Living With The Pain When Nothing Helps

My migraines began at age 19 with a worst-case scenario migraine that put me in the Emergency Room: a terrible pain on one side of my forehead, partial blindness, flashing lightning bolts in my field of vision, partial paralysis of my limbs, and the loss of the ability to form words (I could think clearly, but the words came out as complete gibberish). When I got to the ER, since I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t tell them what was wrong. They thought I was hemorrhaging in the brain. I was all alone; my entire family was hours away with my mother who was undergoing an organ transplant; I was so afraid. Apparently, I went through a Spinal Tap, which I was told would be very painful, but I didn’t feel a thing; all I felt was the terrible pain in my head. Long story short, after all kinds of tests, it was eventually diagnosed as a migraine with aura. Both my parents get them so I guess it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Migraine Awareness MonthSince then, I have only had 2 migraines THAT bad that required medical attention. I will say it didn’t help much though; even Morphine in the ER didn’t help. I do have to carry a little card with me now that says, “I am experiencing a migraine with aura” for when I can’t speak. I didn’t like the $30,000 medical bills that came along with MRI’s and such when yet again the medical staff thought I was having a stroke because I couldn’t speak!

I am 40 years old now. I have been through periods in my life where I had migraines weekly, monthly, and on the lucky years, maybe only 2 or 3 per year. Lately though, they are occurring more frequently again. I don’t have any forewarning symptoms; the aura hits out of nowhere about 20 minutes before the actual headache, usually with dizziness and partial blindness and flashing lights that last for anywhere between 20 minutes to 2 hours. I hate that part — the vision loss is really scary. My migraine headaches aren’t as bad as they used to be, but they still affect my life, especially my job. I am an accountant and losing your vision isn’t a good thing! The headache usually hangs on for a couple days, although not as bad as the first day, and I am very much sensitive to light and sound, and even strong scents such as soaps or perfume. Migraine meds don’t work for me. I was on daily blood pressure meds for a while as a preemptive course of treatment, but I went off those because they didn’t seem to be helping. I have never been able to identify any triggers. Mostly, I just have to suffer through it.

I have learned to live with migraines, but it makes life hard sometimes. Any weird thing with my vision and I freak out thinking I am about to have a migraine. I always worry about when the next BIG one will hit; the ones that put me in the hospital. I am always worried about traveling, and I worry every day at work that my vision will go and I will have to miss work yet again. It is a terrible way to live. I have read that, for many people, migraines lessen or go away after age 50. I don’t know if it’s true, but I am hoping.

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