Today's prompt for the National Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge is:
Migraine Awareness Month #3 What's your worst Migraine trigger? Can you avoid it? How do you handle it?
MSG, bright lights, perfume bottles dressed as people, weather fronts and air pressure changes, a sleepless night, hormones… all are big problems for me. These triggers are often difficult to control or predict and for people like me, they are potent triggers.
My worst trigger is actually different. It’s different because it is almost entirely beyond my control. My biggest, worst trigger is… my comorbid conditions.
I’ve written at Migraine.com before about autoimmune thyroid dysfunction (Graves’ disease), lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome. I’ve told readers there about little known conditions called dystonia and tardive reactions. I’ve written elsewhere about laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) as well as systemic inflammation, facial neuralgias and even about spinal problems. Together these are my Achilles’ heel.
I’ve long ago learned how to manage most of my food triggers – I shop, cook and eat as though I lived 200 years ago. CHECK.
I quit my jobs and remodeled my home to avoid lighting and sleep triggers. CHECK.
I try not to go out into the public very often unless I have a way home so if noise and smell triggers set me off I can quickly get away from them. CHECK.
My hubs follows the weather very carefully and warns me when fronts are coming through that might trigger problems for me. I try to make all my flights non-stop or I drive (at night and early morning) to avoid those pressure triggers. CHECK.
I had a hysterectomy and quit all HRT and the hormones that became (for me) such a huge trigger for Migraine with aura. CHECK.
All those CHECKs came with a hefty price, in more ways than financially.
So I have gone to great extremes and I’ve managed to do just about everything right and still, I remain a chronic Migraineur.
No matter how hard I try, no matter the giant mountains I have climbed to reduce my triggers, I cannot control my worst trigger: my other health issues.
Most of my comorbid conditions involve inflammation and my central nervous system in one way or another. They are highly reactive to outside stressors (like triggers) such as illness, injury, medications or yes… stress itself. These "triggers" cause disease flares where my immune system begans to attack my own body. I have organ and musculoskeletal damage from them, so I MUST avoid flu and colds, dehydration, all sunlight, certain food and medicines, cold temperatures, wind… and negative emotions.
Not only do my comorbid conditions complicate my life, but also my Migraine treatment. As a result, when I do have a Migraine that runs amok, I have precious few options to pull me through.
- No triptans
- No DHE
- No traditional anti-emetics
- No drugs that cause tardive reactions (an enormous list)
- No additional NSAIDs
My treatment for these comorbid conditions limits the medicines I can take while undergoing treatment. These include the entire class of opiate pain relievers.
In avoiding all my Migraine and health triggers, my life has become pretty limited. I had to come to terms with all my different diagnoses as well as my *new* life with them. My “old life” and dreams were gone in one long, agonizing puff of smoke. I went through several stages of anger and grief before I realized that I have done everything I can do to be better. The rest, for right now, just has to wait.
Life however, doesn’t.
While we wait for brilliant researchers to find us new treatments, I can still be a person that has value. I do still have choices.
When I am able, I can contribute to my home community (I am a CERT trainer and medical First Responder), my Migraine community (I am an educator and advocate) and communities for those pesky comorbid conditions. I can help others and see them smile. I am still a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend - - and a member of the human race.
I live every day of my life now with pain because of those things over which I have no control. My Migraines are the worst, and all roads lead to them. If I was given a choice of a cure for any of the significant health problems I have, it would be Migraine I would wish away.
To learn more about these health conditions, check out these helpful links:
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Have a great day!