A Persistent Pain: Living With Migraines
Over-the-Counter Pill Popper
I first started getting migraines in elementary school. They used to come at the end of the day on the bus ride home. My mom didn't know what they were. We assumed they were regular headaches. There were many afternoons of Tylenol. Then, it was Advil. Next, Motrin. Then, Motrin Sinus. Hell, these painkillers are all the same, right? Now, at almost thirty years old, it disgusts me to think of how many different kinds I have ingested in my lifetime, all because of frequent migraines. I feel like my stomach could be compared to that of an amateur drug addict's. Thankfully, I haven't had negative blood results or stomach problems. Knock on wood!
Prescriptions: Take 1
I went to a doctor who finally diagnosed me with migraines, rather than sinus headaches. Yes, I began taking Excedrin Migraine, the new drug on the market at the time – of which all sufferers have their own opinions. Some use it like their life depends on it; others ask if anyone benefits. Back then, I was put on a prescription that did wonders – for about a month. Then, the migraines returned. I was popping pills like before to rid myself of excessive mind-explosion.
My mom's friend and colleague has suffered from migraines. She tried everything. Eventually, she went to a nurse who specializes in homeopaths. She found that they worked; therefore, I gave it a try. From the time I was in high school until college, I changed my remedy twice, but found far fewer migraines than I have ever experienced on prescription pills.
Side note: I am not one to tell others how to feel about things; therefore, I won't tell anyone how to feel about homeopaths. I found them helpful. If they haven't helped you or if you have preconceived notions about them because of something you read or heard that is your opinion. It will not change mine.
That Lovely Hospital Visit
People asked me for years if I had to go to the hospital, and I always said, "Oh, thank goodness, no!" That was until one day, during one of my last semesters of college. I had a migraine for about two or three days which neither Excedrin nor any homeopath could take away. After a trip to my regular doctor, they prescribed something that day. A few hours later, the migraine evolved into a monster. One minute I was about to shower, and the next I was on the floor unable to move.
My mom took me to the hospital where they hooked me up to an I.V. They gave me two types of drugs. One for anxiety and another was a pain killer. What they didn't tell me was that the medication could cause extreme anxiety and some psychotic behavior. My migraine left, but they needed a urine sample. Meanwhile, they wouldn't let me drink anything. It was completely reliant on the I.V.
I found myself confused as to why I was suddenly overcome with the need to go home, and could not relax. When the nurse came back to check on me, my mom informed him that I was doing better, but wanted to go home. He simply smiled and said, "I’m sure." When the doctor returned, he told us that he once gave the medication to a patient who ripped out the I.V., and ran around the room. To this day, I question why I was not forewarned, but I'm relieved that all I did was pace around the bed, feeling incredibly homesick.
Changing My Diet
In 2015, when I began having migraines all of the time, I went back to my homeopath nurse. She not only adjusted my homeopath remedies, but inquired into to my eating habits. Knowing that I’m a vegetarian, she was concerned about my fatty proteins, and suggested more seeds and nuts. A lack of the right foods can certainly cause a migraine. It seemed to help for a while. Nonetheless, I continue to add the nuts in case – avoiding peanuts, since I learned in middle school that they trigger mine.
Prescriptions: Take 2
In the summer of 2016, I began suffering from migraines almost every day, again. I went back to my regular doctor who prescribed a new medication to try. It stopped me from having them daily, but I still had them frequently. It could have stemmed from anything. All I knew was that homeopaths tend to work for longer periods of time.
Back to the Emergency Room
After a week-long migraine grew worse, I was back in the ER. I thought that for sure the doctors would cure it; although, feared being given the drug that had made me anxious. Since I warned them of my previous reaction, they tried other drugs, first. Once those didn’t work, they gave me the scary drug at a slower speed along with Benedryl which made it less powerful, overall – mentioning that "pushing it by itself" as I had been given the last time can cause that effect. It lessened the migraine, but it didn’t go away, entirely. That’s how I left the emergency room.
During the follow up appointment with my regular doctor, he suggested that I either increase my prescription, or try physical therapy. To my surprise, the therapy was helpful, but I would have to keep it up in order for it to work. The type of pain I experienced was low-level upper neck pain rather than feeling it all over, constantly. Over time, I would develop migraines.
These days, the stretches and exercises that I was taught will relieve the pain to some extent, but overall I continue to have a migraine on a daily basis. There are different factors: stress, weather, sleep changes, food changes, and so on.
Migraines are not just headaches.
This article is not about how to cure migraines. It's really about how difficult it is to live with them. A migraine is not a basic headache. They affect your body, your mind and your life. Personally, I don't call out of work often because of a migraine, like many; however, at least once a year, I will end up having it bad enough on a work day that I have to. I'll have one migraine a year that won't go away from Excedrin, or anything else. Sometimes, there’s the other side to the migraine. After it finally stops hurting before work, I'll be too dizzy to move. All I can do is lay down, when I want to be productive.
Is there a cure?
No. The question should be “is there a cure for you?” Perhaps, there is. I hope that if you're struggling, you will find relief. I hope that you have attempted or will attempt everything you need to. I understand the frustration and hopelessness, but remember that you have made the effort. It is far better than giving up, and allowing the migraines to run your life without a fight.
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