Maybe I AM a tough cookie!

Last updated: February 2022

My migraines started the day I experienced a ruptured cerebral aneurysm with subarachnoid hemorrhage on April 23, 2012. I was an oncology nurse, on my way to work that Monday.

Post-procedure pain

I survived, but suffer from chronic migraine. When I awoke in the ICU my neurosurgeon was just pulling back the curtain to check on me. I recall my head feeling like it was going to literally explode! With both of my hands holding my painful head I asked, “Doc, what are we gonna do for this head pain?” He replied, “Be glad you are alive!” I thought he must be joking.

Although he was my doctor I had not met him before because I was unconscious when he went inside my brain to stop the bleeding and repair the aneurysm site. So, again I asked, “What are we gonna do about this head pain?” And once again he replied, “Be glad you are alive!”

That evening, I met the doctor’s colleague. I repeated the short conversation to him, he replied, “Oh! So you met Dr. _____! That is just him. Everyone says he doesn’t have a great bedside manner, but he is a very talented neurosurgeon.”

A decade with chronic migraine...

Fast forward almost 10 years! I have experienced too many migraines to count although, I could count the number of days in which I have NOT experienced head pain at some point in the day on just my two hands. Saying chronic migraine is awful is a huge understatement. They are extremely painful and isolating. They really are indescribable at times. They are often debilitating.

Quite often they reduce the quality of life and can lead to depression. I wish I had a talent for drawing how a migraine feels, although I think my drawings would be rather macabre. Sometimes, they would include an ax (to the top of my head), fire, crushing stainless steel instruments, Halo traction, and even a drill or bullet entering behind my right ear.

My support system

The good news is I am a survivor! And each year I seem to improve a little bit. The best part is I have a loving and supportive husband, sister, adult children, and grandchildren. I actually had pretty much NO life for the first 8 years post aneurysm. I struggled to survive with chronic pain and went through a depression period twice. There were times when migraines would almost get the best of me.

Even though I had no life, life was not uneventful. My spouse of 38 years (I am 60) met someone else and we have since divorced. That is another story, another time. Let’s just say, modern technology is great sometimes. I discovered my ex was stepping out on our marriage when he sent the wrong text to me one evening while he was at work. It was a text meant for “her."

I have since met and am remarried to a wonderful, caring, kind, and supportive man! We face each day together, despite me having migraines. I don’t know what I would do without him. He is a great caregiver when I reach out and let him care for me. As a former nurse, I was on the caregiving end. Now, I am on the recipient end.

Coping with daily head pain

Migraines are so painful, always trying to steal our joy. And, as we all know, when you are in the middle of a migraine joy is NOT a word that comes to mind. The support of someone who loves you is priceless. We all know how terribly frustrated our loved ones can get by witnessing our pain day after day and not being able to “fit it.”

Unfortunately, it is an invisible disease with no cure. Most of the time, we look normal and sound normal but, we have become great actors. We do indeed get used to living with a certain amount of pain every day. We try treatment after treatment, anything just to get SOME relief. We have daily ups and downs.

What works for me

I personally, love ice on my head during a migraine! And fortunately, sometimes the medications DO work. Advanced therapies have been approved in recent years and with each one we have hope. Oh! What it would be like! To be headache-free once again. I think sometimes, people take good health and pain-free life for granted.

Not us! I wait for the day! I certainly hope so! Anyway, if you are a novice migraineur or a seasoned professional; stay strong, keep the faith and DO look forward to a pain-free head one day. I hope!

Wedding day

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