My Brain Hurts
The Migraineur's Own Home Page
|Migraine Self Defense
There are several things operating when you have a migraine, some of which don't help at all:
Here are some page links to combat those:
I hope this page will help you to deal with each of these obstacles successfully. Everything on here is based on my own experience -- and I've had migraines since September 1964, so I've test-driven an awful lot of them.
God bless FMLA! This is the Family and Medical Leave Act which allows you up to 12 weeks of job-protected medical leave per year. It can be all at once or intermittent leave (the kind you need for recurring illnesses like migraines and asthma attacks. "Job-protected" means that your employer cannot fire you for being out. If you need to be replaced while you're gone, you are guaranteed an equivalent job when you do return. You sometimes are asked to refile after every 6 months (since qualification is a "rolling period.")
Check with your Personnel department to get your company's forms, etc. You cannot be denied FMLA coverage, it is your right -- but do your research for your area. A small employer may be exempted, I don't know for sure. Be forearmed if you think you may have any problems with your company.
|Finding a Good Doctor
Not every doctor is up on the medications available. Not every doctor is sympathetic to the migraine sufferer, but the good news is this attitude is changing due to enlightened medical schools.
Write down any pattern your migraine follows. What will trigger an attack? Include anxiety, if that does the trick. Write down every cure you have ever tried and whether it worked. Include even the bizarre ones: my telling my pain-in-the-ass doctor that I'd once pounded my head against the wall HARD because that helped, got her to take me seriously. List all the medications you regularly take including over the counter medications, any medical conditions you have (or had), what you eat, your exercise, etc. No telling what clue may help.
|Good Medicines to Try
Take this list to your doctor. One of these may work for you. I switch off between Amerge (1 mg) and Imitrex (50 mg) -- you can see the dosages aren't equivalent. I started with the lowest Imitrex dosage, but had to take two tablets a couple of hours apart. Anyone who has a migraine knows that's too long to wait. 50 mg of Imitrex kicks in in about 20 minutes (like magic!). A warning: do not mix these medications together. If you switch from one to the other, allow 24 hours between.
The advantage of all of these is that I can work and function normally if I take them soon enough at the start of an attack. Most kick in quickly. There are nasal sprays of some which are fastest of all, but which you gotta go somewhere private to administer. Call me old-fashioned, but snorthing anything in public is disgusting.
It's a sad fact that most of these run about $9.00 a tablet. I'm lucky to have an insurance program that allows me to either fill prescriptions for a $15 co-pay at the local pharmacy or get a 90-day supply from a mail-order pharmacy for $15 bucks per prescription. Can't beat that! See if you can get mail-order service. Imitrex and Amerge come 9 to a package, so I always ask my doctor to write each refill for 18 tablets each time.
|Bad Medicines to Avoid
This ties in with finding a good doctor. If you find a doctor prescribing this sort of thing, carefully examine his or her attitude before following the advice. No matter how much more you like being stoned than you like having a headache, these will do nothing for you, your headache or your ability to work or function while having one. And try to figure out if you have one of those "bad doctors" whose rule of thumb (especially towards women) is "drug the bitch and shut her up" -- an utterly loathesome attitude that should send you packing.
|Getting Through a
The first thing you do is get rid of the guilt and declare firmly to yourself that you are the one you have to take care of and that there is NO reason for you to feel guilty about taking care of yourself or about even having a migraine.
That out of the way -- let's get down to work.
|Migraines During the
A nap kit: I have a "nap kit" at work so I can take a quickie if I need to. 20 minutes of darkness and solitude do wonders -- and that's about the same as a coffee break (which you are guaranteed by law, should you have to get stern and remind someone).
Lying on your side on the floor can be more comfortable than you think, especially if you use a seat-cushion for a pillow like I do. it hold my head up and my neck straight so my shoulders don't get squashed.
Except for the pillow, the kit goes in a miniature duffle bag I can keep in a drawer:
Lie down on your side, mask on, and empty your mind. It takes practice to actually be able to stop feeling guilty or thinking about work, but you can learn to do it. You're entitled!
Or "how to get through a night migraine without driving your partner nuts." As I said, this works for hot flashes, too.
Sometimes curing a migraine involves being warm or getting cool where you need it -- and often both at different parts of your body at the same time. How do you do that and not disturb your partner?
Sleep on top of the bed, not in it, that's how.
Supplies to get in beforehand:
Some of these are definitely not endorsed by the medical establishment, but I've had success with all of them in the past. In a pinch, they can't hurt -- but mixing the over the counter drugs should be done as seldom as possible. Tell your doctor if they work. There may be a safer alternative.
Food -- based on the idea that "whatever I have a craving for will make me feel better." You'll notice most of these are things you can grab straight out of the refrigerator and shovel into your mouth. Speed counts!
Over the counter medicines taken BEFORE the food:
Physical weirdnesses -- or maybe not:
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