian countries where people eat tofu everyday? Are they all going to get cancer?

“See your primary doctor about that,” she told me.

“Is there anything else I can try?” I asked.

Begrudgingly, she wrote me a prescription for Fiorcet, told me to let her know how I was doing in a month, and she left the room.

I glanced at my watch. She had spent six minutes with me. I think a pet rat at a vet’s office probably would have gotten more time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Litemind List Writing Project

Litemind is hosting a group writing project about lists, where if you want to participate in the project, write a post on any topic, just make sure you write it in list format. They want you to be creative and try to pick topics that are not too niche-specific.

I've been trying to work on my non-fiction writing more, and this list maybe too niche-specific, but it's what I came up with. I know it's not migraine related, but in a sense it is, because I've been watching a lot more horror movies lately and I think it's in response to how I've been feeling about the loss of control in my life.

10 Tips on How to Watch a Horror Movie When You are a Scaredy Cat

Usually most people watch horror movies because they want the thrill of being scared. They can bravely watch the entire film without blinking. Then there are another class of horror movies watchers called the “scaredy cats.” They have a love/hate relationship with horror movies. Something compels them to turn on a film, and yet they are plagued with nightmares for a week. After being such a viewer myself, I have learned there are ways to get through a horror movie when you are an SC. Why should you even bother to watch a movie like this? Because watching a horror movie is cathartic, even if you miss the gratuitous gory bits.

Here are the tips:

1) You should watch the movie with the lights on. Everything is less scary when it is not so dark in the room.

2) Watch the televised version of a horror movie. Usually, they are edited for content so it cuts down on the more graphic parts.

3) Check out older horror movies like the original Alien. The special effects are dated by now so they don’t seem as awful.

4) Use a pillow to hide behind during the truly scary parts. It’s not very adult, but it does the trick.

5) During the bad bits, only watch the top two inches of the television screen using your hand to block out the rest. This way you can sort of see what’s going on, but it’s not as disturbing as seeing the entire screen.

6) If one movie really scares you like The Shining for example, try to watch it every time it’s on television and see if you can get a little farther each time during the movie before you are compelled to switch channels.

7) Use the music as your cue to hide. Usually during the horrific parts, the music gets louder, so when its gets quieter, it usually means the bad stuff is over unless the director isn’t playing fair.

8) The remote can be your friend. Use it to surf back and forth to the movie so you can see what’s going on now and if you can take it. If not, switch back to TV Land.

9) Watch the horror movie with a friend. Hide during the bad parts, but make your friend tell you in detail what is happening.

10) After you have survived the horror movie, watch something else before you go to bed like a comedy show, just so the horror movie is not the last thing on your mind before you dive under the covers.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thank Heaven for Little Things

I’ve been feeling a little apprehensive about the upcoming holiday season, worrying about how things were going to shake out with my migraine pain, and I was worrying, rightly so. The day before Thanksgiving, I woke up with screaming pain like a vampire exposed to the sunlight. Maybe the weather front had caused it, or it was my hormones, or it was a bad past life experience with the holidays resurfacing in my subconscious. I was even wondering if it was all the angst from the turkey farm in Livonia, where genocide was taking place and my vegetarian soul was picking up the bad vibes.

I had to cancel my appointments and I had to call sick into work, which always looks great the day before a holiday. As I clung to my pillow, I tried to think of things to be thankful for, and my screaming brain replied that all this just sucked.

Still, there had to be little things to be thankful for, I told myself. Even if it is silly crap that only a migraine chick would appreciate. So here is my list of little things that I’m thankful for when I’m home sick from work.

1) Chamomile Tea with Lemon and local Michigan Honey.

2) My Kitty who sleeps with me most of the afternoon and lets me rub his belly.

3) My Migraine Bear, the stuffed animal who bears my abuse like a champion.

4) I Love New York-I truly appreciate this reality dating show on VH1 because New York keeps the intelligence so low that I can watch it with one eye open in major pain and I still know what’s going on.

5) The Family Medical Leave Act-which lets me keep my job.

6) My Mental Patient Clothes-this is what I call my big t-shirts and men’s cotton sleep pants that I wear during the day when I'm home sick. They keep me calm.

7) TIVO-my best friend in the world.

8) Kraft Easy Mac

9) Zombie Movies-they are my morale booster. At least I’m not a zombie.

10) Various Prescription Drugs!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pain Free Thanksgiving
I think this Turkey is trying to have a pain free Thanksgiving like the rest of us chronic pain chicks out there.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Just Fine: Unmasking Concealed Chronic Illness and Pain

Having chronic migraines, I have noticed how I can look one way, but I feel quite another way. For example, I ask myself how I can be in such horrible pain at work and no one around me even notices. Truly frustrated with this dilemma, I picked up a copy of Just Fine: Unmasking Concealed Chronic Illness and Pain by Carol Sveilich to see if I could find some answers.

The book discusses hidden health disorders in a unique way because the author not only offers insights and coping tips offered from physicians and psychologists, including traditional medicine and mind-body medicine. She also has included profiles of people living with a hidden health disorder and she lets them tell their story in their own words, along with their photographs.

What I really liked about the book was being educated about other types of concealed illnesses, and at the same time, how I saw myself in many of the stories. There were common threads of emotions from these people living double lives.

Some of the topics from the book included how to deal with canceling plans, learning how to answer people when they ask how you are, being envious of other people in good health, sacrificing personal goals, making adjustments, and how to respond to people when they question the severity of your symptoms.

I was surprised and relieved to see the author even dealt with the subject of sex with a chronic illness, which I never saw explored before in a book.

This book definitely made me feel not so alone with my double life. It was very comforting and it taught me how to look at people differently, because someone who is smiling in the office might be living with a hidden health disorder like me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Super Spy Ninja Migraine Skills

The other day, I was trying to come up with some positive things about my migraines, and I realized I have learned some new skills that I might not have ever picked up if it weren’t for my migraines. I also realized these are some important skills that I might need if I ever do spy or ninja work.

Here are some of them:

The Stealth Vomit

I can get back and forth to the bathroom to throw up at work without any co-workers knowing what I’m up to. This would be similiar to James Bond leaving a poker table to go battle the enemy and returning to finish his hand without even breaking a sweat.

Night Vision

I can't really see in the dark, but I can navigate around my house in the dark or with my eyes closed and not hit any objects along the way. This would be a good Ninja skill.

Deceptive Verbal Skills

I can be feeling like I’m on death’s door, but I can act like I’m a Miss Susie Sunshine on the phone, and no one is the wiser. Just by modulating the tone in my voice, I can fool the enemy into thinking I'm someone I'm not.

Withstanding Torture

I can withstand horrible torturous pain and not crack under the pressure. I might cry a little, but I won’t give up any secret information. This seems to be a James Bond type thing. I haven't seen very many Ninjas tortured in movies before. They just get beat up or killed.

So what are your Super Spy Ninja Migraine Skills?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Migraine Mascots Continue!

Here are my current batch of migraine mascots. I really like the girlie skull, and a friend on Myspace, Dana, sent me The Happy Bunny one. I made The Unhappy Migraine Face on Image Chef.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Would you do this?

A friend of mine sent me this article and asked me if I would stick a hot pepper up my nose if it meant headache relief. I know I've tried some wacky stuff trying to get rid of my migraines, but I don't know if I could do this. I'm not a big fan of hot sauce and one time I tried to use capsaicin in my bird feeder to keep a determined squirrel away from the sunflower seeds, and the squirrel only ended up liking them more. Knowing my luck, Chuck The Migraine Squirrel would dig the hot spicy stuff and it would only make my migraines worse.

The Claim: Cayenne Peppers Can Cure Headaches

Published: October 30, 2007 in The New York Times

Times Health Guide: HeadachePeople who suffer from chronic headaches have been known to try all sorts of pills and home remedies. But cayenne peppers?

Behind the folk wisdom is capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne. It is said to bring relief by depleting Substance P, a neurotransmitter that helps transmit pain impulses. Sounds unlikely, but a number of studies have tested the claim, and most have found evidence to support it.

One prominent study was published in 1998 in The Clinical Journal of Pain by researchers in the department of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Chicago. In it, the researchers analyzed data from 33 prior studies and found that capsaicin seemed to work better than placebos for headaches occurring in clusters.

But simply eating hot sauce isn’t going to help. Most studies suggest that capsaicin works just when applied topically. A study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital recruited sufferers of chronic headaches and randomly split them. One group had small amounts of diluted capsaicin applied inside the nose for a week. The other received placebo. The study found “a significant decrease in headache severity in the capsaicin group,” but not the placebo group. Other studies, including one this year, published similar results.


Studies have found that capsaicin may help relieve headaches.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Squirrel Named "Chuck"

I think I have finally figured out the root of my migraine problems, and it didn't even take an elaborate medical test or an expensive diagnosis from a specialist. There is a squirrel living in my head and his name is Chuck.

How do I know this? Because time after time, I have described the worst pain in my head as being "squirrelly". Why would such a description pop into my head, if a squirrel wasn't living in it?

It would also explain my intense craving for nuts and my desire to feed the squirrels around my house peanuts on my front porch.

Please don't think I'm crazy, but since the medical community has failed me and they have no more explanations for my migraines than I do, Chuck The Squirrel, is just as good as a possibility.

So if you're a migraineur, what is the name of the critter living inside your head?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Another Doctor Visit From Hell

I swear someone must be shoving pins into a voodoo doll because I’ve been having the worst luck lately, especially with doctors.

I went to go see my primary care doctor for my migraine maintenance medications like Inderal and I wanted to discuss things with her like an anti nausea pill, etc. My original doctor had left several months ago, and I had seen this new female doctor in the same medical center once since then and I liked her.

My appointment time was at 2:30. I arrived at the office by 2:20 p.m. and I was taken to the examination room right away. The nurse took my vitals. I told her why I was there and that I was experiencing bad migraine pain today. She said the doctor would be there right away.

A half hour later, no one had showed up. I stuck my head out the door a couple times, but I didn’t see anyone to ask if they had forgotten me. I’ve never had to wait more than a half hour to see a doctor at this facility.

Another half hour later, a man showed up. He didn’t identify who he was as far as an intern, a nurse practitioner or a full-fledged doctor, but he was wearing a white lab jacket. Maybe I should have question his medical status more. I mean he could have been an insane person who stole a lab coat, but since my brain was killing me, my mental clarity was limited.

He said that my doctor was running late and he would speak to me first before I got to see her. He had my chart. I explained why I was there and what my level of pain was. He wrote nothing down. I told him I had taken a Tramadol and a couple Motrin earlier in the day.

He told me that I had maxed out on my meds for the day, and there was nothing they could do to treat my migraine today, but they might be able to do something for future migraines.

Then he left me after saying my doctor would be straight in.

Another half hour later, there was still no sign of my doctor and my pain had gotten so bad that I had started throwing up in the examination room sink. I was becoming super dizzy, and my vision was blurry. I knew by the level of pain that I was going to become incapacitated fairy quickly, and I had no one to drive me home. Since I was told by the man in the white jacket that they couldn’t treat my migraine today, I realized I needed to get myself home quick.

I left the examination room and I walked to the check out counter where I wanted to tell them I was leaving. No one at the desk acknowledged me although I was standing there quite distressed. Then he appeared. He asked me “How is your pain level?”

I said “Quite horrible. I just threw up in the sink.”

Then he walked away. He didn’t say wait here. Let me get someone. Nothing.

I waited another minute for a desk clerk to acknowledge me. No one did. Then I threw up in my mouth so I left the building. I tossed my cookies in my lunch bag twice more before I got home. I was in bed the rest of the day, barely able to move.

Now I'm so appalled that all this happened. When did doctors stop treating sick people in their offices? I don't know if I should call the Healthcare Center and get the manager on the phone or write a scathing letter.(so I have something in writing) What would you do?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's a Wonderful Life!

Every time Barbie gets a migraine, a chick gets its wings!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Do I stay or Do I go??

Well, my cold finally backed off, but then my migraine decided to act like a spoiled brat because it hadn't gotten any attention for a week, which landed me in bed all day yesterday. Sometimes, I wonder if my migraine is actually a conscious beast that wants to control my life.

I really hate calling in sick to work with a Family Medical Leave day so earlier in the month, because I only have so many days a month to use. Deciding to call sick into work is a very complicated affair for me. It's like a bizarre calculation with varying factors and degrees of how bad do I really feel.

I have to ask myself all sorts of questions when think I may need to stay home. Like how badly do I react to the light? If I screech like a vampire, it usually means I'm staying home. How many times have I thrown up? Once or twice can't really be a factor, because I throw up a lot. Can I even move my head without the room spinning around? If I take my migraine drugs now, lay back down and wait an hour, will I feel good enough to go to work? Can I actually visualize myself driving to work, getting out of my car, walking into my building, booting up my computer and taking fifty phone calls while acting like a happy camper to the clients.

So yesterday, I screeched like a vampire, threw up more than twice, staggered around like a drunken sailor and couldn't even imagine myself getting dressed for work. Therefore, I stayed home sick.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Brain That Wouldn't Die

In honor of Halloween, I watched the movie The Brain That Wouldn't Die (thanks to TIVO) last night. I've still been watching a lot of horror movies in an effort to make myself feel better about my migraines.

In the movie, a woman loses her head in an auto accident and her scientist boyfriend manages to keep her head alive with a serum from some experiments he's been doing on transplants. I was thinking that it really sucks to be her and she was pretty pissed off about the whole thing, too.

The kicker is where he goes looking for a body for her. Burlesque Clubs and Cheesecake Photography studios. You could just see him thinking "well, I should upgrade the package while I can." He didn't ask her what type of body she wanted!

As you can guess, the whole thing ends badly. The movie did make me feel better because at least I'm not The Brain That Wouldn't Die. I'd hate to be a head with a migraine and no body.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Migraine Plus Cold Equals One Cranky Chick

Right now, I've got a nasty cold on top of my migraine pain, which makes me feel like I'm living at the corner of Migraine Avenue and Cold Street. I'm not sure which is the worst thing to have with a migraine, a cold? a toothache? an ear ache? a sinus infection? It just seems like more than one type of pain in your head is a lot to deal with.

Do you know what I noticed since my cold started on Thursday? My co-workers were far more sympathetic about this snot ridden cold than they have ever been about my migraines. Everyone was telling me to feel better. There was genuine concern about how I was going to spend my weekend with my cold and did I have enough cold medicine, etc.

Is it because they can understand what a cold is like and not a migraine? Is it because they can see the snotty tissue filling up my trash can at work and not see the horrible pain inside my head from a migraine?

I found this really bothering me because I feel my migraines equal the distress of a cold.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Unremarkable Me

Well, I got my tests results for my MRI yesterday in the mail. It was basically a one line letter from my doctor saying the MRI obtained was entirely normal, and she enclosed the test results for my records.

I didn't understand most of the technical results, but there was some stuff about me having an unremarkable head, which I felt was a little insulting. I mean they could have said I have nicely shaped orbits or something.

Part of me was relieved that they didn't find anything, and another part of me was depressed because I'm still in the same sinking migraine ship as before the test.

Also, I've tried the Midrin three times, and the only thing it did was make me dizzy. It didn't help my migraine at all.

Therefore, I think I'm going to go see this neurologist one more time and say "The Amerge was a nightmare. The Midrin only made me dizzy and my head is unremarkable. Now what?????"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Achmed, the new migraine mascot

Saturday night I went to see Jeff Dunham, comedian/ventriloquist, at The Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. I had been fighting medium to hot migraine pain all day, but I really want to go see him because my friends had scored front row seats.

Before the show started, they were blaring loud music and the stage lights were super bright, and I was really starting to think I was going to have to bail, but when he came on stage the music stopped and the lights were turned down.

I thought his funniest dummy was Achmed, the dead terrorist. Achmed is a skeleton-looking character, who is dead but does not know it until Jeff finally convinces him. Then he becomes distraught, looking for his 72 virgins only finding a bunch of "ugly ass guys out there."

As I was watching Achmed, I realized that the dude really looks like he has a migraine and he would be a perfect migraine mascot. A couple times, he looked straight at me. His bizarre eyes bored into mine, and I could have sworn my migraine pain was looking right back at me!

The funny thing is that during the show, I totally forgot about how much my head was hurting. I was aware of it throbbing a couple times, but after the show, the pain went kerpow! It was as if it was saying "how dare you not pay attention to me!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A typical Migraine Chick Week

Well, I'm having a typical migraine chick week so far. I've already had to reschedule another mammogram appointment because of my throbbing migraine, and I had to call sick into work today, because I was afraid to drive to work and I thought I would be a danger to the customers on the phone, making mistakes, etc... so I've been laying comatose in bed for most of the day with my cat.

Last night, I tried to wash my hair. One thing that really sucks about having chronic migraines is washing my hair, because if my head really hurts, then I don't really want to touch it, but sooner or later it has to be done. This time it went horribly wrong. In the shower, I found the shampoo that I had applied to my head was simply not lathering up, so I applied another huge dollop and I added a bunch more water. It was still slime city. Then I realized it didn't smell right either. Instead of fruit it smelled like sandalwood. WTF?

That's when I noticed I was trying to wash my hair with Dove Night Time Body Wash. I use it once in a blue moon if I'm in the mood, but I defiantly wasn't in the mood last night and not with a ton of it on my head.

I had to wash my hair with my regular shampoo twice more before I could get the smell and the slimy sensation out of my hair. I was not a happy Migraine Chick by the time the whole incident was over.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Migraine Matinee

I made these pictures with Image Chef to express my current mood about my migraine today, but I'm not sure which one I like more. What do you think?

Monday, October 15, 2007

I was farting around on Myspace this weekend, and I came across a book about To Do Lists which is coming out in November that I can't wait to buy. I might even have to pre-order it.

To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us.

"What Do Your Lists Say About You?

More and more, we are a nation of list-makers, from grocery lists, New Year's resolutions, and things to do before we die to DVDs to rent and people we've kissed. In To-Do List (based on the popular blog of the same name, Sasha Cagen celebrates the humble to-do list, exploring the ways these scribbled agendas reflect our personalities and passions.

To-Do List is both a celebration of lists and a peek at the lists that others create. Broken down by subjects like "Daily Lists" to "Sex Lists," it's a fascinating collection of lists from everyday people to the well-known:

Novelist Nick Hornby's list of desert island discs

A therapist's secret fears ("I HATE having to think about clients in relation to my hair or clothes")

A shopping list from chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse

A woman's accomplishments before her thirtieth birthday ("Hot air ballooned over the Serengeti," "Danced on a table in Vegas")

Qualities one man is looking for in a future wife, including "Chews with her mouth shut" and "Will let me give my first son the middle name of 'Jacob'"

With each list, Cagen offers the story behind it and a prompt for readers to compare notes and take their own stab at a similar list.

Voyeuristic and interactive, To-Do List will show you just how much -- and what -- your lists say about you."

The author has a blog, too. To-Do List Blog

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Acupuncture Barbie!

Migraine Barbie was starting to wonder if the home acupuncture kit for her migraines was a good idea or not.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More Proof I'm Going Nuts

I've still been having the worst week with my head, last night included. Even though I was exhausted, I met a girlfriend at a new Borders Books for coffee after work. I know I should have rescheduled, but I really wanted to see her.

I didn't stay too long. She wanted to get home to see Pushing Daisies, so we finished our coffees and we went for a quick browse around the store.

Normally, I would have dove into the new fiction table, but last night, my vision was so bad that I could hardly read the back covers of the books, and just the thought of reading about a perky heroine in the city finding her perfect life after some trials and tribulations, including some fashion crises, made me feel more naueous.

Then I found this book How to Survive a Horror Movie which I figured if I can learn how to survive a horror movie maybe I can learn to survive my migraines.

"How to Survive a Horror Movie teaches readers how to cope with every kind of horror movie obstacle, from ax-wielding psychopaths to haunted Japanese VHS tapes. Chapters include:

How to Survive a Night of Babysitting
How to Convince the Skeptical Local Sheriff
How to Perform an Exorcism
How to Tell If You've Been Dead Since the Beginning of the Movie
How to Vanquish a Murderous Doll "

Next, I found this stuffed monkey. I don't know I bought him. I just had to buy him.

So I was probably the only adult last night that left Borders with a horror movie book and a stuffed monkey. Do you see what my migraines are doing to me?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Attack of the Giant Verp!

One big disadvantage in having migraines is being unable to keep appointments, especially things like teeth cleaning and haircuts, when the last thing I want is someone poking and prodding at your head.

I had to cancel my yearly mammogram late last week because my head was acting up, and I thought I might pass out from the mixture of head pain and titty pain when the x-ray machine clamped down on me. I had to reschedule.

Therefore, I really didn’t want to cancel my dental appointment on Saturday morning, because I was already feeling guilty enough about the cancelled mammogram. When I woke up, feeling nauseous with my ears ringing and with my brain bouncing around the inside of my skull to a migraine techno beat, I decided to suck down a ginger ale along with some drugs and I still went to the dentist.

The minute the technician lowered me back in the chair, I knew it was bad and not just, “you can hang in there bad.” The fluorescent lights scorched through my closed eyelids and a giant verp (vomit burp) erupted from my stomach.

It was at that point that I said maybe we should just do the crown delivery today and skip the cavity filling for another day.

“Are you o.k.?” she asked.

I told her about the migraine. The dentist came in. She told him how I was feeling, and he agreed we should just try to do the crown delivery. He tried to pull off my temporary. “Ouch,” I cried. He had to numb me up. Then the stupid new crown didn’t fit. It was too loose. They were going to have to send it back.

He left. She glued the temporary back on. That’s the point when I started frantically gesturing for her to let me back up and covering my mouth. This was more than a giant verp. She got me up, ran, and got a wastebasket.

A few minutes later, it was over. However, she still needed to pick off the remaining glue. I washed out my mouth five or six times and she acted as if she was diffusing a land mine as she removed the remaining glue in my mouth.

So what did I learn? If you wake up with major head pain, reschedule your appointment no matter what, even if you have rescheduled three other appointments earlier in the week. It’s just not worth it.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Surprise Results!

I got the unofficial results from my mri, and this is what they saw! No wonder I'm having migraines with a noggin like this one.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Soylent Green MRI

I went for my first MRI on my head yesterday. Before I got there, I had visions of being stuck down a long tube in a big machine, after hearing horror stories from other people, but this place had a wide-open MRI. Upon my first impression, I thought it looked cool like it was from a science fiction movie.

As the technician got me ready and I looked around the room more, I started to realize how Soylent Green the whole set up was. In the 1973 movie about the future where people are turned into crackers to feed the human race, there is a scene where an elderly man opts to be euthanized at a sleep center, and he sees motion pictures of earth’s beauty in former times before he dies.

In my MRI room, there was an oval track of pale green calming light on the ceiling. On one wall, there was a projection of a beach with palm trees and boats in the blue water. Before I lay down, she gave me earplugs to put inside my ears. Then she handed me headphones, which I put over my ears. Calming seaside sounds and new age music was playing. As she adjusted my position and then sent me into the machine, I had only one thought.

“I don’t want to be a cracker.”

Forty-five minutes, it was over. Thank goodness, I was still in one piece. She said my doctor should have the results in three to five business days. Great. That gives me almost a week for my over active imagination to dream up bizarre things that might be inside my melon.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

But You Look Good.

Through Myspace, I found a great online resource called The Invisibile Disabilities Advocate. From their website:

Do You Live with Chronic Illness or Pain?

"Do your loved ones have a hard time understanding how your symptoms such as extreme fatigue, pain, dizziness and cognitive impairments can be debilitating?

The Invisible Disabilities Advocate strives to help friends and family better understand chronic illness and pain, as well as learn how to be a source of encouragement and support.

IDA offers articles, booklets, pamphlets, links, an online support group, a discount book store, t-shirts and more to help you and your loved ones forge the journey with limiting conditions."

And I just finished reading their booklet But You Look Good which I ordered online from them, and it was a very helpful, insightful and informative like the book "Beyond Casseroles" and the dvd "Life and Migraine."

"But You LOOK Good! is a 52 page booklet that gives those living with chronic illness and pain a voice about how they feel, what they need and how others can be an encouragement to them. It is a convenient, informative way to educate loved ones about what people living with ongoing illness and pain struggle with, fight for and need from their friends and family. It is easy to read, gives practical ideas on how loved ones can be supportive and is not too long for readers to lose interest!"

The problem I'm having though is getting the people in my life to read and watch these things with me, which I think would help them dealing with me and my chronic migraines, but everyone is very resistent. I tried to get a relative to watch "Life and Migraine" with me, to which she replied "Why on earth would you want to watch that? You are already living it."

And I tried to get a friend to read "But You Look Good" and she said "I already know how to deal with stuff like that. I don't need anyone telling me how to do things."

Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pill Pictures

Seeing how Migraine Barbie has been hiding in her bedroom with an ice pack on her forehead, I decided to try to take some pictures of pills. I finally got the Midrin, but I haven't tried it yet, because like Barbie, I'm in the middle of a nasty pain spell with a healthy dose of depression because Aunt Martha (my period) is a bitch. So the red and white pills are the Midrin, and the long white pills are magnesium, which I've still been taking, but I don't know why because they don't seem to have helped much.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More Migraine Mascots!

I've been collecting more pictures of migraine mascots. Here we have "Migraine Mutt" and "Peep This," but I think my favorite right now is Tofu The Vegan Zombie. I'm not sure if he has a migraine or not, but he certainly looks like he has one!

""Tofu" is a friendly zombie, created from a botched experiment in Professor Vost's laboratory. Monkey # 5, one of Vost's lab animals, stuffed a block of tofu into the zombie boy's open skull after accidentally losing the brain. As a result, "Tofu" eats only vegetables and grains and has no taste for human meat. However, if "Tofu" ever loses his "tofu-brain", he turns into a dangerous zombie creature, craving human flesh."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Clean Brain

I’ve been addicted to a tv show on the Style Network called Clean House right now, especially when I’m having a bad pain day. It doesn’t take a lot of brain cells to follow the show’s format.

“Are you drowning in disarray? Still clinging to that scary ceramic clown display in your living room? You're not alone! Style Network's Clean House is helping families beset by decorating disasters straighten up their spaces.

Each week, one cluttered clan puts itself at the mercy of host Niecy Nash (Reno 911!) and her crew of interior designers and organizers. They decide what stays and, more importantly, what goes--by way of a giant yard sale. Then they turn around and pour the proceeds into a much-needed home makeover. Think of it as residential rehab, an interior intervention. Tears are shed and arguments often ensue--but the final outcome is always shocking and inspiring!”

After watching so many episodes, I’ve decided that they now need a show called “Clean Brain.” I need Niecy Nash and her crew to step into my melon and whip it into shape. Niecy will say my brain is a “hot mess” and it’s filled with “foolishness.”

She'll point out that my brain in desperate need of a makeover, and I'll shed a couple tears with her. Then her crew will whip my brain into shape. They will organize it and redesign the interior so it will be pain free!.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The 2007 APF Pain and Creativity Exhibit!

From the APF website:

"Living with pain or caring for someone affected by pain always stirs strong emotions. Has pain ever inspired you to create art? Have you used art to work through your pain?

The American Pain Foundation, in collaboration with The HealthCentral Network, is calling for submissions in a variety of art forms (film, sculpture, words, painting, quilt blocks, etc.) from people who have pain or from people who are affected by pain. A select group of artists and their work will be chosen as finalists, and will be prominently featured online and in print publications by The HealthCentral Network and the American Pain Foundation.

To be considered for this opportunity to be honored and have your work featured, we need your submissions by September 20th.

You can view all the entries in The Pain and Creativity Exhibit here."

I thought this looked like a really cool idea, so I posted my Bad Migraine Haiku. I don't know if anyone will accept them as legitimate poems, but I thought I would try.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Migraine Barbie and Her Drugs!

Migraine Barbie was worried she might not have enough drugs for her next Migraine, so she was calling her doctor quick!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"What's up?"

I'm so impressed with all the online support I received with my Amerge nightmare. I truly have wonderful migraine friends and I appreciate everyone who wrote me and left me comments.

Well, I considered everyone's advice and I called my neurologist. I had to leave a couple messages about the nightmare before I actually got through to her. Then when I did speak to her, I told her who I was and she said "What's up?" in a really casual tone which I thought was a little bizarre for a professional. I told her about the nightmare Amerge reaction and she said "Oh maybe you shouldn't be taking any triptans. Don't take the Amerge anymore." You think? I wanted to say to her.

She said I should try Midrin next, which I haven't tried and a couple online friends have recomended to me. She's calling in a prescription for me, and she said to let her know how I was doing in a few weeks time.

I'm thinking about trying the Midrin, but the instructions online say to take it at the start of a migraine. Since I'm having chronic daily migraines there is no real start or stop to them, just varying degrees of melon pain.

Then I read the Midrin side effects and I started freaking out, thinking about more trauma trying a new drug.

All this drug stuff is seriously giving me a headache just thinking about it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nightmare Reaction!

I saw a new neurologist recently and she wanted me to try another triptan (migraine abortive drug), even though I told her how I had many bad side effects with them. She prescribed Amerge because she said it was not as aggressive and longer acting than some of the other drugs.

Seeing how desperate I have been lately for migraine relief, I decided to try it last night. What a big mistake. I had a bad reaction to it. I had palpitations, chest pain, neck pain and tightness in my chest. My heart was pounding like crazy. There were bizarre stabbing pains in my head, and I was dizzy and nauseous.

This was so much worse than the last time I tried one. I didn’t even want to move because I was afraid of what might happen, but I managed to call a friend to come over and sit with me. I was so close to asking her to take me to the emergency room.

For three hours, I felt like I was going to die, and it didn’t even help my migraine!Finally, the symptoms wore off. Even if it had helped my migraine, I would never go through that again.

Now I’m so depressed because that neurologist had talked this drug up so much and I felt a glimmer of hope, only to be crashed back down on the rocks of migraine hell. (sorry to be so dramatic) I’m not even sure I want to call her. What is she going to do for me? Toss another expensive triptan drug at me?

What would you do?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Life and Migraine

Over the weekend, I watched the film Life and Migraine that I bought online. It seemed a little expensive at $24.95 at Film Baby, but I told myself how often have I seen an actual documentary about migraines. Here is the description from the website:

"Headache is probably the most common painful illness and also the most misdiagnosed. Life and Migraine tells the story and it empowers the viewer to seek the best care possible.

This documentary presents an accurate view through the eyes of 13 real people who have come to grips with severe headaches. They share their struggles and their successes and they leave you with the message that help is available."

What I really liked was how they not only had interviews from real people with migraines, but they had a composite character go through out her day with a migraine from waking up, going to work, trying to see the doctor and going to the emergency room.

The movie covered losing time from your life because of migraines, absenteeism from work, cognitive problems and mood swings, fuzzy brain, not being taken seriously and being blown off by doctors. They dealt with frustrations at the Emergency Room and only getting temporary relief. It expressed how much a migraine sufferer needs support from friends and family.

The most interesting thing I thought was how they discussed migraines being misdiagnosed as sinus headaches. I had sinus headaches for years before my migraines started, so now I'm wondering if I've had migraines for longer than I thought.

Over the biggest message from the movie was "Be Your Own Advocate."

Friday, September 7, 2007

More Bad Migraine Haiku

The migraine monster is still stomping on my head and I have to go to work today. Ugh! And tomorrow, I have to go to the dentist for a crown. Will this week ever end?

Here is some more Bad Migraine Haiku that I've been working on recently. The last one really suits my mood today!

Not tonight honey,
My heads hurts, but I love you.
True romance migraine.

Squirming snakes dancing
Inside my brain, throbbing pain
Migraine Medusa

Skull screaming fire
It’s only my migraine brain
Playing insane games

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bad Day

I'm home sick from work today with a huge head pounding migraine. I didn't get out of bed until 5:00 p.m. to go scrounge for some Easy Mac for dinner. This sticker is really how I'm feeling today.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Picture Puzzles

With my vision and concentration problems because of my migraines, my reading has been hard enough to keep up with. Puzzles have definitely been out. I've never been great at crosswords to start with, but I liked to do word searches once in a while. I tried to do Sudoku a couple times, but it's too much like math (one of my least favorite subjects.

Then I found these Life: The Original Picture Puzzle books at the bookstore. They are "spot the differences" type of pictures, and I can actually do them, even with moderate migraine pain. The pictures are super cute, too.

Book Description from Amazon

"The most popular feature in Life magazine every week perhaps the most popular weekly page in any American publicationis the Picture Puzzle. This game has become a must-have activity in a great majority of the 13 million households Life reaches every Friday. Hundreds of Life's readers have demanded "We want a Picture Puzzle book!" And here, in a special 192-page collection, that demand is met. There are variations on themes and variations on the game itself, as scores of color and vintage black-and-white photographsmany from the famous Time-Life Picture Archivesare twisted, doctored, and otherwise toyed with, all in the name of fun and entertainment. For the first time, the Picture Puzzle is offered in three different degrees of difficulty. Like the Ultimate Crossword book before it, this book will fly off the shelvesnot just in bookstores, but in airports and supermarkets. From the first issue of the new Life magazine, Picture Puzzle has been a hit, and the same will be true of Life's Picture Puzzlefrom the moment the first copy hits the shelf. "

Friday, August 31, 2007

Migraine Barbie and Her Pets!

With her migraine pounding her brain like a jack hammer, Migraine Barbie was so not in the mood for her dogs today.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Darn Chickens

I went to The Michigan State Fair this weekend, and I tried to use my “summer day migraine management” skills. Everything went well, until half way through the fair when a migraine snuck up behind me and smacked me in the head. Therefore, I took a nice long break in the shade, ate some deep fried breaded raviolis and drank a whole bottle of water with a pain pill chaser and I soldiered on.

At the midway with the rides, they even had a couple old-fashioned sideshows like the world’s smallest woman, etc... I thought about setting up my own booth called “The girl with the giant melon.” See the head that most hats will not fit!

I tried to take some pictures of chickens for my migraine chick theme, but those darn chickens will not hold still. I swear a couple of them saw me with my camera and they turned around so their butts were facing me. I was trying to talk to a couple of them, you know photographer to model type stuff, but a couple of women looked at me as if I was truly nuts. Here are my best shots.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

True Colors

The other night I went to dinner with three co-workers after work. Usually, I’ve found them to be pleasant girls to hang around with at work, but with one beer each in them, they turned into shrill gossip harpies.

They verbally shredded one girl who was just fired because of her absenteeism. She said she was missing a lot of work because of panic attacks, and she hadn’t been employed long enough to qualify for family/medical leave. The gossip harpies said they thought she was faking just so she could take time off work, and she deserved to be fired.

The next victim on their list was a girl who they declared was a psycho, because she’s bi-polar and she forgot to take her meds one day. Someone found her in the stairwell crying. Being someone who frequently cries in the bathroom during bad migraine days, I could totally empathize with this girl’s plight.

I tried to defend these two fellow sufferers, saying panic attacks could be truly disabling and forgetting your meds one day doesn’t make you a psycho.

They looked at me as if I was completely nuts, and then it occurred to me what do they say about me when I’m not there? I miss a lot of work because of my migraines. I’m surprised they even asked me to dinner with the way they were talking about these other girls.

I tried to change the topic, but they were having none of it. One girl even asked, “Who can we talk about next?”

Maybe they were just gossiping for the sport of it, but I think I really saw their true colors during that meal, or maybe with my being a chronic pain chick, I can truly sympathize with people with similar situations.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Museum Migraine Chick

I made this picture at dumpr-fun with your photos and I thought it turned out pretty cute.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lunch Time Hell

Sometimes at work, my lunchtime becomes truly a nightmare because there is nowhere to go with a migraine to relax. Most of the time, I feel like I’m Goldilocks looking for the spot that is just right, or even better, I’m a troll, looking for a dark bridge underpass to huddle under.

The work lunchroom is always packed and there are two television sets tuned into different soap operas. The lights are bright and there are too many smells like tuna fish, etc…

The building cafĂ© is not much better. Again, there are blaring television sets but they are both tuned into CNN. It’s not as bright, but it can be very crowded.

The small park outside the building is beautiful. There is a pond with fountains and geese, but again it can be too bright on a sunny day, and there can be the noise of lawnmowers, etc, and the smell of flowering bushes.Not to mention the heat of hot summer day.

My car is the last resort, but sitting in the parking lot by myself makes me nervous, and it’s a far walk. It takes me six minutes to get to my car and the return journey takes another six minutes. Subtract that from thirty-minute lunchtime with a five-minute pee break thrown in and it’s not worth it.

Therefore, every day becomes a crapshoot with my trying to find somewhere to eat. In addition, I used to love to read at lunch, too, but I have the reading problem going on as well. I think I’m going to look into some audio book downloads for my Ipod. That might be a solution if I’m having a bad pain or vision day.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Book Addict Crises

I’m a total book-buying addict. I love going to bookstores and buying books. I actually get a buzz from doing it, but lately, I haven’t been reading as much as I used to because of my migraines. If it's not the pain, it's the blurry vision or the lack of concentration. This is truly frustating because reading books is one of my favorite things to do.

Therefore, I have a huge pile of unread books mocking me. Some of the books I’ve even forgotten why I even bought them in the first place. Right now, my pile stands at sixteen books. And guess what, I went to the bookstore and bought another book this weekend! Like I need another one!

I have noticed it's easier to read diaries or fake fiction diaries (like Bridget Jones's Diary) because the story is broken down into easier chunks of days to digest, so I've been grativating toward those kind of books. Also, I'm not even attempting to read books with tiny print anymore. I just can't do it.

Has anyone else noticed a change in their reading habits like mine with their migraines?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Migraine Barbie and The Chick

Migraine Chick told Barbie she is going to have another migraine very soon.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Beyond Casseroles

Beyond Casseroles 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend
is quite a handy little book. It’s easy to read, helpful, insightful and written by a truly compassionate author, Lisa J. Copen, who knows what it’s like to have a chronic illness.

This book is small enough to fit in your purse or your tote bag, but it’s packed full of ideas to help with people with chronic illnesses. The ideas range from the practical like helping with the mail to lending emotional support and offering encouragement. What I really liked were the suggestions on what not to say to someone with a chronic illness.

Although the book is intended to offer ideas to encourage a chronically ill friend, there are many ideas that someone who has chronic illness, like myself, could apply to their own life. One thing I’ve learned living with migraines is that I have to be a good friend to myself, although some days it’s hard putting up with me. With the imaginative and caring ideas in this book, it might just be a little easier.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Pill Fairy

If you're nice to her, she might bring you something for your migraine pain relief!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Migraine Fog

I barely made it through work on Friday because my migraine was so bad, and I was in bed for the entire weekend. Today, I called in sick to work. I can sit up and do little things, but there was no way I could drive myself into work, sit at my desk and be a chirpy call center drone all day.

I wrote this on Friday, trying to capture what I was feeling in the moment at work.

Migraine Fog

I find myself, staring at my computer screen at work, unsure of what I was even doing. Chunks of time drop off the clock, but there is nothing in the void in my mind, no languid daydreams or making plans for the weekend or imagining a midnight tryst with a secret lover. There is just a painful throbbing inside my head. I have to stir myself as if from a deep sleep, although my eyes are wide open, and try to focus on something.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Paula Abdul is a Chronic Pain Chick

I've never been a big fan of Paula Abdul. Sure I liked her music when it first came out, but I never bought her albums or followed her career. When I used to watch American Idol, I thought she was one wacky spaced out chick.

So I'm not sure why I started watching her reality show Hey Paula on Bravo. Maybe it was the zombie syndrome thing, where I like to watch zombie movies because they make me feel better, so I can say to myself "at least I'm not a zombie" or "at least I'm not Paula Abdul."

Then came the episode where she discussed how much pain she is in. She has rheumatoid arthritis and she has had a whole bunch of surgeries on her neck. She is a chronic pain chick who just wants to get back to being her old self, and suddenly, I could identify with her emotions and frustrations, etc. I could totally understand wanting to get her old life back, and her wanting to further her career despite her pain.

Her wacky behavior made a lot more sense, cause I feel pretty wacky inside my head sometimes with my chronic pain. I'm just glad I'm not in the public eye like her. (but it would be nice to have a staff like hers to help take care of me)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bad Migraine Haiku

Besides trying to write my own migraine classifications, I’ve been trying to write Bad Migraine Haikus. I found a website called Bad Haiku. This is what the site had to say about them.

“I know that there are many rules to take into consideration when writing formal haiku, but the advantage of bad haiku is that you don't really have to follow any of them. On this site, most people do 17 syllable haiku structured in a 5 / 7 / 5 form.

So, basically, if (so ba si cally if)
you can speak in syllables (u can speak in syl la bles)
you can write haiku. (u can write hai ku)”

Here are my first two attempts:

My brain is pounding
Pinball bumping pain third ball
Migraines never tilt

Drama Queen on drugs,
for her migraines, not her soul.
Still in pain, she cries.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Our Body, The Universe Within

Inspired by The Chronic Babe article What does a migraine look like? Bodyworlds offers some perpsective by Michelle Milen-Rogovin about The BodyWorlds2 exhibit and migraines, I went to the Detroit Science Center this weekend to see a similar exhibit called Our Body, The Universe Within hoping that I would gain the same insights.

“Our Body: The Universe Within exposes the inner workings of human anatomy by presenting actual human specimens, anatomical displays, reproductions of historic anatomical artwork and much more. By presenting an artful, compelling and dignified environment, guests can connect with the human artifacts on a personal level that helps them to better understand their own bodies”

I had thought about going to see this before, but the squeamish factor kept me away. Since I am a vegetarian, I don’t even like seeing a steak taking a ride on the conveyor belt at the cash register at the grocery store, and I was worried the dead body thing might be too much for me as well. I got a little freaked out at the mummy exhibit at The British Museum once.

Still after reading the article, I thought if I could gain some insight into what’s going on in my head, maybe it might be worth it.

At The Science Center, I looked to see if they might have complimentary barf bags at the entrance, in case you felt sick, but I didn’t see any. Ahead of me in line was a mother with a twelve-year-old boy. He didn’t look nervous at all. I told myself, if he could handle it, I could, too.

The show was tastefully presented with classical music in the background and artistic lighting. Mostly the human artifacts looked like skeletons with salmon filets on them to be honest. I was able to see nerves, tendons, muscles, etc, and a few brains. Some of it was cool, and some of it was gross.

I wish I could say I had a moment of enlightenment during the exhibit, but I felt no bolt of inspirational lightening. I couldn’t say, “This is why head hurts so much.” I wish I could have come home and written a beautiful essay about my insights into migraines like Michelle Melin-Rogovi, but I was just glad that I acted like an adult and I didn’t throw up.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Types of Migraines

After my conversation with my friend where I tried to unsuccessfully explain how different my migraines can be, I decided to start a list of my own migraine classifications. I don't know if I'm going to show it to her yet, but it made me feel better just writing it. Here is my list so far:

The Hail Mary
This is the type of migraine where I am in so much pain that I think I am going to die and the Virgin Mary is going to come get me at any moment to take me to heaven.

Taxi Please!
I'm not going to die, but I'm terrified to drive to work

The Serial Killer
An invisible serial killer is stabbing the top of my skull with a very sharp knife.

Flaming Nora (also known as the flaming skull from Ghost Rider)
The inside of my skull feels like it is on fire.

The Medusa
The veins and arteries in my head are pulsing so bad that it feels like snakes are moving inside my head.

This is self-explanatory.

The Monster
This is when I am trapped at work with a migraine and I am screaming inside “The Light! The Light!” as if I am a vampire, or I am stuck in the bathroom, making ungodly noises like a werewolf, because I am getting sick.

Brave Little Soldier

This is a mild to moderate migraine, where I take my migraine drugs and I try to go on with my day like a brave little soldier.

The Reduced Intelligence (also known as Dumb Shit or Low Wattage Girl)
This is a mild pain migraine, but I find I cannot concentrate on much of anything and I ending up watching crap reality shows like I love New York and I think I am watching good television.

Jitter Bug
This is a combination of nasty PMS and a Migraine. I am feeling very insecure while at the same time, feeling as if I am going to come out of my skin from the pain and pressure from a migraine. This is the type of migraine where running with scissors seems like a logical thing to do.

These types of migraines can be combined together to create even more interesting migraines. The Serial Killer and The Barfomatic frequently love to join up together.

What's on your migraine classification list??

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

You always have a migraine!

I woke up this morning with considerable migraine pain, but seeing how I just got back from vacation at work, I thought I would take my migraine drugs and soldier onto work. A dear friend called me early to chat about my vacation and during the conservation, she asked me what was wrong, that I didn't sound like my normal self.

I told her that I had a migraine to which she replied "Don't you usually have a migraine? You always have one. That shouldn't be anything new to you. Why would that make a difference?"

That really caught me off guard, considering she is one of my closest friends. I thought about it for a moment and replied that like the Eskimos having different words for snow, I have different types of varying migraine pain. There is the "I think I'm going to die" type pain, or the "I'm not going to die, but I'm terrified to drive to work" pain. What about the "I'm going to puke in the next three seconds" pain or the "I think I can get myself to work and get through the day" type pain?

There was a huge silence after I explained, and I could sense that she still didn't understand. I'm not sure what else I could have said, but it made me feel very alone when I got off the phone with her.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Vacation Success!

I just got back from my vacation in Mackinaw, Michigan, and I have to say it was a successful trip because for once I was able to manage my migraines during the summer. The weather was 77 degrees, and I wore my floppy hat with my sunglasses every day. I drank lots of water and I took frequent breaks. In the morning, I drank a V8 and I made sure I ate lots of protein like scrambled eggs.

On the island, I was able to do everything I wanted to do like take a carriage tour around the island, walk on the balcony at The Grand Hotel, visit a butterfly house, stop at all the souvenirs shops and even eat a small piece of chocolate fudge without my head exploding.

The serious migraine pain didn't start until the trip home, but I was so happy that I had so much fun on the island, that it didn't seem like that big of a deal.

I'm so thankful to all the migraine girls online who gave me such wonderful advice on how to handle migraines under the summer sun!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Vacation Migraine Barbie

Migraine Barbie is ready for vacation in Mackinaw Island, Michigan. She has a water bottle to keep hydrated and there are lots of migraine drugs in her tote bag. My cat stole her barbie sized floppy hat, so she will have to buy another one when she gets there. Thank goodness, she still has her stylish sunglasses!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Another Stinky Situation

I was finally proactive about a stinky situation at work. Remembering what happened with the "lilac' incident a while back, when a co-worker's flowers were making were making me nauseous when I had a migraine, I decided to do something about another "smelly" situation. Yesterday, a co-worker girl was giving herself a manicure at her desk with fingernail polish remover and nail polish, and once more, I was back in nauseous city.

I thought about saying something directly to her, but she's not the sweet, kindly lady of the office with her grandmother's flowers from her garden. This girl is a little scary, as if she might beat you up in the parking lot after work, so I sent my team leader an email saying, "Can you send out a friendly reminder email about smells in the office. Someone in my direction over here is doing her nails with polish and nail polish remover and it's making me nauseous with my migraine."

Well, it worked. She sent out an email memo saying "Just a friendly note to all to be courteous of your neighbors who may have sensitivity to overbearing scents, odors (primarily heavy perfumes, colognes, nail care products). Please be conscious of using such items as many are allergic or have allergy related issues around such scents/odors."

And the girl put her smelly shit away. Yeah for being proactive!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Great American Hydration Taste Test

I’ve been trying to find the best beverage to stay hydrated during my upcoming vacation, so I’ve been conducting by own taste tests to see what I like best. Mostly, I’m a caffeine free pop kind of girl, except for my recent drama with Glaceau Rescue Water, which has left me mentally scared after they changed their formula.

As I’ve been trying new beverages, I learned that I don’t like Splenda. It gives me this weird tang in my mouth that is hard to describe. It’s not exactly burning, but more like a chemical reaction, and this sensation lingers in my mouth for a very long time.

Therefore, I thought I could avoid it by looking for labels marked with Splenda, but it turns out some vitamin waters like Dasani Plus hide Splenda in their ingredients under the name “sucralose.” I thought Splenda had the trademark but apparently not.

Next, I started trying Gatorades, which I’m mostly tossing into the “yuckville” category. The only one I finished drinking was Gatorade Rain which tasted like a watered down berry coolade. I’m trying to find the lemonade one to see how that tastes.

I’m almost at the point where I wish I could make my own Migraine Chick “migraine blaster” beverage. It would have green tea, chamomile, B vitamins, magnesium and electrolytes. Plus, some pain killers thrown in.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Floppy Hat Success!

I recruited another friend yesterday to go floppy hat shopping with me. We first went to Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor and once again "the attack of the giant melon" prevented me from finding any suitable head gear.

Next we tried downtown Ann Arbor, thinking some of the trendy stores might have something, like Urban Outfitters, etc. The last store we went to was Bivouac on South State Street.

I found my floppy hat!! It's a Solar Roller Hat by OR Women, designed and tested for women by women, and it has UPF 30+ SolarShield. It's not too tight and it appears to be crushable, so I don't have to worry about shoving it into a tote bag. And it only cost $28.00, which for Bivouac is cheap.

Now if I can only get my new hat away from my stuffed migraine bear, I might have a chance at having a good vacation in Mackinaw!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Migraine Barbie and The Chocolate!

Barbie only had one piece of chocolate before her migraine struck!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Pain and Independence

How does pain affect your independence? Do you push yourself too hard? Do you hide the fact that you're in pain? Is it hard to ask for help?

I was invited to address these questions, along with several other people who blog about pain, by HowToCopeWithPain. To see all the other posts, go to the How To Cope With Pain blog.

“M” is for Migraine

I think one of the hardest things for me to do is asking for help, especially when I have a migraine. Here is an example of how a simple task like driving to work and parking my car became a crisis when I combined being a migraine chick with being too overly independent.

The other day, I woke up with a blazing migraine, feeling a lot like the flaming skull in the movie “Ghost Rider”, and I really wanted to stay home sick, but I had already called in sick three times this month. I considered calling a friend to drive me to work, but I didn’t want to impose on her and I thought I could manage on my own.

Pushing on, I took my migraine drugs, dressed as comfortable as I could in khakis and a cotton blouse, and I drove myself the twenty miles to work, where my building is located in a sprawling office park with several service drives and a nearby expressway. Never having been good with directions, I only know one way in and out of the parking lot.

That morning, I found several orange cones blocking the entrance to the parking lot. Huh? I glanced around, realizing there was a work crew blacktopping that section of the parking lot. There had no memos or warnings about this!

Feeling my head pain cranking up, I took a few deep breaths. All I wanted to do was park my car and stagger into work like a zombie. I didn’t need this today.

Trying to stay calm, I located another nearby entrance where I saw some cars parked in another section, but I found the spots were all taken and there was nowhere to turn around because the exit was blocked by more orange cones. Therefore, I had back down the row of cars to get out of the mess. My nerves were fraying by the second.

At this point, I saw a co-worker, who I know by face but not by name. She was walking into the building, apparently having found a coveted parking spot. For a second, I considered asking her for help, but I didn’t embarrass myself by saying I had a migraine and I couldn’t even find an alternate place to park my car at the building where I had been working for the last three years.

Back on the street, I drove around to the other side of the building. I had heard there was another parking lot, but I had never been on the other side and I couldn't find the driveway.

By now, my head was going nuts. I was nearly crying by now, which was making my migraine a lot worse. The sunlight was killing me even with my sunglasses, and my stomach was twisting with nausea.

With my burning pain brain feeling like it was bouncing around the inside of my skull, I tried to consider my options. I could keep driving around like a lunatic until I had a break down or I could just go home, or I could call my team leader inside the building and have her help me get to the right spot.

Digging into my purse, I found my cell phone and dialed my team leader. Thankfully, she answered. The conversation started with my saying “Please don’t think I’m an idiot, but I’ve got a migraine and I find a place to park my car,” and it finished with her getting me to a parking spot.

As I was getting out of my car, it occurred to me this wouldn't have happened if I weren’t so hell bent on being independent even with a migraine. If I had just asked my friend for a ride to work, I could have avoided this. If I had just asked that co-worker to help me find another parking spot, I could have avoided this. And look when I did ask for help the sky didn't come crashing down.

Walking toward the building, I suddenly looked back at my car; worried that I would forget where I parked by the end of the day. Towering over my car was aisle sign. Oh, that was going to be easy to remember, I thought, staring at the huge letter. “M” is for "Migraine."