Don’t Miss This Headache Diary

Guest Post by How to Cope With Pain Blogger

One of the great things about blogs is sharing helpful, cool sites and gadgets you find. Sharing with others makes all our journeys easier and no one has to “reinvent the wheel” on her own. In that light, I came across this headache diary, which looks great for tracking headaches, including details like date, time, location of pain, type of pain, etc.

Have you ever used it? Do you use something else? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The writer of this post blogs anonymously as she is a practicing psychiatrist. Her practice focuses mostly on patients with chronic pain. Having had chronic pain herself, her practice and blog reflect a deep understanding of its challenges.

Invisible Illness: Strength Through the Struggle

Guest Post by How to Cope With Pain Blogger

The writer of this post blogs anonymously as she is a practicing psychiatrist. Her practice focuses mostly on patients with chronic pain. Having chronic pain herself, her practice and blog reflect a deep understanding of its challenges. –Kerrie

As we all know, there are many challenges and difficulties when living with an invisible illness. However, the experience can also allow wonderful attributes such as patience, strength, humility, trust and perseverance to flourish. Encouraging these virtues –- also invisible– to grow within us is a way to take advantage of adversity

Patience is needed to wait for healing, to respect your own and others’ limitations, and to learn to live with chronic illness.

Strength is needed to carry the burden of illness, to be stoic for others when necessary, and to stand up for yourself.


Illness can teach us humility, that we have limits, that we do get sick, and that we need to learn to ask for help.

Illness can teach us trust, trusting others, trusting ourselves, and trusting in our spiritual beliefs.

Perseverance is needed to stick with treatments, to tolerate pain, and to live fully despite illness.


Thanks to Simon Davison (patience) and Lollie-Pop (strength) for the photographs at Flickr.

“Overcoming Self-Defeating Behaviors When You’re Chronically Ill”: Presentation by the ChronicBabe Editrix Today

Check out ChronicBabe Editrix Jenni Prokopy’s National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week presentation at 3 p.m. Eastern time this afternoon — and call with your questions. You can listen online or call in. The presentation will be archived in case you miss the live event.

The details from ChronicBabe:

national invisible illness awareness week Here’s the scoop: To hear my presentation tomorrow, starting at 2pm Central time, you can either use the Blog Talk Radio player to log in and listen (there’s nothing to download) or you can simply call (347) 202-0072 and hear me speak about “Overcoming Self-Defeating Behaviors When You Are Chronically Ill.”

Yea, I know, the title sounds kind of dull. But my presentation will be anything but. You’ll hear me talk about strategies I’ve used to kick my own rear end into gear when I’m feeling down, and you’ll leave with tons of advice you can start using immediately to boost your outlook, productivity and spirit! And at the end of the presentation, you can call in with questions and I will happily answer as many as we can cram in to the hour. (Use the same phone number listed above to call with questions.)

Before you listen in, start by reading these instructions for conference attendees which explain how Blog Talk Radio works. Then check out the speaker list to see who else you want to hear. (Please note: there are different phone numbers for each speaker!) There are more conference listening tips here and links to the live shows as they are presented.

National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week

In addition to living with the symptoms of headache disorders or migraine, having an illness others can’t see can be extraordinarily frustrating. Rest Ministries is raising awareness of life with invisible illness this week during National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Check out the following press release for information on the week.

Nearly 1 in 2 people in the USA have a chronic illness and according to U.S. Census Bureau about 96% of illnesses are invisible. So it comes as no surprise that with hundreds of thousands of people on the Internet searching for health support and information, thousands of people now post daily blogs about the emotional trials they experience while facing chronic pain on a regular basis.

National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is being held September 8-14, 2008. Part of their outreach includes over thirty days of guest bloggers as well as bloggers all over the web posting about invisible illness issues. For example, what happens when someone with an invisible illness parks in the handicapped spot, even though they are doing so legally?

Lisa Copen, who founded National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week in 2002 says, “Though we live with thousands of different illnesses, we have more in common than not. For example, illness impacts our families, careers, finances and daily living, to name a few. We can all learn from one another and share during this journey.” She adds, “And frankly, people are tired of hearing, ‘But you look so good!’ and they want others to know that their illness is legitimate despite how well they seem to be holding it all together.”

Laurie Edwards is the author of a recently published book called, “Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties.” She has blogged about her illness since 2006 and says, “When you are a young adult, people expect you to put in long hours to establish a career, to jump into the dating world, and to build a life for yourself. But they certainly don’t expect you to be sick. There’s no such thing as ‘too young’ to be sick! That is just one of the many reasons why Invisible Illness Week is so important!”

If you would like to participate in this unique chance to blog for awareness and increase an understanding about invisible illnesses, visit www.invisibleillness.wordpress.com. You can receive updates, participate in surveys, win prizes, and learn more about the telephone workshops at the Invisible Illness Week website.

Migraine and Gluten Sensitivity

In a desperate attempt to treat her migraines, herself (gluten-free) blogger Karen Yesowich Schmucker discovered she was sensitive to gluten. Adopting a gluten-free diet has reduced the frequency and severity of her migraines. Karen explains the connection in this guest post.

While there is data to suggest that a certain percentage of migraineurs also suffer from celiac disease or some form of gluten sensitivity, few neurologists routinely test their patients for it. One study done in Italy in 2003 suggested that 4% of migraineurs also had celiac. You may think this is a small number and that may explain neurologists’ reluctance to test for it. But consider this: few people in the general population are ever tested for gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Until recently, doctors considered it to be extremely rare, but now there is reason to believe that the number of people in this country who have some form of intolerance to gluten is 1 in 133, or about 3 million. Over 90% of these people do not know of their gluten sensitivity. So how safe can we as patients feel about the small number of migraineurs who also have Celiac? We don’t really know how many of us are out there. Should we care? Would a gluten-free diet really help us? And what the heck is gluten anyway?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is what makes dough from these grains sticky and hold together when baked. Gluten is also used in many other food products from soups and salad dressings to soy sauce and beer. Gluten intolerance is an autoimmune disease which, left untreated, will eventually destroy the villi in the small intestine, leading to malabsorption of minerals and nutrients. There are serious implications from malabsorption including osteoporosis, certain cancers and a host of other disorders. Go to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to find out more.

Today the only treatment for gluten sensitivity is the complete and lifelong avoidance of gluten. Does maintaining a gluten-free diet help migraine? There is some evidence to suggest that some migraineurs are helped by it. Some report the total disappearance of migraine while others have fewer and less severe attacks. I fall into the latter category. I found out (by accident) a little over a year ago that I am gluten intolerant and I have followed a gluten-free diet since December 2006. Do I still get migraines? Yes, but not as many and not as severe. I have not had a classic migraine (with aura) in about a year. Does my neurologist think that gluten caused my migraines? No, but it could have created a situation where migraine was more likely to occur, especially since I had evidence of malabsorption and was deficient in several important minerals like magnesium, even though I was supplementing at 400 mg per day!

As a direct result of my experience, my neurologist now tests his patients who show gastrointestinal symptoms for gluten sensitivity. But he doesn¹t test all his patients. He (incorrectly, according to experts on celiac) believes that one must have these types of symptoms before testing makes sense. However, with celiac, symptoms often do not appear until the disease has progressed and a patient is not absorbing nutrients. Here are some of the symptoms noted in celiac literature: fatigue, anemia, migraine, eczema, psoriasis, mineral deficiencies, as well as gastrointestinal complaints such as bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea. So the bottom line is: finding out you have gluten intolerance may or may not help your migraine, but the health benefits of discovery and treatment by themselves are compelling. I went gluten-free hoping to rid myself of debilitating headaches, but knowing what I know now makes me glad I did it regardless of the effect on my headaches.

If you do decide to get tested, make sure you do NOT start a gluten-free diet until AFTER the test results come in and your doctor tells you to start it. The test will come back negative if you are not actively eating gluten. If you go on a gluten-free diet please give it a good chance to succeed. I found some of my symptoms disappeared within three days, but the migraine-easing part of it took longer. Months longer. So be patient and don’t cheat. It can take up to 18 months for your system to heal. If you want to see how to navigate life gluten-free, visit my blog. You can find recipes there as well as tips for managing eating out, traveling and otherwise living a normal life gluten and headache-free.

References and Resources:

  • Association between migraine and celiac disease: results from a preliminary case-control and therapeutic study. Gabrielli, M.; Cremonini, F.; Fiore, G.; Addolorato, G.; Padalino, C.; Candelli, M.; de Leo, M.E.; Santarelli, L.; Giacovazzo, M.; Gasbarrini, A.; Pola, P. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, Volume 98, Number 3, March 2003 , pp. 625-629(5)
  • Migraine and Coeliac Disease. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 38 (8). J. Serratrice MD, P. Disdier MD, C. de Roux MD, C. Christides MD, P.J. Weiller MD.  (1998), 627­628 doi:10.1046/j.1526-4610.1998.3808627.x
  • Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic. Peter H. Green, Rory Jones. HarperCollins Publishers. 2006. ISBN-13: 9780060766931 (Peter H. Green, M.D., director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. He confirmed that migraines can be a symptom of celiac disease.)
  • Living Gluten Free for Dummies. Dana Korn. Wiley Publishing, Inc. Hoboken N.J., 2006
  • All in Your Head. Untreated gluten sensitivity can affect your gut, your skin and your brain. By Alicia B. Woodward. Living Without magazine. Winter 2007. Pp. 11-16; 27.
  • Celiac Disease Foundation
  • Gluten Intolerance Group

Karen Yesowich Schmucker is a freelance graphic designer and translator who lives with her husband in Bellevue, WA. Karen also teaches Naginata (a Japanese martial art) near Seattle. A migraineur since age 12, she has been gluten-free since December 2006. Contact her at karen[at]kysdesigns[dot]com.

Welcome, Neurology Now Readers

Neurology Now, the American Academy of Neurology‘s patient-focused magazine, featured The Daily Headache in its August issue. Look for it at your next doctor’s appointment or, even better, subscribe to the free magazine. Each issue is informative and spotlights patients’ experiences.

If you found out about The Daily Headache from the article, thanks for stopping by! Get to know the blog by reading some favorite posts and visiting the online support group and forum. Check back regularly for new posts or subscribe to our feed or emails.

This week at Help My Hurt

Hi folks, here are some posts from Help My Hurt that you may find interesting. Thanks for stopping by!

Marijke has volunteered to keep The Daily Headache running while I’m on vacation. An RN turned writer, her excellent blog is called Help My Hurt. -Kerrie