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Crying wolf

Most of us chronic pain folks have written or talked about it before: that uncomfortable feeling you experience when you’re trying to figure out if you are having a pain attack or not. For the last few days, I’ve had this general feeling of unwellness. Chalk it it up to the allergens floating around my head, chalk it up to the fluctuating temperatures in my town. In any case, I haven’t felt good in several days, not ever for more than a few minutes at a time. Always lurking, always waiting, is that dull pain that may or may not signify the coming of a migraine.

Should I take my preventive meds (now Maxalt, formerly Relpax) to stop the pain in its tracks? Or should I just try to relax and not let the pain get the better of me? In the former case, I fear I’m taking a $20+ pill for a migraine attack that will never escalate. In the latter case, I skip out on the meds and, a short time later, look up or wake up to realize I have a class-A migraine headache on my hands.

The pharmaceutical industry would have me pop a triptan the second I have any “sure” hint of a migraine appear. But what is a sure hint? How about the many days I just feel less-than-okay, just a little under the weather and not sure if my situation will get worse? I certainly can’t pop a Maxalt each time I feel the beginnings of a headache, as that status is rather frequent in my life and I would have my maximum amount of allowed triptans already in my body by the time a Real Headache rolled around. I would have cried wolf on my subtle pain so many times that by the time the Real Pain took over, I wouldn’t be believed anymore, wouldn’t be allowed to take the drug that could let me escape.

A conundrum. A problem. One I’ve been dealing with for years now with no real results. Anyone have any comments about this?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Megan Oltman
    11 years ago

    I don’t have any answers for you – I sure do have the same dilemma. Lately I’ve been taking the chance and taking the Imitrex more often, but I came close to running past my insurance limit this month, and had to go without for fear of MOH a couple of times last week. If they’d just make these meds less expensive we could actually use them the way we’re supposed to!

  • thoughtracer
    11 years ago

    I do. I feel the same way. I have had a migraine now for 7 days. I must have missed my Relpax window. And of course once I was in the throes, I took a Relpax, and it was too late.

    Of course, I guess I missed the clues I was getting a migraine, clues I can’t read, because I have some sort of head pain every day; which is the pain that I am supposed to recognize as the pain that will take me down the path to migraine? I don’t know. It’s not like the Yellow Brick Road. It’s not a clear cut swath in a wheat pasture. It’s vague and murky, like an alligator trail in a swamp. It’s a switchback road on a mountain. I have pain every day. I can’t take medicine every day. How do I know?


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