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College student living with migraines

At the age of 18, as a freshman in college, I was diagnosed with migraines. I wish I knew at the time how this would change my life forever. I’m now 21, still trying to deal with migraines. I’m currently in nursing school and almost everyday is an uphill battle.

I wish I knew exactly what triggered my migraines when I first started college. I personally thought it was the stress, but who knows. I was having migraines every week… stuck in bed, crying. Luckily, my mother has chronic migraines and she took me to her neurologist. They diagnosed me with migraines and started to try out some sample medications with me. Nothing seemed to work. I was stuck getting infusion treatments ALL THE TIME as my “rescue treatment/medicine” because there was nothing out there that would really help me just yet. I was exhausted and irritated. I ended up failing one class that semester because of how much school I was missing to get treated for my migraines and being hospitalized. That to me was devastating. I was kicked out of the program I was in at the time (surgical technology) and had to rethink what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to apply. My mom and I had to come up with a plan with my neurologist to somehow get these migraines under control. I ended up getting an MRI and it showed I had some brain lesions, little white spots in the middle of my brain. Naturally, I freaked out. So did my mom. But my neurologist reassured me that they were normal for people with chronic migraines.

It took a couple years for me to try and discover treatments that would work for me. The side effects for some of these drugs were overpowering for me and I couldn’t handle it. I tried everything under the sun, but nothing worked. I was on amitriptyline for a couple months to manage my headaches and migraines. I hated the way it made me feel, because it was an antidepressant. Don’t get me wrong, it may work for a lot of people out there, and it helped me for a little while but it just didn’t cut it for me. So I discontinued it.

A couple months ago, I started doing nerve blocks. I wanted to try the Botox injections before the nerve blocks, but It wasn’t really working out with my insurance. So I started with the nerve blocks. I was skeptical at first because first off, who wants a needle inserted in their head?! (It’s really not that bad). I started getting them every two months; two injections at the back of my head, lower neck area. My neurologist would always tell me before she injected me, to stay limp. But my neck muscles are so tense from getting migraines, it’s almost impossible for me to stay limp!

My migraines started to decrease, and I wasn’t sure if it was really working at first. But after a couple more months of injections, I think I can say that they are working pretty well.
There are some days that I struggle to get to school and sit in my nursing lectures but overall I believe it has helped me. I’m still struggling to find a migraine rescue medicine. I have a million samples at my house, but I’m so scared of trying them because In the past of taking sample medications, some intensified my migraines to the point where I was crying, ready to rip out my hair from the pressure and pain. I’m still thinking about the piercing everyone is raving about, and maybe even getting massages to try to loosen up my tense muscles.

I am almost an RN… but I aspire to be a nurse anesthetist. I still have quite some time until I’m an anesthetist but I know for sure that migraines won’t get in the way of that.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • tlocker
    3 years ago

    Glad you have some relief; I attempted to update my skills and was accepted into the Intensive NP program at Vanderbilt. Two struggling semesters and $60K in student loans later I gave it up when I as told by the Dean, they “do not have accommodations for individuals with intermittent chronic diseases”.

    I already had an advanced degree in another field, NEVER a problem. From talking to others, nursing and medical programs seem to be the LEAST understanding of chronic illnesses. Odd.

    Universities/colleges have a student disability office that can produce letters for your Professors outlining accommodations; just as they do for people in wheelchairs, hearing impairment, ADHD and nowadays, Bipolar D/O and even Schizophrenia.

    Get with one of their Disability Counselors with documentation from MD, and ask specifically how they manage ADA requirements.

    Best of luck in your education.

  • 19mkjt3
    3 years ago

    Yes, definitely register with the disability people on campus.
    Mine can’t really help me with much, but I can get access to a room with a rudimentary bed in it, and they’re great for alternative assessment and helping with deadlines.

  • Brooke H moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Tlocker, Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I’m so sorry you had to deal with less than understanding administration of our former NP program. We appreciate your kind words to the author and those struggling with disability in college. Please come here anytime for support. We are grateful to have you as a member of the community! Best, Brooke ( team)

  • livbattista author
    3 years ago

    Wow thank you for your input, I never thought about going to talk with the people in the disability office. I will definitely give it a try!

  • Holly G.
    3 years ago

    I often wonder just how strong the stress-migraine connection is…mine are way worse when I’m taking college classes (and they started in undergrad like yours did too). I’m glad the nerve blocks are helping some! Hang in there – one step at a time anything is possible!

  • livbattista author
    3 years ago

    Thank you! P

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi livbattista, thanks for sharing your story. We wish you all the best in school, your experience will make you a wonderfully empathetic practitioner! We’re glad that you’re part of the community! – All Best, Donna ( team)

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