Part-Time Pain

I’ve suffered from migraines since I was about 8 years old. When I was young they were something I dealt with now and then, using Midrin. In high school they became frequent enough for Midrin to no longer be as option, as it knocked me out for half a day.

In college I began taking Imitrex more frequently as my sleep schedule became wildly erratic, my meal dollars went towards crappy food and the toll of trying to party like a normal college kid caught up with me.

I started running out of the Imitrex every month and became concerned enough to see a headache specialist as opposed to a neurologist. The first doctor I saw at the new practice was eager to remedy my Imitrex shortage – with prescriptions to Maxalt and Relpax. He also put me on Topomax.

I went and went, taking on a part-time job, joining clubs, taking a full class load and keeping up on my social activities. I didn’t let my headaches stop me, because I had plenty of triptans to help me along. I started having panic attacks, mind blanks, and slurring. I had no idea that topomax aka dopamax had those side effects. My doctor’s only comments were that I would lose weight. I immediately stopped taking it.

My headaches got worse, lasted longer, became more stubborn. I did everything in my power to control my triggers and accepted that I wasn’t a normal college kid who could be carefree and irresponsible with my body. This was the period in which I became a prisoner to my migraines.

It wasn’t merely the pain that depressed me. It was the not knowing how long the pain would last, and if it would strike when I needed to lead a club meeting, if it would prevent me from completing an assignment, if it would keep me from doing something fun? The fun part made me the saddest of all. When you’re in the wretches of migraine pain and trying not to think because it hurts, all you can think about are the things that you could be doing if you felt better.

Finally I reached my breaking point. I had a 5 day migraine. I went to the student health center and got pain killers. I went to the county’s ER and was issued opiates (and was treated like a drug addict as they shined lights in my eyes and interrogated me before-hand). Nothing made a dent.

My Mother came to pick me up and take me home. I went to my third ER in two days and it was finally gone. I saw a new headache specialist the next day. My new doctor told me I was in one of the worst rebound patterns she had ever seen.

I had to detox – for 6 months. I cried with my Mom after the doctor left our room. I was one semester away from graduating from college and I had no idea how to face the task in front of me: not to take anything at the onset of a migraine. No pain relief, no hope other than sleep.

I quit my part-time job. I met with professors who were more than willing to work with me. I saw a homeopathic healer, and a rolfer. I slept a lot. I got through it and felt the best I had ever felt since childhood. Migraines ceased to be in the back of my mind everyday and I lived like a normal young 20 something.

Over time they’ve crept back in. I still catch myself getting back into rebound patterns. I’ll take it upon myself to detox – braving out my 9-6 day job in pain, to go home and sleep it off.

My doctor says that things may be bad even when I’m doing everything right. Things may be great when I’m doing everything wrong. They just don’t know. But I manage, and I take every pain free moment with joy. I have a wonderful support system, and friends who now educate others about migraine disease from feeling so close to my experiences.

I live with part-time pain, and a full-time conviction to educate those around me, to find ways to make my life better and determination to enjoy every pain-free moment I’m given.

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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