Migraines: My Story

From my posts, I know you can glean that I've been a long-time migraine sufferer. Today, I thought I'd share my story with you.

I'm 31 years old and I've been getting migraines since I was 12 years old – about two-thirds of my life. That's crazy to me that I've been dealing with this chronic issue for that long.

I can actually remember my very first migraine; I was at my best friends house (although at the time, we were just kind of new friends.  It was pretty obvious that I was hurting though, so her mom called my mom (embarrassing, right?) and I was given water, Tylenol and a nap.  I woke up feeling fine and the sleepover carried on.

But the headaches continued.  The pediatrician didn't quite know what to do with me, so I was sent to a pediatric neurologist, a lovely doctor who didn't want to start me on medications right away.  However, it wasn't long before I was missing school for headaches and I was popping pills before school in the morning.

Around the age of 15 or 16, the neurologist wanted to send me to University of Michigan's Headache Clinic, which was renowned for their work with kids.  I refused.  Luckily, around that time, my headaches got better.

And then, for a few years, I just felt better.

Migraines, cured.  It was like – discussion of an inpatient program and that was it!  I was a new person!

Enter college, where I was paying rent for an apartment with my two best friends, a cell phone bill, car insurance, and gas for said car.  And doing this by working as a cocktail waitress, working until bar close.   Oh, and don't forget – living the waitress lifestyle by drinking whatever cash was left over.

Let's just say that I got through college with a degree, little money, chronic daily migraines, and a whole lot of great memories.

Enter professional life. As a nurse, my first job was working night shift. Add to that going back to school… oh and did I mention, I was still working as a waitress? I switched my shifts to day shift – cocktail waitress by day, nurse by night, student somewhere along the seams.

Suffice it to say, something had to give. It was my health. My health was awful and my migraines weren't much better. I switched to a day shift job – and things improved.

My headaches were better for several years! Then I got pregnant – and they've been ebbing and flowing ever since.

Logan is 3 and when I look back at the past 20+ years of my migraine life, I've been on at least a dozen medications, have taken enough pain pills and anti-anxiety pills to tranquilizer a rhinoceros, and I've spent a fortune on alternative therapies.

So…. what's working for me these days?

Good question. Currently, my headaches are sporadic. I've been taking Topamax on and off for several years and it seems to work. I've got a slew of abortive medications at my disposal, just in case. However, I live in fear of the rebound headache, so my headache must be severe to pop a pill.

I'm treating my migraines from a holistic approach (aside from the Topamax). I take magnesium and vitamin D daily. I use Bach Rescue Remedy when I'm feeling stressed (yes, I'm fully aware that this may have a placebo effect) because my migraines are often related to stress. I also carry around peppermint oil – and I am known to smell like a candy cane.

I also try to get a massage with craniosacral therapy monthly. It is pricy but it is worth every penny.

As I've stated before, I also have a weekly coffee date with my therapist (haha).

Currently, I'm going through some health issues. I fully expected my migraines to flare up. Shockingly, since I've made these changes in my migraine management, my migraines have been under fairly good control.

Of course, this isn't to say I don't get a migraine that sends me to bed. In fact, last week I was in bed at 730pm on a beautiful night, ice pack to my skull and a myriad of meds swimming through my veins. But I've found a way to live that works a lot of the time, although I do have some work to do in managing my stress.

I encourage you to find what works best for you – whether it be medications or alternative therapies, or a combination of the two.

If you've found a way to manage your migraines, what's working for you?

-KO

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