Sunday, March 11, 2012

How America and Migraines Are The Same

As any Expat knows, there comes a time when you have to embrace your new life for what it is. Yes, your heart may long for better chocolate, bread, or television, but this is the new normal and you'd better just get on with it - but more than that, make the best of it.

Don't ask me to eat Hershey's though.

The same is true with migraines. I was really ill last year. I don't think I realized how sick I was until I started feeling a tiny bit better. I was having serious migraines at least three times a week, my blood pressure was high and I was stressed out of my gourd. My parents noticed via Skype. Good friends pulled me aside and asked what the fuck was going on, or kindly told me I was 'looking a bit tired'. The reasons for this were all out of my control; hormones, stress over our house, our future and Anna's school. What I had to learn to do was accept things, move on and become a migraine immigrant. I had to embrace my new normal.

Yes, I've had to give a few things up, notably wine *sigh* - but I've learned to add things to my life that make a positive impact. Don't focus on what you can no longer do - concentrate on what can make things better. Being an Expat has been great training for this.

I've found a migraine medicine that works if I catch things early enough. I've learned to 'read' my migraines, recognize dangerous times and try to take myself out of situations that will make things worse. I can't change the stressors in my life. Most of them come from trying to carve out a life in a financially hostile town. What I can do is manage the stress. I've started taking vitamin B, and most importantly I've started running.

I run three times a week and I'm really noticing a difference. If someone told you that you could pay $100 and in 4 months you would be fitter, happier, leaner and - most amazingly - your arse would climb 2 inches further up your legs - wouldn't you do it? I signed up for a half marathon and I've been running at least 10-15 miles a week for the last three months.

Now this hasn't happened like magic. Fitting running in to a schedule where I was having trouble finding the time to cut my toenails wasn't easy. I run around our ghetto neighbourhood at 8:30pm at night if I have to. Incidentally - running faster than the cholos is a great motivator. Not every run is a joy, but the combination of the exercise, being by myself, listening to loud music that I choose - these have all proved to be wonderful for my health.

I've only lost about 5 lbs. I've dropped at least one dress size. I have a reshaped derriere. But most importantly I'm down to about 4-6 migraines a month. Not great, but so, so much better that I feel almost human again.


radmegan said...

Wow. I'm really inspired. My butt being 2 inches higher sounds impossible right now. Keep up the good work! When is your half marathon?? I'll cheer you on in the crowd of saggy-butted bystanders!

And PS I was raised here, and HATE Hershey's. It's more wax than chocolate!!!

Expat mum said...

Both my daughter and I suffer migraines. Mine are more "chronic" (ie. just really bad headaches) although I get a few classic, zinging light ones now and then. My daughter gets migraines "with auras" where she doesn't really know where she is and then gets a blinding headache. We have found that hers tend to be triggered by stress and things like forgetting to eat (duh).
Given that you say you can't really cut out the stressors in your life, I was going to suggest finding ways to deal with that stress (ie. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), but it sounds like you're already doing that with the running. I hope your migraines continues to stay at the minimum, as they're a friggin pain in the rear - no matter how much higher up it is!

Laura said...

Oh, honey. Migraines are the pits. Mine are hereditary, started when I was 7, and for most of my life included aura and numbness in hands and face, cognition issues, nausea, vomiting, and of course, monster headaches that lasted days. I describe it thus: "It's like having a stroke, except I get better." My good news is that early menopause has helped tremendously (I'm 47). My migraines are really down to an aura lasting about an hour, and mostly minor headaches, maybe once or twice a month. MIRACLE! I never had luck with meds, because my migraines were so complicated. God bless ibuprofen. Anyway, my Dad always credited running for curing his migraines in his 20's. (And yeah, having no hormone cycle helps...) Glad you're doing better.

Karen said...

Hi there - I get migraines with aura so very disabling when they come along. A few years ago, I read a book and subsequently took a natural supplement which is vitamin B, magnesium and feverfew and have to admit that it really helped - I got far fewer migraines. I had to stop when I got pregnant, because the amount of vit B is high, but I really think it worked. Also, when I was pregnant with my first child, I read something on BBC linking migraines with holes in the heart. Knowing I had a heart murmur, I asked my doc to check if it was a hole in the heart and lo and behold, I have one! There have been studies that show that people who have had holes in their heart closed up no longer get migraines. Interesting stuff. Anyway, long reply, but try the therapy. Info found at Hope you feel better!

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