Thanks to Plexus, I was able to pretty much close my migraine journal and not think about it. Today, I have re-opened it. As best I can, I’ve been trying to track changes over the last three weeks. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any one thing that has changed. Many of you recall that from March 22 – July 31, I only had 2 migraines. However, since August 1st, I have had 6 with 3 of those lasting several days with more serious symptoms. Of those three migraines, one was a hemiplegic migraine and two were occular.
I haven’t written much on either of these types of migraines in this journal because they aren’t prevalent for me. During my 300+ migraine years, I only suffered 2 or 3 hemiplegic and maybe 50 occular migraines a year.. So, I’ll discuss those now.
According to WebMD, hemiplegic migraines are the most serious migraines because they have many of the same symptoms of a stroke. With my history, I’m always cognizant of stroke symptoms. For me, these headaches don’t start with the severe pain in my head. Rather, I first notice weakness or paralysis in one of my hands–usually my left. This weakness is a very uncomfortable as it takes much more effort to move or control my fingers. Unlike acute joint pain with arthritis, the pain is more like general discomfort when trying to move. I would best describe it as a feeling of someone pulling the opposite direction of my muscles as I am trying to move them.
This weakness usually continues for several hours until the migraine passes, but it takes about an hour for the headache pain to start. When the headache pain starts, I feel like my skull is made of glass and is constantly being shattered with a hammer.
These types of migraines are much more frequent for me but are also more severe than my “regular” migraines. In a typical migraine, the onset of the migraine is accompanied by light sensitivity, nausea and extreme pain behind my left eye. On the other hand, the onset of an occular migraine is accompanied with vision loss. Usually, this vision loss is severely blurred or lost vision on my left side–not just my left eye. As this is a neurological condition, covering one eye changes nothing. I can keep both eyes open or cover one or the the other with the exact same vision pattern.
Left untreated, these produce very much the same “glass skull breaking” pain as the hemiplegic migraines. So, I scramble for my acute meds and the bed as soon as these hit to lessen the pain down the road.
Patterns and trends
I have had several question the effectiveness of Plexus now that these migraines have re-surfaced. However, as with any chronic illness, patters or trends will develop. During the first few years of my chronic migraine cycle, this meant migraines every May, August and January. Later, once I started preventatives, the entire cycle shifted by about 2 months, so that I had them mostly in July, October and March. Unfortunately, my pattern or trend progressed into a full-blown, unfettered series of migraines throughout the entire year–and often daily.
So, I’m now looking at this as a possible new pattern or trend. For non-sufferers, it still seems excessive but I would take 3 major severe migraines every 4 months rather than one “regular” migraine every other day–if this is the pattern. If this isn’t a pattern and is me regressing into the pattern of 2013-2016 then my journal will help me find my new trigger. What I do NOT intend to do though is to revert to my old habits of over-medication. There is a trigger–and I will find it–but I know from experience that daily/hourly dosing of Excedrin, Ibuprofen or Imitrex is not the answer. The cumulative side effects of the three are even worse for me than the recurring migraines.
Finding the trigger
What does all of this mean for me (or for you)? Unfortunately, trigger hunting is never fast or extreme. The only way I’ll be able to figure this out is to slowly remove anything that has been introduced since August 1. Doing this will allow me to return to the regiment or activity patterns that allowed me to have 4 months of relief. Once I get back to that pattern, if the migraines continue, then I will have to keep looking.
The thing that DOESN’T work though is to just quit everything cold turkey and start something new. If the migraines stop, then what was the trigger? If they don’t, then I’ve quite possibly removed something that still might have been helping. Patience is essential. Prayer is even more critical as it is the one thing that gives me the patience I need.
It’s been a 20-year journey and I never saw a quick fix. I also never expected them to be completely eliminated, but March-July 2017 has given me hope of long-term relief. Now to find it!