Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

My Story

Hey everyone, I’m new to the site but I have certainly enjoyed reading all of the articles so far.

It my sound strange but I live on an l8,000 acre cattle ranch in South Central Florida that has been in my family for 3 generations. I received my law degree from the University of Florida but after a few years of really exciting civil litigation cases, being indoors, dealing with corporate clients and in court…rarely being able to get out in the fresh air…I realized that I although I was successful, I was so miserable, having terrible migraines and so stressed, I left the firm and went back to the ranch. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my law practice and the attorneys I worked with, but it just was not my cup of tea. I guess the saying is true, “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl”.

I had my first migraine when I turned 24. I went through a caring family doctor, rude neurologists, everyone (including myself) thinking that I needed to “cowgirl up” and work through the pain because I love riding horses, working our cattle, but I was dying. It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I found a neurologist/psychiatrist and he combined anxiety meds along with meds for my headaches which had gotten worse due to a head injury on the ranch (caused me to have seizures). He worked with me for 4 years to get the right combination of meds and things were perfect but when he passed away, I am almost back to square one with my treatment. Doctors and their egos, I swear. Oh, they know better than my previous neurologist/psychiatrist and they won’t prescribe the meds he did. Now I have developed chronic migraines and on top of that, I have “ice-pick headaches”. I hope none of you ever have to experience those headaches. I take Relpax for them and Tylenol#3. The Relpax is pretty good but my system is different from most…narcotics do me very weird, the Tylenol#3 makes me jittery. I am trying to manage my chronic migraines with Topamax, Inderal, and Fioricet…meditation…and my love of training horses. I find that very relaxing and I keep busy training the horses for our ranch.

I still feel lost when it comes to my treatment by my new neurologist. He is very nice but the last time I saw him, I told him to stop being so condescending to me. I am used to dealing with strong men that deal straight and I was sick of his pussy-footing around and he might as well tell me that he is not going to do anything further to help me. I hate to have my hand patted and to be told that it will get better. I walk out of there with the beginnings of a tension headache every time.

Having these headaches for 36 years really wears on you and I truly hate the way my life has had to work around them. My mother, her sisters, and now my daughter, who just turned 24, all have migraines. My insurance will not pay for Botox so I will keep doing what I am doing but these ice-pick headaches are the worst.

It’s nice to share my story with you. I hope to hear from everyone.

Linda

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

Comments

  • lindakay author
    2 years ago

    I will Google that info–I always love checking out other ranching outfits but I sure do hate to see them in trouble. I had a friend in college from Australia and his family was in the cattle business and he was thrilled when he found out that we used the long whips…that’s why we are called “Florida Crackers”. I am a 4th generation Florida Cracker and my daughter is a 5th generation. You should google the history behind “Florida Crackers”. When he found out that my Daddy could make his own whips, he would spend all of his college breaks down at our ranch. As a graduation present, he bought me and Daddy an Akubra hat each and we got him a Stetson hat and Daddy made him a 12 foot whip.

    Thanks for the info and you stay safe. It’s a little after 4AM here (Thursday) and I still can’t get to sleep because of the pain. I will have to get a refill of my Relpax & Tylenol #3 tomorrow morning because we have about 400+ cattle to work and that many more for the next several days. Your infamous “Alice” days (I just love that) and working in 90 degree heat in the cowpens doesn’t bode well for my headache. I need to go feed the horses now anyway.
    Stay in touch. Me and my funky aura will be right here…I think I shall name it “The Mad Hatter”!

  • Jojiieme
    2 years ago

    http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/4566551/watch-gold-coast-cows-rescued-from-flood-waters/

    In case you couldn’t find a link.
    Hope your symptoms ease a bit! {hug}

  • lindakay author
    2 years ago

    Well hey JOJ! So glad you made it through Cyclone Debbie okay. Oh how I feel for the farmers. You know, we here in Florida have to deal with hurricanes and we always leave 7,000 acres of our 18,000 acre ranch ungroomed. That means that the 7,000 acres are woods, and pretty much palmetto growth, along with grass just in case we get flooded. That way if the grass sours on the improved side, we can move our cattle to the rough side and they may not get fat, but they won’t starve. My prayers are always with the farmers because agriculture is big here in Florida and for farmers, with the weather, it’s a gamble every year. My godfather was the Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Florida for many years and I told him that you would have to put a gun to my head to make me become a farmer. The only thing I gamble on is the All American Futurity (quarter horse race) held in Ruidoso, New Mexico every year. Win a million in 17 seconds in 1/4 mile on the most gorgeous animals I have ever seen. One of my Daddy’s best friends had 2 quarter horses that won that race and I was lucky enough to have 1 colt and 1 filly sired by each stallion.
    Speaking of sugarcane, when I was little, that used to be a treat for us! My Daddy or Granddaddy would peel it for me and my brother and cut it in small sections and we would chew it until the sugar was all gone…spit that out and get another piece! We also had cane syrup with my Granny’s buttermilk biscuits too.
    I am glad that we have a short day today. As you have put it in my brain I woke up at 6AM in the “Alice” mode. My oh my how time drags when you have a bad one. Take care and I will touch base later when I can think with more clarity. Thanks for the info re: your allergist and have fun on your 2 weeks leave. I take it that is like vacation?

  • Jojiieme
    2 years ago

    Yep, annual leave= paid vacation time from work.

    It didn’t stop raining all night; it’s now 4pm and still last stopped. We had to cancel our program today; the word went out from Head Office around 7:30am not to bother bringing people in, or keeping the Centres/offices open. Within an hour, there was minor flash-flooding in various areas known for poor drainage. A lot of land here is reclaimed wetlands of one kind or another, plus we have more canals than Venice, Italy (number and distance).

    We’ve had annual rainfall in 24hours/36hours in some places here (not up north where it was an actual cyclone, here where it’s just a storm). South of us, they’re evacuating towns we visit on day-trips. And they say it’s going to get worse until tomorrow evening.

    Strangely, no migraine at all today! I’m zinging inside, and only drinking water. But no migraine at all.

    Your family history is fascinating!
    Google Carrara cows + cyclone Debbie; you get something on Facebook about the evacuation of the local urban cows.

  • Jojiieme
    2 years ago

    Hi again lindakay, and Katyb
    Here in Queensland it’s almost 1am, and I’m starting to catch the “tropical storm” that’s the southern edge of the coastal gale that’s the lingering bits of ex-Cyclone Debbie. We have a gale warning in effect for winds up to 90kph up until 5am, when the next warnings/weather updates will be issued.
    Today (Thursday) is a paid workday for me, I need to be at the office by 7:30am. Um, yeah. I can’t be late – I have the keys! Plus the ingredients for morning tea and lunch for the program participants. Also, it’s my last day before 2 weeks leave…
    Right now though, there’s a cleaver vertically chopping through my left eye and the scalp above; a can opener is trying to lift off my forehead; my left hand fingers won’t stop twitching, my stomach is churning as the room around me seems to dissolve and re-solidify every few minutes. I think the vertigo is the worst thing tonight.
    I saw my allergist on Tuesday, truly informative on some latest research in all kinds of areas. In relation migraines, she reminded me to be aware of my posture and of how I hold my neck, my chin, my shoulders and my hips/tailbone. If any of these aren’t in perfect alignment, the pressure and strain on the rest of the body’s muscles and nerves set us up for floods of nociceptive pain signals – which won’t respond well to pain reliever meds.
    It doesn’t take much to cause that strain: I’ve been looking down on my iPad too much, and walking round-shouldered. When I straighten and relax my shoulders, my chest straightens and opens, and my hips move forward. When I lift my chin to align with the new shoulder line, the back of my head feels less tense, and spasms around my ears and jawline, my eyes and forehead ease a little.
    Just done it as I wrote – it’s helped! 🙂 🙂 I’m going to bed, while I can!! Lindakay, google Cyclone Debbie and pray for the Aussie farmers – sugarcane growers just lost their entire harvest, and most of the winter veggie crops.

  • lindakay author
    2 years ago

    Hey katyb…what karma—everyone in the cattle business calls me “KatieBell”. My Daddy started calling me that when I was 3 and started riding great big quarter horses with him and he bought me my first horse when I turned 4. Needless to say my Mother was not happy. “Southern Bells” are to learn to take ballet, play the piano, cook, sew, and the list goes on. I took ballet and took piano lessons just to keep the peace but that was it!

    Now to the important and painful crap! I’m 60 and my migraines started at age 24. Mine would last for a week or so at first but I was lucky to have a doctor that would give me pain shots and then pain meds to take with me. He knew if I came to see him, it was bad. Mine became chronic at the age of 29. I had a brain injury on the ranch and my headaches, including occasional seizures, went crazy from there. I tried the injectible imitrex and it did NOTHING. Like you, I would rather die than take prednisone or the Medrol pack. If you really do some research on those drugs, you will find that they are extremely harmful to your body. My cousin is the Chief of Staff at a hospital in Virginia and he told me that it is so very detrimental for physicians to be handing this stuff out like candy (1) because of what it does to your body, & (2) because of the withdrawal side effects. After I took a round of it for pneumonia, I thought I was going to die and from then on, I just say that I am allergic to it. I’m not supposed to take anti-inflammatory meds anyway. The best thing I have found for the really bad days is a drug called RELPAX with Tylenol#3. I don’t know if you have tried the Relpax but it has been a life saver for me. I don’t even know that I am taking anything except that the pain stops after a few days. To head off the big ones, I take fioricet, lyrica, valium (for seizure & migraine prevention), topamax (this drug doesn’t bother me), and inderal. Because I have a high tolerance towards medication, I take large doses of the meds I listed above and never get sleepy. I’m the weird woman that gets a shot of morphine or dilaudid and turn into a chatter box. I, too, am looking for a new neurologist once our busy season is over because I have developed “ice pick headaches” and I am sick and tired of having my hand patted and told it will get better. That makes me so mad I could spit nails. The lawyer in me wants to sue him and the cowgirl in me wants to rope him and drag him behind my horse!

    Well, Katyb, good hunting for a new specialist. I will be in your shoes soon. I wish you all the luck. I swear, if they said that standing on my head, naked, in the middle town would cure my headaches, I would do it in a heartbeat! Few people understand how bad we suffer.

    Keep in touch!

  • Jojiieme
    2 years ago

    The one thing that comforts me most is knowing how many “headache specialists” finally get migraines similar to ours, and suddenly understand how inadequate their textbook definitions have been.

  • Katyb
    2 years ago

    Linda – Your life on this ranch does not sound “strange” at all! In fact, I feel that you have a wonderful environment to live! Lucky you! It’s better than living in a big city with all that noise, etc. if you have painful migraines.
    Anyway, I thought I’d share my migraine story. I’m 63 yrs. old and have had migraines sporadically since I’m 18. Usually, a few times a year and they accelerated after having children. Mostly hormone related. Fast forward: I’ve been taking Imitrex since it was first introduced in the U.S. and it’s saved my life! I also take Fioricet for pain with it. Nothing else. Recently my family doctor has been concerned about the amount of Imitrex I take – 25 per month. Yes, it’s alot, but it works – has never not worked! He has consulted the writings of Dr. Alexander Mauskop of NYC and he is a world-renowned neurologist specializing in migraine. He believes that instead of pounding the body with nonsense drugs that don’t work (beta-blockers, anti epileptics, anti depressants, etc.) and IF – and only IF the triptans work for you (which they do), then, there is nothing wrong with taking one a day especially in the evening to get a good night’s sleep without waking with a full-blown migraine (like I do). So, it works for me – as they say.
    Well, now I’ve been advised to go to a neurologist who specializes in migraine to be open to finding a preventative. I agreed and found one in my area that is Board Certified and highly recommended.
    We tried Topamax – OMG the side effects of that were horrendous. Then, Nadoral (beta blocker) and it made my vision blurry. Also, an anti-depressant which I can’t recall and it made me depressed! I was “blue” every single day for a month – plus, had migraines. I really, really tried – was so hopeful that *something* would work. So, fast forward to a month ago: I got the Botox regimen that is approved by my insurance and the FDA. 31 units and so very hopeful. It doesn’t work. Approximately 3 wks. later I developed the migraine from Hell that lasted 5 days and flu-like symptoms. I called him and got Medrol dosepak (prednison for 6 days) and that helped for 2 days. Now, I’m aching all over and feel so horrible. I did a ton of research on the internet and talked to a surgeon at the cancer institute where I volunteer one day a week. He said that can happen and you have to wait until it wears off – 3 months! I’m one month yesterday. Why didn’t this happen right away? Why 3 weeks later and counting? He said my body is processing the toxin and it’s making me feel ill – like the flu minus the coughing and fever like the real flu. I am SO disgusted! Now comes the venting: he offered me NO pain meds – even a week’s worth to get me over the hump! I begged him and he said “no pain meds.” He’s a freaking neurologist that deals with people in pain! I yelled at him over the phone and really went ballistic. Coincidentally, my friend’s daughter works in the office and said he left with a migraine shortly after we talked and he never gets migraines! HA!
    Anyway, I do realize that for the most part that narcotics don’t help and I wasn’t asking for that – just something different from what I’m taking to break the cycle. He wouldn’t give in. That did it for me. I’m going in for an appt. in 2 wks. and that’s it. He never even called to ask how it was going – nothing. Just said, “I’ll see you in June for another round of Botox.” Seriously???? Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated.

  • lindakay author
    2 years ago

    Hey to KatyB, I haven’t heard from you and I have a break right now and have put on my list today to reply to those fellow migraine sufferers (that looks funny-pardon me, I have hardly slept in 3 days) that were so kind to me. How are you doing? I still have not been able to see my new specialist yet…appt on May 26. We are working so hard on the ranch to get ready to start shipping yearlings out to Texas to our feedlots. EAT MORE BEEF is our saying here!!! I have had a bad headache for 6 days now and I know the heat and humidity here in Florida is making things worse. Plus Florida has had about 90,000 acres of wildfires (some arson) throughout the state and we stay on high alert for that. Anyway, I just wanted to touch base with you to see how you were. Oh—my aunt, who is into natural remedies of all sorts, gave me a get of eucalyptus and spearmint that I keep in the frig so that it’s cold and then I rub it on my temples, forehead and neck and it does seem to help along with my meds. We are just working from 5:30AM to midnight or later. In Florida, we have to take a break during mid-day because the heat can really due serious damage to the cattle, horses, our cow dogs, and us.

    Hope to hear from you.

    LindaKay

  • lindakay author
    2 years ago

    Hey JoJo–I love your Alice in Wonderland analogy…how perfect. Our ranch is 18000 acres and we run between 2500 to 3000 cattle on it. Sometimes in my “Alice” moments, I just let my horse take over and the other cowboys worry that I have fallen asleep (I wish) or am going to have a seizure. Thank goodness I find comfort and tranquility on my horses and amongst our cattle but like you, some of the smallest sounds or a grating noise can almost bring me to my knees. You have no idea how I appreciate that you too hear sounds and you don’t know if they are real or did I just see something go by or is that just from my headache. And I am forever stepping up or down the stairs wrong because the floor looks weird.
    We have been horseback since 6:30 this morning but we had to give our horses, cow dogs and the cattle a break from the heat. I am going to lay out on the screened porch and shoot the breeze with the guys. It was great hearing from you. Hope your headache isn’t a bad one.

  • Jojiieme
    2 years ago

    Good morning, lindakay, hope your day has been a good one 🙂
    Lyrica started out OK for me but within a week or two I’d built up to my tolerance level, and Alice in Wonderland symptoms suddenly worsened. What made it extra scary for me was how it played up some of brain injury signs (things other people tend not to know about, because I don’t talk about them much), so at one stage if I was prodoming or in the middle of an extended migraine it was quite difficult to keep track of ‘real’ reality and actually be able to walk around (where IS the floor?), know sounds are real or even which thoughts I was thinking not dreaming/problems I was solving not movies I was watching…
    We stopped Lyrica, we stopped sleep support medication (which was a melatonin regulator) and looked at non-medicated support. Then I discovered my sister can’t take Lyrica either (her heart does weird things with it), and my brother can’t take something related (his gout condition responds badly). My brother is a migraineur, my sister isn’t, there’s a first cousin on Dad’s side we know is.
    I use a lot of what is now called mindfulness, for handling the upstart intrusions of a migraine. That and ‘cognitive behaviour’/’acceptance’ approaches: I acknowledge the rise of symptoms and signs, appreciate that this is therefore A Day, and see how plans can be modified. Where possible, I notify support team/colleagues of the new strategies we need, and I try to slow a bit and measure my pace.
    There aren’t many ‘rescues’ I can rely on; what I can usually means I have to stop everything else. So I try to make sure the most pressing things are handled, or convert the rest to easy phone/iPad work, struggle for another 6 hours (if I’m honest, probably 8) then crash for three days. I work in community services, so it’s people-led and heavily interactive work.
    The upside of this is now that I know which molecular structures I’m avoiding (and why, because for me it’s not just my digestive tract, it’s genetics), I’m avoiding the situations that create the situations my brain chemical factory can’t handle.
    (While writing that my husband gently placed his coffee cup on the table. The tap of it sliced through the top of my skull. Today’s migraine has begun forming. Sigh)
    Honestly, in the last two years the biggest shift for me was learning about tyrosine/tyramine. Now I know I can’t metabolise it, and how ubiquitous it is, I just avoid it completely. I’m not reacting to every incoming signal as if it’s a threat. The signals flying around inside my brain are a little quieter, especially since I’m not flooding my body with extra glutamates (which also means some of my twitch reflexes are better controlled), so the sleep I do get is better quality.

  • Jojiieme
    2 years ago

    Welcome, Maureen!
    Check out the articles on diet, seriously, and check thoroughly with a trusted pharmacologist. It may be that your medication combination has ingredients that work against your best absorption of the helpful bits.
    I also can’t tolerate most painkiller type medication – because I’m allergic to salicylates, the stuff that is the basis for aspirin. I’m also not able to tolerate codeine nor paracetamol, and I’m really not great with morphine. Turns out that because I’m also allergic to tyramine, and they have similar ways of being absorbed into the body. (Poor explanation, a pharmacist will do better)
    On the other hand, I lucked out and found a great neurologist who put me on preventatives that work on other systems in the body, so the “pain” network won’t flash into overdrive so readily.
    And if I avoid flooding my brain and stomach with nutrients they can’t actually break down, my immune system doesn’t think everything is out to kill me, so I can enjoy temperature changes, music, exercise, social gatherings… just not too many in a short time. (I work with an allergist who knows food and inflammatory diseases for this part of my migraine care)

  • lindakay author
    2 years ago

    Hey JoJo, so nice to hear from you. You would not believe my triggers…due to stomach ulcers, I have a list from my gastroentroentrologist 2 pages long of meds that I am unable to take and after my head injury on the ranch, there are several meds that I can’t take because they can trigger a seizure. Also my system is such that morphine, dialudid, tylenol #3,4,5, hydrocodone, and percocet makes me hyper. I can take hydrocodone 10 and work on our 18,000 acre cattle ranch (horseback) from daybreak until what we call “dark-thirty”. My saving grace so far has been Lyrica, Relpax and hydrocodone 5 and I am good to go after I let the Relpax & Hydrocodone kick in. I have chronic migraines and have had them since I was 24 and my daughter has had them since she was 20. What I really need from my neurologist is something that would let me get more than 4-5 hours sleep and maybe that would help me wake up migraine free. I see him again in September. Who knows but I am up to my ears in his bull****. I too have a killer headache today!

    Hope your headache goes away soon. Let there be peace for all of us. Stay in touch!

    Lindakay

  • Jojiieme
    2 years ago

    Sorry Lindakay, I called you Maureen in error *blush*
    Sigh. It’s a bad ‘head’ day. 🙁

  • lindakay author
    2 years ago

    Thanks for the welcome and encouragement Maureen! I have started looking for a new neurologist…have gone into my present neurologist with questions, info from research sites with the same results. The problem is that in my area of the state, I would have to travel quite a distant to even find another specialist and we are about to start our busy season on our cattle ranch which I cannot neglect, even for migraines. My cousin is a neurologist in Virginia and said he would help me get through the season and then I could start my search then. I hope you are doing well and I hope to hear from you again.

    Best of luck to you!

    Linda

  • Maureen
    2 years ago

    Hi, Linda and welcome! I, too, am a no-nonsense, kind of gal. Perhaps your direct talk will help your doctor understand your need for more direct communication and your next visit will go better for you. I suggest you go prepared with very direct and specific questions/objectives in mind and on paper. Maybe take someone with you who talks “pussyfooting aroundy” better? Hopefully you can develop a workable relationship. If not, give yourself some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) goals concerning this guy; and if they are not being met, consider moving on.
    You sound like a can-do girl (woman, no offense)! You can do it (whatever “it” you’re going after today)!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Be encouraged. You are not alone.

  • Poll