Health

Migraines and me. 

I suffer from migraine headaches. There are points in my life where they are infrequent and brief and cause me little pain. And then there are the kind that I have had since having a child and being in graduate school.

These are the worst kind of migraines. 

Since having a child, I have started back on a “preventative” medication that is designed to reduce the number of overall headache days (mine are around 20 per month, with an average of 7 migraines). The preventative I currently take, Topamax, reduces the severity of my headaches but not the overall frequency– so they still hang out with me and are there, but they just aren’t as bad. 

It’s important to know your triggers as a migraine sufferer. For me, those include a sporadic, bad, or challenged sleep schedule, hard cheeses, nuts, deep dark chocolate, hormonal triggers (ovulation and menstration), not drinking enough water, certain types of alcohol, cured meats, weather, strong odors, and stress. Stress is a biggie, because it’s pervasive and comes from so many things. If I don’t listen to my body then I end up on migraine road. 


A little over a month ago, I got a migraine headache– it started as a headache that was just not that great, but as it progressed I came to realize that it was going to become a migraine.  I knew it was going to eventually become one, but I wanted to pretend I could will it away with drugs and water. I took lots of Advil and alternated it with midrin, a drug my new neurologist wanted me to try. We are trying new preventatives and rescue medicines, and he wants to start with the “oldies but goodies” so I can get off topamax, which gives me some cognitive side effects I don’t love. I think I waited too late to take the midrin and it, to quote my neuro nurse, it was like taking candy at that point. By that night I was in a ball and longing for death. 

 I was in the migraine Thunderdome and I was not going to be the man that was going to leave. I was definitely going to die.


The next morning, I woke up feeling like shit. My daughter was recovering from a cold, and my head was painful, a throbbing, stabbing mess. I dealt with life anyway. I thought about the people that post about migraines on social media (FYI they do it because of the judging bastards in their lives that are like “why can’t you attend X event, why are you not responding to me”, not because they don’t really have or know what a migraine feels like) and decided to ask my 3 year old to play quietly while mommy rested her head.

I didn’t take a photo, but this about sums up the first 15 min:

In the moments that followed, she thought it would be a swell idea to take off all her clothes and run around and then take a crap on the floor. Because, well, why not. We don’t go poop in the toilet. Especially not on migraine day.

Never on migraine day.

Sometimes, I imagine going to a special, secret island in my mind where I can float on a little swan in a perfectly blue ocean, be very fit and trim, and be totally and utterly alone. Don’t take this to mean I don’t want to be with my daughter or my family, or anything, but this is my fantasy of aloneness.

I went to that island for a mental moment, then called the neurologist and said I needed a shot. This is my white flag. If doesn’t always work, but it usually will take the edge off. 

Interested in learning more about my migraine pharmacology?!

Topamax: I take the lowest recommended daily dose for prevention of migraine (50 mg twice a day) and it is helpful, but there are side effects. Higher doses were not at all good for me, I went as high as 200 mg twice a day and I was experiencing severe cognitive defects (apasia, confusion, memory loss) and mood changes– it’s a hard drug. It’s also really difficult to go off of. If you’re not on topamax, and you stumbled on this post when you googled “topamax for migraines” my best advice is it depends on the number of headache days you have and if you are willing to have one hell of a break up. Even my going down to 50 mg 2x a day from 200 2x a day was so rough I felt like I was going through a heavy detox for weeks. That’s not even to consider the issues going on the drug. I find that the side effects do even out over time with the right dose, but getting to that dose for me took 2 years and I still have many migraines. 

https://www.drugs.com/topamax.html

I have also tried Neurontin: this just made me really, really tired all the time.

gabapentin/Neurontin: https://www.drugs.com/neurontin.htm

I’ve taken midrin for my immediate rescue drug, jury is out on that. I have an “adverse reaction” that makes taking maxalt, imitrex, and any of the “trex” drugs impossible: it makes me feel like someone is crushing my chest and I can’t breathe, but it’s not anaphylaxis. 

Anyway, i was taking oral Diclofenac but it stopped working. Oral ketorolac works really well for me but I have only gotten an rx for it once. 

Diclofenac: https://www.drugs.com/diclofenac.html

Midrin:https://www.drugs.com/cdi/midrin.html

Ketorolac/toradol linked below 

The shot I got was of Toradol/ketorolac, which I have a mixed reaction to. It usually makes my head feel better within 2 hours, then it rebounds, then it finally is gone 24 hours later. 

https://www.drugs.com/mtm/toradol-im-oral-injection.html

I take a combination of 400 mg vitamin B, 200 mg co-q 10 and butterbur daily as a preventative as well. Magnesium doesn’t work for me, I also can’t take a daily multivitamin because something in it triggers headaches.

For mild to moderate headaches, I use essential oils to help with my pain management: DoTerra’s Past Tense on my temples, Frankensense on the roof of my mouth, and deep blue on the back of my neck. I also use Benadryl– it is a great drug to use when you need to sleep, and I really believe it helps with mild to moderate headaches that can progress to migraines.

For more info on essential oils: https://www.mydoterra.com/hillarysoils/#/

Or contact me! 

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