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.