Archive for the ‘Disability’ Category

Today I took the afternoon off work (YAY finally having a job with paid time off!) to get some doctor appointments out of the way. Sadly only managed to fit two in- neurology and podiatry.

Neither was particularly exciting. Neurology was more adjusting and changing meds as usual, because my migraines still very frequent. Also my abortive prescription has stopped working for me, so switching to another (that my doctor has to try to convince my insurance to cover by explaining that their preferred medications for me were tried and not effective.)

Podiatry was for my foot pain. Mostly just suggestions to do the things I’ve been doing :-\ (insoles in my shoes, and stretches). But I also got a steroid shot that supposedly will help with the pain temporarily.

But also after my neurology appointment I got a sheet with info on “headache hygiene” with suggestions of things that are supposed to help prevent migraines which included such things as waking up at the same time every day and going to bed at the same time everyday, getting regular exercise, and avoiding skipping meals.

For me personally the one that stood out was not skipping meals. For those who haven’t read posts where I’ve mentioned it before I practice intermittent fasting- so I frequently go 16- 24 hrs without eating anything. I like this method and feel much better with it typically. So I’m curious what the evidence is that fasting will cause migraines, and has me wishing that advice like this came with citations to the research to back it up for patients who want to look into it.

This isn’t specific to just this particular piece of advice but I notice this happens a lot with doctors is that things just generally considered good and healthy become advice for any ailment, regardless of if there is evidence it is actually linked to that ailment. Just like the doctor did on Voyager.

fluids

Photo of the doctor in the television series Star Trek Voyager with the text “Everybody should drink plenty of fluids”. In context Kes, an alien species the Doctor was unfamiliar with, had medical complaints, he told her he had no frame of reference for what she was experiencing but she should drink plenty of fluids. She responded “fluids?” and he states “everybody should drink plenty of fluids”, indicating his advice was not at all specific to her complaints. 

 

It would be nice if doctors had to provide citations just like academics. Instead looks like I’m off to do my own research on this.

This started as a facebook post on this article that showed up on my feed:
 
I’m not sure how I feel about the way spoon theory has been expanded to others sorts of disabilities- as I’ve seen the types of spoons used with. It does strike me in some sense as being a very different issue that distorts the language we use when people apply the same language of spoons to things that are actually quite different, but then at the same time, I kind of feel like if it helps explain disability maybe expanding the meaning helps….
I am torn though lol, because as soon as I type that I think “but sometimes it obfuscates the issue”.
 
But that issue aside… I really could relate so much to the author’s annoyance at a friend who found that sex is the key to getting more spoons. Not specific to sex, but I have definitely had trouble with people understanding that spoons is not something limited to “difficult” activities, or chores- relaxing, fun activities take spoons too. I actually had been thinking to blog about this for awhile and just struggled with how to phrase my issues.
But I have recently run into people who seem to think that “fun”, “relaxing” activities don’t count for spoons for me, they should recharge me, they should help me with my stress not add to it. Which in terms of stress- yes, relaxing activities and seeing friends can help. But spoons isn’t code for stress, my disabilities are not code for stress. It’s not about stress. Spoons are about the energy needed for things, and that includes watching netflix on my couch.
“Just for fun/To relax” activities also, in my experience, cost more than healthy people realize, too. It’s often not just the activity itself that costs spoons but the spoons to be presentable for it- showering, putting on clean clothes, bushing my hair. I feel like people often forget the true meaning of spoon theory- which is in large part how healthy folks take these things for granted. When Christine Miserandino’s friend starts her day by “getting ready for work” Christine has to correct her- getting ready for work is not one thing, you don’t get up and get ready with a chronic illness, as she puts it:
It looks a bit different for me and probably different for many different spoonies, but there are similarities. I often wake up late, I slept through my first 3 alarms again because when I push myself too hard alarms will not wake me up, I am already exhausted and my whole body hurts but I have to force myself out of bed, then I have to shower but I have to actually plan out what I can do in the shower day to day… shaving is usually too costly for me. I do that once in a blue moon, usually on a weekend, when I’m feeling well. What I wear is based on spoons available as well. Make up and doing anything special for my hair costs more spoons and yet there is an irony that many people, women in particular, with chronic illnesses tend to wear makeup and spend more time on our hair than healthy people, because makeup and hair products and styles are camouflage for us. When things are the worst for me health-wise, wearing make up does not feel like an option. I’ve learned some tricks to try to lessen the appearance of the thinning in my hair. I wear makeup to cover up under eye bags and petechiae from vomiting, so that I look healthy. So that I’m not constantly being told how tired and sick I look or being asked what’s wrong all day.
Luckily my morning medicines do not need to be taken with food so I get to skip on breakfast in the mornings. Thankful for that.
But this is what it means to have to think about “spoons”. Healthy people don’t have unlimited energy. Healthy people can’t do everything they want or need to in a day all the time. There is limited time and energy for work, volunteering, taking care of kids, working out, spending time on hobbies, and keeping up with your chores. That’s normal. Spoon theory isn’t about managing all those activities, though they are part of it too, but it’s about all the little things that healthy people don’t have to plan out and factor into their energy reserves for the day. Healthy people have to plan out how they will manage and fit those obligations and wants, spoonies have to manage that and also make careful decisions about things like showering, dressing, what clothes we can or can’t wear that day, managing medications (I always feel an irony in needing to budget out the spoon needed for medication set up each week…. but if I come up short and don’t have it I will be screwed because I won’t have my meds ready to take for the week). It’s also about the fact that some days we have so few spoons those small things are the only things healthy people take for granted are all we can manage.

So I was feeling better recently and getting back to lifting and I started thinking about this issue….

I feel better when I work out.

Or I work out when I feel better.

Which is it?

Of course it is both, I do believe that working out can make me feel better. I also know that working out depends on how I feel, so I need to feel well enough to workout. But to say how much is a vs how much b is impossible for me to say. When I’m working out and feeling better physically… how much of me feeling better is because I’m working out? How much of my working out is because I just happen to be doing better physically at this time.

 

I don’t really have much more to say on this issue, but wanted to throw it out there. I was thinking about this recently and meaning to post about it and never got around to it until now. Which is a bit ironic that I’m posting it now since I’m actually feeling terrible because of a workout right now. I finally started Krav Maga but after the class I started coughing terribly and I’m still struggling with it more than a day later. I need to go see my doctor, it seems from my googlings and talking with others I might actually have a form of asthma. I’ve often had coughing fits that last hours after runs but I thought that was rather normal, maybe normal-normal, but at least not a problem. Turns out I might have been ignoring serious issues.

I’ve been a bit MIA recently due to a cold that knocked me on my ass and still has me completely drained of what very little energy I usually have, even though it’s been over a month now. That along with the fact that my feet still hurt a lot, leaving me limping more often than not.

This is one thing I find that people who do not have chronic illnesses don’t often understand- the problems are not limited to the direct symptoms and issues related to one’s chronic illness, but combined with otherwise minor acute illnesses- colds, flus, et cetera, can become much more severe.

This is something I’m also running into with my job working with individuals with chronic illnesses, and advocating for them which means educating colleagues about the dangers to some of my clients in close quartered public spaces like shelters.

For me a cold or a flu when combined with my chronic illnesses tends to just mean that the cold or flu lasts a lot longer than usual, and exacerbates my typical fatigue and pain. Thankfully for me though, it doesn’t typically mean hospitalization or putting my life in dangers- but for many others it does mean that! For some of my clients it means that.

So with work I’ve been trying to advocate for procedures that take this into account for my severely ill clients, understanding that what might be unpleasant for a generally healthy adult, can be life threatening to them. And doing this has really highlighted for me how in so many ways people who do not live with chronic illnesses just don’t have to think about various things like this.

So I think I mentioned before that my new job is working in integrated healthcare- integrated physical, mental, and substance abuse healthcare.

And so at work there is a lot of talk about people dealing with chronic physical illnesses, and also mental illnesses. Both of which I fall under, and feel a little awkward at times about because I’ve never had cause to mention these factors at work, and particularly when talking about people with them it brings to mind my typical awkward feelings around the fact that coworkers looking at me would likely assume such things don’t apply to me.

In a recent training we talked about this 4 quadrant model for physical health and mental health.

(phrasing here is all mine, so I may be off in terms of what the official terminology is meant to be)

Quadrant 1 is people with low physical health problems and low mental health problems- someone who is generally healthy but may need to see a doctor for an injury, acute illness, and may see a therapist to deal with depression or stress during times of particular upset in their lives but does not have a severe and persistent mental illness.

Quadrant 2 is people with low physical health problems but high mental health problems.

Quadrant 3 is people with high physical health problems, but low mental health problems.

Quadrant 4 is people with high physical health problems, and high mental health problems.

As we are talking about this, and the trainer makes a comment how we may be people who fall in quadrant 1 and how that is a very different experience with the healthcare system than someone in quadrant 4… and I’m like, actually I would say I alternate between Quadrant 3 and Quadrant 4 as my depression is somewhat intermittent (typically dependent on how my physical health is), but certainly at times quite severe.

Which is also interesting to me, in mental health there are positions for peer specialists, and in my required trainings when I started the job there was a lot of talk about how peer specialists were created to recognize the benefits consumers bring to the table, and having someone who understands these experiences. Now, I wouldn’t fit the role of a peer specialist in a community mental health setting because I’ve never been a community mental health patient/consumer/client. But one thing that stands out to me in how this is talked about is there seems to be this idea that people are either mental health professionals with advanced degrees and licensing, or people with mental illnesses (or in integrated care, you could say physical illnesses as well). There still doesn’t seem to be any recognition that the people with degrees, and professional licenses, may also themselves have chronic illnesses.

And while I’ve never talked about it at work, I do think I have a benefit in this work being someone who has chronic illnesses, not struggled with not being able to afford care for them as well. Many of the things I’m told about what clients may do are things I’ve been through too. I understand all too well when you decide you just aren’t seeing a doctor anymore for your chronic illnesses because they never seem to help and the only thing you see from it is less money in your wallet/bank account. I’ve not had prescriptions filled or been inconsistent in taking them because I couldn’t afford them. Et cerera, et cetera. And I think really understanding that situation is a benefit, compared to someone whose never been through that.

Random closing thought though, whenever I think about this topic, I also think about my pill organizers, and so I have to say, for anyone who takes a lot of medication- especially if some are rather large- I highly recommend these 7 day organizers.

My 7 day 4 compartment pill organizers after my weekly pill prep

These are the ones I have, which have 4 sections each day. They also have ones with 3 sections, or 2 sections for each day. For the record, I am not being paid or asked to promote these by the company, though if they would like to pay me for promoting their products I would be totally amendable to that. But this is just my own love for these containers, and wanting to let other people who may benefit from them know about them.

What I like them are that each day is separate and so I can carry just one day with me in my purse, compared to most weekly pill organizers you see. I’ve had people recommend those really big organizer that are one big thing with 7 days in the week and 4 times slots for each day- but that’s only really convenient if you are home all day to take them. And it may be the best option if you are, but for someone like me- I’m often out of my house at times I need to take my meds, and I can’t carry around that big, whole week organizer with me! Also most pill organizers have small compartments! Which is fine if you take a few small pills, but if you are taking pills that are large (as I do) they don’t all fit in those typical small pill organizers. These are an inch deep and really do hold a significant amount of pills for each time slot. Also they are colorful and that’s always fun 🙂 Oh, and they are easy to fill. You can pull the plastic tops off completely to fill them.

Unfortunately they don’t have any for over 4 times a day- which is something that is really lacking in pill organizing products. My grandmother used to have to take medicine 6 times a day and I remember what they did for her was use one of those week organizers and just relabeled each compartment for a time instead of a day and had to set it up for the next day each night.

So I’ve been thinking a bit about being inspiring to others, and then read a post on Fit is a Feminist Issue the other day about being inspiring and it made me want to post something here about it.

Awhile back someone commented on one of my running blogs saying:

I love hearing about your running. Each time I think ‘one day that will be me. One day I’ll be well enough to run’. It’s inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing.

And I was kind of shocked, in a happy way, reading that. First off, I started blogging my runs because I find it motivating in a way that’s hard to describe, and I wasn’t really sure anyone else would read them let alone enjoy reading them.

Also I never would have imagined it to be inspiring to anyone. It’s not like I’m running marathons or anything, I’m out there going slow and not very far.

While I can’t speak for the person who left that comment, I started thinking about it though, and realized that it makes sense in many ways to find more inspiration in seeing someone else through the process of something than just the end result, if that end result is something that you don’t feel like you could do. Just seeing someone else run a marathon would not for me be as inspiring as seeing someone else who struggles with running talk about the whole process of training for it, seeing the progress, set backs, frustrations- because that can make you think “Maybe I could do that.”

Also I looked up the commenter’s blog after reading that and it made sense to see that it was someone else who is struggling with chronic illness. It makes sense to find inspiration from someone else like us doing something we would like to do. I know for myself I also struggle with fitness being primarily dominated by people who are generally healthy- as most areas of life are. I don’t think it shouldn’t be of course, people with chronic conditions are a slight minority and even then the effects are vastly different based on condition and individual. I personally struggle though with remembering that I can’t expect my training to look just like someone else who is generally in good health. Our experiences will be different. So when I do meet other folks who lift or run and have similar health issues as me, it is really great to see other people like myself doing these things as well.

So that’s my own background and what I’d been thinking about this before Natalie’s post on Fit is a Feminist Issue. In her post she takes issue with being called inspiring, coming from a perspective in which it seems she is often called “inspiring” by people who are different than her in a key way because of the idea that people like her don’t normally do that type of thing. In her case, the main issue she brought up was body size. Fat people aren’t expected to be active and athletic, leading to the “inspiring” thought process of “if even she can do that, I must be able to as well”. Which is a very different kind of inspiration, because it’s based on seeing that person as less than yourself. If even this person who should be less athletic than me based on X characteristic can do this, surely someone like me can as  well.

This is pretty common with both fat and disabled athletes. Many disability activists have also spoken out about “inspiration porn”. Stella Yound in her Tedx talk says these “inspirational” images of people with disabilities “objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people.”  This gets to the heart of what I think is the difference between when inspiring someone is great, and when it’s kind of icky. Seeing someone who is like you, such as someone with a similar disability or another fat person, doing something that you didn’t think you could, or that you are often told you can’t do because of that characteristic, can certainly be inspiring and it’s why it’s great to see more representation. Seeing more fat athletes or athletes with disabilities is great when it comes to providing encouragement to other fat people and people with disabilities, who can feel empowered by that to be more involved in aspects of fitness they enjoy.

It becomes kind of gross and really rude though when it’s taken as “inspiring” to people unlike the person in question.

This is so often the case of how images of athletes with disabilities are used. I see all the time people sharing images or video of athletes with clearly visible disabilities- typically people either born without certain limbs, or who have had them amputated, and the message is clearly stated- if this person can do it, then so can you. So can you because you are better than this person already because you aren’t disabled. The intended audience who are meant to be inspired aren’t other people with disabilities who think “that person is like me!”, it’s people without disabilities. And the reason it should be inspiring to people without disabilities is predicated on the social belief that people with disabilities are less than able-bodied people.

In Michigan, where I live, at the state level we have legalized medical marijuana but not recreational marijuana (of course it is all still illegal at the federal level). That means that if a doctor fills out some paperwork saying that you would benefit from medical marijuana (and typically requires stating that other medications have not been effective) and you file that with the state, you can get a medical marijuana card making it legal (state level) to be in possession of marijuana, grow small amounts, and purchase it from medical marijuana providers.

This has been something I’ve been meaning for awhile to try, I haven’t yet simply because it costs a fair bit of money for all this. Even if you have a real medical need, most people have to find a doctor who specifically does this- they charge around $70-100 from what I’ve seen to look at your medical records and meet with you to decide if they think you have a medical need for it. I believe there are also costs after this for filing with the state. I’m too broke to afford that at the moment, so I haven’t done this yet. The reason I’ve been looking into this is because I’ve read about marijuana being effective in treating migraines and I know other people with chronic migraines who were finally able to find relief with medical marijuana. Given how the medication I have for migraines are only partially effective, it seems worth it to give this a try if I can ever come up with the costs.

But this post is actually about legalizing recreational marijuana use. So as someone who might benefit from medical uses of marijuana, why do I car about legalizing recreational use?

Short version, because I think it hurts people with real chronic illnesses when other people lie about them for drugs.

Last weekend I worked at a local festival and was chatting with someone else working it. There was someone nearby trying to get people to sign a petition to get legalizing recreational marijuana on the upcoming ballot, and the other guy I was working with mentions how glad he is to have a medical marijuana card. So I start asking him about it and where he went- because if anyone knows a cheaper option than those I’ve found, I’d like to hear it!  So he tells me how where he went he actually had to pay more for the card because he doesn’t actually have any medical issues and you have to pay more to find someone to claim you do. He just uses it recreationally, and having a card makes it easier to get and prevents him getting arrested for it.

Obviously inherent in this is that I don’t think recreational use of marijuana is harmful, and I think people should be able to make that choice. In combination with that, I would really like to see recreational use legalized so people stop lying about illnesses, most commonly chronic pain, in order to get high. Doing this makes it easier for people to dismiss those of us who actually suffer from chronic pain issues, because everyone knows that “chronic pain” is a simple catch all term that anyone can claim to have. Whether it be related to marijuana use or not, the more people lie about it, the more others are inclined to see anyone talking about chronic pain- especially when we don’t look like we suffer from chronic pain- as lying.

I’ve actually seen the opposite argument made before, interestingly not by someone with a chronic illness. The argument that just leave it at medical use, because people who use it recreationally can still easily lie to get a card, and that way people who really do need it for medical use won’t be branded druggies. Except that when people lie about needing it for medical use, in order to use recreationally, those who use it for medical use are still already going to be assumed to just be recreational users.

I’d much rather it just be legal and let the reasons be personal. No one needs to know if I’m drinking green tea because I just really enjoy the taste of it, or if I’m actually drinking it for some medical reason. While I certainly don’t think the stigma of marijuana use would go away overnight if legalized, it’s not going away with it being illegal either, and hopefully overtime the stigma would reduce and that’s going to help recreational and medical users. And those of us with chronic illnesses will have fewer people lying about being ill increasing the impression that we are also lying.

So after my last post I started thinking about Spoon Theory, I remember reading briefly awhile back that there is a lot of debate about whether or not Spoon Theory can/should be used in terms of mental illness. My thought was (and I guess still is) that if someone has any form of chronic illness (be it physical or mental) and feels like spoon theory accurately describes their experiences with the chronic illness, then why not? On the other hand though, I hadn’t actually seen any arguments made supporting either side.

So I did a little bit of googling. Didn’t really find what I was looking for, but I found a few blog posts talking about variations people have proposed for spoon theory, which relate to other types of illnesses.

Fork Theory

The first I read was a blog post about a proposed Fork Theory. This seems to be applied mostly to mental illness. To get a good idea of it, you should probably read their whole post, but I will try to summarize it as I understand it. Essentially it’s an analogy for what people with a chronic illness have to ‘pay’ for a certain activities, balanced with the reward we get for those activities. Spoon theory was meant to illustrate and symbolize having a chronic illness how you have to really think about the energy you are spending on every little thing you do, that people who are generally healthy do not have to think about. Fork theory is sort of the same idea but whereas spoon theory, each day you have a number of spoons, and there isn’t anything you can do to get more spoons* for that day. Whereas with forks you have to spend a certain number of forks, but you can get forks by doing things. So it costs 2 forks to take a shower, but taking a shower gives you 5 forks. Which is a great deal, unless you don’t have 2 forks to spend. But also that you don’t always know for certain how many, if any, forks you will get from an activity. So it’s also a bit of a gamble.

*other than possibly borrow from tomorrow, but only at the expense of tomorrow having less, and not knowing for sure how many spoons tomorrow will even have to begin with. Which to use my last post as an example of this, maybe I could have gotten in a workout despite how I was feeling by borrowing spoons from today, but the consequence of that might be- and probably would have been- that I do not have enough spoons to do anything meaningful today. Which as I think about borrowing might be the wrong way to describe it. Because for me, a lot of the time I get fewer “borrowed” spoons for that day than the spoons lost the next day for it.

Fork theory makes sense to me, I’ve definitely felt that way. Taking a shower will make me feel better but I don’t have the energy to take a shower. I also know the gamble bit, particularly with depression. Talking to someone can help make my depression better… or could actually make it worse depending.

Picture of my lunch: Pita bread with chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber sauce.

Interestingly though, I started thinking about how the fork concept can apply to things like my physical energy and abilities. I thought about this while I was making lunch, which is probably what made me think about it. I had the spoons today to make a pretty good lunch (imo). There are days I don’t have the spoons for that though. Or I have the spoons to cook but not cook and do dishes, but I haven’t had the spoons to do dishes in days so I have no clean dishes to prepare or eat food from. But on the other hand, obviously eating healthier is better for me in the long run. Unlike the examples used for forks though, the benefit is often not immediate. I won’t get more spoons for today from eating well. But eating better can pay off in more spoons per day long term, or fewer spoons per day if I don’t eat well. Same can go for exercise. To an extreme, the same goes for medications. It takes time and spoons (well, maybe more like 1 spoon) to set up my pills for the week. But if I don’t even have that spoon to spend on it, and it doesn’t get done and I’m all out of set up pills, I probably end up not taking my medication, and I will end up pay heavily for that.

Types of Spoons

Following a link from the forks blog, I found a blog post about different types of spoons. The idea behind this is that not all spoons are the same, but can be specific to types of activities. Though to me it would make more sense to talk about it in terms of general cutlery (though it would conflict with fork theory were forks don’t work exactly like spoons) rather than types of spoons. Wouldn’t the analogy fit real life objects better if instead of spoons for different things in your drawer, you had spoons, forks, butter knives, steak knives, et cetera. And similar to preparing/eating different foods, different activities require different cutlery?

But aside from that, this does not hold true to me in terms of spoons as an analogy for energy/ability with chronic illness. I don’t feel like I have activity specific spoons, just general spoons and different activities cost more than others. It’s not time based of course, an hour of one activity will not have the same cost as an hour of another activity, but they all use the same spoons in general.

Of course I don’t have asperger’s/autism so of course my experience is different than that writer. Which does make me wonder though, back to the original question- how far does it make sense to apply spoon theory? How much sense does make to apply it across all forms of chronic illness or disability? Spoon theory started simply as one woman’s way of trying to tangibly explain life with Lupus to her friend. Turns out the concept applies to a lot of other physical disabilities/chronic illnesses as well, though it won’t apply to all. Or at least, won’t apply to same to all. And obviously there are differences between physical illness and mental illness and autism. Does it really make sense to use the same analogy to try to explain all these experiences despite significant differences? (I certainly have no answer to that right now)

Someecards says: “I’m so happy I got this debilitating illness so I can stay in bed for the rest of my life instead of participating in society and making a difference,” said no sick person ever.

So  I was thinking last night about the difficulty of balancing with chronic illness pushing through being ill to work out and listening to your body when it tells you it needs rest.

I was thinking about this last night because I was feeling very frustrated. I’ve been very ill for days, and as a result haven’t worked out in a few days. It might not seem like it from my posts here but I’ve actually been doing well at working out more frequently again.Keeping a calendar of the month where I very briefly state if I workout and what kind (lifting, running, et cetera) that day it makes it easier to see how often I workout vs how many days I don’t. I easily lose track of days sometimes, and it makes it too easy to not notice that several days have gone by without a workout but I swear it was just like yesterday that I did squats…

Anyways, so I’ve been getting better at that and trying to get even better at improving frequency,so I was really frustrating yesterday when my workouts get cancelled from my plans several days in a row due to being ill and I was feeling even more awful yesterday- pretty much not even functional level of feeling like shit. But I still felt like I should workout.

I ended up not because it was just far too clear that I needed to rest because my body clearly needed it. But it got me thinking about the difficulty I frequently find myself in with a chronic illness. I want to push through it all the time, but it’s not realistic. I need more rest because of it, and sometimes I will be too sick to workout, and I want that to not be the case, but it is. So I can’t follow the idea a lot of folks in fitness promote of just working out no matter what and pushing through anything.

On the other hand, it’s a difficult balancing act because I can’t take the approach other promote of “just listen to your body when it tells you you need rest”. Because my body is always saying it needs rest. And because I’m pretty much always sick, I’m going to workout despite things that are cause to take a rest day for other people (and for good reason. If you are generally healthy and feeling nauseous and throwing up, you should probably stop and get some rest. But dealing with chronic nausea, I know it’s probably not a sign of a flu or anything like that, so I will try to work through it whenever possible.)

Sometimes it’s clear when it’s something I can and should push through. Sometimes it’s clear when I’m really not ok and I need to just get as much rest as possible. But there are also a lot of times when it’s not clear if I should just try to power though, or if I really should just go ahead and rest. (And sometimes I don’t realize it’s the latter until I try to do something and just cannot.)

So I just discovered reading another blog that June is apparently is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, and June 29th is apparently specifically set aside for raising awareness of Chronic Migraines. I’m several hours late but still as a chronic migraine sufferer I felt like I should post something myself. Chronic Migraines are defined as having migraines 15 or more days per month. Without medications my migraines are well over 15 days per month, even on preventative I still typically am at about 12-15 days per month.

Headache is also only one of many symptoms of migraines. Others common symptoms include nausea/vomiting, dizziness/vertigo, and fatigue. These symptoms can also change over time as I’ve learned. I’ve had chronic migraines since I was 10, and it was only within the last several years though that I frequently experienced nausea and vomiting with my migraines.

The above infographic that I found points out that depression and anxiety are 2 conditions that people are at an increased risk for with Migraines. Meniere’s Disease is another, which I’ve been diagnosed with as well. As I’ve been told by doctors, they don’t know what the connection between the two is, but there appears to be one as the majority of meniere’s patients have migraines (the alternate is not true though, as most migraine sufferers do not have meniere’s).

As for triggers, besides weather and stress (as noted in the infographic) other common triggers include bright lights, diet (not limited to caffeine), not getting enough sleep, hormonal changes, and exercise. Some of these are fairly well known for being bad when one has a migraine, but many people don’t realize that not only do things like bright lights (florescents especially) and exercise often make migraines worse when you have them, but also can trigger migraines.