Wednesday, June 26, 2024

June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month - A Personal Story

By Sorrell Fang

Where did it begin? 

I had two head injuries in my life. Both were right between the eyes. One injury was from a kid throwing rocks, and he 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 in frequency and discomfort.  They were the kind where I started vomiting. I got dizzy, and I had to lay in bed in the dark. At times, I was so sick, I had to go to the Emergency Room. I actually ended up in the ER several times a year. On some days, I missed work or family events.

Medicines & Triggers 

I have taken practically every medicine for migraines out there. I'm not good with the idea of all the needles the doctor 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 medicines. Fiorcet was taken for the onset of a migraine. If the migraine was still going strong hours later, I used Zomig. In addition, I took Zofran for nausea. All this was to keep me out of the ER. If it grew worse, I would lay on my bed in the dark with an ice pack on my head. 

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

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 storm 

5) Too much stress

6) Xylitol

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

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 what it was, I would read every label to avoid it.

Changes mean Change

When I got breast cancer, all my medicines and supplements were evaluated by my oncologist to make sure they would not conflict with my chemotherapy. They 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 chemotherapy or the cancer that increased my migraines to 20 times a month. Now that was happening even when I was 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-free but needed to take a chemotherapy pill to prevent recurrence.  At 20 migraines 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 BP reading from me that was high. 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."

I want to send shout outs to all the super smart General Practitioner Doctors! He prescribed Norvasc, which is a blood pressure medicine with an unusual side effect for 10% of those in their study group who are migraine sufferers.  My migraines went from 20 a month to 4. However, I could no longer use my migraine medicines with it.  Since most of my migraines are a waking onset type, 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 long migraine I had recently, I wore an ice pack, too. 

Not everyone can take the same medicines that I do or have the same result. If you have migraines, 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 please don't give up. Keeping a migraine diary jotting down migraine onset and relief times, food, weather, and anything else that was happening when the migraine came on, will help your doctor help you.  Wishing you all the best and good health!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got a Comment?