Living with migraine: what helped me

I have lived with migraines since I was 10 years old. At first my parents took me to an Ear Nose and Throat Dr who diagnosed me with allergies. I knew this was wrong. My symptoms included a feeling first of very “stressed” vision , pain typically starting on one side of my head or neck and behind that eye. I usually woke up with these headaches once I became an adult (I am 50 years old now). Nothing helped. At an early age , triggers seemed to be mostly different types of light . Only complete darkness would help with meds for relief. I remember my parents literally placing rolled up bath towels at the base of my bedroom door to prevent the hall light from getting in! The worst headaches lasted around 3 days. I have heard that is typical. But I have had mild ones for a week or more.

My pattern changed as I grew and eventually married then began to have children. They had always been occasional as a child (about one a month or less) and were controllable. As an adolescent, they were pure torture and my dad, who was a pharmacist, would get me any and all pain meds offering me NO relief. I would occasionally throw up the next morning and that seemed to offer relief. I have no idea why, but I have heard it from others as well.

As a young mother, these headaches became daily. I woke up every day with one and my first decision was “what to take first today”. I MADE THE MISTAKE OF TAKING TYLENOL OR ANOTHER OVER THE COUNTER MED UNTIL THE HEADACHE WAS BEYOND TOLERANCE. I tell you this because by this time I was seeing a neurologist who had given me some very stronge pain meds (after finding all migraine meds useless). He told me to take the strong prescription medication the MINUTE I felt the headace starting – even if it was without the pain yet…the eye stress, etc. That always ceased the pain if I was careful.

Sunglasses help. Most people around you indoor or out , seem to know that is why I am wearing sunglasses. Wear them constantly during the migraine!! I did discover the following triggers for migraines all of which were on my Dr.s’ list of possible triggers: Sourdough bread, bright lights or smells (malls with all the perfume samples are a nightmare!) but MOST OF ALL I have two, very common triggers which I discovered on my own – LACK OF SLEEP (WHICH could explain the “new mother” headaches) and weather changes – especially low pressure fronts. ALWAYS take a prophalactic medication like advil if you expect any of these to be in your future.

I have yet to meet another Migraine sufferer who is not affected by those last two causes! And interestingly , I have discovered Sex gives me relief….and I have had others tell me the same. Go figure. As I have aged, thank God, my migraines are better. But be aware there are so many symptoms you do not realize are part of the “headache” that are. For example, very sensitive emotions ( I would cry at anything), stomach aches , shaking, confusion. I always thought these were side affects of the migraine, but they are actually PART of the headache condition.

Unfortunately I have passed this hereditary condition onto at least two of my young children. I learned to listen when my 10 year old would complain of a stomach ache and lack of appetite in the evenings. This is a very common first symptom in kids and was aways the beginning of a long night… Many nights I have cleaned up vomit and watched my son’s suffer out loud. Giving ibupropen at that first sign, I learned, always prevented the night headaches. I read children actually have what is called “stomach migraines“. I have also discovered a very important relief fact for me…

I HAVE to try to get rid of the migraine before I fall asleep! I don’t know if it is because I grind my teeth (causing head stress) or something, but I have to lay still, get relief, THEN go to sleep. Try it. And WEAR YOUR SUNGLASSES during the day!!

Oh, also, I saw on Oprah one day she did a special on Migraines…and this really does help , if only temporarily, to sit and drop your jaw. Completely relax your jaw- mouth open. It is amazing help. One last thing I noticed…

Do NOT let yourself become dehydrated. Drink lots of water . Dehydration is another trigger I forgot , especially if you plan on drinking any alchohol… lots of water ! I hope some of this helps someone recognize some odd triggers (I don’t think there are any actually), and mine seemed to get better after i moved from Seattle to Ga. Maybe allergies did play some part.

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