The Anatomy of a Migraine

I’m a sucker for vocabulary. I studied Latin in college and have a deep love of word origins. Yes, I’m a nerd. I can hear you saying it to yourself as you’re reading. It’s OK. I own it. Anatomy has a few origins, but my favorite is the combo in Greek which includes ana meaning “up” and tomia meaning “cutting.” So let’s cut up my migraine experience this week. I’ve written previously about my migraines in connection to my running, but this week’s post is strictly about what a particularly bad attack looks like for me and what I’ve decided to do about it. If you suffer from migraines, I’d love to hear about your treatment choices, medical or holistic. You’re about to see why…..

Wednesday evening:  After a busy day at work, including three meetings, a sick dog (seizures) and some other challenging issues, I come home and practice 60 minutes of yoga.  Phil generously takes the kiddos to their YMCA class and I make dinner.  Bed time rolls around and I have a headache that has not been eased by my yoga practice.  I blame it on the unexpected stress of the day, take two Tylenol PM and go to bed.

Thursday:  Wake up with mild headache still rolling. Decide to go to work and make the best of it, take 4 advil to get through the day.  Headache worsens and I call my doctor for refill of my Imitrex (common migraine drug).  Pick up prescription on way home, but have to wait til bed time to take since it knocks me out.  60 minute yoga practice does nothing to help headache.  I have to take 2 rounds of meds, so I hit the hay, set my alarm for 2 hours later and get up and take round 2.

Friday:  No work, but get kiddos off to school, head to physical therapy for my IT Band and take care of cleaning up around the house. Headache is still there, but like a dull ache behind my eyes.  Avoid drugs because Phil and I are supposed to go out for a lovely Valentine’s Day date. Practice yoga for 45 minutes, no improvement.  Get dressed up for dream date, go to dinner, get violently nauseous, give away our theater tickets to strangers and drive to Emergency Room.  Back up plan for migraines for me is to get 2 shots-a pain reliever and an anti-nausea drug. Wait for nearly 60 minutes to get the shots, one of which they no longer carry.  Take anti-nausea drug under the tongue instead, get painful shot in my bum (yep, sorry for the TMI) and head home.  Worst. Date. Ever. Bless Phil for his constant understanding.

Saturday:  Wake up feeling relatively OK and have to power through son’s 10 year old birthday party.  Feeling shaky, dull headache still happening, but can get through the day.  Head to bed Saturday night fairly certain I am about to shake the headache for good.

Worst accessory ever
Worst accessory ever

Sunday:  Wake up feeling like a vice has been wrapped around my head and is squeezing it. Pain level on a scale of 1-10 is an 8 or a 9.  Phil drives kids to my mom’s house and we head to hospital ER. $75 copay, here we come.  Time to bypass a shot and go straight to IV meds.  Doctor agrees to give me pain reliever + Benadryl + anti-nausea meds in a cocktail.  Pain reliever and Benadryl go in my IV and I feel nauseous and sleepy at the same time.  Anti-nausea med goes in and I feel awful.  I can suddenly hear the “ocean in my ears” and I faint. I see a flash, like a movie still frame in my mind and I wake up to people screaming my name, not knowing where I am and feeling like I want to rip all of my clothes off.  I am on fire and upset. The pain is not gone and I am worried that I am having a heart attack or some type of seizure. The nurse is mystified that I have reacted so negatively to the meds and I am feeling like I want whatever they can give me that will make all of this stop. Nurse wraps ice packs around my neck, peels off my layers of blankets and gives me Ativan to calm me down. I fall blissfully asleep, then am woken up and told it’s probably best for me to go home. Headache pain is down to a 4 or 5 but not gone completely. I know the car ride home will make me nauseous, but it’s only 5 minutes.  Come home, get sick, go to bed.

 

And now, on day 5 of this awful journey, I am desperate for anything to work to solve this problem. Friends are telling me they swear by chiropractors, others recommend injections of Imitrex instead of the pill form. I don’t know what else to throw at this problem, but I’m going to start from the ground up.  I’m going to do something I’ve been thinking about for the past 3 months or so. Tomorrow is going to be day 1 of a Whole 30 for me.  I could tell you all the reasons I’ve decided to go gluten, dairy, alcohol and sugar free for 30 days, but their site does it far better than I can. They had me at one word:  “inflammation.” In the book It Starts With Food the authors address the stress we place on our body with the food we put in to it and that many of those foods can add to chronic forms of inflammation. I’m in. I know that it means I’m giving up a number of foods I love and am going to have to make some pretty drastic lifestyle changes for the next 30 days, but let me tell you, if it means I never wake up in an ER again, thinking I might be dying, then drastic is right up my alley.

Goodbye, my dear zoo friends
Goodbye, my dear zoo friends

Have you done a Whole 30 before?  Have you done 27 of them? Have recipes or advice to share?  Please do!