My migraine journey began when I was in high school. I would get occasional headaches. Nothing that I couldn’t handle without medication. Once high school ended I went on to college. I had a few more headaches; nothing major. I was able to work and attend classes on a regular basis. Once I became pregnant in 1996 with my daughter and the headaches stopped. I felt like myself again. I was laughing, joking, and smiling.
In 2002, I saw a neurologist and was started on headache preventative therapy. In 2003, I became pregnant with my son and stopped all medications. Around 2005, the migraines started again, but they were more aggressive and intense. I was referred to a neurologist. The pain was 3-4 times a week and the location always varied. Sometimes in the frontal head, others occipital, or bitemporal. They were sharp, throbbing, achiness with maximum intensity. Accompanied with them would be nausea, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. The doctors attributed my migraines to a stressful job, moving into a new house, and returning to school.
For the onset of a migraine, I would take Excedrin Migraine which only slightly lessened the pain without stopping it. My Topomax was increased. I had no appetite and lost 10 pounds. I was forcing myself to eat two meals a day. My dose was lower from 150mg to 100mg. My doctor introduced Nortriptyline 50mg a day. Migraines were winning as the doctor was increasing other meds into the mix. I had many scans, tests, etc. Everything was normal.
I was referred to another doctor who tried Botox; twice with no change. I was placed on another preventative and abortive plan. As the years went on the pain persisted. There were times I would just go to my room and lay down. I had to miss family events, birthdays, and work. This was no way to live my life or any life.
I was on every tricyclic and antidepressant medication used for migraines with no relief. I learned to deal with it. I was getting good at pretending I was ok, so I didn’t have to hear “oh, you have a headache again?”, or I get a look like here we go again she doesn’t feel good. I pushed through workdays and would come home and crash. I did this for years to no avail. Migraine disease had taken over my brain, but I was still pushing forward to be a mom, wife, student, and coworker the best I could.
I started seeing another neurologist in another town. When I walked into the office the lights were very dim. Not like my last doctor’s office music blaring, bright lights, and loud staff. This place felt like home. The staff was amazing, caring, and showed concern. I met my neurologist and felt she truly understood what was happening.
I went on Facebook and looked for others who were dealing with the same issues. I found so many support groups. The one that stood out the most was Chronic Migraine Awareness. Everyone was thoughtful, caring, and had been in my shoes. This group encouraged me to step out of my shell and speak up to end the migraine stigma. I fundraised for Miles for Migraine and it was exciting and I was so proud of myself for stepping up and doing something. Next, was National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM). I spoke about MHAM with the CEO of my company, coworkers, and the mayor of my town. The mayor gave me a proclamation and declared June 20th Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, and that meant the world to me. I am able to show and tell others the truth about migraine and prove that it may be an invisible neurological disease but it’s real. There are real people living with it daily. I am not a migraine person. I am a person who has migraine disease.