Tag Archives: chronic illness

Follow These Accounts for Your Good Health

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Follow These Accounts for Your Good Health

Follow These Accounts for Your Good Health

Time for some old-fashioned Follow Friday #FF, my Lovelies. Not just a list of names, but a curated list of some of the best accounts ...
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Filed under #FF, Books, chronic pain, healing, health, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines

Why Getting a Medical ID for Hemiplegic Migraine Made Me Feel Unsafe

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“You’re getting a migraine, aren’t you?” said my physician last year during one of my regular visits. “If you were pulled over, a policeman would think you were drunk or on drugs. If you were taken to a hospital, they would think you were having a stroke. Time for you to get a medical ID bracelet.”

I was so shocked that I just sat there staring at him, and not just because he’d said I sounded impaired. I was first diagnosed with migraines at age five and have suffered from the throbbing head pain, vision changes, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells all my life, as have many of the women in my family.

When I was 9, a doctor realized that I was having seizures when I had a migraine attack, though he did not give the headaches I was experiencing a different name. In my mid-thirties, a migraine specialist determined that I suffer not only from complex-complicated migraines but also from familial hemiplegic migraines, which are rare.

Hemiplegic migraines mimic strokes by causing temporary paralysis or numbness on one side of the body, loss of balance or coordination, and confusion or an inability to understand speech. Hemiplegic migraines can also cause speech difficulties such as slurring, dysphasia (words get mixed up or switched around in sentences), or aphasia (an inability to speak).

Most frightening, this type of migraine can cause changes in consciousness including seizures or coma. No one in my family who suffered from migraines ever carried anything other than pain medication, and though migraines with aura significantly increase the risk for stroke, no one in my family ever wore a medical alert. Now, however, medical ID bracelets are being recommended for people diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines since so few physicians are familiar with the symptoms.

Once I got over my initial shock at my doctor’s suggestion that I wear a medical ID bracelet, I welcomed the idea of the bracelet, if only because I thought I would feel safer wearing a medal with “Hemiplegic Migraines, Aphasia & Seizures” inscribed under my name and emergency contact numbers. To my surprise, I was terribly depressed upon receiving the bracelet. For months, I was so depressed that I found myself constantly “forgetting” to put the medical alert bracelet on. Because my doctor insisted I wear it, I had to figure out why the medical ID bracelet depressed me. This is what I came up with.

My medical condition was no longer private.

Many people describe migraines as an “invisible illness” because the suffering can’t be seen, and I suppose I felt more comfortable having a condition that most people didn’t know about. With the medical ID bracelet, instead of my life partner and close friends being the only ones who know I have migraines, everyone who sees me now knows something’s wrong with me. I’m wearing a bracelet that says so. Even though the bracelet is for my safety, it felt like an intrusion into my privacy.

I felt like a failure.

I take care of myself by getting plenty of sleep, avoiding dietary and situational triggers, and by walking, doing yoga, and meditating almost every day. I’ve tried every anti-depressant and anti-seizure medication on the market to get my migraines under control, but wearing a medical bracelet listing my condition made me feel as if I hadn’t done enough. The bracelet didn’t change the frequency or severity of my migraines, but it made me feel I have somehow failed to prevent them.

I felt like my migraines were my fault.

Migraines are neurological conditions, and researchers are still investigating whether all types of migraines may be inherited. Both sporadic (not inherited) and familial (inherited) hemiplegic migraines definitely involve genetic defects or mutations that upset neurochemicals in the brain, causing the symptoms of the aura and the pain of the migraine. Despite knowing all that on a conscious level, having to wear the medical ID bracelet made it somehow seem as if the migraines were my fault, which I had never felt before.

I felt like I was wearing a sign on my forehead.

I readily admit that I’ve had to make a lot of lifestyle changes and adjustments because of my migraines. I can’t go to concerts or movie theatres because the high volume triggers a migraine. I avoid grocery aisles with humming or flickering fluorescent lights that can instantly cause both a severe migraine and its associated seizures. I use only unscented lotions, soaps, or shampoos, nor can I be around anyone who’s wearing perfume because it causes migraines. I have to know every ingredient of every dish I eat that I don’t make myself to avoid food triggers like artificial sweeteners or additives (e.g., MSG): those things can cause migraines, and hemiplegic migraines can cause seizures which can lead to coma.

I’ve been called “neurotic” by more than one person in my life, including doctors who dismissed my symptoms as “all in my head” when they didn’t know anything about hemiplegic migraines. I guess I never minded being considered “neurotic” because I knew that I was taking care of myself. Though I’m unable to work when I have a migraine, I never considered myself to have a chronic illness let alone a disability. Wearing the medical ID bracelet made me feel like I was chronically ill as well as disabled. Further, the medical alert made me feel like I was wearing some shameful Disabled sign on my forehead for everyone to see.

To my surprise, my life partner was very pleased when I got the ID bracelet. He admitted, for the first time in almost 25 years together, that he has always been concerned about my having a migraine-induced seizure: he worried that he would be unable to adequately explain hemiplegic migraines to medical personnel. The instructors in my T’ai Chi and Kundalini Yoga classes looked so relieved when I showed them the bracelet that I felt quite guilty for not having gotten it sooner. When I went to a new dentist and then to an oral surgeon to have a dying tooth extracted, both doctors immediately asked about the medical alert and were then pleased to know that my medical condition, which neither had ever heard of before, was clearly indicated on the bracelet.

One day when I went to the grocery last month, I actually forgot to put my bracelet on. After I realized that I’d left it at home, I became anxious that I might experience an aura and have difficulty speaking while I was among strangers. That was when I understood that my initial depression over wearing the medical ID bracelet had completely disappeared.

After wearing my medical ID bracelet for almost a year, I can honestly say that I am happy to have it. I wear it every day, even at home, and have it on 24-hours a day when I have a migraine in case of seizure. I feel only safety wearing the medical alert bracelet now, and I encourage anyone who has a severe, chronic, or rare medical condition to wear one.

Related Posts

For more of my migraine articles,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.

This article, in a slightly altered form, was first published
on  The Mighty and reprinted on MigraineMantras.

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Filed under health, hemiplegic migraines, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines

SurfCity Apps: The Best Free Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps for Migraine and Chronic Pain Relief

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If you’re not familiar with self-hypnosis, let me assure you that it is nothing like what’s shown in horror films. No matter how skilled the therapist, meditation leader, or professional hypnotist, hypnosis meditations cannot make you do anything you do not wish to. I’ve heard of self-hypnosis for many things — weight loss, quitting smoking, reducing anxiety — and I’ve used self-hypnosis CDs for increasing creativity and maintaining an exercise program. It wasn’t until the advent of smartphones, however, that I found self-hypnosis meditations which actually reduced my chronic migraine pain. Two of the finest self-hypnosis meditation apps for pain relief which I use regularly are Migraine & Headache Relief  and Chronic Pain Relief, both by Surf City Apps. These two apps are the best I’ve found for reducing chronic pain.

Founded in 2012, Surf City Apps produces professionally scripted hypnosis apps with professional background audio. Each script is read by a certified clinical hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy instructor; the same person narrates both the Migraine Relief and the Chronic Pain Relief meditations: I find her voice and delivery calming and relaxing. I often fall asleep when listening to these meditations, but even when I cannot sleep because of insomnia, either as a symptom of the migraine itself or from its accompanying pain, I play these apps on a low volume continuously, and they help significantly reduce the pain level.

The meditations in these apps are not hidden by music, are clearly audible, and the free versions contain the exact same narration as the Pro versions. That means you can listen to the free versions and hear absolutely everything that is said in the paid versions. Since you can listen to the entire self-hypnosis narration-free, I advise you to listen to both Migraine Relief and Chronic Pain Relief as long as you want to determine which best helps reduce your pain. These are only a few differences between the free and the paid versions of these apps, and none of those differences concerns the actual content of the self-hypnosis meditation itself.

*Please note that because these are self-hypnosis meditations which may make you fall asleep, you should never listen to these apps while driving or operating dangerous machinery.*

Migraine & Headache Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation
by Surf City Apps

After guiding your through some imagery and breathing exercises to induce relaxation, the Migraine & Headache Relief self-hypnosis meditation tells you to image the pain in your head as a color, which you choose yourself. Then, you image a faucet at your ear closest to the pain, and the meditation guides you through turning on the faucet and letting the pain drain safely out through the faucet. You are then given some suggestions for safely “disposing” of the pain and encouraged to replace the now-empty space previously occupied by the pain with the color you image from another body part that does not give you pain.

Download Migraine & Headache Relief free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, or from GooglePlay for Android devices. Though I’ve never used Migraine & Headache Relief on an ordinary headache, I always use it during a migraine attack. It significantly reduces the pain, especially when I combine it with Surf City Apps’ Chronic Pain Relief.

Chronic Pain Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation
by Surf City Apps

After guiding your through some imagery and breathing exercises to encourage relaxation, the Chronic Pain Relief self-hypnosis meditation instructs you to image a pain-relieving liquid, which acts like novocaine, coming from a faucet. You are instructed to determine the color, viscosity, and temperature of the liquid. You are guided through the steps of placing your hand under the running faucet and feeling the numbness and relief caused by the liquid. You are then told to put your hand on any part of your body that is in pain. You image that liquid penetrating all the tissues of your body in order to relieve pain and promote healing. Afterward, you image the liquid returning to your hand so that you can return it to the basin below the faucet where you “release” it. If you experience pain in large areas of your body, you are guided through imagery where you bathe or shower in the pain-relieving liquid and are thereby comforted.

Download Chronic Pain Relief free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, and from GooglePlay for Android devices. The Chronic Pain app relieves a great deal of chronic pain, and it definitely helps with the severe pain of migraine attacks as well, which is why I alternate the apps when I’m in severe pain.

SurfCity App Controls

The controls are identical in all versions (free and paid, across all app topics) of the Surf City apps and are very easy to use. The settings are relatively self-explanatory, though some brief descriptions are sometimes included, as in the definition of what Hypnotic Booster does.

 

The Differences Between the Free and Pro App
There are ads in the free version as well as limitations to the app controls. The Pro (paid) version costs a one-time fee ($1.99-3.99, depending on the particular app), and the paid version allows you to turn off the audio instructions (which help you relax your body but do not specifically have anything to do with relieving pain) at the beginning of the narration, to disable Awaken at End (allowing you to stay asleep if you are using it at night and happen to fall asleep), and to repeat the narration 1-3 times or to loop it so it continues until you shut the app down. These controls alone are certainly worth the money if you want to play the narration all night long or during a migraine attack to keep the pain level down. The paid version also includes a variety of background sounds, (rain, water on the beach, etc) and lets you continue listening to your background of choice after the meditation narration ends by delaying the ending of the app’s shut-off. You can choose from 5, 10, 20, or 30-minute delays, or hourly delays from 1-8 hours: during these delays, the self-hypnosis meditation is not playing but the soothing background sounds are, and this might be helpful for promoting sleep and rest during a migraine attack or pain flare-up).

I have the Migraine Relief and the Chronic Pain Relief sleep versions in one playlist, alternating one with the other until I have about 10 hours of playing time, to make sure I don’t get woken up by the hypnosis-meditation shutting off. The day version of this playlist, which alternates Migraine Relief + Awaken with Chronic Pain Relief + Awaken, is only about 5 or 6 hours long, but that’s because I’m awake already and playing it at a very low volume so that I hear it subliminally. Once you’ve listened to the session a few times, you don’t have to actively concentrate on the meditation-hypnosis for it to reduce your pain.

Note: These are self-hypnosis meditations, even in their MP3 versions, and they can make you fall asleep, so don’t listen to these while driving or operating dangerous machinery.

You can check out all Surf City’s free apps on its website. Their apps have been downloaded over 5 million times and average 4+ stars out of 5 for these particular apps. In addition to in-app Support,  Surf City Apps is on Twitter and Facebook: they are very responsive to customer questions.

These pain relief self-hypnosis meditation apps may not take away your migraine or other chronic pain completely, but they do significantly reduce pain for most of their listeners. Even better, since the full meditation is available on the free versions of their apps, you can see which you prefer or simply listen to them both. Either way, you’re bound to feel some relief.


Related Posts on Migraine & Chronic Pain

For more of my articles on migraine or chronic pain,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.

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(A slightly different version of this post was
originally published on MigraineMantras.)

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Filed under App Review, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, healing, health, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, Memoir, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Review, Self-Hypnosis Apps, Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps, SurfCity Apps