One of my biggest challenges is staying on track with a routine that works. When I start feeling good, I tend to push myself… staying out late and burning the candle at both ends. My nurse taught me to dedicate myself to the management of migraine and to adhere to my plan. Migraine Prevention, Acute treatment, and a healthy lifestyle works so good for me. At times I am my worse enemy… but I know if I follow my plan it works.
A while back, my primary care doctor and the headache specialist taught me about care partners and migraine awareness. I met a person that also deals with migraines. We talk on a regular basis. It helps so much to have another person who understands what migraine entails. People without migraine truly can not understand the ongoing battle. I do enjoy making people aware of the migraine disease. The more people understand, the more people can do research and find answers to the dreaded migraine. My advice to others is to find someone who understands migraine so you both can talk through migraine management. Migraine is truly a journey. You will find your way; you just need to be guided in the right direction.
Migraine has been an ongoing battle for me. The moment I stop taking care of myself… migraine comes roaring back with a vengeance. I feel I continue to make progress and it’s almost like my doctor and I have learned together. Probably the most important thing I have learned is to find a routine that works. My motivation is to look back at when migraine was running my life… now I am in charge and I don’t let migraine ruin my good times. I own my migraine.
My nurse compared migraine management to building a dam to prevent a flood. The nervous system is like a river. During a migraine, a storm produces a flood. When a migraine strikes, the dam holds back the destructive force of the water, and carefully regulates the amount water until the storm subsides. A migraine management dam is built by specific parts. These parts include education, preventive treatments, acute treatments, a healthy diet, good sleep, exercise, and relaxation techniques. All parts are required… otherwise the dam may not be strong enough to withstand the flood.
My nurse had me watch a video about my nervous system as it relates to my migraines. It now makes sense that migraine is a disease because it produces symptoms due to a reaction to my environment. My stress was causing a reaction that was actually trying to protect me. However, when I didn’t manage the reaction it was leading to headaches. Then when I tried to self-manage my headaches, it was causing my stomach problems. It ended up being a vicious cycle. Now I am just learning how to work with my nervous system to use it to my advantage.
My Primary Care Doctor consulted with a headache specialist. The nurse taught me the difference between Prevention and Acute Treatment for migraine… My preventive treatment I take on a regular basis to reduce the number of migraines I have. My acute treatment… I only take when a migraine comes on. Two initial preventive treatments did not work, but now I take a shot every three months which has worked. Rarely do I take my acute medication, but when I do I try to take it early… right when I feel a headache coming on.
There came a time when I said... "it is time for me to achieve health and reduce my migraines". I needed to advocate for myself, to continue to improve my migraine management plan. I scheduled regular appointments because I realized that there is no limit to how well I can manage my migraines. I do my part... I adhere to treatments prescribed and I try to live and eat healthy. Most importantly, utilizing and building my management tools makes me stronger by the day... this includes involving a team of healthcare professionals that support me on my journey.
When a migraine drags me down, I am prepared with an acute treatment. This is different than a preventive treatment in that I take it only when the migraine occurs. Not on a regular basis. I look at acute medications as a flotation device, it will help you keep afloat and reduce the headache pain. It is important to me to make a regular appointment with my doctor to discuss my acute treatment options. It took awhile to find one that worked for me. But, my most important communication tool was to track and document my migraines over time, so I could discuss effectiveness with my doctor. We adjusted my treatment plan accordingly.
Migraine Prevention acts as a wall of protection from threats that can cause a migraine. Threats can include risk factors and triggers. Avoidable risks can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle forms a foundation of your protective wall. This includes eating and drinking a healthy diet, practicing relaxation, and regular exercise. However, unavoidable risks are things like weather changes, stress, and hormones. These risks require further preventive tools. Access these tools and finish your wall of prevention by asking your clinician about prescription therapies. Preventive medications are taken on a regular basis to prevent migraine or reduce the number of headache days you are experiencing each month.
As people with migraine, we must choose to be a migraine master. This is done by defeating the migraine monster. We need to establish a healthy life balance by using protective factors to outweigh risk factors. Masters of migraine learn to like shade or sunglasses to minimize bright lights. We seek quiet places and ear protection to drown out loud noises. Masters of migraine prefer fresh air and avoid odors. Nice days and steady weather are ideal, but we must be prepared for weather changes. We need relaxation techniques and exercise to reduce our stress. Lastly, healthy foods, adequate sleep, and preparation can fight off times of junk food, poor sleep, and life’s little surprises. All in all, learn what your body likes, and avoid what your body dislikes. Becoming a migraine master, will defeat the migraine monster, and reduce your days of headache.