Over-Looked Minority, Men with Migraine

I have suffered from almost daily migraines for the past 30 years. My headaches started after a head injury. As it turned out, they are only one of many symptoms in a very complex health care delivery situation for me.

I won’t go into the all too familiar story of what my migraines are like, you have all heard them and my story could be a carbon copy of any number of stories out there. With one exception, I am a “man” that suffers from this debilitating condition.


It has been my experience that we are very much over-looked by the health care delivery system and media, particularly here in Canada where socialized health care delivery rules, and private clinics harder to find than a honest man in Parliament.

On more than one occasion, after my 6 minute appointment with my GP, I have had to wait more than a year to see a specialist. Regardless, I always show up at my appointment with a complete and accurate list of my history, medications and treatments that have been tried. Always optimistic that maybe there is something new in the way of treatment and prevention that I have not tried or heard of in the past 30 years.

Without fail, it is always the same tired routine from the health care delivery system, every Doctor I see assumes that the last guy has done all the appropriate tests and asked all the right questions. “There’s no need for an MRI or lab work, if nothing sinister showed up in your test 10 years ago, there is no need to repeat them”. Same tired old routine, “the only thing unusual about your case is your gender, and the fact that your headaches started from an injury”

Over the years my condition has cost me everything, my career, my family, my finances and even peace of mind that someday maybe I’ll find, and have access to a Doctor that will actually take a man with migraines seriously.

Are there any other men out there that have experienced this level of frustration and incompetent handling by the health care delivery system? If so, I would sure like to read your story on Migraine.com.

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

View Comments (19)
  • 100dollarheadache
    4 years ago

    I suffer 5 to 10 migraines per month. I am a male. I have had several concussions in my lifetime. I was a football player in high school and college. What really put me over the edge was an accident in 2003. I have suffered since. The aura, flashing, and the shakes lead to severe pain, vomiting and misery. Timing is everything and getting my meds in me asap can make the difference of being ill 6 hours or 2 to 3 days. I can not function with a migraine. I can not drive and some times my sight goes black. I have slept 16 hours straight following a migraine. Only to wake to a terrible hang over, its the only way i can describe it. On some occasions i need a IV because i am so dehydrated from vomiting. There is no more intense pain than vomiting with migraine. I have fallen down and crawled to the the bathroom to throw up. I wish this on no one. I have missed many days due to migraine, holidays, vacation or a play for my daughter. Unfortunately some family members just do not understand how bad it is unless they witness it for themselves. Some have compared headaches and allergies to migraine, they have no idea.

  • RobertCan
    4 years ago

    It’s a significant challenge to be a man living with chronic migraine. Most ‘normals’ don’t understand the debilitating pain of a migraine. Many assume we’re weak and can’t handle our pain like a man. We’re simply “wussies”. We know better, but it doesn’t always change how we feel about our pain. We often suffer in silence, misunderstood and vilified.

    As a Migraineur, I would never judge another persons ability to handle pain, male or female. Pain is pain. There’s a threshold for all of us where the pain becomes unbearable without intervention. The triggers may be different, but the pain isn’t.

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been curled in the fetal position on the bathroom floor with unrelenting vomiting. That I’ve laid there sweating profusely, while my body convulses with every wave of nausea. Pain so severe it creates a cascade of tears falling uncontrollably down my whiskered cheeks.

    I’m in that place a lot and it’s a lonely place for us all, male or female. But we’re not alone. There are others and migraine.com is a good place to come to be understood. To find the compassion we all deserve, period.

  • Mark Milotay
    4 years ago

    Hi Davo,

    Like you I am a Canadian male with head injury induced daily migraines for the last 5 years. I have tried a wide range of treatments with nothing providing an ongoing success. I continue to search out something that will give me relief and give my wife and children the husband and father that they deserve.

    All the best,

    Mark

  • Gael Lafond
    4 years ago

    Hi Davo,

    I’m also a Canadian man who live with migraines. I feel sorry for you and I really hope you will manage to find a solution.

    My case is quite different from yours. I had my first migraine when I was young, and it just got worse from there. But my story is an happy story since I found the perfect cure. I can fix my migraines simply by taking supplement of an amino acid called Taurine. I take it when I have an attack and the migraine just vanish within minutes. It’s a new discovery for me so I’m trying to spread the word, in hope that it will help someone somewhere.

    That’s the cheapest and less invasive treatment I have tried so far, and by far the most effective (better than triptans in my case). Taurine is very cheap and it’s sold in pharmacies. It is also found in many energy drinks. If you never tried that before, maybe it worth taking one of those energy drink next time you have a migraine, one that have a lot of Taurine. If it seems to help, buy the Taurine supplement.

  • Lifetime_Migraine_Sufferer
    4 years ago

    Davo – don’t feel too bad about being a man with a typically woman’s illness. I’m a woman and have had so many similar experiences to what you described. I feel like migraines in general are over-looked. I too started with a head injury at 15 and then these awful debilitating, daily migraines that evolved as time went by. I just had a new Neuro ask me if I’ve tried the typical migraine preventives…. really? I believe I’ve lost about 85-90% of my life to the pain, and lost a very good job. I went to law school when I was younger and now I can’t work. But I thank God everyday that I am married to an angel on earth. He may get frustrated, and not know what to do when I’m crying and vomiting from the pain, but he has stuck with me, lovingly. Unfortunately he’s gotten more of “the worse” out of our vows. However, if you can get to the US, the Cleveland Clinic is probably the best place I’ve been as far as head pain clinics go. I live in San Francisco, but I’m taking a trip to see the Cleveland Clinic dr’s on the 16th. If there’s anyway you can manage it, it might really help you, and yes, I’ve seen men there. I wish you the best and I keep all migraineurs in my prayers.

  • ameracauna
    4 years ago

    Davo,
    I am the support person for my husband that has struggled with migraines since he was a child. His dad had migraines, his grandmother on his maternal side of the family had migraines. My husband can often mask that he has a migraine and will go home to ride out the migraine so very few people we know have ever seen a full blown episode. We have four young children, 10 and under that are used to being pulled out of bed in the night to go along to the emergency room for treatment. Our nearest family is a 24 hour drive from us so the kids get to go along on all the emergency visits. My husband has tried so many prescribed medications, nerve blocks, chiropractic care, Botox, Raskins protocol, acute treatments, the Mayo Clinic, aromatherapy and he still has a migraine most days of the month. By the grace of God, he has managed to remain employed with health benefits. That is my greatest fear, that he will lose his job. They flare up with illness, he has had a bad cold and fever this week and missed two days of work this week. It looks like he may not make work tomorrow either. We do not know what to do next. He is taking the acute medications nearly daily and they lose effectiveness the more they are taken. He has numerous ulcers from the NSAID use. Our two boys show some signs of migraines, children suffer from abdominal migraines and grow into the full blown episodes in their teens. We just look forward to the times he is healthy and are prayerful that the good Lord will continue to provide for our young family. We may try the Migraine Support Formula that is sold online. My understanding is the best way for him to get relief is to break the cycle of the acute medications, difficult to do though. So sorry to hear of your struggles.

  • Paul
    2 years ago

    You said in your comment that your husband takes acute migraine meds almost daily. Has the doctor ever warned you about rebound migraines because of medication overuse? I used to suffer from almost daily migraines as well. After I started taking a preventative/ using other methods of relief during my migraines I was able to stop taking so many of my regular meds.
    I don’t presume to know your husbands situation. Perhaps researching med overuse on this site would be helpful, tho.

  • 11:11
    4 years ago

    Davo
    Thanks for your post. I haven’t read all the replies to your post because many of them were women or men with hereditary migraine suffered since teenage years.

    I had head trauma while serving in the military and have been diagnosed with post traumatic headache. I suffer what are also diagnosed and treated as migraine. I have 3-5 headaches a week and end up in the emergency room about every 2 weeks. I use triptans, NSAIDs, anti-emetics, valuim, and opiods. I take Mg and CoQ10. I eat a grain-gluten free diet, no bread, no added sugars, only whole vegetables and grass fed meat. I don’t smoke, drink, or use any drugs. Ive tried to eliminate any and all variables or exogenous influences.
    I am disabled and unable to work. My doctors don’t really like me, find me frustrating, and when their treatment doesn’t work blame me on over use, psychiatric issues, or noncompliance (not true and all headaches and medication used are documented in my migraine diary). I’ve tried just about every class of prophylaxis, abortive, rescue, botox, and med detox and resets. I’ve been to mayo. Nothing has helped. Only triptans, zofran, and strong opiods help with the pain. My “headaches” are not that. They involve the entire person: psych, vasculature, GI and of course head pain.
    I’m trying to figure how to make a living from home part time.
    Playing music has occupied some of those long blank periods and has given my life some meaning. It seems to help my brain as well and there is recent research to suggest that’s actually possible. Playing chess on my PC is new for me and seems to help as well.
    I don’t know what to do and everyone I know has no understanding or patience. With me. As soon as I arise from my dark room, shaken, my family has expectations of me.
    I don’t know what to do. I’ve ended up in military psych units suicidal because of the pain which had at times been unbearable.
    Regards….

  • Jearum
    4 years ago

    Dear 11-11,

    Hello. Your comment wasn’t addressed to me, but I hope you don’t mind my saying that it touched my heart. I don’t know whether you are from the US, Canada, the UK, or from some other allied nation, but wherever you may have served, I hope very much that you know that your service is undoubtedly appreciated by a great many people in your country – whichever one it might be. Here in the US, that gratitude isn’t expressed as often as it should be. And even if you and I might be from different countries, I happen to have a friend who served in Iraq, and he spent time “on loan” to a Canadian squad (because he had navigational skills which were in demand, and that particular Canadian Army unit had requested someone with those skills for a particular mission), and those men ended up saving his life when they were in a tight spot together. So, even if you served a different nation than my own, please allow me to thank you for your service, even if only on behalf of any American soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines who may have made it home because of you and yours.

    The reason your comment touched me so much, is because I recognized so much it. I recognized it not because the causes of our two conditions are in any way similar, but because the effects you described your pain having on your life – not only physical, but psychological and emotional as well – were and continue to be very familiar to me. Even though the specifics of how your pain condition came to be are very different from my own story, as I read the part of your comment where you described what your pain has done to your life and how you have tried to treat it and cope with it, it felt very much as if I could have written that part myself. The more I talk to other chronic headache/head pain patients, it seems more and more like no matter what exactly may have caused that pain, or how exactly it may have come to be in any specific case, in the end it seems that when someone has a horrific, intolerable, debilitating level of pain in their head, it ends up looking much the same. So despite the difference in our individual cases, please know that you are not alone in the hopelessness and frustration you have described. If we can take away or gain anything from finding this website, I hope that both of us can at least take heart in that, and maybe feel a little less isolated.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that if you ever find yourself in need of some encouragement, or if you ever need to talk to someone who might be able to understand at least some small part of what you might be feeling, I hope very much that you will feel welcome to contact me – or someone else, if not me. Should you need one, I would be happy to lend you an ear (I’m told I have more than one). I know very well – as do many others here, no doubt – the depression and despair that comes as the inevitable result of being in excruciating pain, with no end in sight, and with unhelpful and idiotic doctors who just can’t humble themselves enough to say the words “I don’t know.”

    Take care 11-11, and God bless.

  • Jearum
    4 years ago

    Davo,

    I am a 32 year old American man who, for the last 16 years, has suffered with a chronic, severe, completely debilitating headache condition, for which I still have no real explanation or diagnosis, and because of which I am completely disabled. To give a bit of background about my condition, my headaches are technically not migraines, as they present quite differently and cause a different “type” of pain, and some of the symptoms are different (although, in the last three years I have begun to develop traditional migraines as well, but mercifully I only get those at a rate of two or three per month… and boy is that combination fun!). Since I still don’t have a real diagnosis, I simply call them my “Type A” headaches. They are constant, but they fluctuate in severity between a 4 on a rare good day, to a screaming, wailing 9 on my worst days.

    The only reason I don’t give the worst of them a 10, is because, in my opinion, a 10 should be reserved for only the most horrific and torturous pain imaginable, such as what might result from placing one’s left testicle on a cinder block and repeatedly smashing it with a hammer. And given the fact that, as we speak, there are people in the world who are currently being tortured, beheaded, and, in some criminally under-reported cases, quite literally crucified by psychotic Islamic extremists for committing such heinous crimes as being Christian, gay, or female, I feel it would be disrespectful for me to compare even the worst of my own pain with the very real 10 out of 10 that those poor souls must surely be experiencing. But suffice it to say that I would not wish those level 9 pain days on anyone. Well, except maybe the aforementioned people doing the torturing, beheading, and crucifying.

    Anyway, I am writing to respond to your open question asking whether any other men with migraines have experienced any difficulties with being taken seriously by doctors. In my case, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” It’s not a perfect parallel, since my primary headaches are not classic migraines, but after having seen literally dozens of doctors (including many neurologists, headache specialists, and pain specialists), I can count on my two hands the number of them who have taken me at my word. In the vast majority of cases, they take one look at me and immediately decide that I must be – and can only be – a liar, a drug seeker, an addict, or some combination thereof.

    For most of them, they take the general principle of Occam’s Razor far too seriously. For those not familiar, Occam’s Razor is a general rule of thumb in logic that states that, all things being equal, if a given problem has more than one possible explanation, the simplest and most statistically likely explanation is usually the correct one. In other words, if you’re in Central Park in New York City, and you hear hoofbeats behind you, when you turn around you’re probably going to see an NYPD horse instead of a zebra. The problem is, I’m a zebra. And in my fairly extensive experience with doctors, the overwhelming majority of them seem to be completely incapable (or unwilling) to acknowledge that: (A). zebras exist, and (B). doctors are human beings with imperfect knowledge, and do not know all there is to know. Getting them to even consider these possibilities is akin to pulling teeth with toothpicks.

    All this is bad enough, and over the years it has made things exceedingly difficult for me at the best of times. But, as you alluded to in your post, when you add socialized medicine into the mix, that problem gets worse by orders of magnitude. It is not my intention to engage in a political debate here, and certainly not to anger or offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities, but I can tell you without equivocation that things have gotten FAR worse for me on this front since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The reason is because, as I suspect you are very well aware of as a Canadian, when healthcare considerations are determined by bureaucracies rather than individual doctors, being a “zebra” becomes much more of a problem. Bureaucracies generally make policy decisions based on what they believe (or have unilaterally decided) is best for the collective, not the individual; the majority, not the outliers. They create one-size-fits-all policies that might be more or less fine for the 80%, but if you’re in the 20%, you’re just out of luck. And because bureaucracies by their very nature are large, unwieldy, and inefficient, getting them to make exceptions for the individual outlier is like trying to steer an aircraft carrier with a paddle.

    This has essentially tanked my quality of life in the last few months. The government has just decided, out of the blue, that the medicine that I had been taking to manage my pain for the last 10 years – with zero problems – just simply shouldn’t be allowed anymore. For anyone. Regardless of the reason, or prior circumstances, or patient history, or mitigating factors, or how much worse it will make things for any single individual, or the wishes of, you know, actual doctors who have actually met the patient involved. None of that matters. The only thing that matters to them is that they, the bureaucrats, always know better, and they have made their decision, which must stand for all time. There is no recourse, no other option, no appeals process, nothing. It’s infuriating, and my doctors are as livid and exasperated as I am.

    My pain specialist has told me that he has seen a huge decrease in the quality of life for more than half of his patients, in part because the government will now only allow two different kinds of pain medication to be paid for, and they are nowhere near as effective as the ones that have now been deemed unnecessary. And the reasons for this unilateral decision? They say it’s because of safety, but it’s actually about cost. The two medications that remain on the “approved” list are no more or less “safe” than the now non-approved medications. But they do happen to be the least expensive. So it’s pretty obvious that the healthcare bureaucracy is now making medical decisions based on what the bean counters say, not on what actual doctors say. As a result, the last few months have been among the worst of my life, and that’s just the way it’s going to be from now on.

    Anyway, sorry about the rant. It’s just really hard. It’s already difficult enough to be taken seriously by many doctors when you’re in a statistical minority such as men with migraines, or especially if you’re a unique (or nearly unique) case. But when those same doctors now have their hands tied by cold, unfeeling, one-size-fits-all policies created by some bloated, faceless, unaccountable government bureaucracy, that problem is exponentially worse. That’s what has happened to me, and I suspect that more and more people will begin feeling the squeeze soon enough.

  • Tammy Rome
    4 years ago

    I inherited Migraine from my father. All of his siblings have Migraine and 8 of them are men. My husband, father-in-law, and son all have Migraine. My son (18) has them so bad that he misses school and work at least once a week. Our neurologist and his son have Migraine, too.

    My father is a tough guy. Nothing slows him down. But a migraine will hit him so hard that he is forced to stay in bed for days. It’s the only thing that has ever stopped him. So I know how bad they can get and don’t feel weak at all. You are not alone.

  • monkeybrew
    4 years ago

    I know that migraine is more common among women. This however, has not been something that meant very much to me. In my case it is my father who migraines. My paternal grandmother also had them, but I did not have much of a relationship with her. So, my Dad and one of my uncles… Two males in my family that also have migraines.
    Unfortunately for me, the migraines have progressed far beyond what my father experiences. I have chronic migraine. As with others, both men and women, this evolved over the last twenty-five years. Initially, I recall a few headaches as a child and into my teens. From my twenties things have progressively gotten worse. Currently I have a migraine every day. It is not constant, all day every day. I do have periods of time without migraine. Usually somewhere between 2 and 4 hours. A great day would be 5 or more hours of a pain-free state. The intensity of these damned migraines fluctuates. For the last couple of years, however, the migraines have been running near the top of the scale (at some point almost every day).
    As for treatment and relationships with physicians and specialists I cannot complain. Early on, over twenty years ago, my primary care physician referred me to a local neurologist. I worked with her for a couple of years, moving through lots of different medications (and combinations) for both preventatives and abortives. After two or so years we had reached the end of what this provider could do for me. Thankfully, she had a connection with Dr. Saper at the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute. My local neruo referred me to MHNI.
    I have been a patient of MHNI for over a decade. The majority of this time has been spent working with one of the neurologists. I have also been through their outpatient IV Infusion program as well as the inpatient program at Chelsea Community Hospital. I have had a variety of nerve blocks as well.
    To date I have not found anything that brings significant relief. The closest I have gotten is a series of three bilateral C2 root nerve blocks. After each of these I had between one and two days completely free of any migraine. Although a bit disappointed about the length of time, as the team mentioned that some patients find relief of up to several weeks, I am excited that something finally had a clear and positive impact. I am currently working with MHNI to convince my insurance company to approve radiofrequency nerve ablation. The physician at MHNI believes that the three blocks, with the positive effects (although short-lived) support moving forward with the ablation. The insurance… not so much. One denial, one appeal… waiting for the insurance to respond.
    Through all the meds and procedures (not to mention all of the alternative treatments over the years) I have learned that the most important thing for me is not to fall into a state of hopelessness. I don’t always succeed in this effort and that teaches me, every time, that being in the dark hole is not fun and certainly does not help with the migraines.
    My motto (most days, or as many as I can manage) is “Something has to give and it isn’t going to be me!”

  • stephwalker
    4 years ago

    OK, I am a woman and yes, it does seem like the vast majority of migraine suffers are women – so I feel for you guys. I just wanted to share something that has helped me SO MUCH. And I was the biggest skeptic that this could be tied to my migraines. 13 months ago I cut out all artificial sweeteners (and they are hidden everywhere – even toothpaste and mouthwash). I also started Topamax at the same time, but had to stop it after a few months as it severely debilitated my memory (common issue). Anyway, my migraines are reduced about 75% now and I rarely have one that lasts more than a day – where before many would last WEEKS! Again, I never believed it would make a difference, but now I don’t even need narcotics to manage my headaches. I wish you all the best!

  • Will Stickney
    4 years ago

    My headaches started about 10 years ago. They weren’t terrible but over the last 10 years they reached the point where I have a six or greater pain level every day averaging about seven. Eight is as high as they have gone so far but I have had an immense amount of pain In the last 10 years, what with the herniated discs and arthritis and other things like botched operations and over a 100 kidney stones. That has changed the scale of of my pain level. I always get a headache, at least one a day, the differences are how long they last and if various means of ameliorating the paint work at all that day. The headaches started about the time I began to have the other extreme pains but I really don’t see a direct correlation since I may have low pain elsewhere and high pain in my head. My doctors until recently would not acknowledge that they might be migraine headaches. Instead they gave me powerful narcotics such as the dilaudid and fentanyl and hoped that they would work on my headaches as well. But they did not work on the headaches. Eventually after eight years I went cold turkey and kicked the narcotics. Now I have a lot of pain but I am happier, believe it or not.

    I never tell people that I have “migraines”. Especially when I talk with other men. I tell people that I have “bad headaches”. Men particularly turn off to what I am talking about when I say the word migraine. And almost every woman that I talk to and mention the word migraine to tells me that they get, or have gotten, migraines as well. I am convinced that men believe that migraines are a woman’s disease and don’t actually believe they are different in kind to a “normal” headache, what ever that is. Most of the men I know are typical blue-collar workers and some have even said to me that women and migraines are silly and that migraines are just regular headaches but that the women can’t handle them, like a man can. But with even most white collar workers, including doctors, males, in general, in my limited experience, seem to feel the same way, they just don’t say so. They just change the subject.
    As far as why so very many women seem to get migraines I cannot guess. But I am starting to suspect that the purported disparity in the number of migraine people based on sex is not as great as reported. If any thing like the number of men getting migraines, real migraines, is nearly on a par with the number of women, then it would certainly explain a lot of male behavior in my opinion.
    I know that this suggestion is going to be controversial and I don’t expect this note to be posted but I felt compelled to write it anyway.

  • Steve Lloyd
    4 years ago

    I too have suffered from migraines for over 30 years with periods of almost daily episodes. I have a strong familial link (dad&aunt) and recall having bad headaches as a teen. Mine really got debilitating after a 10 year stint in law enforcement that caused stress related health issues & resulted in a disability retirement. After going through technical training & getting into a new line of work, I ended up with Kaiser Health and got great treatment both in South & then Northern California. It helped that my doctor & his son both suffered from migraines. After many years of working thru the migraines & often having to medicate at work, along worth monthly trips to the ER when the Imitrex injections didn’t work, we moved again to get financially set & to slow down life. Though I worked another 10 years with a flexible schedule, I finally decided last October to retire & am now waiting to see if there is any change. My wife stuck with me thru all this as we are a family with a strong faith in God, though I often ask Him why? I have tried every form of therapy over the years mentioned in these blogs, & just think I have a wired body chemistry; anybody else have blueberries as a trigger? Fortunately neither of my boys inherited this gene.

  • John Haire
    4 years ago

    I’m also part of the overlooked minority of men with chronic migraines. My history is also very similar to most women’s’. The migraines started when I was a child but they were just seen as headaches that I would get a few times a year. I remember even getting treated by an eye doctor who thought the headaches were caused by lazy eye. I learned to live with and accept them.

    When I graduated from High School, I entered the Navy. This experience was highly stressful for me. I’m not sure how many are familiar with the Nuclear Program but it’s a very stressful program. While doing some morning running (which I hated) I started feeling dizzy and clumsy. My eyes started moving involuntarily in different directions. Shortly after I was sent to see a doctor. This condition that was never fully understood was just classified as unexplained vertigo. I was sent to serveral doctors to try to figure out what was happening. I was a nineteen year old kid who could barely walk across the room without a guide. I started to adjust to the vertigo but was discharged from the Navy with a 10% disability rating.

    After returning to civilian life, I started college. Still with the continuous vertigo and occasional “headache” not only did I managed to go to college I also worked throughout. Every once in while a doctor would take interest in the weird eye movements and vertigo but nothing ever came of it. I received my undergraduate degree when I was 27. I started seeking employment and would substitute at High Schools and Middle Schools. But it started becoming harder because my fatigue increased as I grew older. Yet I pushed myself to go on and went back to college to get a teaching certification.

    At the age of 30, I became a full time teacher, I loved the job but the fatigue continued to grow. I would work long hours at the school. I was always one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. But when I came home, often I would go straght to bed. My wife accepted this because she never knew me not to be tired. We met during my first year of teaching. Again I adjusted to my new problems.

    The next phase happen when I was 33. My occasional “headaches” started to increase. They were happening every other week. Then I got a headache that wouldn’t go away. Days past then the days became weeks. I skipped the primary doctor and went to the Michigan Head Pain clinic in Ann Arbor Michigan. I was diagnosed with bilateral migraines. Later Occipital neuralgia would be added.

    There’s more to the story but this is where I’ll end it. Today I’m 42 and collecting disability. I have lost my house and career but not my family. My relationship with my wife is strained because of the chronic pain that I suffer and the many drugs that I take. We’re not as intimate as she or I would like. I’m no longer the same man she married almost ten years ago. So Davo and Doug, you’re not alone.

  • Doug
    4 years ago

    I am so sorry to hear about how this has affected your career, both in the Navy and teaching. I have been teaching for over 5 years, all while dealing with migraines, first as a monthly to weekly problem, then as an every day problem. It has been extremely hard, but I have dragged myself to work every day for over a year while fatigued, nauseous, and in horrible pain. I only took 4.5 sick days last year. I think I’ve taken 2 so far this year. It’s a miracle that I get there every day, but I often wonder if that’s enough. I am not as effective as I used to be. I worry that my health will affect my work enough that I am forced to be on disability too. When the daily headaches started, I saw it as temporary and thought it would pass. A year later, I am having to face the reality that it is possible it will never go away. Like you, my marriage is strained by this, and I’ve only been married 3 years. Can I work for 30 more years like this? Can my marriage last through it? How long can I even live like this?

  • Doug
    4 years ago

    I am a man with chronic migraines living in the United States. I am not sure if I have encountered any different treatment from the health care system as a man, but it is possible. When my episodic migraines started in my early 20’s, I saw multiple doctors who blamed my symptoms on all kinds of issues that were not migraines. None of them ever mentioned the possibility of migraines. When I later figured out what I had on my own, it was obvious to me that it should have been caught sooner. Migraines are much more common in women than men, so I do have to wonder a bit if I would have been treated differently with the same symptoms as a woman. The difference that I notice in my experience with migraines as a man is the kind of support I have available.

    Many of the online migraine groups and chronic illness groups that I participate in are practically sororities. There are almost no men. There is a Facebook group for men with migraines. Nobody in it ever talks. Something else that I have noticed is that most of the men I have met who have chronic migraines had their migraines start after a head injury. I never had a head injury. I have what appear to be genetically inherited migraines which have progressed into chronic migraines. As a man, that is a pretty rare condition. I don’t have a lot of people to talk to who can truly relate to what I am experiencing, especially the non-medical challenges of being sick.

    In my daily life, such as work and social situations, when I talk to women about my health, they are usually fairly understanding. They ask questions, talk about their own experiences, and talk about family members and friends with similar experiences to mine (mostly women). When I talk to men and my illnesses come up, they usually look confused and uncomfortable with the topic. I don’t really know what that says about the male mentality toward chronic illness. I don’t know if it’s considered less masculine to have one or if guys just don’t get it. Either way, it is awkward, and it often makes me feel like I don’t quite fit in.

    To make matters worse, I have a growing joint problem. I recently tested positive for rheumatoid factor, which could indicate rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other illnesses. I am going to see a rheumatology specialist in February.

    I am a 29 year old man. People often tell me I look at least 5 years younger. I am below weight for my age, which most Americans consider to be a sign of health (I disagree). When people look at me, they see a slim, healthy, and young man. They don’t see the invisible illnesses beneath the surface. They don’t understand why I am always tired, often cancel or show up late to things, have to take a lot of sick days, etc. Being a man has a significant effect on the way people react to my illness.

  • Beachpotato
    4 years ago

    It took several Dr.s to tell me it might be Migraine. Many types of meds and meditation with soft music etc. but no luck. The VA tells me its not migraine because I don’t throw up. I couldn’t stand the daylight at all. Severe gastrointestinal stress and then some bleeding from the pills. I was able to get a Medical Marijuana card while in California for a bad back after an auto accident. I found that some infused chocolate would take care of the pain problems so every morning of a M day I start with a small piece of chocolate infused with marijuana that I buy at the dispensary. Thank God. I was ready for the end but now enjoy the Sun. I get the Encredible Edibles because I cant smoke due to COPD thanks to 30 years of Marlboro’s. I also notice the arthritis is eased in my hands and feet. My primary says the stomach problems are gone. I had been taking took many Advil and Lortabs over the years but no longer need it.

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