Friday, May 09, 2008

Goodbye Coffee -- You will be Missed!!

Stress will do strange things to you.
I wouldn't be surprised if I woke up one of these mornings with a third eye or something. But instead, my stress has taken on the form of .... drumroll please ... migraines.
When I get migraines, I get the whole fun deal. It starts with impaired vision, where I see spots (like you've been staring at the sun for too long). They call it halo vision. This is accompanied by a rampaging feeling of nausea -- like I'm seasick. Then, in about ten minutes, the horrific headache will start. The one bonus to this whole process is that if I can get medication into my system within this 10 minute window, I can usually head off the worst of the actual headache.
I usually get about 2-3 migraines a year.
I've had 5 in the past three weeks.
I'm pretty sure they're stress induced -- but I've also been dealing with terrible allergies, an eye infection that is also allergy related -- (which means I've been wearing glasses for five days, then switching back to contact lenses, which tends to give me headaches as the prescriptions are slightly different) and other such issues.
I've read that these things can be triggered by caffeine and/or chocolate. Last night I had two cups of coffee and this morning, I woke up with fuzzy vision -- the onset of a lovely migraine.
I'm HOPING that this is the cause -- this and stress -- and not some kind of horrific brain tumor or something dramatic. Sigh! (Yes, I'm a bit of a hypochondraic ... but I also hate dropping money at the doctors office for them to sigh and tell me to take Tylenol, which they've done to me before, while charging me $100).
So it's goodbye coffee! I'm cutting myself off for good now, to see if that helps! In the meantime, if any of you have any tips to help, I would appreciate any home remedies that you've come across!


marzi said...

i'm so sorry you're having migraines. i don't have any tips for making them better since i've never had one, but i do have a suggestion for coffee replacement!

i get this in the chocolate version:

it's so yummy and 99.9% caffeine free! it's my daily treat! i buy it in bulk because i love it so much! ;)

hope you're feeling better soon!

Colin Roust said...

Hey Katrina, as someone who occasionally gets migraines, I have a couple thoughts to offer.

First, since migraines aren't life-threatening, there's been hardly any conclusive research done, yet. The caffeine thing is a great example. Many o-t-c migraine medications include caffeine because it helps the body process the medications faster. So, while cutting back on caffeine is always a good thing to do, I wouldn't count on it fixing the problem.

Second, the only thing I know of that works is taking ibuprofen (not Tylenol...a nurse friend recommended this) in that narrow window and then heading into a dark room for a nap.

If you find anything else that works, let me know! I don't get them often, but I can't think of anything worse than when they do happen!

Jennadesigns said...

Since I'm the migraine queen, I can't resist posting. First, I'm sorry, they suck. There is nothing worse than a terrible migraine, in my opinion.

After seeing a ton of doctors and finding out that no, I don't have a brain tumor (and I'm sure you don't either), this is what I learned.

I have a four-stage plan for my migraines, which average about 3-5 week.
I take a preventative medication: Verapamil, which is a calcium channel blocker, twice daily. It has cut down on the number of headaches... I don't get them daily anymore.
When I get one, if I catch it in that 10-minute window you talk of, I take what's called an "abortive" like Imitrex or MaxAlt, which usually fixes it within an hour or so.
If that doesn't work, which sometimes it doesn't (or if I wake up with a migraine, which is what frequently happens), I take 550 mg of what is the generic form of Aleve (the recommended dose is actually less on the package, but my neurologist said he has the best luck at 550 mg.) That usually does the trick.

And, at last resort, if that doesn't work, I take a vicodin or two, lay down in a dark room and try and sleep it off.

For me, what helps, other than avoiding stress, is not drinking at all (wine especially, while I love it, does it for me every time, I'll usually wake up with a headache). I did cut back on caffine... only 2 cups of coffee in the morning. Chocolate doesn't make much of a difference. Cheese doesn't trigger for me either, but it can for some (especially the sharper kinds). Also, some women on hormonal birth control are triggered by increasing/decreasing levels of estrogen/progesterone during the month.

I hope something in my rambling helps. Try the aleve... it's really been the best thing I've gotten out of all my neurology visits... and you can get it over the counter.

Good luck and feel better soon!

Katrina said...

WOW! Great tips you guys! I had no idea so many of my friends suffered from this too! I'll have to take the nap advice, and try upping my alleve/ibuprofen dosage! But from what I'm hearing you guys say, a cup of coffee in the morning probably would not be causing it??? But an entire pot might?... Hmmmm...I've never been a HUGE coffee drinker, but I do enjoy a cup or two in the morning. I'm just torn over whether it will help or hurt me on this. Ugh!

+gmjameson said...

Leon is a migrain sufferer.

He also has TERRIBLE sinuses. If it's sinus, he swears by Excedrin SINUS.

When he has just a mild migrain, he pops several excedrin migrain.

When it's a monster one (with all that you describe, plus for him being unable to walk) he takes prescription IMITREX, which Doc Hingst put him on. You have to anticipate (like you said), but it really works if he takes it as soon as he has the "halo vision".

Yoga has been a big headache reducer for me.

Interestingly, part of what makes Excedrin work is that it contains caffeine, which (if we understand right) closes down the blood vessels in the brain, which "flood" during a headache ...

Hang in there, you.

C Staude said...

Hi baby,
welcome to the family of migraine sufferers.
All your friends gave you really GREAT advice! I would concur that the caffeine is probably NOT the culprit... since most migraine stopper meds contain it to some degree.
I also use ice packs on my head... the little brick ones you put in a cooler work wonders in speeding up the pain relief and they give you something to focus on (coolness) instead of how much your head hurts.
I am going to try the Alleve advice you got the next time one hits.
I've stopped going to the chiropractor cos' the last 4 times I got "adjusted" I got a migraine within 48 hrs. - not a good I quit going! I'll take aches from arthritis ANY day over a migraine that makes me miss work!

Good luck... love you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Katrina,
Your friends offer good advice, but I have to disagree with them about the caffeine.
Caffeine is a HUGE trigger for me. I think it's because I drank tons of Mello Yello during college (sometimes 4-6 cans a day).
Yes, some pain relievers come with caffeine, and work for most people. But, we're all individuals & we know that what works for one doesn't work for another... so why can't caffeine be a trigger? It is very unusual, but I've learned that my body usually takes sides with the minority.
Be careful quitting caffeine cold turkey. You can get nasty headaches that way too. After I braved the headaches, someone told me that I should have eaten 1-2 m&m's (small amounts of caffeine) to ease the headache.

My Dr. (at the time) didn't think my birth control could be giving me migraines, but it was.

I have huge sinus problems too. If I can control a sinus headache, I can keep it from turning migraine.

My migraines are just like yours, with the aura first. (I get dancing zig-zag lines, which is enough to give a person a headache). I can't take the meds that work for some, because they put me to sleep -- not good at work.

I find an ice pack on the affected eye, a dark room, and a nap is what works best for me (though I do take ibuprofen & will try uping the dose).

Good luck, migraines SUCK!