Am I Cured? Topiramate and My Migraines
Last updated: September 2023
After my migraines changed significantly after a bout with COVID, a change in my stress levels, and possibly just my hormones as I’m getting older (don’t say it’s perimenopause, I’m not ready to accept that thought), someone or other suggested that my sumatriptan habit was going to start causing rebound migraines. I needed to take a dissolvable dose too frequently to ward off aura or headache or aura then headache. Soon, the magic pill wouldn’t work and would start causing headaches.
How long did it take to get on topiramate?
I went to see my primary care doctor, who suggested I take propranolol, but I had to explain to her that I didn’t like that drug for other reasons. She agreed to give me topiramate, and I had to step it up to its full dose over the course of four weeks.
I was patient. Hasn’t the pandemic taught us to be patient? I’m a practiced patient. Four weeks is nothing to a parent who had to wait almost two years to get their kid back in school.
Did it work?
In only four short weeks, topiramate obliterated my migraines. I didn’t think it was possible, but as I found myself spending less time on this site, I realized it was because I’d been spending less time with a migraine. I was able to work more, spend more time at my desk, and less time lying under an ice pack.
I didn’t fall asleep watching a movie with my kids during a postdrome. I didn’t have to have them have extra screen time so I could curl into a ball in the other room, trying not to puke while I waited for my rescue medication to kick in. I didn’t snap at them because my head hurt (I still snapped at them sometimes, let’s be honest. No migraines didn’t make me a perfect parent). We could play outside more because the sun wasn’t as painful.
Have I used my other treatments?
I haven’t taken sumatriptan once since I hit my full dose of topiramate, but I do keep it stocked. I considered not even writing that sentence for fear of jinxing it. I’ve used my headache hat for a headache caused by a change in my depression medication. I’ve really only needed ibuprofen a few times because I’ve hardly had any headaches of any kind, which leads me to believe that most of my headaches before were varying strengths of migraines, not “stress” or “sinus” or “tension” headaches. Even though I’ve woken up with a tight jaw a few times, a bad stress sleep habit of mine, I haven’t even had jaw-clenching headaches.
I know I’m not cured. I know that’s not “a thing.” I still can’t look at some patterns in clothing stores. I still can’t read white words on a black background on my phone without feeling like it’s going to set me off. If I stopped taking topiramate, I’d likely have an issue.
What side effects have I experienced?
Topiramate isn’t a perfect drug. It has side effects. I was taking it in the morning, which was a mistake because it made me cloudy and “drugged” feeling. When I take it at night, it might help me fall asleep. I think it makes my hands kinda tingly.
Right after I started taking it, I had a kidney infection and thought I was having an adverse reaction to topiramate, since many of the symptoms were on the list of possible side effects. It wasn’t until I was able to get in to see my gynecologist that they were able to explain to me that I needed antibiotics, and not to stop taking my new medication. But, in the balance of risk and reward, topiramate has changed my life in such a huge way. I know, sadly, many people find it does not work for them. I hope they find something that does. I am so thankful it has worked for me, at least thus far, and I hope other people are able to try it or something else that helps them find similar relief.
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?