Friday, April 4, 2014

The Little Red Pill

In 2008, I had a somewhat sudden onset of ocular migraines (about 2 months before marrying BC- we joke that he definitely induced them). The first episode scared the living daylights out of me, as the flashing lights & lack of vision in my right eye had me convinced I was having a seizure.

Since then, these migraines have settled into my regular daily life. It is rare for a week to go by without having one, and often there will be 2 or 3 within one week's time.

The first thing I found to combat the excruciating pain was Vicodin, and this was purely by accident. We were at a friend's house when the disco lights started partying in my eye- and this friend said he had some pain meds that might help. Within an hour of taking one, I felt the tight, painful tension melt away and I was miraculously pain free.

I was then prescribed Midrin by my general doc. This was a medicine I took at the first signs of a migraine, and its quick acting magic meant I never had to endure the actual pain related to the episode. A small miracle, to say the least!

As I was entering the actively 'trying to conceive' world, I knew that Midrin and Vicodin were not safe for if and when I got pregnant. That's when my chiropractor- who himself is a fellow migraine sufferer- told me about Niacin. Niacin is pretty much just a fancy name for a concentrated Vitamin B3 pill, and is known for creating a 'flush' when you take it. Meaning that all of a sudden your skin gets hot, prickly, & tingly with red splotches everywhere- but amazingly, this nips the migraine pain at the front end, as it completely opens the contracted capillaries that cause the migraine in the first place.

During pregnancy I relied on Niacin & Tylenol, and that has been my migraine protocol for the past couple of years (with Vicodin as an emergency backup if for some reason the Niacin doesn't stop the pain). Meanwhile, Midrin has been discontinued and is no longer available to the general public.

My migraine triggers are vast and complicated. Here is a known list of things that seem to induce my episodes:

*Trying to focus on someone who has a window or blinds behind them (this is such a weird one, but the most often culprit! Because of this I always VERY carefully choose where I sit when out to eat or when conversing with others- if they have a window or blinds behind them it is really hard for me to focus on them and almost always triggers my flashing lights).
*Muscle tension (also from stress- seems when the right side of my neck & shoulder are extra tight the migraines come more often).

And added now to the list of triggers?


Vacation migraines are my nemesis. Though I am admittedly less stressed on vacation, I am often much more tired, dehydrated, & overall off schedule. So I always make sure to pack my arsenal of meds and hope for the best.

Which brings us to yesterday.

I had an absolutely lovely, luxurious day here at our hotel, starting with this:

And adding in this:

Pina Colada poolside? Yes, please.

Then heading off to a one hour massage.

Sun + cocktail + massage = exhaustion, so I set off to take a nap. 

Except I couldn't for the life of me fall asleep. And right when I was teetering in that space where I thought I might finally drift off, the flashing lights began.


I got up to take a Niacin. Then my Aunt called to FaceTime with Iyla Gracie, which was a lovely distraction despite our poor internet connection (Iyla was still having a ball, showing me all her babies and dollies and how she can put them down her new slide!).

Still feeling exhausted, I now knew I wasn't going to sleep. So I went in an entirely different direction and cracked open a can of Red Bull. I needed to pull myself together for our night on the town!

When BC got back to the room I was feeling pretty good but still really tired. We headed out to another hotel nearby that we had heard excellent things about - The Cosmopolitan. It was a super swanky, sexy hotel to say the least. There were many Playboy bunny esque looking ladies hanging on the arms of their suitors, and crystal chandeliers draping down from every nook and cranny.

Did I mention light as a trigger for my migraines?

We sat down at the bar and were delighted to find the bartender knew and made our very favorite cocktail, the Corpse Reviver #2:

Two please, with a luxardo cherry

Within moments of my first sip the flashing lights started again. 


I could hardly believe another migraine was starting less than 2 hours after the first! This was not good. I pulled out my little medicine pouch and rustled through it, thinking maybe I'd take another Niacin, or possibly 1/2 of a Vicodin to ensure that I wouldn't have throbbing pain for the rest of the night.

And then I saw it. The little red pill.

It was the one and only Midrin left from my initial stash years ago, and there it sat- a glimmering ruby beckoning to me from the sea of white. I remembered how effectively it used to work, generally making me feel energized/hopped up after taking it, given it had caffeine as one of the ingredients.

So I went for it.

Literally 10 minutes after taking it I started to feel really funny. And intensely nauseous. I breathed deeply and tried to collect myself, telling BC we should probably make our way to dinner soon. I hoped getting some food in my Red Bull Corpse Reviver Midrin belly would help assuage the situation.

We headed upstairs to the fancy steakhouse STK. What a gorgeous place! Complete with lots of shimmery lights. Oy.

Good thing there was low light in there so you couldn't see the extent of my exhaustion

As we ordered and people watched, I was trying my best to will my body into behaving and bouncing back. I was in Vegas, dammit! It was early in the evening and only my 2nd night here. But I could not shake the overwhelming blanket of fatigue & nausea that was cloaking me. BC was so sweet, asking me what I needed and telling me not to feel badly about this. We ate our delicious steaks, I sipped as much of my expensive and amazing glass of red wine as I could (which wasn't much- my body was definitely telling me NO MORE ALCOHOL) and found myself longing to be back in the hotel room for a warm bath.

Hot date!

So back to the hotel we went. BC headed downstairs to play a little Craps while I attempted to go to sleep. However, having Red Bull and Midrin in my system caused me to have a very exhausted body but very alert and awake mind. Which meant it would be awhile before I finally could sleep.

If you're keeping a tally so far:

Vegas Night #1= Jules 1, Vegas 0
Vegas Night #2= Jules 0, Vegas 1

This morning I am still feeling pretty exhausted with a slightly throbbing head, hoping a nap is in my future so I can be back with bells on for our last official night out.


I am missing Iyla. Not in a 'I want to cut the trip short and go home now' kind of way, but in a visceral physical "I cannot WAIT to hug and kiss and snuggle that sweet girl again' kind of way. I've been pointing out every single baby I see here to BC, which is probably getting old. But they all remind me of our sweet Iyla Grace, whom I can't wait to see again Sunday (and whose photos I can't stop looking through)!

This kid melts me.


  1. Yup. Sounds like Vegas. I always feel that way about Vegas. It's too much everything. I'm a napa vacation girl. :)

    Iyla is such a doll. She reminds me so much of Everleigh. I wish we could get them together.

  2. Such a bummer about the migraines. They sound debilitating.