Monday, December 11th at 5:05 A.M: We got about 2 inches of snow last night. That meant shoveling snow off my sidewalk before heading out for my early morning jog.
At least my body wasn’t giving me any type of grief.
It took me about 30 minutes to clear off the main street side walk plus my own and salt over the concrete. There was no way I would be jogging today! Whatever energy I had in me, went into clearing those sidewalks.
Before I started walking, I checked for ice. If there is one thing I wanted to make sure to avoid, it was slipping on the pavement. If there were too many spots with ice, I would call it a day and try again tomorrow.
After testing out the traction on my shoes I forged ahead and walked the entire mile on my route. Very slowly I might add. Again, it was all about safety first.
I know that the upcoming months will be questionable for training outside. I might even have to change the times I head out for jogging if the conditions are more favorable later in the day. Got to love wintertime in Wisconsin!
Thursday, December 7th at 4:30 A.M: Why I woke up this early, without an alarm, is beyond me! I didn’t even fall asleep until a little after midnight. Again, I am not a morning person, so this is very unusual for me.
As I dressed, my body made it known there would be some difficulties with putting on my shoes and tying them. My rheumatoid arthritis decided to make an unexpected appearance today. Just when I thought I had it under control with a higher dosage of methotrexate, the joints in my fingers refused to cooperate.
I wasn’t having it! With everything in me, I finished getting dressed and headed out to do not only one mile, but two. There was no jogging. That would have keep me bed bound the very second, I walked back through the door.
The key is knowing your body’s limitations in that moment.
I knew it would be somewhat impossible to walk, but if I could at pace myself and try to go further than the days before, I’d feel like I accomplished something great. When you live with multiple chronic illnesses, that is a big deal!
4:30A.M. on Wednesday December, 6th- I automatically woke up, thinking it was 5:15 and proceeded to get dressed. Of course, when I had dawned the 3 layers of clothing, that’s when I looked at my cell realizing it wasn’t even 5 o’clock yet!
So, I just went with it and headed outside in the 20° temps with my face mask covering everything, but my eyes. 5 minutes into my jog I came to a complete standstill. Both of my shin’s started to bother me. I haven’t felt pain in that area since I last played soccer in high school (back in 1994 to be exact!)
I didn’t want to stop, but knew jogging would only make things much worse. I forged ahead at a slow, comfortable pace. At least I would be able to do my full distance with less pain as possible. Something is better than nothing!
The moment I stepped foot in my door, I grabbed 2 ice packs and applied them to my shin’s knowing I had to take better care of them or there’d be no Day 4 of training for this gal.
5:15 A.M. on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 – I get out of bed and my legs already feel like jello from the jogging I did the day before. The strong winds roaring outside are enough to let me know I was going to have to wear even more layers than I had anticipated.
It hadn’t even been 5 minutes yet and here I was struggling against my rheumatoid arthritis. I guess it decided it was time to rear its ugly head again. My fingers refused to cooperate as I fumbled with my clothes for at least 10 minutes to finally get fully dressed. Tying my shoes was a total nightmare!
I did a few stretches before my body made it known the only other exercising I’d be doing this morning was walking. My limbs should have loosened up the moment I walked one block, but they didn’t. They just progressively became stiffer. I could turn back and go home, but I didn’t want to. I needed to at least try to go a few more blocks and then maybe I would be okay with the distance I had already walked.
I passed the first of two gas stations with overwhelming soreness in my hips and knees. It wasn’t just my rheumatoid arthritis giving me grief. My fibromyalgia decided to join in and make the rest of my journey home an uncomfortable one.
The wind was extremely strong and frigid. One would have thought it’d be enough to make anyone want to stay inside. Not me! I was determined to complete one mile today. And that’s exactly what I did.
And what’s even better, is that during me trying to keep my mind off the throbbing pain radiating off each major joint on my body, I came up with an idea for a new book! Who would have thought that my brain could concoct a concept for my next novel and give me titles for at least 11 chapters?
That gave me more of a reason to walk as fast as I possibly could, so I could jump on my laptop and write every, little single detail down before it slips away from me.
No matter what motivation I had for today, it turned out to not be such a bad morning after all.
5:30 A.M. on Monday, December 4, 2017 – The sound of my alarm wakes me from my deep slumber. Normally, I’d hit the snooze button several times before deciding to get out of bed. But not on this morning. I was on a mission! One I had mentally prepared for over the past week and decided to finally put this plan into motion.
So, what had me waking up at the crack of dawn without any reservations?
I had finally convinced myself it was time to follow through with something I never saw myself doing and just go for it! I was going to start training to run my very first Miles for Migraine 5K.
Miles for Migraineis a registered 501(c)(3) Non-Profit with the mission of improving the lives of migraine patients and their families, raising public awareness about headache disorders, and helping find a cure for migraine. Miles for Migraine produces fun walk/run events, typically 2 mile walk and 5k and 10k race to raise money for migraine research. We also host youth camps for kids and teens impacted by migraine or other headache disorders.
To be honest I absolutely detest running! I played soccer as a kid and well into my teens, but I ended up being the goalie. I didn’t have to put as much effort into running on the field as my teammates. I only ran laps with the team before and after practice. Which was maybe the equivalent to 2 miles.
Back then I was physically capable of running. I just did everything possible to avoid it. Now, that I want to go out and run, my body could rebel against me.
Since being diagnosed with vestibular migraine, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, I’ve struggled to keep in shape. And it has nothing to do with me not wanting to workout. Your typical type of exercises like sit-ups, has triggered nasty bouts of vertigo that can go on for hours. Even things like dancing ends with me getting painful fibro flare-ups and hurting for several days.
With all those reasons avoid participating in a marathon, I still needed to make this happen. It is with that motivation I crawled out of bed this early this morning, dressed in 3 layers of shirts, 2 pairs of socks and 1 pair of leggings, and hit the pavement on what would be my first jog through my neighborhood.
As the cold air hit only the parts of my exposed skin, I waded through puddled filled sidewalks against the rain on a mission to get through the first mile without passing out our throwing up. Yes! I’m that out of shape.
My feet moved at a steady pace, one that I was most comfortable with until the rest of my body began to slow the other parts of me down. I was out of breath, but my drive to continue, kept me moving past one business after the next.
Before too long, my house was on the horizon and within seconds I’d be able to set foot through my front door knowing I not only accomplished Day 1 of training, but that I didn’t turn around the second it went from sprinkling to pouring rain.
A minute after walking into my living room, I felt a sense of pride and a whole lot of exhaustion. This was a major milestone for me. One I will look back on and say this is what true dedication is all about.
The small sacrifice I make each morning from here on out, is going to be worth it the moment I cross that finish line. Knowing that I accomplished something I never thought possible will truly be a victorious moment for me.
Each person living with migraine experiences different outcomes when it comes to pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical treatments. In this article for Longevity, I share how a procedure called a SPG Block, helps with both my vestibular migraine and cluster headaches.
***Disclaimer: I was originally gifted this product in 2014 for testing purposes.
All opinions are my own***
Over the past 30 years, I’ve sampled a wide variety of products geared towards people living with migraine. Finding relief; even if it’s only temporary, can make a world of difference for a person facing intolerable amount of pain. Whether it was based on the companies claims or testimonies of reliable sources, I’m always up for testing a new item without harmful side effects.
In my online quest to find a reliable and safer alternative to lessen or eliminate head pain, I came across the Catalyst™ Cryohelmet website.
So, what is a Catalyst™ Cryohelmet?
It is a device that applies targeted cold therapy to the head. With proper use your Catalyst helmet may be effective in reducing inflammation from head injuries, lowering body heat, and lessening migraine pain.
I was immediately sold on the idea of a helmet that could lessen migraine pain. Well, that and the part about staying cold for up to 90 minutes while wearing it. For those of us that endure debilitating symptoms during a migraine attack, the very last thing you want to do is move around. Not having to run back and forth to the freezer to replace a depleted gel pack every few minutes would truly be a blessing.
I didn’t waste any time reaching out to the company to share my current situation with chronic migraine and shortly after, received a complimentary helmet to test out.
I felt like a kid on Christmas day the moment UPS showed up with my Cyrohelmet. I didn’t waste any time ripping open that box to see that it included the following:
CryoMax™ Cold Packs in UltraCool™ fabric pouches with Velcro
Insulated carry bag and CryoMAX™ square to keep Cryo-Helmet frozen for hours
I immediately tossed my new helmet in the freezer so that it would be ready the very second I needed it, which would be in the evening.
During the first night of using my Cryohelmet, I was fighting a level 7 migraine attack that included aura, nausea, being lightheaded and my head throbbing non-stop. I slipped the helmet on then tightened it as much as it would get and waited for some type of relief to kick in. Within a half hour, I managed to fall asleep with my helmet still on. 4 hours later I woke up without feeling nauseous or lightheaded and best of all, minimal head pain.
I was quite impressed with my first go around of this product. I loved that I could get out of bed and walk around the house without the helmet falling off my head. I could never get those gel packs with those plastic straps to stay in place for long. I even added extra Velcro straps to those things only to have them fall off the second I tossed or turned in bed.
If day 1 went that smoothly, I wondered how my Cryohelmet would hold up the next time I needed it for migraine relief. The very next day I got my answer when woke up to stabbing pain on the right side of my head with dizziness so severe I couldn’t move without making it worst. Luckily, my daughter had placed the helmet back in the freezer while I slept. It was at the perfect temperature to be effective enough to lessen my head pain to a tolerable state.
Because I have chronic migraine that meant I spent at least 15 or more days dealing with various symptoms. The three symptoms I often experienced during each migraine attack was dizziness, nausea and head pain. My Cryohelmet helped to manage my attacks which meant spending less time stuck in bed and more time doing things with my family. How could you not love a product with those wonderful capabilities?
Once I became well enough to travel long distances again, I discovered that the Catalyst™ Cyrohelmet was airport friendly. I’ve gone through several TSA checkpoints around the U.S. carrying my helmet inside the insulated bag provided by the company with no issues. I’ve even used my Cryohelmet while on the plane. It helped me to relax and experience less head pressure making the rest of the flight more bearable.
Cryohelmet came to my daughter’s rescue after she developed a terrible ear infection. This infection quickly caused her to have a high temperature that eventually skyrocketed to 103 degrees. Not only did the CryoMax™ Cold Packs inside the helmet soothe her ear pain, it lowered her temperature and kept it below 100° the rest of that night. Even our family physician was impressed at the fact the helmet was more effective than the fever-reducing medications she received.
I even began using my Cryohelmet in the 15 minutes leading up to each of my Cluster Headache attacks. I found it helped me to be in a more calmer state of mind. For anyone that has endured these horrific beasts of a headache understands you become desperate and any type of relief is welcomed.
After I learned my son developed chronic migraine, the team over at Cryohelmet shipped a helmet for him to test out. My teen noted a decrease in head pain within the first half hour. In a matter of fact, he prefers to use his Cryohelmet over his migraine abortives. There are no strange side effects with icing your head and it helps him to relax a bit more too.
My son not only uses his Cryohelmet during a migraine attack, he wears it to cool down after football practice and games. Between lifting weights and running plays its easy for any athlete to get overheated. My teen knows the importance of icing his head and now so does his teammates.
Within the last two years, Cryohelmet has graciously donated a total of 5 helmets to my son’s middle and high school football department. Although my teen is currently the only person with the migraine disease on the team, a few of the players discovered the amazing benefits of using the Cryohelmet’s during the hotter temperature days. Just knowing my child and his team mates have a product specifically designed for head injuries on the sidelines, puts my mind a bit more at ease.
What more can I possibly say about a company that has followed my teen and I through our journey of living with migraine and cluster headaches, other than if they put that much thought into two of their customer’s well-being, then imagine how much time and effort went into the development of their line of products for potential customers.
Excedrin® has, once again, creatively intervened to help foster empathy for people with migraine.
In September, a new program was unveiled to help get the conversation going between co-workers with the launching of Excedrin® Works. This latest platform from Excedrin® offers videos with different perspectives of an Interpreter, Pastry Chef, and Emergency Medical Technician moments before and during a migraine attack.
This brilliant use of 360-degree virtual reality technology, places users in real-life migraine workplace experiences, allowing them to see, hear and experience the effects of a migraine – everything but the pain.
Not only is Excedrin® using the 360-degree virtual reality technology to spark a dialogue in the workplace about the impact of migraines it empowers sufferers to talk about their condition with their colleagues.
What’s even more appealing about this program, is how Excedrin® compiled a great discussion guide that is available for downloading to share among employers and co-workers.
After viewing the individual videos of Maggie, Sarah, and Han I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion towards each of these migraineurs. I personally know what it is like to not want to discuss migraine in the workplace. There was always that fear of others doubting your symptoms and worst, assuming your using your medical condition to get out of an important work matter. It was always emotionally and physically draining on me.
A recent survey from Excedrin® found that[iii]:
● 7 out of 10 Americans with migraines say working during a migraine attack negatively impacts their work performance
● Nearly half of migraine sufferers have had to debunk migraine myths – like coworkers claiming they are actually hungover!
● Almost two out of five (38%) feel limited in their professional life due to their migraine
● 63% of migraine sufferers will power through and pretend they’re OK, making this the most common reaction to a migraine attack at work.
No one should ever have to downplay their health to avoid uncomfortable confrontations from co-workers.
That’s why I truly appreciate how Excedrin continues to use of innovative measures to further educate others about a neurological disease that approximately 38 million Americans suffer from.
Another applause worthy move Excedrin® made for this program, was announcing Nascar’s Danica Patrick, a migraine sufferer herself, as their new spokesperson.
As migraineur of 30 years, mom to a teen living with migraine, and patient advocate I fully agree with the decision to bring Danica on board.
Although I’m not a professional stock car driver, I do know that during a migraine attack, the thought of being surrounded by crowds is furthest from my mind. I want a dark, quiet room where I can lie down and wait out my often-debilitating symptoms.
Being a longtime avid fan of Nascar, I was ecstatic about the opportunity to interview Danica. I not only learned how she manages life in the fast lane as a migraineur, but also how her involvement with the Excedrin® Works plays an important role to raise migraine awareness in the workplace.
INTERVIEW WITH DANICA PATRICK, SPOKESPERSON FOR EXCEDRIN® WORKS
1. About how old were you when you first started to experience migraine related symptoms?
I’ve been suffering from migraines for about the past 2 years, so since I was in my early thirties.
2. How long after that, did you receive your migraine diagnosis?
For a while, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I thought I may have had carbon monoxide poisoning – from being in the race car – or maybe that it was even a food allergy, since I often got nauseous as well. After testing a few theories, and working with my doctor, we determined that I was suffering from migraines.
3. Speaking of symptoms, what type do you normally experience before, during and after a migraine attack?
I know pretty immediately when a migraine is coming on – it’s a familiar sharp pain – and when that happens I treat it right away. When I get migraines, they start mild and increase in severity. I often experience auras – which look like floating halos. Sometimes I also experience sensitivity to light.
4. Out of those symptoms, which one is the most debilitating for you?
I don’t think any one symptom is more debilitating than the other. Collectively my symptoms make suffering from migraines a very painful experience. Couple the pain and visual symptoms with the nausea I often experience, and it can derail your entire day – sometimes longer.
5. Could you please share your known migraine triggers? (ex. Environmental related-humidity or barometric, certain foods/drinks/fragrances)
I have many different triggers, there is no one specific thing that I can attribute them to. However, I’ve noticed that I most often experience migraines on the days that follow my races. Those weekends can be especially grueling since my schedule is crazy – I always need to make sure I am eating enough meals, drinking enough water, etc. so that come Sunday night I am not completely wiped out.
6. Does anyone in your immediate family (maternal or paternal side) have the migraine disease?
7. Do you currently seek the medical expertise of a Neurologist, Headache Specialist or Migraine Specialist for your migraine disease?
The majority of my medial insight comes from my primary care physician.
8. Do you take anything as a migraine preventive? If yes, would you please share what those things are?
Because migraines are very unpredictable, I do not take anything as a migraine preventative. However, the moment I feel a migraine coming on I take Excedrin® immediately.
9. Were you just a little hesitant about sharing that you have the migraine disease with your team and car owner?
I wasn’t hesitant about speaking about my migraines with my team. If I’m not there or fully functional, the race can’t go on so it was important for me to be as open as possible with those around me so we can all help each other.
10. What piece of advice can you offer to anyone living with migraine that might be afraid to have the conversation about their diagnosis with their employer or co-workers?
Sharing your medical information with people can be scary. I totally get it. But I also think that the people you work with – people you may spend the majority of your time with – would appreciate your transparency. Who knows, the people around you may suffer from migraines too. You’ll never know until you open up the discussion.
As part of Excedrin® Works, Excedrin® has created some helpful tools so that migraine sufferers can have more productive conversations about their condition at work. At Excedrin.com you can check out our 360 degree VR videos which depict the real migraines of two sufferers. There is also a migraine discussion guide available for download, which has some helpful tips and tricks for how to talk to your boss, coworker, etc. about your migraines.
To download your own guide and other helpful materials to share with co-workers, please visit Excedrin.com
***Some information in this article was provided by these additional resources: [iii] Excedrin® Works Survey