fighting migraines – my daily battle

You’ve  probably suffered from a headache at some point, right? Headaches are far from fun and can easily be provoked by a number of triggers, such as:

  • cold/flu/infection
  • dehydration
  • stress/tension
  • emotional causes
  • over-activity/over-stimulation
  • lack of proper nutrition and or sleep
  • sensitivity to certain foods, additives, and or alcohol
  • and more…

 

What can be worse than a headache?

There’s something a bit more intensive than headaches – it’s called, Migraines! A totally different beast!

I never knew how painful and traumatic a migraine could be …until 3 years ago.

At first, I was told this would go away with time. So, I followed the treatment plan as ordered yet, still no relief. After a few months, I was referred to a neurologist.

Three years and 4 neurologist later, I am still suffering from daily migraines. Nevertheless, before I get into my treatment plan – here’s a little insight into how my day starts –

Rise & shine AND let the migraines begin!

Every morning, I wake up to shooting pain in my head (literally!) I finally get the strength to get out of bed yet the pain continues. This lingers all day and is partnered by  grogginess  – which is a side effect from the nightly tricyclic medication I take for migraines.

Back to the pain – the severity of the pain starts at an 7-8 (out of 10) and lingers all day.

I typically have a severe migraine (pain level 8-9 out of 10) roughly 4 to 5 days out of the week. I also suffer from excruciating- painful migraines (pain level 10 out of 10) at least 1 to 3 days out of the week.

My pain threshold has also increased significantly because I’ve had the same pain (everyday) for over 3 years now. (#staypositive #toughcookie)

In addition, the post-migraine symptoms (after an intense migraine) is also a brutal and substantial blow to the mind/body.

Along with the painful migraine, I feel –

  • fatigued
  • nauseated
  • sensitive to bright lights
  • dizziness/lightheadedness
  • body aches
  • difficulty concentrating
  • and more…

The American Migraine Foundation has described the feeling to be like “a mental fog, one so heavy that even routine tasks take on an otherworldly quality”. Yep, pretty accurate!

Treatments – Attempted, failed, and currently using

I have seen 4 neurologists in the last 3 years and have tried multiple medications/treatment plans. In parallel, I’ve researched for alternatives (either on my own or with the help of family/friends) to find some sort of relief –

Here is what I have done so far –

  1. Medications

These are the different medication (class or types) I have tried and failed or am still currently using:

  • Beta blockers – failed because it dropped my blood pressure significantly
  • Anticonvulsants – failed because the side effects were too hard to manage throughout the day
  • Calcium-channel blockers – failed because it also dropped my blood pressure significantly
  • Sumatriptan – failed because it did not work
  • Migranal – failed because of drug interaction
  • Effexor – failed because of drug interaction
  • Amovig – failed because my body got immune to it and it eventually stopped working
  • tricyclic* – currently using
  • Emgality* – currently using
  • Occipital nerve blocks* – currently using
  • Aleve* – currently using
  • Excedrin Migraine* – currently using with caution to prevent recurring migraines
  • Tylenol* – currently using with caution to prevent recurring migraines
  • Mortin*- currently using
  • Melatonin – currently using
  • B-12 – currently using
  • Chinese Herb – currently using

 

2.  Chiropractors

Attempted and failed – I saw a chiropractor that specializes in realignment of the atlas vertebrae (which is supposed to be significantly helpful for migraine sufferers) for about a month.  I didn’t notice any relief so both (the chiropractor and I) agreed to concluded his treatment.

3. Massage Therapy 

Attempted and in progress – I’ve had a few (semi deep tissue) massages where the masseuse focused on my upper body muscles (shoulders, neck, and head). Relaxing but did not help get the pain down.

4. Acupuncture & Cupping Therapy

Attempted and in progress – I’ve successfully managed to get a few hours of relief (decreasing severity) through acupuncture. It’s amazing how the specialist is able to isolate the pain to one side/area of the body. She’s also introduced some cupping therapy during our sessions and an herbal formulary to help with my symptoms and side effects.

 

5. Other things I have tried and have intermittently helped –  

  • Meditation & breathing exercises
  • Sleeping with a cold ice pack on my forehead
  • Tying a headband around my forehead to aid with throbbing

 

Life hasn’t been the same but it will be one day!

I kept a journal (earlier in my journey) to monitor any triggers (food, smell, sounds) to hopefully find a pattern in preventing my migraines. Unfortunately, I don’t believe I triggers because the pain starts the moment I wake until I go to bed.

Some many things have been affected in the last 3 years –

  • Spending more time with my son
  • Dancing
  • Social relationships/impromptu gatherings
  • Becoming creative/handcrafting cards
  • and more…

Lastly, I am not discouraged! I am still optimistic that I will overcome this pain and find a cure that works for my migraines. Until then, I will keep sharing my journey in hopes to help others or continue to get more insight into what has successfully worked for others.

 

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