Chronic Daily Migraines Took Control and changed me forever.
Last updated: December 2012
My dad had migraines when he was a young boy but grew out of them when he was a teenager. He was born in 1928 so it would have been in the late 30's or early 40's when his migraines stopped. Back then they called them sick headaches. He passed away late April 2005 just shortly after turning 77.
My mother started getting migraines before I left home. I'm trying to do the math here as I'm so darn forgetful. She was born mid-Sept 1933. She was 29 when I was born. Dad was 34 when I was born. No way I can figure out the ages of my 2 brothers. My sister is 9 yrs younger than myself. She was around to witness the major part of her migraine outburst while I just saw the beginning. But she was 49 when I left and got married at the age of 20. She was in the pre-menopause stage at that time. She was not put on any type of hormones, but to be honest my mother was the worse patient in the world. My father had to take her practically kicking and screaming to the doctors office to get her blood pressure medication. She had very high borderline uncontrollable blood pressure. After I moved out, I cannot remember the year, but it was before my daughter was conceived, I got a call that the ambulance was called to my parents house (I was still working part time volunteer for that ambulance but was off duty that day) and I went rushing and broke speed limits to get there as the ambulance crew was loading her in the back of the unit. I was too shaken to be in the back with her so I rode up front with the driver Chuck that day. The crew chief that was in charge almost got the crap smacked out of him for his comment made on the sly. My mom didn't hear it but I sure did and Chuck had to hold me back. My mom was morbidly overweight and she was very, very self conscious about it. And I was very overprotective of her. Dale almost got knocked to the ground and almost ate dirt before the unit had a chance to put rubber to Hwy 12 on the way to Michigan City. I was scared, shaken but also livid. His lack of professionalism that day and lack of empathy almost lost him some teeth. He was called out for it later.
But anyway, moving along, the only treatment they had then and this was in 1982 onwards was Darvocet was what they gave her for her migraines. And it did not touch her migraine pain. My sister said she would go in the dark room for a day or two and just wither in pain with cold wet washcloths. And my mother and I would get into some pretty intense arguments because I would see her eat foods that I knew even back then she was not allowed to have that were migraine triggers, but she would refuse to give them up! She said she could not give up her favorite foods and deprive herself. I would get sooooo mad at her. We'd have some arguments. I finally had to give up because she would not relent. I was saddened. I cannot remember what year my sister moved out and I have asked my sister several times about more information on my mom's migraines but she has declined to give me any of the information I seek. She has ignored my request. So I cannot give anymore details to my doctors if they stopped after she went through her menopause of if they continued for a while longer. My sister holds that information hostage for some reason. It's not like she was close to mom and is protecting this for mom's sake. She never once went to visit mom when she was in the nursing home and when mom passed in mid May 2003 she would not stay in the funeral home when the visitation took place. So it's not like she cared or anything like that. So I give up on what her reasoning is.
It is amazing how much family can hurt eachother so. And for what reason. It's beyond me.
My migraines started after the birth of my daughter in 1985, so that would be in 1989 when I had my 1st one. It scared me because I thought I was having a stroke. I remember calling my mom and dad while lying on my bathroom floor crying and puking in the toilet. My dad came rushing over with Darvocet and Megan was cradling my head. My bady daughter was cradling my head and I was puking. Talking about role reversal. Then I got an appointment to see my regular doctor who did nothing because they were random at first without any regularity. Then they picked up in frequency and then I did a food diary after I eliminated the obvious food triggers that I knew set off my mom's. Then I did the food elimination diet and when I added those foods back in after a while I found out I had more triggers so I added those to the list of what to avoid. At that time in the mid to late 90's I was going to a chiropractor in Bridgman who was into food intolerance/holistic approach to health and she gave me this kit that you did for a month. So on a regular basis you did this in the AM at the same time every few days a saliva test and it tested for food intolerance's and I found out that dairy, soy and eggs I should avoid. So I added those to my growing list. And the migraines were still growing in frequency so I went yet to another neurologist. They did a CT scan and blood work. No abnormalities and my guinea pig status started taking on a whole new status. I had a long list of food and beverages to avoid and medications I was now taking that changed every other month or so and a chiropractor that worked me over and paid attention to my pressure points and I saw a nice little petite woman that did acupuncture-that felt calm and relaxing but the insurance didn't cover it and after a few sessions it did nothing for the migraines and I could not afford to keep it up so I had to stop going. As with the Chiropractor too. I loved this one but she was out of network at it was all out of pocket and it was getting too expensive.
My sister had started getting migraines in her mid to late teens and they continue infrequently from time to time. I do catch blips on Facebook where she will get some on occasion now and then where she will go to the ER and hear her nightmare stories. A couple of months ago she got a spinal tap and was bed ridden for a couple of days w/that head pain that did not go away. She doesn't do any food elimination or avoid any food triggers. She said a few times in the past she lives her life as she see's fit. So I stopped trying to talk to her about food diaries and food trigger avoidances because it was a mute point-it fell on deaf ears.
In 2006 I was getting really bad hormonal migraines and bad periods so they put me on non-stop low hormonal birth control with low estrogento stop my periods becuase I'd get 2 if not 3 periods a month and a really horrible migriane prior to, during and after the beginning of each period. That helped that situation but not the other migraines. So I'm still on that regimen. They tried to take me off of it but all hell broke loose again and they put me right back on it again.
By 2008 the migraines were not getting more frequent, but they were getting so intense I was hurling left and right and the aura's were scaring the crap out of me and I suffered an occasional blackout, I'd get dizzy and fall down. That is when I was referred to the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago Illinois. The Neurologist in South Bend was not being helpful at this point. So I told my husband I'd try it if he drove me to and from because there is no way I'd be up to doing it myself. So I was still working at that time. We both had to take a whole day off work as it was a whole day affair, navigating the traffic on I-94 to Lakeshore Drive to downtown Chicago to where they were located then on the top floor of a children's hospital. Of course you had to go up in an elevator. I detest elevators and this one was small and enclosed and I'm claustrophobic and when it gets to the top by the time I start to hyperventilate it jerks you up then down and just when you think your trapped or it will drop to the ground the doors open, Thank GOD!!!!
And we always got there early to be on time and they would always be late an behind schedule and we'd have to wait, and wait, and wait. I would have to wait sometimes 2, 3, 4 hours to be seen when I'd be early to be on time. And being a migrainer when your schedule is thrown off like that and throw the stress of being in that situation with the elevator, finding a spot in an over crowdedparking garage, dealing with the traffic and going past a scheduled meal time-it just throws you into a tail spin. A few times on the way home I'd get car sick. Yes, a 40 some year old woman getting car sick. Embarrassing. After almost a year I had to say enough. All they were doing was the same the Neurologist in Mishawaka was doing-experimenting trying different meds on me every 2 months. I had to endure the traffic, elevator, long waits when I was on time, car sickness and to what avail? I went back to the family doctor and he said he could take over from what they were doing. They only thing extra Diamond Clinic did was order an MRI that they had the South Bend Clinic in Indiana do for me. All they found was a sinus cyst. They said at that point all they would do is watch it. Well that was in 2008 and nothing has been done to watch it and as far as I know it's still there. I don't know what a sinus cyst can do or what can be done about it of if left alone what its liable to do. No one seems to want to answer that question. But there it is, still there I think.
So in 2010 the migraines got totally out of control. My then family doctor did all he could do and he said I was the worse case he had ever seen and had me on temporary disability and said it would be in my best interest to not work. He said he doubted very much I'd be able to work at all. He then referred me to a neurologist and got me back into the one I was seeing up until my referral to Diamond Clinic. Well, Dr. A-hole-io I will call him must have had a major chip on his shoulder that I dare be referred to a specialist other than him because he was a real creep and a jerk to me from that point until I got my therapist to refer me to another neurologist. My then family Doctor when I asked said he knew of no other neurologists that dealt with migraines when I called so then is when I decided I would look for another family MD too, because he told me in front of my patient advocate that I should leave my job because I was too sick to work, but when he was contacted by Social Security when I filed for disability he said I was OK to work?! My patient advocate wrote a letter stating her observance of the conversation to my appeals attorney and it went before the appeals judge and that was part of the factor in which I won my disability appeals hearing. That and the fact my new neurologist documentation and my therapist showed up to testify on my behalf.
But I like my new neurologist. He is very aggressive and is throwing all kinds of medication combinations at me he can think of as preventives and abortive. And if I find anything online and I take it to him he is not offended like Dr. A-hole-io and he will listen and we will discuss any pros/cons and if it's an option for now or later.
At the end of July 2012 I voluntarily admitted myself to a Depression unit at a local hospital. I had gone about 5 months in a row w/less than 2 hrs a night, interupted hours, of sleep and was walking around like a drunk zombie in a constant fog unaware of what I was doing most of the time and in a constant state of depression. I was burning food left and right because I would forget what and when I was cooking it. I was letting myself go in a big way and I was comtemplating suicide. My best friend of 30 years interceeded and took me to my therapist for a much needed intercession. There is no other way to put it. My spouse was resentful of my hospitalization. I was in for 7 days of intense therapy and medication adjustments. My 1st day out was a disaster. He said he didn't tell his family because you don't "talk about things like that". He said "things like that are kept quiet". So we had a fight in which he said he could not tell anyone I was in a "psycho" ward to which I encountered he was embarrased of me and that which would have been more comfortable for him-to tell his family I was getting help for depression or that in the funeral home I committed suicide cause I could no longer cope? No comeback for that.
So needless to say there is no support at home for the migraines or the depression. I was diagnose with major depression, PTSD, Panic attack/disorder, OCD, SAD and of course the long standing and now since May 2010 Daily Chronic Migrianes which he never supported me on.
In May 2010 I got temp disability and he hounded me I had to work. Per my then MD instructions in Oct 2010 I was too sick to work and filed for permanent SSD and he said I had to work that it was a waste of time. He kept hounding me to work, that I could not be that sick. In May 2011 I was denied and he said his always famous "I told you so now go find a job" so I filed an appeal through an appeals attorney who said I had a strong case. In April of 2012 I got my SSD appeals hearing and on the bench the judge ruled me totally disabled and I won. My spouse said it was just luck. So that is the support, or lack of that I get. I'm told I'm not to drive but every once in a while he has a "project" of his that he doesn't want to bother anyone else w/that he tries to force me into driving. If I have my usual migraine he rails on me that it's an excuse to get out of helping him. But the past 2 weeks when he's been demolishing the kitchen floor he's been using me as his work horse to haul big full sheets of 3/4" plywood from the driveway around through the back gate, up the deck and into the kitchen AFTER the old subfloor was torn up. Well, the stories I could tell, and doing this while I'm fighting migraines because I'm not allowed to lie in bed doing nothing while he's working his butt off to support "us".
My new MD she's located just down the road from my house actually, in New Carlisle Indiana, just under 15 min. She is really nice. She listens to you and puts you at ease. She takes what you have to tell her and if she has any suggestions she tells you and if she agrees with you or if you can compromise but shes a really nice doctor. She has just done a battery of blood work for Lyme, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Vitamin D, Thyroid, CBC and Autoimmune to rule those out before she diagnosis me with Fibroymiagia. I have constant non-stop pain in my front and back neck, front and back shoulders, upper and lower back and hip and inner knees when she tested the tender spots. If all the results come back negative she will prescribe Cymbalta, physical therapy and we will go from there. I did not realize until I read Dr. Marcus's article that migraine and Fibrymyalgia are comorbidites and all this time I thought this other aches and pains were part of getting old.
In addition to Chiroptractic I've also done: Acupunction, acupressure, biofeedback, cupping, massage therapy, medical massage, physical therapy, meditation, binaural brainwave entrainment, guided meditation, progressive relaxation meditation, botox for migraines, vitamins, herbal, raw foods (lasted 1 day) juicing, food elimination, group therapy, individual therapy.
My triggers are: heat, cold, sun, weather, drastic changes in Baramoter either up or down, strong odors, loud noises, bright lights, bright and busy patterns.
My chemical triggers are: MSG, Soy, Nitrates, Dairy, eggs, and I follow the NHF Low Tyramine Headache Guidlines. I went online and found all the hiddens sources of MSG and Soy because there are many hidden sources-such as MSG can go by Yeast Protein and many other names. It pays to research and be educated. I would not have known my chemical triggers had I not kept a food diary, or headache diary.
My current RX preventive regimene:
Tizanidine 4mg 1x
Topomax 100 mg 1x
Verapamil 180mg 1x
Junel 1-mg 20mcg 1x
Valium ½ of 5mg 1x
My current RX Abortives:
Zofran ODT 8mg, 1-2 tablets every 6-8 hrs as needed for nausea
Indocin 25mg, 1 capsule 3x daily as needed
Migranal Nasal Spray, 1 spray in each nostril. Repeat in 15 min. Repeat dose in 12 hrs if needed. Do not repeat until 7 days .
Sprix 15.75 MG Nasal Spray (Inhale 1 spray nasally nasally every 6-8 hrs as needed (not to exceed 4 days in a row)
Portable Oxygen 6 Liter/Min for 15 min, use PRN for migraine/cluster headache abortive
And the more stress I'm encountering the more meditation I do. Meditate, meditate, meditate. Lord knows I need it. I love the days when I'm home alone with just me and my 2 year old dog-my best little four leg friend. We can cuddle and he brings me comfort when I can battle the pain and get ready when the tornado comes home for the night and brace for the storm. LOL.
In the past year, has insurance made it difficult to get your migraine treatment?