30 years of fighting…

I remember it like it was recent – I was 13, in junior high, and in English class. It was silent reading time, and all of a sudden, the words were starting to look really weird. I looked up and I saw spots that were silvery, no matter where I looked. I started getting scared and went to the teacher to tell her that I thought I should go see the nurse. When I got to the nurse, the spots had started to merge together. By the time I finished explaining what was going on, she had me on a cot in the sick room. I’ll never forget what she said to me, “You’re going to have the worst pain of your life soon.” She explained what was happening, and told me to try to relax and rest while she went to call my mom. She also told me that when I felt nauseated, to try to get to the bathroom as soon as possible. I was terrified, in pain, and had an aura straight across my field of vision. That was my entrance into the world of migraine.

Migraine Awareness MonthI’d seen my mom suffer through them while I was growing up. But when I was 7, I just didn’t understand what was going on with her. And since it was just the two of us, I learned to keep myself occupied until she was “human again.”

I suffered them through junior high and high school. I heard time and again from my teachers the same question, “I suppose you’ve got another one of your headaches again, don’t you?” I was having them as frequently as every other week, which meant a lot of school missed, as while I could go to sleep and wake up with no headache, the next day, every time I moved my head, the blood rushed through the newly opened blood vessels and hurt just as bad as the migraine itself. Nobody understood (my mom by that time was going to school at night and immersed in her newly discovered ability to draw), nobody else had experienced migraine in someone so young. My pediatrician said he’d have to see me with a headache, but that never came to be. Hmmm, I wonder why…

I remember this one time in Jr high, one of the office secretaries grabbing my chin and literally pushing baby aspirin down my throat. There’s nothing else I can write, because we’re all thinking the same thing.

After I left home to go to art school on my own, the frequency and intensity dropped dramatically. For the first time in my life, I could count months between headaches, and they didn’t knock me out like they had before. I dropped out of school and got a job in the “real world,” as a receptionist/secretary. That led to a job in the sports industry, office manager for an agent, which led to a job in the marketing department for a major sports team. People have not got the SLIGHTEST idea of how intensely stressful, complicated and difficult it is to work in the industry, especially as a woman, and make it look like it’s a great time.

I tried going to a headache specialist. He put me on some ergotamine and belladonna stuff, with a major painkiller to take when I got a headache, which were increasing again. I tried, I honestly really tried to follow his instructions to a T, but to no avail. Once again I heard, “Well, I suppose you’re getting another one of your headaches again?” this time from my boss. I quit after two seasons.

Fast forward to when my older son was about a year old, and I’m hit with a migraine the likes of which I hadn’t had in years. I got to the ER and was given an injection of Imitrex. I’ll never forget, the clouds opened up and the angels sang the hallelujah chorus!!!

I still get frequent migraines, but my doctors and I have been playing with my meds the last 10 years, and what I’m taking now seems to be the best fit for me right now, but I will say that I’m taking gabapentin and maxalt. And doing okay.

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