Throbbing: rhythm of the brain

migraine

With a migraine the word Throbbing is definitely a word that is commonly used. And more. But there is throbbing. It feels like our brain is pulsing with our hearts. Like every blood vessel in our brains is throbbing in pain.

But apparently, Throbbing pain has nothing to do with blood flow. And everything to do with the brain.

Throbbing pain is actually connected to the pulsing rhythms of Alpha brain waves. That is right, we are throbbing to the rhythm of our brain.

In the study, researchers examined a patient who suffered from a throbbing sensation that remained even after her chronic migraine headaches had been resolved.

The researchers simultaneously observed the patient’s feelings of throbbing pain as well as her arterial pulse and found that they were unrelated to one another, suggesting that the pulsing of blood from the heartbeat was not connected to the throbbing quality of pain.

Through the use of an electroencephalogram, however, they discovered that the throbbing quality was linked to a type of brain activity — alpha waves.

“We understand very little about alpha waves, but they appear to have an important role in attention and how we experience the world,” Ahn said. “In addition, by analogy to how a radio works, alpha waves may also act as a carrier signal that allows different parts of the brain to communicate with itself.”

Scientists still aren’t sure how just alpha waves cause throbbing pain. But the current research suggests that the experience of throbbing pain is tied to how the brain works and not to the pulsations of blood at the location of pain. PsychCentral

Intriguing. One study doesn’t make fact, but if true then it makes you realize how little we understand some pain, doesn’t it?

 

Dumbified: a study

migraine

I have said, often, repeatedly, that I can’t think through a migraine. One assumes it is the pain level. Or is it the migraine itself?

Well, guess what they did a study on that. How thinking is impacted by a migraine. And we are right… we are dumified by a migraine. Or to put it better there is cognitive dysfunction with migraines, that is not permanent, but certainly feels that way when migraines are way more frequent than not.

The study was on migraine without aura. I would assume it is the same with aura, if not worse given aura symptoms.

Thirty-nine patients with episodic migraine (37 females, average 38 years old) were included and 24 completed the study. Participants performed worse during the attack in the majority of cognitive tests, compared to the headache-free status, and significantly so in word reading speed (p = 0.013), verbal learning (p = 0.01), short-term verbal recall with (p = 0.01) and without (p = 0.013) semantic cueing and delayed recall with (p = 0.003) and without (p = 0.05) semantic cues. Differences found were unrelated to age, gender, literacy, condition order, interval between evaluations, anxiety, pain intensity or duration of the attack. PubMed Cephalalgia.

In the end they conclude “Cognitive performance decreases during migraine attacks, especially in reading and processing speed, verbal memory and learning, supporting patients’ subjective complaints. These findings suggest the existence of a reversible brain dysfunction during attacks of migraine without aura, which can relate specifically to migraine or be a consequence of acute pain processing by the brain.

So either due to the migraine or the pain. Either way, that is a lot of dysfunction. For example, the one damn thing fibrofog doesn’t touch? Processing speed. And migraines do. That is impressive in a bad way. What is processing speed? “Processing Speed is one of the measures of cognitive efficiency or cognitive proficiency.  It involves the ability to automatically and fluently perform relatively easy or over-learned cognitive tasks, especially when high mental efficiency is required.  That is, for simple tasks requiring attention and focused concentration.  It relates to the ability to process information automatically and therefore speedily, without intentional thinking through.ETFO Like reading comprehension and doing simple math. Ever have a problem doing simple math in your head with a migraine? Processing speed issues. Ever read a sentence and not comprehend it? Or delayed comprehension? Processing speed. Fail to recognize an object? Or delayed comprehension?  Processing speed. Copy words and sentences incorrectly? Processing speed. Taking a longer time to respond to a question or respond to written instructions. All processing speed. That system getting glitchy can slow a person right down. I call it having to be really methodical in my steps. Makes my brain feel slower than molasses. Pudding brain, I call it. It can affect how we comprehend in conversations to how overwhelmed we become in by too much information at once. I know with a migraine thinking has to be very This Step and then This Step. So this study is intriguing because it shows the limitations we have cognitively with a migraine. And the frustrations that come with that.

Makes me think it is more than pain when they say it affects processing speed. But that is because I have read the research on FM where pretty much everything from short term, long term and working memory is affected from pain, except processing speed.

 

 

Reading: a pain distraction

Reading for too long can be a problem with people with migraines. It can also be impossible to do once a migraine is triggered..png

Reading is my escape from pain. It is the best pain distraction I have. Along with writing. To get sucked into another world for a little bit, helps.

Some people cannot read at all with a migraine, but I cannot let that gift be taken from me. I cannot. I refuse to.

I noticed though if I read a lot… a lot, a lot, as in for hours I will make the pain significantly worse. So much so, I really do regret that. So no reading marathons for me anymore. Sadly.

And when the pain is very high, like a high 8 or 9, I cannot read. I lose my capacity to focus at that level.

So we are looking at a 6, 7 or low 8. Not non-fiction. Often fluff books that do not require much thought the higher the pain. So a good day I can read whatever I please. A bad day I have to read some fluff romance.

But I need to read. It is a fundamental part of my personality. It is fundamental to my nature. To my very me-ness.

It is one of those pain distractions that is touch and go with us. Some of us simply can’t. Some of us can under certain conditions. But it is a strain, like the computer, and it will increase the pain the more you do it. Which is unfortunate. I never read on lit screens, as that would be far worse. I read either actual books or a regular kindle with the matte screen they have.

Of all the things it has taken, it hasn’t taken this. Thank all the gods for that.

Abort Mission! Retreat!

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Yes, when impending migraine doom is about to strike you want to drop what you are doing and dive into the nearest cave to ride it out.

This seems to happen every time I leave the house. Assuming I don’t have a migraine when I do, which always gets worse when I leave the house. But assuming I don’t… migraine happens. I assume from all the triggers in that bright, smelly chaotic world my brain is overly sensitive to.

Often leading to finishing what I am doing and heading back home to treat the migraine. Before other symptoms like vomiting and digestive issues show up and make things a real challenge. Or the VERTIGO.

Because sometimes I get stuck where I am. Wherever that is. The migraine strikes. And it hits at a 9. With all assorted migraine hell. And I can’t drive. I am stuck, miserable until I can find a ride home. It is horrible.

And if it is work? And you can’t leave for whatever reason? Then I am in for hell. A hell of mistakes. Errors. Throwing up. Lack of clarity. Confusion. Dizzy spells. Trying to think straight. And low productivity, as a best case scenario.

The plummet of Doom

kurk-wall

I can’t believe I get to use that gif again so quickly in reference to vertigo but here we are. Here we are.

So I fell down the stairs due to a vertigo attack. A drop attack in fact. Dropped me. Down the stairs. You know, the sort where you suddenly have no ground to stand on and the world just gets all disorientating and you lurch or fall to the side? Either catching yourself, slamming into a wall or falling. Well, I was on the stairs so disorientation, lurch, and Plummet of Doom. I sort of was aware of the bumpity-bump down part but not actually falling. As in, I am not sure how I fell or landed but I sure as hell remember the painful slide down.

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I have had mild vertigo for some time now. Not bad at all since I have not been driving. It is making everything bouncy. The ground is spongy and bouncy. Chairs seem like they are moving. I seem like I am moving. When I am trying to sleep the bed seems like it is falling and not and falling and now. You know… mild. But sudden drop attacks are unpredictable. And worsening of vertigo is as well, although much more predictable with a motion trigger or some migraines.

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Bound to happen on the stairs eventually. Hell it happened while driving once. When I was commuting a distance so obviously the vertigo was worse. I was driving home and sudden spinning sensation and dropping lurch, over and over. If I didn’t control the vehicle calmly, I could have swerved off the road. As it was, during, you can’t perceive or see so no idea what was going on around me or if I was going straight. Worst experience ever. And once of the reasons I applied for disability from work and the chronic pain and all associated symptoms… but the vertigo was insane. When I returned to work, because they took me off long term, I started to have the same issues with the commute. Sporadic spinning spells at work. Drop attacks at work. I went on leave, or am trying to, because of lack of my ability to perform through pain, cope with work, concentrate, mood and so forth but, yeah, vertigo is an issue for sure. Once it begins from a motion trigger like that it would have just gotten more consistent. It was getting bad enough.

So this tumble was yesterday and I am feeling it today for sure. The left ankle is sprained, bruised rib and arm and my tailbone hurts like hell. All because my brain cannot tell up from down.

The peanutbutter sandwich

When the nausea is so bad and persistent you wonder if you can survive on bread and peanut butter_.png

So the nausea is horrific. Persistent for over a year now. Relentless. I take zofran all day. I take Gravol all day. And I am still nauseated. Still, have no appetite.

First meal of the day is dinner. I eat a small fraction and can’t eat more. Just can’t the nausea gets to me.

But in the evening late at night. With all my meds in me, I feel I can eat.

A peanut butter and butter sandwich. It sits well.  It has protein and fat. So that is something.

It has been the only thing I can eat well, eat the whole thing for one, sits well, don’t throw it up.

And it makes me wonder. Can you survive on only peanut butter and butter sandwiches?

Of course not. It is idiotic.

I just can’t eat. I have no appetite. I start eating and I get full right away and nauseated and more nauseated. I give up before I Upchuck.

Sometimes I mix it up. Peanut butter AND jam. I know. Crazy.

The peanut and butter sandwich is saving me from just plain starving.

This has to be figured out soon. This nausea is hellish.

If we go to a restaurant is like what do you want? How about a 1/4 of this dish here? can you do that? Because I can’t barely fricken eat.

But thanks to the peanut butter and butter sandwich I am not starving. Can’t be getting all the vitamins and minerals I need. I do have vitamins though I am taking.

The facade effect

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I wonder how this game would go with chronic migraines. A lot of screaming and clutching our heads?

Maybe it would make us more visible, though, eh?

And when I have vertigo this would work.

kurk-wall

I know our facade helps us cope.

I know we use it to make our family feel better.

I know we use it socially to make people feel better.

I know we use it at work because we must.

I know we use it to hide the pain or depression.

But, damn, sometimes it just makes it seem like it makes us invisible.

Like the pain is never seen. I get stoic when the pain is high like now. I lose my smile. My laugh. I get quiet. Stoic. Numb. Doctors have commented on it. Used that exact word. Stoic. I want to tell them it hurts to cry. That releasing that emotion is like a floodgate when it starts. And it makes you feel hopeless. I want to remain calm in the face of my worst pain. In control. Because I don’t feel it.

But maybe we should Shatner them. Show them. Maybe they need the pain behaviors we have suppressed through our long life of experience.

I use my words to articulate myself. But I wonder, is it enough?