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20 Years and Counting with Migraine – Melissa’s Story

I’m Melissa, and I’ve been living with one constant, non-stop (24/7) migraine attack for 20 years and counting.

I had Bacterial Spinal Meningitis (the Haemophilus influenzae type B or HIB strain) with lots of complications when I was a toddler and almost died… 13 months before the vaccine came out. Very soon after (before I turned 2 years old) I started having migraine attacks.

I was officially diagnosed with migraine disease at age 5 or 6. I have been seeing doctors and specialists for it ever since. I have tried basically every medicine out there that is used to treat Migraine, have had numerous tests and procedures during the years (many of which were very painful) trying to find something, anything to help after they went chronic intractable.

My migraine attacks were episodic until I was 18 and were treated pretty effectively through the years with managing my triggers the best I could, and finding the right preventative and abortive medicine combination that worked. A few alternative therapies also helped in managing them. But, 20 years ago during the spring semester of my freshman year of college… my life changed. For some reason or another, my body and head decided to go chronic. Now, Chronic Migraine for most people means that they have 15 or more days a month with a migraine attack. My chronic is a migraine that has been non-stop with NO relief in pain whatsoever for 20 years and no treatments or medication are doing anything to help. Also known as Chronic Intractable Migraine. In the last 10 years or so, my normal pain level has been an 8 or 9 out of 10. It is never less than 8 but can seem a lot worse than 10.

I’m not currently taking anything for Migraine. Nothing is helping or working and my doctor and I decided recently to take a break for several months from the meds for Migraine I’ve been on and then decide where to go or start again from there. I am on medicine for anxiety and depression, which my doctors were also hoping would help my head. It hasn’t. I have been feeling a bit defeated about everything. My hope is that the future will bring more research breakthroughs for medicines and treatments to help even more people with Migraine and that there will eventually be a cure! The migraine community has had a lot of new medicines and treatments come out in recent years that have helped so many have huge breakthroughs with their treatment!

My triggers (all environmental; heat, humidity, barometric & temperature changes, schedule changes, not eating on time, not getting enough sleep, etc.) used to trigger migraine attacks, now they just make my 20-year-old migraine attack worse. My symptoms are head pain (which is non-stop, 24/7 and can range from 8 to 10+. It’s my most debilitating symptom), fatigue, horrible insomnia (when I can’t sleep the pain gets worse and when the pain gets worse, I can’t sleep), feeling hungover 24/7, nausea, neck pain, tight muscles, sound sensitivity, difficulty concentrating, feeling lightheaded/dizzy at times, mood changes, high sensitivity to smells… there are probably others I’m leaving out but all these symptoms are constantly running together and mixing up all day long.

I’m not able to work anymore in my career. One that I absolutely loved. My social life is almost non-existent and friends have become few and far between. Because of my health, I live with my parents. They are the biggest blessing in my life. I wouldn’t be here without their love, support, and encouragement!

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