How mindful and aware are you of Migraine disease? I mean really? Since June is National Migraine Awareness Month, now might be a good time to reevaluate, reeducate and regenerate yourself (and maybe your doctor too!) on your Migraine management plan. Are you an active participant in your own health care, or are you waiting for that "magic pill" to come along and solve all your Migraine and headache disorder issues?
Let's take a minute to go over some Migraine basics that have proven effective in a Migraine management plan. To start off with, do you really KNOW what your triggers are? I can already hear the collective "groan" out there - hang in there with me, ok? Some reason's I've heard why people don't keep a Migraine and headache diary range anywhere from - "Yes, I've kept a diary before, but it didn't do any good," or "I've kept a diary for three weeks and gave up because I didn't see a pattern," to "it's too hard to do every day," and "what's the point, the doctor never looks at it anyway." Here is the point, and some of you have heard it before, keeping a Migraine/headache diary is the only way to identify Migraine triggers, period. If your doctor isn't interested in your Migraine diary, he/she may not be the doctor for you. There are many ways to keep a diary, along with many versions, many of which are free:
1. "old fashioned" pen and paper
2. desk top computer
3. laptop computer
8. even a typewriter will do
Tracking triggers for three months - yes, I said three months - will give you and your doctor a good picture of what is happening in your head. "But I've already done that and it hasn't worked?" Have you really written/typed EVERYTHING down? Written down each cup of coffee, tea or soda you've consumed during the day, every day? Have you written down your sleep schedule, what time you go to sleep and wake up each day? How much water you are drinking? Any hormone fluctuations you may be having? When you had your last virus or infection? Is it allergy season? How does the barometric pressure affect your Migraines? Have you skipped meals? Does exercise bring one on? If you haven't tried keeping a Migraine/headache diary, or kept one a long time ago, it is time to redo the diary! Because here's the deal - if we can narrow down some of our triggers, then avoid the ones we can with lifestyle changes, we can lessen the number and hopefully the severity of our Migraine attacks. Who doesn't want that? The triggers we can't avoid, like changes in the barometric pressure are problematic. If severe enough, there are certain medications that can be taken. Unfortunately we can't avoid every trigger all the time. But if we know what they are, by being diligent with our diary and working with our doctors, we can begin to get our quality of life back.
What about complementary therapies? I know we don't talk about them enough. There are many, many therapies that can round out a good Migraine management plan. Relaxation techniques, deep breathing, mediation, massage, physical therapy, aqua therapy, acupressure, acupuncture, biofeedback, aromatherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (counseling) are all wonderful ways to help with Migraine management. We are hearing more and more people committing suicide because they cannot tolerate chronic Migraine pain any longer and their doctors have said there is nothing more that can be done. Migraine can be a chronic illness like MS, diabetes and epilepsy. Therefore its imperative Migraineurs learn coping (life) skills. Dealing with chronic pain is problematic enough - learning how to deal with it and Migraine on a daily basis takes skill, practice and guidance.
Being aware of Migraine for some is all consuming. You do need to draw the line - Migraine cannot define who you are as a person. Yes, it is hard work figuring out what our triggers are and how to manage them, and yes, making lifestyle changes is never easy. But is it easy living with pain every day and missing out on life? It's not easy, watching your family from the sidelines as you are wracked with Migraine pain. Doing the hard work for a few months (by keeping a diary) may help you get your quality of life back. Being mindfully aware that we are worth the effort to help manage our Migraines may make all the difference.
For more about National Migraine Awareness Month, see:
- National Migraine Awareness Month: More Than Just a Headache
- Serene Branson on Migraines and Awareness Month
Thanks for reading, and feel well,
visit my blog, Migraine and Other Headache Disorders
© HealthCentral Network, 2011.
Last updated June 22, 2011.
Published On: June 22, 2011