In '96 Kaiser offered me a Biofeedback class as a treatment method for the migraines. It was all kind of hippy find-your-happy-place sort of stuff but I was desperate after the failure of acupuncture therapy*.
*I may have upset the doctor with the question so what about when a headache pops up at the inconvenient hours before 9am or after 5pm? Do I go to Emergency or just crack open my sewing kit?
The biofeedback was kind of useful, if a bit misguided. It's documented that a person can biofeedback themselves out of an asthma attack. The best you get for migraines is a survival technique, not something that makes you put the imitrex away.
I did learn an interesting fact, tho. People use biofeedback all the time. Subconsciously people are forever regulating their bodies to accomodate their stressful lives. Headache sufferers can generally delay or displace the headache until a more convenient time. A time people call "the weekend." This is very true for me. I've become a highly functional person whose Saturday mornings tend to suck.
Work has been intense for the last three months. I'd been looking forward to break this Easter Weekend. My plan was to work a few hours Friday and be out by 11am, free to spend a warm sunny day goofing off with the kids in the park. Saturday I would sleep in late, listening to my fav NPR shows before spending a few hours cooking a Polish Easter feast for friends later that night. Sunday I had plans to attend Glide with spiritual adviser LJR and her bestest friend, Laura.
Sounds good, no?
All week I'd been covering for employees who were either ill or on vacation. This added up to a 55 hour workweek by the time I went home Thursday. Since Tuesday, I'd had a headache lurking at the edges of eyeballs, held off by the comforting thought that I just had to get thru to Friday morning and all would be well. With Alanis Morrisette like irony, I had two sick calls and ended up having to work until late Friday evening. I'm a mature, professional so I held the venting/whining to a minimum, only once stomping my foot and slamming my office door.
When Saturday morning came around and I had an Easter dinner to make, my brain went looking for serotonin and endorphins like a late night drunk searching for linked accounts on the ATM. Carrying this metaphor a little further: I then did a credit card cash advance on my brain with a handful of Aleve, an ice cold shower and two double cappuccinos.
Dinner was a success. I'm very pleased with the new dough for the pierogi. The carrot bread was the best I've yet made and the kielbasa recipe I used is definitely a keeper. The eight of us had a lovely evening and I felt really good about keeping my family's traditions alive. At 9pm I said my goodbyes, hoping that 12 hours of sleep would leave me well enough for Church and lunch. The throbbing pinpoint at my left temple, however, was sitting there with a collection notice and one of those repo man tools . . .
Salvation came when LJR called and said she and Laura would have to reschedule. I really, really had wanted to make the same call to her. A true measure of friendship is when you can cancel with the excuse I really need a day to just be alone, sitting around in my underwear and the other person totally gets it.
Saturday night at 9pm and I'm headed home, free to feel like absolute shit. The headache was done with the subconscious, demanding now my full attention. Within half an hour I was sitting at my desk lining up meds, water, ice pack, heating pad, ear plugs while the small siege engine parked itself behind my left eye.
My last biofeedback trick is this small brown bottle I keep tucked away in my filing cabinet. Inside I have 3 dilaudid. This stuff is pharmacological trump. If a migraine gets too nasty for the first 4 lines of defense, it's in case of emergency break glass time. I've had these same three pills for over two years now. Just knowing that they are there relieves a lot of stress and is immensely more helpful than focusing on soft colors or serene settings.
It's past midnight. The first onslaught of the headache is over and soon I'll be getting the long, slow Chinese Water Torture portion. I'm sitting here in the dark with even my computer screen turned low, all hunkered down and waiting. In 10 minutes I can take my next med and then it's time to crawl into bed with the ice pack firmly pushed into my head.
No calls please.
Go in Peace