Saturday, 27 April 2013

What I've Already Tried

Every migraine sufferer I've spoken to has experienced the exact same thing I have - 'helpful' suggestions.  Everyone seems to know someone whose migraines were 'cured' by something that they think I should try, or they've read something in the news that was apparently a miracle cure which they insist I should be trying or they've just heard general migraine trivia and can't help but tell me about them as though I wouldn't know already.

What non-migraine sufferers (and indeed also some sufferers) don't seem to understand is that migraine is different for every person who experiences them.  The circumstances required to 'trigger' a migraine are complex and is more about thresholds than triggers which I talked about when I discussed my everyday life with migraine.

I thought it might be useful for people who know me, who genuinely want to help me but who don't want to keep helpfully suggesting things I've already tried, if I listed the things I have tried already and those I'm planning to try next.  I expect this list to be a dynamic one which I will update as I try new things.

This isn't a journey I'm going through on my own, just making things up or doing whatever people suggest to me, I have specialist care at the Headache Clinic at York Hospital and I work with them regarding my treatments so if you suggest something which seems legitimate and isn't on my list, please don't be offended if I don't try it.

Without further ado, these are the things I've tried with those I currently use in green:

Acute Treatment

Paracetamol & Codeine

Preventative Treatment

40mg Propranalol 3 times a day
80mg Propranalol 2 times a day
1.5mg Pizotifen once a day

Other Treatments or Potential 'Triggers'

Food Elimination.  I haven't found any food or drink other than alcohol to be a 'trigger' for me.  These are the things I have eliminated to see if my migraines improve without them:
- Alcohol
Citrus Fruits
Pickled foods
Dried fruits

Clinical Psychologist (as referred to by my Headache Clinic)
Acupuncture (as referred to by my Headache Clinic)
Regular Sleep Pattern
Weather Changes
Hormones - I tricycle the combined pill (Loestrin 20) to level out my hormones to prevent the migraines I always got at ovulation and mentruation
Good Hydration
Avoid Bright Lights
No Exertion
Regular Meals
Reduced Travelling
Stress Management
Eye test and new glasses

Things I'm planning on trying or considering trying:

A different preventative medication such as Amitriptyline or Topamax
Regular gentle exercise
Professional massage
TENS unit
An eye patch (see my previous post as to why this might help me)

If you're not a fellow chronic migraine sufferer then it is possible that you may know something which could help me,  but chances are I already know about it and there's a reason why I haven't tried it and I'm not planning on trying it.  You're free to suggest it but please don't be offended if I simply direct you to this post or I don't try it for reasons I don't explain to you.
If you ARE a fellow chronic migraine sufferer and there's something you think I'm missing, please do tell me!


  1. Hi Daisy! That's pretty extensive :)

    I've tried most of those, esp the lifestyle stuff. I'm not sure if you've tried magnesium or not, it's a big help for some people and works well for me. But YMMV :)

  2. Such a good post! Have you read Victoria's post on "Unhelpful helpers"? It's so true!

    I think the main thing is what might work great for one person doesn't work at all for another.

    A couple of other lifestyle things that have helped me have been meditation and yoga first thing in the morning (just 30 mins). I guess it's all just about reducing your threshold - whatever works!

  3. It's dreadful that the situation has become so bad that your migraine condition is beginning to define you as a person, rather than your hobbies or creative pursuits.

    I'm going to make an Unhelpful suggestion anyway, though, because the intrinsic contradiction in wanting to tell the world about your condition in various public places and denying you want help is too difficult for me to reconcile. I could be wrong, but I think you do want help - just not the usual type.

    This may not help your migraine condition at all, but have you had any help for the depression you're suffering from? I don't mean the superficial migraine-induced despair. The solution to that is obvious (if difficult to find).

    What I mean is the longer term depression lying under the surface, which is causing you to feel so shut off and helpless when the pain lets up. The depression which is making you build up walls around your emotions and separate people into groups of "those worthy to understand me" and "people with no problems of their own". The depression which makes you plan exciting things for your future, often involving things you already know to be triggers, so that you can be all the more cruel to yourself when they don't work out. Whether it's subconscious that you are continuously setting yourself up for more misery or simply a desperation-fuelled optimism is something only you know, but it's not good for you. Even your positive plans to attack your illness, when viewed in the light of depression, can become further sources of stress: constant cycles of trying and failing are a classic way to feed depression with low level stress without even realising you're doing it. In that respect I think ignoring the advice of others steadfastly is the right thing to do (and I recognise the hypocrisy).

    I know it's not appropriate to make accusations of depression when you have a good job, house, family and so on. It's not politically correct, and chances are you will take it the wrong way or see it as an attack on your lifestyle. I'm just saying what I see, and I think it's an avenue worth exploring if you dare to stare it in the face one day. The best part about the suggestion is that you don't actually have to do a thing about it; just keep your eyes open (when the sun isn't too bright) for any signs, and steer your approach accordingly.

  4. I've heard very good things about magnesium from friends who suffer from Fibromyalgia. I've not tried it myself yet.

    I have a tens, I find it's useful whilst it's on but as soon as it isn't on any more the pain comes back - granted I've only used it for Fibromyalgia pain rather than my migraines.

    Your list looks a lot like my list. I'm on a permanently very restricted diet now. I sure know it when I deviate off it.. so I try to be good and abstain from deviating.

    On my list to try is also a lightbox. This worked wonders with my sister when she had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and is meant to help with other syndromes like Fibromyalgia. I wonder if this translates across to migraines or whether the light would trigger them. Food for thought..

    (sorry, I have only just got round to reading your blog, so you'll be inundated with my useless comments now!)