After reading the title, there are two reactions:
1. I suffer from migraines too, I understand your pain.
2. Oh, my grandmother, friend from school, brother, co-worker, lady from church (etc) suffers from migraines, I know it's extremely hard on them.
Migraines seem to be in every family, in every group of friends, in every office, in every school, in every church--Why? Why are there so many of us suffering? Why are certain bodies more susceptible to migraines than others?
I remember having headaches all the way back to elementary school. As the years progressed and my body changed, those headaches became stronger, more frequent, and more painful. By the time I was in high school, my head hated my body and my body hated my head. The two parts were never on the same team and it caused for one exhausted and frustrated teenager. My mother and I quickly realized the correlation between my menstrual cycle and migraines. I remember skipping parties, get togethers, movie nights, sleepovers, field hockey practices, basketball games, and even school days because of the intense pain I would experience in my head as well as cramping. The hardest part of missing these things was having my friends, coaches, and teachers actually believe me. For those who do not suffer from migraines it is hard to understand the pain, especially if they have never been around someone close who has them. My friends would give me a hard time about not wanting to go out with them and I often felt they thought I was faking just to stay home. This was not the case! While they were out having fun, I was in my dark quiet room laying in bed with an icepack on my head, definitely not my definition of fun! I so badly wanted to be out with my friends but I suffered from migraines.
During my teenage years, my parents brought me to doctor after doctor searching for a reason behind the migraines. It baffled us all--I was young, in good health, an athlete, and did not smoke or drink--why was my body failing me? My family and I had enough of hearing the word "tumor" tossed around by numerous doctor so we arranged for me to have my first CT Scan and MRI. Talk about a scary experience--as a 17 year old I had to strip, put on a gown, be escorted to room after room, lay on pad, be injected with dye, be inserted in a large noisy machine, told not to move a muscle or else they will have to start the process all over again, and left alone in the room while everyone else peered at me through windows. Verdict: Not fun and no tumors! Phew. We were thrilled by this news however we still left with no answers, no cause for the migraines.
Fast forward to my four years at college. My body went through major changes regarding emotions, diet, hormones, and migraines. I was in a new state, eating new (not so healthy) cafeteria food, drinking different water, and had no regular sleep schedule. This all resulted in many headaches and debilitating migraines. Liberty University had a strict attendance policy and required it's students to attend classes. Most professors allowed 2 unexcused absences and 2 excused and that was it. If you missed any more classes, you would fail. (Family emergencies, funerals, etc. were of course excused!) I remember going to so many classes looking and feeling like h*** because I could not skip. There were some profs who understood migraines and were lenient but the majority required you to attend class unless you were dying--literally! Though I felt I was dying physically, I had to drag myself to class and remember praying during the entire lecture for a bit of relief..for sleep..for even a "normal" headache. For those of you who have migraines, I know you understand how uplifting it is when your migraine turns into a normal headache, it's still pain but you can actually live life.
Ringing in my ears began during my time at Liberty. On winter breaks when I was back home, I would visit doctor after doctor searching for my answers. (Sounds familiar right?) I am known to faint and experience vertigo and felt this was all connected with the ringing ears and migraines. I went to specialists and had tests done, blood taken, and still left with no clear answers. Meniere's disease was brought up a few times and I recall having hearing tests and finding out my hearing in my left ear cannot hear certain low pitches which corresponds with the disease. There were further tests I needed to have completed but school started up again and then there was the financial aspect. My parents were so generous, took care of everything, and never hesitated to pay, but I knew the co-pays and "extra" work that insurance did not cover was adding up. It was never found if I had Meniere's disease because I chose not to have more testing done..I was simply sick of it all!
After college I married my best friend. With marriage came sex and began an entirely new slew of issues for this girl. Adam and I saved ourselves for our spouse and it is one of the best decisions we have made and are thankful God allowed us to do this. Without going into too much detail about this personal topic, I will simply say God did not create man from dust and woman from man's rib to join as one in sexual intimacy for it to be painful. In the beginning months of our marriage it was. I knew something was wrong. During my period, I would be crippled in my bed with a heating pad and advil and under more pain and pressure I remember dealing with in the past. Something had to done. New doctors were now a part of my life and I went through more testing and numerous ultrasounds. This time was different, this time we found answers!--Cysts. My body continually produces cysts, some inside of my ovaries, others just "floating" behind or next to my uterus. Finding out about these cysts opened my eyes to all of those years spent in bed with cramps and extreme pressure on my sides and lower back--it was all coming together and connecting. I went on different types of birth control pills to prevent my body from forming these cysts but nothing seemed to work. I stopped taking the birth control pills and though I was still in pain, I was happy to be "me" again and not the crazy, depressed, emotional person I became on the pill..the hubs was happy too :) Thankfully, the cysts that formed always burst on their own which was (extremely-drop to the floor) painful but a blessing at the same time because I never had to have any surgeries or procedures.
I have been married now for a little over two years and the cysts come and go, some more painful than others. I am learning my body and know when I have one or two present. I can feel them when I walk, when I laugh, cough, sneeze, and when I have sex. It has become a familiar pain, one that I can identify, so I shrug it off as nothing most of the time. Again, without going into too much detail, I will say sex with my husband has been much improved ;) I know many women have similar issues and learn to live with them. Doctors do not really have an answer and even after a recent trip to the ER, I was told to take it easy and come back if the pain worsens. Really? After all of the people poking, feeling, and looking inside of me that is what I get to go home with? After paying the ER bills and the radiology bills, I go home with nothing? I was offered strong pain medicine but how was I to know if my pain worsened when I was numb?--I opted not to take any and to listen to my body. This ER trip was about 2 months ago and I have not been back to my doctor for a follow up. I plan on going in the next week or so to have another exam and ultrasound done.
As many of you know, I have been working on getting healthy emotionally, spiritually, and physically and have made good progress. I have been seeing a chiropractor since January and have had major improvement with my migraines. Instead of 2 or 3 per month, I am down to just 1 bad migraine that lasts about 3 days which is so encouraging! I highly recommend visiting a chiropractor if you suffer from migraines. For me, it has really cut down on the frequency of my attacks. I have been studying my body and found I have definite triggers for headaches. They include:
1. Strong perfume or cologne.
2. Fluorescent lighting.
3. Temperature, if my body feels flush or overheated.
I have also noticed if I am in close quarters, do not feel like I am getting enough air, or do not have a glass of water easily accessible I get anxious..this leads to dizziness..this leads to fainting or a migraine. Lately I have been keeping a close watch on the foods I have been eating. I've started to make mental notes about what I eat and how I feel. This has led me to food allergies and the possible connection between wheat, gluten, and migraines. Nicolette, from Momnivore's Dilemma, opened my eyes to this connection. She has written fabulous posts about her choices to go gluten-free and how her life, as well as her son's life, have improved greatly. After emailing with Nicolette back and forth, I am ready to be tested! Adam is taking me to the hospital tomorrow morning to have blood drawn. We will then be packaging and shipping it to a lab in FL where they will be testing it with 100 different foods.
Friends, I am so excited!
My fingers are crossed they find something--some reaction to a food/food group/protein/whatever I have been consuming my entire life. I am feeling so grateful for our blogging community that is has led me to something new, something that could possibly change my life! I will keep everyone updated when I have the results in 1 to 2 weeks. I am also going to have an eye exam next week since my last one was during my sophomore year of high school, whoops! I really do not like the way I look in glasses but I have come to the point of not caring if it will help my body. I need to help my body!
Please say a prayer for me and my crazy, issue-filled body. I am ready to say goodbye to my migraines and cysts for good! I do apologize if this was too much information and too personal for you. My mindset is to use this blog to help others and to help myself. I have learned so much by reading peoples' stories and have found being open and honest brings people together. Now, I want to hear from you..please share as little or as much as you'd like with me.
Do you know someone who suffers from migraines? Is it you?
Have you dealt with ovarian cysts? What helped you?
Do you have any food allergies? How did you find out?
Are you living gluten-free? How has it improved your life?
Here's to answers!