Catalyst™ Cryohelmet Review: A 3 Year Perspective

***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:

  • Neoprene Shell
  • 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.

Whether I sleep on my stomach, side or back my Cryohelmet remaina secured on my head and continues to help fight against my migraine related 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.

My Cryohelmet has flown from Green Bay to New Jersey, Milwaukee to Washington D.C and several times from Minneapolis to Dallas with no TSA issues

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 knows the importance of self-care. Here he is resting, comfortably after football practice with his Cryohelmet

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.

To learn more about Catalyst Cryohelmet, visit their website at: http://www.cryohelmet.com/home/

 

 

 

What to Expect When You’re Chronically Ill and Caring for a Chronically Ill Child

Being a mom to a chronically ill child, is one of the most challenging things I’ve experienced thus far.

With running back and forth between my own doctor appointments and my child’s, I easily became overwhelmed. Stressed out took on a new meaning. I honestly didn’t think I had it in me to be the mother my other two kids deserved.

I was drowning in my own sea of medical issues. How would I ever overcome the unexpected obstacles life was throwing my way, if I was too ill and always in a tremendous amount of pain to handle it?

This new section on my blog will dive into the past 4 years where Continue reading “What to Expect When You’re Chronically Ill and Caring for a Chronically Ill Child”

Spoonie Mom Blogs: Jaime Sanders of Migraine Diva

 

Jaime Sanders of Migraine Diva

When I first met Jaime it was through one of the many online support groups for people living with chronic migraines. She was a friendly face amongst the sea of migraineurs that always had insightful content on Twitter and Facebook. Her positive outlook on the worst of days is part of what makes this spoonie mom remarkable.

A few months back I finally had a chance to speak to Jaime about the exciting things happening in her life.

During our very long conversation I learned that we had quite alot in common. The 30 years of living with migraines, more failed treatments than successful ones, the debilitating physical/emotional pain all the while trying to be the loving wife and mom was something we both connected on.

Her blog is a true reflection of who she really is. She’s very open about the way each of her ailments complicate her every day life. This woman does not hold anything back when she writes her posts. I admire that!

Despite all of the challenging obstacles that Jaime endured in her lifetime, she knew it was those unfortunate circumstances that would give her the courage to help educate others about chronic migraines and depression.

This past August, she was invited to sit on the More to Migraine Panel during the BlogHer Event.

This is a photo that features the More to Migraine Panel at the 2016 BlogHer event. Jaime joined Dr. Susan Hutchinson, a headache specialist and migraine sufferer, Shannon Albert, a patient speaker, and Serene Branson, who served as the moderator.

She even had the opportunity to join an Excedrin campaign that focused on fostering empathy from those that might not understand why migraines are not just headaches.

This is one of the videos that Jaime appears in.

http://www.reuters.com/brandfeatures/excedrin/hardship-and-hope

All I have to say is this woman is on fire! I see great things in Jaime’s future. Possibly a talk show with that stellar personality.

Jaime is a beautiful person on the inside as she is on the outside. I am truly honored to know this migraine diva and lucky enough to call her my friend.

To learn more about Jaime and view the other videos by Excedrin visit her blog:

http://themigrainediva.blogspot.com/

Don’t forget to show this woman some love by liking her Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/themigrainediva/

You can also follow Jaime on Twitter or Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/migrainediva/

 

 

 

Chronically Ill and Working

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Something major happened in our household this week.

For the first time in a little over 4 years I returned back to the work force.

I know what you’re thinking. Women go back to work all the time so what’s so major about this? For starters, I was forced into being jobless. Actually, it was my body that made me not be able to hold down a job.

You heard me right! My body was the culprit as to why I could no longer do the many things like I had before. The main one was walking unassisted.

All I remember is it was the Friday evening before a full weekend of birthday parties. I had finally crawled into bed after writing a chapter for a book that was soon to be published. In no time I drifted off to sleep.

In the early A.M. hours the loud echoes of my kids laughter in the hallway woke me out of my deep slumber and…..

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Just like that my whole face, left arm, and every single one of my fingers was numb. I tried to stand up, but fell onto the chair that was next to my side of the bed. I had somehow lost all of my lower body strength.

It was like gravity ceased to exist beneath my feet. To make matters worse the world around me wouldn’t stop spinning.

With the help of my oldest daughter and husband I got into our vehicle to head out to the ER worried I was having a stroke. One EKG and CT later a stroke was ruled out. This left the doctor baffled to what was going on with me. So I was given a referral to an E.N.T (Ears, Nose, Throat) Specialist and sent home.

The next day I saw the Specialist with high hopes of finding out what the hell was going on with me. I didn’t find anything out that day or for the next 2 months for that matter. I had all types of blood work, some odd test that shot water in both ears while I recited the alphabets, an additional CT, a MRI, an Angiogram, and Angioplasty. All results came back negative for ruled vertigo, Lyme disease, a brain tumor, concussion and tons of other medical conditions I was thought to possibly have.

I was beginning to think I had some new illness or disease that no one had heard of yet. I just wanted to be normal again! Well the normal I had grown quite accustomed to in my 35 years of life.

After a month of Vestibular Physical Therapy sessions to see if I could regain my balance a possible answer to my odd medical condition presented itself. My Physical Therapist started digging into my prior health background and that is where he began to suspect my decreased motor skills and dizziness was linked to neurological issues; ones that were caused by migraines.

I’m not going to lie. I laughed. I shook my head in complete disagreement and chuckled at this man’s logic. How on earth could migraines be the cause of so much grief? For cripes sake! I’ve had those horrible head demons for the past 20+ years and NOT ONCE did I ever have issues with speaking, walking, or feeding myself.

Nope! I was not going to believe something like migraines could ever be that disabling. That was just ludicrous!

Of course, by month #3 of seeing absolutely no improvements with my health I became desperate. I decided to take the advice of my Vestibular Physical Therapist and got another referral. This time it was to see a Neurologist.

15 minutes into my appointment I FINALLY got an answer to why I felt that I was permanently strapped into a non-stop tilt-a-whirl.

I had Vertigo Associated Migraines that were Chronic.

To say that diagnosis went right over my head was an understatement. I seriously had no clue what either one of those health conditions were. I knew the migraine part but even that didn’t make any sense to me. My migraines always had auras and would make me blind in one or both eyes. And when I did get them the attacks would only last 2 -12 hours. Not every, single day.

It was a few minutes later that I would start on a path to being educated about a neurological disease that over 38 million American’s have and currently there is no cure for.

Oh, by the way there are other types of migraines. Yeah! That was actually news to me at that time.

In total, I spent 240 days STRAIGHT experiencing chronic migraines.

I even went 18 months without driving due to the severity of my symptoms. You’d think having a chauffeur 24-7 would be great. It wasn’t! All it did was make me feel helpless and a burden to my loved ones.

During that time I tried 30 types of prescription medications, a variety of vitamins, Botox injections, and alternative methods to help with my pain/symptoms. I eliminated gluten for about 2 months and drank more water to stay hydrated. I even went as far as to travel out-of-state for about a week thinking a change in climate might actually help. It didn’t. I only came back home in worse shape than when I left.

Honestly, I still live with chronic pain. I still get migraine attacks like the one I had on Tuesday and today. When my fibromyalgia flares up it can cause me to have a migraine attack as well.

Then there’s my cluster headaches that are seasonal (Fall and Spring) When I get hit with a cluster attack it happens around the same time (11 AM & 1:30 AM) each day. The right side of my nose gets extremely stuffy while my right eye tears up. If I’m wearing mascara and eyeliner, but forget to use waterproof I end up looking like Alice Cooper.

I knew when searching for a job, part-time and evening hours were a must. There’s no way I could deal with being around people when the beast hits me for those 25-30 minute span. Trust me! I isn’t a pretty sight to see someone in the midst of a cluster headache.

They cuss, punch things, sometimes even bang their head against objects in hopes of feeling any other type of pain than the one they’re experiencing in that moment. Having a limb amputated without anesthesia would be less painful than a cluster headache. It’s actually scientifically proven to be one of the most painful disorders known to man.

You’d think with all of my health conditions I would just give up on the notion that I could hold down any kind of job. But I never have. I’ve been waiting for this very day to arrive and now that it has I’m truly thankful.

Like the George Bailey type of thankful in It’s A Wonderful Life. You know when all of that bad crap happened to him and he realized how wonderful his life truly was.

I seriously took everything I had for granted in my life before becoming chronically ill. I had a job, but never thought for a second I’d lose it. Then I was let go after the FMLA expired on my current position at the bank I had worked for. I know I wasn’t fired for being a crappy employee, but I still felt like a failure.

It took almost 2 years for me to come to terms with the fact my chronic illness is the villain in my real life story. Now I just find new ways to defeat it. I know there will be days that I’ll come out victorious and other days I won’t be as lucky.

Either way I do my very best to remain positive throughout this crazy adventure I seem to always be on.

First Day of Work Since I Became Debilitated From Chronic MIgraines
First Day of Work Since I Became Debilitated From Chronic Migraines