Migraines, Health, and This Ecosystem I Live In
One of the more complex elements of living with Migraines is that the disease doesn’t exist in a vacuum. What impacts our general health and other health issues we may have can also impact our Migraines and vice versa. Some people who read my work have noticed recently that I’ve been rather quiet, not writing nearly as frequently as usual. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t talk much about why, but it occurs to me that what I’ve been dealing with is something many of us have in common, so maybe it’s better that I share.
In addition to Migraine disease, I have some other health issues – type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, glaucoma, and a couple of other issues. In early January, I visited a new family doctor. I hadn’t been feeling great, and it was time for a check-up anyway. It couldn’t have come at a better time. It turned out that my blood glucose levels were far higher than they should have been, and my blood pressure was running too high. This is the point where I have to admit to you that I hadn’t been taking very good care of myself. My family doctor and I had had major communication problems, so I hadn’t been going regularly. In December, I gave myself a good, stern lecture and found a new doctor.
The day after that appointment in January, my new doctor called me to give me the results of my lab work. Of special concern was the tests that looked at my glucose levels. He suggested that we double one oral medication I’d been taking (metformin), continue the injectable medication I’d been taking (Byetta), and add a second oral medication (Actos). The alternative was switching to insulin, a path I’d rather not take until absolutely necessary. I immediately cracked down on my way of eating – measuring or weighing everything I eat, reducing carbs, eliminating snacking for the most part, making healthier choices. I also got stricter with getting in more physical activity — walking on my treadmill every day and alternating a yoga routine one day with a tai chi routine the next. I learned that much of the moodiness I’d been experiencing was due to the high glucose levels. Hopefully, that’s also the reason for my having been so fatigued as well. Daily glucose testing has shown some improvement, but my levels still aren’t where they should be. Last week, I went by the doctor’s office for a blood draw so we’ll have the results Wednesday when I go for my three-month follow-up appointment. At that point, we’ll need to decide if my current treatment regimen is going to be enough, or if insulin is necessary. We’ll also take another look at my blood pressure and decide what to do about that.
Now to the part about this ecosystem. My Migraine preventive regimen is good enough that I’ve been able to get up to eight to 12 weeks between Migraines for some time now, but not recently. For several months now, I’ve been getting at least one Migraine a month. I realize that’s not many Migraines, but since I’m still taking all my preventive medications, that’s not great. That’s when it hit me that a body is like an ecosystem. Webster defines an ecosystem as, “the complex of a community of organisms and its environment functioning as an ecological unit.” Now, isn’t that like a body? And that’s what I meant earlier when I said Migraines don’t exist in a vacuum.
I haven’t developed any new Migraine triggers, haven’t been encountering my triggers any more frequently. The problem is that the high glucose levels, high blood pressure and the stress they put on my body have made me more susceptible, more vulnerable to my Migraine triggers. Were I healthier, my Migraines probably wouldn’t have increased. That’s why my Migraine specialist and I aren’t rushing to change my preventive regimen. Once these other health issues are sorted out, we’ll decide if any changes need to be made to my Migraine regimen.
Are you living with other health conditions? Do you find that they impact your Migraines? If nothing else, I hope this post makes us all think a bit about our overall health and how it can impact our Migraines. Our bodies are our personal ecosystems. For me, this has been a wake-up call to pay more attention to mine.