More frequent, less severe

I am a 30 year-old female Christian from UK who gets migraines a LOT.

From the age of about 8, I started to get headaches in extreme heat and at 13 I had daily headaches which was related to the stress of my mother’s cancer.

Aged 20 I had a whiplash injury which combined with the stress of living abroad and trying to wash my hair in the sink led to me seeking chiropractic help after suffering severe headaches. A few months after starting this treatment I went on a 3-week camp and took caffeine supplements to keep me going. When I got back I stopped taking the caffeine , but three days later I suffered what I now think to be my first migraine. It lasted several days. I visited the chiropractor who told me it was unlikely to be migraine as they would have started when I was 16 or 17 and I would have had visual symptoms. I now know both to be false.

I had occasional headaches and migraines after this until I was 24, when the end of a relationship led to migraines every fortnight. The chiropractor didn’t know what caused it, but no one suggested migraines. My mum just said ‘Oh half the population gets headaches at weekends’. I eventually cut out caffeine and felt an enormous benefit after an initial few days of horrific pain. Soon however they crept back again. Someone suggested I have my eyes tested but the optometrist said my eyes were fine and didn’t know why I had pain behind my eye during a headache.

Gradually, with increased workload, my migraines crept up in frequency. After two severe ones where I vomited and started to suffer daily sinus pain in 2009 I visited the GP (family doctor). Two of them both were clueless but prescribed nasal spray and antibiotics. They even said that the vomiting sound like migraine but the fact that I had no visual symptoms meant it wasn’t. (Ever heard of migraine without aura?) Eventually the sinus pain went away but after driving to visit a friend and spending the rest of the day vomiting, I visited a third GP who said it was a clear cut case of migraines. Two weeks later my grandmother died.

Shortly after this I had a bout of daily migraines and was prescribed sumatriptan (Imigran/Imitrex). It felt like a godsend but I could finish a whole pack of 6 in as many days and couldn’t always get my repeat prescriptions fast enough. It continued over the summer – more frequent, less severe – and in the autumn I was put on propranolol. When I saw little result from this I was sent to a neurologist, who told me that the sumatriptan could transform the migraines i.e. make them less severe over a long period of time. He also increased the dosage of propranolol.

At times I have noticed a mild benefit but I am not really feeling any better than I did this time last year. Also, the propranolol slows me down and I couldn’t cycle as fast on my cycling holiday this year as the previous year. However, one interesting thing did happen on the holiday: heat is one of my triggers and I had already taken one of my two triptans for the month. We arrived to blazing heat and I began to feel worse as the day progressed, but I was reluctant to take another triptan. Worried about vomiting at a campsite, I tried not to eat too much and eventually did take my last triptan. Someone prayed with me that I wouldn’t have any more migraines that week – and I didn’t! Admittedly there were a few twinges but I took paracetamol at the first sign and had a great week with fabulous new friends.

I work in a school and noticed I felt much worse when term recommenced! Short of changing job, I don’t know what to do except pray for a solution.

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