A Lifetime of Migraines

Migraine

Migraine (Photo credit: makelessnoise)

My name is Shane. I was diagnosed with Chronic Migraines when I was four years old by my pediatrician. For all I know, I have been getting them since I was born. Having migraines has affected my entire life, and almost every single decision that I have made. And I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, “It’s just a headache!” or some variation thereof. Or how many times I’ve been told to get over it.

As science will tell you, a migraine is not just a really bad headache. Not only is a migraine headache more severe than a normal headache, it comes with a whole host of other symptoms. Nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, scent and movement, to name some. As a matter of fact, I’ve had migraines with no headache at all.

Such strong symptoms can prevent me from going to school, or holding a job. I nearly failed classes last semester because I missed so many due to migraines. Sometimes they last for days at a time, with me unable to do much besides lay in bed in the dark with a cold cloth over my forehead. Sometimes the nausea would be so bad, I could barely make it to the toilet to vomit. Too much info? For most of my life, that was standard migraine procedure, twice a month or more.

I was told that my migraines would go away when I hit puberty. After that, I was told that they’d go away in my early twenties. No luck so far, and I don’t really hold any hope that they’ll ever go away completely.

But they certainly have evolved. When I was younger, they were primarily triggered by strong scents, humidity, heat, and too much movement. Now, it’s mostly the fluorescent lights, weather, certain foods (garlic and MSG coming to mind,) and alcohol that I have to worry about. The worst is the weather. It’s a trigger that I have no control over. Fluorescent lights are bad too, since I have to be in their presence whether I like it or not. Oh, and those new eco-friendly lights give me terrible migraines as well.

For the early years of my life, I stuck with over the counter medications. Children’s Tylenol was the only thing that could help me when I was little. Later one, Excedrin was my miracle drug. Unfortunately, all of this medication caused rebound headaches. I pretty much had to quit over the counter meds for a time. I tried all manner of prescription drugs. It wasn’t until recently that I found one that really works for me. It’s called Maxalt, and I love it. Unfortunately, it’s expensive. I’m getting it for free now through a program, but I don’t know how long that will last.

I’ve heard about a new migraine medication coming out soon. It’s called Zecuity. It’s a patch, and I can’t wait to try it. I’ve signed up for updates, and as soon as I can I’m talking to my doctor about getting a prescription.

And there’s another bit of hope on the horizon. I’ve recently discovered Axon Optics. They make glasses for people with migraines and other light sensitive conditions. They cost at least $100 a pair, though, so it’s not exactly cheap for someone like me with no job. I’m saving up for them, and so far I have $40. Hopefully I have a bit of birthday money coming, and maybe my dad can be convinced to help. I can’t wait to get them.

Some resources on migraines:

M.A.G.N.U.M

Headache Disorder Awareness

Women’s Health.gov Migraine Fact Sheet

Mayo Clinic