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Memorable Migraine: When J. Saved Me

Let me preface this entry by saying you should never, ever share prescription medication with others. Your script was written expressly for you and is not intended for anyone else.

All that said, I want to tell a story about a particularly awful migraine I had years ago when my friend J. saved me with a meltaway triptan drug (one I did indeed have a prescription for but had none of in the house).

J. was one of the first friends in Athens whose experience with migraine seemed at all similar to mine in terms of their severity and side effects. I had a really bad spell years ago when I was 25 or so. I was only nauseated when I stood up or tried to drink water, so of course when I went to the bathroom cabinet to grab a pill and a glass of water, it all came back up immediately. As long as I lay perfectly still, I could ignore the nausea, focusing instead on the throbbing pain and blindness on the whole left side of my head. Even my joints ached, but at least being still meant no vomiting for a bit.

Not being able to swallow any medication meant I was screwed, medication-wise. I only had triptans in tablet form at that point (no injections, no meltaways). I now know that meltaway pills don’t bypass the gastrointestinal system as I’d originally thought—they take as long as, if not longer than, pills to make it through your system. But in this case they were the only solution I could think of since swallowing water was out of the question.

I called J. and she rushed over, knowing that for me every minute felt like an hour for all the pain and discomfort I was in. She scrambled around for my hidden house key; once she found it, she let herself in and called out to me. “Janet? Where are you?” She found me and gently put her arm around me. I felt as if I probably looked insane—later she told me my eyes were glassy and wild and it was almost as if I wasn’t really there with her.

J. opened the foil packaging and opened my mouth for me, placing the triptan meltaway on my tongue. She gently helped me lay down and waited with me for a few minutes to make sure that I wasn’t going to get sick to my stomach again.

Within 30 minutes or so, the pain began to lift swiftly and dreamily. Within minutes of the migraine pain beginning to go away, it was already hard to imagine how awful it had been.

Have you ever had someone rescue you from an awful migraine episode?

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.


  • mjsymonds
    7 years ago

    Wow Janet, what a lovely story and caring friend J. was to you that day! Oh, that every one of us could have a J. close by whenever needed!

    My story took place before Triptans were developed, so there was no swift medication rescue, but just the same, a co-worker went above and beyond to care for me one day in the middle of a bad migraine attack. We were both at work when the migraine I’d been trying to ignore and work through (standard operating procedure for me in those days) just got too intense. I had turned pale and clammy and run to the restroom to vomit when my co-worker decided it was time to get me out of there. I agreed, but was in no shape to drive or make any coherent decisions. So in the middle of the afternoon she called my husband at work and told him she was taking me home to her apartment where he could come pick me up later. (She lived about 35 miles away, but fairly close to where my husband then worked evening shifts.) I don’t remember this part, but somehow she got me and my belongings out of the building and into her car, put a barf bag in my lap and off we drove. All I really remember was trying my darnedest to stay on top of my nausea enough so I wouldn’t barf in her car! Basically that took every ounce of my attention and focus for the entire 40+ minute drive. She told me later that I turned some pretty startling shades of green and told her not to talk!

    When we got to her place she helped me get into a nightgown and into her bed, drew all the curtains closed and put a cold washcloth over my face. What I remembered most was the delicious feeling of sliding between cool sheets and being able to lie down flat at last!

    If I took anything for the pain at that point, it was probably the original Alka-Seltzer with aspirin. It was the only thing I could take in those days that would stay down in spite of my nausea, but I honestly don’t remember. Somehow I managed to fall asleep. The next thing I knew, it was completely dark and I was being woken up by my husband who had come to take me home. Later I found out it was around 11 p.m. He was saying something to me that I couldn’t figure out and I was still pretty disoriented, but somehow off we went again for another long car ride, this time back in the opposite direction!

    It wasn’t until the next day that I was able to piece together from my husband the whole story and thank my friend at work for being so caring and proactive on my behalf.

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