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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Product Review: MigraineX

Hello, everyone! I know it has been a while since I have posted, but things have been a little crazy! Halloween season is upon us, so I am working like crazy, and I spent nearly a week in Arizona (with a side trip to California for DISNEYLAND!!) right after Labor Day.

What happened here in Florida where I live that same weekend? Hurricane-freaking-Irma. It hit my area Sunday night, when I was supposed to return home. So everything went squirrelly and we (my mom and I) came home Tuesday night. Luckily, I live far enough inland to not have been hit with the worst of it. We came home to power and minimal property damage (other buildings in my apartment complex more than my own). We got lucky! I count my blessings.

I did get to test a few things during the trip, though. Firstly: how will my body react to the weather conditions in the Southwest US (that will be it’s own post!), and secondly: I got to try out my MigraineX earplugs on the plane!

I bought these back when I got my Aculief clip, Psi-Bands, and gel eye-mask. The earplugs come with an app that I will review first.

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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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And I Didn’t Even Get Ice Cream?

To me, there are several “types” of migraine. There are the sinus migraines, where it feels as though a clawed monster is trying to rip off your face and your eyeballs with its bare hands. Then, there is the run-of-the-mill migraines, which seem so generic that there is a part of you that sees them as routine, which is incredibly annoying. Tension-based migraines, the ones that usually come after a night when you wake up with a stiff neck, and it feels as though the muscles and skin in your head has all fused together into one big pain-ball. Menstrual migraines for the ladies out there, the ones that feel as though your brain and your uterus are getting scooped out with a grapefruit spoon (and for those of you who aren’t familiar with this piece of cutlery, it’s a spoon with a blade on the end). There are the ice-pick migraines that feel like you’re being stabbed through the eye socket…the list continues on and on. There is one that I hate the most out of all of them.

And that includes you, Mother Nature and your cursed grapefruit spoon.

The BRAIN-FREEZE MIGRAINE.

Yes, indeedy, and the best part about this bad-boy-of-death is that when I describe it, even the non-migraineur can understand it! It is the most relatable SOB out there.

And I hate it so.

It’s like this: Yesterday, I go to work, and I am feeling oddly…good. Which is weird for me. Usually, I feel passable, no complaints per se, but things could be better, you know? Things are going pretty well as far as days go, I am meeting the most adorable stinkin’ children in the universe, I found myself smiling without having to remind myself to do so (I’m usually so tired that I become a regular space cadet). Things are good. My first break rolls around, and I head to the break room with a bag of almonds with a couple of mint m&ms to snack on (it’s a bit early for lunch) and to put some ideas into a notebook for when I get going on my online crochet shop.

The breaks are always shorter when you are enjoying the use of your time.

Anyway, I begrudgingly shove my notebook, (erasable) colored pencils, and doodads into my pouch and head out to get back to work, when it happens: I walk through a cloud of cheap, heady body spray.

(Side note: WHY do all cheap drug store body sprays smell the exact same way?!?)

Instantly, I feel pain settle above my right eye like the way my cat decides that the dead center of my bed is a good place to sleep.

Neither are convenient.

I feel some vertigo hit, so when I get back to work, I duck into the back and take two aspirin from the first-aid kit and a meclizine (that’s what makes Dramamine work, just without the added anti-emetic) from my pocket pill box and continue with my day. During the course of the next handful of hours, I am writing down notes to put into Migraine Buddy later, and I take another two aspirin about 5 hours later. I am using my go-to work-friendly reliefs, like my peppermint oil, and I think I have a good handle of things. There were a couple of times that I thought I was going to have to throw in the proverbial towel, but I would look at the clock and remind myself that I (for example) only had two hours left.

I can do this,” I would say to myself.

On the way to my car, I can feel the afternoon storms coming in (Yay, Florida…), but I still think I am good. The pain is holding steady at a solid 5/10 (for a headache, maybe a 2.5/10 for a migraine). It sucks, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I’m not as dizzy, I am not nauseous, just a headache that is more “showing potential for migraine” than an actual migraine, if we are calling a spade a spade here.

I call my best friend (via Apple Car Play because hands-free for the WIN), and start my usual drive home. The pain grows worse.

The rains come.

The pain gets worse.

Bugger.

By the time I get home, I am queasy, dizzy, seeing spots, and downright miserable. I say my greetings to my mom, tell her I am just going to go to bed because I was in the midst of a bad migraine (the pain is now a pleasant 8/10). She asks me if I took anything, I told her about the aspirin and that it’s too soon to take more, so I was going to see if sleep would do it.

I get into my pjs and climb into bed, and Matilda (the cat who likes to sleep in the center of the bed) joins me. I rub some Biofreeze onto the right side of my head, slip on a sleep mask I had made a while back (it loops around my ears rather than use an elastic back around my head), and I’m out within minutes.

About two or so hours later (what is time, again?), I wake up to that brain-freeze migraine. It literally feels exactly like when you eat ice cream too fast, only it’s focused on one side of your head and it doesn’t go away, no matter how hard you push your tongue against your hard palate.

I debate asking my mom to take me to the ER for an IV and some O2.

I take two naproxen with my sumatriptan and slip the mask back on.

My mom comes into the room to check on me, and I am a panting, shuddering, mess. I let her know that I took “the good stuff” and I was going to see if someone would be able to take my shift the next day, because I could tell that this was going to stick around (that is actually rare for me). She offers to use my scalp massager on my head. I immediately agree, knowing that I was far gone enough for it to have little effect, but it will relax me. Maybe I would fall back asleep.

Once I resembled a poodle, I said I had had enough of it, and she asks if there was anything else I needed. I inwardly groaned, because I had a hunch and I HATE asking for this: I needed help with some pressure points on my feet. Since my mother is a freaking saint, she obliged, and worked on a few pressure points on my feet while I worked with the ones on my hands.

BLESSED SWEET RELIEF!

The pain dropped to a 7/10! It felt less sharp! Barely, but I’ll take it!!!!

She brought me grape juice (which apparently is supposed to help, according to Dr. Internet and Nurse Pinterest, so who am I to turn up my nose at a possible relief method?) before retiring herself, and I managed to give away my shift a few hours later. I disabled my alarms, texted Mom that I was off, and went back to sleep.

The migraine was not completely gone until after 1 today. So, from about 10:30 on Tuesday morning to after 1:00 on Wednesday afternoon. With brain-freeze style pain from 7:00 Tuesday night to some time really early Wednesday morning.

Next time, I think I will take the ice cream.

💖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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