Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Mommy Migraine, Infant Colic

A recent study suggests that there's an increased risk of infant colic in mothers with migraines. Amy Gelfand, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed data from 154 mothers at their infant's 2-month-old well-child visit. "Mothers with a history of migraine were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to have a baby with colic than mothers who didn't have migraine," said study author Dr. Amy Gelfand. Based on this data, the study authors found that
Infants with a maternal history of migraine were significantly more likely to have colic than those without maternal history of migraine (28.6% vs. 11.1%, prevalence ratio 2.6 (1.2-5.5), p=0.02)... Infants with paternal history of migraine had a trend toward higher prevalence of colic (22.2% vs. 9.5%, prevalence ration 2.3 (0.6-9.4), p=0.24) (Infant Colic Is Associated with Maternal Migraine, abstract).
Infantile colic is "a condition in which an otherwise healthy baby cries or displays symptoms of distress (cramping, moaning, etc) frequently and for extended periods, without any discernible reason." One of the common colic remedies is known as the "five S's system" by Dr. Harvey Karp: swaddling, side-lying, shushing sounds, swinging / swaying, and sucking.

One theory that has surfaced is that colic may be an early manifestation of Migraine. People that are prone to Migraine react to overstimulation in different ways throughout their lives, and colic may be the way infants experience Migraine. With that being a possibility, some steps that can be taken to try to help soothe your colicky infant include: turning down loud music, decreasing stimulation, keeping a strict routine, and/or retreating to a dark, quiet room (note that these are common ways in dealing with migraines as adults). It may also be beneficial to keep a "colic / crying diary" to track colic flare-ups, anything that seems to calm the baby, and so forth (again, similar to an adult Migraineur's "headache diary").

While it is far too early to make many assumptions based on this research, it does provide another clue into the evolution of Migraine throughout an individual's life, and possible non-medication strategies that help some adult Migraineurs to try to relieve a colicky baby.

The findings were released online Feb. 20, and Gelfand and colleagues will present them in April at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in New Orleans. (Note: The data and conclusions of this research should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

I hope everyone has a blessed Ash Wednesday.

Today marks the first day of the Season of Lent, so I thought I'd do somewhat of a Lenten series. I haven't been feeling up to going to church in longer than I care to think about, and I'm behind on listening to them online; so I think this will help me to stay focused on the true reason for the Season of Lent.

Ash Wednesday is a somber day of reflection on what needs to change in our lives, in order to be fully Christian. The ashes are "a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow at the death that sin brings to the world... [which] prefigures the mourning at the death of Jesus, but also places the worshiper in a position to realize the consequences of sin" (The Season of Lent). We are reminded that we are all sinners and need to repent. The attitude of penitence is reflected in the Lord's prayer: "And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us" (Luke 11:4, KJV).

Ashes are applied to each person's forehead in the sign of the cross, as the words, "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return" (Genesis 3:19) or "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" (Mark 1:15) are spoken. This symbolizes our mortality and our need for ongoing repentance, and reminds us of the day when we will stand before God and be judged. It represents the follower of Christ entering into a season of examination and abstinence, in order to deepen our relationship with the Lord.

I know that there are a lot of things that I need to do this Lenten Season, in order to better align myself with God. I pray that He guide me, and help give me the strength and courage to go on this journey.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Migraine Brain

I've been fighting an ongoing battle with Migraine brain (I've actually been working on this post for about a week, but forgot to get it posted... how ironic!), which is often called "brain fog" (brain fog can be a symptom of several other chronic illnesses, including Fibromyalgia and sleep disorders). Symptoms of brain fog often include:
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or processing
  • Searching for thoughts and/or words
I'm actually doing significantly better with these changes... of course, it's taken me over 3 years to get to the point I'm at now. There are times that I see glimpses of the old witty, intelligent me. Other times, though, I can't even follow a simple conversation or read a short article. This brain fog can present itself during any or all of the phases of a Migraine attack.

Brain fog can be incredibly frustrating, discouraging, and disheartening. Especially when we were once very good at doing these tasks before our chronic illness, we can feel inadequate or even like we are a failure. It's so exhausting to have to try so hard to concentrate on something. This can be yet another aspect of chronic illness that others have difficulty understanding because we may sometimes struggle with things that come easily for them.

Thankfully, there are some tips and tricks that we can use to help make life with brain fog a bit more manageable.
Plan Ahead:  This means something completely different to me, in the context of chronic illness. I used to plan ahead for everything. I had lists, and always planned out my day, week, month, year... life. I used to always be busy, but was the queen of procrastinating on writing papers and such (in college)...
  • Now, though, I can't know how well I'm going to feel or when I'll be able to actually complete tasks on my lists. I still keep those lists (so I don't forget... and because I feel a sense of accomplishment, when I can cross something off of a list), but they're ongoing lists. If some things need done by a specific date, I have that written down; and I try to prioritize things, so I know what to tackle when I do feel up to it. But, the lists I have now are much less restrictive because of the uncertainty of chronic pain.
  • I try to start things long before I feel like I need to, so that I can (hopefully) get it completed and not have that last-minute panic. For example, I started wrapping Christmas gifts early to mid-November... I got a lot of it finished. Then a migraine hit that lasted for several weeks, leaving me unable to do anything productive. Luckily, I wasn't too far behind - because I'd started so far ahead of time.
  • Starting ahead of time also allows for having to re-do tasks, which I have to do much more frequently now. For example, writing a blog post typically has to be done in small chunks of time, so it's a lot choppier than I like. I proofread and edit a lot, but even that has to be done in chunks. So, there's often a bumpiness that I dislike in my writing... but, I'm having to work with what I can do.
Use Resources / Tools:  I always have my phone with me; which means that I always have my calendar, a calculator, contact with others, among other things. I can write reminder notes to myself - including alarms for taking my daily medication (that I keep in a medication box), and ideas / things that come up in my head. I can help track how I'm feeling and such for the day, so that it's easier for me to enter into my health calendar.
  • One of the most powerful resources we have is our computers. Especially if you're trying to read on your computer or tablet, take advantage of different options available to make it easier on you (including: changing the font size and/or color, adjusting the screen brightness).
Ask for Help:  I have trouble with this one! I'm getting better at it, but I still hate needing to ask for help. There are a lot of times that I can't figure out even the most simple things, I can't follow the most basic and simple conversation, I just can't make sense of anything at all. It's humbling, but also very embarrassing. I used to be so good at these things, and now I can't always do them because I have trouble concentrating and/or processing.
  • Hopefully, your family and friends will understand that you have these processing difficulties, and not make you feel bad about the moments you deal with. It helps tremendously, knowing that your family and friends will help you work through the brain fog, without making you feel inadequate or embarrassed.
Have a Sense of Humor:  First, accept that you can't always concentrate and process as you once did. Then, work toward having a sense of humor about these situations. Being able to giggle about such situations as needing to re-read the same sentence so many times before understanding it can help to decrease the stress you feel about having brain fog.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Postdrome

POSTDROME (aka. migraine hangover) is the last stage of a Migraine attack that some Migraineurs experience, once the headache pain has subsided. The postdrome symptoms may continue for several hours or even days. Symptoms of this postdrome may include:
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes (e.g., anxious, depressed)
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Cognitive and concentration difficulties
  • Feeling "hungover"
  • Head pain
My postdrome experience really is feeling "hungover" from everything that having a Migraine attack entails, but I also have a medication hangover from the meds I take for my worst migraines. Having both of these at the same time is rough. It's taxing on my body, and my mind starts to wonder when the next attack will be. I think I experience all of the above symptoms, though I believe my irritability is worse during the prodrome phase. Even my hair hurts. It's incredibly exhausting.

I'd like to add that it's just as annoying to tell a Migraineur experiencing postdrome symptoms that you've also had hangovers... as it is to tell a Migraineneur that you get headaches, too. They're NOT the same! NOT even close to the same! Now, I've never actually had a hangover from drinking too much alcohol... but when you get a hangover from drinking too much, that's YOUR choice and YOUR mistake - if you don't want a hangover, don't drink so much... simple! Getting a hangover from a Migraine attack is out of a Migraineur's hands... we know it's coming, but there's nothing we can do to prevent it.
  • Headache does NOT equal Migraine attack.
  • Migraine hangover does NOT equal hangover from drinking too much alcohol.

Prodrome

I'm starting to recognize some signs that I might get a migraine (usually the following day or so)...

PRODROME (aka. premonitory phase, pre-headache) is the first stage of a Migraine attack (I've written about this further in Premonitory Symptoms, and more information can be found here and here). However, not all Migraineurs will experience this phase, and the Migraineurs that do may not experience it with each attack and/or may not recognize the often subtly symptoms / warning signs. Some symptoms of prodrome may include:
  • Appetite changes and/or cravings
  • Cognition and concentration difficulties (such as, having difficulty finding words and/or speaking)
  • Cold extremities
  • Bowel changes (e.g., constipation, diarrhea)
  • Excitement / hyperactivity
  • Mood changes (e.g., irritable, depressed, impatient)
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Memory changes
  • Weakness
  • Excessive yawning
My prodrome experience includes most of the above: cravings (specifically for breakfast foods), frequent yawning, irritability, and / or being more talkative (maybe like an energy rush - not sure, since I've only just recently recognized this one). Closer to the head pain onset, I sometimes get mumbly in my communication, and my ears feel full and/or hot. I have a constant sinus congestion / post-nasal drip problem going on - could be a combination of allergies and something with my migraines... not sure.

I think that it's important to try NOT to jump to conclusions, when interacting with other people (I'm not good at this, in practice... but, I'm working on it). For example, relating to Migraineurs:
  • Frequent yawning does NOT necessarily mean that someone is tired and/or bored.
  • Cravings do NOT necessarily mean that someone is pregnant.
  • Talkativeness does NOT necessarily mean that someone is cured or otherwise over the chronic illness.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stormy Seas

Just a word of warning I'm dealing with a migraine (though it has eased up a bit for the time it took to write this post... now, it's returning), so this may or may not be coherent.

Two devotionals (they are short, and worth a read) from the blog, Inward/Outward, that I read have hit the nail on the head yesterday and today.

Yesterday's was titled, What Your Body Knows (by Patrice Vecchione). A portion of this short devotional really popped out at me:  "The body needs to relax to float. If you're stiff and afraid, the water will not hold you well and you'll flail and splash.... But if you have faith in the floating, faith in the water, alliances are made from that."

I have to say that I'm the one that either stiffens up or splashes and flails, in the midst of the storms of life. I don't relax / float well. I need to learn to trust more. To let go...

Today's is titled, First Lesson (by Phillip Booth). It is a great poem that fits how I'm feeling just perfectly. It ends with:
Remember when fear cramps your heart what I told you:
Lie gently and wide to the light-year stars,
Lie back and the sea will hold you.
The poem says to relax and lean back, allowing the sea to hold you. "A dead man's float is face down," but we are told to lie face-up in the midst of fear because we "will dive and swim soon enough."

When we find ourselves in the midst of stormy seas, the last thing we think to do is to relax. We instinctively tense up and fight against the waves... easily being overtaken with anxiety and fear. But, we can take refuge by anchoring ourselves to the solid rock of God.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life. 

Psalms 42:7-8 (NLT)
Our faith anchors our souls to the solid rock of God, so that, no matter what happens, our God will continue to provide for us (in His way and His time). "... Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary" (Hebrews 6:18-19, NLT).

So, regardless of how sunny or stormy our life may be, we are to "...trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge" (Psalms 62:8, NLT).

Okay, I'm signing off (for real, this time) because this migraine is worsening. I'm grateful I had the ability and short-term, minor relief to be able to write this post (regardless of how coherent it actually is). I'm holding the words of these devotionals and scripture close...

Migraine Pattern

I know I've been absent from the blog-o-sphere lately. I guess I just needed a break from it.

I've been dealing with my migraine pattern changing, yet again. After I had my neurostimulator implanted (December 2010), my migraines started coming in a new pattern, where I would have a chunk of "good" days and then a chunk of really bad days. My good days have progressively gotten better, but they seem to be random. The bad days are just as bad and frequent, but now they're coming one or two days at a time. So, I may have a good day, followed by a horrible day, followed by a day or two of migraine hangover / postdrome / recovery. So, it makes for an extremely bumpy ride.

It's taken me a few days to get this post written. Of course, just before I get it posted, the above-mentioned migraine pattern change was proven not to be lasting. I'm on day 3 of this migraine (I took my meds on day 1, and can't take any more until at least tomorrow because I've maxed out the days I can use it this week... not hard when the max is only 2), so I'm only online long enough to get this posted (I'm sick of having all of these "almost finished" posts hanging over my head). So, hopefully this one will pass soon, and I can return to both real life and the blogging world...