migrainous? they don’t even know us!

Ba-dum-dum.

Migraines are like a bad joke.  Have five days off of work?  How about a migraine?  Feeling better and  thinking you’ve turned a corner on the health stuff?  Boom, have a migraine!

I blame the massive weather shift that brought a 30 degree temperature drop, high winds, and (the all important) pressure shifts.  Sitting in my living room with the lights dimmed, sunglasses on, and my phone’s display set to the lowest brightness I can get, I found myself looking up weather and migraine.  I found the most absurd “article” on it at the Mayo Clinic.  Normally, I like their patient info pages.  They’re better than Web MD, for example.  But they do fall short here and there.  E.g., if you look up “blood pressure” and select the Mayo link that says in the search results “Blood pressure chart: What your reading means – MayoClinic.com – blood pressure chart can help you understand what your blood pressure reading means.” you are taken to a page that gives the following information:

Here’s a look at the four blood pressure categories and what they mean for you. If your readings fall into two different categories, your correct blood pressure category is the higher category. For example, if your blood pressure reading is 125/95 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), you have stage 1 hypertension.

Top number (systolic) in mm Hg   Bottom number (diastolic) in mm Hg Your category* What to do**
Below 120 and Below 80 Normal blood pressure Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.
120-139 or 80-89 Prehypertension Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.
140-159 or 90-99 Stage 1 hypertension Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. If blood pressure goal isn’t reached in about six months, talk to your doctor about taking one or more medications.
160 or more or 100 or more Stage 2 hypertension Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about taking more than one medication.

Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this picture?  A blood pressure of 80/46 is apparently normal and you should maintain the healthy lifestyle that you currently have.  Yep.  No need to worry that you might fall down or pass out.  You’re fine!  Because you’re not hypertensive!  Of course, when you look around a little more, you’ll see that although the page is titled “Blood pressure chart: what your reading means”, there is a superordinate heading that reads “High blood pressure (hypertension)”  When you search for “low blood pressure” on the Mayo site, you don’t get a chart with ranges or “what to do”.  Nope.  You get a front page that tells you that “In severe cases, low blood pressure can be life-threatening.” but then goes on to tepidly describe that “blood pressure varies from person to person, a blood pressure reading of 90…or less systolic blood pressure…or 60 mm Hg or less diastolic blood pressure…is generally considered low blood pressure.”

This is a lot like what happens when you look up BMI on the web.  Even reputable sites have a skew towards discussions of obesity and high BMI.  If you’re underweight, well, apparently you can go fuck yourself.  There are two categories above normal but one below.  Apparently there is no difference between being a little underweight and being a walking skeleton with a host of serious health risks.

I should not have been surprised to see that their page titled “Migraines:  are they triggered by weather changes?” was so bad that it made me laugh.  Here was the part that I just laughed out loud at, emphasis added by me.
If you feel your migraines are triggered by weather, you may be understandably frustrated. After all, you can’t change the weather. However, you can learn which weather changes start a migraine and take steps to lessen their effects:

  • Keep a headache diary, listing each migraine, when it happened, how long it lasted and what could have caused it. This can help you determine if you have specific weather triggers.
  • Monitor weather changes and avoid triggers if at all possible. For example, stay indoors during very cold or windy weather if these factors appear to trigger your migraines.
  • Take your migraine medication at the first sign of a migraine.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices — eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and keep your stress under control. These factors can help reduce the number and severity of your migraines.

 

I was indoors all damned day Monday, and hey guess what?  It found me anyhow!  There’s really fuckall you can do about migraines triggered by pressure changes.  Truly, not a damned thing, other than up your prophylactic meds, try like hell to avoid any other triggers that are within your control, and clear your schedule.  If I had to write that, here’s what I’d write.

If your migraines seem to be worse or occur more frequently during certain weather, here are some you can steps to take to make sure you don’t drive off a cliff, get horribly and embarrassingly ill at work or in public, fall over and hurt yourself, or vomit on someone:

  • Keep a headache diary, listing your migraine symptoms and how you felt in the 12 hours preceding it.  This will make you feel like a hypochondriac but it can help.  It will help you to identify “prodromal symptoms” – i.e. early warning signs that a migraine is coming on and which you can then use as a signal to slow down, get someplace safe, dark, and quiet, and medicate if necessary.  It can also help you to figure out if your migraines have any rhyme or reason at all or if they just take you at any old time and fuck up your life.  
  • Monitor weather changes and plan accordingly.  If you find that severe temperature exposure is a trigger, try to stay in a temperature controlled environment as much as possible.  Your friends and associates will think you’re a pussy, but tough shit.  It’s your head and body, not theirs.  If you find that pressure changes trigger migraines, you’re just screwed unless you have access to a hyperbaric chamber.  Stay home and medicate.  
  • Take your migraine medication at the first sign of a migraine, but if you get migraines too often, a smarty pants doctor  will tell you that your medication use is triggering your headaches through rebound.  Ha ha!  Joke’s on you.  
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices.  They may not help if you have chronic daily headache, but at least you’ll look great!  Also, when you see that sanctimonious, smarty pants doctor who thinks that all you need is a can do attitude to overcome your chronic health problems, you will be able to tell him that you eat healthy foods, exercise even when you’re dizzy and pukey, take ambien to fall asleep when your migraine comes with insomnia, and live a pampered life of luxury that includes being unemployed, childless, and surreptitiously medicating your family and friends with mood stabilizers to keep them sane and stress free.  Congratulations.  You may still have headaches and other migraine symptoms but hey, gold star for effort!

Do I sound bitter?  I guess it’s three days of migraine.  Sunday, Monday, and yes, Tuesday at work a big fat migraine.

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