I Have Always Been Sick
I was always the “sick” kid. My siblings were always saying I missed school just because I didn’t like it. What they failed to understand is that I WAS sick. I just didn’t know it.
My parents were always taking me to doctors since I was about 10 because I had intestinal issues. At 18, the doctors finally just said I had irritable bowel syndrome after numerous visits to children hospitals and several uncomfortable tests and left it at that. But during all this, I had these nagging eye headaches. They weren’t TERRIBLE, but they were noticeable. I did tell my mom about this and she took me to an eye doctor and everything came back fine. But my headaches doesn’t get resolved. I was getting than more than ever. Not wanting to add more financial burden on my parents, I just to OTC pain meds and went on my merry way.
Pretty soon, I began to notice that Ibuprofen wasn’t working anymore so I switched to acetaminophen. When that stopped working, I combined the two. Then I tried Excedrin. Then Excedrin Migraine and any other OTC you can think of. The pain started getting worse and developed more on the right side of my neck and travelled from the base of my skull to that back of my right eye and temple. And these terror headaches were happening more and more frequently. When doing research, I determined these must be more than just headaches. At this point, I just stopped taking OTC. They just. Don’t. Work.
When I was on my own and got a full time job, I noticed these headaches getting worse with stress and anxiety. I have always been an overly anxious person, even as a kid. So much so that I begged my mom to homeschool me so I didn’t have to interact with other kids. I’m better with it today, but when I’m feeling a slight bit anxious about work or anything, almost ANYTHING can trigger a migraine attack.
One particular day at work, I had a migraine so bad that I passed out at work in bathroom stall and had to have my sister drive me to the hospital to make sure I didn’t hit my head (I didn’t). Doctor in the E.R. prescribed me atenolol for prevention of migraines. Finally! A Diagnosis. Unfortunately, all atenolol did was make me pass out. Go figure.
As I was getting more and more migraines and missing more and more work, I decided to start making good use of my new health insurance. But keep in mind, I had to travel about 1.5 hours to visit my doctor every time. The health insurance I was on was only accepted in certain towns.
The first doctor I visited about migraines put me on Fioricet which is a barbiturate. Did. Not. Do. A. Thing. I promptly went back and then was put on the miracle that is Sumatriptan (or Imatrex), a migraine abortarive that I still currently take. The ONLY drug or really ANYthing that will ease or stop my migraines. However, I had it increased 3 times and am currently on the highest dose which I deplete every month. I sometimes run out and have to wait for my next refill, which sucks when you’re day 2 in a migraine cycle and your prescription isn’t ready to be picked up yet. Happens all to often. I do get some negative side effects from the medication, like drowsiness and slowed thought process. Sometimes my neck and chest will feel tightened. Almost like you’re short of breath. But better than having a migraine!
Two years ago, I asked about another prevention method so I can manage my migraines better. My doctor then put me on 50mg Topiramate (Topamax.) Again, I had it increased to 100mg so I can see more results. There are a TON of negative side effects. I currently experience tingly hands and feet, drowsiness, brain fog, short term memory, lethargy and trouble retaining information. I experience those side effects when I have a migraine anyway so I feel pretty dumb almost all the time!
I had seen a neurologist who I REALLY liked. He even prescribed me a muscle relaxer for my neck and ordered an MRI. Unfortunately, I changed jobs and my insurance fell through so MRI for this girl.
Fast forward to today. My migraines are actually getting worse. I’m experiencing new symptoms that are starting to scare me. Apparently sinuses popping and feeling full are a symptom? When a migraine is particularly aggressive, the right side of my face will get numb. They’re taking over my life. I’m beginning to not be able to work anymore. And I’m only 27.
Usually, my routine is a bottle of Sprite (for nausea), an ice pack, a sumatriptan or two, a dark room and my bed when I can afford the time. Sometimes I do not have a choice and I just have to get to the bed. I’m up to 15 plus migraine days a month. Some migraines last 4 days or longer. Some are just extremely painful and all I can do is cry.
I’m just learning that anxiety, IBS and migraines are all linked somehow. That explains a lot. My siblings and other doubters see now that I have always had a deeper issue than just “missing school because I didn’t want to go.” It’s much more than than that.
I have always been sick.