My Migraine Story: The Beginning
I remember my first migraine like a strike of lightning.
Literally. I was 18 years old, and my family and I were camping. I had retreated to our rented motorhome to head to bed, take some Tylenol and pray that my “headache” would subside after a nap. Little did I know, a big storm was rolling in fast. Soon the rain started pelting the windows and I began counting the seconds between the thunder and lightening, while each blast echoed in my skull. I huddled under multiple blankets and pillows to deafen the tin can effect the rain was having on the motorhome and the resulting pain in my head. Tossing and turning, I instinctively knew my “headache” was connected to the storm but it wasn’t until years later I made the connection — This was my first migraine.
For me, migraines are a result of genetics, a bunch of unknown causes and a few determined triggers. They grew from episodic migraines (less than 15 migraine days per month) to chronic (more than 15 migraine days per month) after university. I consider myself lucky to have been able to finish my bachelor’s degree with the compassionate help of my professors and peers who saw me struggle as the years went by and the migraines got worse. After university, I tried to work full-time, freelance and have a social life but by 2014 I couldn’t do it any longer. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Exhausted and drained from letting bosses down and leaving jobs I loved because of migraines. And utterly desperate to find some answers.
Since then, (with the gracious help of my family and friends), I have been on a mission to find a solution (If there was a surefire cure, I would use the word) to my migraines. Sidenote: I use the words “my migraines” carefully. I hate to give them that power, although they have it. But, taking the “my” out, gives me back some control.
Throughout my episodic years, I tried triptans, anti-inflammatories, painkillers, chiropractic care, acupuncture, naturopaths and countless other medications prescribed “off label” for migraines. When things turned chronic, I tried even more, accompanied by CT scans, MRIs, xrays, bloodwork, a hospital stay and multiple ER visits — plus reiki, other forms of energy healing, elimination diets, cognitive behavior therapy and a trip to see the experts at the Mayo Clinic. I could go on. As it stands right now, I have a 3-inch binder filled to the brim with all my health information and I’m working on a new one.
What a 7-Day Migraine Looks Like
What’s working now is eliminating sugar, balancing my electrolytes and staying on top of my stress levels. I see my family doctor monthly, a neurologist every three months, get massages regularly, see a counselor weekly and keep educating myself on a daily basis. I take one daily migraine-related medication and have a rescue medication kit of DHE (dihydroergotamine) injections, anti-inflammatories, Benadryl and Gravol that I take when I feel a migraine start.
Things still do get rough. As I write this, I’m coming off of a seven-day migraine. This is not an unusual occurrence for me. If the weather shifts and the season changes, I’m almost guaranteed a doozy. I watch barometric pressure changes like a hawk and read food labels like I’m hunting for gold. It’s a daily balancing act to make sure I’m in the clear.
What I haven’t done is given up hope. Yes, there have been days and weeks where my hope has dwindled, but I keep going. I’m not going to stop searching for a way to live my life with migraine. I am choosing to live A Lush Life with migraine.
So tell me, what are your experiences with migraine? What do you do on the days where a dark, silent room is all you can handle? What does having “migraine” mean to you?
As A Lush Life grows, I’m going to be writing more about the in’s and out’s of living with chronic migraine, anxiety and depression. If you have any questions, want to share your story with me or need support, reach out to me on any of my social channels @alushlifeblog or send me a note firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to help YOU live A Lush Life with whatever chronic illness you have, because YOU CAN.
(PS - The image script is courtesy of Amy at Paper Finch Design <3)