The photo here has me at the age of 4; the age when I first began noticing that sometimes I would get a gnawing pain one side of my head. I didn’t hit my head, I wasn’t tired– I was a puzzled young girl who would constantly fidget because of the pain. When it came time for school, although I was smart, I had trouble concentrating. The florescent lights and smells of a classroom were enough to send me into panic mode. It was then I was finally diagnosed at age 6 with migraines.
My “migraine story” was first featured on Migraine Again– a site that connects migraine sufferers together . You can read my story there by clicking here: Chelsea’s Story.
Migraines run in my family; however, I was incredibly young when diagnosed. When I was a little kid, my migraines could be caused by a variety of things that make the childhood experience: sugary snacks, trampolines, amusement rides, fireworks, etc. I found it so frustrating to get to a friend’s house for a play date and have to explain that because of migraines–a word I couldn’t even spell properly at the time– was the reason why I couldn’t jump on the trampoline. My friends didn’t understand, and sometimes, neither did their parents. Hell, my teachers couldn’t understand why a student who claims she wants to be engaged, has a lot of energy won’t simply focus on the materials. Children’s motrin was my go to medicine–I can still remember how the chewables burnt my mouth.
When I became a teenager, the fidgeting decreased, but the frequency of my migraines increased. Hormones created a new hell. My migraines would not only come at random, but also would come in relation to my menstrual cycle. I remember freshman year being out of class for 2 weeks because of a nasty migraine. I honestly thought I was going to go blind and never be able to go to college. I took Darvocet in my teens to eliminate the nasty migraines, then Darvocet was discontinued.
In college, I learned to manage my migraines a little better. Sleep when I needed to, and try to avoid all nighters and alcohol was the game plan. I stuck to the plan pretty well and graduated within 3 years with Bachelor’s and then proceeded to work on my Master’s.
When I started my Master’s I really was just coping with the migraine problem, not solving. I would take ibuprofen and tyelnol like it was candy. I avoided social events for fear it might trigger a migraine. Then in 2012, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. I had originally gone to the doctors with the purpose of getting a migraine management plan, but the pain in my side grabbed my attention more. If you would like to know more about my cancer story, feel free to message me.
Thankfully, surgery did the trick and I was on my way to being cancer free. However, my migraines were still there (I even remember holding my side a week after surgery to “keep” the stitches in while throwing up from a migraine). It was then I decided I needed to see a neurologist, but I waited until I had real health insurance in 2014. In the meantime, my primary care doctor prescribed me Topamax–which forever will be called dopamax to me. On topamax, I became depressed, brain dead, and angry. I plan to write a post about my experience on the nasty drug.
When I finally saw a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic, I began to feel hope. I was put on Zonegran which immediately reduced my frequency and was given sumatriptans to help when I had one.
For whatever reason in 2015, my migraines went from being episodic to chronic. I had head pain everyday and a migraine at least 10-12 days out of the month. Triptans weren’t helping. I increased my Zonegran dose. I was rushing to urgent care monthly for torodol shots. I was in a constant state of cancelling plans, being upset, and stressing over my life with migraines.
In 2016, I decided to take action. I wanted to live a life that was more independent from this debilitating disease. I asked my neurologist for suggested vitamins and dosing (you can find my current plan on my blog). I eventually got off of triptans. I did an elimination diet to see what could be potentially triggers– I used an app called My Migraine Buddy to help identify patterns. I also changed jobs and moved to a different city–my new job is a less stressful environment than my old job.
Today, I get about 3-4 migraine days a month. They are not as severe as they used to be and do not require heavy medications or emergency room/urgent care visits. Still, the 3-4 days is not reflective of the pre and post symptoms that come with a migraine. However, I am thankful that they are in a much more managed state than the out of control attacks that were happening almost daily.
I continue to find ways to improve my quality of life while still search for answers on this horrible disease I have to live with. It has been over 20 years since I have been diagnosed with migraines, I refuse to give up, slow down, or stop my dreams because of them. I love traveling, wine, and spending time with my pet, family, and friends. I hope this blog inspires, comforts, and makes you smile in your own migraine journey.