My Migraines and Weather: An Epic Battle

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “Why do you live in Florida if you get migraines from heat, humidity, and thunderstorms?” I would be able to retire. I always answer in a similar fashion, as can be seen in a earlier post:

“I also get migraines during a dry, December evening in Massachusetts. What’s your point?”

I have had many people wonder aloud if I were to move to a drier climate, I would have fewer migraines. I won’t lie, I have been curious myself. I have also been skeptical, as it gets pretty darn dry in Massachusetts during the winter, but maybe it was the cold that triggered me all of those times?

Well, I wouldn’t know unless I checked it out, right?

In my recent product review for MigraineX, I mentioned that I had the opportunity to see just how a drier (re: desert) climate would affect my head. My older sister currently lives about a half-hour outside of Phoenix, Arizona. My mom and I wanted to visit her, and swing over to Anaheim, California for a trip to Disneyland. Two places I have never been, and they all have (they being my mom, sister, and brother-in-law). The farthest west I have ever been has been Altus, Oklahoma over a decade ago. I don’t recall having any big migraine attacks back then, but I know the flights did me in a bit. Where is Altus, you may wonder? Drive to the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma, and make a left at the tumbleweeds. When the prairie dogs are telling you to turn back, keep going, and it will be on the end by the Walmart. (No offense to anyone reading who may be from Altus…I just grew up in Massachusetts and Florida, and I am NOT suited for anything less populated than a suburb…I saw a tumbleweed and cried. Literally. I wish I was kidding.)

So, Phoenix. Beautiful area, actually. Very…muted. Unsaturated, as far as colors go, but there is a beauty in it. Huge cacti grow alongside some of the most ethereal looking trees I have ever seen, and the only spots of color (that were neither in the tan or muted green ranges) being from hearty desert flowers like firecracker plants. Even the buildings were tan. At first, I thought I was going to hate it, but there was an odd charm about it. Very tranquil.

The original trip was supposed to be from early Wednesday morning to late Sunday night (MCO to MCO), but thanks to Hurricane Irma, that was pushed to late Tuesday night, instead. In that time, we also visited California, which is an area notorious for perfect weather 99% of the time. I had three migraines, with two being rather intense. One of those was in California, and two were in Arizona.

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Little baby cactus in Glendale, AZ! It was about the size of a basketball! Most yards in Arizona are gravel, AstroTurf, or a combination of both. Not all, but most.

Honestly, I cannot say I am surprised at my getting attacks while there. One was definitely sun/heat related, while I am 99% sure another was hormonal. The third was, I am guessing, my body’s way of saying it is smarter than me.

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This is the look of a girl who is doing everything in her power to not let on that she feels like she is dying, while rocking her Genie Disneybound.

Okay, fine. I concede that.

I am also not counting the travel-induced migraine I got on the way home. That was mostly my fault for being a fluff-brain and putting on headphones over my pressure-balancing earplugs before reach 32,000 feet. Whoops. Then the plane took forever on the tarmac and Mom and I had to practically run across the whole terminal in Detroit to get to our connecting flight. What does overexertion cause?

Altogether, everyone! MIGRAINES!

The moral of this story is that it doesn’t matter where I go, migraines will probably follow me. I just have to do what Tim Gunn says and,

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At least I went. Honestly, when it comes to my head, I dread any sort of travel. I just have to do it. I need to stop being afraid of my head and just roll with it. There is a big world out there, and I cannot spend my life hiding from it!

I wish to see the world!

💖Hearts and Sparkles!💖
~Bunny~

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Chronic Illness and Conventions Part Four: Coping with Costumes

Click here for the rest of the “Chronic Illness and Conventions” posts.

Hello! Welcome to Part 4 of my Chronic Illness and Conventions series! This is one that I have been looking forward to writing because I wanted to include firsthand experiences from others in the cosplaying community! Unlike the other parts, this one is really specific to conventions and cosplaying, so I am not sure if it can be adapted to other situations. Maybe with a lot of imagination it can be done?

A big part of fandom conventions is cosplay, and it has only gotten bigger as years progress. Hats, wigs, costumes, armor, corsets…the sky is the limit in this nerd subculture. However, most (not all, but most) conventions take place over the summer. I live in Florida, so that can spell Disaster! Yes, that capital ‘D’ is deliberate. Even without accounting for weather, cosplay can be a challenge for someone living with any sort of chronic condition.

In regards to weather, costumes and wigs can get hot and when it’s 105º in the shade when you take the heat index into account (Really, though, I don’t care that the “real temperature” is 92ºF…just tell me what it is going to feel like!), things can go south in a hot second (pun intended).

My experiences are restricted to Chronic Migraine, but I know that anyone with a chronic condition (may it be pain or illness) is going to keep similar things in mind when constructing a costume.

For example, I have been known to forgo the perfect fabric for one that would be cooler for a Florida con in July. In another instance, it took me hours to get the “wings” of my wig for The Fight Card (from Cardcaptor Sakura) just right to prevent triggering my head.

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When It came to my “Fight Card” wig (usually dubbed “The Beast” by my friends), I took my time to make sure it was balanced perfectly. Mainly, it was due to wigs frequently triggering my migraines, but I also needed to perform in a fight show in this monster! As a result of my efforts, it is one of my most comfortable wigs! Go figure?

I have some costumes that I won’t wear period if I know it is going to be incredibly hot. Namely, my Elizabeth Swann (Pirates of the Caribbean) costume. It is upholstery fabric and very hot. Between that and the heavy wig (it is so thick!), I often get a heat-triggered migraine when wearing this. It is an incredibly heavy dress with several pieces of boning in the bodice, which aggravate a recurrent muscle spasm in my back. I have a love/hate relationship with this one…

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With my Elizabeth Swann costume, to avoid heat-triggered migraines, it is typically reserved for wear during the cooler months. Otherwise, it is only for short-term before I have to change.

I always have a backup costume planned for every event that I plan to cosplay for. I also bring extra clothes in the off chance that I am just not feeling up to cosplaying at all.

Sure, most of my issues concern wigs and headgear, but there are more things I usually consider. If I am in “migraine hangover” mode, and my costume planned is corseted, heavy, or restrictive (like with Elizabeth Swann, pictured above), I will change my plans. If I will need a headband, I plan accordingly (now that I have discovered fully adjustable headbands, that is not as much of an issue). I am also very picky about wig caps, and the only ones that don’t trigger me are the mesh open-ended caps. No nylon for me! Besides, the netting makes pinning the wig on that much easier!

Those are some examples of my experience living with Chronic Migraine. I reached out to cosplayers who are living with chronic conditions to give an example of how they cosplay with their illness or pain. Some just roll with it, others adapt. Please click on Continue Reading to see their accounts. Keep checking back, as I intend to add more anecdotes as I receive them!

Remember, cosplay means “costume play.” It is all about having fun! No one is better than anyone else. We are all adults dressing up on days aside from Halloween. It is really something not to be taken seriously. So, get your nerd on!

💖Hearts and Sparkles!💖

~Bunny~

Do you want to share your story? Head over to the Contact Me page and send me a message with the following information:

Cosplay Alias

Website/Cosplay FB Page

Chronic Illness or Condition (and source, if applicable)

A Link to a Photo of Your Costume (please include character and series!)

Your Story

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Product Review: FoMI Hot/Cold Gel Therapy Eye Mask

In a recent Amazon order, I acquired a handful of holistic relief methods for migraines. I have already posted the first review from that order (Review for Aculief found here!), and here is the next!

The second item I would like to talk about is FoMI’s Hot/Cold Gel Therapy Eye Mask. This is a mask that is designed to reduce dark circles and puffiness around the eyes, and is a good size to be used for muscle aches around the body (like the shoulder). It is reversible, vinyl on one side and incredibly soft fabric on the other. It can be used at room temperature (where it still feels cool), heated in the microwave (the company recommend taking care with this and not heating it for more than 15 seconds at a time and do not put it on your eyes if it is too hot), or frozen. The gel bead filling remains soft and flexible, even after I left it in the freezer overnight.

It comes in three color options: Blue, Stripes, and Leopard (the last of which uses clay and aromatherapy), and all have coordinating elastic straps with Velcro closures.

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I got mine with stripes.

When I woke up this morning with a headache, I went ahead and put mine on and see what happens. The texture reminds me of the TheraºPearl products, I put it soft-side to my eyes, fastened the straps, and lied down. At first, I thought that it may be too cold, it was almost uncomfortable. However, any ice pack is like that, so I made like Elsa and let it go.

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After a few minutes, I was notably relaxed, and I dozed off. It is very comfortable, even though the straps took a little finessing to get just right, but that is how things are when they are adjustable.

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When I woke up, my headache was just about gone! What I really like about this is that it blocks all light! It’s like a an instant dark/cold room! It was really great! Even after it was no longer frozen-level cold, it was still relaxing, so I just left it on for a while.

It is currently back in my freezer for my next headache or migraine!

Amazon sells this for $9.99, and like the rest of my relief-box order, qualified for free shipping. Definitely a good deal! Find more FoMI products on their website!

I give the FoMI Gel Eye Mask 🐰🐰🐰🐰🐰//🐰🐰🐰🐰🐰 I really can’t think of anything about it that I don’t like, honestly. I definitely recommend this to anyone who suffers from Chronic Migraine, or any sort of headache condition. It’s a fantastic addition to your recovery regime.

💖Hearts and Sparkles!💖
~Bunny~

A Relaxing Bath to Find a Break

I have mentioned in a previous post, I like to take a hot bath during a migraine attack to find some relief. In that post, I said:

I fill the tub with water as hot as I could stand it, get in, and put my cold compress on the back of my neck or my forehead. While this relief sometimes lasts only as long as I am in the tub (typically during an extreme attack), it can give a good reprieve.

I was inspired to do this by stumbling across a pin on Pinterest. I tried it as the pin says, only with a gel ice pack on my neck instead of frozen peas, but I found that precariously perching a clumsy rabbit on a small bathroom counter whilst in the throws of a migraine attack was not the best idea.

And I already get anxious and woozy when climbing ladders and around heights in general. Almost falling off the bathroom counter is the bad idea to end all bad ideas.

Then there was the time I dislocated my knee cap after nearly falling off my bed…

…but I digress.

I decided that risking my life (hyperbole intended) was not worth it, no matter how much relief it would give, so I adapted it.

So, I am going to give a rundown of my bathe-away-the-migraine routine!

❄️Note: During a severe attack, I often find that I will only find relief while in the tub. Even though the pain comes back as intense as before I got in, the break is worth it as far as I am concerned.

After summoning up the energy to make my way to the bathroom, I will gather up my iPad, cold compress, and water bottle and make my way to the bathroom. I will put a towel on the floor so it would be easy to reach when I was done. I will also put my small trash can beside the tub if I was experiencing any nausea (just in case). The water bottle would also remain in reach. The water is important, so please don’t forget it! I would light some small candles, I keep some in the bathroom, to avoid using the vanity lighting (can we say, “OWW“?), activate the drain, and turn on the tap.

Make sure the water is as hot as you can stand it. I usually will add some hot springs powder (a current obsession, thanks to my acupuncturist!), bath salts, or a bath bomb to the water. I won’t use strong fragrances for obvious reasons (all of the above are usually scented). The other day, I picked up some Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts that have lavender added to it that I will try during my next bath-worthy attack. Lavender is one of those scents commonly used to aide in headaches and migraines. I don’t intend to use as much as the package says to use in a bath, just enough to relax and give the scent. Sometimes, I will light my oil burner with some peppermint oil. Depends on my mood and my migraine. Sometimes, I will add a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap (Peppermint) to the water. I get travel sized bottles at Target!

When I have the tub filled to my liking, I will climb in slowly to allow myself to adjust. I would put my compress on my head or the back of my neck and eventually lie down and just breathe while soft relaxing music plays from Spotify on my iPad. I like either Josh Groban or Celtic Woman the best, but use whatever helps you to relax.

If at any point while adjusting to the heat of the water I feel lightheaded or dizzy, I will drink some of the cool water from my water bottle. This is why the bottle is important. When my acupuncturist recommended the hot springs powders to me, she told me to make sure I had it nearby and sip it when dizzy.

Sometimes I will meditate, but usually I just focus on breathing. When I am ready, I will get out, put on fresh pajamas, and settle back into bed. Sometimes I feel last relief, sometimes I don’t, but either way, I am relaxed enough to doze off into a healing sleep.

💖Hearts and Sparkles!💖
~Bunny~

Summer is He…Well, a Very Hot Place…

For migraineurs, that is. Migraines are frequently triggered by environmental stimuli, allergies, weather, whatever. In the summer, we are dealing with so many possible triggers including (but not limited to) heat, extremely humid or dry conditions, elevations of pollen levels, and summer storms that lead to fluctuating barometric pressure levels. It’s awful. I live in Central Florida, and we have notoriously aggressive summer weather. It starts before Memorial Day, and continues to almost Halloween.

It’s rough. This year, I am also traveling to Phoenix, Arizona for the first time just after Labor Day, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about how the dry conditions of the Southwest United States (Re: DESERT) will affect me. I grew up in New England, and the winters there can get pretty dry, and I know cold + dry = not necessarily a happy me, so when the variable of “cold” becomes “hot,” well…..

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At any rate, I got to thinking about migraine and summer conditions, and came to the realization that I should probably post something about how to prevent as many summer-related migraines as possible (at least, something more in-depth than my Fourth of July post, and I will be repeating information in this post). I won’t lie to any of you that it is impossible to prevent all of them if you have Chronic Migraine (because if you could, they would not be chronic, now would they?), but you can at least surrender to the dark room knowing that you did not go down without a fight.

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