​3 Secrets to Being An Awesome Parent With Chronic Headaches

If you’re a parent and you suffer from migraines or chronic headaches, you already know the special challenges of parenting through severe pain. Busy lives full of school events, sports practices, and errands mean that the days of disappearing into a dark room to sleep off a headache are practically non-existent when tiny beings depend on you for everything.

So, what can you do?

Here are 3 secrets to being an awesome parent, even if you suffer from migraines or chronic headaches:

1. Invest in Yourself
No matter how busy your schedule is, write in 15 minutes of “me time” every day, without exception.

Why? Because you need a minimum of 15 minutes a day alone to be your best self.

My 15 minutes starts the second I wake up in the morning. Whether my daughter is awake or not, I head straight to my journal and write 1 page of affirmations to start my day. Then I spend 10-15 minutes reading book(s) that nourish my soul. This “me time” is non-negotiable. Can’t get your littles to give you 15 minutes? If you’re married, ask your spouse to backfill your parenting position. If your kids are easy persuaded with bribes, give them something to keep them happy for 15 minutes. Build your “me time” into a daily routine. It’s not always easy, but kids and spouses are trainable especially when something happens every day at the same time of day!

2. Reverse-Engineer Your Life
Identify what obstacles are blocking you from living a headache-free life. Is it too many looming deadlines at work? Is it unresolved tension in your marriage? Is it sitting in 2 hours of traffic everyday and feeling stuck? Obstacles are everywhere and they come in all different sizes and shapes. Write down 5 obstacles that contribute to your headaches. Then, reverse-engineer a solution to all 5 or as many as you can. Some may be easier to abolish than others. But you won’t know how hard or how easy it can be to overcome obstacles in your life until you figure out what they are.

3. Claim Your Strengths
What are you “good” at?  Are you good at helping others? Cooking? Showing up on time? Going  to church every Sunday? Dancing? Take a quick inventory to write down 5 things you do well. Then, think about why you do those things well. Are you good at showing up on time because you plan ahead? Are you good at dancing because you dance like no one else is watching? Embrace your strengths and celebrate them. If you do get a migraine or a horrendous headache, celebrate tiny victories like having enough energy to get out of bed and give your kids a hug after baseball practice. On headache days, the small victories count the most.

Are you interested in learning more about natural approaches to long-term relief from migraines and chronic headaches? Indigo Healing Acupuncture has teamed up with Julie Balderrama Coaching to offer a unique holistic program for anyone suffering from headaches.  We help people (who have tried everything) break free from headaches by discovering hidden obstacles to healing. We empower them with knowledge and tools to find long-lasting relief so they can thrive with freedom and joy in their life.

The Hidden Message in My Migraines

About 12 years ago, I suffered from debilitating chronic migraines. They would start with an aura, usually consisting of a blind spot that would prevent me from reading anything, including my watch. The aura would last about 25 minutes, then the vomiting would start, followed by intense pressure building in my skull. The worst sensation of each migraine was the stabbing pain behind my eye that could last for 12+ hours. All I could do was lie in a dark, cool room waiting for the pain to subside. There was no sleep, just unrelenting pain and silent prayers for relief.

The migraines consumed my life, 2-3 days of every week. I lost work days, I lost friends, my marriage decayed, and I fell out of touch. People got tired of hearing me say “Sorry, I have a headache.” It was both depressing and terrifying.

I tried over-the-counter meds like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. I tried drinking coffee and dark chocolate during the aura. I had a CAT scan and a MRI, which revealed nothing. Neurologists prescribed an assortment of pharmaceuticals, but they either didn’t work or had terrible side effects (topiramate = hair fell out/slurred speech/memory loss). Plus, they were only mildly effective, reducing the rate of my migraines to about 2 a month. My neurologist warned me that I would need to take a beta blocker (propranolol) for the rest of my life to prevent the migraines from coming back.

​I was only 28. The rest of my life sounded like a very long time.

As a last ditch effort, I gave acupuncture a try. There was an acupuncturist across the street from my office and she performed nothing short of a miracle.

The frequency and severity of my migraines diminished over the course of a few weekly treatments. After a few months, I was able to stop the topiramate. After two years, I weaned off the beta blocker. It was a long journey to relief, but manageable with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

At this point, I can look back and see how migraines caused me to stop and rebuild my life. The migraines called me to become a holistic doctor and help others find relief. They turned out to be an amazing blessing in an awful package.

What are your migraines telling you?

A Look at Pediatric Abdominal Migraine

What is Pediatric Abdominal Migraine? 
Pediatric abdominal migraine is a condition that is both mysterious and scary, but Oriental Medicine has kid-friendly tools that can help bring relief.

Unlike adolescent or adult migraine which involve pressure and pain in the head, in young children it appears like a headache in the abdomen that can last a few hours or as long as a week.

​​Symptoms of Pediatric Abdominal Migraine:

​It primarily affects children who are three to ten years old and can show up suddenly with symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, sudden loss of appetite, skin sensitivity, and pale complexion. These symptoms also appear in more serious conditions, like appendicitis, so if your child is suddenly sick with the symptoms listed here, it is best to immediately call your pediatrician and/or visit the emergency room.

Cause of Pediatric Abdominal Migraine:
Scientists have not yet identified all of the biomedical mechanisms or causes of migraine, but migraine is known to be hereditary, meaning it runs in families. If Mom and/or Dad suffer from migraine, their child is more prone to experience migraines in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Pediatric Abdominal Migraine Triggers:
One way to help your child is to become aware of specific migraine triggers, or things/activities that can trigger the start of a migraine. Common migraine triggers in children include:

  • Sleep: Not enough sleep, sleeping in too late, waking up too early, getting overtired
  • Meals: Waiting too long between meals, dehydration, high-sugar diet, or food allergy
  • Emotions: Stress or anxiety about something going on at school or home, anger or frustration (can be as simple as feeling anger towards a sibling over not sharing toys)
  • Environmental: Changes in weather, exposure to gusty wind, exposure to bright lights or flickering lights, too much TV or computer screen time, general overstimulation
  • Travel: Car sickness or motion sickness, jet lag

Treatments for Pediatric Abdominal Migraine:
When a child is suffering from symptoms that look like abdominal migraine, I advise parents to carry a small notebook to record the date, time, and events leading up to the abdominal pain, such as long car ride, up late last night, skipped a meal, etc.  Your pediatric acupuncturist or pediatrician can review the log to help identify specific triggers and patterns.

At Indigo Healing Acupuncture we treat pediatric abdominal migraine holistically by examining all aspects of the child’s mind-body-spirit to identify areas of imbalance. Lifestyle adjustments, needle-free painless laser acupuncture, and customized Chinese herb drops can reduce the frequency, severity, and pain of abdominal migraine attacks in children.

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