Do You Believe In Magic?

Multiple semi precious gemstones on board

Do you believe in magic? I never have. It’s hard to believe when you live with a chronic medical condition.

I went to a summer camp for 11 years when I was a kid and there was a magician who came to visit every summer. My first summer he made a playing card stick to the ceiling of our Rec Hall. It stayed there for all 11 summers. I bet its still there to this day. Every summer I would check to see if it was still there, and even when I’ve been back for reunions. Not because I’m in awe of his magic, but because I’m skeptically trying to figure out what the trick is that’s keeping it stuck up there or whose job it is to reapply it before each summer.

I’ve recently gotten to the point where I’m willing to try anything and everything under the sun to feel better. I’ve turned to alternative therapies in the past, but I admit I didn’t give them a fair chance. Lately I’ve been adding in a lot more supplemental yoga, physical therapy and meditation to my routine which I’m finding helpful to what I’m already doing. I’ve heard of crystals and their healing abilities before and I’ve been intrigued but also skeptical because after all, can a rock really possess the power to heal? Or is it just a scheme that celebrities buy into because they need something to make them feel connected to the Earth so they can claim that they’re “grounded”?

I was in Upstate New York recently for a friend’s birthday and while I was there we came across this really cute store that was selling crystals. The store owner was talking about what each of them do. They were really pretty and I thought I could use something like that in my life, but I just wasn’t sold on the legitimacy of it all. Plus, it seemed expensive for a rock. But after we left I couldn’t stop thinking about that store and its crystals, which is usually how I determine if something is worth buying. Unfortunately, we weren’t going back to that area for the rest of the weekend.

Then this past week I got an email from a yoga studio I went to once inviting me to an event they were having called “CRYSTAL JOURNEYING WORKSHOP + REIKI CIRCLE”. It felt like a sign. In the description they were going to teach you all about crystals, their meaning, how to tell the real ones from the fake, how to use, clean and store your crystals, they were giving away a free crystal gift and then there would be a reiki circle at the end. I wasn’t too sure about the reiki circle but I felt like I needed to be at this workshop in order to get all of my questions answered.

I asked my sister and a friend to go with me but neither could make it. I was nervous to go alone but decided to be brave and do this for myself. There were only 5 people that attended the workshop which allowed for each of us to get a lot of personal attention. I went in there really curious and with an open mind. I learned a lot. Everyone there was so kind and friendly. I felt comfortable opening up about why I was there and asking any questions I had.

We did a crystal meditation with the clear crystal that was gifted to us and during the meditation I could feel its energy. It may sound unbelievable to some but the crystal which is naturally cold turned extremely hot in my hand and I saw visions during my mediation that have some very personal meanings to me.

We ended the workshop with the woman who led it performing reiki on each of us. I was nervous about this part only because I had reiki done to me once and I didn’t feel anything. If you don’t know what reiki is its a type of massage but the person performing it never touches you, they use energy and go over each of your 7 chakras to open up any blockages. I had a mask over my eyes so I could never tell where she was except for the fact that I could tell when she was over my crown chakra, or my head, because it was tingling. It felt like intense pins and needles. And then when she was at my throat chakra I felt pressure in my throat and then the same thing happened with my chest, which is the heart chakra. I didn’t feel any other sensations anywhere else but I saw Chip, my dog who passed away 3 years ago. I’m aware it sounds crazy but I believe he was coming to say hello after she opened up my crown chakra.

I entered the workshop with a migraine and left feeling amazing. I did, however, wake up with a migraine again the next morning. I’m not saying I’m going to forego my medication and only do crystal meditation and reiki from now on but I think supplementing the Western medicine with the Eastern can’t hurt. Egyptians and lots of cultures have been using gems and stones for thousands of years so if its good enough for them, why not me?

I think everyone should do whatever makes them feel good because at the end of the day that’s what matters — getting to a place where you feel well, even if its just for a few minutes. I bought a few different crystals since — amethyst, fluorite and blue citrine are particularly good for what I need right now — and I set my intentions and have them around my room and plan to use them as I see fit. I currently have a lot of doctor appointments and don’t know if I can fit reiki into my schedule at the moment but the yoga studio did say they plan to have reiki circle events coming up so I will definitely plan to attend those.

These are all words I never thought would be coming out of my mouth but I guess a skeptic with a chronic migraine condition can believe in magic after all.

Update: Painful Few Months

I have to apologize for my recent hiatus but the past few months have taken quite the turn that I was not prepared for. Since switching neurologists and therefore adjusting my medications and treatments, I have been in a state of constant pain for almost three months. I have been seeing different specialists almost every day and am working towards getting answers but I have been waking up with migraines every. single. day. I knew the changes that I was making were going to affect me and as a chronic pain warrior who holds a full-time job I thought I had been through it all but I have to admit I have really been going through it. I don’t know if there was any way I could have prepared for the way I have been feeling these past few months.

I am not one that likes to admit weakness. I’m used to being able to smile through pain. I’ve had about 20 years of practice. I always answer, ‘How Are You?’ with ‘Good,’ and ‘Great.’ Lately, my answers have been more along the lines of, ‘Fine,’ ‘OK,’ and ‘Alright’. Still not honest, but a little less cheerful. I always thought the ability to hide my pain and live these two separate lives where no one really knew how much pain I was in was a talent, but now I’m convinced its a detriment. I struggle with not wanting to be a downer or a burden on anyone, but at the same time its a lonely place not being truly understood. It gets overwhelming having to deal with everything that comes with a chronic illness on your own.

After living for so long one way, and being so damn convincing, how do you all of a sudden learn to ask for help? Does anyone else ever feel this way or am I the only one?

Expectations Low, Hopes High

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It’s been a little over 24 hours since my first Botox for migraine treatment and though physically I am slightly bruised, mentally I am stronger than ever.

It didn’t start out that way though. Yesterday my morning began full of nerves and of course, a migraine. All the research in the world couldn’t keep my anxiety at bay. I didn’t want to take any triptans before my appointment though because I wasn’t sure what the protocol was, so I just brought some with me in case and decided to ask once I got there. Later the doctor advised me to take them before the appointment began since I wouldn’t start feeling the effects of the Botox right away.

My mom accompanied me to my appointment and even though I am now 29 1/2 and have been attending most doctor appointments on my own for quite some time now, I can’t tell you how grateful I was to have her there. As any migraneurs can attest, oftentimes you are not the only victims of your disease. Your family members and close friends become targets as well and my mom has been on this journey with me from the beginning. My reasons for wanting her there were twofold. First, I wanted her there as a second witness to listen to all instructions and explanations from the doctor in case I forgot anything. Second, I wanted her there because she has been my biggest advocate when I was incapable of being my own. I think its safe to say she has been looking forward to this day almost as much as I have.

Now for a little background info, my neurologist that I have been seeing for the past 7 years is named Dr. Green. Dr. Green does not accept insurance and up until recently charged $275 per appointment. I used to believe the cost was worth it in order to ensure that I get the best care, as Dr. Green is a critically-acclaimed expert in his field. But he recently raised his rates to $525 and although I do get reimbursed for some of my out-of-pocket costs when I submit my receipts to insurance, its just gotten to the point where its simply too much for me to afford. For that reason, I am currently in the process of trying to see one of his fellows, who do accept insurance, for my primary neurology care. Dr. Green works closely with his fellows and recommends them so I trust that I will be in good care. Plus, I watch Grey’s Anatomy and so I feel fairly confident enough to say that I know the difference between a fellow and an intern and I know a fellow has been in the game long enough to know what they’re talking about.

So that’s why when I won the battle to have this Botox treatment approved by my insurance, I decided to have Dr. Coleman, a fellow of Dr. Green’s, administer the injections. Because if Dr. Green were to administer the Botox it would be charted as an appointment with him and I would be charged the $525 rate by his office. Unbelievable.

When my name was called in the waiting room at Mt. Sinai yesterday my mom and I were met by a young Dr. Pace and another pain fellow whose name I did not catch. I was a little surprised not to be shaking the hand of Dr. Coleman, but I assumed these two were just going to get me settled into the room before she took over. Dr. Pace began asking me questions and then answering any that I had. She was very nice and made me feel comfortable. She went over what I should and shouldn’t do for the next 24 hours.

I was told not to exercise, bend over, hang upside down (they actually had a patient do a trapeze workout class once so this is a warning they now must give), sweat, shower (apparently water pounding on the face is a no-no), or rub my face for the next 24 hours. I was advised to get lots of rest. I took all of this very seriously as I did not want to end up with one eyebrow higher than the other or something crazy. So I canceled the workout class I planned for Wednesday morning and embraced the no-makeup, dry shampoo look.

Everything was going smoothly… until I saw her preparing the needles and I came to the realization that she was intending to stick me with them. I casually asked her how long she has been doing this and she replied by dodging the question and choosing instead to explain that this was a teaching hospital, she was taught by Dr. Coleman and is totally capable of administering the Botox.

I mean, I didn’t really know what to think. I’ve always been somewhat of a people-pleaser and I would never want to intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. I also am known for being terrible at making decisions. However, I know when it comes to my health care I shouldn’t play around and need to learn to speak up for myself because no one else will. And as I stated before, I watch Grey’s Anatomy. I know what a “teaching hospital” is. And I have no intention of letting “007” or any of those other eager wannabe doctors near me.

I kept quiet until Dr. Pace completed prepping everything and then she asked again if I wanted her to do the injections or if she should go get Dr. Coleman. She continued to say she would not be offended either way about 6 times, all the while making me feel like she would most definitely be offended. I looked to my mom for guidance. She gave me nothing. I of course instantly questioned why I brought her. Forget all that nice stuff I said a few paragraphs ago. I felt my face turning red. the pressure was mounting. I again asked how long she had been doing this. She told me 4-8 times a day since July.

Now I’m no math whiz. Actually, scratch that. I don’t do math. Period. I tried to quickly calculate how many months ago July was. I know 4-8 times a day sounds like a lot. But I knew July was in the summer and it was currently still 86 degrees out. Still feels like Summer. So… in conclusion, it hasn’t been that long.

I did a lot of research leading up to this appointment. I watched reviews on Youtube, I read articles, I read blogs, I read Facebook posts — personal reviews, what to expect and how to prepare. The one piece of advice that remained constant in all of my research was that it really matters who is administering the injections. It could not be stressed enough that the person should be a doctor and an experienced one who knew what they were doing. It’s not that I thought this woman standing in front of me was unqualified or incapable. But God forbid something went wrong, I had a bad reaction or it didn’t work. I would always wonder… was it because I let the intern play doctor on me? So I made my decision. And after one long run-on sentence that included the word sorry at least 50 times, I told her I’d prefer Dr. Coleman. And with that, I think I definitely offended someone. But I don’t regret it.

Dr. Coleman came into the room and it was like a breath of fresh air. She was so warm and so friendly. You think this would make me feel at ease. However my nerves began to take over as I realized what was about to happen and the room got a little blurry and her voice became kind of distant and foggy. Once she had me get into THE chair and she had the needle in her hand, I can’t really explain why or how but suddenly and uncontrollably I burst into tears. Next thing I knew a tissue had found its way into my hand and Dr. Coleman was soothing me, asking me how long have I had migraines. Unable to formulate words through my tears, my mom jumped in and I was reminded why I brought her.

It was like my entire journey from 13 years old to now was flashing before my eyes. And all the doctor appointments, the tests, the missed days of school, the missed plans with friends, the strained relationships, the times spent in the dark and quiet, the pain, the effort to get to this appointment had all come to a head and was now showing itself. Dr. Coleman talked to me about hope. I have been trying not to have too much hope going into this appointment. I guess its hard not to though.

After I cried I actually felt even better. It was as if I needed that release. I was able to calm down, I took a few deep breaths and I was back in warrior mode. Whatever was going to happen, now I was ready for it.

Most of the injections were not that bad. Overall it was much less painful than I expected. The migraine I woke up with that morning was on my left side so not surprisingly, I felt the injections on my left side more. The ones at the base of my neck and in my temples were the most painful and the ones in my shoulders I barely felt. Dr. Coleman saved the injections in my face for last.

At this point I was sitting in a chair opposite my mom so we could see each other. The doctor was dabbing my forehead with a tissue and I noticed it was red which didn’t scare me but then I saw my mom’s face. Her eyes were bugging out of her head and she asked, ‘So… how long will she look like that… a few days? A week?’ That’s when I started to panic slightly, but was trying not to move, so asked as calmly as possible, ‘Um… what does it look like?’ And the doctor just said ‘Oh a few hours, maybe a day. Nothing to worry about.’

Later my mom described it looking like I had huge welts on my head, but by the time I even got out to the front desk to book my follow-up appointment they had gone down. This was another one of those, ‘did I make the right decision in bringing her’ moments.

By the time I got home my head was feeling very heavy and the left side of my neck and shoulder were really sore. It felt like I had been beat up a little. Throughout the day I ended up developing a migraine and my neck pain got worse. I took medicine and got in bed early. Falling asleep was hard. Not only because of the pain, but I tried to sleep on my back all night and I normally sleep on my side.

Eventually though, I  did fall asleep and this morning I woke up feeling better but still sore in my left shoulder and my neck. I no longer had a migraine but felt like it could return any second so I took meds to nip that in the bud. I looked myself over and found I have a bruise on my left shoulder, which is interesting to me because that was the least painful injection site. I guess that explains part of the soreness.  It’s also possible that I have bruising on my neck that I can’t see. I’ve been keeping my bra strap off of the bruise all day so it doesn’t bother it and expect to feel sore for the next few days. On my forehead I see the tiniest of red dots where the injection sites were, but the only person who could notice that is me and probably my mom but she’s no longer here so there’s luckily no one else around who knows what to look for.

The doctors said its possible I may start to feel a difference in about a week. I know I won’t be able to really tell if its working until after at least 3-4 sessions. I have my second treatment booked for January 2nd. Again, I don’t want to get my hopes up but its hard after all I’ve been through. So I’ve made a deal with myself. I have a new plan. Expectations Low, Hopes High. Let’s see what happens…

 

Thinking About Tomorrow

injecting injection vaccine vaccination medicine flu woman docto

Tomorrow is a big day for me. It is the day I have been waiting for. It has the day I have been working towards for over a year. Tomorrow marks the end of a campaign I started over a year ago, a campaign of epic proportions. Why then am I scared out of my mind?

Botox for migraine is currently the only medication for chronic migraine that has been approved by the FDA that is strictly for migraines. Sure there are the pills I take nightly but those aren’t actually designated migraine medications. One is used primarily to treat epilepsy, another to treat depression and another to treat high blood pressure. Sounds like quite the cocktail, right? Especially considering I don’t have any of those conditions. But I take them because as a side note they also have been found to maybe prevent migraines so I overlook all the other stuff in favor of a glimmer of hope that I may find some relief in them.

But with Botox for migraine comes an exciting new opportunity — the possibility of lessening the amount of medications I take and getting some real results. Finally I have something to thank my guilty pleasure, the Real Housewives, for other than just allowing me to escape my own reality every once and a while. Because believe it or not it was women who were getting Botox for cosmetic reasons who first discovered their added benefit. They realized that as a bonus to a wrinkle-free existence, they were no longer getting headaches. So then doctors did more research and found that Botox actually did treat migraines and the manufacturer began their pursuit of FDA approval and reimbursement for medical use.

After talking to my neurologist and deciding that I would be a good candidate for the treatment, he had one of his employees go ahead with trying to get approval from insurance. Now I know working with insurance is never an easy process. Trust me, when you have as many medical issues as I have over the course of my life you get familiar with it, but my doctor has an employee that’s entire job is dedicated to getting approval for and scheduling Botox appointments for his patients. An entire staff just for Botox approval! Maybe that should have been my first red flag. But never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take over a year to make this appointment happen. Honestly, I thought my medical history would speak for itself and maybe it would take a couple months tops. But with the hoops I’ve had to jump through and the phone calls I’ve had to make over this past year, it’s surreal that this day has actually become a reality. And now that it’s here I’m freaking out.

I mean… 31-35 injections in my forehead, scalp, head, neck and shoulders? Why was I fighting so hard for this again??

It’s actually not so much about the pain of the injections. That I think I can handle. I mean I live with chronic pain everyday. I have a pretty high tolerance as it is. It’s more so the reaction I may or may not have afterwards. The unknown. And what if it doesn’t work?

And of course there’s the fear of changing my appearance. I mean I know the only visible part the injections go in is my forehead. And many will say what a great side effect — a wrinkle-free forehead! But while I love watching the Real Housewives, I really don’t want to end up looking like them before I hit 30. And while, yes, my worries may seem irrational they are mine and mine alone. And because without them I would not be human.

I have to just keep reminding myself it’ll be worth it in the end… Probably. If it works. But I won’t know for at least 9 months as it usually takes 3-4 treatments to really tell so until then I just have to keep a positive attitude and low expectations. One day at a time. And tomorrow is a big day.

 

Holistic Bliss

I don’t know about you, but until recently whenever I heard the word “holistic” before the word medicine. . . I thought it was a bunch of nonsense. It sounded like a big ploy to get people to pay money for some magical cure for rare ailments and illnesses… The organic cleaners of medicine if you will.

Last summer my Pilates teacher recommended me to a chiropractor to help with my migraines. She occasionally gets migraines as well, mostly when the weather shifts and the air pressure changes. She gave me the card to her doctor and while admittedly I was skeptical, the thought of trying something new intrigued me. Still, I put the card in my wallet and never got around to making an appointment.

Then about a month later I had an appointment with my neurologist. He rushed me in and out of his office like he usually does, barely listening to a word I said and completely disregarded the headache diary I had kept since the last time I saw him. He prescribed me more medicine, increased my doses and told me that if this doesn’t work the next option is Botox. I’ve heard of Botox being approved by the FDA for migraines but at 24 years old I never thought I’d be getting Botox injections. I was hoping I could at least wait until my late forties or fifties. I have tried so many different medications and seen just about every type of doctor you could find but I still believed in the bottom of my heart that there had to be another option besides Botox.

So I decided to give Dr. Margolin a call. I had only been to a chiropractor one other time in my life. I was told that I had scoliosis in high school and since back then I was trying to figure out anything that could have possibly contributed to my migraines, I went but like usual found no answers.

The only thing I knew about chiropractors was that they cracked backs. Since cracking knuckles has always given me the heebie jeebies and is on my list of Top Ten Pet Peeves, I was nervous for what was in store for me.

After meeting with Dr. Margolin I felt optimistic for the first time in a very long time. I felt that he was listening to me and genuinely cared about my history and wanted to help me manage my pain. He offered a fresh perspective on how to go about treatment and deciphering my migraines in a way that no neurologist has ever done before.

In addition to being a chiropractor Dr. Margolin is a certified nutritionist. A strange combination I know, but this allows him to better understand the body and how you can affect a lot of how you feel with what you put into your body. He runs a practice that includes but is not limited to acupuncturists, massage therapists, personal trainers, hypnotists and psychologists. Talk about your well-rounded doctors’ office! After leaving Dr. Margolin’s office and doing my own research at home, I realized much of what he said made more sense than any neurologist ever has.

After going to Dr. Margolin for a little less than a year now, I have been able to better manage my migraines. I went from seeing him once a week to once every two weeks now. Over time I have also tried to couple acupuncture and massage therapy with my chiropractic appointments. I stopped seeing the acupuncturist because I didn’t see any real change.  Now after taking a blood test and finding lots of imbalances, I’m dabbling with my diet and keeping a food and headache diary.

I am happy to say that I feel better today than I’ve felt in a long time. I am not 100% better, but I don’t know that I ever will be. I have come to appreciate any small changes, victories and breaks that I can get. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for Dr. Margolin and of course, my Pilates instructor. Though I may have doubted her at first I am now a believer. Magic really does exist. And I am proof.

10 Things I Would Do if I Didn’t Have a Migraine Condition

It’s often said that there is no point in looking at the what-ifs and the what-could-have-been’s, that it’s a waste of time and energy that could be better spent. Yet we all do it. It’s only human nature. There are days when I thank the cards I have been dealt for giving me my strength and others where I curse them for making me miserable. So today I am going to explore 10 things I would do if I didn’t have a migraine condition. As John Lennon sang, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”

10. Wear a Headband: I pride myself in being somewhat of a fashionista. I keep up with the trends, dare I say set a few of my own. . . but I will never willingly put pressure around my head no matter how cute it may look. I don’t care if it has an upper-east side preppy bow, a flower, a double band, if it’s hippy-chic, boho-fab, or if it’s a diamond encrusted tiara — in under 5 minutes I’m guaranteed to feel the stabbing pains of a pounding headache and no cute outfit can justify that. But a girl can dream. . .

 

9. Play Word with Friends: Okay, this is a silly one but wouldn’t it be great to just be normal and be able to play the games all the rest of my friends are playing? But mom…. all the cool kids are doing it!

8. Zumba: The latest fitness craze is taking the world by storm and I am eager to jump on board. You can’t survive a season of Dancing with the Stars without hearing about the amazing body transformations the casts go through, whether you watch the show or not. As an enthusiastic fan of the shimmy, it pains me to say that I can’t get through a high-intensity work out without getting a migraine. If I could, zumba would be the first class I’d take. Even the name is fun to say! Just imagine how fun the workout can be. I always wanted to be a dancer when I was younger, I was on the competition team and everything, pictured myself in Lincoln Center someday minus the whole psychotic black swan and the even scarier dance moms.

7.  Turn Up the Volume: I would love to be able to listen to my music as loud as I wanted whenever I wanted or to rock out and rave at a wild concert without a care in the world. I’ve been to quite a few concerts, but never a music festival or something long-term in fear of my not being able to last without getting a migraine. I love music, to the point that now I can’t even find an iPod that can fit all of my songs. I would love to be able to take a risk and enjoy it whenever, wherever.

6. Kickboxing: I bought a groupon for 4 kickboxing classes with my sister a few months ago. I was exciting more than anything to get the boxing gloves that we were promised with the coupon. . . and of course to take out some of my stress on the punching bag. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. It was one of the most intense workouts I had ever experienced. There was some kicking and punching. . . but after an intense 20 minutes of conditioning drills. Needless to say, I left all 4 classes with enormous migraines. My sister signed up for a package and has been going back ever since. I envy her. Though it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, and getting a migraine each time after was a downside to say the least, it was also extremely empowering. I couldn’t justify paying for and attending classes that would without a doubt induce a migraine, though.

5. Save My Pennies for a Rainy Day: Without having to pay for doctors, medications, my routine Starbucks every morning and all the other little specifics that go into preventing and getting rid of my migraines, I would have so much more money. I could possibly have a 401K. I would certainly have a larger savings account. I could travel. I could afford a puppy. Oh, the things I could do!

4.Drink Alcohol: Margarita Mondays with the girls, happy hour with the coworkers, partying into the wee hours of the night, a strawberry daiquiri on the beach. . . these are the things I am missing out on. I have accepted my lifestyle and have come to terms with my condition. I still manage to go out and have a social life most weekends. I try to stay optimistic and keep a positive outlook on whatever life has dealt me, especially since I know it could be a lot worse, but since this article is about wishing. . . boy, would I kill for a cocktail!

3. Become a Sun Goddess: I love the beach.  I love laying out until the sun turns me into a beautiful crispy golden nugget. I’m a Jersey Girl, insert stereotype here. But my days in the sun usually end in with a whopping migraine. I would love to be able to lay out for hours on end, my only worry being when high tide is, not whether I’m keeping hydrated or if the nearest shaded area is within  walking distance.

2. Have Kids: Migraines are genetic. I’ve heard it all my life. I have been to countless doctors over the span of my life and one of the first questions I always get asked is, “Is there a history of migraines in your family?” And no doctor has yet to believe me when I say no. Both my parents claim it must be the other’s side of the family. It’s become a running joke. I’ve heard the statistics: if you have migraines your child has a 50% chance of having them too. Even more so if it’s a girl. That scares me. I don’t want to bring a child into this world and put them through the pain I have endured and I’ve thought about this a lot. I’m still young and my feelings on the subject could change, and there’s always other options like adoption. Though I also don’t know how great of a mother I’ll be if I’m getting headaches all the time. But I know plenty of women have done it and I have a great deal of respect for those women. These are just the thoughts that keep me up some nights. Regardless, if I never had any migraines, I think my outlook on parenthood would definitely change. Either way, lots of puppies are definitely in my future.

1. Smile More:  Having migraines causes your nasty, evil, angry, depressed twin to come out and play wreaking havoc on anyone in your path. It helps to have an understanding, empathetic and loving inner circle. But even then there’s so much you can expect them to put up with. I try to be conscious of how those around me are affected by my condition, though it’s not an easy task. If I never had a migraine, I would be a much better daughter, sister and friend.

H2Overload

Water is important–I’m not revealing anything new here. It’s one of the vital elements of life, after all, and it covers 70% of the Earth. The grandiosity of water has been reiterated to us to the point of redundancy in science class growing up, but only until recently has it occurred to me just how essential water really is.

This new medicine I’m taking gives me the worst cotton mouth ever! I’m constantly reapplying chapstick throughout the day and I now carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go.

Most migraine sufferers already know how important it is to hydrate. Most of you are probably reading this right now and thinking, “I already carry around a water bottle with me everywhere I go. So what?” My mom has been trying to get me to drink more water for years and is probably jumping for joy at the fact that she no longer has to nag me about if I’m drinking enough water.

Because now it’s not just smart for my health, now I’m desperately thirsty all the freaking time! And you know the worst part? I have to pee like 24/7. I try to hold it while I’m at work during the day as long as I can because, frankly, those bathrooms are disgusting. I work in the Flatiron Building in New York City, and while the building is a landmark and it’s real nice to look at from the outside, it is literally the world’s first skyscraper . . . EVER. Do you know how old that makes it? And I don’t think they’ve done renovations since the building was first built either. Now imagine what the facilities are like. You would hold it in all day too.

So I am guzzling down more water than I ever have in my life, hoping some of the benefits celebs credit water with in their interviews will rub off on me. Now the real experiment begins — does Jennifer Aniston really just drink lots of water to get that gorgeous glow or is it plastic surgery after all?

I’m trying to be as eco-friendly as possible while I water binge and have purchased a water bobble. Besides the fun name, it’s this water bottle with a filter inside so I can fill up continually while I work. The only issue I am running into is finding a way to efficiently clean the water bottle. They need to make some type of cleaner that can reach all the way down to the bottom. Come to think of it, there probably is one I just haven’t found out about yet. I will definitely be on the lookout.

So for now I will be focusing on just keeping on drinking and staying afloat! 

I Want to Murder My iPhone

I have a love-hate relationship with my iPhone.

Let me explain. When I don’t have a migraine I love my iPhone. When I have a migraine I hate my iPhone.

It’s really quite simple.

When I stare at my iPhone for too long, it starts to give me a migraine and I start to hate Apple for its invention with its addicting apps and its super cool features and its bright shiny lights that make everyone “ooh” and “ahh” while I am forced to hate life and hide in a dark room where no noise or lights can find me. 

A little while ago, during one of my episodes, I went a little crazy and deleted every single game on my phone. Every. Single. One.

Words with Friends, Family Feud, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Bejeweled, Dream Zoo (I still feel a bit guilty for killing all my virtual safari pets), Solitaire, Hoops, Monopoly, The Game of Life,  . .. All of it deleted. FOREVER.

I thought I’d miss it, but you know what? My life has been much more peaceful and free ever since. I haven’t looked back once. Not even for my Dream Zoo. I am sorry for those of you who I was in the middle of a Words game with. It’s not fair to keep you hanging, but I think you’ll agree I wasn’t the best opponent anyway. I’m a bit of a sore loser.

So guess what iPhone? I win. 🙂

The Perfect Match

Imagine this.

You spend all your life searching for “The One”. You think you find him once but then distance tears you apart in what becomes a painful, messy withdrawal. Then after two years of searching for someone new, you finally find someone else who understands you and is able to give you the support you need. . . only to find that they don’t accept insurance!

Of course, I’m talking about finding the right doctor to help treat your migraine condition.

In New York City, it is almost impossible to find a reputable doctor that accepts insurance. It seems that all good doctors come with a big fat bill attached to them. Quite frankly, that doesn’t seem fair to me. It seems they’re getting paid under the table or something, and it feels illegal. I feel people are getting cheated and deprived of services they should have the right to have access to. What is an entry-level employee to do? I know I’m already living above my means and struggling to stay afloat as it is.

An initial consultation with a neurologist is usually about $500 and each follow-up appointment runs at about $300. The follow-up appointments occur about every 2-3 months, depending on the patient’s circumstances. That ends up costing more than just a couple pretty pennies.

If you can’t pay your bill right away, you have the option to set up a payment plan or you are sent to collections. Of course, no one usually tells you this until after the balance is overdue.

So what really makes up the perfect match?

Does it matter that your doctor is the head of the headache department and has the best credentials? Or do you settle for the doctor who may have less experience but accepts your insurance?

I don’t know. I don’t have any answers. I wish it was mandatory for everyone to accept all insurance and I wish getting treated for a condition no one has any control over wasn’t so stressful. It’s certainly not helping to lessen my headaches, that’s for sure.

Trial and Error

I went to school in Pittsburgh, one of the greatest cities to live in. . . really, though it was actually voted the number one best place to live in 2011. I had the greatest 4 years there and thanks to my mom’s research and their top-notch Headache Center, I became the patient of the one and only Dr. Soso. After much trial and error, we found a regimen that worked for me and I went  from having migraines daily to only getting 2-3 per month.

. . . But then I graduated.

Everything pretty much went downhill from there. Not only did I have to deal with the debbie downer of facing the real world and finding a job. . . but I also had to find a new doctor.

It took me a little longer than expected. Having a stomach ulcer that ruptured set me back a bit. It ended up really messing with my head (no pun intended), and my migraines that I worked so hard to get under control suddenly became all out of whack.

I finally began seeing a new doctor in New York City recently and after explaining my situation to him, we decided to switch out one of my preventative medicines (taken daily to prevent a migraine) for a new one. Anytime I try a new medication I always immediately look up the side effects. I have been taking some powerful medications from a young age, and I think it’s important to educate myself with the product and how it will affect my body. There are pros and cons to each pill, and while some may reduce the effects of migraines, they could in turn end up causing other problems such as dizziness, fatigue, weight gain, dry mouth, numbness or tingling, brain zaps, mental or physical slowness, kidney stones, and the list goes on. You have to weigh the pros against the cons and decide if the juice if worth the squeeze, so to speak.

Most of the medications out there that are used to treat migraines are actually used for something else, such as depression or epilepsy. I was on Cymbalta for a long time and I constantly see their commercials, where the drug is advertised as an anti-depressant. I know you’ve all seen it too, “Depression Hurts. Cymbalta Helps.” This always made me wary of being on the drug, worrying how it effected my mood. However, it’s very commonly used to treat migraines.

Under the supervision of my new doctor, I am also trying a new triptan (medication you take immediately when you feel a migraine coming on). I have been taking Zomig nasal spray for a while and it works so well for me, but my insurance only lets me have 6 per month and lately I have been getting 10-15 migraines per month. I’m no mathematician but I know that isn’t good!

I found out I can get 12 Maxalt per month so I am trying those but so far they don’t seem to be working as fast. My doctor thinks I am a victim of Zomig’s marketing campaign, because I told him I think the nasal spray must work faster since you sniff it, and then it should go straight to the brain. Maxalt  is a pill and doesn’t look like it would work as fast, but my doctor said it really all goes into the bloodstream at the same rate. I guess I should trust him since he’s the doctor . . . but I’m not so sure. I really like my Zomig.

So you see it’s all a game of trial and error and it’s frustrating at times, especially when you have side effects also coming into play. But it is important to stay informed on the latest news in migraines and their treatments, so you know the right questions to ask your doctor and the right way to treat yourself. Remember to take it one day at a time and hopefully you will have more good days then bad.

I am going to leave you with a song that I love to listen to when I am feeling a little down. It reminds me to shake it off and keep going.