For those of you who don’t want the backstory, here’s the short version: I suffered with migraine headaches since 2005. My headaches felt like a terrible hangover – photophobic and made me throw up. I rarely woke up with them, they usually came on throughout the day and by 4-7pm, I was down for the count. Recently, I started a detailed journal, documenting food, water, sleep, activities to see if I could pinpoint the cause. The result: flourescent lights cause my migraines.
How I determined it was the flourescent lights:
After graduating from college, I accepted a position at PRI in Warrendale, PA. I sat in a cube 5 days a week and started to get migraine headaches almost as frequently. After a few months of this, I went to the doctor and they said it must be stress or the computer screen.
Possibly. My desk job was good… for a desk job. But I wasn’t designing, researching, creating anything new or exiciting. I like designing and implementing things. So, maybe it was stress, or the computer screen.
I cut ties and moved to Colorado. This seemed to get rid of my headaches for awhile, confirming that without the stress of a job my headaches were gone. A few weeks in, I got a job at Trailridge Outfitters, a local gear store. Low stress, right? Not according to the ice climber inside my brain. He started up again a few weeks in but the regularity was not there like it was when I was in the cube.
In Oct 2005, I started my own business and quit Trailridge Outfitters. Again the headaches dropped and stayed pretty manageable for quite awhile.
In Jan, I started an EMT class at FRCC. The ice climber in my brain hated that. They said stress or computers. Too much stress, I guessed, since I do not sit in front of a computer during my classes. I was getting headaches almost every time I went to class (3x/week). I couldn’t function.
I went to the doctor again. She did all sorts of basic neurological tests and told me to see the eye doctor. Now, I have as good eye sight as anyone I know. I could stand in Estes Park and read a newspaper in Harrisburg, PA. Well, slight exaggeration, but I don’t feel like I have a problem nearsight or farsight. No blur, no squint, nada. And, again, sitting at the computers for hours on end usually does not lead to a headache.
Stress seems like a stupid reason to me to get headaches. I mean, I have to ask myself, “am I really under any more stress than anyone else?” No, probably not. So, why do I get the headaches and other people don’t. Maybe stress is a contributing factor, but I couldn’t let it go at that. So, I started a comprehensive food, water, activity, sleep journal to see what worked what didn’t.
The days I had class I got headaches, the other days I did not. I did not get any headaches in 29 days on the Colorado Trail or in 111 days on the Inside Passage, despite that being the most stressful time of my life. My mom was helping me brainstorm possibilities. She suggested flourescent lights. Come to think of it, I could narrow things down further… I realized I got headaches when we were not having a powerpoint day in class but not so much when we were watching a powerpoint. The lights were on when we were being lectured, the lights were off when we were using the projector for the slideshows. She was right!
I’ve been trying this out for the past week and it’s almost 100%. If I can get out of the flourescent lights for like 15 minutes every hour or so, I’m fine. If I’m stuck inside under flourescents for 3 hours in a row, I’m doomed.
Hope this helps someone else! I’ll update if I find anything new!