An Accidental Exacerbation

I was recently in a car accident that caused me to have intense neck and back pain for several weeks. My car was totaled, and the situation caused a lot of stress; emotionally, physically, and financially. It also severely exacerbated my chronic daily migraines to the point that I experienced pain levels that I hadn’t previously before.

Seasoned migraine experience wasn't enough preparation

Experiencing migraine, in some form nearly every day, I have learned to both expect and accept to some extent that I am going to experience pain somewhere on a scale at some point each day. I also live with other illnesses that affect my livelihood everyday, and so I have come to be accustomed to the attention and routines that maintaining my health requires of me.

Still, nothing prepared me for the absolutely turmoil I experienced after the car accident I was in. The pain, exhaustion, desperation, and depression from the accident all severely contributed to my usual pain feeling heightened to a point that I was really uncomfortable with. While I am so thankful that the car accident wasn’t worse, it was definitely one of the most trying times I have experienced both as a migraine patient and as a person in general. Many in the community who experience migraine know all too well the high pain tolerance that can accompany being chronic. Even dealing with pain every day, I was not well equipped to handle the new sudden added pain.

Compounded pain

It was the first car accident I had ever been in, and it happened in a parking lot so the impact wasn’t incredibly fast, however, it was enough of an impact and fast enough to cause me to have intense whiplash. Thankfully, the small silver lining was that I was found not at fault, and the other party took full responsibility. I had to go to the ER immediately after filing the report, because I felt a strong surge of hot pain run up my back and neck on impact, and the throbbing began immediately. I had experienced a soft tissue injury and was prescribed painkillers and muscle relaxers to help me get through the next few days.

In the days following the accident, I experienced more painful migraines than ever before. I would wake up with intense, blinding pain in my head, and dull throbbing pain in my neck and back. Between the pain all over, navigating getting treatment and trying to figure out how to get around, as well as figuring out all of the logistical aspects following an accident, I was in total body pain without relief for days. My heart felt heavy and exhausted, and I could not find a moment of peace.

I was taking a lot of new medication on top of my normally prescribed medicine, and it didn’t seem like anything was helping. I know the new and intense stress definitely was not helping to relieve the pain, but I couldn’t eat, I could barely sleep, and the migraines I was accustomed to seemed like strangers because they were so much more intense than I was used to. Each day that passed was a triumph for those first few. I felt a lot of despair and I did not know what else to do besides lay down in pain that would not end.

With time, things returned to stasis

Having added pain on top of migraine can be incredibly difficult to navigate, especially when migraine alone is enough to deal with on its own. It took almost a full five weeks before I started to feel enough relief in my neck, back, and migraines to feel somewhat like my ‘normal’ self again. Not only was the pain difficult to experience on top of migraine, but I was unable to really take care of myself and tend to my migraines as I normally would because so much of my energy was being expended on so much other pain. I am thankful that I am recovering and feeling better, and that my migraines are returning to ‘normal’. With time, things are returning to stasis. Ironically, that means my normal daily pain, without all of the added neck and back strain and emotional stress.

Have you experienced an event that caused your migraines to worsen? How did you cope? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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