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Posts Tagged ‘chronic pain’

courtesy of the Binghamton News

courtesy of the Birmingham News

Lynne Greenberg has done an amazing job writing about her relationship with chronic pain! My words can not do it justice. Lynne uses poetry to convey the emotion and the metaphors connected to her life with pain. Milton’s Paradise Lost is apt.

Her paradise lost was a promising career as a professor of English (17th century poetry is her passion) at Hunter College, a devoted husband and two children, and a host of friends. Then one day in August 2006 the Headache appeared and has not left. I was hoping for a resolution, some treatment that would remove her pain, or at least relieve it. Now, this is not to be, but she has learned to live with pain and re-enter life.

One lesson she learned is pacing. No, not the frenetic movements accompanying my trying to outrun a Migraine. Instead, it is slowing down enough to manage it. Poet T. S. Eliot describes it as”measuring out my life with coffee spoons” (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock). What seems like a particularly dull life contains a lesson. Pace myself. I only have so many coffee spoons. Learn to say, no; take a break; slow down. All these can seem so simple to a healthy person, but to one coping with chronic pain, they represent tough choices and sacrifices. It is a necessity, not an option.

The book is an easy read, which may tempt readers to rush through it. I caution you to resist that temptation. Take it slowly; savor each chapter; let the lessons pain teaches become part of your life.

Grace,

Debbie

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Good News: April 15, 2008 GlaxoSmithKline has received FDA approval for a new drug treatment for acute migraine with and without aura. This “new” drug is a mixed bag. It is called Treximet and is a combination of sumatriptan (Imitrex 85 mg) and 500 mg naproxen sodium. Studies have shown that more migraine sufferers received relief within 2 hours than those who took Imitrex, naproxen sodium, or placebo alone. To view the entire press release go here.

Bad news: I was led to this press release after visiting a Fox news story. The gentleman featured in the article, Richard Higgins, takes over the counter medication for his migraines. These medications inadequately treats his migraine. He can still feel the pain and has tunnel vision among other symptoms. The story went on to state that he knew there “were stronger class of drugs available”, but he was hesitant to take them. Richard stated, “It’s a sedative, Patients can get addicted to this medication. Patients have cognitive and thinking problems.” Now, I can only guess what medication he is referring to, but this is a telling statement because there are classes of drugs developed for migraine treatment that are neither sedatives nor addictive.

First, how many migraine sufferers are under-treated? Second, how many are misinformed about effective treatment for acute migraine. Imitrex has been on the market since 1992 and it really changed my life. But what about Richard and the others who falsely believe that migraine medication is addicting? (Caveat, he may have been referring to a class of drugs that are sedatives and are addicting, but most doctors don’t consider these medications as the treatment of choice.)

My first reaction is shame on primary care physicians who are uninformed about migraine and, therefore, are dispensing misleading information. My second reaction is shame on American culture that demands that men and women have a stiff upper lip, suck it up, and go on with life. It seems that these days pain is a non-issue. With news stories about the addictive potential of some pain relievers, some sufferers are afraid to take anything stronger than aspirin.

My next reaction is shame on the reporter who apparently is no better informed on migraine than Richard and on the editor who printed the article without correcting the error.

I guess these days I shouldn’t be shocked at what I read in the media, but I am saddened that a misinformed migraineur was used as a hook to promote a “new” drug that is made from an old drug that could have treated his pain.

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Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival will be posting links to various blogs on Monday, April 14, 2008. The host is Somebody Heal Me. The topic this month is “Coping with Migraine and Chronic Pain”.

I have pondered this over the past several days. How do I cope with my chronic pain? (sometimes I don’t cope well) . What works for me?

The first thing that came to my mind is EDUCATION. This means educating myself about migraine and educating friends and family.

Educating myself is crucial. I can’t tell others if I don’t understand migraine disease. There several websites and blogs that contain so much information and support for migraine sufferers. You can find links to otherblogs and websites along the right-hand side of this blog. One website is My Migraine Connection. I can’t begin to say all of the information contained on this site. One important piece of information I have learned from this site is that migraine has a prodromal phase and a postdromal phase. If I pay close attention to my prodromal body signals, I can arm myself early and abort the migraine. Now I know that the “hung-over” feeling after the pain is gone is the postdromal phase of migraine and not necessarily drug related.

Educating Others: This can be a daunting task because there are untold numbers of people who believe that migraine is “just a bad headache”. I have been told, “I know what you mean. I had one once.” This requires that I take make requests based on my needs. I can’t just be silent when I need some accomodations. For example, my migraines are triggered by flashing lights. For some reason I cannot tolerate watching TV in the dark. This means I need to speak up and say, “No, please leave the lights on because my migraine disease prevents me from watching TV in the dark.” I need to educate my entire church family as to why they can’t turn the lights down when we are watching a DVD or video. Once I have made these requests, I can start educating my friends as to the nature of migraine disease and the consequences. Teri Robert has written an excellent letter designed to educate family and friends about migraine.

Be alert. This requires a bit of practice, but it is worth the effort. It may be extra-difficult for people like me who do things on autopilot. Every so often throughout the day I stop and take a deep breath. Then I am mindful of whatever I am doing. What do I hear? What am I seeing? How do I feel? What am I doing? I mindfully and deliberately pay attention to what I am doing NOW. I don’t think about what I need to do later. I live in the present. This exercise helps me recognize my prodromal phase.
Being alert may save me from awkward situations such as having a friend drive me home because I didn’t catch the migraine early enough.

Tips: 1. Have abortive medication handy.

2. Always have at least a swallow of water handy. I don’t have the dissolving Maxalt and I can’t swallow pills without water. So, I don’t drain my water bottle after my exercise class and when I leave the house I fill a bottle and take it wherever I go.

3. Get enough rest. I know this is hard. I hate to leave social events early. I usually was the last one to leave anything. But now, I leave by 9 pm so I am in bed by 10 pm. My friends know this and all I have to say, “It is getting past my bedtime.” Everyone laughs and I leave.

4. Eat regular meals. I have to admit I am really bad at this, especially when I am running errands and I miss lunch. However, I have found that being over-hungry is a trigger for migraine attack. I have an energy bar in my purse just in case I can’t grab lunch.

5. Know and manage my triggers. I am still learning to figure out what my triggers are at any given time because they change. However, being alert and conscious of them can save me in the long run. I know that changes in the weather can easily trigger an attack for me. So, now I keep track of the forecast and prepare myself accordingly.

6. Have at least one person who knows your pattern well. This person is my husband. He helps me manage some of my triggers. Sometimes he can tell when it is time for urgent care better than I can. He calls me a “high maintenance wife” and then smiles.

7. Have a support network. This can be physical or virtual. I have to say that I feel so much better after having found My Migraine Connection and the forums. It is so comforting to know that I am not alone. I also have a friend who will take me to the ER if my husband is not available.

8. Be positive. Yes, I have chronic migraine disease. Just saying that opens the door to changing the way I see my migraine attacks. I can choose my attitude toward this disease. I can make a conscious decision to have it run my life or not. Which is it going to be?: This disease will not run my life.

9. Consider prayer. I know that many people would not consider this option, but for me it is literally a life saver. Knowing Jesus as my Savior has changed my life. Prayer is my connection with Him and it brings me great comfort to know how much He loves and cares for me.

I hope these points will help you, my readers, to live and cope with migraine disease.

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