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When My Migraine Medications Stopped Working

Recently, I had abdominal surgery. This was my second major surgery of the year, and I thought I knew what to expect going into anesthesia.

This time, I woke up with an anesthesia triggered migraine, which was one of the more severe migraines I've experienced in a long long time.

While in the hospital, I was given my regular abortive medications - ketoralac and Benadryl, along with IV fluids, and the migraine became tolerable. I was discharged on day 3 after surgery, but I came home with a migraine that lasted nearly two more weeks.

Did my migraine medications work?

My routine medications, the "regular" way I'd treat a migraine wasn't working.

This is the first time in a long time I've struggled with this. In fact, I've been on the same preventative/abortive regimen for more than 18 months now - which I know, with migraines is super lucky. I sort of knew there was always going to be a time where the other shoe fell - I just never knew which shoe it was going to be, or when, or how it would impact me at the time.

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When did I reach out to my doctor for help?

After several days of battling this migraine at home, I reached out to my doctor, and asked for a telehealth appointment. I was lucky to get in a few days later, and when we connected via video chat she immediately could tell that I was struggling with pain and the symptoms of a migraine.

To be cautious and thorough, she asked me to recount the entire migraine - from anesthesia to the day we were on the phone; what exactly my symptoms had been and which were most debilitating, what medication I'd tried and how often I'd tried it, if the medication made any difference at all, as well as several other questions to ensure she had a good understanding of what I was experiencing. While answering all of these questions was exhausting and trying, I also knew they were important to get the right guidance and get rid of this seriously intense migraine.

What did my new treatment plan look like?

First, we decided that the preventative I'd been on, Qulipta, was no longer working. I knew this was a matter of time, and I'm lucky I was able to take it as long as I had. This is when we decided that I'd need something "more heavy duty" - aka another class of medication, in order to try to stave off migraines going forward. My doctor talked to me about two options, Emgality and Ajovy, and we chose Emgality.

Next, she sent in a double prescription for a "cluster buster" -  Vistaril and Soma. Rather than taking them as needed until my migraine broke up, I was to take them both twice a day for five days.

Did it work for my attack?

Ultimately, I was lucky enough that this did in fact break up the migraine that had so rudely overstayed it's welcome, but to be honest, there was a minute I was worried. As someone who's been hospitalized by migraines before, I was afraid the pain was going to become paralyzing.

When your migraine medication stops working, what do you do? I'd love to hear any recommendations below!

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.

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