Most doctors will tell you of the importance of keeping a migraine diary. There is also a saying "what is measured, can be managed" by Peter Drucker. Not only do these records provide accurate details to give to your primary care physician, it helps you determine patterns and see what's working.
When I hear the word diary, I automatically think ”Dear Diary Migraines Suck!”
And then I think of an organized useful record keeping system, like the diary I use for work.
But I always think they suck first just FYI!
I have kept records for years now. I keep them to monitor any changes and it has become routine to write down anything new I do or take. For example, just last week I wrote down the date I put on my tinted migraine glasses. I would forget otherwise, and I need to see if they make a difference.
It especially helps when doctors ask me questions I've not thought of like "what did you do differently three months ago?" I don't know about you, but sometimes when I just can't answer their questions, my records can.
You will find both options here, the migraine journal and the diary along with other things to help you form the foundation of your treatment strategies with doctors and your other health professionals.
I am sharing my system to hopefully help keep you organized and sane!
According to the winter 2011 edition of the Brainwaves newsletter from the Brain Foundation “only 10%" of migraineurs "keep a migraine diary, but when they do, 67%" find it helpful.
I have depended on my record keeping system and my migraine diary for everything. It has helped my doctors see my pattern and it’s been pivotal at keeping me sane.
Sane because I think for years I was in denial that migraines were really a part of my life, never mind a lifelong medical condition. Most of what I was told in the early days was that if I thought positively my migraines would heal themselves.
You must get the right diagnosis to get the right treatment. "Once you have migraines, you are always waiting for the next one that's going to disrupt you at some terrible moment in your life." says Dr. Carolyn Bernstein, Neurologist at the Arnold Pain Management Center in the video below.
I have reproduced every form I use now that is included in my migraine diary and pain management strategy to help you on your journey.
This list below is what my help for migraines tool kit looks like today.
It is a good system to help me inform and coordinate my support network and professional healthcare team. Just click on the links to print out the forms:
a) Migraine Diary - a monthly calendar to help keep track of your migraines and potential triggers.
b) Medication notes - to keep track of the times you take medications.
c) Medication tracking - to keep track of medication changes, starts, finishes and side effects.
d) Medication Treatment Plan to fill out with your doctor. Know the specifics and your rescue remedies in time of emergency or just when you need them.
e) Educate yourself. Know the difference between migraine vs headache and know what type you have. It's crucial to getting the right treatment and medications.
f) Get emotional support. Write a letter to help process your emotions with our migraines and depression post or try using CBT and Cognitive Behavior Modification. You know, those real emotions other people don’t want to hear, or you don't want them to see.
For some one on one help, get some pain counseling for added support.
g) Exercise regularly. Have some reminders around in plain sight highlighting the benefits of daily regular migraine specific exercises.
h) Think positive and use
affirmations. It will retrain the mind on the right path.
i) Write in a migraine journal just for you. The real you once again. It took me a year of writing to get honest with myself. Plus I thought it was rubbish. But, in hindsight it was a really good way to get started seeing what I really thought.
Plus there is proof that when you write something down, your brain can process it more easily. So .... have I convinced you to try some of these things?
j) Keep your test results all together in one binder. In case you change doctors or need to see a number of them before you find a good one, you can just take the folder with you instead of redoing (and paying again) for any tests.
This might mean you need to get your doctor to print out important blood test results, or you may need to request copies for your own records.
I hope this information helps you to become your own detective and reduce your pain especially if you don't find relief with medications.
I also hope it helps you to keep track of things easily and see your patterns. It is important to understand your responsibility in managing your own pain episodes and treatment.
Be well, stay well – and may you find what keeps you migraine-free forever.
Keep A Migraine Diary, Keep Your Sanity