Repsonse from a Chronic Migraine Sufferer

It’s not often that I’ll go into the joys of having migraines but today I caught an article in the Tennessean that prompted me to write a bit from my point of view

I’ve had migraines all my life, as far back as I can remember. Trust me, there’s not much pain that can compare with migraines when you’re a kid save for a botched tonsillectomy and having a spinal tap (while you already have a migraine).

The same holds true as an adult.

I get a migraine at least once a month. Usually it’s more like once a week. I have only one specific trigger that is consistent: barometric pressure changes. (Not kidding. I am a human barometer.) Other things that are noted as being “migraine triggers” may or may not trigger one at one point and not at another time. I’ve been tracking my migraines for YEARS and I can promise you, there is only that one trigger that remains consistent. The rest come and go as they please.

Because I deal with migraines on a regular basis I’ve had to learn to function while dealing with the pain. Most folks who get a migraine (and aren’t chronic sufferers) have to lay down in a dark room with no sound. The pain is intense and overwhelming (I’ll describe it in a moment). When you might have a migraine for three days straight in one week and another day long one later that month you don’t usually have the luxury of taking the time off work or school to nurse that pain and let it go away. So you deal.

The article in the Tennessean described a migraine as having brain freeze and the flu all at once.

To me, that sounds like a mild headache.

And that’s understandable why there’s a difference in the description of their migraine and mine. When you get them on a regular basis (more than once a month) and have to work through them you develop a higher migraine pain tolerance. After years I’ve revised my descriptions of the pain. What most people call a migraine I call a headache. What I call a migraine might send them to the ER for drugs. What will actually cause me to close myself in a dark room might make some folks think their brain is liquefying.

Sometimes it feels like someone is shoving an ice pick into my eye and it’s coming out of the back of my skull. Then someone else decides to pour lava into the wound (without removing the ice pick) and then put my head in a vise. And that’s just one example.

I’ve had migraines so bad that all I want to do is cry (and I don’t because I know it will only make it worse). There have been many migraines when I would have paid someone to shoot me in the head and just make the pain go away. I’ve been tempted to rip out my own eyes thinking that it might hurt less than having them in my skull.

There are natural, OTC and doctor-prescribed meds to prevent and treat migraines.

I’ve tried almost all of them. (I say almost as they are constantly touting something else as the newest to help) Preventatives don’t work on me. I’ve tried the few that aren’t also used as psychiatric meds and they have no effect. The others are often prescribed as both migraine preventatives and psych meds and I can’t/won’t touch those. They have a much more dangerous effect on me as I’m one of those lucky folks that react very badly to them.

I’ve tried natural remedies. They work to a point and usually only with something else. I have an all natural anti-migraine kit that I made and keep at work. But it’s there to help me ease the pain until the day is done and I can go home to stronger meds and a dark living room.

And I’ve tried reactive prescription meds. There are all of two that work on me. One is the same thing I’ve been taking for years (and luckily don’t have a tolerance to): Fiorinal. It’s what I can take at work without becoming completely useless. It doesn’t always work and if the migraine isn’t gone after the second recommended dose I know it’s not gonna help. The other medication is called Imitrex. It comes in various forms. The pill doesn’t really work on me but the injection does provided I can immediately lay down in a dark quiet room for about 20 minutes. The worst side effect is a very stiff neck. The downside is that the injection is expensive and considered a premium medication by most insurance plans. That and I have a very big fear of needles so I have to be ready to stab my own eyes out and throwing up (and unable to keep any pills down) before I can bring myself to jab my leg with that thing. Lucky me, I can’t afford it anymore.

It’s hard to get doctors to understand, particularly if they’ve never had a migraine. It’s still difficult for them to really “get it” unless they have them on a regular basis. They are almost always reluctant to prescribe migraine meds (unless they are also psych meds….go figure) and tend to dismiss migraines as just headaches. They tell you to avoid triggers (and I’ve even had some say that it’s impossible for weather pressure to trigger a migraine), cut down on caffeine and get sleep and exercise. Well, I get sleep, I went for ages without caffeine, I exercise and I keep a migraine journal to monitor anything that might be a trigger. And guess what? I still have constant migraines!

At this point I think I’ve degenerated into TL;DR territory but I wanted to point out to folks that migraines are often much worse than “brain freeze and the flu all at once”. Everyone is different with different triggers (or none) and different types of migraine pain. Everyone has different frequencies of migraines.

But it would be nice to one day read an article where the doctors being interviewed don’t spout the same “remedies” as all the rest. It would be nice to have a doctor admit that they suffer from the “want to pull my own eyeballs out” type of migraine. That’s the kind of migraine doc I’d like to read about and have treat my migraines. Cause they’d understand.

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~ by rumielf on November 29, 2011.

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