Can The Internet Cure... My Migraines?

It fixed my uterus! Can it fix my brain? Wikipedia, ho!

Nov 28, 2011 at 6:00pm | Leave a comment

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I hate calling in sick when I have a migraine.

First of all, it's maybe the second-most-exploited fake-sick excuse after food poisoning (which is basically everybody reads as "fourth cadillac margarita" at this point).

Second of all, most of the migraine sufferers I know are women, and even though it's because most physicians believe there's a direct hormonal correlate (migraine science is still not an exact one), it makes me feel like I'm complaining of a wandering uterus. Even though there have been several noted male migraine sufferers (Elvis, Darwin, and Freud, to name a few), calling off work with a cluster headache feels like trying to get out of gym by doubling over and moaning about cramps.

But if you've ever had migraines, you know that you are essentially useless when one hits, and there's basically nothing you can do but lie in bed and pray for death. I started getting them when I was ten and continue to get them twice a month without pharmaceutical intervention. Mine are textbook -- light sensitivity, nausea, and pain that feels like I'm getting a tribal tattoo on my brain. And it's not just my head. Not to quote "Friday" or anything but: My neck. My back. My neck AND my back.

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I used to have excellent medical coverage and a doctor who was very loose with a scrip. When I was in college, she set me up with a regimen of a daily beta blocker to open dem' blood vessels, with Relpax as a palliative. Oh, god. Oh man. Relpax.

If you have migraines and money and insurance, get your hands on this stuff. If I took one of these at the first sign of a migraine, I could conceivably be functional enough to attend class and finish term papers. Relpax, I miss u, gurl.

Since I've gone freelance, I've mostly cobbled together a homemade treatment program that goes something like "try to only get migraines on Saturdays" and "keep a festive Ziploc trail mix of drugs copped from generous friends who have recently had surgery or visited Mexico." (Disclaimer: OBVIOUSLY I do not recommend you take drugs illegally. Obviously. OBVIOUSLY. VERY BAD AND NOT LEGAL.)

Alas, this is not entirely on the up-and-up and it's not really a very good long-term strategy. Additionally, I can't WORK when I'm looped on pain killers. I mean, clearly, the stuff I write when I'm higher than a Dubai penthouse is pure gold.

But, as my friend, the former heroin addict said, "Dilaudid??? Oh my God. I wouldn't even touch that stuff when I was sharing rigs with teen runaways. Yikes! Dilaudid, Julieanne???"

Honestly, I just don't really like taking any kind of drug whatsoever, if you must know. I mean, aside from alcohol and caffeine which don't count.

Good thing I'm on an ongoing quest to let the Internet cure what ails me. Remember last time, when it fixed my uterus?*

So here's what I'm going to try, per the Internet:

Chinese Medicine.
I went to one or two acupuncture sessions, but I wasn't going regularly enough to see results. And to be honest I kind of didn't like it. I know I should give it another shot, but anybody who says it doesn't hurt is full of lies. So I'm going to go the herbal route, and try traditional extracts meant to treat headaches like Pian Tou Tong Wan, which is a bunch of roots and flowers and stuff.

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Magnets.
I know, I know. This is some Skymall santeria. But if both ICP and the Mayo Clinic are curious about their effects, so am I. Plus, it's a cure that's also a snazzy bracelet.

Diet
Several studies have suggested that overly aged or processed foods can cause migraines, as well as (ugh) wheat, dairy, nuts and red wine, which are basically the four corners of my family crest. Eastern medicine holds that greasy and sweet foods cause the excess of internal "heat" that can throw off your body chemistry and cause headaches. So I guess I'll be avoiding all delicious things until New Year's, which is probably good because it's not even December and I'm already Christmas Fat.

Caffeine
Science says that reducing caffeine intake can alleviate migraines, but, sorry, science. You can have my caffeine when you pry it from my cold jittery talons.

And, in the interest of science, safety, and because I really do respect traditional western medicine (nothing but love for you, doctors and hospitals), I asked Emily's beloved Dr. O if there was anything I could do that did not involve illegal drugs or magic.

Quoth Dr. O: "Acupuncture is really the way to go. There are several clinics around the city which are much cheaper than private practices… Also magnesium supplements work well for a lot of women. Be well and hi to Emily!"  God, I love her. Don't you love her? She also sent me a list of practitioners and told me to look into Freelancer's Insurance, because that is the responsible adult thing to do.

OK! Let's do this. Please let me know if you've figured out anything that works for you that does't involve anything illegal or expensive.

*(I never did a follow up on this, but drinking four cups of parsley tea over the course of one day brought on my mysteriously months-late period in less than twelve hours. This worked for me, but exercise caution when drinking this stuff because it's toxic in large doses. I know! Pesto can kill, apparently. I've been getting my period on the regs ever since, which is good, because I am no longer celibate but still not ready to be the World's Best Mother.)