My War with Migraines

I think migraines have always been part of my life, because as a young child I remember getting 'tummy aches' for no known reason. By the time I was 12, I was complaining of headaches, and so per the doctor's advice, my mother took me to get a very short hair cut...from hair almost down to my hips to a very short hair cut that I hated.....and I got to start Jr. High with that. Well, it didn't help, and so I was allowed to grow my hair out again. Through high school, those headaches seemed to be more of a PMS problem and it seemed like I was growing out of them. Into my 20's, I had maybe 2-3 migraines a year, never saw a doctor for them. Would take a couple tylenol and go lay down in a dark room for a while.

Due to female problems (which we now have figured out were likely the same problem my mom and grandmother had and now my grown daughter has as well (both daughter & me diagnosed), I had to have a hysterectomy. Migraines became more frequent. A few months later I was in a car accident, hurt my neck (but nothing major) and that's when the migraines decided to take up permanent residency. No matter how many eviction notices I've given Mr. Migraine, over 20 years later, he refuses to leave! My mother passed away at 49, and I know she had migraines through then. My grandmother told me when I was in my 40's, that by the time she reached 50, her migraines went away. I've had several doctors tell me the same, but now that I'm in my 50's, mysteriously, they have no recollection of having told me that!

I've been to: family doctors, gyns, headache clinics that specialize in migraines in women, neurologist after neurologist after neurologist, pain management, internal medicine, even psychiatrists and a therapist....and alternative medicine such as chiropractors (both of which who were successful in giving me a migraine), biofeedback, physical therapy. While they all did their best, sadly, I'm writing my migraine story because I am at constant battle with migraines.

So, I'm at war. What are my weapons, my artillery?

  1. A VERY supportive husband. Sometimes he 'sees' my migraine coming on before I know it if I didn't get an aura or my 'before' symptoms were vague. He says my eyes get the '2 pee holes in the snow' look. He will order me to rest, darken the room, and beg me to go ahead and take my medicine. Bless his heart, many times I say - No, I don't hurt, don't need any medicine. Guess I should be taking heed to what my biggest supporter, best friend and cheerleader has to say, huh? He goes to 99% of any doctor appt I have concerning my migraines - that way he can ask questions and if I forget to ask something, he does; if I forget something they says, he lets me know!
  2. A couple of very caring doctors. They do their best to work with me to change medications when needed, run tests to see if worsening headaches might be because of an underlying disease, and they educate me. They listen when I tell them about a bad experience with a neuro (yes I do have a problem with neuros, too many bad experiences have taught me to be very picky - and I think that's a good thing).
  3. Having several different medications to take once a migraine does strike. Having them on hand is comforting, I know that before if I didn't know I had them, I worried about what will I do, now I don't worry about that.
  4. My dark sunglasses
  5. Sometimes if I feel that throb start on one side of my head but its not severe, there are some alternative things I do that make it stop. They aren't foolproof and I am in no way saying they work 100% of the time, but they do sometimes. Putting on those dark sunglasses and having hubby take me for a ride, get some fresh air. TMI, but some 'special time' with my hubby - I have my theories on how that works, but no proof. Sometimes it 'kills' the migraine, other times it eases it, other times it just a brief (but wonderful) break from the migraine.

Those are the main ones. I also know which foods trigger migraines, and I avoid them. I know that storms or weather fronts almost always give me a migraine. So I run any errands before that storm gets close, (because I will get the migraine before it gets here and be able to confirm whether or not that storm is or is not coming!) I say that, but now it is spring, I suppose allergies are making me have them daily and it has been such a stressful winter, I have had 2 eye surgeries recently that immediately gave me non-stop migraine, that we'll see when spring is over if that was part of the culprit. If I'm under a lot of mental or emotional stress, oddly enough, most times I won't get the migraine during that time, but it will come after the stress is over. A doctor once told me that many times migraine patients won't get the migraine while they have to deal with that stress, but once they have time to relax, then they get the migraine. On the other hand, what I call everyday stress, like work, some unexpected bill, things like that will bring on or at least don't prevent the migraine. But no, I don't suggest any of us stay under the really bad stress to prevent migraines....stress overall isn't good for us and isn't it a shame we can't avoid all stress?

I get frustrated when people who have never had a migraine tell me they just take a motrin or a tylenol for their headaches and don't understand that if I 'just get a headache' I dont' take anything. I think to me, the minor headaches are nothing since I'm used to migraines. It's sad that so many don't understand the difference- a migraine is not 'just a headache'. I'm sad that my daughter and son get migraines, and that evidently the migraine monster is in our genes. With my daughter and I, we have several identical health issues and so I wonder, are they all related? I don't think there is enough research on migraine, although I see it is improving. I think we've all been brushed off as being hypochondriacs, drug seekers, or big babies and ignored for way too long.

I'm considering trying Botox injections in the near future, but I want to learn a lot more about other's experience with them before I do. I want to be able to live life without Mr. Migraine Monster making me cancel my plans. I want that for my daughter and son, my husband (who fortunately doesn't get them frequently), and my grandchildren.

And I'm so thankful for support groups like

That's it, in a nutshell, but seriously I could write all day long!

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