Triumph Over the Beast
We have a history of migraines in our family but this is the usual beginning of the story for most migraineurs. Growing up before the age of the internet, it was very hard to get the type of info we have at our fingertips today. When I menstruated, I had severe cramps and headaches, When I drank alcohol, I couldn't function for about 2 days due to pain and photophobia. Some people's voices would trigger a headache as would certain odors. I would frequently feel exhausted with body aches that you would associate with the flu. My husband ignored me as if I were a hypochondriac and all the different doctors that I would see chalked it up to depression. I then made the rounds to various psychiatrists who blamed my non-sypathetic husband and all the stress in my life as the cause of my "depression" So they prescribed drugs for that condition but the muscle pain, fatigue and severe headaches got no better. Finally, at the age of 50, my GP sent me to MHNI, a well respected headache clinic near my home and I was dianosed with migraine and fibromyalgia. It was a relief to know what was going on after so many years of searching for the truth.
But the story still has an ever-changing life of its own. By the time I was 52, I had lost my job as a teacher due to migraines as well as my husband of 32 years. I was so sick, I couldn't function in my job and was isolated from family and friends who just didn't have a clue how bad things were for me. Having come originally from NY, I had no family in MI so I was literally on my own. I knew that I had to help myself because I had no one else who was willing or able to help me and the internet was now my source of information. Reading blogs on Migraine.com, posts by other migraineurs on Facebook, research reports and anything else I could find became my daily routine. I learned how to identify my triggers and changed my diet to exclude preservatives, food coloring and artificial ingredients of any kind. I gave up eating simple carbs and dairy and lost 40 pounds. Being an insomniac since fourth grade, my headache specialist was able to find a med that allowed me to follow a sleep schedule so that I no longer awoke with a migraine. I applied for SSDI and was accepted. This helped me a bit with the finacial stress of not being able to work.
So what have I learned from these many years of suffering with migraine disease? I've learned never to give up and to be proactive in my own education and treatment. I've learned how important it is to have a good migraine specialist as your doctor and to be an equal partner in deciding upon a course of action. I've also learned that treatments work for a while and then you must come up with a new plan. But most of all, I've learned to never give up hope, even when things look very bleak, because you never know when something new will become available to us or, someday, a cure might be found.
When you think you can't keep going, contact other migraineurs online and they will be there to support you through to the other side of the pain. They are the ones who truly understand your situation and you will learn a lot from your online migraine friends.
Have you taken our Migraine In America Survey yet?