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CGRP: Poetry of Hope

The new CGRP antagonist medications that are currently in clinical trials are once again in the news, leading to lots of Facebook posts and tagged shares of the “Maybe this will help you!” type. Normally I am automatically defensive about such posts since they are often about the daith piercing, or turmeric, or some other unlikely (and insulting) remedy. But not this time. Yes, there are concerns: at least a year until FDA approval; and the expense, which is likely to be very high. But since this is the FIRST preventative medication specifically developed for migraine, and trials have shown few side effects and a high rate of improvement among chronic and episodic sufferers, including myself personally in both my trials, the hope I’ve been feeling has lately given way to almost a giddiness, aided by the fact that I’m now in my eighth week of unprecedented lack of head pain. Technically, right now I am no longer chronic. I picked up my box of Sumatriptan and it’s been in my medicine cabinet for a week, unopened.

While sitting here waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it always has (though I haven’t felt this good since college), I wrote a poem. Yes, a CGRP poem.

Gene-Related Peptide.
Pharmaceutical studies
Clinical trials
For the lucky.
Somehow that
Includes me.
Amgen double blind
Monthly injections of
Saline placebo
Or actual medicine.
Then open label,
Meaning medicine every time.
And my life, so much of which
Was spent in bed
In pain
Was returned to me.

One study led to another.
The new trial, looser rules
Analyzing effective dosages.
The prick, the burn
The slow seeping of
Magic medicine
Into my muscles, my
A subtle fluttering of
Miracle wings
Rising to my head.
My neck tingles.
My sensitive, tender brain
Coated and soothed
By monoclonal antibodies
Which confound and confuse me.
I don’t understand
How the different drugs work,
Exactly what they do,
All the ways in which they help.
I just know that the serum
Surges into my body
And provides protection
That I can feel.

When I receive an injection
While having head pain
It seems to lift up
And resettle, quieter,
Even though the medicine
Is supposed to be preventative,
Not for acute pain.
This drug, in all its forms
May be the miracle
We’ve been waiting for
Not, of course, a cure
But the closest any of us
Has ever seen.

Gene-Related Peptide
Is an amino acid released
When a migraine occurs.
Our good friends
Botox, and the Triptans,
May coincidentally help
To prevent our neurons
From producing CGRP
During a migraine’s genesis.
CGRP’s only function
Is to cause pain.
The little bit I’ve learned
Is that the new medicines being tested
Are deliberate antagonists,
Developed specifically
To target and stop
The production of CGRP.
And they work.

Of course there are negatives.
There always are.
The expense; the necessity
Of needing to receive injections
In a doctor’s office
Instead of popping a pill,
Conveniently, at home.
The amazing fact of a drug –
The FIRST drug!
Designed just for the prevention
Of migraine
With very few side effects
When we’ve been taking
Medicines for depression,
Seizures, blood pressure, heart issues
Many of which cause problems worse
Than the migraine itself.
The process, the trial and error…
So much of it error.

Gene-Related Peptide.
The pain-causing mechanism
Prompted by our brains’
We’ve been hoping for
This medication
Our whole lives.
We don’t have
Too much longer to wait.
For many of us,
Is going to change.

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.


  • cdyess
    2 years ago

    thank you for your poem. Almost brought me to tears. I am waiting for my insurance to approve paying for Aimovig. Hopefully. Waiting, waiting waiting. I have had daily chronic Headache for over 30 years. This gives me a bit of hope.

  • rikntracy
    2 years ago

    I love your poem. Everything has indeed changed for me because of Aimovig .

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    2 years ago

    Yay! I’m so glad to hear that!

  • Karlo
    3 years ago

    Elizabeth, I loved your poem! It makes things so clear and positive.
    Is it OK to post it on Facebook?

    Also, I am looking into a study and was wondering if there is an injection device similar to triptans, and if there is, how does it work? Preparing an injection and needles out in the open are not for me. Really hoping there is some sort of clicker.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    2 years ago

    I was just re-reading this and saw that I had still thought Aimovig would be dispensed at the doctor’s office! There’s a clicker 😉

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hi Karlo,

    I’m so sorry I never got back to you about this! Yes, of course, you can post anything from to Facebook.

    To answer your question about the injections, at first those for whom it is prescribed will have to go to their doctor’s office to receive the medicine once per month. It is a preventative. So at least you wouldn’t have to do it yourself!

    Thanks so much for your comment <3

  • Marcus
    3 years ago

    Like you, I’ve been disappointed by too many strategies to muster much hope anymore.
    Yet reading about your current benefit from this medication, I was deeply moved, almost to tears of joy FOR YOU!!! I could sense, even if only in a small way, how BIG this seems to be for you. And HOPEFULLY OTHERS!
    I’m 64. I’ve had migraines since I was a little boy. My dad had it, but fortunately outgrew it as an adult. My oldest sister and I not so blessed. She had them all her life until she died a month shy of her 72nd birthday. She had tried everything!
    When I was 42 years old, my migraines transformed into chronic daily migraines. I have tried every possible strategy I have ever learned about, both using traditional medicine and non-traditional. I’ve been treated by migraine specialists from John Hopkins University, by many neurologists, and pain management specialists. I’ve turned off every possible trigger. It appears that my chronic migraines have long ago become intractable or refractory.
    Do I still hope for a change? Since retiring early from a career I loved a year ago; and not being able to eat out with my wife (we still go out some–I keep her company); our travels have been severely curtailed; we stopped attending church years ago, since mornings are difficult for me–that’s been the hardest, since it has been at the core of my existence my whole life, having been a pastor for a number of years, and a lay leader for even more; hope resides not in a cure anymore.
    I believe in a personal Creator God, and a Savior, Redeemer, Healer and Lord Jesus–God’s Messiah–my best friend since I experienced what I believe was a spiritual renewal (I grew up in a Christian family, but I believe God does not have grandchildren, only sons and daughters) during my sophomore year in college at age 18.
    Hope resides right now in acceptance. For me. I’ll still keep my eyes and ears open to new treatments. Or God’s healing. Until or if not, I will continue to learn to accept. And manage best I know how right now.
    But elated? You bet. I’m extatic for you. And I pray you continue to benefit from this medication. So that …
    Is going to change.”

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    3 years ago

    Marcus, I am so sorry to hear of your lifelong struggles, and those of your family. You are quite a person to be able to feel joy for *me* despite not having much hope for yourself. I appreciate it so, so much and am glad you’re here. <3

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