Saturday, 16 November 2013

Water Challenge Week 3: How much exactly?

I have now discovered why I can never stick to a new diet for more than 3 hours.

I just plain forget about the diet. And, I just plain don't really care.

But I do, really really, want to stick to my water challenge! I installed the app that pings at me every hour with a helpful reminder that I need to drink more - but I simply press 'dismiss'. And then I forget that I should be drinking more. Then I remember and think 'meh'.

This is, clearly, not very productive. I am determined to do the challenge PROPERLY for the final week.

I also now have some better guidance from The National Migraine Centre and The Migraine Trust.

The Medical Director of the National Migraine Centre advised ME to try for 2 Litres on average. This is going to be interesting as I'm barely managing 1ltr. You should, as always, check with your own Doctor before deciding on an amount.

The Migraine Trust pointed me towards some very helpful, fact based, information. They sent me a link to the NHS Choices website  which recommends 1.6ltrs for a female, and they also highlighted the following:

Dr Anne MacGregor’s book ‘Understanding migraine and other headaches’ (Family Doctor Books, 2006) includes the following:

‘Dehydration is a common cause of headache and is also implicated in migraine.  A recent study of increasing daily fluid intake by at least one litre per day showed that increased water intake reduced the total number of hours and intensity of headache episodes’. 

There is, however, no information as to the total amount of water the participants in the above study drank each day overall. Also, go and read Dr MacGregors book RIGHT NOW if you haven't, it's a great 'intro' to migraines. 

So, it appears that I will generally benefit overall if I just drink more bloody water. I am going to do it I tell you, I will! 

Wish me luck. 

p.s If you have any migraine related questions do call the Information and Enquiry Service that the Migraine Trust provide FOR FREE!! Then go and book yourself an appointment at the National Migraine Centre to see a migraine specialist. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Water Challenge Week Two! In which I forget there is a challenge

Confession: I completely forgot I was doing a Water Challenge for most of this past week.

I suddenly remembered at about 10pm on Sunday but decided that trying to drink 1.6 litres of water, so close to bed time, might lead to a nasty accident. 

Other days I have been very good. On my desk now proudly sit my nalgene and bobble bottle. Combined, they make up exactly the ammount of water I'd like to drink every day. What I have learnt this week is that I have very sporadic drinking patterns. Some days I'll meet my quota without even noticing and others, like Sunday, I'll realise all I've had to drink that day has been two cups of tea. And possibly some Gin. 

You, dear readers, have been much better at the challenge than I. One of my friends posted on twitter that in just one week she's noticed a massive difference; she has more energy, feels less foggy and is sleeping better! Isn't that fantastic?! 

She is using a brilliant app called 'Hydro' - which helps you work out how much water YOU should be drinking. The National Migraine Centre and The Migraine Trust are both going to get back to me re amounts next week - but I'm realising it's a little like asking 'how long is a piece of string?'. As with all things migraines, it's very individual. 

So this next week I shall be using the app (which includes cups of tea etc) to help nudge me on in my quest to become a regular drinker of water! 

I'd love to hear how others are getting on - and thanks for all the support! x

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

I'm fine thanks, how are you? When you DON'T want to talk about migraines

This is what occurs when I go to the GP:

Computer Tannoy bleeps: V.SAXTON to room 3. Room 3.

V. Saxton gently knocks on the door of room 3 - because this is polite. Even though V.Saxton has, effectively, been invited in she still wants to check the GP is ready for her. 

GP: Come in?

V.Saxton: (beaming smile, outstretching hand ready for vigorous hand shake!) Hello, hello! How are you today? I'm fine! 

GP: Er...

Unfortunately, I always seem to go into 'interview - get a job' mode when I see any Doctor. I don't know why. I beam, sit up straight, talk clearly and feel like I must give the best impression. It was only about a year ago I realised this really had to stop. I looked over some old notes from a pain specialist who wrote that I seemed happy and to show no anger at my condition. Well, that wouldn't be British would it? My stiff upper lip manner meant, however, this particular pain specialist didn't take my pain seriously. 

I fear I was brought up too well. 

The whole point of this blog has been to try to break the taboo of talking about migraine. I want to encourage conversation, to dispel the myths and misconceptions that surround migraine. Because of this blog I frequently get asked about my migraines and migraines in general. This is brilliant. This is the point of the blog. I will happily chat to anyone about migraines for hours on end. 

However. However. 

Sometimes I just don't want to talk about it, and not just when I'm at the GP's. I feel migrained-out. Sometimes I just want to say "I'm fine, thanks. How are you? Did you see 'Home&Away' yesterday?" I know this completely contradicts most of the posts I've written here. I've written about the burden of living with an invisible illness that no one but your Mum knows about. But sometimes I simply want to talk about Miley Cyrus Twerking and if the new Sandra Bullock space film is any good. I don't want to have a deep and meaningful conversation about health, mine or anyone else's. 

This past weekend Mum had a drinks party. Her friends have been incredibly supportive. They frequently ring to check on us, send articles and genuinely seem invested in how I'm progressing. But I didn't have the energy to answer all of their (well meaning) queries. "How are you, really? You can tell me." I feel awful because they do care and have been so kind. And it is so lovely when people do actually ask. I've often been incredibly hurt when I've seen friends and they don't seem to care. But I was feeling well (i.e no headache in sight) at the party and didn't want to think, or dwell, on migraines. I wanted to be normal, I guess. My Dad has the same problem. He'll just have recovered from a bout of Pneumonia, when a friend will call to ask how he's doing and he'll reply "I'm fine, thanks. How are you?" End of story. Move on. 

I can hear myself sounding like a whinging brat. I want to pick and chose when I talk about migraines. I can't expect to write this blog and not be asked about migraines. It's a kind of selfish catch 22, maybe?   I'm not even sure what I'm trying to articulate (as you can probably tell from this jumble of a post). 

My answer at the party was: "I'm on an upward trajectory, thank you so much for asking". 

Is this rude? I hope it's not. I want to acknowledge that I'm grateful you asked but today, for whatever reason, I don't want to talk about it. Migraine can be such a conversation killer that, occasionally, it's easier not to open that can of worms. Even though I do think we should all talk more about migraines so friends, family and co-workers understand what we go through. I clearly should not be so polite/restrained/weird when I'm at the Doctors. We should all talk about migraine all the time - except when I don't want to. 

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Water Challenge

8 glasses a day.

This is my future husband.
I'll meet him when I've done the water challenge. Obviously.

Perceived wisdom (i.e. pretty sure I heard this on ITV's Daybreak once) suggests women should drink 8 glasses of water per day. But what size of glass? Surely 8 tiny glasses of water is massively different to 8 giant pint sized glasses? WHAT KIND OF GLASS! This wishy washy 'guideline' has always annoyed me. Be specific people.

Dehydration is a well known migraine trigger. Dehydration even  contributes to headaches of - what I shall call - normal people (i.e. non migraineurs). I often get thirsty when a migraine is on the way. At the moment I also happen to be waking up thirsty. But this is just because a Doctor once told me not to drink anything an hour before going to bed so I wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night needing to pee. It's so annoying when you wake up needing to pee. It interrupts precious sleep hygiene patterns! I think I may be slightly dehydrated.

Yesterday this article in the Daily Mail caught my eye. A woman drank 3 LITRES of water a day for a month - her headaches (and skin) dramatically improved. Apparently she looked 10 years younger. But don't all rush out and drink from the nearest overflowing faucet. Drinking too much water can also be bad for you. Which is why I need to know exactly how much 8 glasses of water a day really is.

Step in NHS Live Well Website.

The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluid and men should drink about 2.0 litres of fluid per day. That's about eight 200ml glasses for a woman and 10 200ml glasses for a man.

Thank you NHS. Annoyingly the Mayo Clinic Website says women should drink 2.2 litres a day. Hmm. It seems to be a variable. The woman in the Daily Mail article was checked out by a Neurologists and her GP before she started her mighty water challenge. She was drinking double the 'recommended dose' - but the benefits are clearly visible.

So I've decided to do my own water challenge. I know I don't drink enough water - and I'm not going to count cups of tea, fruit juices, or my other favourite clear liquid - Gin.

I am going to measure out 1.6 litres each morning and make sure I drink every last drop every day for the month of November. No moustache growing or writing a novel in a month for me. I shall be doing NaWatmo...? It's not very catchy. But I won't be alone, the fabulous Fran is going to join me.

I will be utilising my new bobble water bottle (pictured below) and the plethora of Nalgenes I have collected from various American universities over the years. My plan is to scatter them about the place so water is always on hand.

To make this scientific - here is a delightful picture of me this morning. I will take a picture every Friday this month to see what we can see. And below right is Fabulous Fran. She already looks pretty good to me - but she has no idea how much water she drinks and wants to find out if it will effect her migraines. Will we be transformed in 4 weeks?

Wow - Halloween! 
The lovely Fran. She's already had 1ltr H20

I've written to The Migraine Trust and the National Migraine Centre to get some more information on dehydration and recommended water intake, which I will share with you. Please don't join us on this challenge without making sure it is healthy for you. Check with your GP that increased water intake wont clash with any medications you're currently taking.

So - here we go. Bottoms up! Fran and I will be keeping you regularly updated on our hydrating journey.

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