Written by Community Member M Brook Louiseville Kentucky USA | Apr 22, 21
- Best Migraine Friend: My dad – He suffers from migraines, too. He is also a cardiologist, so he is very influential in my treatment plan.
- Weirdest Migraine Symptom: My hair literally hurts.
- Most Predictable Trigger: Dehydration and particular foods like cured meats, red wine, aged cheeses.
- Most Amusing Pain Distraction: My dog, Tibi
How and when did you first get diagnosed with Migraine? Any specific type?
I was first diagnosed with migraine when I was twelve years old, right around the time my menstrual cycle began. I remember falling asleep in class, having a lot of difficulty concentrating, and feeling very alone.
My doctor tried to manage them “hormonal-ly,” thinking that was the cause. I was placed on various oral contraceptive pill (OCP) which I took continuously. My doctor thought if I took OCPs constantly, never having a period would be the solution. This turned out to be untrue.
What lifestyle changes have you made to help prevent Migraine attacks?
I am also a registered nurse and a child of a cardiologist and nurse, so lifestyle modifications have always been at the forefront of my personal treatment plan. Several years ago, though, I reached a point where I was willing to do ANYTHING. I began focusing on my diet and exercise.
To this day, I eat very “clean” meaning no processed foods, only nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, lean protein and complex (minimally processed carbs like quinoa). I also began lifting weights with cardio sessions about 4 days a week.
Because I began feeling really well, last year I was inspired to do a fitness competition and actually won two of my classes! During this prep, I had a very restrictive meal plan regimen, but the good news was throughout a 16-week prep, I had two migraines. Only 2! This is how I really figured out what worked for me. I do not eat as restrictive now and I allow more treats from time to time, but I generally maintain a very similar plan.
What was the turning point in your Migraine Journey?
In November 2016, I had 23 migraine days that month. I was blessed to have an employer who was understanding and did not terminate me over my missed workdays, but I was absolutely miserable. I had to make some type of change.
Who has been the biggest help to you on your Migraine Journey?
Even though I come from a family of medicine who has been very supportive, I have to give the most credit to my husband, Brian. He never once has questioned if my pain was real or not and has stood behind me with every new treatment, lifestyle modification, consultation, etc.
He has even given me injections (even though I am the nurse!) because I cannot inject myself. During those days I could not get out of bed, he knew without me asking, “get the ice,” “get the Maxalt,” “get my eye mask.”
He has sat with me countless times in A&E for me to receive acute treatment, driven me home, and basically carried me to bed. There have been times he had to be the housewife, too, by preparing meals, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, or doing laundry. To this day, he helps me prep my meals for the week every Sunday afternoon. He has never complained or made me feel like a burden.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned about Migraine during your Journey?
I think the most surprising thing is what an impact lifestyle modifications have been, and I’m not just talking about food and exercise, but also monitoring sleep patterns, travel, seasonal changes, stress, hydration, and all of these other things I never thought about.
I am a creature of habit to the up-teenth degree, and that is something over time I have learned not only to accept but actively modify.
What’s your advice to someone else living with Migraine?
Do not ever give up.
Also, do not take any recommendations lightly. When someone first said to me, “you shouldn’t under sleep or oversleep but try to get the same amount of sleep each night even on the weekends,” I thought to myself how silly is that? This person clearly does not know a thing about migraines.
Or to the doctor who said, well what about your diet? Again, I assumed they were wrong, but when I started giving these things a chance, ironically I started improving.
Every single day is a battle and a challenge, but you have to decide to make your health your priority. You have the opportunity to make a choice each day to better yourself.
When I really started delving into the lifestyle modifications, I began to feel empowered. If I want pizza and beer tonight with girlfriends and I stay out late, then I know I am going to suffer tomorrow, but I now know I have the power to make that decision. Sure, there are days where the migraines come out of nowhere (thankfully this is not so often now) and I want to throw my hands up, but I get through and continue to make good choices.
What’s the next step on your Migraine Journey?
Firstly, to keep going. I am so proud of the strides I have made on my own to beat this disease. There was a time I had a very negative attitude and was very depressed. Today, I just try to take each day at a time and to continue those lifestyle modifications.
Secondly, as a nurse and a migraine sufferer, I would love to become more involved with some type of migraine organization. I am overwhelmed by the resources I never knew existed and I feel so empowered I am not alone nor crazy. When I began following Migraine Again, the Migraine World Summit, and Migraine Awareness month not only am I intrigued for myself but I want to be the voice for other people. I want to get involved any way I can, because no one can ever be too educated.