Migraines and the brain; article from the LA Times

 Image by Guy Denning

There is evidence that, between attacks, migraine-disordered brains function differently from normal ones. Studies show that migraine-affected brains have a decreased ability to habituate, or get used to a stimulus. If you expose a normal person to a constantly flashing light, then measure the signals evoked in the visual part of his or her brain, the signals will get smaller with time as the brain gets used to the light. But if you expose a person with migraine to a flashing light, the signal will grow larger with time.
"That's why migraineurs will notice small things that will irritate them, like a clock ticking in the background," says Goadsby. "A migraineur gets irritated by things because [he or she] can't get rid of them easily. A person that's not migrainous will just ignore things. The difference is quite stunning."
What does trigger migraine attacks in susceptible people is change. It seems that the migraine brain exists in a delicate physiological balance, with any fluctuation in sleep pattern, dietary pattern, stress level, hormone level, caffeine intake or even weather disrupting that balance and inciting an attack. Women are often plagued by migraine attacks just before their menstrual period, when their levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease. (And they frequently experience a worsening of symptoms with the onset of menopause.) Like a dropped pebble causes disturbance in a pond, a missed meal, late night or extra hour of sleep can trigger a migraine attack that reverberates hours later.
Because stress is often attributable to headaches, many migraineurs are surprised when they suffer attacks over the weekend or at the beginning of a vacation. But it's this "letdown" from normal stress levels that often initiates an attack, explains Charles. It's not recommended that migraine sufferers avoid vacations, of course, but rather that they try to manage stress during normal life.

Pattern disruption can set off a migraine. That makes a lot of sense. A massive trigger for me is lack of sleep which is a pretty big pattern disruption. Life is also full of stresses. Stress happens... apparently we can get hit with a migraine from the stress or from the stress let-down, so coming or going.

I find the research looking at our brains between attacks to find that they are not quite normal in functioning there to be quite fascinating... because that can explain the foundation we have to start with that leads to migraines being triggered.

the definition of #photophobia

My photophobia is so intense when I take my sunglasses off I have sunglasses on.

Discouraged by pain

I feel momentously discouraged by my chronic pain lately. It might be the amount of fatigue with the pain I feel. Or just the chronic migraines and how they affect my capacity to function and think. Either way I find myself rather discouraged.

I have been off work for more than a year and have made no forward progress. I keep thinking that I can perhaps come to some alternate solution. I even brainstorm some. However, what interferes with this is the momentous fatigue and brain fog and neurological symptoms and the pain. I just don't seem to have the capacity to plan or achieve anything that might even get me in the direction of finding some sort of alternative solution.

I know if the migraines were slightly less than they are it would be workable. But they are not. And have been daily for years.

How to continue like this though in this limbo? It worries me. It is difficult to live on the income provided by my long term leave. Barely workable. I have things I need to fix on the house. Things I need to fix on the car. Every extra expense an added stress because none of that fits in my extremely tight budget. My extremely tight budget is barely functioning as is. I feel pretty guilty about this because I am the cause of it. So i want to fix it. If I can find a way.

But finding a way seems to be rather difficult when I can't think straight and am so damn tired all the time. And the pain can just wipe me out for a day.

I feel like I should try. Just try. Maybe look at some free courses I can take online. See if I can do them. I need some sort of work at home deal. I really should try to aim to find one. It is the only way I can hope to make a decent income and function better than I would at a normal job.

But it is rather discouraging when we can so easy be laid right out from a migraine. Losing an entire day. When it just never ends. I just wish the migraines were slightly less frequent is all. And I wish some medication had helped with that. But that is not the case. I want to do something but my brain is just getting in my way. I will have to see if I can get around that somehow.

Did you know? #Migraines are not a headache

Did you know that migraines are not headaches?

You can have a migraine called a silent migraine that does not have the headache phase at all.

The headache phase is but one phase of a typical migraine attack, which can have four phases. The prodrome, the aura, the headache and the postdrome. Migraine without aura doesn't have the aura phase and migraine with aura has the aura phase. (Check out more about the phases here at Migraine.com)

Did you know that migraines of more than 15 a month are called Chronic Migraines? Yes it is possible to have migraines more than 15 a month up to daily in fact. However a single acute migraine attack that lasts longer that 72 hours is called a status migraine which is different in the sense that it is potentially more dangerous a state to be in a requires the attention of the ER to break the migraine.

So it is in fact possible to have a migraine every day. It is also possible to go to work with migraines. And do other things we would prefer not to do because as it is chronic pain we rather do not have a choice but to function on some level some of the time.

Did you know that migraine auras are not just Visual? Aside from the visual auras which are very varied there are many more auras people can experience prior to a migraine. They can have tingling and numbness commonly in the hands and face but also other areas. They can decreased or muffled hearing. They can have one-sided paralysis (Occurs in HM migraines only). They can have dizziness or vertigo. They can get allodynia, where the skin feels painful to the lightest touch or clothing. They may smell things that are not there, taste things that are not there, hear things that are not there. And get aphasia which makes it difficult to communicate.

So migraines a little more than headache.


Early to rise, early to #migraine

I got up early today for a bloodwork appointment. And I got a migraine swiftly. I had a decent sleep so I don't think it was a lack of sleep trigger, which it can be from getting up early given I have such sleep issues.

No, I think it was a Light issue. So much light during the morning and peak hours of the day. It really doesn't take long for my brain to say 'Enough' and Bam migraine. I remember this from working because I would get up at the exact time I got up today and migraines would be triggered within a few hours of being at work. Driving in the light then working under florescent lights. I never made it to lunch. And driving home at lunch with a migraine just aggravated it, then driving back to work. Then more florescent lights. I have photophobia all the time as a symptom of fibromyalgia and visual snow. So it is no surprise that photophobia triggers migraines when light is already very painful for me.

Getting up early and staying in the house will still trigger a migraine earlier than usual, but not quite as rapidly. Because the house is a great deal brighter than I would like. Light just seeps in everywhere. But it is less direct and therefore not as much of a problem.

Still. Early to rise, early to migraine. Late to rise, late to migraine. For me anyway. Much prefer not having an all day migraine for sure. But I need to adjust my sleep cycle to be a little more in line with normal people, so I will be getting up earlier. Not too early. Bu earlier.

Frustrating #brainfog day today

Yes, I had a very frustrating bad memory day today. Two appointments canceled as a result.

The first was my lactose and food allergy test I had scheduled online. It is a two hour bloodwork test for the lactose one. The lactose stuff you get from the pharmacy lasts 24hours. I made the appointment online as per the sheet I was given months ago. I should have made the appointment right away... but I had all the other appointments... the MRI, shrink, colonoscopy, barium test all around the same time. So I waited a bit. And then I forgot. So I finally got around to it. Well, I think the chick who initially gave it to me must have told me to call and not do it online, but with my short term memory like I would remember that. The form just had a number to cancel appointments (which I now assume I was supposed to call). I get to my appointment and they say 'We cannot do this we close in an hour.' And I am like I made it on your online site and it specified the time I could make it. But nope. She said 'your supposed to call it in'. There was no number to call I say. She said we should drive to another location and catch them in time. Instead I called the number on top of the sheet she gave me and explained my situation. She got me in for tomorrow, because the stuff expired soon. Need to get in soon. Otherwise I am screwed. I don't have another prescription for the stuff nor a way to get it. So clearly I must have forgotten the initial instructions.

And then I missed my shrink appointment scheduled for today because I completely forgot we changed the day to Monday and not Thursday. Forgot to enter it into my phone. Forgot to write it on the calender. And when it came close to this week really did think it was Thursday but wasn't sure of the time. When he left a message on my voicemail today I was like Damn It now I remember it was scheduled for today and not Thursday!

I clearly need to enter it into my phone While In is Office before I even leave. I will pre-write some checks so while he writes my receipt I will enter in the date and time into my iPhone planner. That at least will be done. I also think I will leave the calendar linked to that one open on my computer all the time so I can look every day to see what I have planned. I need to get this organized. With no one helping to remember these things... they are getting missed. My mom is going through chemo right now and usually she is the one who ensures I make my appointments and get to them. Really helps with my memory. But she has a lot on her own plate right now. My spouse... not a great substitute for helping me with my faulty memory. So I need to set up some system that will really, really work for me.

Migraines: Not Just Another Headache

First day of #Spring? Not around here it isn't

When you are Canadian this is entirely too accurate. We actually had some mildly pleasant weather in the last week. +5 or more celsius (41 fahrenheit) and the snow was melting. 

And then this. The first day of 'Spring'.  Spring is clearly mocking is with this crap. Woke up with some blizzard action. And woke up very early I might add. I had some pain and I could not sleep. I tried. It wasn't happening. I was flaring from This.

Just enough to prevent sleep. So I was up very early. It meant I had about three hours of sleep. I knew this meant I would get a Massive migraine today. So I thought while I was up I might as well make us of the time I had before that lack of sleep migraine hit to do some housekeeping action.

  • I did some laundry.
  • I organized my sock drawer (it needed to be done. Like 800 socks in there without pairs. I needed to weed them out. Pair up the pairs and toss the rest. It has been on my to-do list for Months).
  • Thoroughly cleaned the entire kitchen counter tops by removing everything and washing it down, and everything on it. And then tossing the pot holder thingies in another load of laundry.
  • sweeping the floor in the kitchen.
  • washing the floor in the kitchen.
  • washed the floor the bathroom... since I had the mop all ready.
  • washing the wall under the table in the kitchen.
  • washed the dishes

And then before I could do the last couple things on my list realizing I was in a Boatload of pain. And if I was in a Boatload of pain at that moment... I was really, really going to feel it later. Oops. Pushed myself over my limits given I was running on no sleep. Didn't feel like it was too much, but it was I guess. Not like I did it all at once. I did take breaks. But still the pain has really kicked in in the arms and legs. More so the legs. They hurt like hell now that it is at night. But they hurt this morning from the morning. 

Then the migraine kicked it. And it was a massive one as expected. And then... couch time. That was that.

Still feel like I got a lot done on my list. I feel like it was a productive day. And the kitchen looks damn fine. But I'm paying for it.

If that damn snow hadn't work me up in pain maybe I would have been able to pace myself and accomplished the same amount without this pain. Maybe not. Hard to say. I have been flaring pretty bad lately. Sort of have to know that when we push out limits we are going to have to tolerate the consequences. It is better to moderate our activities. However, I did the counters to get any particle off it, so I could then sweep and it makes sense to wash it after you sweep. Although I did 'get into it' and did some walls, the dishes, spot washed appliances, washed the bathroom floor when I didn't need to. If I had stuck to the one three step task it might have been good. And on a non-flare day. generally larger tasks should be on good days, not days that start bad and you know already will end with a killer migraine... just because, well, you have some time.

Lack of sleep is just one of those massive migraine triggers you can do nothing about. Other than sleep. Unfortunately sometimes the lack of sleep is caused by pain. Painsomnia is very difficult to handle. When pain is what is keeping you awake or waking you up there is little you can do. Unless you have medication for that, which I do not. So I just had to deal with triggering an extremely massive migraine, which typically didn't respond to treatment. So still suffering with it. So it likely will affect my sleep. This can be a viscous cycle.

My new app to help keep me organized

I have so many things i need to get done that I keep forgetting to do. And recently I forgot entirely to go to my shrink appointment.

And this is how I end up feeling. Frantic laughter with all these reminders, in different places, that are not even working to remind me I might add.

And I need reminders. With this brain fog I forget these things with surprising ease. Forget what day it is. Forget what day of the week it is. Forget when that appointment is for. Forget that I have a list of things to do until it is too late to do any of them. Might remember I have one to do but not the several I actually have to do.

I have tried more than one planner on my iPhone but I need easy to use. Easy to input. So that I will use it at that moment I need to ... lest I forget to input it later, which happens. Often. So real easy to input is ideal. Some are not. They are awesome with a lot of features and complexity but easy to input,... not in the least. So I wait till I have a moment to get it in there. And that is all it takes for me to forget to put it in there. It is nice if it can be used on the computer and iPhone because then I can be working on the computer and get these alerts or I can add more alerts I may need for the next day when I have my phone on me.

Anyway I finally found one that I am trying out now. So far I like it because it is quite simple. Simple works great from imputing. It has list categories which you can add to and then you can make your notes into each of those categories. You can of course create reminders. Add little subcategories and write additional notes. You can Star more important items and they show up in a separate folder. So far it is quite useful to me for appointments, calls, and a to-do list.

The app and program is called Wunderlist and worth checking out if you have been looking for a good simple planner like me. Here is a review of it for Android. I have it for iPhone, so clearly they have it for more than one smartphone.

Pfizer's Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall Discusses Fibromyalgia -- Dr. Phil

 Fibromyalgia is very much a rollercoaster ride that you cannot get off of. You are very tempted on the days you feel less pain to get a whole lot done, which will cause you even more pain the next day, if not more than that. So resisting that temptation is a good thing. Saves some of that rollercoaster ride of pain if we stay within our limitations and moderate our activities all the time. Although then we never feel like we are ever accomplishing anything. For example, I can never ever just clean the house. That is an impossible feat. On a good pain day I can do the tasks that are more difficult like vacuuming or cleaning the bathtub and on real bad days I can just tidy up a bit and call it a day. But you always have to segment your activities and so you never feel like anything is really ever getting done. However, my spouse does help with some things... like he does all the shopping. So that is a massive help to me. That has always been a task that I have found to be quite draining.

It is easy to see how people might not comprehend the extend of fibromyalgia and its impact though because of the fact it is invisible and appears to fluctuate so much. We are always tired and we are always in pain, but the amount of that varies and the amount we can function can vary too. So, yes, we can go from great to completely non-functional at the drop of a hat. That is the way this works. Especially if we push ourselves.

And it is not the same level of functioning all the time. There are times when I can walk a good distance and experience moderate pain while doing so before the pain gets too much for me. Other times I cannot even walk ten minutes before the pain is extreme and I end up walking extremely slow to compensate for it until I can get to someplace I can rest because the pain just gets worse and worse until I do. And there is absolutely no way for me to predict which reaction my body will have to walking on any given day. All I do know is that standing for any length of time or sitting in any position for too long will definitely be painful, so I must alternate and change positions a great deal.

And I cannot predict flare ups of pain that are not due to weather or overexertion either. Sometimes pain flares up extremely in a specific muscle group or skin nerve pain for no particular reason. Sometimes severe foot pain in the arch, sometimes severe wrist pain. Recently severe skin pain that I believe was triggered either by a migraine or a sinus cold. These flare ups are pretty extreme in level of pain and the duration can vary widely from a day, a week to much longer.

And of course with any chronic illness there is the fatigue component added in there. Fatigue with a capital F. And that is pretty hard to cope with to be honest.

#Migraine Headache video


Quality of life scale

NewLife Outlook Site  Has this image on it which I found interesting. So where is your Quality of Life? Mine is a 2 or a 3 depending on the day. Shocked me how low it was. But it really should not have given I am hermit that rarely leaves the house.

Image: Quality of Life Scale

Pain in the Brain with Dr. Vania Apkarian

Msssive fibro flare time

I have a cold. I just got over a cold not that long ago, but there you go. And I take lots of vitamin C and E. But I have a crappy immune system. I get sick less often from not working given I seemed to catch everything people had in the office or a customer brought on by and now I just catch what my spouse brings on home or something from a doctors office.

Sinus colds are not at all pleasant when you have chronic migraines. Aside from the burning throat, cough, sinus congestion and fever you have this horrific off the charts headache that is both a migraine and a sinus headache merged into this massive beast of pain. Therefore coughing is a huge mistake. It is agony to cough... the pain just ricochets through your brain. Or you can lightly cough and it just feels like being smashed in the forehead.

So that is not pleasant in the least.

What is entirely uncalled for is that this seems to have triggers just a massive fibro flare. FM can be aggravated by being ill for sure. Always is. And we seem to be ill longer as well. Harder to fight things off. But I am in some serious flaring pain from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head. Such that it is hard to move properly due to the intensity of it in my feet, knees, hips and back. I woke up from the pain of it this morning and could not get back to sleep. Just too much. I have been moving infinitely slowly all day and not able to do a damn thing either.

Some of the pain is pure nerve pain. I have some serious skin allodynia pain. Which is that painful, burnt, raw sensation on the skin where the lightest of touches and clothes are painful against the skin. And I have that going on the hand with nerve damage, up that arm, the other arm at the elbow alone, all up my back from the bottom to the middle and some other random patches. It is horribly painful. Especially my back... with clothes or leaning against anything. So damn painful. I have no idea how this type of pain could be triggered from a cold to be honest but it is seriously far beyond the discomfort of the cold itself. Way, way too painful. I have tried I few creams to sooth it and none of them have worked. I think I will try the Capsaicin next.

So between the headache portion of this thing and the all over body beating I am not feeling well at all. I guess that is what happens when a cold and FM butt heads. Complete knock out punch. Hopefully some good rest will ease the extra pain factor.

I have been getting quite the workout the last couple of days.

I have been getting quite the workout the last couple of days. I'm moving my library downstairs to an empty room we have. My brother used to live here and that was his room but now that he doesn't we figure it will make a fine library. Also opens up the office space. So all four large bookshelves of fiction are going down there. Non-fiction stays upstairs. And it has been a real hassle to move all these books. My spouse moved the bookshelves by himself and some boxes of books I loaded up. However I began before we had the boxes by loading up a new bookshelf he built down there by trucking books down by the armful. And as I began to organize it I have been doing that since then so there have been less boxes to load up.


This is how I feel about now. Up and down. Up and down. By today feel like stairs are not my friend and getting nowhere fast. The first day my legs were killing me from just the extra effort. Now they are just that weak feeling I get when I go up too many stairs. Like I get when i do anything with any muscle group to be honest.

Yet I feel like, hey, it is exercise. And it will be great when it is done. But you know what happens when you move bookshelves that have been there for five years in a room that we used for smoking? An outline of a shelf is what is there and that means cleaning it. So more exercise. Washing walls is a lot of effort. And also vacuuming. I swear I have a small cat under those things. We got a new vacuum though, as I broke the last one, and it is lighter so that is a small blessing indeed.

Spring cleaning and it isn't even spring.

This venture is on day three now by the way. One shelf to go! Things have to be done a little slower with a chronic illness. Have to pace yourself. And still feel it in unpleasant ways.

I must say I have a lot of damn books. I suppose I am fortunate I don't keep everything I read and I now also have a Kindle or this would be far worse. However, there is more space down in that room... so room to grow! Which means more book hoarding. Hmmmm.

I would love to just redirect you to the new site...

But sadly the redirect function doesn't function. I will continue to persist hitting it and see if it will eventually do something. Or s...