To All The Migraine Suffers! (Blog)

Maybe you’ve wondered when certain situations arise in your life, “Why me?”  In the midst of holding my head, rocking back and forth, many times crying, I’ve wondered why I have to be in such pain.  I’m reminded of the Excedrin Migraine commercial when the mother puts the mock migraine head gear on and afterwards hugs her daughter exclaiming she never knew what she had been going through.  My mother has said that to me in the form of feeling guilty for my migraines.   Please know, I have NEVER blamed my mother!  She is my greatest prayer warrior.

Usually my blogs are about God doing something in my life with a butterfly story ending, but I thought I would explain a little bit about me and my migraines since it IS my blog.  First, my migraines ARE hereditary.  This was not discovered in the beginning.  I have had migraines since 2nd grade and you can ask Eloise Thompson (a secretary at Marie’s Day School), she just thought I didn’t want to be at school.  No, my head was hurting.

In the 1970’s, what did you do with a child that continuously told a parent that their head hurt? The general practitioners didn’t know what to do.  So we went to a neurologist and psychiatrist at LeBonheur.  I remember getting physically sick at the smell of the EEG glue, and I’ve had plenty.  Plus the embarrassment of coming to school with flakes of glue in your hair and being made fun of by the other students.

When the neurologists and psychiatrists (one of which just recently died) tell the parents that they think it would be best to keep the child at LeBonheur for observation, the parents automatically trust the physicians.  Why wouldn’t they? They are seeking answers!  But what I don’t think the parents realized is that the child was going to be put in the psychiatric ward…children screaming…empty beds…school alone.  Did they not believe that my head hurt? Where was my momma? My daddy? Not long after my stay (maybe several weeks) they came.  They rescued me and took me out against the doctor’s wishes.  The horror of that place still haunts me.  I’ll never forget that was when one of the children got out of the locked door and jumped from the building.

Then came new doctors and new medicines, along with new trauma.  A local drug store switched medications with and older person that had been prescribed tranquilizers.  By the time my afterschool care babysitter realized it, I was sleeping all day and failing 3rd grade.  Needless to say, the problem was resolved out of court, but recovering and catching up what I had missed in 3rd grade was not an easy task.  My 3rd grade teacher had the gall to write a letter to my mother about how I was a bad student.  I still have it.  There are things you just don’t forget.

By 6th grade, my father had been diagnosed with ALS and during a visit with his neurologist, my mother mentioned my headaches and he said that he would see me too.  FINALLY! A doctor that diagnosed me with migraines (after spinal taps, trial drugs, tests that made you feel like a test rat) that I inherited from my father’s side of the family.  Since that time, it’s been a struggle, from neurologist to neurologist, to find someone to who is knowledgeable about migraines. To this day, I do NOT blame my parents for my migraines.

You might ask why I went through my history of headaches.  One day, Collin called from school and said that his head was hurting bad.  One of the school counselors got on the phone and told me she could see it in his eyes that he did not feel good.  I heard it in his voice.  TWO big indicators if you look at someone 1) they are having problems with their eyesight, and 2) they might be hoarse (my first indicator).  I told her to send Collin home.  I didn’t want to be that mom that didn’t believe her son.  Sure, Collin admits he has used his health to get out of school.  What kid doesn’t! But I usually know the migraine symptoms.  And, by the way, Collin will be seeing a neuro for his migraines.

I have said over and over that God blessed me with a wonderful husband.  He is patient, loving, tender, BUT he DOES ask me…Have you taken your medicine? That’s when I want to run across the room and with a single bound, surround my hands around his neck and tell him, “DO YOU THINK I’M AN IDIOT AND I LOVE THE PAIN?” I say all of that in humor.  He knows there are days that I am hurting so bad that I get confused and don’t know what to take next.  Just last night, I asked him, “Jay, what do I take?” and that is when he starts with my list. I had pills in my hand that I couldn’t even name them and I kept pointing at it and he called the name of it.  That is where his sweet patience comes in and he begins going down the list of my medications and helps me figure out what I can and cannot take together. After a first round of meds does not work, we will go for a second round of different medications.

LORD, THANK YOU FOR GIVING HIM THE DESIRE TO BECOME A PARAMEDIC!

Several years ago it was suggested by my neurologist and a friend who is a doctor at Mayo that I should visit Mayo to get a full checkup.  I did so, with first class treatment, and was told that I am a classic sufferer of migraines.  This is something I will suffer with all of my life.  When the pain gets to the point that I can no longer manage it with medication, I need to go to the ER.  It’s just that simple.

This is my problem and the problem for MANY migraine suffers.  We are getting to the point that we can no longer manage our pain with oral medication.  I was recently diagnosed with gastroparesis (GEEZ, what is that?).  Simple terms, your stomach doesn’t work.  After having tests done, they told me that the continuous use of migraine medications had done nerve damage to my stomach, so it was not working properly.  This means, the oral medications are not digested and moved into the blood stream quick enough to kill the pain of the migraine.  After I have had a migraine for approximately two days, taken all the meds I can take, I usually end up at the hospital.  Fortunately, they know me and know what I need.  UNFORTUNATELY, they are beginning to crack down on the distribution of narcotics.  I am not a drug seeker and when I am in pain, I get very angry.  It’s ugly.

What can trigger my migraines?  These triggers vary, but my two biggest factors are weather and stress.  I know.  That can trigger any kind of pain! Who needs The Weather Channel! Just call me! I’m like a cow or a dog and I can tell you how soon the next front is moving in!  I have learned that using the nasal spray, Mucinex-D, and maybe a Medrol dose pak during the spring (daily) helps ward off several bad days.  I also have a WONDER pain doctor that the Lord provided to me over 25 years ago and we tease each other how we have been through so many things together.  Dr. Moacir Schnapp KNOWS how to treat my pain.  But he also knows when it is time to go to the ER.

When it comes to stress, sometimes it hits you before you can avoid it.  It might be a project at work, dealing with a teenager, finances, marriage, or another illness.  Prayer is my go to when stress has invaded a space in my life that is ultimately causing me pain.  Through prayer, in one instance, God led me to leave a job.  Probably the most stressful time of my life was spending days and nights at St. Jude.  My God protected me each night.  Do you know that I never got a migraine when I was with Trey at St. Jude? How good is our Father?

What medications do you take? My precious mother has prayed for years for me to be healed and I know God hears her prayers.  Healing comes in many forms and it might be the answered prayer of the right medication.  I can tell you that I have tried just about everything on the market and some that are not approved by my insurance!  You get to a point that you are tired of being the guinea pig, but you know what is right for you.  In order to protect myself, I won’t list my medications, but I do believe one medication has been a big answer to prayer.  Relpax.  You might have tried Imitrex or Maxalt.  They did not work for me, but Relpax has done the trick if I catch my headache soon enough. No, I have not tried botox for several personal reasons, but it might be on the horizon.  Mayo suggested botox as a last resort.  No, I will not try acupuncture or chiropractor (especially since I just had neck surgery).

Why do you make so many trips to the hospital? If I do not catch my headache in time, I have to resort to stronger medications.  Sleep is very important.  If my sleep patterns are off, my head will begin to hurt.  There are weeks that I feel like all I do is go to work and go home to bed.  Do I like living this way? Of course not! But I have to find the balance in my life to keep going.

One of my last trips to the hospital came after on a Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m. I couldn’t take it any longer.  The nausea was coming quicker than I could control it.  I was at the stage that I had to hold my head and just sit in a rocking position.  I had been on the couch all night sitting up so that the blood flow would not go to my head.  I staggered to the bedroom and pushed gently on Jay as he jumped to the ceiling.  “Jay, Jay, can you take me to the hospital? I can’t take it anymore.”  And off we went.

So, if you see that I have posted about having another migraine, I ask that you not take my post lightly.  Many people suffer with chronic pain and push through it daily.  Please know that you are not alone in YOUR migraine suffering.  There are many things we can do as chronic suffers to help our pain.  It’s a matter of learning how to manage.  That’s the key. Manage!

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” On THIS I can rely!

I’m looking forward to that blessed day that we ALL will be pain free, no more medications, and no more hospitals!

Another Sunday in the bed with a migraine. Unfortunately, I was out of my Relpax and tried every medication I had in the house.  Like I’ve said before, trust me, I have plenty.  But nothing eased the pain.  Jay had to go to the fire station Sunday morning and I told him I just couldn’t make it and I would call Collin who was house sitting at my sister’s.  I called him and without hesitation he was on his way home.

There are times that I cannot believe how God blesses me in my time of need.  “Oh, you’re Jay’s wife!” the nurse exclaimed.  I texted Jay and he reminds me of how I have looked at pictures of her dogs on Facebook.  Then, blessings of ALL blessings, there will be doctors that we know and have gone to church with!  He walked in one Sunday and immediately said, “I know it’s that time of year.”  There wasn’t a list of questions, just a better solution to help me.  AND IT DID!  Collin was making fun of me because I couldn’t complete a sentence without falling asleep.  THAT’S how well God takes care of me and my headache was gone!  Honestly, I can tell you, there is a point that I worry about paying the ER deductible.  Then, when I get to the point of not working about the ER co-pay, it’s time to go because I know God will handle it.

So, trust me when I say, I’ve tried oils, special drinks, special pills, special diets (the peanut butter is nasty), and none of it has worked.  My only surviving aunt on my father’s side is in her late 80’s and she STILL has migraines.  I even had a hysterectomy to help control my hormones to help try to control my migraines…didn’t work.  While I appreciate all of your suggestions, I wanted you to know just how long I have been battling these nasty things and they are just a party of who I am.  I know God is in control and he hears me when I’m screaming.  Trust me.

Know the Different Headaches!  So many people say, “Oh, I have a migraine.”  I will ask them the classic questions, “Which side does it hurt on? What triggers your headaches? Are you having problems with your eyesight?” Most of the time we can narrow it down to sinus.  I am NOT a doctor, but many people know how long and how bad I have suffered with migraines.  My migraines are 90 percent of the time on the right side of my head.  This is where I receive my occipital blocks (shots in my head).  If people say that it is only behind their eyes, I usually ask if they have sinus problems.  Usually they do and we both can relate it to weather.  I do get weather related headaches.  They are not fun either.

Your sinus headache will normally not be brought on by bright light or perfume.  Both of those are BIG no-no’s for me.  You can drive by our house and everyone will be home and there will not be one light on.  We just navigate in the dark.  I even work with low lighting.  The bulbs over my head are not at full strength.  As for perfume, thankfully everyone around me knows that perfume kills.  There were so many Sunday mornings when I sang in the choir that I had to leave before singing because ladies would not obey the rule of no perfume.  I sent Trey and still send Collin back inside to rub their cologne off as much as possible. OH THE SMELL OF AXE! That stuff should have been outlawed!  I think Trey bathed in it!

I can’t thank those enough who know that prayer is the best thing for me.  You are wonderful friends and God has truly blessed me.  I pray you NEVER have to experience a migraine.  EVER!

Thank you Lord for a wonderful husband, son, and family that takes care of me!

2 thoughts on “To All The Migraine Suffers! (Blog)

  1. You took the words right out of my mouth! I would have thought I had written this blog! Thanks for sharing! Just to know someone else knows and experiences the same torture Roy’s headaches!

  2. Sorry you deal with migraines. My daughter got them as a child and we figured out it was triggered by what she ate. Chocolate, nitrites, msg. I hear that the paleo diet works as well as the wheat belly diet. Just some thoughts. Prayers for you and your family as we have done so for years.
    Robin from Collierville.

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