Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Migraine Management

It starts out with a vague tingling all over my scalp which causes me to tense up my shoulders and neck. No matter how much water I drink I remain thirsty. Nausea makes its appearance. Eating a snack helps for a few minutes; fluorescent lights begin to blink - I can see the waves of photons flashing on and off giving me a sense of vertigo. I try to relax my shoulders, neck, and back, but the relief is for only as long as I can concentrate on doing so. Before I know it, I am tensed back up. My face becomes flushed and the tingling that started on my scalp begins to make my hair hurt - I know this is strange, but it is so. I start to feel dehydrated and feverish, ache-y, almost flu like. Now I feel as though a giant is standing behind me and he has placed  his big paw, fingers spread on top of my skull and he is pressing down and squeezing my brain. Bright lights intensify the general discomfort I am feeling. Smells pleasant and otherwise turn my stomach. I long for an inert environment, no smells, no lights, no heat, no noise. Now, when I have to bend over, read, or look down, the membrane between my skull and brain begins to throb. Before days end, and with still an hour's drive to get home, the throbbing is constant, the nausea is ever-present and intensifying; the air conditioner is on high, the vents directed right at my bright red face, but I can still feel the hot blood coursing through my skin. This is my migraine headache.

Here's how I fix it.

Supply List:

Damp, not dripping clean wash cloth.
2 Excedrin Migraine tablets
Ice cold glass (not plastic) of water
Oscillating fan
3 Pillows
Dark Room
Pleasant smelling (to you), natural essential oil like peppermint, lavender, or rosemary.
Loose fitting clothes

Step 1 - soak the wash cloth in cold tap water, wring it out so it is very damp but not dripping wet. Throw it in the freezer.

Step 2 - take the Excedrin tablets drinking the entire glass of ice cold water.

Migraines are generally accompanied by a feeling of fever. One can sometimes not cool down, the face is flushed and hot, one can sweat. 

Step 3 - Take a "quick-as-cold-as-you-can-stand-it" shower. Don't use soap, the aroma can make the headache worse.

Dry off so you are not dripping wet but leave your skin a little damp.

 Step 4 -Put on your pajamas or whatever loose fitting clothes you are comfortable in.

Tight fitting clothes increase the discomfort and exacerbate the stress you are feeling.

Step 5- Stack the pillows on your bed so you will be comfortably reclined. And set up a fan in such a way that it will gentle blow air across you as you lie down.

Step 6 - Get the wash cloth out of the freezer, go to the bedroom, close the door, turn out the lights, lie down, take a brief sniff of the oil (I like peppermint or lavender),  place the wash cloth over your face.

Make sure it is quiet and you are comfortable and able to relax shoulder and neck muscles. Lying on your back, I have found, is best.

Concentrate on relaxing and breathing. Consciously refrain from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw.

Follow this breathing pattern.

Deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold it for just a moment.
Exhale for 8 seconds. (I usually just count the throbs of my temples to keep time). Hold for a second.
Count 1.
Repeat this.
Count 2 and so on.

Counting and breathing keeps your mind off your crappy day, how bad you feel, and any stresses that may creep into your mind that may cause you to tense up again.

I have found that I will drift off to sleep within about 5 minutes and if I don't have anything to do, and the family is willing, I will sleep all night. But, if I do need to get back up to take care of things during the evening, I usually am able to and I wake up refreshed and pain-free.

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