Migraine World Summit next month!


A tale of doubt

Chronic illnesshasbeatenonmy self-esteemmyself-worth.I feel ashamed for being ill and people reinforce this.I feel embarrassed and people make me feel like I should be.

I know I have a self-worth problem. It developed over time from the guilt of being in pain, missing work and being told I should feel guilty about it. Started to feel pretty worthless. Then my functionality began to suffer. Too much pain once migraines become daily with the fibromyalgia in there. Even though I was out of that negative situation I was now reinforcing those beliefs. That I was worthless because I couldn’t function. I struggled to just get to work. I missed too much and wasn’t able to be that productive when I was there. Reduced to part-time. Still had problems maintaining. Went on leave and that is where I am at now.

Problem is it causes a lot of doubt about what to do work-wise. I know I am intelligent. I know I have some capacity to think through pain, as we all adapt. What I have a problem with, daily, is reliability. The pain variability is dramatic. It can start at a 6 and amp up to a 9 in 2.5 seconds. It can be a 8 or a 9 all day long… and you can’t function or think through that pain. Reliability basically goes out the window for anything that needs consistency or doesn’t have real flexibility.

Reliability- Nope

Dependability- nope

Pain variability- yep

Pain constantly-yep

Can’t drive- yep- due to now the vertigo gets worse from driving 15 to 20 minutes. All the time. Passenger or driver, I get it. Clearly driving with it is out though.

And I now doubt my capacity to do a damn thing. It seems like the simplest of jobs I could think of I tried part time. And it didn’t work. I now have doubts about anything else. It worries me immensely.

I can write. Pain or not. I have that. Making money at it… another story.

Poem: I tried

So I had a horrible migraine stretch and I tried everything I could to temper the migraine. Nada. Nothing worked. I tried it again. And nothing. In times like these, a poem is called for.

I tried


I tried ice

And everything nice.

I tried magnesium oil

And a hat of aluminum foil.


I tried every supplement known to man,

And an internet cure recommended by Stan.

I tried Butterbur,

Thanks for the heart murmur.


I mindfully meditated,

And nothing eradicated.

This migraine is here to stay,

No, I can’t go out and play.


Here in my cave I’ll hide

I love you darkness, I sighed.

Covers pulled over my head,

Until this is over, I’m in bed.

The Cerebral Cortex – Dr. Todd Schwedt

Fascinating article…by Nancy Bonk on Health Central

“Another study used a white moving dot pattern on a black background to visually stimulate the subjects, showing the Migraine group had a stronger activation in the middle temporal complex (motion sensitive region) compared to the non-Migraine group. These studies support the idea that Migraineurs have enhanced reaction to light and motion stimuli in addition to having thicker cortex in the visual motion processing centers of the brain compared to non-Migraineurs.”

Yep… that relation I can understand since I am really hypersensitive to both light and motion. Both of which persistent beyond the migraine but are obviously worse with one.

“Dr. Schwedt rounded out his session discussing how a Migraineur “co-processes” different stimuli and that Migraine itself is multisensory integration that has “gone wrong.” He went on to explain what multisensory integration is:
“sensory-specific brain responses and perceptual judgments of incoming sensory stimuli which concern one sense may be modulated by relations with other senses.”

This means, our brains can take in many sensory stimuli (visual, olfactory, auditory and somatosensory) at the same time and process them simultaneously – we don’t process one type of stimuli at a time. He thinks this is important because Migraineurs with osmophobia seem to have a higher attack frequency and are found to be photophobic. If Migraineurs are hypersensitive to light they may also be sensitive to odors and have a hyper reactive trigeminal system. One study that measured pain thresholds in a group of Migraineurs who were not experiencing a Migraine and were exposed to bright light, became more sensitive after exposure when their pain thresholds were re-measured. This did not happen in the control group.”

Again, isn’t that interesting to note? How the stimulus gets tangled up? Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? Certainly, it seems that our senses are hyper-aware during a migraine. That super sense of smell, photophobia, super hearing… too much of everything. And I am definitely photophobic and have been for decades. And odors… Anyway, it is quite intriguing. This was a few years back. I am re-printing it from my brainless blogger blog.

Children and migraines

I do not have children but many of my migraineur friends do. Some of them are going through the gut-wrenching realization their children or teens are developing migraines. Some of those children severe migraines, like their parents. It is a horrible experience to feel knowing what you go through and then seeing your child experience the same thing. No parent wants that.



What so we know about children and migraines? Here is a presentation by the Diamond Headache Clinic that goes over some important facts:

Common Types of Migraine Headaches and Symptoms: What Kind Does Your Child Have?

Abdominal Migraine

Abdominal migraine affects mainly children between 5 and 9 years of age. Many of these children go on to develop migraine headaches (with or without aura) later in life.


What Are the Symptoms of Abdominal Migraine?

Symptoms may include:

  • Midline abdominal pain of moderate to severe intensity that lasts 1 – 72 hours
  • Chronic or recurring pain severe enough to interfere with normal activities
  • Mild or no headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
  • Pallor with dark shadows under the eyes or flushing
  • The absence of another illness, including a gastrointestinal disorder


How Is Abdominal Migraine Diagnosed?

No specific diagnostic test is available to confirm abdominal migraine. A diagnosis is made through a thorough evaluation of the patient’s medical history, incidence of migraine headache in the family, symptoms, and a physical exam and tests to rule out other conditions.

What Are the Treatment Options for Abdominal Migraine?

For children and teens, abdominal migraine treatment includes rest, plenty of fluids, over-the-counter pain relievers and relaxation/behavioral therapy techniques. For older children and adults with infrequent abdominal migraine attacks, physicians may prescribe medications used for other forms of migraine, such as NSAIDs, anti-nausea medication and triptans. Frequent abdominal migraines are treated with the same preventive therapies used for other migraines.


Migraine Headache

The average age of onset for migraine is 7 years old for boys and 10 years old for girls, although symptoms may appear in much younger children. Up to age 12, equal numbers of boys and girls suffer from migraine; by the ages 21 – 24, up to 80% of migraineurs are woman. Children with migraine often have a family history of migraine. Migraine affects up to 5% of school-aged children. From 50% to 75% of children with migraine will cease having attacks between adolescence and early adulthood, but some will redevelop migraine later.


What Are the Symptoms of Migraine Headache?

Common symptoms of migraine in youngsters include:


  • Pain on one or both sides of the head, or a child may report pain “all over”
  • Pounding or throbbing pain, although children may not be able to articulate this
  • Abdominal upset, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • Sweating
  • Becoming pale or quiet
  • Experiencing an aura, or a sense of flashing lights, funny smells and changes in vision


Tension-Type Headache

This common headache type is triggered by stress or emotional/mental conflict.


What Are the Symptoms of Tension-Type Headache?

  • Generally, symptoms include:
    • Headache that develops slowly
    • Pain usually present on both sides, and may involve the back of the head
    • Dull pain or pain that feels like a band around the head
    • Mild to moderate, not severe, pain
    • Change in sleep habits


Cluster Headache

More common in adolescent males, cluster headache usually begins in children over 10 years of age. This headache type occurs in a series, or “cluster,” that can last for weeks or months. This series of headaches may recur annually or every other year.


What Are the Symptoms of Cluster Headache?

  • Common symptoms in children and adolescents include:
    • Unilateral (one-sided) pain, often behind an eye
    • The affected eye may look droopy and have a small pupil, or the eyelid may be red and swollen.
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Swollen forehead


Headache Associated With a Serious Issue

If your child shows these symptoms, consult a headache specialist to determine if there is a possible serious underlying cause:


  • Headache in a very young child
  • Headache pain that awakens a child
  • Headaches that begin very early in the day
  • Pain worsened by strain like a cough or sneeze
  • Recurrent vomiting episodes or other signs of a stomach virus
  • Child complaining about “the worst headache ever”
  • Increasing severity of headache, or one that continues
  • Personality changes
  • Weakness in limbs or problems with balance
  • Seizures or epilepsy


How Is Pediatric/Adolescent Headache Diagnosed?

An accurate diagnosis is the first step to effective treatment in children and adolescents with headache. A pediatric headache specialist should evaluate your child thoroughly, including a physical exam, inquiries into medical and family history, and diagnostic tests. The child may be asked to describe the pain, its location, the duration of the headache and more. The specialist may ask parents about changes in behavior, personality, sleeping patterns, emotional stress and if physical trauma preceded the headache. If symptoms indicate migraine or tension headache, specialists may not recommend further testing. But sometimes, additional diagnostic tests may be necessary; these may include blood tests, an MRI or CT scan, or a polysomnogram to check for a sleep disorder.


What Is the Recommended Pediatric/Adolescent Headache Treatment?

Each child receives an individualized treatment regimen that may include these components:

  • Medication
    Specific therapeutic agents are prescribed, and patient response is closely monitored to evaluate efficacy and minimize side effects.


  • Lifestyle Modification
    Patients are instructed in the areas of diet, recreation, sleep patterns and other habits linked to headaches.


  • Biofeedback Training
    This is a non-drug therapy that enables patients to actively participate in their treatment while alleviating headache symptoms. About 70% of all patients, and especially children, benefit from this training. Biofeedback augments other therapies and is particularly useful for patients for whom stress is a major contributing factor to headaches, or for those patients who are unable to use standard headache agents.


Presentation courtesy of Diamond Headache Clinic.

5 of the worst migraine symptoms


What are the Worst migraine symptoms aside from the pain, which we can all agree is the damn worst migraine symptom? I am not going to bother putting that on the list… it is a fact. So let us just put Pain as number 1, the worst of the worst. But what other symptoms would make the list? Here is my thinking…

  1. Nausea/vommiting- I wouldn’t put mild nausea on the list at all. I would put extreme nausea on the list. The sort that makes you chomp on anti-nausea pills like they are candy just so you can contemplate eating a fraction of the food you should be. Still being nauseated. And hoping that food actually stays down long enough to digest. Because you know once you start throwing up you will just keep on doing it until there is literally nothing left and maybe even after that. That sort of nausea. And not just a day of it but a lot of it. A lot of nausea. Yeah, that makes the list.Nausea
  2. Diarrhea- This along with number 1 is sort of what I like to call a ‘sick migraine’ because no matter the pain level I am literally incapable of leaving the house… and the vicinity of the bathroom area. This can be severe. The sort that makes you violently ill to the point you are shaking and dizzy and cannot stand anymore. As in need electrolytes stat. No one talks about it. But it happens. One of the worst migraine symptoms. People end up in the ER because of it. Completely and utterly dehydrated.
  3. Vertigo- Mild vertigo is a little disorientating. Moderate to severe vertigo on the other hand limits movement to making it impossible. You can get sudden drop attacks and fall into walls or just plan fall. Down the stairs, as I did recently. You cannot drive with it and that also triggers it. Any motion triggers it. Plane, train, boat or amusement park ride. Add subtitle text(3)
  4. Brainfog/Confusion- These are separate things but both are equally problematic in the real world. As in, literally, as soon as you step foot outside of your house these become a real problem. It can be very frustrating to think through this haze. And freaky when confusion sets in. This is on the list because of how it makes absolutely everything ten times harder than it is. Some examples are forgetting my address and phone number. But others are worse than that. BrainfogA common migraine attack prodrome symptom.
  5. Auras- Auras run a spectrum. Does it bother me when my face tingles? Not at all. When I am driving and I lose my capacity to see though that is a little more problematic. I was once stuck at work (more than once) for an hour waiting for an intense aura to finish so I could get back to closing. I was blinded by it. I also have persistent migraine auras so when I will be blinded by an intense bout is a random stroke of fate and not dependent on the migraine. It is always there, to some extent and just flares up randomly. Also, of course, before a migraine. So visual auras… can be a major problem. Now think of others. I have lost my hearing. I have had aphasia. I have had complete facial recognition issues. Think of people who get paralysis or motor weakness abruptly. I have had objects appear distorted or moving when they are not. Here is a list here of potential auras. And another set of auras that cause people significant problems are Alice in Wonderland auras. So auras can be a massive issue. And the world melted and streaked with color. She saw faces that were indistinct and ripples in the air.Long story short... she ran for a triptan.


Feeling cabin fever but in too much pain to drive or leave the house (2)

With pain comes isolation. With winter comes hibernation.

I see a psychologist for pain management who is rather insistent I socialize more. Good for mood. I on the other hand, have a hard time of it because every time I do something the pain just amplifies. And I have a hard time enjoying that.

He asks me, after not seeing me for three months ‘Have I been getting out more?’

I reply, ‘I went out of coffee with my mom, went to play cards with friends and went out with a friend one night.’

He says, ‘Three times. You remember three times.’

I laugh. Yes, indeed that is all I remember. Unless doctor appointments count. He said, no, no, they do not. But it is winter and it is not exactly encouraging for socializing for me. Not to mention I am introverted and once a month is actually cool for me. And with the pain, this seems a practical amount of time.

When I was in University freshman, back in the day, I did socialize a lot and I suffered for it. I couldn’t keep up with everyone else. I ended up taking a year off and when I returned I modified my social time to once every two weeks. Some of which would be at home with friends over. And this modification was a vast improvement. This was pre-migraine though. Once the migraines kicked in I modified that again. And then I went all out hermit for a bit in order to try and maintain some semblance of work, with no energy to spare for Anything else. And now I am up to once a month, or once every couple of months. That isn’t all our hermit. Considering my everyday pain levels I think it is pretty impressive really.

He is really into this idea. I am really not.

I suppose I would be if the migraines were not daily. My body would reconsider the idea then. As it is, I am tentative on socializing. Restrictive. And careful. I understand his notion. I will be in pain anyway. Might as well have a life. But I think he fails to grasp just how magnified a migraine can get in certain environments that are not controled. It can be downright aggressive. There is potential on triptan days, of course. But aggravating the brain on a triptan day pretty much guarantees the migraine is going to come back. Still, I have used the triptan ‘window’ to socialize.


Clearly a vertigo trigger

Add subtitle text(4)

I have migraine associated vertigo (vestibular migraines). I have had them for five years there abouts. But there is an obvious trigger for the vertigo when I have a migraine, which is every day.

Motion. All sorts of motion. From elevators to boats.

And cars.

So driving lately has been triggering a lot of vertigo. Not while driving, but after. Mild at first. Then usually a sudden drop attack. Then getting progressively worse as the day or night goes on. Other symptoms can be a high-pitched tinnitus and muffled hearing. Obvious unsteadiness. Constant sensation of motion.

Anyway, clearly, this is becoming an issue. At its worst, I did have vertigo when driving. This was prior to my long term leave. One reason I knew I couldn’t commute to work. So obviously this is an indication I should not be driving if every single time I do it is trigger day long vertigo and drop attacks. From 20-40 minutes of driving. Today it was a 20 minute drive to my psychologist and then 20 home. And it has been getting quite bad, with 2 drop attacks and a lot of lurching from the sudden dizziness.

Without driving and no motion trigger at all I have a sort of constant but very mild pulsing sense of motion.

Anyway, I asked my doctor about it and there is literally nothing to be done about it. Other than the preventatives I have already tried and recommended by the neuro.