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The Migraine Merry-Go-Round

My family tree is filled with migraineurs, so when my first one struck while I was barely beyond Kindergarten, there was little mystery about what was happening to me. My mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and several siblings could all empathize. But empathy does little to chase away the pain, nausea, auras, sensitivities, brain fog, and post-headache “hangover”, so over the years I have many tips, techniques, and medications aimed at preventing and relieving migraine attacks.

Migraine Awareness MonthThis has been complicated by the natural aging process: the triggers and telltale signs of my childhood and teenage migraines differed from those during my 20s and 30s, which differed from those I experience in my 50s. When I was young, I could tell almost to the minute when a migraine would strike in full force; today it is not unusual for me to have one crash down without any warning, or even wake me from a dead sleep in the middle of the night.

About the only constants have been these: none of the preventive medications work for me (at least well enough to outweigh the disturbing side effects); Excedrin and sleep are STILL the most effective treatments for me; and while no single trigger will inevitably lead to a migraine, combinations of two or more almost certainly will. Except when they don’t. 😉

 

 

Though I work from home as a “full-time” freelance writer and editor, for the past four or five years I have not have enough headache-free days in a month to support mysel, so recently I relunctantly began the disability application process. Menopause has not changed the frequency nor the duration of the migraines, only made their arrival more random, so I am resigned to the fact that I will probably endure them for the rest of my life, which means another 20 to 40 years on the merry-go-round of missed outings, cancelled plans, painful appearances, abrupt departures, and countless postponements of everything from daily responsibilities to long-awaited events.

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.

Comments

  • Linda K.
    4 years ago

    I hear you! Phrases that really resonated with me (and I’ve been dealing with this for over 25 years): “except when they don’t” and “countless postponements of everything from daily responsibilities to long-awaited events.” That pretty much says it!

  • Jkr
    4 years ago

    When it comes to going on the disability it’s all in how your dr writes the letter and what excuses he uses. I’m not sure if migraine is an actual reason for disability. I know my dr had to get pretty creative.

  • Jkr
    4 years ago

    My migraines in my teens and 20/ have been completely different than the roller coaster in my 30s. What I thought I had pegged back then shifted entirely when I had my son. It was like my body short circuited. My migraines in my 20s were some of the worst I have had but not frequent. Now they are frequent but I’m not on the floor of the bathroom about to call 911. Although I think I may be quicker in realizing when it’s coming and what kind it’s going to be to figure out what I need to do and fast. I’ve also undergone a few surgeries to help with reasons as to why I’ve been getting them. I lost many jobs because of them. I worked in tv and film. The world does not stop for migraines there. I had to go on long term disability. It helps relieve the stress. Good luck. I know it’s not an easy process. But when you get there it will be worth it.

  • Diane Fox
    5 years ago

    I also had to go on long term disability because of chronic migraine after a long career in pharmaceutical research. The insurance company gave my a lawyer to fight for Social Security Disability. I have been on it for 10 years. I have had migraines since I was a teen, just monthly. It became chronic at age 48. Most times I feel completely useless and feel guilty that I don’t contribute to the world. I don’t think that way so much anymore. I’ve been going to yoga regularly for the past year. It hasn’t helped at all with the migraines, but I have learned to be a lot more gentle with myself. I can give myself a break and remember that I have a chronic illness and that I am not just a complete slug.These past 10 years feel like a journey and I have come to acceptance of my disease. I don’t live in depression most of the time like I once did. I can’t control it so I’m not fighting it anymore.

  • maxgordon author
    5 years ago

    My second application was denied, so I guess the final step is to find a disability lawyer and have someone else fight alongside me. It all just seems so exhausting, and lately I’ve had more headache days than non-headache days. When I find some time and energy I will seek out a lawyer. But how do I find a reputable one who will take me case?

  • Leah Kelly
    6 years ago

    I had to resign from my teaching position after 19 years due to severe migraines. I had long term disability, but my neurologist of 12 years didn’t understand why I wouldn’t go back to a pain clinic and fired me. I’m now under the care of a great pain clinic and an internist who understands. I need to protest the stopping of my disability payments. My husband and I are just getting by. The insurance company made be file for Social Security. When my payments stopped, the consulting company contacted me and said my case was strong and they wanted to continue forward. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t have a migraine. I have missed camping weekends, holidays, work, and so many events that I have lost count over the years.

    I spoke at length with my physician about the new implants and headbands that give off pulses. The science isn’t there yet. The control groups aren’t valid as of yet. As we all know, scientists can get any results they want. And, as a fellow scientists, I’m especially wary of anything that hasn’t been through the FDA approval process.

    I feel your pain on the “disability process.” You feel as if you are giving up on yourself, on life. However, you are right, it is a migraine merry-go-round. Don’t punish yourself. Be thankful for those in your life that are there to support you and help you. And be thankful for those good days! Always try to find the silver lining in what can be a dismissal day.

    Cheers,

    LBKelly

  • maxgordon author
    6 years ago

    Thanks, LBKelly, for the encouragement. While people who have never experienced migraine say they understand and mean well, they don’t understand that it’s a full-body assault, not “just a headache.” It’s always great to hear that others understand and have survived. —Max

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