My Migraine Life
October 1973, my parents were called to the scene of a terrible car accident. It was mine. My upper body was thrown out of the car and I had head trauma. After three days I regained consciousness. The knee injuries confined me to a cast, but no obvious effects resulted from the head injuries.
My first sign of migraine
October 1975 found me at college and I woke up one day with a terrible headache. I held still in my bed because movement made my head throb. I was in so much pain I couldn't even get up to get Tylenol. I begged my roommates to keep the curtains closed, the light was like a sword running through my eyes into my brain.
After three days of missing classes, I finally was pain-free, but weak. I continued to miss classes occasionally. I was 2,000 miles from home, so at Christmas break, I was able to get home and go to a neurologist appointment. Hours later, the neurologist pronounced his diagnosis, vascular headaches otherwise known as migraines. I was stunned! Eighteen-year-old girls didn't get migraines! That was a condition aging socialites suffered from. My neurologist did a quick education and prescribed an ergot-based medication. My mom asked if these headaches were the result of the accident. The neurologist said that nothing indicated structural damage, so in his opinion, it did not.
I returned to school and the medication took care of the headaches but resulted in my being very lightheaded. I learned, after some time, that certain things set off my headaches. I was a dancer so late-night shows, long practices, and missed meals helped me figure out what triggered my headaches. Migraineurs seemed to find each other and conversations helped us figure out our condition and treatment.
After I married I discovered the problem with medicine. For my first pregnancy, I was advised to still take my migraine medication. The next pregnancy I was told that the medication would hurt the baby. "Awesome," I thought. "What did I do to my previous child?" Medical knowledge changes can really stress out patients with chronic conditions.
Parenting with migraine
I was still taking the original medication I was prescribed. Sometimes I didn't pay attention and I ended up vomiting and being bedridden for days. As a parent, keeping headaches under control became really important. When I was in pain I wasn't a good parent. That motivated me to find ways to manage my pain. I didn't want to miss events or not be a good parent.
Doing my own research
When I was able to access the internet I felt empowered. I was able to take information to my doctor and ask intelligent questions. Finally, the medical establishment acknowledged the role of head trauma in migraines. Medical research was improving and subsequent MRIs, medication changes, and lifestyle changes helped my life to be more normal.
When I hit my 50's, suddenly my triggers were not the same. I ended up with other neuromuscular diseases; fibromyalgia and arthritis and ongoing insomnia. A chronic pain diagnosis followed. I had to quit work and more medical investigation followed.
I am still trying to find answers and many days I am not able to do standard errands, i.e., grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions. I recently had to cancel a weekend with two granddaughters, which hurt my heart. Migraines have impacted my children, my marriage, and my work/ career. Apps like Migraine Buddy have connected me with chat groups and helped me provide specialists with cohesive and accurate records. My life is still terribly impacted by migraines but I have hope for the future.
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