Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Migraines and Other Alarms

Certain foods set off a migraine. Also certain conditions - cold, which makes you tense up your neck and shoulder muscles; or stressful situations which cause the same muscles to tense. I know what caused my migraine yesterday. I've been getting them for 30 years so I know when one is coming on and I should have taken the meds that will stop them - but I was going for a checkup at the cardiologist's office and didn't want to take anything...so I just grinned and bore it (such a toughie! ha ha)

This is what a lovely, bright beach scene looks like when you are having a migraine. I did this quick sketch the last time I was in the Bahamas and got a migraine :( not fun. (Did I mention that bright, flashing lights also will bring on a migraine?)

NOTE: IF you DO NOT want to hear a RANT about the medical profession, just ignore the rest of this...
So...when I went to the cardiologist's office, I had been having a migraine for a couple of hours already. And I think her "nurse" took a bad blood pressure reading because it was high - so high for me that it was ridiculous. I would have taken another reading to compare. But no, we just went with that and all treatment options (including losing weight - she wants me to weigh 120 pounds - and going on a strict diet of low sodium because she doesn't want me having a stroke and she doesn't think I know the difference between having migraines and having severe headaches from high blood pressure - and buying a home monitor and taking my bp twice a day) based on one bp reading that was, more than likely, wrong.

Maybe I'm more questioning of results because my husband is a biologist and a scientist. He says, take your bp 3 times and get the average - it's more accurate that way. However, when you go to your doctor, they take your bp once and it doesn't matter if you have been angry that morning, tired and depressed, weak and feeling faint, or whether you just came from doing aerobics at the gym - that's what they put. And what is wrong with them when they take your weight and never tell you to remove your winter coat!!! or your shoes to get a more accurate weight? If you don't take them off, they just weigh you with them on.
So...taking my bp twice a day on a home monitor and guess what? The top number has never been higher than 129. Hmmmm....kind of validates my theory that the bp taken at the doc's was incorrect.

And here is what you look like the evening after battling an unmedicated migraine all day = not a pretty sight! Weepy, tired, achy, like you're getting over a case of the flu and having PMS all at the same time. Even your head hurts on the outside - tender and sore.
And I can't even soothe myself with chocolates (gotta lose those 20 pounds, remember?!?) Maybe I'll go paint a box of chocolates instead! ha ha


laura said...

Rhonda--I like your Bahamas beach scene! Maybe the Fauves were susceptible to migraines!
I'm sorry about your migraines and that your doctor didn't offer any relief, but in fact increased your suffering! I think many don't really listen (for whatever reason), or have a pet theory/pat answer that they apply indiscriminately!
Hope you feel 100% soon!

Sandy Maudlin said...

Sure missed you in class this morning. Marian couldn't make it either but her reason for missing was much easier to fix thatn the agony you've been through. Grrrrr - when professionals don't listen or help!

Hope you are much much better by now. Your art's very expressive, too!
The verification word I have to type is is unique for this - it's COLDISM!

RHCarpenter said...

Laura, yes, I think maybe some painters were susceptible to outrageous colors and lights - but it could have been the alcohol or drugs :) ha ha
Much better now, Sandy. It just takes a while to get over the achiness of the migraine the day before. Feeling pretty good right now but cold. So your verification word COLDISM is a pretty good one! I think I am going to start collecting thse words and create a story using them!
Hope Marian is okay!

Sandy Maudlin said...

Marian's furnace gonked out and she had to stay home til the new one got there. Ritzie's painting was splendidly beautiful. Kathy's snowdrops cannot be described but she's going to let me post them. All went well in class but we missed you and Marian a bunch.
My code word this time is imisiv - must be about missing class?

Angela said...

Sorry to hear you were feeling so awful! Don't even get me started on doctors - I once went in horribly sick, doctor instantly insisted I had bronchitis. Since I smoked at that time (and had for years and years) I always had bronchitis and knew this was NOT it - he ignored my protests, coughing, gasping and incredibly loud wheezing and proceeded to spend the last 15 minutes of our 20 minute appt asking me questions about my physical activity and giving me a lecture about being so 'fat'. I was fairly heavy - but I also worked in a gym, trained horses and was really muscular. I wore a size 9 for cryinoutloud!

Oh, and a few days later a different doctor, after listening to one cough realized I was miserably ill with whooping cough - which the previously given antibiotics do NOT help with.

I think doctor's should have to return your money when they give you totally crap service, diagnosis, etc. We expect that from nearly other profession, right?

Oops - sorry! I knew I shouldn't have started!

Just meant to write that I try to leave on my coat and as much 'extras' when on the scale.

That way, after seeing such a high number I can start deducting...

"let's see...take off at least 10 lbs for the coat...7 for my shoes...at least 2 for the barrette in my hair..."

:) (Hope you're feeling better!)

Lost in wonder said...

Ew, migraines suck, and that doctor's appointment sucked too, I hope you feel better and Jerry is right, my father have to control his bp and the cardiologist instructions have been to take it at home 3 times a day and take a report to him each time he has his revision, so once a month he takes a sheet with the month readings to the cardiologist and that's how they work it.

Take care, you've been through this for so long to know what is a migraine and what's not *cuddles*

Now you get creative and so expresive with color when you don't feel good, I would say "do more" but...

RHCarpenter said...

I wonder if stopping chocolate will stop the migraines? How will I know what stops them? The beta blockers (new meds), not eating chocolate (milk chocolate seemed more likely to cause them than dark chocolate), or just growing out of them - finally something positive about aging! ha ha
Sandy, looking forward to seeing the posting of Kathy's snowdrops.

Nick said...

I'm an expert on migraines (not by choice). I imagine you've already been through the triptans and they don't work for you? I'm lucky, Imitrex works 90% of the time with "normal" migraines, but an MSG one can be a different story. I hope you know that is a major trigger, and that it masquerades under about 20 names...it's poison, and very very difficult to avoid. The whole thing has complicated my life tremendously. Sounds like botox is close to being approved by ins. companies - suppress migraines and look younger!! On the upside - migraine sufferers are often highly creative people - all that electrical storm up there has to be good for something.

RHCarpenter said...

Nick, the Imitrex worked wonders the first year I took it, but now it doesn't do much. I'm on something else entirely and it works well so far. Yes, I think migraines and creativity are linked somehow. My cardiologist said Mitral Valve Prolapse and Migraines are related in women somehow, too. They really aren't that bad and I can handle a tiny bit of MSG but too much of anything really gets me. My dentist even gave me a mouth guard to wear that helped for a while - need to go back to wearing that (it breaks the tendency for us to tighten our facial/neck/head muscles and it did work for me when I wore it at night).

Margaret Ann said...

I think a lot of us are in the same boat...Did you know there is a group on Flickr for migraine art>>>seriously...check it out if you have a moment...Here's the link:

All the best!

RHCarpenter said...

Thanks for leading me to the migraineurs, Margaret Ann - some very interesting and beautiful artwork created out of that misery and some I could almost feel in my own head as I looked at them! The power of art! I may have to join and start doing more when I'm having a migraine - had 3 this week - a record for a long time and unsure what's causing them.