A Release Of Pain: Migraines and Hypertension

This post is super personal. It’s not so much about running, but it is about my head and about some other health stuff. I completely understand if you want to skip this entry.

This past weekend was the first full blown migraine I’ve had since the surgery. And thanks to a trip to my neurologist I learned about another health issue. While we “caught it early,” it’s forcing me to take a step back, reorganize some priorities, and really focus on what really matters.

My weekend started out pretty normally. I did my morning show like usual, went home, put on PJs and lounged on the couch. We had no plans, although I wanted to go hang out with our friends Ryan and Dawn at Whitey’s Fish Camp. It had been a while since we had gone there, they have awesome food and even better live music, and was right off the river. Then Adrienne called in a dead panic, needing photography help and of course I said yes. What started out as a few hours, turned into 7 and I went home and crashed after the wedding.

It was a weekend of hell from that moment forward. I woke up the next morning with a skull splitting migraine, my hips hurting, and exhaustion like I hadn’t felt in a long time. We were supposed to go to a friends house for a pool party, and I was ready to go if that’s what Dreamboat wanted, but reality was I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed, or on the couch, or wherever I could lay down and do absolutely nothing.

I spent a good chunk of the weekend sleeping and resting, when I wasn’t watching television or playing solitaire on my phone. Brian was actually annoyed with me with how much I was on my phone but it was solitaire. We argued because I picked a fight with him instead of just listening to what he said and taking him for his word. I started screaming about things that were bothering me that had no basis whatsoever and were really just an emotional outburst of drama that I had been keeping inside. My head hurt almost uncontrollably. I felt horrifically bad. I had a meltdown.

It wasn’t until 4pm on Monday that the migraine started to lift. At that point I had slept for over 24 hours total over the two days, taken a significant amount of medication to fight the pain, argued with Brian for two days, and cried a lot of tears. I also had an appointment with my neurologist on Tuesday.

When I woke up on Tuesday, I sat up and popped my neck easily. That bothered me. That meant my muscles were tight over the weekend, and that could be bad. Popping my neck means they were relaxed some, but still. My head was still slightly achy, my shoulder and neck super sore, and the idea of running made me want to cry. Therefore, I went back to sleep. When I left the house to head to the neurologist, I was nervous for what would be said. It’s almost been a year since the surgery, why did I suddenly have a brain numbing migraine?

After being escorted back to the room, the nurse asked me my weight (which had skyrocketed to 191.5, much to my frustration) and my blood pressure had been taken (150/100!!) then I was waiting for my doctor. Dr. Doty had come in for my consultation. I had explained to her my symptoms and to my surprise, she wasn’t surprised.

“Your brain wasn’t touched in the surgery, and that’s where the migraines come from. It was only a matter of time before the planets aligned and you got another serious migraine,” Dr. Doty told me. We discussed how often my head hurts, how the location of the pain is a bit different from before surgery, and the new medications we will try. (Keeping the Maxalt, adding a topical agent for my neck, Aleeve every day)

“Now, the major concern I have is your blood pressure,” Dr. Doty said. I told her that at the end of March it was just slightly elevated, 135/81, when I had my health assessment. She still shook her head. My blood pressure had constantly been lower than that even, and she was concerned.

“Well, I’m coming off a pretty painful migraine, and I’ve been really stressed out lately,” I said.

And that’s not a lie. The May Book has just ended and it was a hard sweeps period for us. We worked our asses off, covering crazy news along with all of our specials that we planned for the month long special period. We had an event day that was huge on social media, along with our other specials and just normal, every day news as well. I worked extra long hours, frantically most of the time, with little to no help on social media. And when forced to think about it, it started well before May. It was so bad that Brian would make comments about me doing work on my weekend even though I was not supposed to. We won the book, but apparently at the cost of my blood pressure.

And now I have to track my blood pressure twice a week and report back to her every month with the numbers because if my BP stays high, they have to take me off some of the medications I am on to prevent or fix the migraine pain. I don’t want that. I can’t have that.

Which got me thinking…

According to WebMD, hypertension (or high blood pressure) can cause severe headaches, fatigue, confusion, vision issues, difficulty breathing and more. For at least two months now, I’ve been having mini headaches, and have been complaining about being tired all the time. I’ve also been quite forgetful of “not important things” as Brian likes to put it. For example: I left my favorite sippy cup on top of the mailbox for hours. My Chive sippy cup. I’d have been pissed if that got stolen. I know that more often than not, you don’t show signs of hypertension, but I’ve always been super sensitive to side effects and the like. And wouldn’t you know it, high stress can lead to high blood pressure.

I don’t want to be my Dad. I don’t want to work so hard that I destroy my health for a job that wouldn’t be willing to do destroy itself for me. It’s not logical and it’s not healthy. At 34 years old, I shouldn’t be this worried about my health. So I’m considering this my reality check. I’ve been trying to get my life under control, to get back to consistency and back to the things I love… and now I have to because my heal depends on it.

What needs to be done:
* I need to focus on my diet and stick to a work out regime that can help with stress and my weight
– My half marathon training starts in a few weeks. That will help.
– Add yoga 2x a week to help with deep breathing and meditation
* I need to stop skipping my lunch breaks and eating at my desk.
* I need to get back to the things I love, like this blog, running, music, and friends.
* I need to keep a headache journal again to track the pain to give concise information to my doctor
* I need to spend at least a few hours on myself every week, outside of working out.
* I absolutely MUST cut out some of the stressors in my life. Work isn’t so important that I have to kill myself to do it.

It’s going to be little steps at first. Today, I will start taking my one hour lunch break in the break room. If something happens and they need my help, I’ll be there, but I need to take an hour away from my desk every day. And I will go for a slow, short run tomorrow morning with Kat now that the head pain is fully gone. I’m going to start asking for more help when I need it. It just needs to happen.

Because the last place I wanted to be is right here: fighting migraines again with a side of high blood pressure. My goal is to have everything “back to normal” by the end of August. I want to drop some weight, get my BP regulated, and get back to feeling normal again. I just need to focus on me for a change, and let the rest of it fall where it will.

If you are still reading after that emotional vomit, thanks for giving me some of your time. If you have any ideas on how to lessen stress, feel free to comment and leave me your thoughts. Do you have any diet tips? Does food really help with BP? Share with my your ideas, I’d love to read them!


One thought on “A Release Of Pain: Migraines and Hypertension

  1. runswithpugs says:

    Oh, girl. I am so sorry you are dealing with this 😦 it sounds like you have a course of action and I know you will get results.

    Mr PugRunner suffered from high BP for a long time. He was on meds for it, and also had to monitor his readings
    2x a day to make sure he was keeping it down. It was incredibly stressful. However, over the last year, he has been able to get off the meds entirely and manage it with diet and exercise. Things that helped: cutting down to 1-2 (normal sized) cups of coffee a day, minimizing going out to eat, reducing alcohol (not that he drank a lot but his BP definitely soars after a night on the town), avoiding processed foods, eliminating extra salt (I cook with a teeny bit of kosher or sea salt to taste but he never adds extra to his serving) and physical activity. When he can’t run, he goes for a walk or bike ride or even plays on the Wii. The combination has him in the normal range. It wasn’t anything drastic, but just a little shift in lifestyle that did the trick.

    Good luck!

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