Saturday, March 28, 2009

Head Diary

Not this one, silly. The other one. Oh yeah, I have two. And charts.

Keeping an accurate, concise, informative head diary has been invaluable lately. Unfortunately my record keeping skills diminish while in pain or all weird with aura and my head diary is often less than informative. I always record a number, at the very least, for which I am usually very proud of myself. But recently when I've tried to go back and reference the information, it's not as helpful as I would have liked and my huge effort to write down a 2 for last Tuesday seems less than monumental.

My problem is hardly original. I get busy when I feel okay, and I can't think straight when I feel bad. I don't have the energy for all of that thinking. I could try to get the ever-helpful boyfriend to interview me every half an hour, but that just feels ridiculous. We'll see.

Since my "normal headache" is pretty constant, and my migraines occur every day or two, for hours or days, I can't write one entry about one headache. I have no idea when one headache ends and another begins. There are only levels of severity. I write one entry per day. An example:

3/24 *3*am, int z's, irritable, thc, *1-2*, sun+driving *4*, soma, shoot/stab r. eye, ach r. occ., dog flea shampoo smell, *5*, confused, smells, noise, light, AWFUL, tv too bright

This is a good entry, I've mentioned pain scale, triggers, symptoms, and treatments. I did not, however, mention what the weather was like, how I'd slept the night before or whether I'd been drinking enough water. These are very important factors in whether I'm going to have a headache or migrainous enxperience. I should be mentioning it at least once a day.

I'm still looking at food very carefully. I've been told that people with migraines always have food triggers. So, despite not having found any, I'm still trying to monitor my intake of trigger-possible foods and guage my head's responses. I've been doing this mentally, so far. Unfortunately, my head is not allowing me to retain the information any more. I've got to start writing it all down. This is going to be the most boring and the most elaborate diary I have ever written.

The key to my success here is going to be ease of usability. I should have a list of questions I answer at least once a day. I respond well to structure, especially if I provide my own.

This'll be another work in progress. In this case, I need to find the balance between the therapeutic aspects of detailed journaling and the threat of migraine from the writing and thinking and reading and concentrating. It's a daily struggle, but it is whether I try or not, so I might as well earn the pain.


Thursday, March 26, 2009


I love lists. Here is another one detailing things I plan to try.

As soon as I get medical insurance, it is on.

hormone test
b complex
neti pot
capsaicin (nose spray?)

Interesting coincidence, a few hours after drafting this post, I was googling something else migraine related and came across this fabulous article about alternative migraine therapies. It details a few of the treatments I am interested in, and even includes dosages and how the treatments work.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Laughing Through It

I drew a cartoon in Paint and I think it's funny.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Keeping an Open Mind

There's a lot of information out there. Here is a short list of articles I've found interesting.

Heart Holes Cause Migraines
, in which people who have had otherwise uninteresting holes in their hearts repaired have miraculous recoveries from disabling migraines. Rare, but still interesting.

Plastic Surgery Cures Migraines
, in which a plastic surgeon does something scalpel-y to the trigger points on the head and it miraculously cures disabling migraines. Sounds awful. Where can I sign up?

Magnets are Magic, in which people's heads are magnetized (not really) and it's a sort-of miraculous and very cool treatment. More...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Weapons in My Arsenal

Having a list of treatment/coping options to refer to when the pain gets bad has been enormously helpful. When I can't think, when the pain and the disorientation have taken over, these items save me:

Weapons in My Arsenal

* Water, massive cup of
* Theracane, for myofascial massage
* Sunglasses
* Earplugs
* Hot showers
* Painkillers, no more than once a week
* DVR, for commercial-free distraction
* Ice packs, several
* Muscle Relaxers
* Internet, for knowledge and distraction
* Massage: back, head, feet, hands, anywhere I can get it
* Meditation
* Fresh ginger
* Chamomile/Special Relaxing/Mint Tea
* Light, munchy foods, like popcorn
* Controlled climate


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chronic illness as fuel for creativity

It's not surprising that I'm able to create from the pain. That's where it always comes from. I wrote tortured, angsty poems in junior high because I was tortured and angsty. In high school, it was more about rebelling against labels, so I dressed funny and wrote provocative poems and stories. Now, the pain is physical, which is why I didn't go straight for the pen when I was having trouble dealing with it. I had no idea that creativity would help, despite having seen a thousand after-school specials that told me so. But once I started writing about it, it became so therapeutic. It helped me analyze what I was going through objectively. I don't like being a victim. It's so passive. But I don't know how to fight my head. I have no control over this situation. Writing gives me the illusion of control that I need to still be happy and be in chronic pain.

I have made a couple pictures and drawings, posted a few entries back, and while I am very aware that my talents do not lie in the visual arts, having physical evidence of what hurts is worth the inner cringing at my clumsiness. I want to get into more mediums like clay and metal. Actual painting would be cool, too, but I don't know about the smell.

While I don't want to dwell on my pain, I haven't felt this creative in years. So, I'm running with it and hoping that this inspiration will bleed over into other areas. If I only create migraine art for the rest of my life, at least I will have been productive.

On that note: I'm trying to be as active as possible, doing laundry, on the internet. I may be simultaneously distracting myself (good!) and making myself worse. (bad!) It will get better.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Concessions Made: More on Triggers and Dealing

I've made a lot of changes for my head, not that she's grateful. The bitch keeps on nagging at me, dull and sharp, sometimes only quiet as a whisper, but often a roar. It's like, I give in already, what do you want from me? Can I never have cheese again? Cause I won't. Even though I really love cheese.

Dietary Concessions: So, cheese I am holding onto, but just barely. I'm eating it very rarely, despite the longing. I'm not eating any synthetic sugars and have dramatically cut my consumption of high fructose corn syrup. I drink almost no caffeine, and am really considering avoiding it altogether, even for rescue/preventative purposes. I feel it causes rebound headaches. A rebound headache may be preferable if say, I need to make it through a family gathering without biting anyone's head off, but on a daily, or even weekly basis, it is to be avoided.

Nocturnal Admissions:
Many years ago, there was a documentary on tv about some children who were allergic to light. They never went outside during the day, had their windows all covered and, I believe, had to wear long sleeved even in normal artificial light. I really identify with those kids. The sun has become my enemy, along with most other sources of light, including my computer and tv. So, I wear sunglasses a lot. Despite the glasses, I stay indoors on sunny days unless it's unavoidable. Which is fabulous cause I got a cute little tramp stamp when I was 18 and I chose what to emblazon on my lower back? The sun. Of course. I really should rethink living in California. Maybe London? It's pretty foggy there, right? I have also considered going totally nocturnal, but so far, my internal clock won't allow it.

Unpopular Events: I've never been a fan of crowds. People are loud, they smell, they want me to talk to them and sometimes touch me. I was always able to deal with the discomfort though, for the sake of a concert, festival, or a good party. Now, however, if I see more than a casual milling of people, I feel a sudden urge to bolt another direction. People give me a headache. Too much stimulus. My handy-dandy boyfriend says I take in too much information and overload. He's not wrong, but there are more stages than those two. The final stage is migraine. So, I tend to be anti-social.

Extra Baggage: I now carry a huge purse with me everywhere I go. This may seem like a weird thing to mention, but it's been hurting my back lately. Just kidding. Well, it is, but I've got bigger fish to fry. Point: Humongous purse is required to carry all of my necessary-for-not-imploding-in-public items. ie: Water, earplugs, sunglasses, prescription glasses, pills, a stash of weed (if possible and appropriate), notebook, crackers, cough drops (excellent weapon against smells, plus menthol is soothing to my head), rolled up mittens and scarf in the winter, my small headache notebook, and then the standard wallet, keys, chapstick, phone and menstrual supplies. I need a freaking huge purse. In fact, I think I need a bigger one.

Stephie can you hear me?:
I've mentioned that I wear earplugs pretty frequently, but I actually need to start using them more in public. I just feel self-conscious about breaking the rules of society. It's about being rude. And I'm not sure if it even makes sense, but it's ingrained in me. I usually just end up leaving a place if it gets too loud and I'm feeling weird about wearing the earplugs, which results in me missing a lot and makes me sad. So, I'm trying to get over this misplaced awkwardness and embrace the silent world.

Lack of Stimulation: I miss caffeine. I love coffee. I can't say how many red bulls I used to drink in a day. Diet Pepsi was my lifeblood. Now all I drink is water. Water and decaf tea. Boring. Sad. I guess I can always drink decaf coffee. It just seems like an atheist going to church, somehow disingenuous.

Smells like migraine!: I gave up all the nicotine a while back, but that was easy. I'd smoked for about 10 years, and it was time to quit. My head may be weak, but my will, she is strong. I think that my previous life as a smoker is making me more sensitive to second and third hand smoke. Strong smells in general are bad for me, but the smell of cigarettes sends me into a rage. Especially when it's coming from my normally very supportive and sensitive-to-all-these-new-quirks boyfriend. Oh yes. He still smokes. I try to avoid fighting about it. He knows how I feel and I know that he is unlikely to stop. At least once a week I yell at him for it, anyway. Logic tries to explain that I can't control him, or anyone else, but Impulse yells anyway. Logic also tries to explain that yelling hurts, but again, Impulse is... impulsive and tends to yell if she feels yelly. Head be damned. My alternative to yelling is to announce, "TOXIC!" whenever I smell it on him, and leave the room, or hide in my sweatshirt until the problem is corrected. It's weird. That's what happens when Logic and Impulse cooperate. I do weird shit.

Finally, chill the hell out: I try to maintain calm at all times. I practice deep breathing, I completely ignore things I can't cope with until I can cope with them, and disagreements with the boyfriend can take days to resolve because I can't get too heated. I get heated at the drop of a hat. Chronic migraines make me touchy.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Logic and Impulse

In cartoons, or even bad movies, sometimes the protagonist shows his internal conflict by listening to the arguing of an angel and devil on each shoulder. Well, I feel like I have arguing going on as well, but mine is being done by Logic and Impulse. Logic is basically my mother. She is practical and level-headed. She always thinks ahead, plans for potential problems, and eats only organic, low fat foods. Impulse wants to have fun, eat badly, drink 'til dawn and fornicate with the natives. I tend to listen to Logic as of late. Not only does she keep me from being sold into the white girl sex trade, she calms me down when things are at their worst. While Impulse sits in the corner wailing because my head hurts and we can't go out with friends, Logic calmly tells me to get an ice pack and put on some socks, watch a Molly Ringwald movie, it'll pass.

When I was healthy, Impulse and I were like *this*. I had a very active, spontaneous, laughter-filled life going. Logic was there, whispering as she does, but my decisions were based more on what would provide the most adventure, the most interest, the most reward. Signing up for elective disability insurance or spending that cash on a trip down to Tijuana? Elegí el día de la diversión, no la vida de la responsabilidad. Move to a new city on a whim or go for more stability by spreading my roots in the same place? Move. Move back. Waste time, effort, and resources. But I had an adventure!

Impulse has been largely abandoned. She doesn't pay any bills, she makes my head hurt more, and she never takes care of me when I feel bad, just feels bad for herself. She is selfish and childish.

In spite of her flaws, I wish we could still hang out. Logic is responsible and keeps me sane, but she's so BORING. All she does is sit still and stretch every few hours. She drinks a lot of tea and water and takes care of the laundry when there are no clean towels. But she is my babysitter, my comfort, and my reassurance that I won't be lying on the couch with an ice pack on my head and the tv on mute for the rest of my life. And when Impulse shrieks that maybe it will be forever cause sometimes these things don't go away, Logic slaps her across the face and pours her some more chamomile.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Begetting It All

My headaches have been worse, lately. I have no idea if I've mentioned that yet nor do plan to check. Such a simple thing, to read back a few entries. I just can't. My head hurts. My back and neck hurt. My eyes hurt. My headache hasn't really broken in months. Today has been really hard. Constant migraine begets anxiety begets neck pain begets more head pain begets nausea begets anxiety begets... whatever is next in this vicious circle I'm trapped in. I'm thinking of going to the ER. But the waiting room, the people, the lights and noise and smells... It's nightmarish. I haven't EVER felt enough pain to make me want to go the ER, especially with a migraine. And I've passed a kidney stone. So, I'm hoping if things get bad enough, trusty boyfriend will make that choice for me.

I'm pretty sure that this recent flare up of migraine activity is due to being on the computer so much. But I've found so much information and so many other people going through the same things. My comfort gives me pain. Ain't them the breaks?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Migraine Poetry

These are the first poems I've written since I left my teens. I highly recommend creative therapies. Even if the end result isn't aesthetically pleasing, it is so healthy to have an outlet.

I know you're there
lurking in the dark.
Your arrival is announced
by hoofbeats

I can not see, but I see too much
I can not hear, it's all too loud

The punishment
the pounding punishment.
I can not run
I can not hide
to fight makes it worse.
I lay prone
wishing you away
Until you go
and leave me shaken
tired and weak.

You always come back
but one day you won't.

The gift of leisure is tainted with sickness
My talents destroyed by their source
Only aliens feel human


Monday, March 9, 2009

Medication and Stigma

My primary source of relief from my head is marijuana. I used to smoke weed recreationally. I stopped about a year before the headaches started. I didn't try it for my head for about a year and a half, thinking that it would make it worse. Too much pot too quickly gives me a headache, so Logic told me not to toke. Eventually, my boyfriend basically forced me to try it, one day when my head was bad and my arguing skills were nil. It didn't take the headache away, but did make it somewhat ignorable, or at least less important. It definitely improved my mood. I continued to use it daily. It makes me more functional, happier and even hopeful. I don't, however, get high like I used to. I'm more active than sleepy and usually my brain starts functioning better after I smoke. Though, not always. I do sometimes get the giggles and the munchies.

I am experiencing a look from other people when I mention pot as a remedy. It's a street drug, illegal in however many states, therefore evil and gatewayish. Or self-indulgent and infantile. Can't I just take a pill like the grown-ups? I hate feeling like a stoner. It's a label I don't appreciate. Maybe when I was 20 and was a stoner, it would have been okay. But now, I use pot for chronic pain. To minimize that and call me an addict is unfair, especially when that assumption is based on prejudice. Marijuana isn't physically addictive. It can become an addiction but really, you have to force it. Compared to oxycontin and morphine, which my neurologist prescribed (separately), weed is half a wine cooler.

I've taken morphine, topomax, maxalt, depakote, vicodin, oxycontin and naproxen, to name a few. None of these medications helped me like pot does. None of them made a dent in my headaches, some had horrible side effects and some made me worse. The only positive thing they did for me was to help me sleep away the worst of it. I'll take the giggles and munchies over a pill coma any day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Migraine Art

I use the term art loosely.
I'm having trouble getting the titles to line up with the pics, so they are, in order: Phonophobia, Floral Pain, Migrainous Doodles, and Aura.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sunglasses at Night

...Cause my monitor is too bright.

I was driving home a few days ago with a moderate headache, smelling phantom BO like the world was coated in it. The sun was low and intense in the sky. The highway runs along some large buildings which cast long, narrow shadows across the lanes. The effect was of a strobe light, the setting sun blinking on and off from behind the silhouetted apartment homes. I don't know if it was the blinking or the brightness of the sun but I had a sudden urge to swerve my car into the median. I wasn't suicidal, I didn't want to die exactly, I just wanted the nauseating, piercing, brain jangling pain to STOP. I resisted the urge to crash into painlessness and said nothing aloud. But when I exited the freeway, the sun was reflecting off of the many downtown "skyscrapers". Normally this is really gorgeous, the buildings turn gold with the backdrop of bright blue sky fading to pink and dark purple. Today, it was torture. The reflection hit my eyes and I clamped a hand over my mouth and started to sob, feeling barely in control of the car. I can't explain the feeling. It didn't just hurt. It was like I was a PC overloaded by a virus. I locked up and focused on not crashing. The boyfriend was extremely tense in the passenger seat, and as soon as we got to a place we could stop, he had me switch seats with him. Then I started getting carsick. It was almost funny.

We made it home with no collisions or vomiting.

Noise has become a big problem for me, too.

I wear earplugs so much that I sometimes have to intentionally not use them because my ears get raw. The television has to be so low that we usually can't really hear it. Subtitles are standard. A barking dog, and screaming child, or a just-too-loud voice at the wrong time and my entire head vibrates like a cartoon character with his head inside a bell, an unwitting victim of a gonging.

Head pain, phonophobia and photophobia are my biggest problems in life. Forget bills, politics and the threat of a global epidemic, as long as everyone is very quiet and I keep my sunglasses on, we should be ok.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Other Neurological Symptoms

Detailing every quirk my nervous system has thrown me so far:

First, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS).

My experiences with space-time continuum distortions have been happening since I was very young. I can remember laying in bed as a child and feeling like the room was shrinking around me, or I was ballooning. It is accompanied by a buzzing feeling in my head. It's buzzy, or fuzzy... like an echo of a vibration. I don't know how to explain it. I didn't feel claustrophobic or panicky, and in fact rather enjoyed it as a kid. It was fun. My first memory of it was not alarming and it was very familiar, so I am assuming that it started in infancy. It goes the opposite way, as well. I feel as small as a speck of dust in the vast emptiness of my bedroom. It only happens in the dark, and as soon as I move or see light the bubble bursts and I'm back to my regular old size. But if I lay still and close my eyes, it'll return again in seconds. It's lulled me to sleep quite a few nights, the feeling of shrinking to nothingness. It comes and goes, less frequently as I've gotten older.

Hearing Voices

Along with the shrinking and vibrating brain, I would also "hear" voices. I was aware that I wasn't hearing them with my ears and that they weren't real. It sounded like someone was yelling from very far away, there were no words, just distorted vocal fluctuations. That I heard in my head. I'm explaining to the best of my abilities, really. It would gradually get louder and louder until I opened my eyes or heard a real noise. I stopped being afraid of it pretty young and would sometimes let it go to see how "loud" it could get. Mental illness has been ruled out as the cause, and it has been determined a neurological symptom.

Temporal Distortion

The time distortion was terrifying when it started. I don't know for a fact that it is related to AIWS, didn't note a reference to time in anything I read. But it feels similar to me. I get the same buzzy feeling and hear voices with it sometimes, so I know they have to be somehow related. The temporal distortions (I have fun making up my own names for things) started after my headaches did, as opposed to AIWS, which I've had my whole life. It only happens at night when I'm alone. One of the first times it happened I was on my front porch. The buzzy feeling started, warning me it was coming. Things around me started feeling unstable, like they might slip away if I didn't hold on. Then I noticed neighbors moving really quickly and really slowly down the block, simultaneously. In the movie House on Haunted Hill (the newer one), they used this jerky, fast/slow editing to make the ghosts scarier when they move. Nothing is jerky, exactly, but the feeling is the same. Or like the zombies in some recent movies, where they drag themselves along like zombies do, then suddenly move in a blur and back to dragging before you can even think about it. Yeah, it's like that.

Anyway, this temporal distortion happened and it was freaky, but I had the head buzzing that was familiar so I tried to ride it out, see what would happen. It just got worse and weirder and I started to panic a little, so I jumped up. I felt like I was moving sickeningly fast through the thickest molasses possible. I managed to reach the front door and scramble inside and stumble to the couch to lay my head on my very startled boyfriend's lap and start crying. He asked what was wrong, touched my head, and it was gone. Poof.

Every time it happens, I just have to talk to someone and it's gone. Talking to myself doesn't help, and neither does listening to voicemail. It seems to be triggered by lack of sleep, nicotine and sudoku on my phone. Any of these three have been players, alone or as a team, in these attacks. I gave up all nicotine over a year ago and I've been hyper vigilant about getting enough sleep. The sudoku I will never give up. But I haven't had any time warps in six months-ish, so I hope I never have to.

Stroke-Like Symptoms

I've seen information on basilar and hemiplegic migraine. They present with stroke like symptoms that can include motor weakness, aphasia, slow thinking and paralysis (to name a few). I get all the but the last, which is the biggie, from what I gather, for diagnosis.

Brain Skips

Another self-named syndrome! This happens anytime, anywhere, but infrequently. Suddenly, all of reality will seem to take a sudden, nauseating skip to the left. As if I had jumped, without moving. The buzzing feeling accompanies it, of course. Then things will slip back into their proper place, like a movie with projector issues. Makes me feel vaguely sick and unsettled.

Motion Sickness

I used to like to say that I could "Eat and read sitting backwards on a bus on a winding highway and never get sick." Well, that changed pretty abruptly once my head started up. I get motion sick so easily now, it's laughable. Elevators, television, dramatic hand movements, and of course, sitting in a car make me feel like I am a short moment away from vomiting all over everything everywhere. But I never do, knock on wood. I carry seabands and lozenges with me, and consume a lot of ginger when it kicks into high gear. The silver lining is that is comes in waves. I'll be nauseous for a month straight, but then I'll be 90% okay for the next six months.

This is another post that I'm going to be adding to. Things are always changing here in the land of migraine. More...

Invisible Illness

I almost wish I had warts all over my face.

If my illness wasn't invisible, I could stop lying about how I feel. Culturally speaking, when one person asks another person how they are, the other person says Fine, or Great or even So-So. The responder generally avoids any negative answer because the asker is generally not genuinely interested and is only asking as a form of greeting. So, I am asked how I am every time I see anyone, whether they actually care and as a result I usually answer with a neutral Fine, and change the subject quickly.

If my illness wasn't invisible, I wouldn't feel like I have to defend how sick I am. I may feel like I have a hammer in my skull most of the time, but that doesn't mean I can't have a laugh. Since when does being disabled mean I am grounded for life?

If my illness wasn't invisible, I wouldn't have to talk about it so much. Explaining hurts.

The Disability Machine

My detailing of the rigors of receiving public assistance:

Applying for state/temporary disability was easy. My doctor filled out a form, I filled out a form and I started getting checks. Awesome! My boyfriend had insurance at the time, so I wasn't all that worried about MediCal. When the doctor fills out the paperwork, he puts an end date on the disability. He can extend it easily, if he's on top of his practice and doesn't forget to have his assistant fax the information. That happened once, my check was delayed, causing my rent to be delayed, causing me to never let that happen again.

A few months into being jobless, I started thinking more long term. Dr. P, who was treating me at the time, had discouraged me applying for long term disability aka Social Security aka SSI. He basically said that he didn't think I would be sick long enough to see a check.

About six months after they started, my payments stopped with no warning. My account had run out of funds. I understood that there was a limit, but I'd had a headache so I hadn't looked into it that much. Is it wrong to blame my head for everything stupid I do?

So, I called SSI and started asking questions. The lady I talked to was amazing. She really helped me sort through the procedures and forms and information I needed, which resulted in her taking my application over the phone. Unfortunately, she said, it would take about nine months for them to process my application. She told me that I should be able to get some help through the county, and to go to my local public assistance office to apply.

I did. It was a nightmare. The office I went to was crowded and bright and hot and loud and smelly. When I finally saw my worker he was dismissive, harsh, and cold. To be fair, I couldn't imagine doing his job. Seeing hundreds of people every day, some legitimately in need, but many on drugs or abusing the system. His job was to weed out the people who didn't actually need it. Unfortunately, he appeared to enjoy rejecting people. He was abrupt with me from the moment I sat in front of his desk, saying that he couldn't tell that I was disabled and that I wouldn't get any assistance more than $61 a month, if I even qualified for that. After sitting in the hellish "lobby" for hours in the wee hours of the morning for three days in a row to even be seen by a worker, I had no strength left. I let him beat me down and dismiss me. I signed whatever paper he put in front of me that affirmed he had told me to get out. I did make sure to note something in the explanations area that stated I felt his decision was wrong, but I was so sick, I have no idea what it said. I never went back.

Finally, a little over nine months after I submitted my application, I got a letter from SSI telling me that they made me appointments with a shrink and a neuro to be evaluated. I went. Two months later they started sending me checks. I was shocked. I had been warned by everyone, even my caseworkers, that everyone gets denied the first time and appealing is a normal part of the process. So, I was prepared for that. Being approved outright was awesome. Is awesome. Gives me some sort of validity.

Even better, since SSI determined me fully disabled I am due backpay of $61 per month and MediCal retroactively. So, that caseworker I had can suck it.

I'm still going through some drama, contradictions between their records and reality. But it's all being addressed and will hopefully work out. The government is based in Logic, right? Sigh.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Medical History

As I write this, I find it a little strange that I am publicizing information that I would normally only tell a doctor. Medical histories don't come up in conversation with friends, and my family doesn't talk about this kind of stuff. There isn't anything hugely personal in here and nothing I wouldn't tell a curious stranger, but still, for such a private person, sometimes this is a little weird.

I was born about 7 weeks prematurely, in the late 70's, in a 3rd world country. I was in an incubator for a while. My mom told me once that they told her I'd be deaf, blind, and mentally affected by my early birth. I weighed 4 lbs 12 oz. Hardly a miracle baby nowadays, but to hear my mom tell it, I was a one in a million survivor.

I started developing chronic sinus infections and bronchitis very early, possibly immediately. My nose was always running and I had a constant chesty, barking cough for the first 12 years of my life. When I was 11, we went to an ear, nose, and throat specialist who had the bright idea to try and stick something into my right sinus. He couldn't. I had a blockage of cartilage that had never dissolved in utero (something that happens within the last month or so of development in the womb). So, at 12 I had surgery, and I could finally breathe through both nostrils. The sinus infections and bronchitis stopped.

I stopped eating meat when I was 14, with a very brief stint as a vegan. At 15 I got mono. I was never hospitalized, just a few doctor's visits and an order to rest, maybe drugs were prescribed, I remember being really tired. I got over it within a few months.

I became lactose intolerant when I was 17 and couldn't eat any dairy for two years without taking an enzyme supplement. I still get stomach aches if I'm careless about what/how much dairy I eat. I started eating seafood again at 18. I'm now a pescatarian and I don't eat any mammals or birds (or reptiles or amphibians).

At 19 I suddenly started getting hives all over my body, except my head. I had them almost constantly for about a year. I never figured out what was causing them. I still get a stray flare now and again, but I never touch them and they never get worse.

I was experimental with drugs from 18-23. I smoked marijuana recreationally and cigarettes from 18-27.

At 28 I got shingles. And a headache.

Mentally, I'm bright. I've always tested well, school was easy for me and I prefer cerebral activities over physical any day.

Emotionally, I'm sensitive. I am affected easily by the mood of others. I have always avoided the news because it makes me too sad. I love to laugh and do so freely. I am adventurous and a little rebellious. However, I am very cautious and aware of consequences. So, I make lists and messes. My myers-briggs personality type is an INTJ/INFJ, depending on my mood.

Physically, I've been a bit of a yo-yoer. Never underweight or obese, but I've fluctuated quite a bit within those extremes since puberty. I'm fairly coordinated. I can play sports pretty well, but exercise for it's own sake has always bored me. Without a team or purpose in mind, I wander off to read a book. I take walks outside or on my treadmill several times a week, when I can manage it.

My period has always been normal and reliable as a clock, but heavy and rather painful. I do get PMS and end up crying at toilet paper commercials, eating disgusting amounts of chocolate, and trying not to yell at everyone for a week every month.

In researching migraines, I've found that I have experienced Alice In Wonderland Syndrome as far back as I can remember, which is very common with migraineurs. So has my mom, which lends itself to the hereditary aspect of migraines. I've had headaches my whole life, but no more frequently than the "average" person. I historically treated them with over the counter acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, but I do remember a few that could only be slept off. I remember joking with friends that I had a brain tumor, when I had frequent headaches, for weeks on end. But I was fully functional, only inconvenienced or distracted really, so I never asked a doctor about them.

Of course, I do wonder if my recognizing symptoms could be a little bit of matrixing. Seeing connections where there is only coincidence. Regardless, I'll keep making note of it all. It's better to have too much information to weed through than to have too little.

My family history is spotty. Arthritis, asthma, severe allergies, age and weight related diabetes, and heart disease run in my family. I know there's more but getting these people to open up about their health is like pulling teeth. I have one male cousin who had migraines as a child. No one else will admit to them.

I'll be adding to this history as it develops. :)

Endorphins and Serotonin

Physical activity beyond a measured stroll triggers a headache. I can physically do it, I can run and jump and yell. But once I stop, everything stops and my head delivers a beat down. I've been trying to get a treadmill because I figure that a measured stroll is better than nothing. And being able to get some "exercise" in my own home would be ideal. Indoor walking means I can wear my earplugs, watch TV, read, or have an icepack on my head while I walk. Multi-tasking! I've tried yoga, but it tends to trigger. I do some basic stretches but they really don't seem to do much but keep my body from going fetal from the inactivity.

Sex does not cause a headache. In fact, it "cures" it, for a little while. I'm not sure exactly how it works, maybe the endorphins or serotonin released damps down the pain. Or maybe it's just the distraction is more than the pain. I've never tried to have sex when my head is above a 4/5. It just doesn't occur to me for some reason.

Spicy food has the same effect as sex. While my mouth burns, my head is dealable. My stomach disagrees with this method of treatment but sometimes I can't resist dumping a bunch of hot sauce on my food and giving my head a break for a while. *Pops tums*