Migraine Headache 101

migraine headache

migraine headache

Why do humans get a migraine headache? The potential answer might be a real headache. Almost everyone knows someone who has a migraine headache. If you are not so lucky, you suffer from them on a chronic basis like our fellow Spoonies diagnosed with Chronic Migraine.

What is a migraine headache?

Some people may term an extreme headache as a migraine headache which results from certain changes in the brain. Marked by recurring episodes of moderate to severe unilateral head pain accompanied by numbness, visual or sensory disturbance, nausea, and vomiting. The excruciating pain one experiences may last for hours or even days. For our Chronic Migraine Warriors, the battle may last for an estimate of 15 days over a course of over 3 months.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

While not all migraines are alike, most people experience:

  • Moderate to severe head pain, usually unilateral but may spread or stay on one side
  • A throbbing, pulsing pain that gets more intense during a physical activity
  • Lethargy
  • Increased visual disturbance like seeing zigzag lines, stars, blurred vision, and temporary blind spots that which can be alleviated by staying in a dimmed room
  • Phonophobia or sensitivity to sound

Studies show that changes in the blood flow to the brain and brain chemical imbalance can cause to have a migraine headache. Genetics, environmental changes, pregnancy, and menopause also play a role. Though symptoms may vary, sweating, temperature changes, stomachache, and diarrhea are notable for most sufferers

What Triggers A Migraine Headache

Some people who suffer from a migraine headache can quickly identify what triggers it, others cannot. Most common triggers are the following.

  • Loud noises
  • Stress
  • Exposure to bright and flickering lights
  • Alcohol, especially beer and red wine
  • Certain food which contains MSG, aged cheeses, chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, fruits (like banana, citrus, and avocado), onions, dairy products, meats containing nitrates (cured meats, salami, bacon, hotdog)
  • Caffeine
  • Skipping meals
  • Certain odors, such as perfume or smoke
  • Lack or too much of sleep
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Hormonal medications
  • Heat and high humidity

Fluctuation of estrogen may also trigger a migraine headache in most women. Hormonal medications, oral contraceptives, and the likes may worsen it.Some people will have an aura or a warning sign before a headache starts. It often lasts several minutes and eventually goes away as the pain begins. Those who do not experience aura will also have other warning signs such as thirst, lightheadedness, craving for sweets, sleepiness, or depression.

Risk Factors For Migraines

Though women are more likely to experience a migraine headache than men, it can happen to anyone at any stage. It tends to peak during your 30’s, and gradually become less frequent and less severe as you age.

Lifestyle and Treatment Approach

Keep a record of your attacks and how you treated them. Identify the triggers for your headaches so you can avoid them. When a migraine happens, note the date and time it started. Note what you ate for the previous hours, hours of sleep, things you did before the attack, any unusual stress in your life, how long it lasted, and what you did to make it stop.

Lifestyle change and series of therapies can control your migraine headache with a combination of medications. Relaxation techniques may reduce both the frequency and intensity of attacks.

Migraine Headache is a treatable disorder often undiagnosed and untreated. If you regularly experience signs and symptoms of migraine headaches, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your headaches. Don’t just put up with them. Learn how to prevent migraine headaches and treat them.


Family, friends, and partners play a huge part in the daily life of persons with Chronic Migraine. A lot of understanding must be practiced, having this illness affects the lives of the people around them. Apart from this circle of love, where do can people find peace and total understanding? Of course, from people with the same condition or a community that relates and does not judge. The Unchargeables, for instance, it is a huge community for the chronically ill. I swear by their Instagram page, life will be a lot lighter, try them.


5 Healthy Habits for Persons with Chronic Diseases

Fruits for healthy habits

Lifestyle issues cause some chronic diseases.

There is a high tendency for people not to exercise as much, paving the way to obesity, due to unhealthy food consuming that lead to illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, strokes, and much more that we are not even aware they exist. Ever heard of Chiari Malformation, Ehler Danlos Syndrome, and Myasthenia Gravis? These are chronic diseases, fancy, right? Mine is Mitral Valve Regurgitation and Stage 2 Hypertension (severe hypertension). Consider a lifestyle modification. Only 5 Healthy Habits to follow.

What if you are diagnosed with a chronic illness?

The issue with lifestyle is that they are difficult to turn into action. Many people attempt a change in their lifestyle all at once, which is tough to accomplish. The result? Often, they give up all of the right paths and resort to the usual negative health habits that they had been doing long before they have even tasted a healthy lifestyle.

Often, it just takes a few days or a few lucky weeks of trying to be healthy before the individual becomes overwhelmed and stops living healthy. Exercising stops and back they go to eating processed foods and junk foods; these are the very reasons to change your health habits one habit at a time so that you don’t become overwhelmed and stop trying to be healthy altogether, after all, a person with a chronic illness can only do so much.

Most weight loss programs available today only work if they are done carefully and don’t deprive the individual too much. The same goes for exercise programs. If you choose an exercise that you will likely enjoy or increase your physical activity more gradually, do stick to it so that you don’t become discouraged and quit using altogether. The trick to healthy living is to begin slowly.

If you try any modern diet or fitness fad with gusto, your body will likely respond negatively, sticking with these programs will be tough. There are a few simple things you can do to live a happier and healthier life.

fruits for healthy habits

Try these five changes to winning healthy habits a la Chronic Illness Warrior:

1. A must: eat one healthy meal daily.

Even if you are a fan of processed foods, do not deprive yourself of a healthy food each day. Feed your body with proper nutrition and healthy proteins. Healthy meals consist of mainly fruits and vegetables, supplemented with whole grain products, and lean meats. It doesn’t matter how much you eat, if the food is healthy for you, it won’t usually contain a lot of calories and won’t cause weight gain as can be evident when you eat junk foods or highly processed foods. Even so, you should try to watch your portion sizes.

2. Drink up: take one glass of water before each meal.

Water is by far the best liquid to drink. When you decide to drink a glass of water before meals, (an 8-ounce glass is enough), you will feel fuller before eating, and you won’t eat as much at the meal that follows a drink of water.

3. Have some activity at lunch.

Given you have 30minutes of Lunch Break, it usually doesn’t take that long to eat your meals. Eat your meals, and have the time to exercise. An extreme workout is not necessary, especially for a Spoonie; a simple walk will do. Being active will not only give you a boost, but it is also an aid to burning off the calories you just ate and will help in the digestive process. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you want to do as long as you choose reasonable one without overdoing it. A Spoonie may be unchargeable, but inactivity weakens a person even more.

4. Have a replacement bar for a meal.

This step will include eating a protein bar as a snack instead of junk foods. Most meal replacement bars are healthy enough; they contain proper nutrition and lots of fiber, and they are also not calorie-rich as you think. They help stave off hunger pangs in a typical mid-afternoon time. Keep a stash of these protein bars wherever you are, in your desk at work or in your purse or briefcase easily available when hunger strikes you. It will help you from spending on poor food choices found in vending machines. Try a meal replacement bar that is high in fiber, and that has at least 10 to 15 grams of protein per bar.

5. Exercise, always.

Yoga for healthy habits

With or without an illness, exercise at least 3-4 times per week. Choose activities you will enjoy while keeping it at a minimum; doing so will help energize you, build muscle mass, and help you lose weight by burning off excess calories. Yoga, perhaps (the perfect Spoonie exercise)?

So, what am I, er, what are you waiting for!? Let’s do this!

Spoonie Story: Lois Woken

lois w


My name is Lois Woken. I have been a spoonie all my life, however I didn’t know I was until about two and a half years ago. It seemed like growing up I was always sick. I got told I was faking it a lot. I wasn’t supposed to feel lethargic at my age,must be because I was lazy! At least that’s what my step father would tell me. I also was told I was faking how bad my joints hurt, however no one was laying with my while I cried myself to sleep every single night I was in pain. I learned to believe those lies. I told myself I hurt because I was fat, or not exercising enough, not eating healthy enough. I also told myself it only hurt when I exercised because I was so out of shape. I figured the sharp pains in my back and feet were normal after after 8 hours on your feet.
After the birth of my second son at 21 my body really changed. The bouts of fatigue were intense but short lived, and always accompanied by a slight fever and body aches. (some of the lovely symptoms of RA.) I thought I was getting frequent colds so I started taking tons of immune boosting vitamins and herbs, but it never helped, in fact I felt worse. (I now know that’s because I have rheumatoid disease, so I have an immune system that doesn’t work right, so by increasing my immune system I was only increasing my symptoms, by boosting an improper immune system.)


I pushed myself more and more, tried different diets, different exercises. Any thing I could think of to keep going. Then one day my body had enough. I went in to work one night ( I was an ER nurse at the time) and the pain in my abdomen was so severe I became sweaty and couldn’t draw in a full breath. They put me in a bed and began a work up, and that’s when I officially became a spoonie. I was diagnosed with gastroparesis and autoimmune hepatitis at the time. A year after that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and my doctor, at the time, was on the hunt for something autoimmune. Finally four months ago I was given the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. I prefer to call it rheumatoid disease since it is not arthritis but an autoimmune disease. I also have Reynauds, migraines, asthma, RLS.


Becoming a spoonie was not an easy transition. I went from high paced, fast working, always going, active ER nurse to stuck in bed ill person almost over night. My husband suffers from PTSD which was quite severe at the time and also had a very hard time adjusting. I was not able to return to work. It took me a year to get disability. In the mean time we were struggling to make ends meet as we had a house payment an RN could afford but a disabled me could not. I had to give my car back to the bank, we tried everything to save our home but lost it as well. In fact we had to sell 75 percent of our belongings in order to be able to move. It was devastating. I was fairly ill at the time (this was 2 years ago). I had a PICC line with 24 hour fluids running and could only eat liquids. I weighed about 105 pounds. The stress of the move made things even worse. We moved from Texas to Las Vegas and put our belongings in storage. But due to just losing our house, belongings and owing in medical bills and everything else, we didn’t have enough money to cover our bad credit to get an apartment. So we left our stuff in storage and went to live with family in Washington until we could get on our feet.


During that time I was incredibly ill. All I wanted to do was die. My husband and I were struggling to get along because we were both grieving over our total loss and had no clue what to do. Thankfully I had my father during this time. He never gave up on trying to help us get through it, help us to see there was a light at the end of the tunnel. He honestly helped me to see that this was not worth life being over with. He helped me see I have a choice in how I feel. I was feeling like a complete loser. I lost everything and had to live in a studio hotel room. He helped me see how wrong I was in my self talk! I didn’t ask to become disabled. I didn’t ask for a body that hurts and wants to die. I certainly didn’t work my butt off for years to earn my RN and now be unable to use it. Becoming disabled does not make me a loser. It makes me a person who suffered through some terrible circumstances. I am a person who is strong enough to survive total loss and still find happiness in this world. I am still worth something. So with my fathers help and a husband willing to fight with me, I made some major changes to my self talk.


Here I am a year and half later. We live in a beautiful apartment in Las Vegas, doing many things we always wanted. Like art for instance. I have been able to access the best doctors I have ever had. We are finally able to pay off bills and will be out of debt in a year. I became very active in Spoonies for life and now have become an administrator, able to help others once again. I also get to be part of the Spoonie space talk show, another way to reach out and help others. I have found I cope better when I am able to help others. It fulfills the part of me that loves being a nurse and helps me feel a little more normal. I hope everyone who feels like giving up has someone in their life to help them see that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel as long as you keep going. Spoonies for Life has been an amazing game changer for me. I finally found people who could understand my pain. People who could help me make sense of the craziness my life had become.


My body still hurts and I still get flares but they are not as bad as they were. Changing how I think about my chronic illness has helped me achieve a better quality of life. I search for things every day to make me smile, things that remind me of the beauty in this world and in this life. My wish for everyone suffering a chronic illness is that they can find the beauty in their lives, whatever that may be.

lois woken2






Lois is an admin of the Facebook Spoonies for Life Support Group, as well as a panelist on the Youtube webshow Spoonie Space.


Linda’s Poems: Spoonie On

Spoon Ribbon

Spoonie On

Spoon Ribbon









The day is done
Many battles won
Lay down your sword and shield
Look back once more over the killing field
Celebrate the battle won
By the dying light of the sun

As you crawl into bed to sleep
And pray for your soul to keep
The moon shines her blessed light
Protecting you from sight
Close your eyes and rest my weary friend
This day is at an end

Tomorrow will come with a blank slate
Another day to greet our fate
Head held high
Sword and shield on your thigh
Ready once more to face the day
Come what may

Pain and scars you will hide
Tears held inside
You think you must always be strong
But my embattled friend you are wrong
I stand beside you hand held aloft
While whispering low and soft

Take my hand
Together we will withstand
Alone no longer
As a tribe we are stronger
Spoonie on, my friend
I got your back till the end




Fight Like A Spoonie

Limited Edition. Not Sold In Stores.

Womens shirts and tanktops available here:

fight like a spoonie shirt

Spoonie And Feelings Terms

soup spoon

There are many terms we spoonies use that not everybody knows. So here is a list of the spoonie and feelings terms that are frequently used.



  • Spoonie: Someone with chronic illness, pain or disability (particularly an invisible condition). [Term developed from “The Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino]
  • Dish: A Spoonie’s spouse or partner (because the dish ran away with the spoon)
  • Doonie: A dish that is also a Spoonie!
  • Teacups: Children of spoonies
  • Saucers: Other supportive family members of spoonies
  • Normie: The “average” person not affected by a chronic condition
  • Zebra: There is a saying with doctors “when you hear hooves you think of horses”. So you think of the most common thing first. Zebras are conditions/patients that are rare and are not the kind of thing you think of until after everything else is ruled out.



  • Paingry: The description of the attitude of one living in chronic pain when they become snippy and short tempered. Usually brought about by any or all of these situations: pain, medication has worn off, exhaustion, depression, frustration, fatigue helplessness and most of all, severe pain. (Coined by Kristian Pederson II and his spoonie, Ami Korczak)
  • Exhaustipated: Too tired to give a shit
  • Painsomnia: Habitual sleeplessness due to pain intolerance OR the tolerance of pain for a length of time in which it is no longer tolerable; inability to sleep through anguish or agonizing pain.

Linda’s Letters: Letter #1


Hey you,

Yes, I mean you! I see you struggling, I know your pain. You think no one could ever know what it takes to get you through the day, what it takes for you to even get out of bed. I know your struggle, I know your pain. It’s real. You are not alone.

How do I know? Well, I am you. We are one and the same. I know of the pain that drags you into the deepest recesses of hell and makes you question if life is really worth all this. I am the young man who sits next to you in the doctors office praying this one will help him when so many have ignored his symptoms. I am the mother in the scooter trying to shop with two children in tow. I am the teenager who can’t get the energy to go be with friends because her doctors will not believe her because she’s to young to feel like this. I am the individual who sits in the dark with a gun in hand saying enough. I AM YOU!

How did I see past the mask? I have worn the fake smiles. Laughed and joked when all I really wanted was to curl up and die. I have said “I Am Fine.” more times than I can count. I have pushed myself past my breaking point to be and do what others think I should do. I know all the lines and all the ways to cheat and hide how I really am on the inside.

Daily you wonder if this life is worth all this pain. You wonder if you will ever feel normal again. You wonder if you will ever find someone who will love you with all your issues. You wonder if this is what will kill you. You wonder when the doctors will figure out how to fix you. You wonder if anyone hears your cry for help.

I hear you! I am you! Life right now maybe shit; but it can and will hold beauty again. Someday you will find the one person that gives you hope and love. They will give you a reason to live. They will hear your cries and wipe your tears. They will stand up to the doctors and not let them throw you away as if you were nothing. They will bring unimaginable beauty to each day.

Who is this person and where can you find them? Get up and walk into your bathroom. Stand facing your sink. What do you see? You are who you’ve been looking for this whole time. You are your own saviour! You are a kick ass warrior! You have the strength, heart, compassion, and grit to face anything. You will keep walking forward even as this disease weighs you down. Each day will provide the chance that answers will come.

Why am I talking to you? Well, the answer is simple. Even the strongest warrior needs a shoulder to lean on from time to time. We need other warriors to help us along the way. Some will make you laugh when you need it. Some will kick you in the ass to get you to do the things you know you should. Some will come along and give you hope just when you have none. And yet others will come along and cheer you on in your accomplishments. They will become your family, your tribe.

The bottom line is this: you are not alone. You never have been. We have been here for you the whole time. You see us now because you are us and we are you. You reached out and grasped the warrior in you. Stand tall, stand proud! You are a spoonie warrior!!! You have a never say die flame that burns inside. Yes, you have bad days. Yes, you will scream, cry and shout “Why me?”. In the end you will pick yourself up ,with the help of friends, family, and fellow warriors, dust yourself off and face another battle with courage and a fierce will to live pain free.

Just remember…I know you! You are me. You are one bad ass, never say die, strong, courageous, ass kicking, beautiful mess, spoonie warrior! And I love you!

From: Me.



Read Linda’s second letter here.