I am a migraine sufferer. I have been getting them for over ten years now. The pain comes on quick. A stabbing sensation piercing behind my left eye. I can’t wear my glasses for some reason. It’s almost as if wearing them makes it worse. I massage my sinuses above and below my eye, thinking it will help. But it doesn’t. I do the same things every time, but it never makes a difference. If I don’t treat it almost immediately, the pain intensifies, and then the nausea sets in. If I do treat it immediately, sometimes the Advil is too hard on my stomach, and I’m nauseous regardless. It’s a no-win situation.
They started out infrequent, but somewhere along the line that changed. Eventually I was getting them about 2-3 times a month and they were so bad I was missing a lot of work. I remember the one migraine happened on the morning of a training session. Me, being the trainer, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I went into the office and got the training set up and ready to go. I then handed the presentation off to my boss. She was happy to fill in, and I can only imagine what I would have sounded like.
Migraines are definitely something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It’s actually a really hard sensation to describe to non-sufferers. The pain itself is difficult to deal with, but then you have to contend with other symptoms. They can range from reduced cognitive function, such as not being able to find the right word, to nausea, to vomiting. The first time I had a migraine, I actually didn’t know what was happening. The pain was so intense. I had just returned from a trip to England and was certain that I was on my death bed. Nope, just a migraine.
For better or worse, I don’t have a lot of symptoms. I’ve been sick to my stomach a couple of times, but it could have been triggered by something alongside the migraine, and I’ve only experienced an aura once. I’m not sure if this is typical, but it was like I was staring at a blurry Christmas Tree. The pain sometimes is tolerable, only needing an Advil to make it stop. But there are other times that it is so unbearable, I can barely get out of bed.
So what causes them? I went to all the doctors to try to figure out what was happening. They say that food is typically a trigger, so I eliminated the food and still got the migraines. This process was repeated several times until the doctors suddenly got concerned. I typically wake up with migraines first thing in the morning. They rarely come on mid-day. They were concerned that something worse was going on. That they weren’t just migraines. (Note, I’m not a doctor, so I’m not going to make any inferences about what could be the problem.) The CT scan revealed all was “normal”, and they were just migraines. They prescribed me Imitrex. 25 mg, I believe in the beginning.
Each time a migraine would come on, I would start by taking one pill. Then another. Then another. Sometimes taking 100 mg to get rid of the pain. Which is the max dose you’re allowed to take. I was going through the monthly prescription in a matter of days. I needed to better understand what was causing the migraines to occur, and then hopefully be able to figure out a plan from there.
The cause for migraines can range for people. As I mentioned earlier, food can be a trigger. For me, however, it was an “out of my control” cause – the weather. More specifically, a change in air pressure. Some people say their arthritis flares up right before it’s about to rain. Well, my head can tell you if a storm is coming. It took me a very, very long time to figure out a good way to treat the migraines. Imitrex is a great drug, but it can knock me out completely.
The treatment that I found (eventually) to be extremely helpful is acupuncture. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it was my doctor who was recommending it. He also said, the worst thing is that it’s not going to work. I am not going to be in any more pain, and its not going to hurt me. It potentially is just going to waste my time. But it was worth the risk. Within 6 months, the migraines had decreased in both intensity and frequency. I started that treatment about 5 years ago. Now, I have treatments 2-3 times a year, and the migraines themselves are much less frequent. Acupuncture isn’t a sure bet for everyone, but it is worth looking into it, if you can.
I can’t control when I’m going to get a migraine or why I get them, but acupuncture is a proven alternative therapy (no, this isn’t like an alternative fact) to help alleviate the symptoms associated with migraines. I encourage you to do the same. Like me, this woman tried acupuncture and it helped her migraines. I too, tried other routes (except Botox) to try to manage the pain, but was unsuccessful.