One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock, rock
Five, six, seven o’clock, eight o’clock, rock
Nine, ten, eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock, rock
We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight
Bill Haley’s upbeat song is the perfect introduction for this week’s Migraine Chronicles because we’re going to talk about steroid-induced insomnia! Your mind ticks as fast as a metronome to this song for at least 24 hours after you’ve received steroids.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Sleep is NEVER overrated. Ever. It’s extremely important to the balance of a healthy life & resetting our neurotransmitters. For someone with a chronic illness, there are so many things I can’t control. But protecting my sleep cycle is one thing I can control. If I want to be an active participant in my own life, work my shifts at the hospital & be a full-time photographer I can’t go to bed at an unreasonable hour. I know I sound like an old lady! Bring on my cane.
A common drug to treat status migrainosus, or an intractable migraine, is a corticosteroid. Don’t confuse corticosteroids with anabolic steroids that are performance enhancing drugs used for body building or the illegal drugs used in sports. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that, you guessed it, help reduce inflammation.
As a nurse, I’m a big fan of western medicine & it’s rare that I have any side effects with a drug, but steroids & I are not a match made in heaven. In my experience, they make you feel worse before they make you feel better (if they make you feel better at all). A very common side effect is steroid-induced insomnia, or very little sleep. Yes, let’s rock around the clock indeed. Last month, during a 40-day intractable migraine I became desperate. I ended up in the emergency room after almost 6 months since my last visit. I tried to put it off but when my rescue meds failed, I couldn’t even sleep—the pain was so bad —and after a call with my neurologist to the ER we went. Despite an unfavorable history with steroids, I quickly agreed to treatment plan that included steroids.
With chronic pain, your personal pain scale is completely remodeled. When you deal with painful days more than pain-free days & someone asks, “what’s your pain on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?” Let me tell you, my 10 with chronic pain is a sky skyscraper. It might even be a space shuttle in orbit somewhere. If 0 is a no pain, magical unicorn type of day. And 3-5 is a normal, I can probably ignore it or hide it from others type of day. A 6-7 is when I start having trouble with tasks like driving & ask for help, seek my rescue meds & others will start to notice. So, I rarely use 8-9 let alone that 10 in the stars. But that day I volunteered for the uncomfortable steroids in the ER, oh friend, it was a TEN. I wasn’t worried about side effects or the pain getting worse at that point because I just couldn’t fathom it quite honestly.
I received 4 days of intravenous (IV) steroids. For several days that week, I woke up between 1:30-3 am every day & stayed awake the rest of the day. Because on steroids, although your body is tired you can’t turn off your mind. But during the middle of the night, when I desperately wished for more: more sleep, more pain relief; I also took a minute to find that silver lining.
I strongly discourage sleeping for only a couple hours a night for anyone. Seriously, it’s not healthy. But since I was up, I figured I’d get to work! I edited portraits, posted client galleries online, worked on my new website overhaul. It was like every ounce of frustration I had over lack of sleep & pain I funneled into creativity & productivity.
When my eyes needed a break from screens I read or listened to business & financial experts (something I try to do every day). I know, it’s shocking, Caty read a book! Lol. Ok, maybe if this is your first time reading the blog you don’t quite get the sarcasm but I LOVE books. Many of my posts include quotes from books, anything from children’s books to books on business. But seriously, as a small business owner, I’m always eager to grow & learn. I don’t have the luxury of hiring out positions so I wear all the hats. Meet the web designer, book keeper, accountant, marketer, social media guru etc. It’s me! I still have a lot to learn but wow, have I learned so much already in the first 4.5 years since Caty Dunlap Photography opened! We’re so lucky to live in a time when we have quick access to a book (or audiobook during a particularly nasty migraine) or podcast of very successful business men & women. There’s so much knowledge & wisdom to be shared at the touch of a button. We all can have our own personal library!
During the dark of night, with steroid insomnia I wrote out daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly tasks & goals for Caty Dunlap Photography. I searched out new marketing inspiration models. Do you know who markets like a boss? Taylor Swift. Wow. Not only does she plan her marketing strategies months in advance across her music, videos, Instagram, website etc. but she finds the balance of mixing her personal life with her profession so we feel as if we know her. We invest our interest into getting to know her better. It’s quite fascinating from a business perspective! And quite fun as a consumer.
It may not seem like a big deal to you, saying yes to a pretty common drug. But agreeing to a round of steroids meant I was desperate last month. I’ve had some pretty bad luck with dexamethasone in the past to say the least & I had a pretty embarrassing reaction in the emergency room last month that probably terrified a new nurse for a least a few years. I really don’t like steroids. But as uncomfortable & exhausting as steroids can be this girl can accomplish so much… like a boss.
Until Next Time,
Come back on Thursdays for the next 7 silver linings. Until then, catch up on the silver linings in the Migraine Chronicles:
The Migraine Chronicles: Silver Linings
Week 1: A Soul on Fire
Week 2: Part I My Dreams Come True Weekend
Week 2: Part II The Happiest Place on Earth
Week 3: Like A Boss