Apparently headache season has begun. Most of this year my head has blissfully allowed me to go through life without threatening to randomly explode and I was very much enjoying it – until about three weeks ago. I don’t know if it’s the stress or hormones or the weather changes or a wonky alignment of the planets, but suddenly my head is either in great amounts of pain or threatening to be.
I’ve suffered from migraines all my life. As a kid, I didn’t know they were migraines – I just knew my head hurt and nothing seemed to help. I used to bang my head against the wall in desperation. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I looked up these particularly bad ‘headaches’ and realized they were migraines.
This time two years ago I was having migraines several times per week. I tried various things and nothing seemed to help. It was like torture and I was going out of my mind! Then the abortive medication I took for them (Midrin) was suddenly taken off the market (apparently it had never been approved by the FDA!) and I headed to the neurologist’s office to see what else could be done. Because I have a sulfa allergy and the majority of migraine medications contain sulfa, my neurologist informed me that there were very few options. I could try Imitrex (which is a cousin of Sulfa, so might be okay) and if that didn’t work, I was left with Botox.
Uh, no. Please, no.
The neurologist prescribed a preventative called Topamax, along with the abortive Imitrex. Not only did the preventative make me utterly stupid (I started calling it Dope-amax) but I got break-through migraines anyway and the break-through ones ended up being worse! So I stopped the preventative and worked on being super strict with my diet and sleep routines. I stopped drinking any red wine at all because that definitely triggered sudden, severe migraines. Imitrex worked well enough and slowly my migraines disappeared as long as I was careful.
In the last two years, I’ve gone several months with no migraines at all. It’s been miraculous! I have no explanation as to why they’ve left me alone, but boy have I enjoyed it!
And now they are back in full, blind-in-one-eye force. I feel like I’ve been transported into Flowers for Algernon or Awakenings.
I still don’t drink red wine – or eat red grapes – and I have cut out chocolate, as well. But suddenly the migraines are back with a vengeance and seem unrelated to anything. Sure, maybe it’s due to the stress of having a kid with cancer but why NOW? We’ve been dealing with cancer for almost two years! It doesn’t make any sense to me.
And, as often happens with migraine medications, the damned Imitrex isn’t working well at all anymore. The medication reduces the pain to headache levels but I feel run down for days after I take it. Then the migraine comes back and the cycle repeats. As if that isn’t enough, my throat starts tightening when I take it now (perhaps an allergy is starting to develop?) and, last night, I had severe stomach pain afterward that nearly sent me to the emergency room.
So, I’m back to square one and feeling rather hopeless about it all. Why can’t my head just cooperate? Why are migraines so horribly difficult to prevent and control?
Do you get migraines? What helps?