Monday, February 25, 2013

Recent Remedies

I love reading about other people's treatment plans. We all do things our own way, and the differences and similarities are endlessly fascinating to me. I've been keeping my treatment pretty simple, and prefer to avoid doctors and pills when I can. Lately, my migraine-medicating options include marijuana, sleep, hot showers, yoga, caffeine, and rarely, pills.

The pot I've talked about extensively, but to sum up: it changed my life. I was stuck inside, zonked out most of the time from pills and/or the constant need to disassociate from the relentless migraine storm going on in my body. When I found pot, it was like a revelation. Marijuana has been the only thing that's lifted the cloud cover, even a little bit. It doesn't stop a migraine, or cure anything, but it does give me peeks of blue sky on a stormy day, makes it so I can smile and maybe even do a load of laundry on a day I would otherwise be fetal with earplugs.

So, I owe my quality of life to pot, you could say, and I've actually turned quite a few members of family and friends onto the option of medical marijuana for their various health ailments, with some amazing results. I hope it's legalized everywhere soon.

While marijuana is my go-to preventative and treatment, sleep is the only thing that can reset my migraines. When I've slept well, I can handle almost anything, for a little while, but when I've slept badly, I can't handle anything, my pain and my emotions are magnified times a bajillion. But oh, a good night's sleep is like a long drink of clean, cool water on a hot afternoon, or a slow, hot, soak in a tub or basking in the sun on the beach on a breezy day, it's good for the body and soul.

Hot showers are actually what prompted me to write this post. I was sick last week, I woke up with the poops a few mornings in a row and had the whole nine: chills, sweats, nausea and even one actual vomit! Not that I'm excited about it, just that I never puke from my migraine-nausea, so it was notable that I did this time. It was also notable because I did not throw up the anti-diarrheal pills I'd just taken, which I do not understand but was extremely grateful for. ANYWAY, I was miserable and the pills take forever to kick in, so I took hot showers to soothe myself until they did.

I can't explain the effect hot water has on my body. I was shaking and cramping and nauseated, but as soon as I got myself under that spray, it melted away. I couldn't feel the gut-twisting cramps anymore, my teeth stopped chattering, and I savored every precious moment of hot water our water heater had to offer, because when I got out, I had only a few minutes before the symptoms would start creeping back. It's a similar experience with migraines, I feel the pain and symptoms so much less in a hot shower, my muscle tension eases a bit and I can just let my mind wander as my body relaxes. If it wasn't a huge waste of water and money for me to take extremely long, hot showers, I'd be in there three times a day.

Yoga's become part of my daily routine and I love the flexibility and stability it's given me. I've never in my life been able to touch my toes with my knees straight, until yoga. I used to have frequent lower back pain I had no way to address, but while doing yoga I realized it was actually the muscles around my hips that were causing a lot of pain, so I've adjusted my stretches and haven't had a bad back day since. I'm expecting I'll eventually still have bad-back days, since I think this particular muscle issue is just a symptom I'm alleviating, not the source of the problem, but if I can cut my pain down by half through thoughtful stretching, I'll take it!

I use caffeine to treat migraines every now and again, but it does trigger rebound headaches if I use it too frequently. When used sparingly, however, caffeine is often a wonder drug for me, at least temporarily. It clears the brain fog, and my headache dies back just enough, for a little while. But, that's part of why caffeine is really not a good regular treatment, the beneficial effects don't last very long and more than a single cup of coffee can have nasty side effects if I'm not very careful with dosing, which can be challenging when I'm fighting a migraine.

Finally, there's the pills. I don't take any for my head directly, but I do have muscles relaxants and mild sedatives that are invaluable when I start losing my marbles from the pain. Happily, because I don't usually need them unless I go over a 7 in pain, and moving to the quiet of the woods has decreased my migraine intensity and frequency, I've had the same dusty bottles for months.

And that's it. My bad days are still pretty bad, and my good days are still a struggle, but I've got the worst of the migraines under control, and I feel good about my treatment choices. As far as the future, there are still so many treatments I want to try, like acupuncture or magnetic brain stimulation, but it's all a matter of time, energy and especially, money.


Heather said...

Great list, thanks for sharing! I was thinking of writing a blog post soon with a similar list, because I've been able to find relief lately that doesn't involve meds, which is exciting! Marijuana is illegal here in NC and I've considered trying it anyway, but my husband doesn't want me to do anything illegal so I'm respecting that. He doesn't get headaches or migraines, but whatever...I'm just hoping it will be legal soon. But I'm totally with you on hot showers and caffeine used occasionally, plus pills for the really bad ones. Ice packs on my head also work wonders. It's nice to finally have a list of remedies that help, even if it's just a little bit!