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Not Like Moms

I’ve had migraines for as long as I can remember. So did my mother, several of my cousins and aunts. We lived in Colorado when I remember my first debilitating migraine (I think I was about 12). My mom insisted that I had a sinus infection/headache due to weather changes and my allergies, that it couldn’t be a migraine because she had migraines and my symptoms weren’t the same as hers.

Mom had/has light, smell and sound sensitivity, and the horrendous headache…needs a dark room and her Imitrex for a few hours, has her migraine hangover and she gets on with her day. Even if that’s the next day. I had all of that. I also had vomiting, dizziness, weakness, neck pain, aura, eye pain…Mom stuck me in a hot shower, gave me sinus medication (probably Sudafed) and propped me up in bed with a vaporizer and a glass of water. Well, I know now that weather changes, allergies and sinus issues could have brought on the migraine; but at the time Mom said it wasn’t a migraine. I believed her. And I kept believing her for many years. Through the years, four children, birth control brought on a horrible headache that my doctors did tell me were migraines but I would seemingly stop getting them when I would go off a particular type of pill and onto a new one. For a few months anyway.

Fast forward to August 2005, I was terribly sick for days. The worst headache I’d ever had, vomiting, unable to even get up. My boyfriend at the time took me to an Urgent Care clinic where they asked me, “How long have you been getting migraines?” They rehydrate me, gave me two shots that I don’t even remember what they were now, and prescribed Imitrex. I was surprised! From 1983 I’d had these headaches, and not one person had said migraine!

I worked in a casino on the main floor…full of flashing lights, noise, people, smoke, fast pace and stress. Starting in December 2008 I was getting fairly nasty headaches. I’d pop Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen, and go on with my day. The headaches got worse and my days off were usually spent in bed with my Imitrex. February 4, 2009 I woke up with the WORST migraine I’d ever had! Called in to work, told them I’d taken my migraine pill, and if I could get rid of it, I’d be in. I got up to go to the bathroom and fell. My right side didn’t work. Damn. I got back to bed with the help of the wall and fell back to sleep fitfully for a few hours. I woke up vomiting, but couldn’t get to the bathroom. My roommate cleaned up and brought me a bucket. I noticed I couldn’t see very well either. I figured it was the worst migraine I’d ever had as my head felt like it’d be better off my body, and I fell back to sleep until the next day. I couldn’t hold down water, nothing. We went to Urgent Care. Meds for nausea and and IV for hydration. Day 3-Bland food stayed down, still can’t walk well, vision still blurry. Day 4-Back to Urgent Care. Diagnosed with vertigo. Day 5-Feeling like I’ve been on a 5 day bender except I can’t walk or see well. We go to the ER and find out I had several small strokes followed by a major one. I spent 5 days in the hospital, 6 months with a cane and on blood thinners, and 3 months off work. It took the doctors several months and countless vials of blood to realize my stroke was caused by what they called complex migraines.

I spent 2 1/2 more years working at the casino, and just was terminated in June due to “excessive absences”. I’m looking for a job I can do without as much noise, smoke and lights. Headaches are scary not just for me, but for my kids. We no longer have a roommate, so it’s just us. I stay on top of the smallest twinge and don’t take any chances. My boyfriend now is very supportive and understanding. Knows where my Imitrex is, knows that if I happen to get a migraine all he can do is give me dark and quiet…we’re still working on coming in all the time to check on me. LOL

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.


  • Melisa Fisher
    8 years ago

    Jenn and Cassandra~Right after the stroke, I was off of work for 3 months and had no FMLA left to use. I was terminated from the casino in June of this year for excessive absences due to migraines. The casino is tribal owned and my dr works for the tribe, would never sign off for intermittent FMLA. My neurologist just kept telling me to see my primary dr. Cassandra, I can’t sue the casino since it was in my initial job description of the environment I’d be working in and I took the job willingly.
    Katie~I wasn’t aware that imitrex and triptans can cause strokes. I’ll be sure to ask about that at my next appointment.

  • Dawn Raymond
    8 years ago

    I have also experienced what I would call violent migraines that even remained intactable t.
    admitted to the hospital, with potent meds. IV hydration had to be given using a “butterfly iv needle, cuz my veins were so delicate a slow drip and shot given was busting the veins in my arm, that hurts too. I live with chronic intactable migraines. My family has them, and each of ours differ to some degree. Mine seem the worst of the bunch. I worked under the fmla act for a bank for years, the last two years even exceeding the 12 weeks. I had management that understood, and knew when I was working, I was focused and would do everything asked and more. I had to make myself worth keeping. But, finally I did decide to go out on disability w / 2doctors help. I also got all and any paperwork, not just medical but HR records and letters and 5 years of my attendance. I was approved for disability, my first and only attempt, without a lawyer. I hope to ease the stress and pain of living with chronic and/or intractable migraine sufferers. Being disabled and stuck at home is not my ideal of living life on my terms, but for now its all I can do. So far no strokes, however MRI revealed the two times my brother passed out, it was due to two small strokes brought on by his migraines. Both at work. FMLA is a wonderful thing, Disability is for ones that exceed the allowed 12 weeks. What Ive learned, each day one at a time. 🙂

  • Dawn Raymond
    8 years ago

    Intractable- sorry touch screen kept dropping the R! My diagnosis being chronic intractable migraines or complicated migraine. Only 10% of all sufferers will ever suffer to this extreme.

  • Katie Robinson
    8 years ago

    I hope you are being taken care of now by a migraine or headache specialist. In some migraine suffers imitrex or any other triptan is not advised and can cause strokes. You definitely want to be sure to have the correct diagnosis. I was treated by a local neurologist for migraines without much success before finally finding a specialist. In the last 30 daysI have been weaned off of the topamax that I had been given as a preventive. I was diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines and have a new treatment plan after going through a lot of blood work and mra/mri w/without contrast. And this doctor understands the migraine hangover too!

  • Jenn R
    8 years ago

    hate the afteraffects of migraine almost as much as the headache itself…def. look into the FMLA your neurologist should be able to help w/this.

  • Cassandra Denniss Jamet
    8 years ago

    oh my. That is terrible! Did you try to get the FMLA? My migraines get that bad and it is very hard for me to function – even more so afterwards because of the “headache hangover”. I would sue the pants off that casino.

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