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A very unmerry birthday

I’m 21, and coming up on the celebration of my headache’s fifth birthday. I didn’t used to describe it as a migraine, they have other associated symptoms generally, but as time has moved on, my headache has grown up too. Just before it’s fourth birthday, it gave itself a present and became light sensitive. So, determined to go on with life as per usual, I donned a pair of sunglasses and continued on. After a few weeks, I got used to the odd looks and the questions about whether I was hungover, or pretending to be some form of celebrity. And now, 9 months later, it decides that apparently I’m still getting too much out of life, and throws in constant dizziness. Now, I can’t walk without a walking stick to assist with balance, and even then it’s difficult.

My life has changed from where I planned. I was going to graduate from school, go to University, study to be a teacher, teach. Instead, I scraped through school, only just made it into University due to some bonus points they gave me, and have since had to drop out due to my health. So I’m doing a distance education certificate, which might become useless if I can’t get this dizziness under control.

And now, I’m scared. This is the first time since it started that I’ve felt like this. A headache that never ends? I can learn to live with that. Light sensitive? I can control that, mostly. Dizziness? I guess I’ll probably learn to cope with that too. The thing that really scares me? What’s next? Because before, I thought that it was a constant. And now, who knows? Maybe six months from now something else will change? Maybe it’ll be the same for another three years before suddenly some crippling new symptom shows up.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Pendragon author
    5 years ago

    Spoke to the doctor about tilt-table test, he says that due to the fact that I’m dizzy while sitting and lying down as well as standing up, it’s very unlikely to be postural, and did two blood pressure checks (sitting and standing) and there was no drop, so it’s looking like it’s all related…

  • Pendragon author
    5 years ago

    Thanks for your response, Jamie. I got a good laugh out of it.
    My 21st’ been and gone, and I just don’t drink. Never could get past the taste of alcohol, and don’t see much point in trying.
    I admit, it was somewhat frustrating when I went to the hospital and they just assumed the dizziness was a natural progression of whatever migraine-like disorder I have. I have an appointment with my GP today (who’s amazing) and I’ll talk with him about the possibility of a tilt-table test or something similar.
    I’ve always had really solid blood pressure, and have been on at least 2 different beta-blockers (didn’t even know Inderal was one, just been taking whatever’s prescribed at prescribed dosage for so long…)
    Anyway, I appreciate your response, and have made a decision that I will do everything in my power to celebrate the okay days, and not get too down over the bad ones.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Even though you feel your doctor gave up on you, it seems that you are continuing your journey to hopefully uncover a clue that may help you!

    How is the elimination diet going? Have you noticed a difference? I agree that a pain diary can be difficult when the degrees of pain change constantly. But maybe noting when the pain gets over a 6 or 7 on the pain scale could unlock a clue. What were you doing when the pain spiked? How long did it last? What brought the pain down? What did you take? What have you eaten?

    Don’t give up! I wish you the best.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    The symptoms you get with your Migraines can change over time. Sometimes for the worse or for the better. The intensity seems to be hitting you hard lately. I can understand your concern about what is going to come next. But instead, let’s focus on what you can do now to feel better and maybe get some of these symptoms under control.

    Are you seeing a doctor for your Migraines? If not, that’s definitely step #1. Preferrably you should see a Headache Specialist, who is a neurologist who only deals with headache disorders. Here is a list of doctors and hopefully there is one near you. They are much more qualified to help you than just a neurologist who deals with all kinds of issues including sleep disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients.

    There could be medications you can take that would help with the dizziness. Or this issue could also be caused by another malady, so it’s important to see a doctor any time your symptoms change.

    Have you ever kept a food diary or a pain diary? This may help you to see patterns to determine what are likely triggers for you. Our site has a great tool you can use and print it off to take to your doctor:

    I wish you the best and let us know if you have any other questions!

  • Pendragon author
    5 years ago

    I live in Australia, so that list of Headache Specialists isn’t going to help much, but thanks anyway.
    I believe that I spent a number of months being treated by the best headache specialist in my state, who ended up giving up and diagnosing it as a “chronic daily headache”.
    I’ve been trying a few medications for the dizziness, nothing’s helped so far.
    I’ve tried what’s called the RPAH Elimination Diet, and I’m trying a further variation on that at the moment to test again for food triggers.
    A pain diary would be quite difficult, as the level of pain varies, sometimes minute by minute.

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