Many attacks, but undefeated!
Last updated: August 2013
My migraine story began over 50 years ago when I was 11 or 12. It would strike me usually in the night and I would wake up with nausea and terrific head pain. I kind of knew I had something that my grandmother had : “migraines”. That was all I knew. She gave me her medicine of choice which was BC powder. I downed much of that during my youth and well into my teens.
A doctor once prescribed an inhaler which I think was something of the ergot derivitive. It did not do much for me but I doubt that I used it before I was in the middle of an attack and by then it made me sick.
I would sleep off the attack in a dark room and usually got up and went to afternoon school the same day. As a youth this physical affliction made me fearful and sad. I did not know why I was suffering or if it was my fault.
Zoom through the 60′s where I managed to finish university somehow. I took many street drugs at this time, not consciously to treat my migraines but I suppose in some way unconsciously trying to ease the pain in my life. I remember that LSD was the best I ever felt in my entire life and now I read that some migraine drugs are related to this acid.
At this time I had no clue about triggers, medical advances or specialized care-givers. I just accepted my affliction as an inherited curse from my grandmother. To think I could have been aggravating the situation by gorging on Reeses Peanut Butter cups!
Fast forward to meeting my future husband where he learned about my migraines by finding me on the bathroom floor trying to get the cold tiles against my head after a night of drinking. Again I had no clue that what I was doing was perhaps causing the headache. But experience taught me not to over do anything, especially alcohol. I paid too dearly the next day with a hangover/migraine.
I was ecstatic to have four children, not only for the intrinsic joy but because during pregnancy I never had a migraine. I would have continued to have children but passed 45 with my last one and the red flags were too many to deny the risk.
Over the years I read many things about headaches and was introduced to the trigger theory. I must have tried hundreds of diets, denials and tricks to reduce my migraines. Everything from sex to sunlight came under suspicion. Every OTC medicine was tried. Nothing touched the disease although every time I tried something new I would have a week or so of euphoria, and false hope. I had no guidance or care-giver and was definitely floundering.
Sometime in my late forties we finally had health insurance that would pay for my seeing a specialist. I went to a headache clinic in Connecticut and there I was officially diagnosed (ha!) and best of all learned about the mircale drug triptan. The doctor put me on serzone (anti-depressant) because I told him I was often manic before a headache and down for days after. He also prescribed sumatriptan. By that time I had researched migraines and learned about triggers. Interestingly enough, he downplayed triggers and now I can see why. They are all anecdotal and have led me down many a rosy path only to be disappointed in the end. Since I had given up alcohol and tobacco and drugs on my own initiative I did not worry about those factors.
I did some biofeedback and learned how to relax my face and scalp.
From this point on my life was miraculously changed. I could finally do something to abort a headache and not be left a wounded victim of a mysterious malady each time. My husband was very grateful as he had been frustrated trying to “fix” my dilemma for years. Here was hope for a future of less murderous migraines.
Since then I have gotten very interested in the things of God and also in miraine research. Both of these have helped me to cope with undeserved suffering. I can see things in a wider perspective and have rejected the victim approach to living with migraines.
I still get them. In fact they are fairly regular as I discovered in keeping a journal. Why they should come every week is a mystery to me and makes me seriously doubt the trigger theory. If life is the trigger then I am in trouble!
Everything is not smooth going to be sure. Now I have the threat of rebound headaches looming on the horizon as I found myself nibbling triptans every few days. The decision to medicate or not is a hard one for this reason. If I do not take anything I am in for a terrible time of emotional, mental and physical pain. I have learned to be patient and just play dead until they are gone but the devastation is exquisite. The desire to take a medication even though its “too soon” is great. This is one of the puzzles I am working on.
I would say to every migraneur, I know what you go through. I know the agony and the crazed state we can be dumped into. It is no joke. I have gained compassion for the suffering of others through this disease. I can better enjoy the good days and be thankful for small blessings along the way. I am thankful I have good days and feel so bad for those who have chronic situations. I am trying to endure things well, keeping the faith and not caring about the migraine wrinkles about my face. It is tempting to get depressed and despairing about our trial. But that is all it is. A trial in a short span of a lifetime with who knows what to come thereafter. I’m counting on something good because God is good. So come back fighting every time you go down for the count. Fight for your right to live and be happy. Fight for time and space to love and serve others. Fight for the light in times of darkness. Never, ever give up the fight!
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?