Migraine Journey Wednesdays (Vol.8 - Tori Croom)

I am a mother of two young children, residing in Oklahoma. 

Hello Migraine Buddy community, 

Migraine started to affect my life in my adolescent years. My first encounters with them left me nauseated and unable to leave my bed. I frequently arrived home from school and quickly sought solace in my room. I recall my sister stepping in often to remind my mom that I needed a nap and that my head hurt horribly. 

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My Family’s History with Migraines

Most of my immediate family live a life engulfed in migraines. Some started at an adolescent age  while others manifested worse in their 20s. For me, at 27, a mother of two young children in the wonderful landlocked state of Oklahoma, migraine is something well known. 

In my teen years, I struggled heavily with mood regulation, heat intolerance and gastric issues. Once in college, my neurological system took center stage. Around the age which I developed the migraine disorder, a tremor manifested in my upper extremities. At 19, I sought a more in-depth understanding of my tremors, which opened a door into the world of neurology and how the brain influences the overall system.  I met with a fabulous neurologist that took concern with my neurological symptoms. We discussed a wide range of options and I opted to try an anti-seizure medication to help manage my tremors. At the time, I took birth control. The neurologist and I discussed the common side effects. At that time it was unknown to me that migraine is a common side effect of it. For others, birth control helps manage migraines, while for others it causes adverse effects. 

What I’ve Tried

Over the years, I tried multiple medications to manage them. Currently, I take a calcium channel blocker, an antidepressant, magnesium, riboflavin, prednisone, Tylenol, Benadryl, and various vitamins to add in treating the migraine. For me personally, triptans do not provide relief. Most recently, I underwent Botox and radio-frequency ablations of my occipital nerves in my cervical spine. I discovered after an emergency room visit that left me unable to open my eyes and hands swollen that I have a severe allergy to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. A common medicine pushed with the migraine cocktail during an emergency room visit is ketoprofen. Now, I avoid all NSAIDs which makes management and treatment options limited in regards to migraine episodes.

My Triggers & Symptoms

From a lot of tracking and self-awareness, I discovered major impactors for my migraine. Certain foods elicit the migraine disorder for me. I abstain from many cheeses, a few examples include blue, feta, and goat cheeses. Other food such as bell peppers, aspartame (any artificial sweetener really), Pepsi, nitrates and nitrites affect me too. Another prompting factor for migraine for me is sleep. It is vital that I practice proper sleep hygiene along with proper hydration.

The People Around Me

My biggest supporter for coping and living with migraine is my spouse. He fulfils a majority of the duties in our household and cares for me. There are days where walking and moving needs assistance. He is there to pick me up, grabbing heating pads and ice packs, encouraging me to sleep, bringing water to take the medications and helping me safely to bed. I depend heavily on his family also to help navigate parenthood and life. My in-laws step in and take care of our young children, allowing for a moment of welcomed silence in our home. I never realised how loud children were until I was navigating migraines in a house hold with two kids under five.

I graduated college after two and a half years with a bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in French and liberal arts.  I intend to proceed with additional schooling. However, life changed and currently I work for the government. The roll that I fulfil allows a lot of flexibility. Our office opens at 6:30 am and closes at 8 pm, Monday through Saturday. The scheduled hosts the ability to adjust my work week and plan for doctors’ appointments and procedures. My job previously “effectively removed me from payroll” when my FLMA expired and my doctor refused to release me to work. My current job offers benefits that allow me to manage my health and the flexibility I need to cope with a typically forty-hour workweek. I frequently adorn sunglasses or rose tinted glasses to help decrease the impact of the fluorescent lights and monitors. 

On Days Things get Unbearable

On days where it is all too much, I sleep. I seek solace in my room with blackout curtains. I rotate between our bathroom and bed, vomiting and laying on the shower floor, begging for sleep. I try to combat the days following the migraine with meditation, hydration, and diet. I notice more now than ever the little signs of a migraine episode, thankfully because of Migraine Buddy and their app. 

Some Advice for My Fellow Migraineurs

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My words to the others navigating migraines is to remember that it morphs over time. There are days everything goes well and others where everything crumbles. There is a lot of grieving over life lost while processing, coping and navigating the medical industry for treatment options and validation. Do not despair. There are providers out there that seek to help and manage this, it just takes finding the right one. In closing, we survived our worst days as of yet, we can fight through the ones that inevitably will arrive. Keep fighting my fellow migraine buddies, you are worth it.

The picture shared is of a typical day of how I cope through working. I discovered Tuesdays are a trigger for my migraine, who knows if it is the sleep changes, lighting, or stress but a typical Tuesday for me is sunglasses, noise canceling headphones and lots of breaks. 

Healint Singapore