Archive for June, 2008

Greetings! Several of us migraine bloggers have drawn up a petition in response to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Many migraineurs are affected by fluorescent lighting and often suffer in the workplace and in public places. I somewhat understand because I know a dying fluorescent bulb will trigger a migraine for me because of the flickering lights. I cannot bear to be in a dark room with the TV on for the same reason.

There are many questions raised by this new law: Does the law ban or phase out incandescent light bulbs? Does the law mandate or encourage the use of Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs). After wading through all the verbiage in the law itself (official name Public Law 110-140), and despite what the media or the government would like us to believe, I have discovered that the answer to those two questions is: NO, the law neither bans or phases out the availability of incandescent light bulbs nor does it encourage or mandate the use of CFLs.

What does the law do? The law requires that light bulbs, among other items, be more energy efficient than they are now. For example, a 100 watt incandescent light bulb produces 1700 lumens (a measure of light) and uses 100 watts of electricity. By January 1, 2012 light bulbs that produce this much light (1490-2600 lumens) can draw a maximum of 72 watts. Light bulbs that produce lesser amounts of light (eg. 60-watt, 40-watt) will be required to draw no more than 43 watts of electricity by January 1, 2014. Most of the light bulbs in my house are 60 watt and 40 watt, so there are 6 years before this law will affect me.

What are our options? Right now, there are 2 types of light bulb that fits in standard light fixtures. One option for migraineurs is Philips’ Halogena Energy Saver/Energy Advantage halogen screw-base lamp. These halogen lights are offered in 40w, 70w, and 90w versions to replace the current 60w, 75w, and 90-100w incandescent light bulbs. The 60w and 70w versions are available at Home Depot. They are fully dimmable and are available in different shapes for uses in track lighting, recessed lights, as well as floor lamps and desk lamps. There may be a 10% decrease in light output as compared to incandescent lights.
However, there are reasons to pursue research in developing an energy efficient incandescent light bulb. CFLs are not dimmable and they contain mercury, which can produce a hazard. Energystar.gov outlines the procedure to clean up a broken bulb, but I find it extremely time consuming and nearly requiring HAZMAT capabilities. Not terribly practical for families with children. According to Craig DiLouie of the Lighting Controls Association, General Electric is in the process of developing an energy efficient incandescent light bulb. This bulb is slated for market in 2010. Mr. DiLouie’s White Paper surrounding this topic is worth reading.

What should be the migraine community’s response? I thinkd our response should be twofold. One of the major objections from the green community (eg. The Daily Green and the Ecogeek) is that there are no studies that show there is an association between migraine attacks and CFLs. My search for articles from peer reviewed journals came up empty. Therefore, we should encourage researchers to study the relationship between CFLs and migraine. Then we could offer hard data to our critics.
Also, we should actively encourage the development of energy efficient incandescent light bulbs. Let’s make sure that the incandescent bulb will not become a dinosaur.


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I Actually Did It!

I took my own advice: I paid attention to the warnings. Friday morning my nose was running and usually I don’t notice this as a sign that a migraine was brewing. I was also tired, but that is nothing new; I am always tired.
I was leaving Bible study early because I didn’t feel well. I ran into 2 friends who were leaving because of a headache. I thought, “Uh-oh, when will the headache strike?” Within 5 minutes I could feel it. Then with no doubts, no wishful thinking hoping it will go away, I took my abortive. The headache part never got above a 5 and was gone in 20 minutes. I still felt “hung over” the rest of the afternoon, but NO headache.

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Although this video is short, it has some value for headache/migraine sufferers who are unable to control their headaches/migraines by themselves.

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This is an excellent overview of migraine. The spokesmen emphasize the debilitating nature of a migraine attack. I was happy to have one doctor explain allodynia: when everything hurts, even my hair. The one fault of this video is that it focuses on the headache, which is the most debilitating feature of the attack. However, the doctors failed to mention that migraine can occur without headache, but with all the other symptoms.

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June 1-7 is National Headache Awareness Week. Several activities and lectures are being held in several cities around the country. There are also several podcasts scheduled for this week. Today’s is about Migraines and Contraception. Check the NHF website for more podcasts. They change daily.

There is also a section where headache specialists answer questions that were previously submitted. There is a part one and a part two. There may be more throughout the week.

Check out other blogs on this subject: a representative from NHF, My Life With Migraine, Teri Robert, The Migraine Girl,and many more.

Also, NHF has started a channel on YouTube. There are 8 videos: Headache Overview, Tension Headache, Migraine Headache, Secondary Headache, Partnering with Your Physician, Primary vs. Secondary Headache, Headache: What Type Is Yours?, and Migraine and Stroke.

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I would say that the answer to this question is a wholehearted, NO. And I say it after going to Boston, Chicago, Myrtle Beach, and Raleigh, NC all in the space of 6 weeks. Each trip I learned something new. I have found that stress added to other triggers will put me over the edge. I always thought of stress as being negative. But happy stress is still stress. I found this out after going to a wedding, bridal shower, and just plain excitement can help trigger a migraine. Planning and going on vacation is that kind of “happy stress”. In these cases, I expect a migraine.

I think that expecting a migraine is the best way to head it off before it gets me. Some may think that expecting to have a migraine is negative thinking and THAT will “cause a migraine”. I beg to differ. If I expect to have a migraine, I will be prepared. I will have my meds ready; I will try to manage my other triggers (poor sleep and eating habits, alcohol, dehydration, etc.).

Unless your destination is already a given, give thought to where you decide to go. If changes in the weather trigger your migraines, I wouldn’t suggest the Ohio Valley in the summer because of the higher probability of thunderstorms. The same suggestion would apply to the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf because of hurricanes.
You can check the
Weather Center-Air Sports.net for predictions on the chances for a thunderstorm in any given area. There are also barometric pressure maps as well. I like to choose places that have consistently sunny weather. I particularly like North Carolina for this reason.

If bright sunlight triggers a migraine, I would suggest a pair of good sunglasses rather than tell you to go somewhere cloudy. A sunglass buying guide can be helpful in your search for a good pair that protects your eyes, has good frame construction, and doesn’t break the bank.

Medications: for years, I tried to count out the number of pills I would need and dump them all in a bottle. I never, never got it right. Then, after the Boston trip (and being short of meds), I developed an Excel file that would automatically calculate the number of pills I would need. This only works if I remember what I take and I put the numbers in correctly. It worked for Chicago like a dream, but I still had to pick through a mountain of pills to find the right ones.

My 86 year-old mother solved the problem. (It actually my sister who devised this system.) Pill boxes! I never used them because they were too small. I now have 2 (AM and PM) and most of the pills fit. Now why didn’t I think of that?!

Rest and relaxation: every vacation needs a time of rest. I should take my own advice. Boston was a whirlwind weekend with sorority sisters I had not seen in 30 years. Every minute was scheduled. Chicago was a 3 day tag along with my DH. I went sight-seeing, saw long lost relatives, enjoyed the city. But I took time to rest every day. Raleigh was different; I accompanied my elderly parents from Myrtle Beach to Raleigh for my nephew’s wedding. It was stressful, but I carved out time to rest. There was 3 hours between the wedding and the reception. I took a nap. In Myrtle Beach when my mom was cared for, I went to the beach, walked, went swimming. I made sure the lay-over in Charlotte was adequate to eat and to rest.

Packing: pack light. The fewer items you take, the fewer you will have to take care of. You are on vacation. No one will notice you are wearing the same 3 outfits. If they do, they won’t say anything. Make a check list of things you need. This will require some forethought. What will you be doing? Where will you be going? Do you have access to a washing machine? I have 2 suitcases that are already semi-packed with travel sized: shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, body wash, comb, brush, and other things I have forgotten on previous trips. Don’t forget the charger for your cell phone. Allow extra room in your suitcase to bring home souvenirs.

One carry-on is enough for me to handle. I pack everything I can, even my dresses (if I have to wear one). I even have a travel purse that has only the essentials: abortive meds, handcream, lip balm, a pen, ATM card, one credit card, cash, driver’s license, and cell phone. It is small enough to fit in my carry-on.

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