Friday, March 18, 2016

Migraine Catch-22

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Say you want to be a blogger, but you have severe migraines 12 or more days a month. Maybe you want to be a teacher, but you suffer from 3 or more migraine days a week. Or what if you want to get into a regular workout schedule, but your migraines prevent you from getting into any kind of rhythm at all. Welcome to Migraine Catch-22!
a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.
"a catch-22 situation"
synonyms:dilemma, quandary, vicious circle;]

I've suffered from migraines due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) for over 30 years. I've had good and bad years, good and bad months, good and bad weeks and days. But, through the years it has become increasingly difficult to escape the sink hole that is caused by my condition. I've held many jobs, some of which I was considered to be at the top of my profession. I've published poetry, have a design patent, and garnished many awards doing the things that I love best. But through it all I was unable to shake off the vicious circle caused by my migraines. 

Migraine is an especially debilitating disease, for several reasons, not the least of which is that it is mostly an invisible illness. On a good day, I can be seen cutting grass or working in the yard, shopping or running errands, and even hanging at the beach with friends. On a bad day, you won't see me at all! If you bother to look, you'll find me hiding in complete darkness from light, sound, and smell. I'll be the one under the blankets, pillow on my head which is wrapped in ice packs. I may be asleep, if I'm lucky. But, more often than not, I'm totally awake suffering pain and depression, while my brain whirls thinking about anything and everything but the pain. 

When I'm down, my brain cranks out the best of ideas for my blog, which I soon forget as my thoughts race in another direction trying to outrun the pain. And when I'm up, there are millions of things to do, places to go, and people to see. All of which seem better than sitting inside,at the computer, trying to remember that perfect article which was left in the dust a few days before. That's Catch-22!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Shooting the Gap

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We've all done it. Finally we can move and we are able to amble slowly ahead and in the right direction. Have been in the same space for what may have been minutes, hours or even days. You're not able to take off and just go because you know there's more blocking your way ahead. You're not able to move past on the right for fear of falling off the edge. There's absolutely now way you would want to go backwards and experience the same past all over again, and you can feel the space to the left disappearing fast. What do you do? Shoot the gap.

This is the migraine 'high'way of life. If you are a migraineur, then you probably more than understand what I'm trying to say. We live each day fighting the same old traffic, as the day before. And, if we are lucky, there's a small little gap between light and dark that we may be able to take advantage of, in order to move ahead in our lives, if only for a moment.

It's hard to shake the pain and make ready for an opening. You never know just when it's going to appear, but when it does, you MUST be ready to take advantage of it. You lay in wait, between the pain of the past and the pain of the future and PRAY. When it happens, you gun it, put the pedal to the metal, and shoot the gap.

If it lasts for a second, or it lasts for days, you have to live your life like there's no tomorrow. There may not be, because you may be stopped in your tracks unable to move and unable to know how much time has passed since you last enjoyed being up and running. The next you know, you look up and your moving again, slowly, carefully, and somewhat afraid. Are you still in the slow lane, with a migraine on your back bumper, or have the hours and the days passed and your about to plow into the next one just ahead?

Is that a gap just ahead? Are you close enough to your destination that you can you get out and crawl, walk or run forward? You MUST make the effort. You run, swim, bike, ski, hug your family and friends, PRAY, smile, or anything your body and mind will let you do.

This is shooting the gap.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What Part of Migraine Do You Not Understand?

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I've wanted to write an article similar to this, for quite some time. Especially when someone tells me that they had a migraine once. Or, that they usually only get sinus or stress headaches, but this one headache was so bad it must have been a migraine. I just want to yell, "What part of migraine do you not understand?"

This is not a story that is singularly mine. Every migraineur has this experience at one time or another. Typically, I just nod and let them complain because their pain is real, too. I then ask about things like their triggers, their symptoms, and how long the episode lasted. The conversation changes fairly quickly. I usually don't have the energy to explain the migraine process, nor do they have the
attention span to listen.

So, I've been thinking about ways to bring more attention to what a migraine truly is and is not. Thinking about how to educate those around me without breaking out the 45 minute PowerPoint presentation. So, finally using some of my graphic design skills, I decided to create a graphic that would represent the phases and some of the conditions of a migraine. They aren't meant to represent every symptom,
but might just inspire someone to ask questions.

This may seem like a blatant plug, and maybe it is. But please, hear me out. I've set up a shop with CafePress using these designs to create clothing, t-shirts, pajamas, sweats, pill boxes, bumper stickers, water bottles and much more. My intention is to raise awareness as well as give back to the migraine community by giving at least 10% of the profit from each sale to the Migraine Research Foundation. I've tried to make a story board for each of the four phases of migraine. Obviously there is no way to include every symptom for each phase fit on a migraine preparedness bag, or t-shirt, so I have chosen to use icons for some of the most recognizable. I have procured the full rights to any portion of the designs that are not my own and own the copyrights. Take a look at the following pieces of the overall design, feel free to make comments, and go get something you can use to
educate others at the Against The 'Graine Store.

This phase is marked by;

(These are the icons I have chosen to represent)
A greater thirst or craving for certain foods.
Unusually irritable.
Needing more sleep or being more tired than usual.

Not everyone experiences the Aura phase but it may be recognized by;

(These are the icons I have chosen to represent)
Strange sensations in the body.
Changes in vision.
Problems communicating.
Problems hearing or understanding.

The beginning of the headache may include;

(These are the icons I have chosen to represent)
The actual attack of pain which usually begins above the eyes 
and affects one side of the head.
May cause Nausea.
May cause Vomiting.
Typically restricts from any physical activity.

What some refer to as the "migraine hangover" may include;

(These are the icons I have chosen to represent)
Extreme tiredness or sluggishness.
Strange feelings, aches and pains throughout the body.
Head pain which is typically not as severe as the actual attack.