Hope for Chronic Migraines
I am 37 and have been suffering from migraines for about 20 years. I remember as a kid being very sensitive to the sun and having fainting episodes on hot days in California. I started getting headaches in Junior High and started wearing glasses when I was 15. I went through a lot of turmoil in my life as a teenager and was very lucky to have met husband at 18, which helped lead me away from all the troubles of my family. We married when I was 21 and now have 2 boys and have been together for almost 20 years.
I worked in the music industry throughout my 20’s. For 3 of those years I was a Sales Rep and carried around heavy catalogs in a bag slung over my right shoulder. I started getting chronic pain and more frequent migraines in my mid twenties when I was very heavy and was sitting down most of my day at work. My doctor gave me Imitrex which made me sick to my stomach and then tried Zomig that made me dizzy. I told her that both my uncle and grandma died of brain tumors, but she said that since I had been suffering from migraines for this long I would have been dead if i had a brain tumor. So the doctor finally had me try Maxalt (Rizatriptan) which for me was a miracle drug. I had finally found something to take away the migraines. The trick was I had to take it right at the onset of the headache. She also put me on Atenelol to prevent the migraines. I also learned food journal that I should not eat bacon or drink red wine as these were triggers for my migraines.
I decided to join Weight Watchers and lost 50 lbs. Things were better for a while and I was able to control the pain. I moved up to Oregon where I found another desk job paying better, but had a lot more stress. My neck pain got worse and I was getting 3-4 migraines a week. I started seeing a chiropractor 3 times a week which included exercises and traction. After 2 years of intense treatment my migraines dropped down to once a month. During the process I also had my first son. I had a pretty easy pregnancy, but the downfall was I could not take my Maxalt. Luckily I only had a few migraines. However, one was so bad that I was in bed for 3 days with stabbing pain that I can honestly say was worse than labor.
My second pregnancy (2 years later) was also pretty easy, but again I had one migraine episode that was so bad I went to the ER. They gave me Vicodin for the pain which made me sick to my stomach, dizzy and ended up throwing up making the stabbing pain even worse. I ended up taking a Maxalt (even though I wasn’t supposed to) just to stop the pain. I remember thinking how stupid it was that they would give you a narcotic while you are pregnant, but not something that I know works for me just because it hasn’t been tested. Luckily both my boys came out healthy and I had easy labor and delivered them both naturally with no drugs. I think that dealing with the pain of migraines, I had built up a higher pain tolerance. Don’t get me wrong childbirth did hurt like hell, but it was nothing compared to stabbing pain of a migraine and afterword you have a wonderful baby to take your mind off the pain.
After my second son I could no longer afford the chiropractor, so the neck pain slowly got worse. It also did not help that I was sleep deprived from having a newborn and a 2 year old to take care of. I was working 6am-3pm, so me and my husband could work opposite shifts and not have to pay for childcare. I started popping 6-8 Advil a day to deal with the chronic pain. I look back at that 1st year with my second son and honestly it is a blur, I really don’t know how I survived it with no help from family or friends, but somehow we got through it.
Fast forward 2 years and I ended up with an ulcer and chronic stomach pain from all the Advil. Everyone tells you not to take Advil frequently, but if you do please trust me that one day it will catch up to you and unfortunately for me my stomach will never be the same. I am now on prevacid to deal with the ulcer and now pop 6-8 Tylenol a day instead and worry about my liver. My Kaiser doctor tries several preventative medicines, but nothing works and most make my migraines worse. I also tried acupuncture, and have some results but also can’t afford to go consistently. The only thing that seems to help is getting a deep tissue massage about once a month and going to yoga once a week.
Unfortunately my massage therapist retires and I stop getting massages. My migraines get much worse and am now getting them 4-6 times a week. Finally this year I switched to Blue Cross and decide to see a Neurologist specializing in Migraines. After dozens of doctors and many different medications, not once has anyone ever suggested that I get an MRI. She also asked me lots of questions not just about my headaches but about my whole body. It was so nice to finally feel like someone honestly cares about my well being and really wants to help.
So she referred me to get an MRI, a sleep study and lots of blood tests. Turns out I have sleep apnea and a vitamin D deficiency. She also gave me Verapamil which seems to be helping to prevent the migraines. She said that most of my migraines are rebound headaches and by taking more than 2 Maxalt a week my body is becoming dependent on it which may be causing the withdrawal headaches. In the meantime.
I also started making green smoothies with my Nutri-Bullet and have noticed a huge difference. I honestly think that maybe we are all just not getting enough nutrients in our bodies. With all of these changes I have not had a migraine in 6 days, something that hasn’t happened in over a year. I am still waiting on the results of the MRI but whatever the outcome at least I will know for sure what is going on with my brain. I am hopeful that this next year will be better and I can finally get my migraines under control. By sharing my story I hope that I will inspire others to seek out a neurologist. Most of all, I know what it is like to suffer from chronic pain and know how debilitating it can be. I am so happy I found this forum. Wishing everyone better health in 2014.