Hitting rock bottom in order to make a change
Migraine-wise, the last few months have been the worst for me in years. Looking at the calendar page on my Curelator app (what I’ve been using to track factors related to my migraine for many months now), I see that I am right on the cusp of having chronic migraine again, a diagnosis I shed years ago when I happily retreated to the episodic side of the scale. It’s strange, because the last several months have mostly been very happy and successful for me. I’m a newlywed and am so happy to be married, I live in a great house with plenty of room, my immediate family members and I are close (both relationship-wise and geographically speaking), and my four-year-old bookshop business is going gangbusters.
All that said, frequent migraine episodes have cast a gray pall over everything in recent memory. On days I don’t have a migraine, I worry I might get one—after all, my batting average doesn’t bode well lately given that I’ve had about half the days each month be affected by migraine episodes.
It’s weird to be in this position again after kind of assuming I would stay episodic the rest of my life. Keep in mind I haven’t been diagnosed with chronic migraine again this time around—I remain hopeful that I can get the number of headache days under 15 per month by the time I see my neurologist for a checkup to avoid this diagnosis. I don’t want to face the fact that this, my lifelong journey (battle? fight? relationship?) with migraine, is getting worse instead of better.
Many years ago now, I went weeks (weeks—seriously!) with no migraine days. I felt great and even dared to wonder if this was the new me, if my migraine days were behind me. Could I really call myself “The Migraine Girl” if I rarely or never experienced attacks? Would I lose the relationships I’d developed online with readers and fellow blog writers? I had made a lot of lifestyle changes then that contributed to my better health, but I was hesitant to over-share my story at that time: would my readers and online friends no longer identify with me if I wasn’t sick?
These concerns were for naught, of course, as the migraines came back and have ebbed and flowed ever since those salad days.
Since then, however, I have been firmly in the episodic migraine category of patients, My treatments (various types of triptans) worked almost every time, and I functioned well except for a handful of debilitating attacks each year. Granted, I wasn’t doing as well as I was in that migraine-free month or two of 2008, but I was better off than I had been in my mid-twenties and was grateful that most of my attacks responded well to treatment.
But things have gotten worse, and I can’t count on my medications to get me back up and at ‘em the way they used to—recently, I’ve had to take a second dose of my triptan to get the migraine to back the heck off, and I ran out of my rescue med (what I take when my triptans don’t work or I can’t take any more triptans that week) in record time.
This weekend I had a revelation, one that has popped up periodically over the years during times of really ill health: I am sick of being sick. I am tired of having to pop pills or snort medication so frequently in order to abort attacks just 80% of the time. I have to make some serious changes again. If at all possible, I don’t want to have to rely on medication to get through each day. I want to reboot my system and make some lasting lifestyle and dietary changes that I know from past experience will help me be well, or at least better than I am.
I think that I needed things to get this bad again in order to be inspired to make a change. I think I needed to hit the proverbial rock bottom, even for a couple of days stuck in bed throwing up, in order to realize that the situation is untenable and I have to get back in gear.
So this is my sincere oath to make better choices each day. To eat on a regular schedule and to consume whole, plant-based foods that I know from past experience and lots of robust research make humans more energetic and healthy. To manage my stress better, and to make sure I take time off work to connect with friends, family, and myself. To walk around my beautiful city and enjoy this world of ours. There will be hiccups and false starts and mistakes, but I won’t beat myself up about those. I’ll take things day by day and do my best to make smart, healthy choices.
Have any of you ever made a dramatic change in the hopes of improving your health? How did you make the change? What were your biggest obstacles? How have your migraine patterns changes (if at all), and how has your relationship with migraine changed?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?