Saturday, June 24, 2023


By Virtual Ability member Sorrell Fang

Where did it begin? 

I had two head injuries in my life. Both right between the eyes. 

One was a kid throwing rocks and managed to hit me. 

The second one was when helping a friend clear out his basement. I hit my head on a low hanging pipe. Shortly after the 2nd injury, I started having migraines. 

They were every once in a while and not debilitating at first. 

Then I got Lyme Disease, and the migraines started increasing and they were the kind where I started vomiting, got dizzy, and lay in bed in the dark. At times, I was so sick, I had to go to the ER. 

I actually ended up in the ER several times a year. On some days, I missed work or family events.

Meds & Triggers 

I have taken practically every med for migraines out there. I'm not good with the idea of all the needles the doc was discussing. I've taken the ones that knock you out so you don't feel the pain. Of course, you can't work under those conditions. 

I ended up with 3 go-to meds. Fiorcet for onset. If hours later, the migraine was still going strong, I used Zomig. In addition, I took Zofran for nausea. All this was to keep me out of the Emergency Room. If it grew worse, I would lay on my bed in the dark with my ice pack on my head. 

There are tons of triggers. People have different ones. I will share mine.

  1. Loud noises  (I am hearing challenged with 20% hearing but loud noises go through my head like lightning. Not fun)
  2. Bright light
  3. Chemical smells
  4. Snow storm or rain storms 
  5. Too much stress
  6. Xylitol

If I get very sick from something else where I get dehydrated, a migraine usually followed. 

For some people, triggers are different foods. For me, an artificial sweetener called Xylitol (which is in gum, toothpaste, and lots of things now) took me by surprise and its effects were fast. I was incapacitated in 20-30 minutes. Once we knew was it was, I would read every label to avoid it.

Changes mean Change

When I got breast cancer, all my meds and supplements were evaluated by my oncologist to make sure they would not conflict with my chemotherapy. It didn't. But my body went through more changes during that year. (I ended up retiring early due to my almost constant illness.)

My migraines became more intense. When I was in the hospital, the nurses got used to getting me an ice pack for my head even when I was hooked up to IV chemotherapy.  I also got Fiorcet or Zomig and Zofran as needed. They found that even Benadryl helped a little.

I can't tell you whether it was the chemo or the cancer that increased my migraines to 20 a month. Now that was even using my standbys. On some days they didn't work at all and I was in the dark with an ice pack again. 

After a year, I was told I was cancer clear but need to take a chemo pill to prevent recurrence.  At 20 a month, that was concerning to my neurologist.

Maximum then Minimum State 

My neurologist referred me to a migraine specialist. Sadly, she didn't inspire a lot of confidence in either me or my husband in talking about Botox and all the needles. Then she couldn't take my blood pressure, since it seemed all the cuffs in her office were not working, finally she got a high reading from me. She was all distraught and was sending me to the ER, but she didn't have the time to call them which meant I would be waiting for hours. 

As we were leaving, my husband called my general practitioner who has known me for years and told him what happened. He said, "Don't go to the ER. Go to the drug store. I will have a prescription waiting for you. Go home, take it and rest. Then take your blood pressure."

Shout outs to all the super smart General Practitioner Docs! He prescribed Norvasc which is a blood pressure med with an unusual side effect for 10% of those in their study group who are migraine sufferers. 

Migraines went from 20 a month to 4. However, I could no longer use my migraine meds with it.  Since most of my migraines are waking onset, I take my blood pressure pill in the morning. The migraine clears in about a half hour. If not, I take a Tylenol, which helps bounce it out. I have also taken Benadryl. On the worst 2-day one recently, I wore an ice pack too. 

Not everyone can take the same meds that I do or have the same result. I encourage you to go on this journey with your doctor. Please, do not take my story as medical advice. Seeing your doctor is best and don't give up. Keeping a migraine diary jotting down migraine onset and gone times and food, weather, anything that was happening when the migraine came on, will help your doctor help you.

Wishing you all the best and good health!

(PS from Gentle Heron - June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Check out the poster display on Healthinfo Island:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got a Comment?