Pain, Pain, Go Away
What a week it’s been, and not in a good way for the most part. What was good was that I finally got the internet service connected at my new house on Tuesday morning then worked the afternoon. That evening, I set up my secure wireless network, did a little catch-up surfing, and went to bed.
On Wednesday, I awoke with a headache. By the time I got up, showered, dressed, ate breakfast, and drove halfway to work, I realized with some horror that it was a migraine. And my migraine medication was back at my house.
I turned around and drove home, but by the time I got there, the migraine was full-blown. The speed with which this one developed surprised me. I took my medication but realized that, to a certain extent, the damage was done. Sumatriptan succinate, the drug whose brand name is Imitrex, helps stave off a developing migraine and shortens one that has already developed. But in the latter case, it doesn’t do much, at least for me, to migraine “hangover” and the irresistible need for sleep that follows. So I called in sick to work.
A couple of notes about my migraine experience are in order. First, I’ve had migraines since college, when I was told they were tension headaches because of the lack of classic aura and the fact that I was drinking ridiculous amounts of caffeine. I would learn later that caffeine can trigger migraines and that the tense neck muscles that accompanied most of my headaches were a symptom, not a cause.
Once my doctor finally made a migraine diagnosis, she advised me to pay attention to foods and beverages whose consumption was followed by a migraine. I can’t say I’ve seen much of a pattern, having gone off most caffeine in my thirties because of another medical condition. I’ve read that the most common food triggers are chocolate and red wine, neither of which I have very often because of yet another medical condition. (Aside: it’s amazing how many health problems can be caused by what we eat and alleviated by what we don’t eat.)
But there is one trigger I have noticed that has nothing to do with food: Sleep deprivation. When I’ve had very little sleep, due to either insomnia or an event that keeps me up into the wee hours of the morning, I seem more susceptible to a migraine the next day. And insomnia is something that has plagued me since I moved in February.
My co-workers have a theory about my insomnia, which they attribute to the stress of home ownership. While that sounds reasonable in theory, I believe the more likely cause is that I no longer give myself any pure relaxation time in the evening. Whereas I used to watch a little TV in the evening and then perhaps read for 15-30 minutes before bed, now I spend all evening doing things. For a month after the move, it was cleaning, unpacking, and getting settled, which I would do every evening after work and supper, stopping only when it was time for bed. Now it might be ironing, dusting, sweeping, grocery shopping, or any number of omnipresent to-do items. I can’t remember the last time I relaxed in bed with a good book before turning out the light.
So last night, I tried it. The timing was perfect—I had just found out what my book club’s selection for August was—so I downloaded it to my Sony Reader. I poured myself a cold glass of grape juice (yummy!), turned on the stereo, got comfy in my family room, and started reading. An hour later, I was feeling much more relaxed and headed to bed, where I proceeded to sleep like a rock until I was awakened by the strains of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” on the CD alarm clock.
The upcoming holiday weekend will give me an opportunity to test my new routine a few more times before heading back to work. It will also give me time to catch up on blogging, which has gone by the wayside this week between getting my wireless network set up, enduring the migraine and its aftereffects, and then catching up on everything that fell behind at work.
It feels like I’m resetting myself. I can only hope that better habits will keep the migraines away.