Running with Migraines

migraine  When I was younger, Excedrin ran a commercial that I didn’t understand.  The adults kept holding their hands outside their heads, saying “I had a headache THIS BIG” and after they took their magic Excedrin, their headaches disappeared.  I get the “THIS BIG” part now, but I don’t get much relief from Excedrin.

I had my first migraine a year or so after my little guy was born.  Fast forward 7 years later and I’m still having them.  During my first attack, I cried and tried to relieve the pressure with pain relievers, a stream of hot water from the shower and even ice packs.  When nothing worked, my husband drove me to the emergency room and they treated me with some lovely painkillers and sent me on my way with a recommendation to follow-up with my physician.  What caused that first attack and still causes them remains a mystery to me and to my doctor today.  Some people can pin point their triggers to chocolate, wine, stress, hormones, flashing lights, or even aged cheeses.  Thankfully, I don’t count myself among those that have to skip out on the joys of dark chocolate or gorgonzola; however, I still don’t know what triggers the pain.

I have a medication I can take when they come on, but it sucks.  There’s no nice way of saying it.  I have to take this medication the minute I feel the pain coming on and it knocks me out for a solid 3-4 hours.  Also, I usually have to take two of them to get the migraine to disappear completely.  So, my normal plan is to make it through the day without taking it and ante up to the little orange bottle right before bed time.  Getting through the day is like walking around with a machete angled in to my left eye-ball.  My sinuses pulse, bright light hurts and eating and drinking are awful.  In my worst attacks I get the added bonus of nausea and dizziness.  When I’ve waited too long to take the medication and it doesn’t work (that makes sense, right?) my doctor and I have an agreement that I can come in to her office for a shot of pain killer………which also knocks me out for another 3-4 hours.

Now, how to fit these lovely headaches in to marathon training?  Sometimes, I just get up and run.  The effort to endure 6 or 7 miles is a welcome distraction from the headache.  My brain hurts while I run, but it would still be hurting if I was lying around in bed too.  Other times, I give up and stay home, canceling on my running partner or just rescheduling my planned run for the next day.  I worry that as I enter in to my marathon training, my migraines will hinder my efforts.  But, remember that bucket list?  I’m heading in to the doctor for a physical and I’m going to talk to her about what other options I have for treatment.  New meds?  Prescription sports massages?  (A girl can dream, right?) Acupuncture?

What about you?  Do you suffer from chronic migraines?  Is there a treatment or a medication that has worked for you?  Please share!