Perspectives From A Father With Migraine

Today I sat down with Matt, a father of a handful of kiddos, a full-time non-profit leader, and a homeschooling dad. I really wanted to go deep into this perspective of migraine, as we don't hear enough, in my opinion, from the male perspective.

The beginning

At what age did you start experiencing migraine symptoms?

32.

How long did it take & when were you officially diagnosed?

2017 is when I first began to really suffer from migraines. As a veteran in the VA healthcare system, I do not choose which provider I use for my care, so I had to go through their process before I was eventually referred out to a neurology clinic locally in 2019. In the meantime, at the VA clinic, I went through just about every imaging test and other tests you could go through for migraines and received prescriptions of Gabapentin and others that completely knocked me out and even made me feel worse when I would experience breakthrough from a migraine. In 2019 at the neurology clinic, this was the first time in the two years of being in the VA system where I was officially diagnosed with migraines and received access to a migraine team.

Do you have any auras or signs/signals that give you time to prepare abortive medications, nausea meds?

At the onset of a migraine, I will usually get auras. Sometimes I won’t get any warnings and will simply wake up to them. At the onset of a migraine, I took Rizatriptan, but it was hit or miss whether it would touch the intensity of my migraines. I was also prescribed nausea meds as my migraines always lead to the feeling that I am going to throw up (if I don’t actually throw up).

An arsenal of migraine medications

Have you tried medications, injections, nerve blocks, or anything natural for your symptoms?

I have tried everything from over-the-counter medicines (which failed) to Rizatriptan (which eventually had no impact on the intensity or duration of the migraines I was experienced) to emergency injections to stop the migraine, to now receiving Botox injections and being prescribed Ubrevly.

How many medications did you go through before you found (some) relief?

Rizatriptan was great at first, but with the number of times you could take it within each prescription order, the insurance eventually denied me access to these meds. In the interim, I would take a concoction of prescriptions designed to break me out of migraine clusters. The Ubrevly seemed to work but, I am currently without these prescriptions as my insurance company and pharmacy have been fighting back and forth over the last month about whether or not the medicine is covered (if not covered under insurance, it is $900 out of pocket). As a result, I have not had access to migraine meds and have still faced them, although, after my 3rd Botox injection, I have noticed that they are more spaced out. I also take Nortriptyline at night as a migraine preventative. This has helped taper off migraines the next morning (although it is not 100% effective).

Being a male with migraine

Being a male, do you feel pressure at all to silence/shield your pain from others as much as possible to be seen as “more resilient or stronger” than how others (esp. women) handle them?

Absolutely! I am not a big fan of drawing pity parties to myself. I just don’t want them. So, many times, I will keep my depression, my grief over the loss of my son, my episodic pain from my injury in the military, and undoubtedly my migraines quiet from other people. Sometimes, however, my migraines have happened in the workplace, and my co-workers notice the significant change in me as I cannot stand light or noise and, on my worst days, need to go home. I was always taught growing up that to be a man meant you pulled up your bootstraps, and you bottled that emotion in along with pain for no one else to see.

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