Courtney's Quest to Find Relief for Different Migraine Symptoms
In this interview, I talk with Courtney, who has been living with migraine since age 17. We talk about medications, therapies, and the logistics that come with the onset and severity of migraines.
The beginning of migraine
At what age did you start experiencing migraine symptoms?
I started experiencing migraine symptoms when I was 17 years old.
How long did it take until you were officially diagnosed?
It took 11 months to be officially diagnosed with chronic migraines, which was in October of 2014.
Do you have any auras or signs/signals that give you time to prepare abortive medications, nausea meds?
I experience severe sensitivity to light and dizziness preceding a migraine.
Finding relief from medications
Have you tried medications, injections, nerve blocks, or anything natural for your symptoms?
Besides Excedrin (an OTC), I have tried multiple different prescribed medications. The 1st one was a medication to take on the onset of a migraine, Sumatriptan, which I am still prescribed. The 2nd was a daily medication called Verapamil, which I was recently taken off due to problems with my blood pressure. I have recently been utilizing biofeedback therapy and chiropractic care to help understand, pinpoint, and ease migraines. Since starting both those cares, I have not needed to take any of my migraine medications.
How many medications did you go through before you found (some) relief?
I went through four different medications before I was able to find some relief.
Being a female and managing migraine
Being a female, do you feel pressure at all to silence/shield your pain because of how females can be received/depicted by ER/ED staff (it is very widely known that females with migraines can be easily dismissed, often leaving the hospital in the same condition, or even worse?
Yes, the pressure is real. If a male went into the ER with the same symptoms/pain as a female, they would be treated very differently. At one point, I went to the ER three times in two weeks before they realized my brain had way too much pressure (the 3rd doctor was female), for which I ended up being hospitalized due to the severity.
Speaking of pain, have you ever had to go to the ER or be hospitalized to get your pain and nausea under control? How were you treated as a woman vs. how you believe men may be treated? Did they willingly try to give you pain meds, or did you ask for them? If no, how come?
At the beginning of my migraine journey, I sought out the ER due to the intense pain and nausea that would sometimes last for a couple of days. I was hospitalized only three times due to either pressure build-up or dehydration due to not being able to keep anything down. Only one time was I sent home without having any pain medication given.
Managing symptoms and triggers
When you’re experiencing migraine symptoms, do you also experience auras or vomiting/nausea? Do you know what triggers them or certain foods or substances that will set one in motion?
I experience intense sensitivity to light, dizziness, and extreme nausea. Extreme stress definitely sets a migraine off sooner than if there wasn’t stress present, and strong aromas/perfumes trigger them as well, but other than that there is no food/substance that really sets one-off.
Do you have seasonal allergies? If so, how are allergy migraines different for you than “normal” ones?
I do experience seasonal allergies. The biggest difference I find between an allergy-related migraine and an average migraine is that the intense pain in an allergy-related migraine sits more in the center of my forehead rather than my right eye in an average migraine. Also, my nose burns intensely when an allergy-related migraine comes on.
I'd like to thank Courtney for her honesty and openness to share some of her Migraine journey with our community and me. It's important for every voice to be heard & hers is definitely worth hearing.
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?