Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm your huckleberry...

I have a confession...this post has nothing to do with huckleberries.  Or any type of fruit really (not that I'm even sure what a huckleberry is).  How I got to the topic of today's post is a small journey...jump aboard my  "train of thought"!!

If you can name the movie that title is from, then major points to you!!  You are officially cool.  For those not as awesome, it's from Tombstone (only my favorite depiction of Doc Holiday...ever).  Last night, while watching this movie, I was intrigued by the character of Mattie who, from what she tells her husband, suffers from migraines.  Her treatment of choice: Laudanum.  As a migraine sufferer myself, I was curious as to what this was.  According to wikipedia, "also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine).[1] It is reddish-brown in colour and tastes extremely bitter. Laudanum contains almost all of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. A potent narcotic by virtue of its high morphine concentration, laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of ailments, but its principal use was as an analgesic and cough suppressant. Until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines."  

This doesn't exactly sound like the best route to treating migraines, but then again, I don't know what options were back then.  As a migraine sufferer, I CAN say that when you have a bad one, you're willing to try just about anything.  It's rumored that, while suffering from a particularly severe migraine, Van Gogh cut off his ear in a desperate attempt at relief.  (I'm aware there are a ton of theories out there btw).  Let's just say, during some of my worst migraines, I've understood where he might have been coming from with that choice.  Desperate.  

*an odd tidbit: Van Gogh is my favorite artist and has been since grade school.  Van Gogh is a fellow migraine sufferer (which I didn't know until high school).  Many have said that if it had not been for his migraines, he would not have seen the "auras" that produced such famous paintings as Starry Night.  Ironically, this is also my favorite work of his...creepy.

Other famous sufferers: Louis Carroll (maybe the white rabbits were talking to him while recovering from a migraine), Elvis Presley (who popped alot of pills as we know), and Julius Caesar (who is noted as having epilepsy as well as migraines).

I once had a co-worker say (after I returned from a missed day of work due to a migraine), "I'm not sure if I've ever had a migraine.  Are they that bad?".  Really??  If you're "not sure", then you most certainly have not!!  You'd know.  Trust me.  For all you migraine suffers, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  And you understand how hard it was for me to not slap her right then and there...

Everyone has their own treatments and things that work.  I thought I'd share some of mine...maybe they'll be useful to someone else!  My migraines are hereditary (thanks mom & dad), but if you can figure out your triggers and learn what works for you, you're that much closer to being an "occasional sufferer" rather than "frequent sufferer".
  1. Keep a diary.  This is crucial to tracking down your triggers.  Sometimes they are weird.  One of mine is too much marinara or tomato sauce.  For ladies, it can relate to your cycle.
  2. Ice and heat.  Ice packs, hot packs, etc.  Keep them around.  Many of my headaches link to neck and shoulder pain; if I can alleviate their pain, many times the migraine will lessen it's hold on me.  Ice is great if you can tell it's swollen or inflamed.  Heat is good for relaxing.  My hot pack is one that you microwave and lay across your shoulders and upper back.  Lifesaver.
  3. Learn what medications (otc or other) work for you...or don't work for you.  It really is trial and error sometimes.  I personally have Imitrex for the really beastly ones...but I try to use ibuprofen + heat/ice + other options before I resort to Imitrex. 
  4. Caffeine.
  5. Water.
  6. De-stressing.
  7. Pressure points.  If you don't know much about them, there are some great websites!!  Go look.  I use what you see below as soon as I can feel a headache coming on that feels like "more than a headache".  My grandma showed me this when I was little.  I still use it today.  As a side note, it's not supposed to feel good...
You want to find the fleshy spot right in front of where your bones meet. 
Like I said, there are a TON of things you can do to help with migraines.  I am by no means an expert; I just know some things that work for me.  Likewise, just because you are careful or do what you need to do doesn't mean they won't happen.  Sometimes they just matter what.

Do you have migraines?  If so, what do you do?

I'll close with my second favorite Doc quote..."I have not yet begun to defile myself".  Love it!!!

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