Life after head injury: Migraine Management and Tips to Avoid Them
You’d think that after suffering with migraines for years, I’d be more accustomed to surviving with them, but with three kids, gone are the days of solace and silence. Bouncing back after an episode has become more challenging, but I’m figuring out. This past week was no exception. The migraine kept coming and going frequently, and just when I thought it subsided, it would came back with such force that I felt like someone was stabbing me in the eye. The worst pain I generally feel is on the left side of my head where I hit it, and I would wake up every morning hoping it would have disappeared but as soon as I lifted my head from the pillow I’d realize it still felt like my head was run over by a bus.
I have been managing migraines for years now. Most days I can push through it for a bit and then rest, but every now and again absolutely NOTHING helps and I really need to take a break from life and rest for awhile to restore my health. I do a number of things to help minimize the effects of my migraines, but the number one thing that makes me feel better is REST, as I just recently talked about in another blog post, here. Since I don’t have the luxury to rest whenever I need to, I also survive based on the following….
Drink a lot of Water
I need to drink an enormous amount of water to avoid migraines. Around 100 oz. a day. I notice a huge difference when I don’t hit that benchmark so when I feel the slightest headache coming on, I increase my water intake. I also drink a lot of Smart water because it has electrolytes and seeems to keep me hydrated better than plain old water. I used to drink Gatorade (G2) (only on occasion now) to get the same effects of the electrolytes but the sugar started to bother me which is why I switched to Smart water. The electrolytes keep you hydrated which I think is key in managing my migraines.
My body needs nutritious, clean food to feel good. I try and avoid excessive sugar and processed foods because when I am fueling my body with that, I can feel the difference. It’s not to say I don’t indulge in treats and sweets, but I have cut it it out tremendously. It makes me feel sluggish and a few hours after consuming something I am sensitive to, I notice my energy dips and a headache starts to come on. It was only after I had my son did I realize how many foods made me feel terrible. He was allergic to milk, peanuts, egg and almond and when I was doing an elimination diet to find out what was bothering him, I noticed I was feeling better from not eating certain foods. Since he was initially diagnosed, I have continued to watch my intake of dairy and egg, bc I noticed I feel differently if I consume them in large quantities. I recommend keeping a food journal to keep track of how you feel after eating certain foods to find out if anything causes an increase in symptoms and cutting out anything that makes you feel bad. (Luckily, our son has since outgrown and passed food challenges for dairy, egg and almond- we are still treating a peanut allergy.)
Acupuncture has been my secret weapon in my recovery. Migraines? There’s a treatment for that. Anxiety? Another treatment. Depression? Yet another. I have been to acupuncture for a wide range of health issues since my accident, and it’s the one thing that has been able to treat it all- with minimal side effects. Pregnancy, high blood pressure, sleep, headaches, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, cognitive deficits, you name it, I’ve probably tried it. I have experienced some unusual side effects from time to time (like when I had a full body rash after a treatment while pregnant…that was FUN!) but for the most part, the treatments have helped my symptoms, more effectively than medication. The key to it helping my migraines is getting treated before it has developed into a “I have an ice pick in my head”‘experience. If I am already at that point, it generally takes a few sessions to be helped, but hey, that’s still better than nothing!
Tbis is something I have had several doctors suggest, but I haven’t had much luck with any types of medication. I have tried some things for migraine maintenance (I would take it daily to ward off one from happening) and I’ve been prescribed pills to take when I feel one coming on, and neither have worked. The medication does nothing for my migraines, but I seem to somehow always get an adverse reaction to the side effects. Lucky me! I mention this as a coping technique because I’ve learned to avoid most medications, for fear of them making me feel worse.
Get off of technology
This has always been a hard one for me because I love surfing Instagram and Facebook, reading articles and now, writing on my blog. Being on my phone, iPad or computer for any length of time when I am battling a migraine makes it 1,000 times worse. If I read something when I have a mild headache I can feel the strain on my brain, but if it’s already a migraine, forget it. The bright lights on the screen, comprehension, understanding, pretty much everything that causes my brain to think makes my brain hurt and I can feel it pulsing as I try and read or type. This has made this particular post difficult to write because it’s taken me days, every time I think I’m well enough to write, I attempt it and my head aches, so I stop. Pushing through a migraine when I feel like this isn’t worth it so I limit my time on technology.
I’ve also explored essential oils, Botox (never tried it though), trigger point massage, cranial sacral therapy, and I’m sure others I am forgetting. Have any of these worked for you? What am I missing? What else should I be paying attention to? I need all of the help I can get to prevent and treat my migraines, so please share your tips and tricks! After your head injury, what do you do to manage your migraines?
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