Last updated: June 2022
I have accepted migraines as a part of my life. Of course, I'm always hoping for someone to create some magic process that will allow me to predict, prevent and treat them. Alas, here I wait. Not knowing what each new day may bring. I have been dealing with migraines since senior year of high school which developed to be more severe in my first few years of college. Now as a working adult of 28, I am still attempting to thwart them. About 8 months ago I was taken off of my birth control pill, as my most recent physician suggested that because my headaches sometimes come with an aura, I am at higher risk for stroke on birth control pills. Good to know since one of the main reasons I was started on the pill was because of migraines. Now that birth control is out of the picture, I have had far fewer frequency of headaches but those that I do have seem to be more severe and illicit an inflammatory response afterward where my eyes and face swell up to the point I am nearly unrecognizable. I had attributed this to allergies only before. For example, when someone is burning leaves I have to insulate myself indoors and turn on the A/C or this same inflammatory response will occur. Cow's milk seems to illicit this same eye swelling phenomenon so it is avoided. But cheese and butter do not. This eye swelling most severely occurs following my migraines. My eyes start to itch and swell as the pain begins to fade in my head. It doesn't happen every migraine but when it does I avoid going out in public. This is difficult because I am a nurse who visits patients at home. Sometimes I show up and I don't look like myself. When the migraine is happening, the pain is unbearable to the point where sometimes I can't communicate well. It is usually worse on one side of my head. Usually this is the right side. I have found some relief from this using the medication Imitrex 50 mg. If I can catch it beforehand, this really helps to cut down on the pain level and seems to shorten the duration of the migraine. With this med, my migraine lasts about 5 hours rather than its usual 10-12 hours. Before the migraine occurs sometimes (not always) I get an aura. My optometrist calls it an "ocular migraine." It appears like a blind spot in the middle of one side of my vision. The blind spot then spreads out to the outer field of my vision in the shape of a C. Then the onset of my migraine happens with in the next hour from when the blind spot clears my field of vision. My migraines occur at a pattern that is irregular for the most part. One time where I am 100% sure that I will get a severe migraine will occur is a few days before starting my menstrual period and a few days after my period has ended. The migraine before my period is more severe in pain and eye swelling where the one after my period tends to just have a little bit less pain and no eye swelling. As a nurse, I'm inclined to suspect that these have to do with my hormone levels changing. I'm not sure that there is a fix for this yet and look forward to exploring this pattern more in the future. I hope that this will reach someone who is suffering from the same symptoms or similar patterns even if it is just a reminder that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I would suggest to those of you suffering from migraines to get off of the birth control and get something that works as needed like Imitrex. This might actually make your day to day a little better and lessen your fear of the migraine.
Do you have a migraine toolbox for when an attack hits?
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