Friday, February 24, 2017

Facing Forward: Vicky

Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible chronic illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different - and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren't alone!

Name: Vicky
Location: Alaska
Diagnoses: Migraine/Tension/Cluster Headaches
Age at Diagnosis: 15

How are you currently treating your condition?
Now days, I usually use a combination of Excedrin Migraine and Benadryl at the first sign of head pain. When I need a rescue medication I use Maxalt and Phenergan. At one point, I took a preventative medication, but I don't anymore. I try to drink plenty of water, but faily every day. I try to stretch my neck and back muscles as often as usual. I use Fay Farms lotion, which contains magnesium, to help reduce my anxiety and stress levels. I mix peppermint and lavender essential oils and rub it on my temples and the back of my head. I sometimes carry a vial of peppermint with me to sniff at the very first signs of head pain.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
My biggest challenge with chronic migraine has been figuring out the triggers and eliminating things from my life. I have found a few triggers and had success getting rid of them, but something else takes its place every single time. I also struggle with never knowing how bad my head will hurt each day. I currently live with head pain always, it just depends on how "bad" it is as to whether I'm "down with a headache."

I think what has been the hardest though is the fact that I can't exercise like I used to. When I was a child, I was a competitive dancer and I really wanted to be a professional and later teach dance. As my head pain has gotten worse, I have found that any activity where I jump, spin, or change my body direction fast doesn't agree with my body.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
I try to make sure I always have medication with me so I can take something before it gets totally out of hand. I also let others know about my head pain and migraines. I have educated my boys from day one about them. 

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
I get through each day by sheer determination. I have 4 young sons that depend on me. That is not to say that some days I don't do most of my mothering from my bed. I've read them many books and had deep conversations lying in my dark room with an ice pack on my head.

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
If I could go back and tell myself something about this diagnosis it would be, "hold on, it's going to hurt, you'll get through."

Do you have a blog you would like to share?
My blog is called Living the Diagnosis. It is a story sharing site focusing on chronic illness, mental health, and rare conditions. I have been amazed at the stories others have shared and learned so much about "living" with different diagnoses. 

Would you like to be featured on Facing Forward? If so, please send an email to  

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