How to Stop Our Fear-Based Stories and Improve Our Life Experiences


Lake Michigan with my Wisconsin-native hubby

I first learned about metacognition in the early 90’s when I was in graduate school at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. My master’s degree is in Speech-Language Pathology which means that in addition to learning about speech and language, I have studied cognitive (thinking) skills extensively.

Metacognition is the ability to think about what we are thinking about. It is the high-level thinking skill which allows us to be aware our thoughts. Originally this was deemed a human skill but there are some other animals who show signs of metacognition.

My ability to think about what I am thinking about became a large part of my hope and healing last summer/fall. I was quite sick and felt extremely discouraged after nearly 17 years of dealing with crohn’s disease, chronic migraines, leukemia and now immunodeficiency due to chemotherapy.

Because I am allergic to the medical treatment for immunodeficiency, I am left piecing together good hygiene with what has felt to be a very limited amount of immune-boosting agents in an attempt to protect myself from infections, viruses, and even common bacteria.

This is not something I ever imagined would be my life experience. I never anticipated that I would beat cancer only to have a future that can feel bleak and hemmed in by isolation due to immunodeficiency. The chemotherapy I take put leukemia into remission, but I have to stay on it to stay in remission. With leukemia back in remission, I feel great. However, loneliness, repeat infections and a complete upheaval from regular socialization left me grief stricken and fearful from 2015-2017.

It is scary to have a paper thin immune system with nothing sizeable to provide backup support other than my faith in a healing God. I feel like I am falling backward with nobody there to catch me. In addition, my body does not fight incoming germs with typical defense mechanisms such as fevers. This means that I can be getting very sick without the symptoms until I am severely infected.

This is both physically miserable and frankly terrifying.

Last summer I found The Work of Byron Katie. Through her work, I came to understand that much of our life experience is not the actual events that occur in our day but it is how we perceive things to be happening.  According to Katie, our minds create stories based on past experiences and emotions combined with future expectations. And if we are not cognizant of our thought process those stories can be daunting during times of duress.

Katie proposes that we create stories in our mind by marrying the memories and emotions of our past with what we imagine to be our future. These thoughts pull us out of the present moment into an experience that is emotionally charged and filled with images that are not our current reality.

Neuroscientist Dr. Joe Dispenza explains that during stressful times our minds create images of our future in the worst possible outcome as a survival mechanism. This is a subconscious method in which our mind attempts to keep us alive, by preparing for the worst. However in reality most of those worst case scenarios never happen.

Last summer I was too sick to take healing walks through nature so I literally wrapped blankets around myself and shuffled back and forth on our back porch soaking up healing rays of vitamin D. I listened to Byron Katie for hours each day and learned how to stop the scary thoughts that bound me.

Over the past 17 years, I have gone through horrifying experiences because of health crises. These experiences provide me a with a very strong, emotionally charged past. That combined with future images of the worst possible outcome sets me up for my mind to create some profoundly sad and frightening thoughts about my life experience.

I reached a new level of hope and peace when I learned how to stop letting my thoughts race back and forth between the past and possible future events; when I learned how to live in the present moment. This required me to first practice metacognition — to think about what I am thinking about. I then went through exercises to stop the past/future thoughts and stay in the present moment.

Since then my fear and grief levels have largely subsided leaving hope and joy in their place.

You don’t have to have immunodeficiency or even leukemia to experience the scary thoughts. You just have to be human, this is what we tend to do unless we teach our minds to stay in the present moment.

I have learned a lot through illness over the years. This is a lesson I wish I had learned before I ever got sick. You can apply these strategies to finance, work, relationships in addition to health and experience a much more peaceful, positive life experience.

“God designed humans to observe our own thoughts, catch those that are bad, and get rid of them.”  

–Dr. Caroline Leaf


Autoimmune Awareness Month 2017

Before MRI

Before an MRI – jgb

MARCH Is #AutoimmuneAwarenessMonth.
I also turn 45 this March. This picture was taken before one of the numerous MRI’s I have undergone since my Autoimmune journey began in 2001. I have had so many MRIs & CT scans that I lost count years ago.
I’ve had 7 Bone Marrow Biopsies/Aspirations, 1 PET Scan and countless other procedures in the cold, sterile parts of hospitals that most people don’t know exist.
For me, Autoimmune Disease means that when I was 28 I got terribly sick and when I was 29 I landed in the hospital for a prolonged period of time with the diagnosis of Profound Crohn’s Disease and C-Diff.
Autoimmune Disease means getting sick and eventually learning that it does not go away: no matter how strictly you live, nor how strong your faith. There is a hiccup in your immune system.
It means that most people have no clue how many steps I go through daily to live what looks like a normal life and that I will always miss the woman I was who lived without these restrictions.
But it also means the small victories become HUGE Celebrations.
It means that you quickly learn who loves you enough to be there for you when you are rather gross (it’s embarrassing to be gross but sickness does that). However it’s temporary and there are people out there who will still love you on the gross days.
Autoimmune disease means finding a way to live your best life even with scary diagnoses.
It has taken me 16 years. I have a history of Crohn’s, Leukemia, Migraines & Immunodeficiency.
There are days that I run fevers, hurt all over and feel trapped.
But those days have become FEW.
After 16 years of putting together a jigsaw puzzle including pieces God has given me from: Modern Medicine, Epigenetics, Functional Medicine, Real Foods, and a Healing Lifestyle I am finally thriving again.
If you are just beginning your Autoimmune journey it is hard but I encourage you to knock on all the doors because you will slowly find your healing path.

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving


Autumn Gold Leaves — JGB

It has been 4 months since my last blog-post.

We celebrate Thanksgiving this week and I am completely healthy.

Two years ago the Hubs and I had just purchased our first house together and I had a leukemia relapse. One year ago I developed a drug-resistant bronchitis/pneumonia which led to a bronchoscopy and a failed IVIG treatment.

Those years blistered with pain and heartache. Each person in our family carried a broken heart. 

This year is different. We are happy, we are healed. We are in a season of goodness and celebration!


Chris and Jessica Historic Roswell

Last summer I got healthy again and had a very hard time moving forward. I did not know what to do because, what do you do when your life has been thrown so far from center for such a long time? Though it sounds simple, finding yourself and moving forward after life altering crises is actually quite challenging.

In my experience unplugging, taking lots of healing walks, praying, listening to positive podcasts, allowing myself to cry and ask why are necessary steps in moving forward.

When I got sick in 2001 I did not understand any of it. I loved my life prior to illness and I played by the rules. Though I was young and certainly  made immature decisions (aka “mistakes”), I was a compassionate and loving person who had a committed relationship to God. I had worked so hard for a career that was budding in my early 20’s. It made no sense that my world would collapse due to illness.

From the very beginning of my journey I prayed that God would use my story to encourage other people who are hurting. I understood that if my life could turn on a dime so could the lives of millions. I hoped that God would put a purpose to the pain I went through because…well, don’t we all want some purpose to come from the most defining moments of our lives?

15 years later, hurting people are inspired by my story and seek me out for suggestions because they are where I once was. This role brings with it much more weight and humility than I ever imagined it would.

As I type this post I have precious people in my mind who are facing mountains, their world is upside down, their families are hurting. My spirit hurts for them and while I cannot provide perfect words to soothe them I do know that healing happens in baby steps and God is faithful.

3 weeks ago during one of my healing walks, our pup and I came across a bench that took me back to younger years. It looked like a bench I would have spent time at when as a camper or a camp counselor. Then God brought to mind the verse I have clung to through the brilliant and brutal times of my life.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” — Deuteronomy 31:8


Reflections — JGB

He is always right here with me and during the darkest times He picks me up and holds me extra close.

To those of you who are hurting this Thanksgiving, I pray that you can hold on to the hope that what you are facing today will not last forever. Cling to positive words and find strength in gratitude which has been a healing tool in my life.

You can find most of my writings, recipes and follow along with me as I do my best to live a healing lifestyle at my Instagram account dedicated to The Feel Good Days.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mourning Has Broken



Last spring my oncologist predicted that summer would be an easy season for me. While I finalized paperwork from the previous school year I imagined lazy days spent poolside reading novels, kayaking with hubby, cooking yummy meals. I was so excited to get back to writing and blogging.

Yet, before any of the fun could begin I had to come undone. And by undone I mean ugly tears and questions of why.

Over the past 15 years, I have not asked God “why” very many times. But this summer, I sat in puddles of tears and shamelessly cried out for answers.

I have spent 9 of my past 15 years either hospitalized or severely sick with Crohn’s disease or leukemia. That does not include the horrific migraines or striving for mental wellness through these years of adversity.

After an intense 1-1/2 year battle for my health, the first 6 weeks of summer demanded that I heal emotionally.

I took our dog for long walks and slowly found my heartbeat again. I frequently unplugged from social media to still my mind. I limited the amount of news I watched or read because I was too raw to process mass amounts of sadness or fear. I listened to a positive podcast everyday to fill my mind with inspiration and goodness. I talked to confidants and professionals who helped me find a way through the pain, people who could listen without judgment, and gracious they are hard to find but God does supply them.

I have gone through emotional recovery after severe illness multiple times over the past 15 years. You would think I would be a genius at this by now. However, there are some things that I just don’t think we get better at, mourning over loss being one of them.

It hurts horrifically to have illness uproot your life. It is hard to reconcile damages done. I do think the one thing I have gotten better at is recognizing that I am going through stages of healing and that I will come through them but the pain and heartache, the tears remain guttural.

I did not think I would get sick again in my 40’s. The recent leukemia relapse was just as unexpected as the other medical crises that upended my life.

I had hoped my 40’s would be a new decade filled with health.  Relapsing in my early 40’s was such a disappointment. I had hoped for a long stretch of uncomplicated days.

19 months after it all started, I am finally better both physically and emotionally.

A few weeks ago our dog and I were in the kitchen when my husband walked in the door after work. Jackson ran over for a pat on the head and then I hugged hubby tightly. I thanked him for standing with me through the grieving season because it was dark and I know that it required much of him. I told him that the grieving, the mourning, the crying is over.

When we got married 6 years, 10 months ago neither of us anticipated that we would be challenged so early in our marriage. I am incredibly proud of my husband and our marriage. We made it through a fierce storm together. And, by the Grace of God, We are entering a new season.

Breathing Easy

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2 weeks ago, flanked by my husband and father, I went to the Pulmonologist. We had an early morning appointment to get the results from my bronchoscopy.

I was braced to hear hard words from the doctor. I had prepared myself to get a sad report and then muster strength, look for the silver lining and find a way to turn it into good news.

The reason I was in that frame of mind is because that is what Crohn’s Disease, Chronic Migraines and Leukemia have forced me to do for the majority of my adult life.

Looking back over the years, I have been courageous.

Tuesday morning, I was granted a pass. The lung specialist came into our room and did what he probably enjoys doing most: he told me that all 11 biopsies revealed healthy lung tissue. Healthy.

I am writing this blog post early on a Saturday morning. Tears spilled over my cheeks as I typed the word: Healthy.

To be fair, part of the reason for the tears is because I am listening to Adele and it is a confirmed fact that Adele makes people cry.

But Come ON:

…after 15+ years of repeatedly being thrown into hospital beds, excruciating pain, Emergency Rooms, scary diagnoses, frightening procedures…

…after cheering friends’ childbirths while trying to make sense of my childless life riddled by words such as “profoundly ill, hemorrhage, too young for this, blood transfusions, stat, cancer, potential complications, no other options”…

…to hear the word: “Healthy”…

Cue Adele, dammit and let your heart explode!

Cry the kind of tears you cry when All that Was Wrong is Suddenly Right, and it may not make sense, but it Just IS.

I have been breathing easily ever since we left the office of the Pulmonologist 2 weeks ago: off all antibiotics, steroids, inhalers.

It is if as the respiratory complications that crushed me from November-January never  happened.

God still works miracles. Most often they don’t seem to match our timeline and in so many ways they don’t even seem fair in this world where too many people suffer horrifically.

However, occasionally, He pulls back the veil and allows us to witness something truly magnificent which goes without explanation. I thank Him for choosing me this time.

Instagram for Support: Tips for Finding Your Healing Community


Monday my number of Instagram followers went over 1,000. That made me pause and reflect on where I was when I started this account and where I am today.

I started the account last May. At the time I was recovering from a leukemia relapse, I was on a new diet to help my immune system and my spirit was absolutely crushed. Last year’s relapse coupled with the difficulties I had on my new chemotherapy had beaten me harshly.

Despite an amazing amount of love from my husband, family and some treasured friends, I felt gravely alone.

In order to survive, I knew that I needed to connect with people who understood what I was experiencing and feeling.

Instagram is a social media platform, it is a gathering place online. I understood that I could use the hashtag symbol to find people who use Instagram with similar interests as mine. I also understood that friends on my personal Instagram account would not understand my posts about food and health all day, every day. I would not understand either, had I never gotten so sick.

However, when you live with illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, leukemia and chronic migraines it kind of makes sense that your Instagram posts will include a lot of celebratory moments and strategies that you use to overcome daily hurtles.

By creating a separate account dedicated to my health, I created an environment where I could share those images with people who also really understand the awesomeness that comes from learning how to beat an illness.

I named my health-related account after my blog and began to connect with people who follow healing diets to improve autoimmune conditions, I learned how to cook nutrient-dense meals, I met other cancer survivors with similar stories as mine and I have many other people who battle migraines.

Everyday I learn new tips for staying healthy while living with the chronic conditions. Likewise, I have been able to share lessons that I gleaned from the past two decades.

My Instagram community has made me feel loved and accepted, not judged.

Healing comes through community.

And the courage to fight cruel disease can be sparked by compassionate words such as “me too, I understand, this is what helped me”.

As funny as it sounds, God used Instagram to heal my broken heart. Today I am strong again. I am filled with passion for life and I cherish my Instagram community.

I encourage anyone who struggles with illness to search Instagram for possible support and education. You simply type the name of illness, side effects, special diet, etc. directly after the hashtag symbol. Examples include: #Crohns, #PaleoForCrohns #MigraineWarrior #LeukemiaSurvivor and of course, one of my favorites, #GratititudeAttitude.

#Peace #Love #Heal

Better Than Brownies Coffee Treat

Better Than Brownies Coffee 7

Better Than Brownies Coffee – The Feel Good Days

Let’s talk hot chocolate, even better, let’s talk hot chocolate blended with coffee…mmmm…

If you are a migraine sufferer, or if you have crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, there is a high chance that you don’t enjoy those yummy beverages often.

I am here to offer a possible solution for you.

Until this year, I had not had creamy chocolate treats in such long time that I had truly forgotten how completely divine they are.

As hard as this may be to comprehend, I had developed an aversion to chocolate because I associated it with migraines.

11 months ago, I went on the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol of the Paleo) diet. While this elimination diet can be intimidating, it has been a stepping stone to increased health and freedom for me. I followed the diet strictly for 3 months and then began to add foods back into my diet.

I have learned to cook with real, nutrient-dense foods in place of processed foods. Over the past year, I have become more aware of which foods cause inflammation in my body and which foods don’t. And, in the process, my gut has healed. As my gut has healed, my ability to eat and drink foods (and beverages) that used to cause trouble for me is improving. 

I am healing and it is magnificent.

Today I follow more of a “Paleo” diet than the AIP. I use that term because it is a helpful guideline to describe the way I eat, not because I think that there is a one size fits all diet for every person.

So, back to this yummy treat…

Better Than Brownies Coffee 7

Better Than Brownies Coffee — The Feel Good Days

Back in my 20’s before the migraines were bad enough for me to change my diet, before I had crohn’s disease, my life was pretty uncomplicated. I laughed often and easily and I did not have dietary restrictions.

During that time I worked in a large hospital that had a coffee shop in the cafeteria. This was during the 1990’s, right before Starbucks hit the national scene so the specialized coffee treats they served were similar to what you will find at Starbucks but they were independent to that little shop.

Every afternoon you could find me with my friends grabbing a coffee to energize us for the rest of our work day. I had 2 favorite drinks: one was a cold variation and the other was hot.

Over the recent weeks I have been playing with migraine friendly ingredients in attempt to re-create my old favorite warm coffee treat.

This is so yummy!

I am posting it is just in time to make for the holidays as well as cold evenings spent fire-side, watching movies or chatting with friends.

You can make this with decaf if caffeine bothers you.

Technically, this recipe is a Paleo treat as coffee is not part of the AIP diet.

This treat is yummy without the whipped cream but the whipped cream makes it extra delicious and festive.

It is a coconut milk based whipped cream that is super easy to make so if you have time to make it, I recommend it (festive is always a bonus) ❤

Better Than Brownies Coffee 3

Better Than Brownies Coffee — The Feel Good Days

Ingredients for Beverage

(1 Serving)

1 Cup Brewed Coffee

1 Cup Full Fat Coconut Milk

1 Tbsp Grassfed Salted Butter

*Dairy Free Note: I am Lactose Intolerant but can tolerate butter, If you cannot, try substituting Ghee which most people are able to tolerate

1 Tbsp + 2 teaspoons Carob Powder

2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt


Melt butter in medium sized pan

Pour remaining ingredients into pan

Heat over low for ~3-5 minutes, whisking/stirring frequently to make sure the beverage does not burn on the bottom

Ingredients for Whipped Cream

1 Can of Full Fat Coconut Milk Refrigerate for 12-24 Hours

1 – 2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar (or sweetener of choice)


Refrigerate Can of Coconut Milk for 12-24 Hours so that the top 1/3-1/2 will become thick

Open can and scoop out the top layer which is a thickened “cream”

Use blender or beaters to whip the cream until it is fluffy (3-5 minutes)

Add sweetener (this is really up to your taste preference, I like it sweeter than some people) 😉


Carob Chips

Sprinkle Carob Chips on top of the whipped cream

Enjoy ❤

Recipe Tip: If chocolate is NOT a migraine trigger for you than you can use organic Cacao Powder which is a healthy version of Cocoa Powder in place of Carob Powder. You can can also use Cacao Nibs which are a healthier version of Chocolate Chips in place of Carob Chips 

Avocado, Figs, Chestnuts, Kiwi, Latex…and…Histamines


photo credit flickr creative commons


I love, love, love avocado. And guacamole. However, within 30 minutes of eating avocado, I get a stabbing migraine headache.

The same type of stabbing migraine I get when I eat a banana. I get other symptoms too but it has been such a long time since I last indulged in those foods I can’t recall all the symptoms. I do know that I could live with them; it’s that migraine that keeps me away from the foods.

Last week when I saw my Functional Medicine doctor (more on that appointment in a future post–it was great), I mentioned my inability to eat an avocado and she said “that is because you have a latex allergy: avocado, figs, banana, chestnut and kiwi are cross-reactive foods”.

To which I replied “Oh, I can’t eat any of those foods without getting a migraine”.

She told me to look at the full list of latex cross-reactive foods because there would probably be more on the list that are migraine triggers for me, and she is correct: tomatoes, white potatoes (migraine, migraine).

I am about to oversimplify a super complex issue: Cross Reactive Foods and Histamine Response.

There are proteins in latex that I react to, I break out in a rash that is painful.

Similarly, there are proteins in certain fruits and vegetables that have the same or very similar build of the protein pattern in latex. When I eat those fruits or veggies, my body recognizes the proteins and sends histamine to protect me from what it thinks is a harmful invader. It is not that I have a true allergy to those foods, I have a sensitivity to them and the excess histamine seems to trigger a migraine in me.

Here is the list of foods that are cross-reactive with latex allergies/sensitivities

*People who have latex allergies/sensitivities won’t react to all of these foods, but will probably react to at least one or more of them

Highly Prevalent

Banana, Avocado, Kiwi, Chestnut

Moderately Prevalent

Apple, Carrot, Celery, Papaya, Potato, Tomato, Melons

Undetermined Level of Prevalence

Pear, Mango, Sweet Pepper, Peach, Rye, Cayenne Pepper, Plum, Wheat, Shellfish, Cherry, Hazelnut, Sunflower Seed, Pineapple, Walnut, Citrus Fruits, Strawberry, Soybean, Coconut, Fig, Peanut, Chick Pea, Grape, Buckwheat, Castor Bean, Apricot, Dill, Lychee, Passion, Fruit, Oregano Zucchini, Nectarine, Sage, Persimmon

Looking at that list, these are the foods that I know I have trouble with:

banana, avocado, chestnut, white potato, tomato, wheat, shellfish, cherry, hazelnut, sunflower seed, pineapple, walnut, some citrus fruit, strawberry, soybean, fig, peanut, grapes

I can say that with grapes, lemon and cherries—I can tolerate them if my “histamine bucket” is not too full.

By that, I mean that if other triggers for histamine such as environmental (seasonal allergies), hormonal levels, other food sensitivities are not too high than I can eat those foods.

There are people who have successfully added foods back into their diet after improving gut health, living on a rotation diet and using other methods to lower histamine bucket that I will write about in future posts.

I will also write future posts about histamine and migraines because there is a longer list of foods to avoid if histamine intolerance is an issue for you.

I had to dedicate a post to my beloved avocado after learning that it is a cross-reactive food with latex…and it is an explanation for why I react to some really yummy, healthy foods. 

List of cross-reactive foods courtesy of:

Full Moons and Migraine Headaches

seaside 2

jessica and chris beach trip

Tonight we will have a super moon which means that today I have a wicked bad migraine.

Migraineurs (people who get migraines) have different triggers and full moons are on the list.

If you are a migraine sufferer than you probably know that we all have different triggers so a full moon may not bother you.

Scientists and doctors are not certain of the reason that migraines can be triggered by the lunar cycle however a few theories and facts surrounding the issue include the following:

  1. The full moon can disrupt sleep; changes in sleep patterns (even by an hour) can trigger a migraine.
  2. The full moon can change levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a major player when it comes to migraines; when the levels of that neurotransmitter change, a migraine is often triggered.
  3. Some women’s menstrual cycles revolve with the moon.
  4. We are ~80% water and changes in the atmospheric pressure (the barometric pressure) affect us: more babies are born during full moons, ER visits increase significantly and yes, some people get migraines.

Today has been hard,  I have been super sick.

Years ago, I would have been in the ER for a migraine this bad but I have learned how to manage them at home. That is not to say that the ER is a bad option because sometimes it is the correct place to go.

I am sharing my day with you in hopes that you can get some ideas of how you might be able to feel better when a migraine knocks you down.

  1. I took my maximum dose of Imitrex.
  2. I have been eating rice with sea salt because the sodium helps the carbohydrate get into the blood faster. Carbs boost serotonin—> serotonin is important in stopping migraines.
  3. I took some Ibuprofen (which a crohn’s patient is not supposed to take but desperate times call for desperate measures). Since I do have crohn’s disease, I limited my dose of Ibuprofen and made sure to take it when I was eating the rice to aid in protect the lining of my gut.
  4. I have also taken stronger pain medication prescribed by my neurologist.
  5. I have taken nausea medication.
  6. I have been drinking caffeine, water and ginger tea throughout the day because each of these are helpful for my migraines.
  7. My dear husband headed over to the my new favorite place, Raw Juice Boutique, to pick up a custom-made smoothie for me: coconut water, kale, apple, ginger and a little honey.
  8.  I have been using my Fascia Blaster (which was created by one of my childhood friends Ashley Black) to work on releasing my fascia that is knotted up and painful.
  9. I currently have an ice pack on my upper neck area and a heating pad on my lower back (a trick I just learned thanks to one of my Instagram followers @shans_world) ❤

I feel like today (and this post) is a good example of how some days are really hard. And it takes western medicine plus a holistic approach to get me stable.

Wellness is a lifestyle, it is not a quick fix.

green smoothie

my custom made green smoothie


As hard as today has been, I must remember that just last week my mother said that I am healthier than she has seen me in years.  Overall, I am getting better.

#WellnessIsALifestyle and you may be surprised at how much you can do to make yourself feel better with a few changes ❤️

Migraines, Flying and The Mile High City

flying with chris

Flying with Hubby

News flash: changes in the barometric pressure are rough on migraineurs. 

Be it through a storm front, a flight or even a drive up into the mountains, changes in the atmospheric pressure top the charts for migraine triggers.

Over the summer, hubby and I took a trip that included Olympic hurtles for a migraineur:

  1. We flew
  2. We went to Colorado (you know, the state which is famous for causing altitude sickness/headaches in people who don’t even get migraines).

I managed to get through our vacation without any horrific migraines and I am about to tell you how I did it: I worked with my neurologist for several months and we came up with a plan.

This is the thing, I take a holistic approach to my health. At the same time, I have lived through critical illnesses including leukemia and crohns disease (on top of the painful migraines). I also worked in acute care and rehab as a speech therapist for almost 20 years with profoundly sick patients. Everything I have been through as a patient and a health care professional makes me respect the reality that there are some conditions which require prescription medications.

After 20 years of migraines and having tried almost all the options that are available, I can honestly say that at this point in my journey, I need preventative and treatment medications for my migraines.

Overall I use a holistic migraine plan which includes: maintaining a regular sleep schedule, minimizing caffeine, keeping my blood sugar stable, avoiding dietary and environmental triggers, eating a nutrient dense anti-inflammatory diet, staying hydrated, practicing yoga and getting at least 15-20 minutes of light cardio a day (without overheating).

My neurologist is a headache specialist and agrees that the lifestyle changes are crucial for controlling the migraines.

When my husband and I decided to go on this trip, there were some special events that I wanted to be able to attend. In addition, we had spent most of the previous year pushing hard to get through my relapse of leukemia. I did not want to get to Colorado only to end up in the ER due to a severe migraine.

So I talked honestly with my neurologist and this is the plan he gave me.

I am sharing it with you as a resource but not as a treatment plan. It is important that you talk with your doctor about managing your migraines.

  1. He put me on a steroid taper. It was not prednisone; it was a much lighter steroid that lasted for 6 days.
  2. One hour before we boarded the plane, he had me take an ibuprofen and a triptan.
  3. One hour before we landed, he had me take an ibuprofen and a triptan.
  4. Throughout the flight and my entire time in Colorado I drank **a lot** of water–I hydrated.
  5. I did not drink alcohol or coffee on the plane
  6. I took the steroid each day as prescribed along with a daily triptan and ibuprofen if needed
  7. I did drink some alcohol on the trip, but not much. And when I did drink alcohol I made certain to drink 2 glasses of water for each cocktail.

Overall I did really well. I only got one migraine that was bad enough to interfere with our plans. However, my doctor had given me medication in the event that I got a severe migraine.

So, I never ended up in the ER and I never ended up in the sick bed with all the lights off. It was a successful trip.

One more thing I got to do on our trip: I got to spend a special moment with one of my all time favorite musicians, John Denver, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre 🙂


Jessica and John Denver

If you suffer from migraines, you should be under the care of a neurologist. Ideally, your neurologist will be a headache specialist. This may mean that you have to travel to a larger city every few months for a check-up appointment. And while that is not convenient, if your migraines are severe, you will probably start to feel better after you get the appropriate treatment.

And talk to your doctor; be honest with that doctor about anything and everything that you want to try in the alternative medicine world. I know that it is intimidating, but there are some medications that do not mix well with alternative treatments so it is very important to be honest.

Migraines are complicated and they don’t get better overnight but working with the right doctor and making lifestyle changes can help. I will be sharing some more of my lifestyle tips in future posts.

Over the years, I have read more books about migraines than I can count. My favorite is Heal Your Headache by David Buchholz. It is the book that I have repeatedly turned to repeatedly for guidance, comfort and answers in trying to solve the migraine puzzle.

Do you have any tips for living with migraines? Specifically for travelling as a person who gets them?