My Migraine History - 30 Years in the Making
Last updated: May 2021
I remember being young, maybe 6 or 7 years old, and feeling this earth-shattering pain in my head. I’d crawl into my bed, pull the covers up over my head, and cry until I fell asleep.
This was my first experience with migraines.
A trip to the doctor
My parents took me to the pediatrician, who recommended I see a pediatric neurologist. At first, the doctor thought maybe I needed glasses - but a vision check came back without any problems. Next, they thought it might have been due to dehydration - so my fluids were dramatically increased, but my headaches remained. The doctors tried several prescription medications - each of which either failed to break up my migraines or had side effects too drastic to live with.
A pain-free day
One day, around age 10, I went to a birthday party at an ice skating rink. That day, an actual miracle occurred. I had no headache. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I felt like a normal kid again. I thought maybe it was random, that this day was just a great day. The next day, the headaches were back, and I was so disappointed. I loved skating, though, and I started to go to public sessions on the weekends.
My parents and I were quick to notice the growing correlation - the more I skated, the less I had headaches.
Ice skating and less frequent migraine attacks?
Soon, the headaches would start disappearing for two or three days at a time after each trip to the ice rink, and we were baffled.
After talking to my doctors, we began to understand that it was a combination of the extra cold air and the endorphins released while ice skating that was reducing the frequency of my migraines. I quickly signed up for weekly lessons, which eventually translated to daily practice sessions, competitions, shows, traveling, and my best friends. The ice rink not only took away my headaches, but it gave me a home, an extended family, a passion, and something I really loved.
My body started changing
I skated from the age of 10-18, then I taught lessons and coached younger skaters from ages 18-22. By that point, my migraines were a thing of the past, and I was sure I was over them for good.
Over the next few years, I'd transition to working full time after college graduation, I'd begin to experience symptoms of Crohn's disease, and I'd watch my body change dramatically.
I also watched the migraines return.
It seemed that I was triggered by a few things - namely, a change in weather/barometric pressure, dehydration, and hormones. For a while, Fioricet was enough to abort most migraines. They weren't that frequent, and I could slow down my life to deal with them when they arrived.
The worst attack of my life
This past October, I experienced the worst migraine of my life. It was about a week into my first miscarriage, and none of the medication I was taking orally made any difference. After five days in the dark silence, I walked myself into the emergency room. That day, I learned about the "migraine cocktail" given via IV - dexamethasone, Reglan, Benadryl & fluids. When that wasn't enough, they added Toradol and tramadol. Finally, ketamine was administered via IV, and I exhaled for the first time in a long time.
After that appointment, I found a new neurologist, one who specializes in migraines.
The trouble with conceiving and medications
I was told that because I was still trying to conceive, many of the preventative migraine medications available would be considered unsafe for me. Instead, I was given a few abortive options to use individually or in combination - including Ubrevly, Maxalt, the Nerivio device, and the Headache Hat.
This past year, I've found myself in the infusion suite at my neurologist's office twice to receive the IV migraine cocktail without requiring a trip to the emergency room. It's been incredibly frustrating knowing that a migraine is coming and that I can't do anything to prevent it, that I can only try to fight it off once it's arrived. But, as someone who is still trying to get pregnant, this will be my story for the foreseeable future.
I have so much more to share
I'm looking forward to sharing my medication experiences in upcoming articles, what it's like to have hormonal migraines, the frustration of migraines & trying to conceive, and more. Please feel free to drop any questions below!
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?