The Pain that Awakens, the Loss of Salvation
Last updated: October 2022
I have suffered menstrual migraines for 20 years, ever since my very first period. I couldn't understand why taking a dose of aspirin, ibuprophen, and Tylenol resulted in no pain releief whatsoever and I just huddled in a ball. I was unable to go to school. I wanted nothing but darkness and cold and silence and tried to soothe myself with rhythmic rocking. Episodes went on for days. Intense and dibilitating at first, then fading to a dull ache, then dizziness and nausea before finally slowly subsiding. Finally, during one particularly bad episode, my mother handed me a red pill. 20 minutes later, the pain was gone, and I felt groggy, finally able to sleep. I slept that evening into the next morning. Apparently, this disease has affected nearly every woman on my mother's side of the family. Today, I have a daughter. She is 5. I pray she doesn't have to go through this.
I was shocked to read that I am not alone - the 3rd day of my period, without fail, every time, I know when it starts to come on. Many times it'll start the night before it hits. In those cases I could take Midrin and be fine. If I did not feel it coming on, I would be awakened by the crushing, pounding, singing pain. Some nights I would instantly break into tears, crying out to God to make it stop and begging forgiveness, because I was surely in Hell already. Later in life, my husband learned to get up and get my Midrin and some water and would be standing right there with my salvation in hand. 20 minutes later I would be fast asleep again.
Luckily, I have always had irregular periods, so for the great bulk of my life, I've only had 3 or 4 per year. My two pregnancies were blessings - not only did the pregnancy keep them at bay, but it took over a year each time for my cycle to return. For a few years, I was able to keep it at bay using the Mirena IUD. In high school, however, I was on traditional birth control. I had to suffer every 28 days. Even catching it in time, the only medicine that worked knocked me out for at least 2 hrs in painless slumber, so a day was always lost from school or work, but without it I'd lose 2 or 3.
Ah yes - I said Midrin. It was salvation. I tried several others, including Imitrex, but none of those worked. I once managed to get my hands on a "90 Day Supply" of them some time ago. 90 pills. They lasted years, given the opportunities for pregnancy and Mirena. But now, my salvation is gone. I just went through 3 days of absolute hell this weekend.
You may or may not be aware the medication was not ever officially approved by the FDA. While there were safety and efficacy studies of it and its generics keeping it on the market, and it's decline in use once Imitrex hit the market took it off the FDA's radar until the manufacturing facility failed to pass inspections. Finally, the original company was shut down for failure to rectify its non-compliance with the standards. When a name brand drug goes off the market, all generics are usually pulled, and with the bad PR no generic supplier saw financial benefit to continue production.
My salvation is gone. I am 32. I will brace myself. On the 3rd day, every time, I'll be awakened by pain that I can no longer stop.
Do you have a migraine toolbox for when an attack hits?
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