Chronic migraine sufferers often finding themselves in a vicious circle of treatment from which escape seems hopeless. This is the first in a series about the vicious circle of migraines.
This vicious circle of treatment is a never ending cycle of relief, pain, side effects, etc. When the migraines start, we are focused on anything that can give us even a moment’s relief. Eventually we start looking at triggers and journaling our experiences. Then, our initial “relief” system stops working and we being increasing doses and switching medications. Finally, everything seems to stop working and the cycle starts over.
I’ve been there, done that, am doing that.
The circle begins
The migraines started for me when I was 19 years old and a Chemical Engineering/Chemistry major at Rose-Hulman. At the time, my doctor diagnosed me with sinus cysts and determined that the migraines were only severe sinus headaches. For the next six weeks, I squirted a special nasal spray up my nose to dissolve the cysts–simple fix, no problem!
Unfortunately, the problem remained. The next trigger seemed to be every chemical/compound in the chemistry labs. I truly loved chemistry lab, but the pain was debilitating at times. I eventually dropped my my major, left the university and transferred to another university to study Math. Problem Solved!
The headaches (I still hadn’t been diagnosed with “migraines”), subsided…for awhile. My memory gets a little fuzzy for a period. The headaches did come back, and I asked for a referral to a “neurologist”. I use the term “neurologist” loosely. This guy prescribed blood pressure medicine. When it didn’t work, he continually increased the dosage. My headaches seemed to get better but at a cost. I became sluggish, problems with memory and I had the worst trouble waking up. The problem was that my blood pressure is consistently 120/80. No matter what I do, it is consistently very close to 120/80. (even when I’ve weighed 300 lbs and even as I have aged into my 40’s) I eventually stopped seeing that doctor and just dealt with the pain.
For many years, I managed my migraines with non-traditional medicine such as:
- Wearing sunglasses EVERYWHERE–Being that I wore glasses, I wore those terrible looking slide over things.
- Wearing ball caps 2 sizes too small.
- Lying on the floor with a subwoofer on either side of my head and listen to music with DEEP bass.
- Tylenol and Mountain Dew cocktails–Tylenol became my candy of choice added to an unending stream of Mountain Dew.
- Massaging my eyeballs, temples, forehead, etc.
These things all worked somewhat for awhile–I was able to function. I still do several of these things to this day for the low-grade migraines. However, if you’re a nurse or doctor, you’re probably pounding on your computer and screaming at me. Many of these things, while somewhat helpful, cause some major problems. (ie: Tylenol and Mountain Dew–the kidneys, liver and obesity!)
In the next episode: The circle continues/restarts.