Less than perfect timing

I'm trying to quit smoking... again.  I've mentioned I have troubles with it because, well, when I get a boat load of pain smoking helps me feel relaxed.  Also there is the benefit to having a bad habit that will not prolong my life, which in my more self destructive moments seems like a dang fine idea. I can't use most quit smoking products since they seem to have the side effect of constant migraine-ism. So I have been using the nicorette 2mg mints and it has been working decently I must say. Granted for no real reason I get randomly irritated through the day and feel like snapping, berating, snarking or choking people who talk, touch or look at me. In all honesty it has just been some mild irritation and that is quite a bit better than the last time I tried to quit, so that is good. I don't have any smokes around me which is also good, since I don't have the will power to not smoke them if they are right there, but I can certainly resist the temptation to warm up the car, bundle up, treck out into the snow and go buy some smokes... barely. So timing wise winter is a darn good time to quit because honestly none of us enjoy going outside in minus thirty weather, wind giving us a skin peal, to get our fix. The bad timing aspect just has to do with this job upgrade thing I'm going at work, which makes me a tad frustrated and want a smoke. Denying myself irritates me. Not giving in though makes me happy. I figure in about a month I will feel a bit better about not having a smoke when I crave one, breaking the habit a bit, but obviously it will not be a habit for awhile and I'll have these mints on hand for quite awhile.

Quitting smoking is hard enough. Migraines don't make it easier because of course migraines are a major source of stress during the day. And smoking is my sort of reward for enduring the pain. Something to do with myself when there is nothing I can do about the pain itself. Without that it makes me snarky... that is to say the unmanageable pain makes me snarky even when I am managing the physical craving for nicotine.  There literally is no positive reinforcement thing I can think of to reward myself for tolerating pain during the work day. A pat on the back simply does not suffice. Saying I'll be healthier when I quit smoking also does not amuse me, because 'healthier' or not some health issues are chronic. I had such a wicked, nasty, brutal migraine on Friday night that I was having a real hard time coping with... especially since I could not have a smoke to ease the tension. It was not about the nicotine at all, that I had handled, it was about a vast amount of pain and what I normally do when there is nothing left I can do to treat the migraine. I don't like to wallow in pain and smoking was just one thing I do to trick my brain into tolerating it better, even if that sounds like a contradiction. It is like taking an over the counter pain killer even though you know it won't even put a dent in the pain... psychologically it makes you feel a bit better. But when I take a tramacet and my migraine still rages... it would not be a good idea to keep taking more tramacet and so having a few smokes, that don't do anything, but make me feel better helped.

Anyway being in all that pain and just having nothing to do to distract me really, really sucked. And it is going to really, really suck when it happens at work. That is usually what breaks my willpower. I get this raging migraine at work and I can't leave work, that is simply not done, and if my triptan or painkiller or both does nothing then I get to that point where I don't give a damn and if I want a damn smoke to release some stress than I damn well will have one, damn it.  So far I've been able to just handle the nicotine cravings and just sort of pretend the pain is not bothering me. Honestly, is there any good way to handle all the stress of handling acute pain? I can take deep, calming breaths... except when taking a deep breath actually hurts, which trust me happens when a migraine gets that severe. In the end I think I'll just have to acknowledge there is nothing I can do for that sort of pain. No escape certainly. No effective treatment. Bad habits or not, it is what it is. Smoking or not smoking the pain will remain regardless.  And I need to quit smoking because my spouse needs to quit smoking and he won't if I continue. It may give me some sort of comfort when nothing else does but it is not 'real'.

It hurts when I move like this... well, then stop moving like that

I went to my first physiotherapy appointment today for the assessment stage of things. First, I suspect the physiotherapist is like eighteen max but since he had to have had some training he must just look young... or I'm getting old and relatively speaking he looks young. Not that it is important, just thought I'd share that. Secondly, I had a migraine at the time, which, obviously, it hardly surprising. But it was fairly bad since I'd treated it with a triptan earlier in the day but it was one of those ones that comes back, stronger and nastier about five hours later. So I was rather... fuzzy headed and really just focusing on getting it done.  Naturally he asked me a lot of questions and naturally the answers I gave were less that concise.  Especially with time.  People should not ask me anything to do with time-lines.  I am really not aware of how much time has passed since the pain was more than the usual pain because the pain part is pretty damned consistent. A month and six month seem both accurate. I'm simply not that aware of the passage of time, just the passage of the week, as in, getting to the weekend.

Also, while investigating my neck pain which required a) moving my neck and b) touching my neck the answer was always c) yes that hurts.  It was all variations of that hurts less and that hurts a crapload.  Really given I had a migraine at that moment, just moving my head hurt so I bet it was hard for him to narrow it down, but it seems the horrific pain stems from the very top of my neck and lower skull area.  He came to the obvious conclusion that my muscles are carrying a lot of tension. Oh yeah, for some reason people tense up when they are in pain. Just the way it is. And of course, given my less that ergonomical work environment and my less than perfect posture and working with a migraine and just a wee tad of stress wolloped on top of that... is giving me a lot of neck pain. He is not sure whether the migraines which have been extremely frequent and violent lately are the cause of the neck pain or the neck pain is making the migraines worse... which really is a pretty puzzle isn't it? Because neck pain is a symptom of a migraine.  Get enough migraines and that symptom endures longer because you are tense when you have one.  That really is not important what is important is lessening it which we will be working on twice a week probably forever... or until I run out of cash, either or.

When things get worse...

There is always a time that comes where the pain begins to own me. Preventing me from doing anything and greatly tormenting me when I choose to anyway. Sometimes I ignore it and think it will get better, I just need to get through this bad spell... and it does not get better because things become extremely stressful from missing work and just plain stressful from trying to work.

So I have made a plan to do things that will help get me through this rough spell without having to take another medical leave of absence.

First, I will be going to physiotherapy to help with the bad neck pain I have that is making my migraines so much worse.  It is not even describable how painful it is when my neck is like this and I have a migraine.  And physio was the only thing that helped the last time my neck was out if sorts and causing pain down to my shoulders and restricting mobility.  They have the massage on the neck, heat bads and other techniques.  They also give you exercises to do yourself.

Second, I am setting up another in-patient migraine treatment.  If it works I think I might ask my doctor to set one up every time I have a status migraine.

Third, I have an appointment with my neuro in January where we can look at why my hands are still numb and adjust my medications.  And ask him as well how long he thinks I can reasonably go on like this.

Hopefully these will all help get me through the rough spot because it is beginning to effect my mood already, just from trying to get through things in such pain. But I have to try something.  Anything.

What a pain in the neck

I was in way too much pain today.  Way, way too much.  So much that I think it was an insanely bad idea to go into work, yet missing two days in a row is an insanely bad idea for entirely different reasons.  So I went and the lack of sleep and migraine I have had since Monday made it all rather unpleasant.  The nasty neck pain that is constantly bad but horrifically bad when I move a certain way brought the pain to a level even I with my super human pain tolerance was having a real hard time with.  By the way, I think I am immune to pain killers  or  this pain was way beyond what they could handle.  Also, Tiger Balm arthritis rub is not a lovely perfume to wear to work but feels rather nice.  I should have slathered it all over my head.  I think there is a possibility I broke my neck while sleeping  or  the migraines broke my neck from their existence.  There is honestly not much more I can say about it.  Just Insanely Bad.  I did make another doctor appointment because I feel my doctor gets lonely if I don't see him every fricken month.  In this case because a) I forgot to get a refill of my asthma medication and have been using my boyfriend/spouse/significant other's asthma medication, which fortunately is the same as mine, but unfortunately I gave him the flu I had a few weeks ago and the cold I caught this week.  Oops.  Oh, yeah, and b) my freakin neck hurts.

Paint me discouraged

I've been trying my damndest to get to work every day, missing hopefully only one day a month.  It has been very diffiuclt and I am failing.  Like always I think I'll just keep trying till my neuro appointment and then hopefully things will get better.  But my neuro appointment is always so damn far away and I need help now.  It makes me fustration and guilty and I can deny it is bothering me all I want, but the fact is, it is a real struggle.  Monday was a bad day for me, one I barely got through with a lot of painkillers.  I could not sleep that night, the pain kept me awake, then a horrible migraine nightmare when I finially fell asleep woke me up and by 4am it was clear it was not going to be a restful night in any sense of the word.  So the wicked migraine in the morning caused me to miss work.  I had hoped to make it till Wednesday because if I could make it that far it would have been all right as I work the later shift on Thursday and an extra couple hours of sleep usually makes me feel less strained and drained and I can get through Thursday and Friday better.

These migraines are taking a toll on me.  They always do.  It is so damn hard to function and in the morning so damned hard to move let alone face the day.  I had one of those 'motion' migraines opposed to those 'stomach flu-like migraines'.  Motion migraines are viscious.  You get up to get dressed and every movement of your head causes and arch of pain and the more you move the worse it gets until you cannot even move a fraction.  I lay in bed till 3pm, useless.  My neck is killing me as well... too many frequent migraines cause it to tense right up.  I think I might need physio on it again since it is getting pretty bad. 

Yet I have to survive somehow.  I have to finish my work training in December, be coherent enough to pass it and there enough to achieve it.  I need to survive work until thinks get better... and I just hope that is soon.  Work is not patient with me when I struggle.

It is all about timing

I was lucky this month when I caught that hormonal migraine stretch early.  As I have said before hormonal migraines are brutal... a trigger that keeps on going for a week, such that the migraine is continious and very difficult to treat.  The most effective treatment I have ever had for these was strong anti-inflammatories taken for that week, unfortunately, strong anti-inflammatories can do some damage to the digestive system and in my case they did, such that I can't even take an Advil these days.  However, triptans just don't seem to cut it for these migraines and if these migraines are not treated aggressively they can lead to a status migraine that far outlasts the trigger itself.  The best thing to do is take a triptan as soon as this sort of migraine begins, but, with chronic migraines treating them is all about timing and knowing when to treat a migraine and knowing when to just endure because to avoid the risk of a rebound headache not every migraine can be treated.  So, obviously, sometimes I miss that oportune time to take a triptan.  Still, when the migraine usually persists for a week, treating with a triptan right away may just make that particular day better, but I usually end up waking up with a migraine the next day and so on and so forth.  So what I asked of my doctor a few months back was for a stronger, longer lasting painkiller, I could take right from getting up and for a couple of days to treat those migraines before they became a status migraine, thus making it three bad days rather than a week or more.  And this works very well.  I take a triptan and one of those painkillers and then follow up the next few mornings with the painkiller and the situation is well manager.  Again, it needs to be right away.  Knowing it is a hormonally triggered migraine that needs to be treated like that opposed to the rest of the migraines where my treatment varies and does not include that painkiller is very tricky.  I timed it perfectly this week.  It was a better migraine week than it could have been for sure.  Got lucky with the timing, which I definately did not last week.  They are still killer migraines, but I can definately save myself some pain or help decrease the duration by timing it just right.

I love darkness

It is no secret I loath light and avoid it at all costs.  I wear the darkest of sunglasses right up until it is too dark to see with them.  I wear my pink tinted glasses at work to filter out the nasty, nasty florescent light that was invented by the devil.  I decrease the brightness and contrast on computer screens to the extent others cannot see the screen.  I read in very dim lighting better than in regular lighting.  I use low wattage light bulbs away from my direct line of sight.  My house may have windows but they all have the blinds closed and tilted upward to eliminate any light seepage.  In the bedroom I keep the blinds closed, have curtains closed and have those curtains pinned to the wall... so it is a bedroom I could process film in if I desired.  When driving at night I see better without traffic signs and other headlights, other headlights obscure everything and it is simply faith the road is still there that keeps me from diving off of it to get away from that light... as you might imagine, I don't drive at night, it tends to freak my passengers out for some reason.  I think vampires are very lucky because they have an irrefutable reason to avoid sunlight as spontaneous combustion essentially means they cannot leave the house during the day, lucky buggers... I would consider becoming one but I like garlic.  Migraines are one reason I loath light, just because of the sensitivity and stabbing me in the eyeball aspect light has.  Also FMS makes me always sensitive to light, so it is sort of a combo effect.

Sooo... I am loving the reduced daylight of approaching winter!

Problem is... I also loath winter.  And when the nasty white stuff gathers everywhere, well, then the nasty sunlight reflects off all that whiteness making it all worse.  Fortunately I will spend most of the evil daylight hours inside at work under the evil florescent lights.

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