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National Headache & Migraine Awareness Month

Personalized Cause

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June is National Headache & Migraine Awareness Month!

Hey, there! Thanks for stopping by for this week’s edition of the awareness blog. Today’s topic is one of those cases where you will absolutely use what you learn here today, so you’ll definitely want to give it a good read. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I, for one, had an amazing weekend. I’m not usually a big botanical garden kind of girl, mostly because the ones I went to before were pretty disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE flowers, but I’m not about to drop 20 bucks to see a rosebush next to a peeing baby fountain. Anyway, the one I went to this weekend was pretty amazing and I’m still feeling all the romantic vibes… or maybe that’s just all the bug bites? It’s definitely both. The bug bites were totally worth the extra antihistamines, though. It was nice to get outside and enjoy the world a little bit.

Today we’re going to talk about migraines. If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know how much they can suck. Migraines can totally stop you in your tracks and leave you scrambling to find the nearest dark room with soundproofing and a bottle of Excedrin. They can come on out of nowhere, or they can be triggered by something. Sometimes you get a little warning that it’s coming when you see spots, but sometimes you don’t. At least when you get the aura, you can take some medicine before it starts to try and prevent or minimize the pain. Let’s get clinical, shall we?

Migraine headaches are very common in the United States. Out of the nearly 45 million people who suffer from chronic headaches in the U.S., over half of them suffer specifically from migraines. The actual number of people who suffer from migraines is between 28 million people and 36 million people (depending on the source, reports vary. The actual number is less important than the point that number makes, which is that migraines are very common). People who suffer from migraines usually experience them more often than just one fluke migraine. Unlike with other headaches, people tend to either be susceptible to them or not. Usually, if you’re someone who gets migraines, you’ll likely have a history of them or be prone to having one in the future. That doesn’t mean that they have to occur frequently, but people with migraine can generally recall episodes that have happened in the past. Migraines can occur at any age, but they usually emerge during the years of puberty. If you are going to be one of those people who suffer from them, you will likely experience your first migraine between during puberty. This is because hormone changes can trigger this type of headache.

Migraine headaches are a severely painful and sometimes debilitating type of headache. They can last anywhere from hours to days, and they can majorly impact daily life, or one’s ability to daily tasks such as work, cook, get dressed, or even eat. Many people who suffer from migraines have been able to identify a cause. Migraines can be triggered by a number of things, such as hormone fluctuations, foods, allergies, light, and of course stress. Some women who experience migraines can correlate their headaches to their menstrual cycle, making them much easier to predict and prevent. It’s much easier to deal with them when you know when they may come. Some people have been able to specific triggers that cause their migraines to occur. For some it may be caused by something like a bright reflection of the sun on the back of a car. For some it may be caused by a specific food or drink. I know a person who gets migraine headaches from black tea. That’s a pretty specific trigger, and it wasn’t that easy to pinpoint. Identifying your triggers is the most proactive thing you can do to manage migraines or try to prevent them in the future. Of course, not all migraines can be traced back to a trigger. Some people have no idea what causes their triggers, and have no common factors in the time preceding each attack. It can be very helpful to keep a record or diary of them as they occur, noting what you were doing that day, where you were, what you ate, or how you were feeling prior to the headache. Doctors can sometimes find a common thread that may not be apparent to you.

Many people who suffer from migraines experience warning signs and symptoms before the headache actually starts. If you can recognize the symptoms, you can better manage it or prevent it. There are a few medications designed to prevent them when taken during the warning symptoms. Warning signs and symptoms are referred to as the “aura” that occurs prior to the onset of the actual headache. Auras are considered perceptual disturbances. These warning signs and symptoms can be different for everyone, but commonly include some variation or combination of these symptoms:

• The most common warning sign for people with migraines is a visual symptom where the person sees dots, or flashing spots, or zigzag lines, or some other sort of visual change or disturbance. Some migraine patients have reported blank spots, or blurry spots, also. • Migraine headache auras can also affect a person’s cognition. Some people report experiencing a sudden sense of confusion, or difficulty formulating sentences or following a train of thought. • Some people feel a physical sensation prior to the onset of the headache. These physical symptoms can be described as a tingling or pins and needles type of feeling in a leg or an arm. Other physical symptoms can be characterized as stiffness, which can occur in the neck and shoulders or in the limbs. • Migraine headache patients can also experience an unpleasant smell or sensitivity to smell as an aura.

*I want to clarify something before we continue on with migraines. If you or someone you know is experiencing a severe headache, visual changes, loss of feeling or sensation or difficulty speaking, and these symptoms are unusual for you, seek medical care. I don’t want to scare anybody or make anyone overreact, but it may be a sign of something more serious. The key here is to know what is normal for your body. If someone commonly experiences these symptoms, then it’s not necessarily alarming, assuming that their doctor already knows about them. But, if you have never experienced these symptoms before, it is best to be seen by a doctor. Other health issues that may be more dangerous than migraines can cause symptoms like these.

There is no cure-all for migraine headaches, and each patient responds differently to treatment options. Sometimes, lifestyle changes are necessary to minimize a person’s risk of migraines, or reduce the frequency or migraines. Lifestyle changes or alterations such as getting more sleep, drinking more water, avoiding triggering foods, exercise, and most importantly, reducing your stress level can be very helpful in preventing migraines. If these lifestyle alterations don’t help, there are also quite a few medications that can be used for treating and managing migraine headaches. First and foremost, there are always over the counter pain relieving medications such as Advil, Aspirin, Aleve, Tylenol, and Excedrin. Excedrin is specifically designed to treat migraines, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Caffeine in small amounts in combination with a pain reliever, which is what Excedrin is, can be very helpful for migraines. There are also preventive medications used to treat migraines. Sumatriptans, like Imitrex, are a class of medications designed to treat migraines. People find drugs in this class to be pretty effective, but sometimes other kinds of medications help, too. Antidepressants, anticonvulsants, beta blockers, gabapentin and even botox are used to treat migraines as well. Patients are often able to find a combination of lifestyle alterations and medications that control their migraines, or significantly reduce their frequency. If you think you may be experiencing migraines, see a doctor to talk about it. There is no sense in suffering needlessly.

That’s all folks! See you next week for another installment of the awareness blog post! Hope you all have a wonderful week.

If you are new to our blog: Hi! Welcome! We’re so glad you found us, and decided to give us a read. This awareness blog is run by Personalized Cause. Personalized Cause is an awareness accessory company based in California that specializes in one of a kind custom awareness ribbons. In fact, Personalized Cause is the number one source for low volume custom awareness ribbons in the U.S.! Our custom awareness ribbons allow customers to personalize the awareness ribbon of their choosing with a name, date, message or phrase. Custom awareness ribbons are a unique and powerful way to advocate for your cause, support a loved one, or raise awareness. We believe that combining your cause with your choice of personalization can change how others perceive and understand your cause, even without directly speaking to them. This awareness blog was created in an effort to help raise awareness for causes that affect people worldwide. We hope to educate our readers on prevention and early detection through our awareness blog because awareness saves lives. We hope you’ll come back next week!

Migraine awareness is represented by either a purple awareness ribbon or burgundy awareness ribbon, depending on the type. Migraine Hemochromatosis is represented by a burgundy awareness ribbon. Chronic Vestibular Migraine is represented by a purple awareness ribbon. To order a burgundy custom awareness ribbon for Migraine Hemochromatosis, visit:

https://www.personalizedcause.com/personalized-awareness-ribbons/burgundy-awareness-ribbon-pin-personalized?rq=migraine

To order a purple custom awareness ribbon for Chronic Vestibular Migraine, visit:

https://www.personalizedcause.com/personalized-awareness-ribbons/purple-awareness-ribbon-pin-personalized?rq=migraine

#migraine #headache #migrainessuck #migraines #migraineawareness #awareness #chronicpain #awareness #awarenessblog #awarenessribbons #cancerribbons #migrainehemochromatosis #chronicvestibularmigraine

Presentation courtesy of Diamond Headache Clinic.

Chronic Illness and "Spoon Theory"

Personalized Cause

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In honor of all the chronic illnesses that we raise awareness for in the month of May, let's address the question: What is a spoonie?

Hey, there! So glad you stopped by, friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I trust it was full of some quality R&R, and maybe a little bit of throwing caution to the wind. We all need that every now and then, especially with all this gloomy weather and summer right around the corner. This is always the hardest part of the year for me because it seems to take the longest. Must be all the anticipation of warm nights and not having to wear two pairs of socks to sleep to keep warm. That, and I’ve got some dresses I’m dying to wear. But, enough about me…

Today’s awareness blog topic was chosen after we received a few emails asking us about our “Spoonie” pin, featured of our home page. If you’re active in the online chronic illness groups on social media, I’m sure you’ve noticed the hashtag “#spoonie” used pretty often in reference to chronic illness. I know that when I first got involved with Personalized Cause, I was unfamiliar with the term and seemed to see it pop up everywhere like some kind of inside joke everyone was in on besides me. But, after doing a lot of digging on the interwebs, I was able to find the original article that the hashtag was born from. So, today, I’m going to explain Spoon Theory to you guys, so that we are all in on the joke. That way all my chronic illness people out there can start using is with reckless abandon, without having to guess if they are using it correctly.

First, let’s talk a little bit about chronic illness, since understanding chronic illness is key for understanding Spoon Theory. So, what exactly qualifies as a chronic illness? Excellent question! There are a lot of misconceptions about what defines someone’s health struggle as a chronic illness. I’ve heard people say that an illness is only considered a chronic illness if you become disabled from it. That could not be farther from the truth. I’ve heard people dismiss symptoms of chronic illness and blame their inability to do something on being lazy because “they look fine.” This is a common stigma people with chronic illness face. Often times, people who don’t understand what it’s like to deal with a lifelong health struggle can be dismissive, belittling, and trivializing. People who suffer from chronic illness deal with sometimes debilitating fatigue. It is physically draining for your body to constantly be fighting to maintain and function. It costs way more energy for someone with a chronic illness to complete daily tasks than a healthy person when their disease is active. Unfortunately, people who don’t have a chronic illness themselves don’t always understand this. As the saying goes, “people don’t get it, until they get it,” meaning that the only way for someone to understand what it’s like to have a chronic illness is for them to experience it themselves.

A chronic illness is defined as a disease that is ongoing for over three months. The reality of the situation is that most chronic illnesses last a lot longer than just a few months. Most chronic illnesses are lifelong struggles, or may come and go in episodes, or flare-ups. Because it can be discouraging, upsetting and exhausting to deal with a chronic illness, one of the most commonly experienced complications is depression. A huge percentage of those suffering from a chronic illness also struggle with chronic depression due to the stress and anxiety, or even anger caused by a health issue. It is important to treat the depression on it’s own, and not just hope that by treating the chronic illness, the depression will be treated as well. People can continue to struggle with the depression brought on by chronic illness even after they are feeling better. Some examples of chronic illnesses are things like cancer, asthma, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, COPD, hepatitis, etc. The list goes on and on.

Chronic illnesses usually cannot be cured (with some exceptions), but can be managed with appropriate treatments and lifestyle changes. Sometimes people experience long periods without disease activity, and some people are never completely symptom free. Each chronic illness is very unique in how it affects the person who has it. Chronic illness can be extremely overwhelming, and may make some people unable to work, or even care for themselves. People often make the mistake that people who have a chronic illness but look healthy are fine. Looking healthy and being healthy do not necessarily come as a package deal. The former can certainly occur without the latter. Just remember that you don’t know what it took for that person to appear healthy. They may have spent hours trying to achieve that, whereas others can just wake up looking that way. People who have chronic illnesses can experience chronic fatigue, chronic pain, disability, insomnia, and more, which all drain their energy.

Now that we all understand a little more about chronic illness, I think we can get to Spoon Theory. I’ll include the link to the original article by Christine Miserandino at the bottom of this post.

The article starts out by setting the scene. The author describes the moments leading up to the origination of the spoon theory. She was a normal college girl, with her roommate, eating fries at a diner and chatting about this and that when suddenly her roommate asked her what it felt like to have lupus. Her roommate had watched her live with the disease for quite some time, and so she had assumed that she understood the ins and outs of the disease. But that wasn’t exactly what she meant. She wasn’t curious about what lupus was and the symptoms it caused, rather, she was asking what it felt like to be Christine- a person battling a chronic illness. People with chronic illnesses get this question a lot. It’s very difficult to put into words what it feels like to be sick. It’s even difficult to find the words in your own mind. Nothing quite describes it, and you’re left with an answer that’s as close as you could come. When I was younger, I used to try to practice explaining what chronic illness felt like, so that when my friends asked I could answer them accurately. I was never able to formulate a sentence that really embodied the experience. And so, like Catherine, I would try to invent metaphors for it.

Catherine’s metaphor of living with chronic illness was inspired by her surroundings at that diner; she grabbed as many spoons as she could from the surrounding tables and handed them all to her roommate, proclaiming, “Here you go, you have lupus.” The difference between a healthy person and a person living with chronic illness is represented by this spoon metaphor. Healthy people have a limitless supply of spoons; someone suffering from a chronic illness has a finite supply. When you have a disease like lupus, everything you do must be deliberate. You have to be meticulous with the way you do things, in order to get through the day. You have to choose what to spend your energy on in order to get through as many things as you can. The spoons represent the energy required to perform a task. Say you have 12 spoons of energy, and you have a normal day of college ahead of you. How do you spend those 12 spoons in order to make it to school; Keep in mind, everything costs something. What do you forfeit? Getting out of bed, that’s one spoon. Taking a shower, that’s another spoon, if not two. Getting dressed, another spoon. Brushing your teeth, spoon. Putting on makeup, spoon. Making breakfast, spoon. It adds up so much quicker than you think.

It all came down to this one last task for the day: dinner. If she made dinner herself, there wouldn’t be enough spoons for her to clean up, and if she went to pick something up, she may not have enough spoons to drive home. This little example is actually a very accurate dilemma for someone with a chronic illness. So, what do you do? You grab something out of the fridge, and heat it up. That’s all you can afford with your remaining spoons. From day to day, the number of spoons you start out with may go up a little or down a little, but it’s relatively constant. The takeaway of spoon theory is this: you cannot do everything you want to do; you have to choose, everyday, what to spend your spoons on. The people who face this daily struggle have adopted the term “spoonie” as a nickname for chronic illness sufferers.

I highly recommend you check out the original article. It’s a quick read, and Christine does a wonderful job of conveying the frustration people with chronic illness feel. I hope that helped to quickly explain Spoon Theory in a way that’s easy for people without chronic illness to understand.

And with that, I’ll wrap it up. If you’re a new reader, please read the last paragraph, or so, so that I can explain who we are and why we’ve started this awareness blog. Veteran readers, catch you next time, I hope you enjoyed today’s post.

Personalized Cause is an awareness accessory company based in California. We specialize in custom awareness ribbons. We are the only company that offers customers the option to personalize any color awareness ribbon they choose. Custom awareness ribbons can be personalized with a name, date, phrase, or message. Our custom awareness ribbons are engraved on cloisonné awareness ribbon pins. They are a beautiful way to support a loved one, or advocate for a cause. If custom awareness ribbons aren’t your thing, we also carry classic awareness ribbons, fabric awareness ribbons and silicone awareness wristbands.

We started this awareness blog because we believe in the power of awareness. We believe that educating people can save lives, and that prevention is the most important way to protect your health. We also know that not everything can be prevented, and we want to help inform our readers about warning signs and symptoms of lots of different illnesses, so that they can recognize a problem early on. Early detection is so important to having the best possible outcome. So, if you’re interested in learning a little something every week, and becoming a more aware human, check out our weekly blog.

Light blue awareness ribbons are used to raise awareness for chronic illness. To order a custom light blue awareness ribbon, visit:

https://www.personalizedcause.com/personalized-awareness-ribbons/light-blue-awareness-pin-personalized?rq=chronic%20illness

Also, here’s the link to the Spoon Theory article by Christine Miserandino:

https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

#chronicillness #invisibleillness #lymedisease #lupus #fibromyalgia #chronicfatigue #arthritis #ulcerativecolitis #crohnsdisease #celiacdiease #spoonie #autoimmune #diabetes #cancer #depression #HIV #AIDS #hepatitas #COPD #awareness #cancerribbon #awarenessribbon #chronicpain