Attempting to live a full life with chronic migraine at 22

Last updated: September 2018

Two weeks after I had my wisdom teeth out, I started having headaches. I was on a month long break from school, so I was getting plenty of sleep and had a low level of stress. I figured I would give it time to resolve itself. Over the next few months however, my headaches got worse, and it became clear once they turned into daily SEVERE "headaches" that something else was wrong. This was over two years ago.

Since then, I have battled against this disease psychologically and with real-life treatments. At the time I was diagnosed with Chronic Migraine, I was a full-time sophomore private college with an office job on the side. I had more energy than I could explain before the headaches started. I was actually genuinely happy to do all of the bottom of the totem pole work they gave me at my job. I had the energy to get up at 6, go to 3 classes, work until 5, do volunteer orgs until 7, and study until 9 then do it all again the next day. I did this all with great health, amazing friendships, Dean's list status, and plenty of time for family.

The diagnosis stole my life. What once was easy became tiring and difficult. I became somewhat depressed, yet stayed determined to find out what was wrong. I was convinced it was the wisdom teeth surgery that had caused my pain-it seemed so clear cut. My neurologist was a headache specialist who said he had never heard of that causing migraines. He told me to start exercising and eating better. Exercise easily made the headaches worse and I already was eating well and had tried cutting out all of the supposed triggers. OTC pain meds did nothing and sumatriptan made me feel, well...drunk.

I tried IV treatments for the migraines which just left me feeling neasous. After spending $1000 on chiropractic work, I decided I had had enough of that. I was hospitalized and morphine was the only thing to get rid of the pain. Massage did nothing - the therapist asked if I had been in a car accident because I seemed to have whiplash.

My neurologist then suggested everything was "in my head". When I got the opinon of a psychologist, she spent quite a bit of time with me, and determined that it absolutely was not in my head. Reluctantly, my doctor put me on a daily medication for prevention. A month later I was oddly 30 pounds heavier, with stretch marks and cellulite covering my body. I contacted him and then and ONLY then did he let me know that yes, that was a common side effect. I am permanently scarred, and have only lost 10 of those pounds since exercise makes the DAILY headaches worse.

I'm not myself anymore psychologically since I constantly battle the pain. I still have made Dean's list every semester since and am now a Senior in my last semester of college. I have the opportunity to try Botox and would also at some point like to try physical therapy. Money of course is difficult since I've had to miss so much of an already low paying job (for headaches, and for being sick last semester, as well as a tonsillectomy) and am a college student.

This is my story. I hope one day to be free of this pain, and to really be myself again. I want to be able to live as a young person while I am young. I want to be who I really am again.

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