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Did I ever tell you about the time…

Okay, I’ll admit it. I can be a self-righteous, condescending, know-it-all. It can get even worse with my pet subjects. Migraine is almost at the top of that list. I don’t really feel self-righteous and I certainly don’t mean to hurt others. I just get excited, overly focused on the facts, and passionate about getting it right. My passion truly is for your benefit. I want each reader to get the facts and not more of the same myths that fuel the stigma that hurts us all.

So from time to time in 2015, I will be sharing tales from my less than glamorous history with migraine and other headache disorders. You will get a chance to see the real me – raw and unfiltered by facts and figures. Here’s the first edition.


Did I ever tell you about the time I almost ended it all?

It was July 2012. I had just received news that I would not be considered for Trigger Site Release Surgery. Despite cautious warnings from my migraine pals, I had hung all my irrational hopes and dreams on this “cure”. I was so desperate for permanent relief that I had convinced myself this was the only way. To make matters worse, I was having nasty, head-splitting cluster attacks running back-to-back nearly non-stop. It was a miserable day and I hated the sun for daring to shine.

The doctor who gave me the bad news was a kind, compassionate man. Not wanting to send me away in such pain, he offered to try a nerve block on the right orbital branch of the trigeminal nerve. Desperate and half-blind from the pain, I agreed. At first, it felt like a miracle. One minute the pain was blowing up my face and the next minute it was completely GONE. I couldn’t believe it. The relief was so complete that I nearly skipped out of his office that afternoon.

Less than 30 minutes later it all returned like someone flipped a light switch. I was laughing and joking one minute, screaming and cursing the next. Another cluster attack hit with a vengeance. I could barely hold on long enough for my husband to exit the highway and drive the short distance to our house. I ran for my oxygen tank anticipating its relief. It was nearly impossible to wait the full 20 minutes for a complete treatment. Usually after about 10 minutes, I start to get a little relief, but not this time. I tried heat. I tried ice. I went through everything I could find to get a little peace.

That nerve block numbed the outer layers of skin and tissue so thoroughly that even ice could not reach the pain deeper inside my head. It felt like lightning strikes behind my right eye. I couldn’t reach the pain, so I couldn’t do anything about it. I really thought I was headed to the Emergency Room that night. If I had been thinking clearer, I would have already been there.

But we all know how well our brains work in the middle of an attack. I’m bad enough with a migraine, but with a cluster I am completely out of my mind. The person you see is not me at all. These attacks change me in terrible ways. I become angry, violent, profane, and irrational. I was beating my head against the wall when a rouge thought popped in.

“You just had dental work done. Why not try that left over Hydrocodone?”

Um…not good. The Hydrocodone was left over because my body does not respond well to it. After about 2 doses, I itch all over. Even with food in my stomach and pretreatment with Phenergan, I still experience horrible non-stop vomiting. It’s not pretty. Why I ever thought it would work is a mystery to this day.  But I took it anyway. That’s the thing about cluster headaches. They bring out the ugliest, most self-destructive parts of me. It really was a “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” moment.

That stupid pill did exactly what it’s done every single time. I threw up. And then I threw up some more, and then again and again until there was nothing left except the agony of dry heaves. The lightning kept striking my right eye, too. I’m not even sure I remember how it all ended. Maybe I did go to the ER, but I don’t think so.

In the coming days, I came to a desperate conclusion. I was done. I no longer cared to live.  I just wanted this effing nightmare to end, so I withdrew. I started thinking about exactly which combination of medicines might actually result in death. I had just enough medicines to be really dangerous…and probably lethal.

My husband was terrified to leave each day for work. He didn’t know what he would find when he got home. Frankly I didn’t know either. Each day was gamble to see if I would live or die. If I had been honest with anyone, I would have been admitted to the hospital. I needed to be admitted. By some miracle or stroke of luck, I managed to not kill myself.

Three weeks later I emerged from my self-induced isolation. I was still depressed, but not dangerously so. Now I was fighting mad. Migraine and cluster headaches had taken quite enough from my life and I was not going down without a fight.  I was reborn a warrior, ready to win this war for everyone who ever faced the darkness from which I had just emerged.

Somebody must have wanted me to stick around.

To this day I have no idea what changed.

I’m just grateful that it did.


If you are feeling anything like I did that summer, please get help. I got lucky. It could have just as easily gone the other way. Don’t take chances with your life. If you need help, ask a friend or loved one, a doctor, or just call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can even call 911 and someone will help you.

There are great things happening in the world of headache medicine. If we can all just hold on a little longer, I know our lives are going to change for the better. There is hope!

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

Comments

  • sweetmalis
    4 years ago

    Hello Tammy your story touched once I had finally shared my own struggles and despair over chronic migraines. It sounds like your husband does truly believe in your migraines and supports and worries about you. Not that I at all making this like my situation is any worse or somehow belittle all you have gone thru and will always go thru but like you said new meds and treatments do offer a small chance to at least manage our migraines. I have told every neurologist that I would go on any meds, some weren’t even FDA approved back then but I am desperate, and also taken every med to prevent and then to handle my attacks. I only was able to do Botox again now that they have a specific mix of meds for migraines and its every 3 months, and a total of 31 small injections, and he still told me that between managing my meds, and waiting to at least have my second round of Botox that hopefully, again I will NEVER be cured, but I honestly can say that I would not mind even having 1 or 2 migraines a week. I have attempted very recently to commit suicide and the only reason I am here today was due to a supervise visit from my husband when he came home early from work. I was on the floor, so badly bruised and bumps on the front and back of my head since I was on my bed when I took about 50 50mg Benadryl and then over 50 Vicodin that I hoarded for months and months. I was found completely un responsive lying in my own vomit and then went totally catatonic and ended up in the ICU unit at the ER. By then my liver and kidneys were so toxic, they intubated me and I think that’s the term for the breathing tube down your fault, but it was bad enough that although my husband and I have been together for years and yes he was scared and very worried that when and if I made it, what will he do with me? I have a beautiful almost 12 year old and she has seen, heard, and been thru way too many things that no child should have to. But Migraines, depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and insomnia…these are sadly things like say a blood test, or even CT scans, and MRI’s etc, these are all horrible states and unless I can bring home my medical records to my husband, he has the belief that while my migraines are horrible, I should be able to on my own, stop psych meds, therapy, etc and I would be well. Its like my attempts at suicide weren’t thought out clearly as far as what I was doing to my daughter, but for the last 4 years I have been thru in-patient psych stays, ER visits, treatments and so that day when he came home, literally 20 more minutes alone would have been the end, I would have died, I was so pissed when I did wake up and figured out where I was and what had happened and I kept asking him…if you think I am weak, a bad mother, an always ill wife, WHY did you save me…so I still haven’t figured out why I am still here. My psych doesn’t do much for me, and like I said my migraine treatments are going to take awhile to get better, but other than that I am on disability from my migraine situation, and the extreme depression has led to a self imposed isolation from pretty much all family and friends. If it weren’t for these websites which for me are exactly what I would picture a support group…I just don’t have a lot of options, but for now I just pray every night that I’ll want to be alive tomorrow, whether its a horrible day or not…it doesn’t always work but that’s all I have. Sorry this was supposed to be a reply to your story and instead I turned it into me going on and on. I do hope and pray that you too will hold on and hopefully one day there will be help for all migrainers. Malissa O

  • Tammy Rome author
    4 years ago

    Malissa,

    Thank you so much for having the courage to tell your story! I am honored that you would share it with me in such a public way. Your story is, unfortunately, similar to that of many migraineurs. A few years ago, I lost an online friend to suicide because her doctors gave up on her and she lost hope.

    So this is what I say to everyone in similar situations: Don’t give up hope. There’s always another option even if you don’t see it right away. If you begin to feel that way again, please reach out. It doesn’t even matter how you reach out, just do it. There’s a hotline number at the end of this post. Write it down and keep it close to you.

    If your psychiatrist is not helping, then fire him or her and get a new one. That being said, very few psychiatrists do talk therapy. I hope you have a therapist you can trust. Again, if not, fire the one you have and get a new one. You deserve to have health care providers who will be on your team, working for you, who understand you and all of your health conditions, including migraine.

    Again, thanks for your courage. It takes a lot of guts to write all of that out. Honestly, I held on to this post for awhile, not sure if I even wanted people to know about the depressed, suicidal therapist. Yet the #1 cause of therapist death is suicide. It’s a real threat if therapists don’t take care of themselves.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Tammy,
    Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story. We’re all glad you’re still here to share your copious amount of Migraine knowledge!
    -Katie

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