Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Head case

I'm sorry I've been AWOL for the past... oh... several weeks. My explanation is boring, but I guess I should go ahead and give it to you. It's all I can really think about a lot of the time anyway. (Sorry in advance to the Y-chromosome type people who read this blog. You are not going to find this very interesting at all, and should possibly stop reading now.)

As of December of last, I'd had three migraines in my entire life. They'd been terrible - room spinning, head throbbing, nausea-inducing - just awful. But a migraine every nine years or so I could deal with.

In December and January each, I had two migraines. After consulting Google, I figured it was wedding stress or two much caffeine and nothing to worry too much about. I did start taking notes, though, to see if I could determine what was triggering the headaches. And per the Internet's instructions, I tried to avoid taking painkillers as much as possible to avoid rebound headaches.

In February, I had two migraines again. Each lasted longer than a day. At this point, I realized there was a pattern to when I was getting the headaches: I'd get one each month the first day I took the first pill in my birth control pack, and again on the second day of placebo pills.

[Again, I consulted Google. It turns out, while there hasn't been much research to support their claims, a lot of women complain that their migraines started after they began taking birth control pills, or even specific brands of birth control pills. Drug companies and doctors say hormones affect everyone differently and there's no way of knowing whether birth control pills could cause women to get migraines because young women have these hormones in their bodies anyway. It's a conundrum! In my case, I noticed that I stopped growing hair on my arms and legs when I switched to the brand of pills I was taking when I started getting migraines. While that seemed like a positive side effect at the time, I probably should have realized that there was a chance they were putting a few too many lady hormones into my body.]

I didn't really want to change my birth control around right before the wedding, as messing with my birth control has a history of making me a bit of a cray-cray emotional, and I didn't want to risk it. So I decided to wait until after the wedding and honeymoon to be safe.

By the time we got back from Greece, I was getting three migraines a week. When I had a headache, it usually lasted for 12-24 hours. I could smell my computer from across the room. Looking at the monitor to edit vacation photos or write posts (bright light!) was out of the question. I was worried I wouldn't be able to do my job.

Two weeks ago, I went to see my doctor. Up until this point, I had been listing my migraine triggers in hopes that I could avoid taking medication. I showed her my list:

-drops in barometric pressure
-sleeping too much
-sleeping too little
-eating too much
-eating too little
-too much caffeine
-no caffeine
-red wine

"With the exception of red wine and bananas, how do you think you're going to really be able to control any of this for the rest of your life?" she asked.

I left with two scary-sounding prescriptions and sense of cautious optimism.

Two weeks later, I've had one (very mild) migraine, and I feel like a new woman. I've had some mild side effects, but I mostly just feel better. And even though I do generally avoid taking anything, I'm feeling a lot less defensive about taking medication. (Sure, I did have one episode where I got very stabby when someone suggested I just try using Aleve and Vick's Vapor Rub to treat my migraines, but progress is progress, right?)

Hopefully I'll be back to my old Posty McPosty self soon. Thanks for your patience, Internets!


texpat said...

yikes! migraines are NO fun. esp if you are getting them that often. def try changing your birth control. if that doesn't work, you may want to test other hormone levels (thyroid, etc). i would also say to just give things a break - we can wait for you! take time for yourself and chill out. AND DONT EAT BANANAS! BANANAS ARE EVILLLLLL!

bcsmithereens said...

Oh, hang in there until they find something that really works! Glad you've found some relief. I was finally given a prescription that seems to be good (Imitrix?). I hate having to take something at the inkling of a migraine, just in case it fixes itself up... but it usually doesn't, then I end up complaining for 3 days.

Diary of Why said...

Hold on, hold on...what birth control was it that made you stop growing hair on your arms and legs? I must know!!! :)

eemusings said...

ARGH! I occasionally get really sharp, targeted headaches (BF says they're migraines, but they're not totally debilitating.) Glad you found something to help - I too am not a fan of taking meds, but sometimes it's a necessary evil.

Kim said...

Sorry you've been going through this. I got migraines my first year of law school and they were horrendous. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

But I'm glad that you have something now that is starting to help.

Elizabeth said...

Aleve? Hopefully (s)he was joking! I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I went through a phase where I was getting them all the time, and my mom just assumed I was depressed. I was like, yeah, wouldn't you be if you felt this way? Anyhow, I'm glad you got some medicines to help out when it happens again.