My changing migraines

I had my first “typical” migraine at age 17. I woke up one morning to my alarm going off for me to get up and get ready for school, and the noise was just EXCRUCIATING. The second I opened my eyes, I was momentarily blind from the pain of the tiny amount of light seeping through the blinds on my window. I managed to get out of bed, shut off the alarm, toss a blanket up over the window to block out some more light, and took four Motrin and crawled back into bed with a pillow over my head, sobbing. I fell back asleep for a while, and when I woke back up it was gone. That day at school, I noticed myself stumbling over words, which I very very rarely did before.

Before that “obvious” migraine, I had had what I always called “hair headaches” as a child. Sometimes they would come from having a ponytail pulled too tight, or that’s what I always thought. In December of 2011, I learned differently. Three years ago, I went from having hair past my shoulders to a pixie cut, which meant I never wore my hair pulled back at all. Around the end of November 2011, I started having the “hair headaches” again, even though my hair was extremely short. I noticed they would almost always be on the left side of my head, and felt like each hair was being pulled individually, simultaneously. At first I attributed it to the stress of my long-term boyfriend’s impending tonsillectomy, because having that procedure done as an adult is apparently considered high-risk. I’m a worrier by nature, and I’ve always gotten tension headaches during particularly stressful times at school.

We got through the surgery, after a minor complication which involved me rushing him to the hospital and him having emergency surgery because one tonsil wasn’t healing properly and he was bleeding out. My scalp started hurting in the car on the way to the hospital, but the pain on these headaches doesn’t incapacitate me, just makes me miserable. I waited for 8 hours in the hospital waiting area for him to be released from surgery, taking Motrin occasionally because that was all I had on hand. Once he got into a room, I was able to go back and see him and spend a couple hours with him before returning home to sleep in my bed. The next day I went back to the hospital, and with him out of the woods I was hoping that the headaches would resolve completely.

Unfortunatley, they have not. They’ve evolved from always being on the left side of my head, to sometimes being on the right side, and sometimes being on both simultaneously. One day a couple weeks ago, I even had one on the back side of my head. I’ve started keeping a headache journal, documenting where, when, how long, what I take for them, what works, what doesn’t, what I was doing before hand, all that good stuff. I’ve found that standing in a blisteringly hot shower with the water beating on my head for a good half hour or so will start to ease the pain, if I take a couple Excederin Migraine right before getting in the shower there’s a pretty good chance that it will be tolerable by the time I get out. I’m always tired, all the time, but particularly right before, during, and after a headache episode. I do get minor mood swings around them as well, but I generally keep those under control until I break down crying over some small thing.

I’ve been on Lexapro since May of 2009 (for depression and anxiety), Xanax since November of 2008 (taken as needed for anxiety attacks). I’ve taken Percocet and Flexeril as needed for sciatica. I take a multivitamin and 5,000 iU of Vitamin D3 daily on orders from my GP because apparently I’m extremely vitamin D deficient. In February, I was ordered to get a CT scan without contrast; last Saturday, I had two MRI scans, one with contrast and one without. Neither scan showed anything wrong at all. My long-term boyfriend did some research of his own (because every time I did research, I was in the middle of a headache and couldn’t process half of what I read). He led me to this website, and several stories that I’ve read here match what I’ve been experiencing.

My grandmother and my aunt on my mother’s side both have migraines, but theirs are the typical “sensitive to light, sound, nausea” type. Because I’ve never really had the “light and sound hurt” thing with these headaches, I dismissed them as not being migraines. My boyfriend tells me that when I have a headache I turn down the volume on the tv, and ask him not to talk so loudly (which I did not realize that I did). And of course, when I have one, lying down in a dark quiet room, but lying down in a dark quiet room is always nice, so I never thought that it might be a symptom.

I’ve noticed that I have trouble making my eyes stay focused the day or two before a migraine hits. During the migraine, forget about it. I don’t really have double vision, per se. I also notice more “floaters” in my vision before and during the episode. I’ve noticed that if I take a couple Excederin Migraine when I notice the floaters, or notice my vision getting troublesome, that sometimes the pain doesn’t ever come but the other symptoms stick around. But other times, the Excederin Migraine doesn’t even help and I just have to suffer through it if I’m stuck at work, until I can get home, into my blisteringly hot shower, and then into bed.

On Monday night, I made some Texas chili with an award winning packaged mix my grandmother mailed me from back home. About four bites in to my bowl, my scalp started itching and twitching on the right side of my head about three inches above my ear, and about 10 minutes later a very big headache hit on the right side just around where the twitches were. For a while I was down to only having about one headache a week or less, but this week I’ve had three. Last night I was experiencing some warning signs, but so far nothing’s hit. I’ve got my Excederin Migraine standing by, hoping hoping HOPING that maybe this time, just maybe, it will be a painless one.

I’ll keep adding to this as things develop. I’m seeing my GP on Monday, going to talk to her about giving me a referral to a neurologist. I live in the DC Metro area, so I’m hopeful that I can find someone pretty easily who can start getting things under control for me.

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.

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