Four Years Migraine Free: A Happy Anniversary Indeed!

Today is the fourth anniversary of my daith piercing. That also makes today the fourth anniversary of the last of the debilitating migraines and chronic severe headaches that had plagued me consistently throughout my teens and adult life. 

My Daith Piercing

I don’t think I could ever forget the surprise and shock when that migraine— which I had had for five days— was gone within an hour of the piercing being done. I had definitely not expected that to happen! 

I also still remember the profound sense of clarity and awareness the following day when I was in the classroom and completely headache-free — an entirely new experience for me.

The niggling fear and suspicion that it couldn’t last and that the next migraine was lurking around some corner, waiting to accost me and steal my new lease on life, was a feeling that took some time to overcome.

That hasn’t happened yet, and while I realise that day might yet come, I no longer actively think about it. 

I am so incredibly thankful for the difference in my life that one piercing made. I am also thankful to my professional body piercer for her expertise, and for having taken the time to learn how to use her art for therapy and healing.

Vetiver Oil: A Grass Roots Therapy For Better Sleep

One of my most consistent problems with sleeplessness is that I can be totally exhausted, but still unable to actually drop off to sleep. 

That’s mostly because of my fibromyalgia, but it is complicated by back pain on those nights when my pain relief medication fails to cut the mustard, as it sometimes does. 

Because I know from past experience that prescription sleeping medication causes my whole system to lag, and because of the strong pain killers I need to take for my back as well as my fibro, I feel very strongly about not having those other drugs in my regime. 

So, I recently visited my friendly local alternative health practitioner and asked, “What can you suggest to help me sleep?”

She suggested Vetiver Oil, diluted in fractionated coconut oil. The instructions say to apply it under both big toes and to the wrists, to inhale deeply on going to bed, and to reapply on waking through the night. 

Extracted from the roots of vetiver grass, vetiver oil is useful for calming emotions and relaxing the body.

The first night, I did doze off more easily. I also smelt like I was sleeping in the very damp leaf litter on the floor of a forest that didn’t get enough sunlight. Inhaling it deeply wasn’t anything I needed to do consciously — that was unavoidable! It is not an offensive smell, but it is distinctive and perhaps a little strong. 

On the second night I decidedto just go with it under the big toes, and I added a dab or two on the inside of my ankles instead of my wrists – I figured the circulation is near the skin there, too, and I wouldn’t find the smell so strong there. I found that it still helped me to drift off and the smell of the oil was not so pervasive. 

On the third night, I followed the same routine as the previous night. I also used some lemongrass oil on my fingers and hands for pain management, as I often do through the day. It wasn’t my intention, but I found the lemongrass balanced and lightened the vetiver quite effectively. That was a happy accident! 

I have been following that routine for a couple of weeks now, and while I still don’t fall asleep quickly, I have observed that drifting off is gentler and generally doesn’t take as long as it has done in the past. 

Having experienced difficulty falling asleep for as long as I can remember – even before the onset of fibromyalgia, it’s fir to say that any improvement is welcome. 

Best Essential Oils for Sleep

There are people in this world who are able to get into bed, lie down, take a deep breath, and fall asleep right away.

I kid you not.
I know this, because my husband is one of them.

I can lie there practising every relaxation and breathing technique I know, and it doesn’t happen. Sometimes I can lie there for hours before I finally drop off. This is what I have come to consider “normal”.

Even if I don’t fall asleep as quickly or easily as I would like, I have found that essential oils can be very helpful with relaxation and restfulness.

This very handy post by Alisson at The Sustainable Mess blog outlines which ones are generally the most useful.

Fair Fashion & Sustainable Lifestyle Blog

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health. Essential oils can be used for a variety of purposes, from boosting mood to relieving migraines. In this article, I listed out the best oils that can be used to feel calm, relax and help you sleep.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Before getting started, there are a few basics to remember when working with essential oils:

  • When applying oils topically, always use a carrier oil. These are oils used to dilute essential oils, like coconut, argan oil or jojoba oil.
  • Always do a patch test before applying anything to larger areas of your skin.
  • Make sure you only ingest essential oils that are meant to be eaten.
  • Buy “pure” essential oils. There…

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Warning: May Cause Insomnia

So, I’ve been limping for a few weeks with a sore heel.
It’s been much worse over the past two weeks, when I couldn’t have seen a doctor about it if I tried, unless I went to the emergency room. In my completely non-medical-professional, sucking-it-up-like-a-big-girl opinion, it wasn’t bad enough for that.

Today I saw a doctor.
Turns out it’s acute tendinitis of the Achilles. 
Oops.

I’m now on medication – anti-inflammatory pain killers and prednisolone – in addition to the DoTerra Deep Blue ointment that I’ve been using on it. That stuff is really good, by the way. I’ve also been told to rest it and be gentle when I do have to walk on it.

2018-01-04 11.56.02

When I opened the package from the pharmacy, the information provided told me that  the medication might cause drowsiness. There was also a sticker on the box that warned me that it could affect mental alertness and/or coordination. With those warnings heeded, I took my medication and went to bed.

At this point, it’s fair to point out that I’ve never been a sound sleeper. Insomnia has been a way of life for me for years. The degree of wakefulness last night, however, was unexpected, even for me.

I looked at the label on the box again this morning. It didn’t tell any lies. It certainly did affect my mental alertness. I was sitting up at 3am writing a story so good, I scared myself.

The saddest part is that I’m not even surprised by any of this. It’s exactly how my luck and my life tend to roll. Prescribed rest, though… that’s not so bad.  Hello, books.

 

 

Conch Piercing for Pain Relief.

Chronic pain is a hard slog. I don’t like to complain about it, but it’s a fact of life for me, courtesy of both Fibromyalgia and a degenerative condition in my spine. Living with pain and the exhaustion it causes isn’t easy. “Faking it” in order to appear as though one is living life normally can be just as exhausting as the pain itself.

It’s easy to take medications and think that you’re doing all you can. It’s very tempting to feel sorry for yourself, which can be very dangerous because it’s a hole that’s hard to get out of.

I’m here to tell you, though, that I’ve found something else that helps.

Ear map

A “map” of different ear piercing positions.

Having had a daith piercing that successfully dealt with my migraines and cluster headaches,  I was excited to hear about a piercing that was reported to help with chronic pain.

I read as much as I could and spoke to an acupuncturist about it, who told me there was no reason why it might not work, especially given the success of my daith piercing. It seemed to be a therapy to which my body responded in a really positive way.

On October 18, I returned to the same professional body piercer who had pierced my daith and had another piercing done on an acupressure point in the ear that is treated to ease chronic pain. It’s called a conch piercing. It’s the one nestled in the centre of the “shell” of my ear.

The first night, I slept a lot, which is very unusual for me. In fact, I slept right through the night! I observed the next day that I couldn’t remember the last time that had happened. Since then, I’ve slept consistently better than before the piercing – probably because my brain is less jangled by pain than before. 

I’ve been able to significantly reduce my codeine intake by about 90%. Before the conch piercing, there were days when I was taking as much codeine as I had been prescribed, and sometimes it didn’t seem to touch the pain at all.
In the seven weeks since the piercing, I’ve taken less and less of it. I still have pain, but I can manage it most of the time with ibuprofen or paracetamol, only needing to take codeine occasionally.  When I do need to take it, I take one pill, not two.
Reducing my codeine intake is something for which my liver and kidneys will thank me forever, and has other… erm… regular health benefits which need no spelling out to anyone who has ever taken codeine frequently.

Conch 2I’ve also coped a lot better with the hot weather, which always caused my Fibromyalgia to flare and render me almost useless. I still have summer to get through, but I got through some very hot weather last week without falling apart, so I am hopeful that it is a sign of improvement that I will enjoy from now on.

I deal much better with stress than I did previously. I used to experience temperature spikes and pain flares whenever I experienced stress or strong emotions. Those seem to have diminished to instances that last only minutes instead of hours.

So, here’s hoping that it will continue to diminish my pain in the long term.

I’ll keep you updated.

A Bump In The Road

An update to my post earlier today: the headache remained mild and went away after a couple of hours and some Advil. 

This is, once again, completely uncharacteristic of my decades-long headache pattern. 

The only thing that has changed is that daith piercing. I am absolutely certain this is not merely some hinky kind of placebo effect. I was bracing myself for a full-on headache today and it didn’t develop past an oddly annoying, vague kind of thing that was banished by some ibuprofen.

Weird… But very, very welcome!

I Guess It Had To Happen…

Today I woke up feeling as though I should have had a headache. My shoulders and neck were achy and I felt a bit cloudy in the head. I was surprised about the absence of any headache, and realised then that I would probably have a new set of symptoms to learn since my daith piercing.

My pain levels from my fibromyalgia are high, and at times almost overwhelming today, so I was encouraged that my head hadn’t gone out in sympathy. Since I try to not let my pain dictate what I will or won’t do, I headed for church with the friend we are visiting for the weekend.

What I had not really thought about was my sensitivity to fragrances in a social setting where people don’t know to sit away from me if they are wearing perfume.

We chose a spot where I was not surrounded by people,which is always my preference anyway. An older gentleman came over and sat in front of me. I’m sure he thought he smelt lovely but it was an almost instant effect in causing that familiar sinus pain behind my eyes.

For what it’s worth, my husband commented when we got our of church that the man’s deodorant or cologne, or whatever it was, was unpleasantly strong, even for someone who isn’t as sensitive to those things as I am.

So far, though, the pain has remained much milder than usual, which is a nice surprise. I did have some nausea while sitting there, but that passed once I got out into fresher air, which is also unusual as it usually lasts as long as the headache does.

It will be very interesting to see if this headache hangs on for a day or two, as my fragrance-induced headaches always have done before.

I’ll keep you posted.

All About That Daith… No Trouble!

Last week I posted about my new daith piercing and how it had banished the headache I had for the previous four days.

A week later, and I still haven’t had a headache. I can’t remember the last time I went a whole week without a headache… it may have been some time back when I was in high school.

I did have two flashes of pain on Sunday, like the ones I often get before a migraine sets in. Nothing eventuated, though.

I can’t really overstate how significant this is for me. This is little short of a minor miracle.

I still have my chronic pain from fibromyalgia and the pain and compromised movement from a lower spine that thinks it’s 85 years old, but I can manage that.

I have got through hot weather, busy days and work deadlines without tension. These things have always been headache triggers for me. One day I will get brave and eat some cashews, just to see if I pass that test.

People who didn’t know about the piercing have commented on how relaxed I seem. I certainly haven’t felt the tension I generally have before under those same conditions.

So, it’s a very happy “so far, so good!” From me.

If you suffer migraine or cluster/chronic headaches, it’s certainly worth considering a daith piercing. It still seems to be working for me.