Migraine Misery Relieved
I’ve written in here before about my life trying to live with headaches. I was in Kindergarten the first time I realized that my head hurt, and that it hurt so badly that I got sick and began throwing up…and that there was a connection. I came to know that “sick headaches”…that’s what they were called back then, ran in my father’s family. My father suffered from bad headaches. My Grandmother suffered with them. Daddy’s siblings and their children had them. My siblings would come to suffer from bad headaches. But for some reason, I seemed to be hit a bit harder. Rather weirdly, I often got nauseated, sometimes several days, before the pain would hit. Repeatedly my mother would take me to the Pediatrician thinking I had a virus. I think the Dr. thought I was just a faker who didn’t like school. It was never a virus, in his opinion. He would prescribe suppositories for the nausea and send us home. He was a family friend who lived down the street, and more than once I overheard him telling my parents that he thought it was all emotional, and that I was just “very high strung.” He dismissed the idea that there was a connection between my bouts of nausea and headaches with my bent for motion sickness that would trigger headaches.
I hated and dreaded the long car trips my father liked to take in the summertime. I always got sick with a headache. Never failed. I never rode rides at the fair, because I knew I would get sick. I was quite lucky, because my parents were so very understanding, and never treated me, or my siblings, headaches as a nuisance. My Mother’s stock treatment for us was a dose of paragoric and bed. I always got a suppository for nausea as well. The paragoric would normally send me off to sleep, and I generally woke up feeling better. Through the years I fought a losing battle with my headaches. This was before the advent of the use of Triptans for headaches. Most Doctors prescribed narcotics for the pain, and Phenergan for the nausea. They really had no choice. There were not many other alternatives. I saw Neurologist after Neurologist. I had EEG’s done and CT scans, even a couple of MRI’s. It was so very frustrating. It definitely had a negative impact on my life.
I was a Newspaper Reporter for several large newspapers, I did “Stringer” work for the Associated Press, it was a job I loved with all of my heart! But it’s a fast-paced, noisy, loud, 24-hour on call business. The news never sleeps. That means Reporters rarely get to sleep! I lived on those narcotics. Editors could not care less if your head hurt or that you were throwing up. They just wanted your copy on time by deadline. Deadlines were a constant cycle. And in the early days of my career, newsrooms always smelled of stale, burnt coffee, perfume and cigarette smoke. I think most migraine sufferers share my hatred of those smells. Smells can trigger an instant headache, and will definitely aggravate an existing one.
After a life-time of trying to live with headaches, I finally got directed to the Carolina Headache Institute in Chapel Hill, N.C. for chronic headaches. I live in S.C., but it is well worth the drive. It was the best decision I ever made when I decided to go there. I have been treated so well by the staff, and Dr. Kevin Kahn is just wonderful. He is so compassionate and personable and understanding. He worked out a treatment plan that has worked very well for me. I am 60 years-old and still fighting the battle against chronic headaches. But they are no longer debilitating headaches. Dr. Kahn makes sure that I always have access to the proper medications. For me, I find relief with using a Triptan oriented drug. I prefer Naratriptan (Amerge), but Imitrex works too. I also use Lyrica at night to help with restless legs, a phenomena I have suffered with my whole life The Lyrica also promotes a better, more restful and restorative sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep has cut down on the headaches that I used to wake up with. During nights of restless sleep, I used to dream about having a headache, and in my dream I would be searching for Asprin or any kind of pain killer and then I would wake up and my head would just be raging. So to me it’s a miracle drug! It is now a rare morning when I wake up with a headache. I also use a time-released formula of Topramax, a preventative medication. It works well for me. There has been a noticeable difference in frequency and intensity. The headaches I get now tend to be related to the weather, to smells, to room temperature, to barometric pressure, to noise and bright lights, to flashing lights, to certain foods, to stressful situations and to alcohol. I learned early in adulthood to avoid alcohol. It is an instant headache. And to crying. If I cry, I am in for a monster headache that is hard to satisfy. I figured that one out when I was a very small girl. Thanks to Dr. Kahn’s treatment plan, I now have a treatment plan that is working. A big help is that I now keep a supply of Phenergan suppositories on hand for nausea. I still tend to feel sick first, and then the onset of pain and continued nausea. The biggest benefit of visiting a Headache Clinic is that I no longer feel alone, or like a freak for having chronic headaches. I know that millions of people share that curse. I still struggle with headaches, but I no longer fear them like I used to. I know they are not going to kill me. And I know that I always have on hand medications that work for me.
To folks reading this who are frustrated by their headaches, I STRONGLY recommend that you find a Headache Clinic near you. You won’t be sorry. I promise. Most Insurance companies will pay for treatment at Headache Clinics. Don’t give up, fellow headache sufferers! There is relief for you out there! Once you lose the fear of headaches…and I DO know what that fear is like.. I lived in it for most of my life…you will find that you do have a life! You will no longer have to live in the fear that a headache might ruin a planned vacation. You will no longer have to fear saying “yes” when friends ask to you to do something. I am proof of that! I think losing that fear is one- hundred percent due to knowing that I always have on hand the proper medications that work for me. I also have a preventative treatment plan that for now is working well to curb the number of headaches and their intensity. It is my prayer that one day researches will be able to figure out why some people fall victim to chronic migraine headaches. It is also my prayer that more people who DON’T suffer from Migraines, will come to understand that folks who DO have them, are not faking or being hypochondriacs, or just wanting drugs, or just want attention. I have to confess, I have never understood why folks who visit an ER for help are sometimes treated like criminals. I have been that person being treated like a criminal. Why would someone go to an ER in the middle of the night for help, sometimes in their pajamas, if all they wanted was a high? How thrilling could it be to get high in the middle of the night? Thankfully it has been a very long time since I have visited an ER for a migraine. Don’t give up fellow Migraine sufferers! There is hope for us!