Sunday Thoughts on Living with Migraine - Your Valentine

Happy-Sunday-ChalkGood morning, and happy Sunday to my extended Migraine and Headache family!

Tuesday is Valentine's Day, and many of us have been making plans to show our appreciation for our Valentines. I want to take a few minutes to suggest that we each need to remember to also be our own Valentine. Yes, I realize that sounds a bit strange, but allow me to explain.

Valentine's Day is a holiday I always want to be very special for my husband. When we married, I promised myself that I'd never take him for granted or fail to let him know how much I love and appreciate him. Over the 31 years we've been married, he's been very supportive of my struggles with migraine disease and other health issues. He's never once complained or even seemed disappointed when I've had to cancel plans. He truly sees it as a gift when I'm feeling well, smiling, and feeling up to teasing him. He's told me that he'd rather have me feeling well than to receive a material gift or a special holiday celebration.

AirKiss-468899678So, one of the best Valentine's Day gifts I can give my husband is doing all I can to take care of myself and improve the odds that I'll be feeling well. In essence, I need to treat myself as my own Valentine. See what I mean?

Here are some things we can employ to work toward a happy Valentine's Day:

  • Plan ahead.
  • If food triggers are a problem, consider a celebratory dinner at home, where you can control what's served.
  • Remember if your Valentine is a good Valentine, he or she is more interested in you than in gifts, going out, etc.

We should do our best to take care of ourselves all the time. I've found that once self-care becomes a habit, it really can make a significant difference in our health. Please take a look at Recognizing and Meeting Migraine Self-Care Priorities.

Here's hoping that everyone has as great a
Valentine's Day as possible!

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

 

 because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"

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Sunday Thoughts on Living with Migraine - Thank You

Happy-Sunday-ChalkGood afternoon, and happy Sunday to my extended Migraine and Headache family!

What I want to say today is pretty short and sweet... well, perhaps a bit bittersweet.

It's been a tough couple of weeks for me due to losing our sweet cat Ali. Ali was my dear, dear Migraine buddy. She had been slowing down, which at first, I didn't worry about too much because she was an elderly kitty. We don't know how old she was, only that she was an adult when we adopted her, and she was with us for 17 years. When it appeared that she might be in pain, we took her to the veterinarian, where we learned that she had arthritis and breast cancer, and was, indeed, in pain.

Ali131101-200Today, I want to thank everyone who has sent condolences and thank everyone for their love and kindness during this horribly difficult period. Your support means more to me than I know how to express. Undoubtedly, you've helped a great deal.

Do you have a special Migraine Buddy? When I told my editor at HealthCentral about Ali, she suggested that I write a about her for the HealthCentral Migraine site. Then, when I turned the piece in to be edited, she also suggested that I invite others to share the story of their Migraine Buddies. If you have a special Migraine Buddy (person or pet), and you'd like to share about them, please take a look at My Migraine Buddy Ali — Who's Yours? There's a link at the end of the piece to submit your story to be published on HealthCentral.

Again, thank you so much for your kindness and support!

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

 

 because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"

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Sunday Thoughts on Living with Migraine - Kindness, Please

Happy-Sunday-CoffeeGood morning, and happy Sunday to my Migraine and Headache Family!

Last week was interesting, but not altogether pleasant. On HealthCentral, I published an article about a unique virtual study to look at the impact of activity on Migraine. Once the article was published, I posted it on my Facebook timeline. To see if you're eligible for the study, you install an app on your iPhone, answer some questions, then wait for an email. Some people let me know that they hadn't received an email. Although I'm not involved in the study, I reached out to someone I knew could get answers. It turned out that some people's email services were "seeing" those emails as spam and not delivering them.

It took less than 24 hours to get that answer, but one woman who was commenting on my Facebook page seemed to not have the patience to wait for me to get a reply. She began making truly nasty comments on my page. Nothing I or two other people said to her calmed her. I don't know if she wasn't feeling well, or what else may have caused her to be so angry, but I deleted her unpleasant remarks and accusations from my Facebook page. She then took to Facebook Messenger to berate me about the issue. When she got to profane name-calling, I was through. I urged her to get help and promised to pray for her.

As I sit and reflect upon the incident, I think of the post I wrote here a couple of weeks ago about being kind. I simply don't understand people who can be so nasty to other people as that woman on Facebook was to me. I wasn't responsible for any issues with applying for the study, but I was working to get an answer for people. I don't understand why she went off on me. Why did she feel justified in calling me a "whore" and other names that I can't repeat here? Where was her sense of decency? Where was her kindness for others? Doesn't she understand that I was trying to help... that I'm a Migraine patient with health issues of my own? I have to admit that it can be difficult to not let experiences such as this erode my sympathy, compassion, and empathy for my fellow Migraineurs. It's not easy to brush it off and continue to be open and available when others need help when one of them treated me so unkindly.

I came across a recent article that talked about how being kind benefits the person being kind as much as it does the recipient of said kindness. Researchers at the University of British Columbia reported that random acts of kindness can help lessen anxiety. Their study involved having people diagnosed with anxiety perform six random acts of kindness weekly for four weeks. Those acts of kindness helped them be less prone to social avoidance and improved their relationship satisfaction.

Being kind and empathetic increases production of oxytocin, a hormone released by the pituitary gland that some have called the "cuddle hormone." Research shows that people have more negative thoughts about their lives during stressful times, BUT when they're kind to others during those times, they don't have those negative feelings. A series of experiments at the Harvard Business School revealed that people who do things for others have higher levels of happiness.

All of that said, I realize that Migraine attacks can wreak havoc on our emotions because of the fluctuations of neurotransmitters that occur during a Migraine. Trust me, having had Migraines for 56 years now, I know how that feels. Still, I refuse to use that as an excuse for being unkind and nasty. When I have a Migraine, I'm very careful to either respond to people appropriately or wait to respond to them until I don't have a Migraine messing with my emotions. I know that I can be very cranky during a Migraine, and it's wrong to take it out on others.

All in all, kindness benefits both the giver and the recipient. It's definitely the way to go!

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

 

 because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"

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Sunday Thoughts on Living with Migraine - Being Kind

WinterSundayMigraine disease can make us feel very alone and isolated. That's one reason there are so many Migraine groups on Facebook and one reason why #Migraine is often the most Tweeted hashtag. We seek information, we seek support. We look for somewhere we belong despite this disease that so often makes us feel separated from other people.

I'm a member of quite a few Migraine groups on Facebook, and I manage a couple of them. I also talk with administrators of other Migraine groups, and we've been struggling with managing our groups. There are two main problems:

  1. Spammers. People who tell us they have Migraines and they want to join our groups for information and support. These groups have rules against spamming - trying to sell group members products or services. Yet, these spammers, once we let them into our groups, very quickly post links to sell things.
  2. People being just plain nasty in their comments to other group members. It's fine to disagree with something someone posts. It is, in fact, inevitable that people aren't going to agree with everything posted by others. That shouldn't be a problem, but it becomes a problem when people get rude and nasty. It's simply not necessary.

Spammers are a huge problem on Twitter too. I've seen days when spam Tweets outnumbered legitimate Tweets for hours at a time. Some promise a "cure" for Migraine disease, something that isn't yet possible. Others are selling crystals and other things on eBay, still others have nothing to do with Migraine, yet they use the #Migraine hashtag. Last week, there were a couple of days when women were doing that to promote their nude photo web sites.

Twitter also has its share of nastiness. A couple of weeks ago, someone Tweeted a link to a web site to me. She was trying to interest me in having surgery for my Migraines. When I wasn't interested, she said that I didn't want help, that I only "wanted pills," and some other pretty nasty things. She then said she didn't know anything about me. Even though she was being nasty, that made me laugh and shake my head. My Migraines are very well managed right now with the FDA approved Spring TMS device. I explained to her that I'm having only one or two Migraines a month, and that the Spring aborts about 85% of them. Why on earth would I want to have a surgery at all, let alone surgery for which there isn't any double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical data to support? The discussion got nasty enough that I blocked her on Twitter.

My point is that there's enough nastiness in the world without Migraineurs being nasty and rude to each other. We should be sticking together. We should be kind to each other. The fluctuation of neurotransmitters that occurs during a Migraine can definitely affect our moods and make us cranky. We need to be aware of that and either take it into account when commenting to other people, or wait until we feel better. Even if we're commenting to disagree with something someone said, it can be said in a kind and respectful manner. People who want to sell things should do so in places where it's allowed, not in places where it's prohibited. Anyone selling something needs to be honest and not claim to have a "cure" for Migraine. These people need to stop preying on people who are so desperate for relief that they'll try just about anything. They need to get a real job and be kind to others by not preying on them.

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

 

 because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"

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Sunday Thoughts on Living with Migraine - Be Positive in 2017

WinterSundayHappy Sunday and Happy New Year to my extended Migraine and Headache family! Wherever you are, and whatever holidays you've celebrated, I hope today will be the start of a wonderful new year for you.

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I used to, but every year seemed to result in failure in keeping them. Maybe I set the bar too high. In any case, instead of making resolutions this year, I'm starting 2017 with a promise to myself — a promise to be positive, regardless of what comes at me.

There are several reasons I'm making this promise:

  • A positive outlook is essential to the success of Migraine treatments. If we begin a new treatment thinking it will fail, it most likely will. If we begin it with a positive outlook, it has a chance to work for us. (Take a look at Hope Is an Essential Element of Migraine Management.)
  • Negativity only breeds more negativity. It's similar to the issue with Migraine treatments. If we have a negative outlook and enter situations with that negativity, it's unlikely that those situations will have a positive outcome. Negativity sets us up for failure and makes pretty much any situation worse than it was to begin with.
  • I want to be happy, calm, and productive. While that may seem to be a simple statement, we all know that accomplishing it is far from simple. Life is chock-full of problems and stress. For my physical, emotional, and spiritual health, I'm promising to be positive so I can control the problems and stress instead of them getting me down.

I hope you'll give this some thought and join me in promising to be positive in 2017.

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

 

 because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"

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Sunday Thoughts on Living with Migraine - Holiday Self-Care

WinterSundayHappy Sunday to my extended Migraine and Headache family! It's an unpleasant fact of life that some of us are bound to be dealing with Migraine attacks or headaches today, but I hope the day and your heads are being as kind to you as possible today.

Whatever holidays you may celebrate, you're probably deep into holiday decorating, shopping, baking, and other preparations. That's all well and good, but are we taking care of ourselves?

Consider this quote:

"Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others. "
             ~ Christopher Germer

And this one:

"... that’s the time of year when everybody stresses. Needlessly, I might add, because it’s really not the point of the holiday. You know, if you don’t have the perfect present or if the turkey’s a little overcooked... Your family wants you, and what good are you with a Migraine?"
             ~ Marcia Cross

We all wear many hats, play many roles. We're parents, grandparents, spouses, sisters, brothers, caregivers for our families, and more. As I look at that little list of roles, I realize that I left out a key role - that of being our own caretakers. What would you say is important about that role? Unless we pay attention to being our own caretakers, we're not going to be able to fulfill the other roles very well, and that can carry an enormous cost.

What do you remember most from the holidays when you were growing up? What I remember most is all the holidays when the entire family paid the price for my mother's insistence that everything be "perfect" despite her not feeling well enough to do things herself. These aren't the type of memories that I want to create for my loved ones, and I'm sure you feel the same way.

The bottom line is that if we're not practicing good self-care, it's far less likely that we can be part of creating the kind of holiday experiences and memories we want for the people we care about. It took me a while to recognize this. It was difficult, but one of the most important lessons I learned was to just let some things go. Things don't have to be perfect. Holidays should be about people, not things.

Here are some links to material that may be helpful to you leading up to and during the holidays:

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

 

 because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"

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Sunday Thoughts on Living with Migraine - Still Proud

Fall-SundayGood morning, and happy Sunday to my Migraine and Headache family. As always, I wish we could have a day when nobody in our community has a Migraine or Headache, but since that's just a beautiful wish, I'll hope that the day is treating all of you as well as possible.

All of the months leading up to the recent Presidential election were... well, I'd say difficult, but that's an understatement. I can't think of a word that adequately describes it. By the time election day arrived, I'm sure many of us with Migraine were impacted by the stress. I know I certainly was. Although stress itself isn't a Migraine trigger for me, there are other triggers I have to watch out for during stressful times - dehydration, skipping meals, messed up sleep.

I first voted in the Presidential election of 1972, the year I turned 18, and the first time 18 year old citizens could vote. I was excited about it because I love my country, and I see voting as both a privilege and a responsibility.

In the years since then, I've never seen anything as shameful as the rhetoric spewed forth during this last election. Never. Although still proud of our country, I was truly ashamed of many people. The issues were nearly lost in the vitriolic stream of name-calling and worse. It didn't stop with the candidates, and it didn't end with the election.

The FREEDOM OF SPEECH that we enjoy and that allows us to state our views doesn't give us the right to devolve into UNpeaceful protests, property damage, and threats. The election is over, and everyone on both sides should be moving forward and being gracious toward others. Our country and our citizens face many enormous challenges, and we'll only overcome them if we work together.

Anyway, I came across a video yesterday that I think everyone will love. Please note that the song is performed entirely a cappella. Even the snare drum sounds are made by one of the vocalists. Please, sit back, relax, enjoy the song, and remember why you're proud to be an American.

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

 

 because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"

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Sunday Thoughts on Living with Migraine - Victim or Victor?

Fall-SundayHappy Sunday to my Migraine and Headache family. It's inevitable that some of you have a Migraine or Headache today, but I hope you're having as good a day as possible. 😍

This past week, I had occasion to think quite a bit about people who think of themselves as a victim of Migraine disease. Some even call themselves victims.

Before I go on, let's look at the definition of victim from Dictionary.com:

  • Victim: "a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency."

If you consider what we experience during a migraine attack as suffering and consider Migraine disease an injurious agency, I guess a case could be made for calling Migraineurs victims of Migraine disease. However, I truly dislike the connotations of the word "victim," don't like or want to feel like a victim, and don't want to be seen as one by others.

Victor"Victim" is a word I'd just as soon wipe from my vocabulary. A far better word is "victor," which is defined by Dictionary.com as:

"As person who has overcome or defeated an adversary."

Please think about it for a moment. We have a choice. We can choose to let ourselves be victIMs of Migraine disease, or we can choose to be victORs.

When I had my first Migraine 50+ years ago, there weren't many Migraine treatment options, but that has changed dramatically over the years. Today...

  • We have abortive medications that work to stop the Migrainous process and the symptoms of the Migraine attacks - triptans such as Imitrex (sumatriptan), Maxalt (rizatriptan), Zomig (zolmitriptan), etc.; ergotamines such as DHE and Migranal; and the Midrin equivalent medications. Some of the triptans are now FDA approved for children as young as six.
  • There are so many preventive treatment options that it would take in excess of 25 years to give each of them a 90-day trial.
  • There are doctors who specialize in the treatment of Migraine and other Headache disorders.

We can choose to be proactive and work with our doctors as treatment partners so that we control Migraine rather than it controlling us. We have to keep at it, but we can overcome Migraine.

Which do you choose - victIM or victOR?

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

 

 because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"

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