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Migraine: A Four Stage Path to Relief

I remember the day that I recognized my first migraine. It was September 24th, 2011 at 4:30 a.m. It sounds crazy that I can remember it, but it was truly a life changing event for me although I didn’t know how it would be affecting my life. I felt like I’d been hit in the head with a 2 x 4! The pain woke me from a sound sleep and I was freaking out! The pain was horrible which immediately prompted my wife to get the Tylenol. Needless to say that didn’t work like the commercial promised and so began my four stage path to relief.

Anticipation

That first step for me was scary. I don’t like going to the doctor’s office much less an emergency room! I didn’t know what to expect. I did anticipate that after all the tests, prodding and poking that I’d have an answer to what happened to me that day. I expected to know what it was and how to get it to go away or at least how I was going to manage it. Migraine is tricky though. It seems as if you never get that definitive answer you are seeking.

What I did get was medication, lots of medication. I also got a battery of tests that would make the folks at NASA jealous! It just seemed as if the elusive source of my migraine was not going to give me what I wanted, an answer. That month of migraine rolled me into stage two.

Hope

It seems funny to me now as I look back, but at the time I thought my family doctor would have this all figured out. I was wrong, but I was hopeful. That hope from this step still drives me to this day. I hoped the next doctor would see my tests and blood work and say this is where the problem lies. That didn’t happen either. I was getting seriously concerned about the cause of the migraine.

I started to do some research with the help of my wife who had suffered with migraine when she was younger. I even tried her ‘remedy’ to kick the migraine. I was hopeful and wanted it gone but again no dice. I hoped the medication from the specialist in neurology would work, but all it did was make me a zombie with migraine. I made my way forward always clinging to hope. Even now there are times when all I have to hold on to is hope. Onward to stage three.

Frustration

I know many of you can feel my pain with this step. How many tests must I have? How many doctors must I see before the sky clears? How much medication do I have to take before finding relief? As I researched I found that not just any doctor would work, not even any neurologist would work. I needed to find a headache specialist. Other doctors receive only a few measly hours of training when it comes to headaches. I was shocked and frustrated!

I didn’t dwell on that news and was able to find a few headache specialists within driving distance. I met with the doctor and she let me vent my frustrations and dashed hope from my journey. She was able after a while to find a combination of medications that broke the migraine. I was relieved but hated taking all the medications. The side effects were really disrupting my life, but I was migraine free for a while. I knew what I had now but didn’t have that definitive answer of what caused it. I moved on to stage four.

Acceptance

I was always healthy. I never took sick time at work. I was able to power through any sickness or injuries with minimal effort. I had another migraine attack. Then another and another came along. I was at the point where I had no answer. I knew I had migraine and I had to own it. I’m stubborn at times and owning up to a sickness was hard for me.

What made it worse was that this was an invisible disease. No bandages or scars to be seen. Migraine is a lonely disease. I knew that back then and it’s still that way today. I’ve accepted the disease. The great part of acceptance for me is that I found others like me out there! I found tons of articles, blogs, and resources to educate myself and the people around me. I work in drug retail as a manager and the best thing I ever did for my crew of employees was to tell them about my migraine. I educated them and helped them understand me and my idiosyncrasies. I worked out accommodations at work with my supervisors that ultimately made me a better manager. Only when you are willing to fully own your disease can you move forward with confidence, clarity and hope.

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