I need to get better at tracking my daily habits and migraines

Sometimes I get tired of trying to figure out this illness.  During weeks I feel good, I used to have a pretty predictable pattern, which I’ve attempted to outline below. It’s been awhile since I had a multi-week streak of not having to take any acute medication, but I do remember what it was like to have periods like that, before I started using a migraine diary and apps to keep track of my daily patterns.

After three days with no hint of migraine: What am I doing differently this week? How is it possible I am migraine-free? This is awesome.  I should really pay attention to my habits, especially as far as eating, drinking, and exercising go. Oh, and sleep.  I should write down when I’m going to sleep. Maybe I can figure this out once and for all!

After a six days with no migraine: Oh, oops. I forgot to write any of this down in my migraine diary. I should write about this for migraine.com. You know, after I figure out what it is that’s *right* with my environment and lifestyle the last week.

After eight days with no migraine: What if I don’t get frequent migraines anymore? What if I’m one of those people who gets them, like, twice a month and no longer have to fret about them? Or—I dare to think it—what if I’m one of those people who accidentally stumbles upon something that is a major treatment breakthrough? Like what if the juice I started drinking every morning is the secret?! Or my glasses, which I now wear every day.  Maybe all my migraines ever were related to vision issues and now that I have glasses I might actually be getting better!

After nine days: I say out loud to someone, “It’s actually been over a week since my last migraine attack!”  Immediately I think to myself, Oh no. You’ve invoked the curse.  

Day ten: wake up with a migraine. End of streak.

I’ve finally gotten in a really good pattern of keeping track of my potential triggers, sleep patterns, meals (including skipping), and more—most of this data I track using the Curelator app, but it’s helpful to also write specific details on my personal calendar that can’t be accommodated within the confines of an app.  The idea is I will soon have a better picture of my migraine illness and the way it manifests itself throughout the month and year depending on all those little factors that seem to trigger (or help prevent) attacks.  I’ll let you know how it goes once I actually start that analysis.

For now I am still stuck in the unhelpful habit of going through those above steps when I actually start feeling good: several days of deliberately clueless wonderment followed by worrying that I’ve cursed myself followed by the migraines coming back.  It’s embarrassing to admit this, especially as a migraine health advocate, but I have not been exhibiting great self-care lately, especially as it relates to keeping good records in my migraine diary and apps.  When I feel sick, it seems like just another thing to add to my to-do list, and when I’m well I don’t want to think about migraine.  I’m not saying it’s smart or makes sense, but it’s the pattern I get in.

How about you? Does any of this gibberish hit home with you?  Are you someone who has gotten in gear and started keeping track of your migraine days and migraine-free days better? If so, what got you to get organized? People like me need your guidance! 🙂

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Comments

View Comments (21)
  • ParadigmFlux
    1 year ago

    It seems like the tracking could potentially be a huge benefit to most of us, however the very nature of chronic migraines interferes with our ability to keep daily logs. Between the brain fog, fatigue, medication induced memory lapses and those brief periods of migraine free euphoria I can’t seem to keep myself focused on anything at all…

  • Crystal
    3 years ago

    I have had migraines all my life but as of this year I’m new to the chronic club. I am not very good at the diary tracking, I’m still using a paper version. What is the best app? I need and want to try everything at this point.

  • Luna
    3 years ago

    Haven’t found anything useful about migraines by tracking stuff. But still keep track of what I ingest; food, drinks, supplements. And when I take meds which are on a separate sheet. On the meds sheet I hi-lite in pink bad days and a little notation if I go somewhere which always affects me to the negative. I know my triggers and haven’t found anything new. I stay away from processed foods and food additives but don’t obsess about it. Occasionally I allow myself a junk food treat and 1-2 times a month I may go to a potluck. I am particular about what I eat there but now more for good health than migraines. Have to keep healthy to endure migraines. I find that tracking is more about when did what happen than why a day was better or worse. Beside some is weather related and is not something I can change.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the comment, Luna. It sounds like you are a great example of a patient who takes great care of herself without getting too stressed out when things pop up out of your routine (“I stay away from processed foods and food additives but don’t obsess about it”). Thanks again. I hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet

  • Fran
    3 years ago

    I can totally relate to that. But my solution was a bit different. One day I realized that I had become so obsessed with what I did or did not do which could maybe trigger a migraine or prevent a migraine that that actually made things worse. Over the years I did not really detect any new triggers at all, but nonetheless I kept restricting myself and I worried a lot.

    So I am now trying to stop worrying and restricting (which is hard as it became a habit) and I feel better. I think most of my migraines are triggered by stress.

    Unfortunately the usual “you have to keep track of your triggers” made things worse for me personally.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    I hear you on this! So far I have had the most luck with apps that gently remind me to track my health information each day with a little pop-up notification. It has become part of my routine to answer the Curelator questions each evening and to respond to a brief questionnaire on my women’s health app. But, in the past, I have given myself so much grief over not sticking to a plan that I end up stressing myself out–and, as you said, that’s no good for the migraine brain!

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet G.

  • pligthart
    3 years ago

    Very recognizable! Thanks.
    I sometimes do not take a Maxalt because it does not seem to help anymore and the migraines are coming back day after day. When I “sick” it out for a horrible 48 hours I am free of migraine for about 9 to 10 days afterwards and go through the same motions and thoughts as you described. Do you also have the experience that in the case you don’t take anything for a migraine the next one is coming only after a longer period than normal?

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Petra Ligthart,

    A belated thank you for your comment. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the pattern you described (“in the case you don’t take anything for a migraine the next one is coming only after a longer period than normal”), but I will pay better attention to that and let you know if I detect the same thing you do.

    For me and many thousands of migraine patients, the effectiveness of a medication can wax and wane over the years. It may be time to talk to your neurologist or migraine specialist about finding another triptan that may be more effective. I went off Imitrex for years because it stopped working well for me, and then I was able to put it back in rotation a couple years back and it started working again. Perhaps you can ask your doctor about another medication that is different from Maxalt but works similarly.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G.

  • Cathy
    3 years ago

    It’s the same for me! I’ve been keeping a migraine diary for a couple of years, but it hasn’t revealed any trigger. The good thing about it is it helps me track how much Naratriptan I’m taking so I can try not to exceed 2 per week- which isn’t easy.
    I thought it might be good to have a Good Days Diary- and look for the good days triggers! As if I have a few good days, I don’t know why I’m having them any more than when I have the bad days. But when I’m having a good day I don’t want to think about migraines.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    I love the idea of a Good Days Diary, Cathy! It seems it’d be immensely helpful to keep track of what factors are helping you feel your healthiest. I know that the Curelator app is something you fill out a few minutes each and every day, whether or not you have a migraine, and that has helped me track my good and bad days (as well as medication usage). I think a daily diary could work similarly.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling good today!

    -Janet G.

  • elgris89
    3 years ago

    What apps do people use, I’m having a hard time finding a good one for android that is able to track symptoms, meds, intensity, food, and sleep. I keep finding ones that do some but not all, which is what makes it even harder to keep up with tracking my migraines in the first place. I thought I was the only one who had a hard time keeping up with it, that I just had to buckle down, but its just hard, like you said, when you’re not feeling well its just another thing on your to do list that is never ending.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    I don’t have any apps I can personally recommend that are currently available for the Android system. Maybe this question you posed would be a good fit for our forum, elgris89. Would you copy and paste your question here? https://migraine.com/forum/users/

    Take care; I hope some other Migraine.com community members can give you some good ideas.

    -Janet G.

  • Tracy Grant
    3 years ago

    I could have written that! It is so me. I am full of good intentions… and do exactly the same as you when feeling good. My ‘different’ thing lately to add to the mix, is I am cutting out eating grains. Grains can cause inflammation in the body, and of course… migraine is inflammation. I know sugar and gluten can trigger my migraines ( although most of them are hormonal now), but dairy can too. Between hormones and food triggers… but like you I get those ‘good’ periods that i wonder what I am doing right. Anyway – yesterday both my husband and son were in bed with migraines, and I was NOT! Just as well. But yes… I need to keep a diary…. there is an app for can get from MigrainePal that is very good apparently if anyone is interested.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the comment, Tracy. I applaud your efforts to take care of yourself the best you can. Sounds like we both put a lot of pressure on ourselves!

    -Janet G.

  • Linda P.
    3 years ago

    This describes me to a “T.” I can almost always relate to your posts, and it helps me to not feel alone in all of this. Thank you!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    A belated thank you for this thoughtful comment, Linda. I hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet G.

  • Shinetrue
    3 years ago

    I made a weekly sheet where I could track everything. It helped a lot in the past and I should do it now because I have been working on methylation and glutamate/GABA balance along with increasing glutathione. So I have been doing different supplements and trying to be good about potassium/sodium intake.
    If I were to edit this sheet I would add how much water I was drinking and how much potassium I was getting:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3qU31iT4By6TmpSclFEWVFxUWM/view?usp=sharing

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much, Shinetrue. I’m guessing a lot of our community members will find your approach very helpful.

    Take care,
    Janet G.

  • 3 years ago

    That sounds a lot like me.
    I’ve tryed to keep record of it all. I to, end up forgetting days to write down. I also just sorta quit keeping track do to my lack of interest in thinking about them and how they affect me and may have come about.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Leigh,

    Just your sharing how you feel is helpful to the community–thank you! I think there are so many approaches out there, and more popping up every day. It may just take awhile to find the tool that works best for you.

    So far I am doing really well with the Curelator app and am actually tracking at least 95% of my days (you track migraine days and migraine-free days so it’s easier to keep up the habit), so perhaps I’ve found a good solution for myself. Keeping the diary out in plain sight is another good tip.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G.

  • 3 years ago

    Well, I hit the wrong button before I was done commenting. Oops!
    So to continue…
    I am asked by everyone I know and especially related to ‘How are you feeling? How are your migraines?’ Etc… so, I can’t really give any help on keeping record because I don’t want to think about them as I record them and have them at the same time.
    I can say maybe just leave the migraine notebook out by somewhere convenient for writing? I did try to record everything on a digital voice recorder. It helped for a short time. 🙂 The migraine apps weren’t helpful for me but I can’t speak for everyone. I know.. I’m no help:-)

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