Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Migraine In The Work Place: My Story Plus A Study By The Migraine Trust Shows Prejudice In Work Place INCREASING



A bout of chronic migraines meant I had to quit my job last summer before I got fired.

This sounds quite dramatic, and is not necessarily the course of action I’d suggest for others, but I realized that I had to put my health first. I needed to concentrate solely on getting these migraines and other related health issues (my dodgy neck etc) under control once and for all, otherwise I could never have a career.

Unlike other migraineurs, I have always been very lucky with my bosses. My first real boss at a Head Hunting firm was actually a Doctor and an old family friend (yes nepotism is a wonderful thing), so was always incredibly understanding; as she knew about my car accident that had, for me, been the start of my migraine journey. I actually even started that job as a form of physical rehab, starting off 2 days a week. When I eventually moved to a bigger firm, I was a bit of a coward and didn’t know what I do now – that you can declare migraine as a disability (more on why this can be wise and brave below.)



Instead, truthfully, I asked if I could work for 4 days a week as I had to go to physio for my neck and needed other treatment. Working 4 days in that office was agony, I got occupational health to assess my desk, so my computer was set up ergonomically correctly and, yes, soon had to miss days due to migraine and my bosses were understanding. I felt awful letting down clients and co-workers. But I always stressed the physical aspect of my condition, that I had spine damage – not wanting to incur any of the usual plethora of misconceptions that go with migraine. But trying to sit at a desk for a full day was probably too much for me then and my migraines spiralled. Luckily I then got a scholarship to do a Masters Degree at New York University and do what I really love…..no brainer really – even though it means I’ll be broke for the rest of my life.

But when I came back from America (or rather was kicked out by immigration – really do I look like a terrorist?!) I decided I needed another ‘day’ job to help pay off student loans while I appealed my visa. So, I started another part time job helping to set up a recruitment company. Again, sitting at a desk was killer on my back, bright office lights and other migraine triggers started to come into play – and at this point I still wasn’t quite aware of the extent of the damage to my neck. And it was trying to do this job that I had my mega neck spasm after a 3 day migraine and the descent back into chronic migraines began. I had to miss so many days I felt bad for my lovely boss who, while being terribly understanding, was trying to set up his new company; the last thing he needed was me being a weight around his shoulders. Did you know absences due to migraine and headache cost the UK economy £2.25 Billion! I was also starting to make stupid and potentially disastrous mistakes – a result I’m sure of the migraines! So I decided to resign. For me, this was an incredibly tough decision. I stubbornly refused to quit for a while. One morning I woke with the start of a migraine, tried to get ready to go in, not wanting to call in sick yet again, and nearly fainted in the bathroom. Mum found me crying on the floor and begged me to give up the job.

Although this was by no means my dream job, giving it up meant I would have to stay permanently with my parents, give up any hope of independence and give into the fact that I was, once again, an invalid. Aged 31, it was soul destroying.

But weirdly, once I’d made the decision that I was going to give myself a year (psychologically I needed a time frame) to concentrate completely on getting to the bottom of my migraines and chronic neck pain and spasms, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. And a couple of months later this blog, Migraine Monologues was born!

This was in June 2011.

So why am I boring you with this tale of woe? Well, yesterday the mighty Migraine Trust unveiled results of a survey of migraine in the work place. What I find scary is that prejudice against migraineurs is worse now than when a similar survey was conducted in 2006!!  Why is this? How can we stop this?!

I know I have been very lucky with my work place experiences – but this survey shows I’m clearly in the minority. Since I no longer work in the corporate world I’m much more relaxed about telling people I suffer with migraines. I’ve found creatives are much more sympathetic! Yet, I still have to brace myself a little when I let people know in a work setting.  I am worried what they’ll think of me, but if I don’t make it crystal clear that this is a neurological, health condition that I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to be embarrassed about – then how on earth are the misconceptions and prejudices about migraine ever going to diminish? My theory now is that if I’m as clear, concise and as informative as possible about my condition and what I need, then there will be little room for outdated, ignorant assumptions.

The next time I apply for a full time or even part time position – I will be giving my new employers the Employment Advocacy Toolkit that the Migraine Trust launched today. As part of their User Group I got to see an early draft and I can’t tell you how much I wish I had access to this information (both from a legal and supportive angle) when I was working. You can declare migraine as a disability if appropriate – and if you do so then your employer is obliged to make “reasonable adjustments” accordingly. i.e you’re far more protected and your work place environment will be much more comfortable for you.

I do, totally, understand why people will be hesitant to ‘come out’ as it were – there is a stigma attached but if Ian Watmore, former Permanent Secretary at the Cabinet Office and Chief Executive of the Football Association can be open – so can we:

"I always declared to my employers once I knew I had migraine and all were supportive, as were fellow employees when I made it public. Being open about it enabled other employees to feel it was OK to admit to migraine attacks and not feel stigmatised.

I am living proof that it is possible to achieve your personal ambitions at whatever level while suffering from this dreadful condition.” (Taken from Migraine Trust Survey Results)


What to do if migraines are affecting your work?
1. Download the Employment AdvocacyToolkit.
2. Contact the Advocacy and Policy Manager – Hannah Verghese for further advice. This is a FREE service. You can also email Hannah at advocacy@migrainetrust.org or call 020 7631 6973
3. Remember that it is often easier to address the issues 'head' on - getting signed off work for a period of time by your GP might be the right option for you to give you time to try new treatments etc. Communication is key.

Remember you’re not alone! 



Friday, 23 November 2012

Jordin 'Sparks' interest in Migraine with Excedrin - & courts controversy

Jordin Sparks, the youngest winner of American Idol (the American version of X-Factor) has bravely put her name behind an over the counter migraine medication. Somehow it just seems slightly cooler than if, say, Rylan was to do the same thing. However, it is rumoured that another of this years X Factor contestants, Carolynne Poole, has struggled with migraines. Migraleve take note...


But back to Sparks. Last week Excedrin Migraine launched a huge campaign, including a new website with a Migraine Trigger App that you can even buy on i-Tunes. I haven't had a chance to check out the website fully but I applaud their efforts in getting migraine awareness out into the world, specifically the idea that we need to track our own individual triggers.

I also applaud Jordin Sparks for having the guts to own up, publicly, to suffering with migraines. Many celebrities refuse to do so believing that their careers and reputation will suffer. I understand this fear but the more of us (do you like how I lump myself with the celebs) talk openly about migraine the less taboo it will become. As I've written before, I'm pretty sure no-one would dare tell Serena Williams that having migraines makes you a wimpy, neurotic, hypochondriac who will never achieve anything with your life.

Which brings me to one negative aspect of the Excedrin Migraine campaign. This was brought to my attention by one of my favourite migraine bloggers, The Daily Headache. Kerry pointed out that the Excedrin advert featured the "fact" that:

 "Two-thirds of women would give up shopping at their favorite store for a year to stop their migraine attacks"

I'm not even going to bother talking about why this is so stupid, and once again perpetuates the myth that the only people who get migraines are women who clearly have nothing else to do but shop, as Kerry did a fabulous job in her post. She even launched a Twitter revolution and Excedrin ended up changing the 'fact'! Go Kerry!

On the whole, though, this Excedrin campaign is a step in the right direction and it's time that here, in the UK, an equally sparkly star (did you like what I did there?) spoke out like Sparks is doing. Below is a video of her talking about the migraine trigger app. Just imagine if Gary Barlow became the spokesperson for Imigran Recovery.....

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

“My Bra Is Giving Me A Migraine”


Hello, boys. I thought that would get your attention.



I must confess my bra is not currently giving me a migraine and the bra in question, in fact, belongs to a friend. Let us call this friend Joan.

Let us also change to the past tense.

Last month after a long day at work, Joan made a pit stop at Rigby & Peller (lingerie sellers to The Queen) to stock up on some much needed undergarments. Now Joan and I can both be described as voluptuous vixens with vast valleys of cleavage, so not for us the silly triangles of flimsy cloth held together with dental floss. No, we need under-wiring and reinforcement. This is where Rigby & Peller comes in, they make beautiful lingerie for real women, corsets the likes of which Dita Von Tess would be proud. And yes I bet her Majesty, The Queen, rocks some snazzy matching ensembles. 


Doesn't Joan look slightly different/familiar???
What does all this have to do with a migraine? Well, Joan had joyfully purchased two fabulous braziers (really quite beautiful) and decided to wear one on the train journey home to the Cotswolds (where she lived with her brood.) Unfortunately, she had been attended by a new, over zealous saleswoman/fitter. This young saleswoman decided to hoik up the straps, and pin Joan in so tightly she could barely breath the whole journey home. She also felt she owed it to her new, beautiful bra to sit upright; in a Grace Kelly fashion. To be honest I’m quite surprised her Madona-esq conical cleavage didn’t blind passing commuters.


Before Joan’s train had even pulled into the station, her neck and shoulders were a fiery furnace, and a steel band of pain was wrapping itself around her head. It was then I got the (now infamous) text: “my bra is giving me a migraine.” I rang Joan immediately and told her to take off the offending item at once! Obviously not in front of fellow passengers. (Don’t get too excited, she didn’t strip on the train.) You see she wasn’t used to such forced, upright posture, nor was she used to having thick bra straps digging into her shoulder muscles. Remember, these bras are well made. I like to imagine she’d also been jutting out her chin to complete the look. All combined Joan had been holding herself, mainly due to an ill fitted bra, in an awkward position for about 1.5 hours. Even Gypsy Rose Lee wouldn’t have had the abs and back muscles to hold a pose for that long.

Once safely home and unhooked, I told Joan to apply heat and her TENS unit. She also took her prescribed ZOMIG (triptan) and luckily the migraine wasn’t too bad.

What can we learn from this saga of the bra and the migraine? Well, bad posture, awkwardly held positions can (for some) trigger migraines and certain headaches (such as Tension Type Headaches and Cervicogenic Headaches.) Joan is not alone, the Daily Mail recently reported on this very issue! The headline was "Why your bra could be a pain in the neck" Slouching can also trigger headaches, so if you have to sit at a computer for a long time make sure you have the correct ergonomic set up (see image below), including the right bra. Obviously. I want to make it crystal clear that I still buy all my bras from Rigby & Peller (and Victoria Secret's because, well, they have my initials on!) as they are, usually, the best fitted and made. Joan was just unlucky that day with a new, inexperienced, fitter.
 
Yoga, Alexander Technique and Pilates can all help with gentle strengthening and posture (if you don’t have an acute injury in which case you should probably see a Physiotherapist or Osteopath etc.)

You’ll be pleased to hear that Joan re-adjusted the straps on her bra, is working on her posture, and is now living happily ever after with her Rigby & Peller purchase. 

Friday, 16 November 2012

"Study Connects Migraine With Celiac & Irritable Bowel"

Do forgive me for talking about such indelicate matters so early on a Friday morn - but alas the stomach and migraine is, well, a pain in the butt. Just yesterday I had another of my giving birth-esq stomach spasms that required my poor mother to administer wet flannels and mugs of hot peppermint water while I groaned on the loo. This reminds me that I really must talk to the Queen about recommending mother for the New Years honours list. 

I was also reminded that I a) need to have my follow-up visit with the dietician who put me on a clever diet that is meant to help with these spasms (which I have obviously been forgetting to follow) and b) write the blog post that tells you all about this clever diet. It's amazing the thoughts one has whilst in the bathroom. 

Appropriately, this week the migraine advocate and educator extrodinaire Teri Robert posted a link to a new US study  that confirmed what apparently we in Europe proved long ago: that there is a known prevalence between those who have celiac disease/and or irritable bowel and migraine. The results are quite astounding:

Study results:

(GS = gluten sensitivity)

Chronic headaches were reported by
  • 30% of celiac disease group,
  • 56% of the GS group, and
  • 23% of IBD group. 
  • Compared with 14% of control subjects.
There was a significantly higher prevalence of Migraine by ID-Migraine criteria:
  • 40% in the celiac disease group,
  • 21% in the GS group, and
  • 14% in the IBD group,
  • Compared with 6% in the control group.
When rating the impact of Migraine:
  • 72% of participants in the celiac disease group graded their Migraines as severe;
  • 60% of those with GS graded theirs as severe;
  • 30% of the IBD group graded theirs as severe; and
  • 50% of the control group with Migraines graded theirs as severe.
  • There was o correlation between years following a gluten-free diet and Migraine severity.
Although these results may come as no surprise to a lot of migraine patients - they suggest that migraine specialists and neurologists should make screening for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity a routine part of initial investigations. I was astounded to realise that the first time I was ever officially tested myself, was last summer by a Gastroentorologist. He was the first Doctor, after 13 years, who had ever suggested this as a possible trigger, despite me always mentioning my delightful stomach spasms. Though he did say that they were, most likely, a result of gastric stasis that occurs during (and they're discovering outside) migraine. In the end my results came back negative but he still referred me onto a dietician, much to my chagrin. And I'll tell you all about that meeting in another exciting blog post. 

But for now, if you still can't pin point your main trigger it really is worth looking into whether or not you might have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. I know a few migraineurs who have cut out gluten from their diet with incredibly positive results. It hasn't eliminated all of their migraines but cut out a large chunk - which is something I know many of us would wish for. 

Study Links & Further Info:

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Guest Blog Post! Hypnotherapy For Migraine; Not What You'd Expect.


When I lived in New York my Writing Mentor suggested I tried Hypnotherapy. Not because of my migraines, I must admit, but because she said "Us neurotic people need something to help us unwind."  I rolled my eyes, as obviously I'm totally calm and collected at all times, but went along as I'd heard that it can be useful for pain; specifically for those suffering with migraine. It was not at all what I was expecting. The fabulous Fiona Russell, who can be seen here talking about the impact migraine has had on her life, also decided to give it a go. Below she recounts her experiences.....


The word hypnotherapy tends to conjure up images of people in a trance, suddenly dancing around the stage pretending to be chickens as soon as the hypnotist clicks his all powerful fingers. And for those familiar to this blog, us migraine sufferers are willing to try anything that may ease our pain, even if we are made to look silly. However, the fact that it was the trusted National Migraine Centre offering these hypnotherapy classes and the word ended in ‘therapy’ and not ‘tism’ led me to believe that chickens would hopefully not be involved.

I was having 5 group hypnotherapy sessions with Patrick Browning (www.browning-hypnosis.co.uk) and we were being taught different self-hypnosis techniques. I think the word hypnosis may scare some people but you should think of them as relaxation or de-stress techniques. During the first session, Patrick put us into trance. I sat there, listening to Patrick’s voice, feeling a little skeptical, but the music and his tone of voice were so soothing and calming that I couldn’t help but unwind.  Very soon I was feeling like I was about to fall asleep. My limbs felt very heavy and when Patrick made a suggestion that we lift our arms, I was unable to. This is apparently called ‘limb catalepsy’ and if you’ve reached this state you know you are in trance. I felt extremely relaxed at this point and it was definitely a very pleasant feeling. I had come into the session with a migraine ‘hangover’ and after we’d been brought out of trance (by simply counting backwards from 10) I felt slightly better. Patrick then taught us how to take ourselves into this trance. Fortunately, he gave us CDs to help because listening to his super relaxing voice did make self hypnosis far easier, though I have just about mastered it by myself now. When you are in trance you can imagine yourself in a special place and give yourself positive suggestions. Though to be honest, I’ve just been using it as a helpful way to fall asleep at night after a migraine has wrecked my sleep pattern.

Patrick was also teaching us various other self-help techniques, with the hope that we would find at least one that would benefit us, as everyone has slightly different needs and everyone’s migraines are different. Some of the techniques were focused on how to reduce stress and worry, common migraine triggers. I don’t think I’m a particularly stressful person but I do get excited easily, normally when I have the chance to go out and socialize with people that aren’t my parents, what with being in my 30s and living at home. Unfortunately, I feel over excitement can trigger a migraine but Patrick said that some of the techniques for reducing stress can also work the same for excitement. Bit depressing that I have to lower my excitement levels but hey, if it stops a migraine, I guess it’s worth it.


We learnt the dissociation technique so we could dissociate from our body and the pain we were feeling. Hell, yeah, this would be super useful. Bye, bye migraine. I’ll just float above my head for 24 hours. During the session with Patrick, I didn’t believe anything would actually happen. Suddenly, I then had the strangest feeling where even though I knew I was sitting in a chair, I could not tell if I was upright or horizontal. I kid you not. My ‘awareness’ was floating about 2 foot away from my body but I could not work out where in space my actual body was. It was as if my spatial compass had gone awry and it was a bit scary and weird, so rather than just ‘go with it’ I did try and get back inside my own head. But now I know what it feels like I probably would be more relaxed next time. Unfortunately since then I’ve not managed to dissociate by myself, but all these techniques do need lots of practice.

In our last session we learnt the Symptom Imagery technique. Patrick took us into trance and then asked us to envisage that our migraine symptoms were an actual entity. He told us to just focus on the first thing that popped into our consciousness. I was starting to get a migraine at this point so my head was feeling very heavy. Thus, the first thing that I thought of that illustrated my migraine was the character, Kenny from South Park. Yes, the kid in the huge orange parka that gets killed off every episode. I’m not even a South Park fan, I can’t even remember the last time I saw an episode. I think it was just because his head looks huge, out of proportion and heavy which is what mine felt like at the time. Patrick then said in his lovely dreamy voice, words to the effect of,
‘now you can see your symptom, start a conversation with them and negotiate possible changes to make things better in the future’
Ah, hmmm this could be tricky. Kenny has a parka hood covering his mouth making his speech so muffled that it is incomprehensible. Any dialogue, let alone some sort of beneficial bargaining tête-à-tête, was just not going to work. As I’m writing this, it has come to me plain as day that what I should have imagined, is to have killed off Kenny i.e my migraine and exclaimed loudly
‘oh my God! They killed Kenny…the bastards’ and that would have stopped my migraine in its tracks. Unfortunately, my migraine was clouding my thinking so all I did for the rest of the trance was just look helplessly at Kenny. We had a pleasant time, it was quite relaxing, but it didn’t really help me feel better. Hmmmm I think I need to work on my symptom imagery.

Overall, I would recommend trying hypnotherapy. It may not be to everyone’s taste and obviously, as with all these treatments it is no instant migraine cure. However, with a bit of practice, most members of the group I was in found self hypnosis helped them to relax. This can only be a good thing. The more techniques we have at our disposal to ease our pain or distract us during the bad times, the better, I say.

Fiona is a Research Scientist specialising in Pain. How is that for irony? But her research focuses more on arthritic joint pain than migraines. She's about to start part-time research work in January at King's College London. She has had migraines for 8 years.

For more information about the National Migraine Centre check out their website or even better, give them a call and make an appointment!


Friday, 9 November 2012

Fancy a NICE day in Parliament?

I don't know about you but the last time I was actually inside the Houses of Parliament I was about 7, no I wasn't the worlds youngest MP but alas on some sort of School trip. But on the 19th of November I shall return to Parliament for a briefing on the NICE clinical guidelines on Headaches that caused such an uproar in the press last September.

I got to play a small part appearing on a few news items, including the Radio 4 Today Programme and this CBS American news show. Yes, I appear to have a weird American accent. Yes, I say the word candy....

Moving on. The point is anyone is welcome to come to this Parliamentary briefing on the 19th. All you have to do is get in touch with the Migraine Trust, specifically by emailing the lovely Hannah hverghese@migrainetrust.org.

On the topic of the NICE guidelines, the fabulous National Migraine Centre recently issued a comment from their Medical Director with his thoughts...makes for good reading.

Hope to see you all at Parliament....



Links:
http://www.nationalmigrainecentre.org.uk/thoughts-on-the-new-nice-guidance-for-headache-from-our-medical-director/

http://www.migrainetrust.org/event-nice-clinical-guideline-on-headache-appg-meeting-in-parliament-15786

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Introducing: MIGRAINEUR OF THE MONTH!



I am very excited to introduce the lovely, crafty Claire (of www.claireabellemakes.com)  as the very first ever Migraineur Of The Month! Isn't she lovely? I asked Claire some questions about her migraines and what she'd do if she was Queen for a Year.... 



CAN YOU REMEMBER AND DESCRIBE YOUR FIRST MIGRAINE?
I’ve had migraines for more than 15 years so I can’t remember the first time I had one. However, I do know what my migraines felt like in the early days (and still do now); searing pain on the left side of my head, like someone is pushing my left eye into my face (gross I know!), sickness, tiredness, dizziness, irritability…...I could go on. Unpleasant and relentless.

BEST MIGRAINE TOP TIP ANYONE’S EVER GIVEN YOU?
Research them! I’ve recently learnt that knowing what is happening to you when you have a migraine is vital. I don’t know why I didn’t read up on them more, I guess I just put up with them. Being able to recognise your symptoms and triggers and knowing how to treat them is key to managing them and living a close to normal life. Having other migraineurs to talk to is especially important to me too.

WORST TRIGGER?
Lack of sleep and dehydration. If I can feel myself yawning and rubbing my eyes I know one is on the way. I try to sleep and rise at the same times each day and avoid super late nights. I’m lame anyway, I can’t stay out later than midnight and I love my bed so I don’t mind this too much. I also find extreme exercise (I used to take intense 90 minute circuits classes) triggered them and wiped me out. I tend to take less strenuous activities these days such as aerobics and cycling.

FAVOURITE MIGRAINE COMFORT?
Chocolate and a cold wet press on my head.

WHAT’S THE WORST ASSUMPTION THAT’S BEEN MADE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR MIGRAINES?
I think I’ve been quite lucky, as I haven’t really had anyone make any bad assumptions. The only thing people say is that “you probably need glasses”, but I regularly have my eyes tested as I use a computer all day at work. Generally people have been supportive and willing to listen.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF DOING DESPITE LIVING WITH MIGRAINES?
Setting up my handmade accessories store! The last 6 months have been chronic with migraines including a killer 6 day one with immense pain and a hugely droopy eye which I couldn’t open. Amongst that, I’ve managed to get my Etsy shop and blog off the ground with success and enjoyment. I also managed to complete my Masters last year which I’m so proud of.
  
IF YOU COULD BE THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND FOR A YEAR WHAT WOULD YOU DO!?
I would make it compulsory for work places to serve afternoon tea and I’d have the corgis adopted to nice homes and replace with many Persian cats (sorry I’m a crazy cat lady). I’d also have permanent outdoor pianos put all over the country for the public to play. We recently had some on a temporary basis in Cambridge for a festival and it instantly lifted my mood every time one was played. It honestly left such an impact on me and no doubt it would brighten the streets. It has left a lasting effect for some odd reason. Probably because I was all emotional with migraine at the time I heard them being played haha!

All very selfish, but it’s a fantasy question right?!


Claire lives in Cambridge and writes a craft blog at www.claireabellemakes.com. She sells handmade accessories via her Etsy store http://www.etsy.com/shop/claireabellemakes.


Thank you Claire for being Migraine Monologues first ever Migraineur Of The Month! She's given some incredible top tips of her own here and I'm sure readers will agree, she'd make a fabulous Queen! Fingers crossed this next month is kind to your migraines, and there are no more 6 day affairs! x

If you would like to nominate someone to be Migrainuer Of The Month please give me their details! 
The next Migraineur will appear in the first week of December...




Friday, 2 November 2012

Migraine Hangovers & Facebook Status Updates from hell….


Facebook statuses often make me want to weep. Not only because they can be inanely boring, (I really don’t care what your Hamster ate for breakfast) and everyone in the WHOLE WORLD seems to be having a much more exciting life than me. Seriously, why is everyone posting pictures of their wedding/honeymoon/exotic holiday at the moment??? But the main Facebook status offender, for me, is the following:

(For legal reasons these are made-up examples closely based on real life examples)

“Got hammered last night, hangover from hell. Head exploding.”

“Last night was mental! Think I’m dying right now. Where did I leave my bra?”

“CAN NOT MOVE. Just vomed under my desk. AGAIN. Going to tell the boss I’ve got the flu. Never doing flaming sambuca shots again.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I love a good night out as much as anyone. I too literarily think I’m dying when I have a bad hangover and swear I will never touch any alcohol that is blue and comes in a test tube again. But people, for those of us with les migraines (that’s French for migraine) we get hangovers too, of a different sort. The kicker is we don’t get the fun night that usually precedes a killer hangover. The hangover I’m talking about is not self-inflicted.


No-one really talks about migraine hangovers; the technical term is Postdrome phase. Yes, that’s right, a migraine is actually split up into 4 phases, fun! So once the ‘headache’ painful bit has passed, comes what I like to call the hangover. Not everyone experiences all phases and I’ll write about them in more fascinating detail another time. Recently, for me, the postdrome has been almost as bad as the migraine itself and can last for a day or two. I’ve debated with my Neurologist whether this hangover is due to the migraine itself or the Triptans I take. This phenomenon is actually an on-going debate within the migraine community, and the least studied of all the phases. I really wish they’d make a pill just for this bit.

Basically, a migraine hangover is pretty much like your alcohol induced mega hangover. I feel like my whole body is bruised, specifically my neck feels incredibly tender, if you just touch it lightly - that hurts. My throat aches and I feel like I have cracked ribs and bruised lungs (if such a thing exists). And let’s not forget my poor tummy. Ow. In short I feel like I’ve been beaten up, like I’ve been mugged the day before.  And then someone has kindly filled the world with knee deep water that I have to laboriously wade through to get anywhere. So, the best and only thing I can really do is lie in bed and wait for it to fade. Obviously I’m pretty knackered too, having been through anywhere between 4-72 hours of migraine fun. I usually pretend I’m floating on pink fluffy clouds as that would be less painful than my bed, which suddenly appears to be made of nails. So although the migraine has gone, one is not exactly in a great state. This is also a dangerous time, as if you attempt to do anything, such as force yourself to go out to a previously agreed meeting, there is a very real possibility that you’ll just invite Mr Migraine back for round two.




Weirdly, I crave the same foods as when I have a normal hangover – i.e junk food/greasy fries, full fat coke. But sensible is to try and drink as much water as possible to flush out the system and eat fruit/fresh veg. Though Mum (otherwise known as Saint Jill) is always telling me to ‘listen to my body’, so…. I also just lather myself in hot water bottles but also try not to get too stiff, again as that could just re-trigger another migraine. As I said, it’s a perilous time. 




The problem I have now is that a normal, next day alcohol hangover headache will automatically turn into a migraine. So, it’s a question of deciding if the occasion is worth risking a migraine for and laying aside a few days for recovery, after all life is for living. For example, a good friend of mine got married last December. I asked another friend to drive me to the wedding in my Mum’s car. I was actually coming out of a migraine hangover state but I rallied, even danced till the end of the night! I had a lot of fun but at 4am was giving myself Sumatriptan Injections.  But I had a great evening and am glad I was there for my friend. Look, here's a picture of us later in the evening, yes, I did decide to dress as a Christmas bauble...



Plus, I’m a very useful friend to have around when you have a normal hangover. Being a virtual walking pharmacy I can dole out all sorts of potions and pills like Mary Poppins herself.

Of course, the sensible option for a migaineur is to go home early or sip water all night. Alcohol itself can be a migraine trigger, but that’s a whole other blog post.




In conclusion, it’s not that I have absolutely no sympathy for my non-migraine buddies who are nursing their hangover heads, it’s just that I had 10 hangovers of my own last month and only one was self-inflicted. If anything I miss not having the wild, hysterically funny tale of how I got this horrendous hangover. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to post some pictures of my extremely cute kitten on Facebook accompanied by some terribly witty remarks….

Do you get migraine hangovers? What are your top tips for this phase?

Other insights/further information:




 Coming up:
Nerve Blocks of All Sorts
Topamax Part II
I'm not part of a Cult - I just live at home!




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