Attached to Your Device? Some Helpful Apps I Use
We have grown to have a symbiotic relationship with our devices – be it a cellphone, tablet or laptop or in my case – all three. That being said, we all know that apps are a beautiful extension of our daily lives and when it comes to migraine sufferers – these can be lifesavers. But we also know that sometimes we have to sift through the apps in order to find the right one that works to our specifications. That being said, below you will find all of the apps that I use for my migraine events, emergency medical information and daily medication doses. These are all free with most having an option to pay a one time fee for a more complete app. All can be found at the Google Play Store and these work for Android devices.
Dosecast – This handy little app did exactly what I wanted it to right out of the box. This app reminds you what medications you have to take at whatever time of the day by playing whatever ringtone you need it to play. As an example, my Sumatriptan is 50mg at onset, 50mg two hours later and not to exceed 200mg in a 24 hour period. As soon as I take it, I add it to my app, which then reminds me two hours later to take the next dose and will alert me if I am at my 200mg limit for the day. For a small fee (I believe it was $3.00 and I did pay it), you can upgrade to a better version that allows you to even add pictures of your medications, email your medication list to a new doctor and archives every med you place into the app. It also generates an entire list of your medications you have taken for a specified period of time, including dates and time. It will also remind you ahead of time when your prescription is running low so you can call in advance and have your meds ready when you run out, gives you a place to add expiration dates, prescription numbers, doctors name, and pharmacy phone number. That alone is worth its weight in gold, especially with those like me who suffer memory issues.
ICECard – Here’s what this little gem of an app does. While it is becoming evident to EMS that we have our phones and devices on us almost 24/7, getting ahold of a device they are not familiar with can lead to delays in contacting family, caregivers and doctors. Granted, if we put ICE in a contacts name, that EMS worker will know that is who to contact BUT, this app does much more than just give them a list of people to call. ICECard puts a bright red dot on your device’s home screen with the letters I-C-E in white so it’s immediately visible once the phone is in their hands. On top of that, it gives them additional information, such as what specific ailments you have, what your drug allergies are, the medications you are on, and any additional information that you feel is necessary for them. Even more, you have a place to post a picture of yourself, when you were born, height and weight, blood type and gives them a list of all the people they should contact in the event. Even better, this app goes two steps further, by touching an icon at the bottom of the app, a customizable mass text is sent to those individuals on your emergency contact list AND gives them GPS coordinates to your exact location and they are accurate, I tested this as soon as I had my app installed. Because I am 300 miles away from most of my family, this is the one and only app for me to have for emergency situations – as soon as they receive the text, they can touch the GPS coordinates regularly and find out what hospital I am being transported to. This is excruciatingly vital for me as I do suffer from occasional aphasia – I can hand my phone to the EMS technician and they can do the rest.
MyFitnessPal – This is an excellent app to use if you suffer from food triggers. It can take the average human up to 48 hours to completely process one meal so what you ate the day you have a migraine might not be the culprit but two day ago may be relevant. When my journey first began, my younger sister and I did our own CSI work and came up with a few food triggers that I do have with the help of this app. It allows you to keep track of each meal, snack and glass of water you have for the day and gives you the option to put your own recipes in as well. You have a built-in barcode scanner via your phone’s camera if you cannot find a specific food in their list of over 5,000,000 foods and I have found a few using the scanner. You can also link this with your Facebook page if you wish.
Period Tracker – I started my monthly cycles when I was 14 but my periods have never been consistent. For a very long time I would go as long as eight to ten months without having one but just within the last couple of years they have started to regulate themselves out. I do believe that I am peri-menopausal (maybe even menopausal, I haven’t been to a gynecologist to have tests run yet), which would explain the sudden change in my periods and could possibly explain my migraines as major hormone shifts can trigger migraine attacks. Again, because of my memory issues I can never remember from one month to the next when my period has started, so this helps when I'm at the doctor's office and they ask when my last cycle was – this app keeps it accurate, allows me to track my symptoms and add notes to each day I am on my period.
The Weather Channel – It’s understandable that all devices have a weather app already pre-installed when you get it but if weather is a trigger for your migraines you need to track more than just the rain outside. Barometric pressure, dew point, temperature are the three I track as weather is my biggest trigger – if the barometer fluctuates, I can expect a migraine and if the bottom drops out of the temperature or hits the stratosphere, I know I will be down. This has been incredibly helpful for my family, as my predrome symptoms begin I can send out a mass text to let everyone know I will be unavailable for a while. This has averted a few phone calls while I am working through an attack and I let them know when I am through my phases so they can call.
White Noise Free – As weird as this sounds, I do suffer from sound sensitivity and loud noises have been the culprit in more than one of my migraine attacks but this app is wonderful to have for just a couple of simple reasons – number one if I am trying to sleep but the house is too noisy, I put my earbuds in and put on something that will drown it out. I have always been very susceptible to the white noise sound of a fan running to help me get to sleep but because of my sensitivity, I am becoming hypersensitive to other sounds as well. This helps clear out all the other noises (cats roaming the house, dog having a bad dream, even the crickets and tree frogs kill me sometimes) and I can rest. This app has also been a lifesaver on more than one doctor’s visit when I have been waiting for my name to be called and someone’s kid throws an unexpected temper tantrum or someone else decides to play slots on their phone with the sound still on. Drown out the noise by putting the earbuds in and I have averted a couple of migraines at the doc’s office. Number two is that if I am concentrating on something, such as writing this or working on my next blog piece, this helps me to keep my focus and I struggle less with memory issues as I write.
You probably noticed I don't have a migraine or headache app listed, truth be told I just haven't found one yet that will give me what I need. Complex migraines have many facets and the best thing I have found to document my migraines is just a good, old fashioned, hand written journal. The ones that I did try were frustrating, one had only a small listing of symptoms to tick off and no place to add my own, another had such a long list of symptoms that it took forever. One app was decent but had many features that were available for a fee, but it was entirely too expensive. Not to mention, I actually use the Dosecast archive to document a migraine if I am too incapacitated to write. I just open the archive and see that yes, I had a migraine two days ago and I took my medication at 1:32pm.
I do hope this helps, every tool that we can get our hands on can make a world of difference to our daily lives. I use every one of mine regularly and I don't worry so much when my brain is fogged up.
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