If you haven’t read the first post, you should probably go back and do so.
But to summarize, about 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Migraine. It hit hard, nearly disabling me for 18 months. Over the course of several years I was able, with the help of medication and prayer, to get to a point where the pain and symptoms were livable. Of course, I was always striving for a “100% cure” for this incurable disease.
Friends were always giving me suggestions on what to try and someone suggested bicycling. I had tried exercise before; in fact the link between exercise and Migraine is well established. However when I joined a gym all I did was lose $50 a month.
But bicycling. I love bicycling! In Jr. High I would cycle all over the place. Down to the beach, up and down the hills of downtown Long Beach, along The Strand with my mom. Yeah, I could do this!
I had an old mountain bike in my garage so I filled up the tires, found my helmet, and got it ready the night before. That morning I woke up early and went for a nice one mile ride. I came home and threw up. Man was I out of shape. But I did it every day that week.
Normally I get a weekend Migraine. This is a well known phenomenon among Migraineurs. I normally get mine Friday evening or Saturday morning. I still had a Migraine that weekend, but the pain was noticeably lighter. Hmm.
A friend of ours owns a bike shop. We paid him a visit and went home with a new 2004 Trek 1000C. I continued to ride every morning eventually getting up to 5 miles a day. I knew it was helping and I tried to ride as much as I could.
In mid 2005 my neurologist took me off one of my primary medications. The effects were awful. I had to take a week off work and I wound up in the Emergency Room. Of course, I couldn’t ride. The headaches came back but I attributed it to the switch of medications, not the lack of riding.
In late 2005 we moved from California to Georgia. I didn’t ride at all in December 2005 while packing up the house and finishing up at my office. Christmas Eve I wound up at the Emergency Room again. Slowly I was starting to see that there was a stronger relation between cycling and Migraine attacks then I had previously thought.
I started to log when I got attacks and when I rode. I thought “I should make a web site for this”. But then Ian Smith beat me to it and made Joe’s Goals. It was just what I would have made! (No, really!) I switched to using Joe’s Goals for my logging.
Every three months I see a neurologist. They always ask, “What causes your Migraines; what makes them worse; what makes them better?” It’s different for everyone. I’ve mentioned to them before that bicycling makes them better. The response was, “Exercise makes you healthier? Well, duh!” But last time I printed out the Joe’s Goals 90 Day Report.
The results surprised both of us; me and my neuro:
Let me explain the graph. The green is positive, the red is negative. Joe gives me one point for waking up on time (also known to help stop my Migraines), he gives me another point for cycling. I get negative points for having a Migraine, another for having to take medication for a Migraine, and another for having to take stronger medication (Vicodin) for a Migraine.
Joe’s Goal’s report clearly shows that every Migraine attack corresponds exactly to a time when I stopped cycling. Furthermore, there are only two times when I had a Migraine on the same day that I went cycling. Each dip in the report, for a Migraine, corresponds to a time when I stopped cycling for one reason or another:
8/15 to 8/18 – Business trip to California
9/12 + 3 Weeks – Vasectomy
9/19 to 9/22 – Business trip to California
9/23 to 9/24 – VW trip to Chicago
10/13 – Got a cold, stopped ridding
My neuro also rides a road bike, so I thought he’d be interested in this. He looked at the graph a bit and then said, “Why would you ever stop cycling?” I jokingly replied: “I’m very very lazy.” Truthfully I think I’m just not making cycling enough of a priority.
My doctor makes a good point, and I think it took Joe’s Goals to reveal it. Why would I ever stop cycling? I try not to. Since moving to Georgia I’ve found myself riding in 100 degrees and 30 degrees, humidity, storms, and next to all kinds of road kill. And I love it. I finish every single ride thinking, “Man that was a blast!”
I have no plans to stop. I’m convinced the more consistent I am with riding the less frequent the attacks will be. This has been my best month so far, I’ve riden 6 days a week with only 3 exceptions. I’ve only had one Migraine this month; for the first time in 10 years I went 20 days without an attack. As I mentioned before, last year was the first year in 10 years that I haven’t been to the Emergency Room. I never imagined the solution to my problem would be something so simple and enjoyable. But I thank God every day that it is.