I assume that many of you who follow this page are struggling with migraines, since that is the focus of this blog. As you know the struggle is physical, emotional, and difficult for others to understand. It is frustrating in its persistence and severity, leaving many wondering, “Why is this happening to me?” The impact on relationships, work responsibilities, and ability to go places raises questions about purpose in life.
Some have wondered how I have been able to have joy in the midst of this kind of suffering. There is only one answer to that question: my faith. I used to wonder how a person’s faith could provide strength to bear afflictions. Now I know, and I want others to know. In my new book, “More Precious Than Gold,” I have written specifically about the thought process I have gone through the past several years during my worst period of migraines and vertigo. You may wonder how I felt like writing a book, given that it is so difficult to even come up with words during the pain and brain fog of a migraine. I have been feeling better, but not migraine-free, and worked to get my thoughts down while I could.
I am aware that many of you may not be Christians and therefore not interested. However, I ask you to consider the following questions:
- Do you have hope for the future?
- Do you have peace with your circumstances?
- Do you have joy even when you’re not enjoying?
I answer yes to all of these questions because of my adoption into God’s family, the care He gives while I am in this life, and the promise of the life to come with Him in Heaven, where there will be no more tears or pain. This is only possible by accepting Christ as my Savior.
“More Precious Than Gold” is not all about me. Rather, it is an explanation about how the Christian faith works to strengthen a believer going through a trial. I do use “clips” from my migraine experience as illustrations, but the points made apply to any type of trial. If you are a believer, please be encouraged by this book. If you are not a Christian, please consider my testimony as a taste of what is possible.
Available now on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle
Follow me at: www.facebook.com/KimDunkelbergerAuthor/
While I will continue to post here as I have new recipes and information regarding how I manage my migraines, I want to let you know that I am starting a new blog. The purpose of “Commissioned by Him” is to share what I am learning in my Bible study as I attempt to focus on how to endure my trials biblically.
As you know migraines are miserable. I have been able to endure through faith in Christ who helps me to bear all things. I hope that something I share on this new blog will encourage you as I have been encouraged.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
While I am blessed to finally be at a point that my migraine frequency and severity has been greatly reduced, there has been a price to pay. It has been relatively easy to accept the food limitations, shields from bright lights, and frequent earplug use. However, it has not been easy to accept everything I must do to avoid airborne chemical triggers. This requires that I stay at my home with the air and water filters that we have installed, a lonely proposition.
Many of the triggers for my migraines and vertigo are chemicals included in air fresheners and cleaners commonly used in most buildings, such as grocery stores, doctors’ offices, restaurants, libraries, and churches. The perfumes, scented lotions, and laundry detergents used by people who go to these places also fill the air with chemicals that quickly reduce me to an immobilized lump. Until now, my only option to feel well enough to function in my roles at home was to stay there. I have finally found an option that allows me to venture out of my house for short periods of time: a respiratory mask.
The first one I tried was the “I Can Breathe” mask which I found to be comfortable. Elastic bands fit around the ears rather than the neck which I like. I had a good seal around my chin but could not get a good fit across the bridge of my nose. Therefore, air leaked in without being filtered, and air leaked out, steaming up my glasses. I ended up getting a migraine the first time I used this in a room with a lot of perfumes. I also felt like I was struggling to breathe, perhaps because I had to breathe in and out through the filter medium.
The second mask I tried was the “Respro Allergy Mask” with the chemical and particle filter. This mask includes one-way valves that allow exhaled air to be easily expelled, an improvement over the “I Can Breathe Mask”. However, this mask is strapped around the neck which was initially uncomfortable for me. It presses on areas in my neck that tend to hurt during migraines, and I initially thought this would trigger a migraine. This has not been a problem as I have adjusted to the mask though. Other adjustments have been necessary for comfort and effectiveness. I sewed cotton fabric into the chin area because it did not seal well initially. The metal bar across the nose is uncomfortable after wearing the mask for about an hour. So, I placed a thin piece of padding to the underside of the bar. It seems to me that securing the mask around my neck tends to pull the mask downward, causing the chin to leak and the metal bar to press harder into my nose. The adjustments I have made have resolved these issues though. The huge upside to this mask is that IT WORKS! I have been able to attend church, take children to appointments, and run short errands without getting a migraine!
My hope is that there is a more comfortable option at some point, but I am thankful for what I have now.
As I write this, I am on the tail end of a migraine. However, I am eager to update what I am finding to be helpful with acupressure. In the last two days, I have found a modified use for a technique I posted here and here as well as a new product that has been beneficial.
Originally, I had posted that I used a scarf, a small washcloth, and a rubber ball to apply pressure to the daith region of my ear. I no longer use the washcloth because it just hasn’t been necessary, and I find it easier to get the ball in place while I’m struggling with pain. What I found during the migraine that is now ending is that there may be a better location for me than the daith. Last night, I palpated my skull around the back of my ear and found an extremely tender spot. Rubbing it with my finger felt strangely comforting, so I tried placing the ball at that location with the scarf and went to sleep. After a few hours, I woke up with much less pain!
My other acupressure find is this ball which I originally purchased to relieve pain in the arches of my feet. It definitely works for that, but I have been using it the past couple of days to relieve pain due to my migraine as well. When I have a migraine, the muscles in my neck and back get increasingly painful as the migraine wears on. I find myself attempting to rub them with my fingertips or seek massages from family members. Both are difficult to do. It is a struggle for me to use my fingers long enough to do any good while I’m in so much pain anyway, and family members aren’t always available. However, I easily rolled this ball back and forth over my neck muscles with the palm of my hand while resting in bed. The nubs are firm and get into the right places, even more so than fingertips do. I also relieved my upper back pain by rolling over onto the ball. This doesn’t make the migraine go away, but my overall suffering is reduced!
I would love to know if any of you have found acupressure to be helpful. Please feel free to comment below.
For a while now, I have been using personal products that have been developed for people with allergies. For instance, my shampoo and conditioner are free of dyes, fragrance, masking fragrance, lanolin, protein, parabens, formaldehyde, and other preservatives. I began using these after I started experiencing skin burns over my upper body while using other products. As soon as I made this change, those problems went away. When I switched my toothpaste from Crest to Xyliwhite, the swelling in my tongue and rash around my mouth went away. I didn’t realize that I was experiencing a benefit neurologically as well….until now.
As treatment for a sensitive tooth, my dentist recently recommended a product called MI Paste. I was hesitant to try it due to the long list of ingredients with long names. However, the pain in my tooth was pretty intense, and there were no other treatment options beyond what we had already tried. At first, I tried just a touch of the paste to see if I would have a reaction. Since I didn’t, I used the prescribed amount the following day. Within 8 hours, I was in full-blown vertigo like I haven’t experienced in 2 years. I didn’t have a migraine, but my vertigo, migraine, and skin allergy triggers seem to overlap. Therefore, I want to share this information on this migraine-focused blog with the hope of benefitting you.
Apparently, the hydroxybenzoate preservatives in the MI Paste are in the paraben family and can have an estrogen-like effect on the body. In addition, the National Center for Biotechnology Information has recommended that these preservatives be re-evaluated for human safety. All of this serves to reinforce my commitment to be careful with what I eat and products I use.
Earlier this summer, I returned home from an only-one-hour-away-migraine-trigger-controlled vacation desperate for a relaxing shower. When I turned on the water, it smelled like a pool. The same was the case at the clothes washer when I started washing the family’s laundry. Within a couple of hours, I had a blasting migraine that wouldn’t go away. The only thing that had changed was this chlorine smell that was permeating our house. I felt so awful that I couldn’t process thoughts regarding what I should do until this had gone on for most of a week.
Our city water department’s website indicated that the city periodically runs different forms of chlorine through the water system, and the one it was running at the time was particularly strong. And – they were planning to run it for the months of June and August! My migraine-induced fog brain had to function long enough to do some thinking and praying, because this was a little overwhelming to consider.
My research revealed something that I want to share with you not just because it might work but because it did work for me. Evidently, vitamin C neutralizes chlorine. Some people put it in bath water for this purpose. I decided to put it straight into me for maximum benefit! Once I started taking 3000mg of this in a glass of cold water 3 times a day, the migraines stopped even with the continuing chlorine smell during my showers and while doing laundry. Note that I have been drinking Ice Mountain bottled water for a long time. So, I was not (and am still not) actually drinking the city’s chlorinated water, but the chlorine in the air was enough to cause problems. I know that 9000mg of vitamin C may sound like a lot, but I had a doctor at one point in my life who had me on 13000 to 20000mg for a long time. At the time, she said that if it was too much, I would get diarrhea.
Please do your own research, but vitamin C is definitely my friend, and I want to share this info with you.
What a strange question to ask. Whenever a doctor or friend asks, “Are your migraines under control?”, I really never know how to respond. To me, a “yes” answer to this question means that I don’t have migraines anymore, because I feel out of control when I do have them. Therefore, to be able to answer “yes” would mean the following:
- I never leave my house.
- I never breathe air coming from my neighbors dryer that is venting perfumes from dryer sheets.
- No one enters my house unless they talk quietly, avoid wearing fluorescent yellow/pink/green clothes or clothes with patterns that my brain can’t figure out, and remove all scents from clothes/hair/skin/armpits/etc.
- I never consume anything outside my diet.
- No city water treated with chlorine runs through my faucets, showers, or clothes washer/dryer. (see here for an update)
- I never open the window shades to let in sunlight or light reflecting off of snow.
- I never look at a computer screen, swipe across my phone, or watch the news with all of the banners moving different directions and cameras zooming in and out. Watching the news is not really desirable anymore anyway, but that’s another story.
- Never travel more than 60 mph so that my brain can keep up with all of the movement around me.
- Never travel more than 1 hour from my home so that I can return easily if a migraine starts coming on.
- Drink enough water.
- Eat and take supplements on a precise schedule regardless of other commitments in my life.
- Eliminate insomnia completely.
Since this is obviously not possible to achieve completely, I have decided that I have to look at the question “Are your migraines under control?” differently. To me it means:
- Am I doing what I can to minimize them as much as possible?
- When I do get one, am I able to keep it from progressing into a multi-day ordeal?
To keep a migraine from progressing beyond 1 hour, I do the following:
- I maintain a rigid diet which is under my control (also see here).
- Increase vitamin C intake when the city is increasing its chlorine use in the water (see an upcoming post).
- Allow myself plenty of time to sleep and pray that I will be able to do so.
- Stop taking synthetic hormones.
- Avoid going to places that I know cause problems for me (lighting, air fresheners, loud noise etc.)
- Choose where I sit in large gatherings so that there is maximum airflow and ease of leaving if necessary.
- When I do leave the house, I wear my visor and clips, take plenty of snacks in case I get stuck somewhere for a while, take earplugs which I put in at the first sign of excessive noise, and pack magnesium and ginger in my purse.
- Immediately, take 25 to 50 mg magnesium glycinate and 550 mg of ginger when I feel the twinges of a migraine beginning. Put in my earplugs. Head home. Eat chicken nuggets drowned in yellow mustard (try searching “yellow mustard for headaches”). Put an ice pack on my head and rest.
- 1 hour – DONE – move on
Obviously, this still means that I don’t go very far from my home. I haven’t figured that one out yet, and I haven’t successfully travelled without getting migraines yet. However, I do have something that I can do for my migraines to keep them from being multi-day events. Therefore, I feel that they are “under control” by my definition, and that is progress from where I was just a year and a half ago.