As this site grows, I receive more messages and emails from readers asking similar vestibular migraine questions. I thought I would combine the most frequently asked questions on migraine into a post that would provide an easy reference. If you have any other questions – add them to the comments!
What are the supplements you take and what time/how often do you take them?
I take these daily:
- PE Magnesium Glycinate – 480mg at night. I find this supplement calming and best taken after dinner
- PE CogniMag – 72mg in the morning. I find this energizing and good for brain fog since I can’t drink caffeine
- Seeking Health Riboflavin – 400mg. I find this energizing as well so I take after breakfast or lunch
- PE Prenatal – I take this with lunch, only because I don’t eat a lot for breakfast and like to have it with more food
- PE CoQ10 – 120mg in the morning
- Lavender essential oil – I like to put this on my temples at night
- Every once in a while I still take D3, but no longer take them daily
When I get an attack I take:
- Extra Magnesium Glycinate
- Ground ginger for head pain
- Peppermint Essential Oil for head pain and nausea
- A magnesium chloride foot soak or bath
- If my attack is heavy brain fog, I’ll increase my magnesium threonate dosage.
I can’t swallow pills when I’m nauseated or at all. What do you recommend?
What medications do you take?
When I was first diagnosed, I needed medication to break that 24/7 cycle. I did a low dose of ativan (lorazepam) before bed and timolol malate eye drops (a low dose beta blocker) 2x a day as a preventative. Since I am trying to conceive, I currently just use timolol malate eye drops as an abortive medication when I feel my dizziness kick up. My OB has approved this during pregnancy. Please check with both your OB and neurologist before taking anything while pregnant. Your OBGYN should be able to give you the best insight over your neurologist.
Many neurologists are not familiar with timolol eye drops as an abortive or preventative for migraine. I find it helps if you print these articles for them to review in your appointment. The studies that have been done are very small, but positive. You can read my experience in this post.
Previously, when I took an overseas flight or had a very bad attack – I use 1/4 of a 2mg valium tab.
Benzos are addictive – were you scared to take them?
I trusted my doctor and knew I was in good hands – he made sure I was 100% comfortable with my treatment plan. Some of the best Vestibular Migraine doctors have defended them as being great source of relief. Research from Dr. Timothy Hain has shown that the extremely low doses that would be prescribed do not hinder compensation in vestibular patients – the research showing this was when benzos were given at much higher doses. It’s important that you are careful and only take them as prescribed, and be honest with your doctor if you are nervous. The following is from Dr. Shin Beh’s paper on Vestibular Migraine.
“In our experience, benzodiazepines are more efficacious vestibular suppressants compared to meclizine. We prefer to use diazepam for episodes lasting 2-3 hours, and lorazepam or clonazepam for longer attacks; alprazolam is too short-acting and may cause addiction.”
Do you ever get attacks now?
Yes. My dizziness definitely increased when I was pregnant in November-December. Just a few days after my miscarriage, my head returned to normal. Sometimes I wonder if I will have trouble with pregnancy in the future, or if that was an early sign that I didn’t have a healthy pregnancy. I’ll never know for sure. Since then, I did not have an attack till I got sick with bronchitis mid-February. The nice thing is that my attacks are quick, rarely lasting more than a day. I do feel dizziness kick up after intense work outs, an interrupted sleep schedule, or a day of indulging in too many food triggers and/or alcohol. If I manage my attacks well, I feel completely normal.
Wow, you got better so fast! I’ve been feeling this way for a few months/years now.
It may seem that way now, but I was 24/7 dizzy with so many weird symptoms for over a full year. Much of that time was spent searching for a doctor and making changes to my lifestyle to see what worked and what didn’t. I did not start having 100% days till I had been on the right diet, supplements, medications, and lifestyle changes for over a year. So really, it’s taken me almost 3 years to get where I am today. It’s not impossible, and some people take longer or shorter than others so try to not compare yourself to my journey or others. It’s all about finding that right combination for you.
Do you ever cheat on the diet?
YES! Here’s the thing – one cheat meal will not derail your progress. But if you’re doing it regularly, like once a week, it definitely isn’t helping you. If you’re chronic and have the 24/7 symptoms, you’re only hurting your progress. When you start feeling better and have more breaks in that pain or dizziness, you can get away with a lot more. When I was chronic, I only cheated for vacations or special occasions, and in very small amounts. I also cheated one time 2 months in when I thought the diet wasn’t working, but it actually was – HA! Now I can very loosely follow the diet (I like eating additive and MSG-free), but I avoid my big triggers which are caffeine, yogurt, and certain nuts. Every once in a while I like to test them to make sure they’re still triggers…except caffeine.
How do you handle the anxiety?
Once I got my Vestibular Migraine under control it helped SO MUCH with the anxiety. I went from being fearful of walking outside (or walking period) to driving again. I did have to learn to drive again. That sounds weird, but highways bothered me for a long time. I find the dotted lines in the road and the poles for the HOV lane super dizzying. The more I did it, the easier it got…sort of like vestibular therapy. I do still avoid driving in rush hour because it makes me nervous, I find it difficult to turn my head quickly to avoid the crazy drivers around here. A side view camera on my car helps with merging.
Occasionally I get some anxiety with parties and loud restaurants, but I know that nerves can also increase my symptoms so it’s better if I just calm down. Simple breathing techniques help. Concentrating on your breath, breathing deep, holding it, then releasing it can make all the difference with just a few breaths.
I saw a counselor in the beginning of my diagnoses and I highly recommend finding one you like. This illness is a lot for even the strongest people to handle. Sometimes we need help or an unbiased person to talk to, and that’s ok.
Is there a Dizzy Cook cookbook?
It’s estimated to come out February 2020 with West Margin Press! I’m finishing writing it now I just finished writing the breakfast category. Since I am taking all my own photos too, it’s quite time consuming! I hope you’ll forgive me for slacking on posts here as I want this to have the very best recipes. If you join the email list, I’ll be posting glimpses of what I work on in there.
What did you do before Dizzy Cook and did you quit your job because of vestibular migraine?
Before this I was a product manager for a brand called Michele, under the Fossil corporation. I worked on the development of all the watches and straps, pricing, sourcing, etc. In a way, it was fun and I miss certain things including some of my coworkers. It’s difficult to leave a career behind and not know what the heck you’ll do with your life, especially as someone who was always career driven. I had other issues with my job besides just my illness, and I had them long before I got sick. In fact, a part of me feels like my VM was triggered by years of stress from being unhappy with my workplace. Sometimes I blame myself for not leaving earlier but hindsight is always 20/20.
The illness brought all those issues I tried to bury to the surface. I could no longer ignore them when my company made it incredibly challenging for me to manage a chronic illness while working. From what I’ve seen, companies either value you and your time and make accommodations to keep you around, or they make it really hard on you to force you out. Mine was the latter.
If there’s one thing I could tell the old me, it’s to speak with a lawyer the second you file for FMLA (or even before you officially file). Most first consultations are free and you can learn what to look out for. There are certain things your company is and isn’t allowed to do to you while you’re on FMLA and mine did a lot of them, which I now realize after speaking with lawyers. It was always a red flag when HR would call me on the phone instead of emailing me back, or if they wanted to speak in person. Take these cues and pay attention. Do not trust HR. They are there to protect the company, and are not on your side no matter how nice they appear.
In the end, my pay was cut significantly (and I was hardly making much to begin with) so it wasn’t worth the conflicts I continued to have with certain coworkers and HR. I’m happier now, but it took me a very long time to accept the fact that my life didn’t go the way I thought it would.
Did you find these FAQ helpful? I’m thinking about doing them maybe once every two months as there are too many good questions to put in one post.
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