This is one of the rare “Dear, Diary” posts that I ever make. Usually, my mission is “write to educate.” I need to have a point that I make, a position that I take, information to share. Today I was inspired, and the words flowed. It feels a bit self-indulgent, but so is blogging in general.
I woke up with a headache again today. Headaches and migraines have been frequent recently with the change of seasons and weather.
A few days before the holidays I went to a job interview — a callback — and on my way home, my last big migraine hit.
The location of the potential job was 9.2 km/5.7 miles from home and required three bus rides even though the majority of the commute was on one street, a street that’s less than 2 km, about a mile, from home. Google Maps told me that the travel time was one hour. The first time I went, I took 2 buses and a taxi to my 11 a.m. interview (always striving to arrive at interview locations at least 10 minutes before interview time). Coming home, I took three buses but took my time and stopped to shop.
I took Uber to my second interview (30 minutes leaving home at 2:30). For my return during rush hour (I left there at 4:10), I decided to simulate the commute that I would have if I got the job — three buses, no detours.
The experience: Full buses. Hot, crowded buses. When I got off the second bus at a subway station that’s about a 20-minute walk from my house, I waited at least 10 minutes for my final bus to arrive. I got home a little after 6:00. My trip home took nearly two hours.
The migraine hit while I was on the second bus.
I usually experience migraines with stabbing pain behind an eye, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes I’m sensitive to touch too. During this episode, I experienced the first two in addition to some anxiety because I wanted off that bus.
I was not upset that I didn’t get the job. I was pleased that I was one of three people to get the callback. I received a lot of “Great answer!” responses at the time, indicating that the interview went well.
(My next interview is 45 minutes away in a more convenient, closer (6.9 km/4.3mi), downtown location, requiring bus → streetcar. The bus is frequent and stops a block from my house.)
Today’s Special (I mean, headache)
My headache today isn’t stabbing pain behind the eye. The pain is more central. However, it is accompanied by light sensitivity. Nausea has been coming and going. I’ve been able to watch TV, but the sound of music coming from downstairs is making my head throb. Yoga was a challenge to get through this morning with the pain distracting me, but I did my best to focus on my breath and shift awareness.
My jaw is clicking. My neck is popping. My body is percussive.
Still, as uncomfortable as I am, what I’m experiencing at this moment as I type this (for posting tomorrow because I already posted today) isn’t a migraine. During a “Kill me now” moment I reassured myself that pain is temporary and discomfort is okay even though it can be debilitating. I told myself that because I blogged about allowing discomfort, I need to stand by it.
Sometimes when I have a headache or a migraine, I imagine a massage therapist gently pulling on my head as they massage my neck. It’s one of my favourite techniques. I could go for that right now.
Coincidentally, the day before putting these words down I discovered a post on Medium about migraines. Medium decided that I might like it, and so it was recommended to me via newsletter. The post was written by Sandra Ebejer last July. I commented on it, mentioning that I have prescription medication for migraines but rarely use it.
“In the end,” I said, “I usually take CBD oil (or other formats of endocannabinoid) for pain relief and lie in a dark, quiet room. Thankfully, cannabis recently became legal (for recreational use) across Canada.”
I also acknowledged that I know people whose migraines are much more intense than mine. I’ve heard stories of ER visits. I rarely see “auras” and I never vomit from a migraine.
In the middle of my current head troubles, I posted to Instagram, a photo of the information sheet that accompanied the Almotriptan prescription last spring. I tend to try other methods of relief before medication, but I wanted to see if these would work.
The long caption (because I don’t see it in the embed above):
I took a migraine pill today. I got the prescription last spring but rarely use it. At the time, I was willing to try but was also reluctant. I always prefer alternatives to medication, but migraine meds make little sense to me. I know how and why they work, but wish they were better.
👉 “Use this product at the first sign of a migraine”. -Both the doctor & pharmacist told me to take them before the pain begins, which means that I might or might not get a migraine if I don’t take the pills. This feels like a gamble because a box of 6 tablets & cost $80.
👉”It may cause headaches” — But a migraine is felt in the head. It IS a headache.
👉”It may cause nausea or, rarely, vomiting.” -You mean, like a migraine does? 😕
My current headache isn’t stabbing behind an eye. It’s more central. However, my jaw is clicking (I have TMJ & my jaw often clicks during migraines) and I’m nauseated. The light from outside is bothering me. With my last #migraine, #CBD oil & lots of coffee helped.
The $80 gamble is what I have most of an issue with. In a followup comment, I referred to it as, “Triptan Roulette”. I promise I’m not against migraine meds. I’m not against meds at all. For other conditions, I’m against medicating without trying to address root causes, but many conditions require medicating, and that’s okay. It’s about taking mindful, educated action and doing what’s best for you rather than acting like a computer that only knows what you’re programmed to know.
Almotriptan is a triptan drug. Wikipedia tells me that triptans are a family of tryptamine-based drugs used as abortive medication in the treatment of migraines and cluster headaches.
According to WebMD:
Almotriptan is used to treat migraines. It helps to relieve headache, pain, and other migraine symptoms (including nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light/sound). Prompt treatment helps you return to your normal routine and may decrease your need for other pain medications. Almotriptan belongs to a class of drugs known as triptans. It affects a certain natural substance (serotonin) that narrows blood vessels in the brain. It may also relieve pain by affecting certain nerves in the brain.
Meanwhile, the headache remains and I’ve got a dog to walk. A shower and a walk in the fresh, cold air might do me some good. A hot shower often helps.
Even when the pain is debilitating, it’s never forever.