Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Migraine Postdrome, and Now or Never

Sunday's migraine headache was the worst I have ever experienced. Now, I *finally* understand what I saw as a child: my mother, laid up in her dark bedroom in a nightgown all day long, only coming out to vomit. I wasn't allowed to 'bother' her, and my Dad took care of me on those days. As a child I was worried, but as a teen I thought she was being dramatic. How could a mere *headache* cause someone to lie in bed all day? She must just be lazy.

When I became an adult and had several children, I started to have a few migraines of my own. They were few and far between, but they got worse and more frequent over time... complete with the usual symptoms of auras, seeing spots or halos or colors, feeling dizzy, nausea, and being super sensitive to light and sound. Often, I could feel them coming on and knew that if I took some extra strength Excedrin and rested, it would go away or be mild enough that I could still function. But sometimes I really would have to draw the curtains shut, lie down with a warm rag over my eyes in a silent room, and just wait for it to pass.

Sunday was different. I described it already, but I thought I was dying. I have never in my life felt such a bad headache. The nausea was overwhelming. The Excedrin barely helped and it took all day lying down to start to feel even slightly okay. It was definitely associated with my monthly cycle. So I figured I'd get back on top of things Monday.

I couldn't. I was dragging all day yesterday. I felt *so* exhausted... totally wiped out. I mean, basically my daughter and I had almost nothing clean left in our closets so I HAD to do a load of wash, but it literally took me ALL DAY. First, taking the clothes down and putting them into the machine. Then I was so tired I had to lay on the couch and sleep. When I got up, I went and switched them to the dryer, then was so exhausted I had to lie down again. When my kids got home from school, they brought the clothes upstairs for me, and it took me all evening to get the stuff put away, piece by piece. I pretty much slept and rested all day! And when I woke up today after a full 9 hours of sleep, I was still wiped out. I thought something must be wrong with me. So I started looking around at medical websites. Apparently it is very common to have this "postdrome" syndrome after a severe migraine, where you feel completely exhausted, foggy, and weak for 2 or 3 days post-migraine. I do have a doctor's appointment next week and will bring this up, but I think it is just one of those things you can't really do much about. I had blood work just a month or so ago and it all looked excellent... so I don't expect there to be anything else going on. Hopefully that kind of migraine will be few and far between, and maybe tomorrow I will start to feel normal again.

My eating? Well yesterday it was better, meaning I got more nutrition in. On Sunday I probably only ate 500 calories or so because of the nausea. Yesterday, I had:

a few sips of black coffee
one saltine with Excedrin
a mug of ginger lemon herbal tea with a little lavender honey added

at lunchtime I was lucky enough to already have cut-up fresh cauliflower in the fridge, so I just put 1.5 cups of that in a soup pan with a cup of chicken broth and simmered it to make cauliflower soup. I added an ounce of shredded low fat cheddar and was able to eat half the recipe. I had the other half later, in the evening.

I also had one or two more saltines, one Medifast shake, another mug of ginger lemon tea with honey, and 6 ounces of 2% Fage Greek yogurt with lemon fish oil mixed in.

The yogurt, cheese, and cauliflower soup all together equaled all the requirements for one Medifast "Lean & Green" meal. So I got my veggies, protein, and healthy fat in for the day. I think I will do even better today.

I want to thank those of you who are sticking by me, reading, praying for me and leaving kind thoughts for me while I have struggled with getting this weight off. It is taking me a lot longer than I ever thought it would. Last night I was looking through my old posts, and it just breaks my heart to read my *own* struggles. I am sure it is hard for many people, and not knowing the entire backstory it is surely even harder to understand. I wish I could share everything that is going on in my personal life that has made this harder for me, but a long time ago I decided to not post other people's *stuff* here anymore, including my own adult children's, even when it is affecting me. Just know I have a lot going on, and yes, I have let some of it get in the way of taking care of *me*. Last night as I was reading my old posts, I had the distinct impression that it is now or never. and I mean literally... now or NEVER. I have been battling to get this weight off for years now. I can honestly see myself living the rest of my life this way if something doesn't drastically change; I could keep doing the same thing... losing 10, regaining 10, losing 10, regaining 10... over and over and over for the rest of my LIFE. I am not happy at 215-220 pounds but that is where I pretty much settle when I am only working at it half-assed. And that is the sad thing to me... if I gave up completely and didn't even try, I'd be over 300 pounds in 6 months. It takes a lot of *work* to stay at 215-220, for me. And part of my issue is that I feel like with all the work I am doing, I should be able to lose more weight. Even looking over those old posts from 2008-2009, I was really *working* at not regaining. I was biking 30 minutes, 6 days a week. I was strength training 3 days a week. I was doing other things, like walking and Wii Fit and workout DVDs. I was counting calories and eating a lot of produce. And still I regained to 240 pounds... simply because I was not consistent enough. I would do all of those things for 2 or 3 weeks and then something would happen (life stress, sickness, injury, whatever) and I'd binge and stop exercising and gain 11 pounds in one week. It happened more than once! So whatever I'd lose in the 3 weeks of being healthy, I'd gain right back in one week off.

Anyway, my point is that I see myself still in that same cycle. I have weeks where I do really well, lose weight, then... even though I no longer binge... I have a week of eating off plan and the weight comes back very fast, just like it did 4 years ago. It doesn't seem to matter that I was eating about 1500-1700 calories a day back then, it still came back on very rapidly. I digress again... my real point is, I can stay in this cycle and do all this work to stay 215 pounds, or I can have enough discipline to *not* go off plan at ALL and lose the weight for good. I have done it twice before (losing weight in a linear fashion): once when I began this blog, going from 278 to 214 by counting calories and exercising, and again in 2010, going from 234 to 175 on Medifast. The reason I was able to do it both of those times is consistency. I stuck with the plan for *months*. Not weeks, but MONTHS without much screwing up. Granted, when you weigh 278 pounds you can screw up a little more and the weight still comes off, but not now. Now, to get it off, I have to stay on plan for months without screwing up. Because when I screw up, the weight comes back three times faster than it came off.

This is the harsh reality. If I want to really get this done, I have to do it NOW. Right now, as in, this moment... this year. I simply cannot drag this "journey" on for another two or three or five years. I need to get this done THIS year and then spend the rest of my life maintaining the loss. If I do not do this now, I am going to be stuck in this cycle forever.


Anonymous said...

I have had migraines all my life - exactly how you have described. I will warn you against the Excedrin. I developed a bleeding ulcer due to all the aspirin I took. Yes, I know it's one of the things that works, but when you're in the ER getting 4 pints of blood, it's just not worth it. Any NSAIDs will irritate your stomach. Talk to your doctor about getting something else for the pain. Imitrex changed my life even though I still get them 2-3 times a week.

Mrs Swan said...

How about taking the key points of this post and enlarging the font and printing. Then put a copy of it every where around the house? That way if your feeling weak or wanting to binge you can read our own words and hopefully reconnect with the feelings your having right. this. second. I have not done this yet but it is something I have been meaning to try.

Princess Dieter aka Mir said...

I've never had a migraine, so I dont' know what that's like, but before they fixed my malocclussion, I had horrifying headaches that literally had me bawling as I crawled around on the floor. So I understand SOME of what you must feel.

Look, it's the height of arrogance to assume we all do things at the same pace, in the same way, and with the same zeal. All of us deal with our own set of issues and frailties, and we're not all teh same. I see some responses out tehre in webderland that are vicious and snotty to the max. As if they are God and get to tell everyone how they must be, to what extent, and how strong.

Well, we are not all similarly disciplined or strong or healthy or unburdened by psychological issues or emotional ones.

The point is that you HAVE NOT GIVEN UP on trying to fix what is wrong. I may not agree with some of your choices, and others may think I'm an idiot--but the point is that looking down on people solves nothing. NOTHING.

If anything, the only thing that offers a solution sometimes is to encourage folks to continue to fight and believe in themselves.

I continue to fight and I continue to believe in healing.

As long as you do, too, the door will open.

And for the scoffers, there is no crown, no reward, no bouquet for those who belittle. Not one. Because that doesn't make anyone's burden easier. Tough love is still love. Arrogance and ridicule is not love. When someone criticizes what choices you make because they love you and want you to do better: listen. When someone just has a laugh at your expense: ignore it.

Not everyone is on our side.

It's hard enough battling through life with frailties without support.

Keep at it, Lyn. Just keep at it. Never quitting is always essential... I've got some medical stuff of my own going on now that is vexing me, and some days I just get tired of this medical crap that's plagued me since I was born....but I keep going with hope. always hope.



LHA said...

Lyn, you have my sympathy. For your migraines, for your foot problems, and for your struggle to lose weight and keep it off. These are all big, serious problems and I think you are really to be commended for keeping up your commitment to working on improvement in all areas.

I totally understand why you don't blog about the stresses in your life pertaining to other people and go into detail about those personal things. Reading between the lines of your blog I sense a very painful sub-story and my suspicion is that this pain is behind much of your struggle with food. I say this because I have had similar experiences and I know how much emotional upheaval and stress can impact your eating. It also impacts sleep, mental health, and personal relationships. I don't need to know exactly what is going on in your life to know that unless you can find a way to make peace with these difficult issues it is going to be tough to keep the eating under control. I'm just speaking from my own experience here, and maybe it doesn't apply to you of course.

Sometimes the other people/responsibilities in our life are just too much for us! It is never easy to extricate yourself from them, especially when these problems stem from someone else's actions that are out of our control. Since you are reading your blog archives and can see what an up and down struggle dieting has been, I am wondering just how much of this is due to the unnamed issues you are dealing with? I know I sure have turned to food at times in my life where the stress of my family and relationships is too much, and have gained tremendous amounts of weight in the process. I just wanted to offer my sympathy and understanding. Maybe if you look at the causes of your stress again (I'm sure you do frequently anyway) and see if any of it can be mitigated or eliminated it will help with your very strong desire to lose the weight once and for all. I am sure pulling for you! You have an indomitable spirit, which is a wonderful thing.

Lori said...

I can so related to working hard to gain & lose the same pounds over and over and feeling like you should be at your goal because of the effort. Maybe it is a necessary part of this journey. At least that is what I keep telling myself. When I get to my goal, I'll have the tools to stay there.

I've never had a migriane that bad, but the few I've had have taken about 24 hours to recover after the headache is gone. I described it like my whole head was bruised. I hope you get the help you need soon.

Fair Enough said...

It seemed in your old posts there was a much bigger focus on fresh eating and produce. I think that would help....a lot more vegetables (Medfiast friendly, no fruits for now I guess). You don't really talking about new vegetables/shopping for produce/ that much anymore, I've noticed. I think it would help to get back into that. You can make a lot of good, simple stuff with winter veggies.

I've experienced really bad headaches since around age 12ish-I'm not sure if they'd be considered migraines since I've never seen weird light or any of those serious symptoms, but they're bad. It's associated with TMJ in my situation and it's a real pain, literally. I grind my teeth really badly at night, too, so that doesn't help. It generally will only affect one side of my face. Aleve is my standby, personally.

Taryl said...

I do wonder and worry about you when it gets quiet, and knowing the issues with your husband (now ex?) in the past, the ongoing health issues with you and the kids, the dietary ups and downs... Sometimes it is difficult to be supportive, not because of anything you've said or done but because I have NO comfort or wisdom to offer!

Migraines stink, I am so glad I've never had a complete/full one that has debilitated me. That's awful. I'm hoping you never have to have another like it :(

Anonymous said...

As a migraneur myself, I have always resented those who use the term to refer to a bad headache, when really it is a whole body experience with lead up and recovery and in between, for me anyway, a kind of exorcism process! The headache is the LEAST of the issue.

Those who know, know.

I need a cold room, a cup to vomit blue bile into, a washcloth, darkness and silence... for about 18 hours of hell.

Mine have increased in intensity but decreased in frequency with age.

Botox injections in my neck helped for severla years, but the procedure is too expensive for me now.

Otherwise Imitrex injections at the hospital. Nothing short of that has any hope in hell!

Good luck with your own! You are not alone.

JM said...

There are so many migraine medications now that you should DEFINATELY talk to your doc and go see a Neurologist to see what can help, also the book, Heal your headaches is very informative and a quick read.
Good luck getting the health in order, its a real challenge sometimes!

Anonymous said...

I have migraines, have since i was in first grade...i'm 41 now. that's a LONG time.
they have been anywhere from that nagging feeling to i canNOT lift my head off the pillow (or floor one time when i was trying to get to a phone to call for someone to bring me to the hospital. although i got to a phone, pressing the buttons made too loud of a noise that i couldn't bear to press another number! my brother walked in and freaked out that i was in the complete dark, on the floor, phone in hand, crying).
i have had my hubby wake up to find me rocking, holding my head in my hands groaning (cause crying hurts WAY TOO BAD) because i couldn't lay down, couldn't stand up, everything hurt too bad!
and YES...days prior, i get neck and/or shoulder stiffness, sometimes an 'off' feeling, smells are hyper sensitive, i get dizzy and nausea. Days after i feel like i had been hit by a truck and little to NO energy. my head feels bruised, my face (jaw and all the way up to my hair line) HURT, my neck and shoulders are SO tight and sore from the tension of the migraine pain and lasting so long.
I have been prescribed imitrex (tried MANY MANY MANY other meds and imitrex is the only one that didn't stop working after taking it a couple of times) and meds for vertigo (it helps with the nausea) because the imitrex doesn't always work alone.
I also have phenegren for times that it last so long and am not able to sleep from the pain.
I pray you find some answers. Mine are from hormones and others from what the neurologist says are seizures mamifesting as migraines. I took seizure meds for a while but HATED to way i felt. i weaned off of them and broke the cycle i was having (i had 18 days of migraines in one month) every so many months i get them that bad again, but will find a new neuro when i decide to have testing or get meds again.

Anonymous said...

I have never been overweight but found your blog through Pastaqueen a few years ago and have read ever since. You are such a great writer and I have always identified with you in the sense that you struggle but push onward; essentially, that is the human condition.

All of that being said, my mother (who was never overweight either) always said, watch a funny movie cuddled under a blanket when you are sad or sick and as soon as you feel able, get up and shower and fix your hair and makeup and get out of the house. Lol, May sound superficial but you know what? She was right in a lot of ways.

Sorry I dont have more formal advice but I wish you all the best.

Karen said...

I feel for you. Migraines are terrible.

Addressing the thought processes that take you off track- will be Key- IMO. It may take help from the outside to re-program those thoughts.

I know you say you don't binge, but for me, getting triggered is always there. Lurking behind the next bite. Sitting down to eat that Kit-Kat or even eat fruit while on MF- that's off plan eating.

For me- that is the "disease". Mine pops up when family members die. And when my "slippery slope thinking" gets the best of me. The difference in maintenance is the speed at which I catch myself. In the moment, a day, or a week at the most.

Never gone, just beneath the surface. I won't be cured, ever. Just in remission. Lapsed. Yes. Relapse. Not yet,but it could and does happen to people like me.

Good luck. You will stumble upon the answers. Keep looking and be willing to address the tough stuff.

It may prove to be less tough than repeating the cycle. You'll discover it, as you go.

Good luck and stay away from trigger food. It starts with food. Or, it starts with thought. Or it could start with exercise.

Safe travels. I think group help is but an online click away.

Karen P

Lyn said...


I got your message... thank you for the support :)

Chanelle Felder said...

Not a problem!

I really hope you get better. Although I have issues with brain tumors, i have never dealt with migraines and I actually fear getting them... not sure what I would do if I had another reason to be in bed all day besides having very little energy in general!

Keep trucking!


16 blessings'mom said...

Lyn, hugs to you! I have had my share of migraines, and when I am in the midst of a bad one I know why people would sometimes rather die than live with pain. And the "postdrome"...I didn't realize that was real, thought it was just me! I just want to say that I am rooting for you and praying for you as you struggle with your health and your weight. I am struggling and battling too, and have also decided not to give up!

p.s. one of the only good things about having pain as bad as a migraine is that when it is all gone, you wonder what you ever have to complain about!

Journo June aka MamaBear said...

I can so relate since I've had those hideous migraines, too. I call the next day the migraine hangover - UGH! Anyway, I have an awesome doctor now who is working with me to PREVENT the migraines. I do think there are ways to get your body balanced so migraines aren't a foregone conclusion! It's the thyroid, adrenals and hormones that all need to be balanced and fed. I think I'm getting there. After weekly migraines at one point, it's been quite a while since I had one, knock wood! Hope you can get it figured out for you, too!

Anonymous said...

I feel for you, I also suffer from migraines. I now take a daily beta-blocker which prevents many of them (hormonally triggered or "just because"- no specific trigger) but my main trigger is exercise. If I over-exert or overheat from exercise, it will trigger a migraine. IT's very hard to know where the line is; sometimes I can run miles and not get one- other days a light jog will induce a terrible headache (and yes I get the horrible "hangover" afterwards, which sometimes bleeds into ANOTHER migraine... this can last up to 2-3 days). Exercise has become very important to me and has been integral in my weightloss. It is so frustrating to have to risk a migraine every time I exercise. I struggle but I try to find a balance, recognize warning signs and decrease/stop my workout, etc. I also take Zomig when I get them which can help treat, but even that sometimes isn't enough, even with painkillers. Good luck to you, I hope your doctor refers you to a specialist and you can get help.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered magnesium supplementation? After the birth of my child, I began to suffer from migraines again (had them as a kid). After much research, I hesitantly tried magnesium. It's one of a few miracle supplements for me. I take 500 mg nightly, before ovulation and up to 800 mg before my period starts if I get the start of a migraine.

Mama T.

Lyn said...

Mama T~

no, I haven't. I have a Dr appt this week and will ask what he thinks about that. Thanks!