Thursday, December 27, 2012

Migraine-free Living?

Eating on a restricted diet requires planning, effort, and time.  So it’s a tricky part of the “Heal your Headache” plan.  Thus, this website, but perhaps the name doesn’t reflect that other changes are helpful, too.  The diet element is for reducing triggers that we have control over. 

Another trigger reduction piece can be learning to reduce stress when possible and continually improving how we deal with stress.  Life gives plenty of opportunities to work on this.  For me, techniques involve prioritizing and realizing what I don’t need to do, limiting the number of activities me and the kids are committed to at any one time, making time for us and for me, delegating to others, meditating (in the form of playing the guitar), getting outdoors and appreciating nature, and running.  Deciding to accept that I’m going to follow the diet, not doubting or worrying over it, reduces stress for me, too.  I’ve decided I’m going to cook, so the rest of the decisions are about how I’m going to go about it.  I do eat out sometimes, too, a topic for another blog.

Aerobic activity you enjoy or convince yourself to enjoy in addition to reducing stress is also a way to increase the trigger threshold.  I do best running about 2-3 mi a day.  More than that tends to be a trigger for me.  The distance is something I can do over a 1 hr lunch break, so it’s manageable.  Even if I can’t get in 20-30 min of running, I try to get in a mile or go hiking, anything.  Something is better than nothing, but I also don’t stress when I don’t have the opportunity to get it in, satisfied knowing that I’m doing what I can.

 So, there is reducing triggers with lifestyle changes, increasing thresholds with lifestyle changes, and another part of the HYH (“Heal your Headache”) plan, the use of medications.  Buchholz’s book dedicates a few chapters to the different pieces of this, covering use of medications for both increasing trigger threshold (preventive meds) and for treating migraine attacks, as well as how medications we take for other conditions can affect migraines.  I’ve been able to come off of all preventive meds (which also reduces stress because I don’t have to worry about forgetting to take pills or stress because I don’t have them with me).  To treat mild migraines, I use ibuprofen, though never could before putting myself on the HYH plan.  To treat more severe ones, which still come occasionally, I use imitrex.  I found that it is often better if I can wait until before going to bed to take the imitrex, because sometimes it drains me, leaves me with no energy.   I have taken it without waiting and been ok sometimes, too.  Seems to be a matter of knowing what my body can handle when.  I get better at it over time.  Buchholz’s book has been a valuable tool.   

Whether the name is changed or not, there is more to consider than diet.  And being migraine-free is not necessarily the goal.  Once I adjusted my expectations to control migraines rather than eliminate them, I was able to see how far I had come as something to be content with, as a success.