Relentless and all-consuming, migraines can be anywhere from an occasional issue to a constant nightmare.
I’ve suffered with migraines since my teens. During my early 20s, the frequency varied; I may have two in one month, and the next month they’d take a holiday. Skip ahead to the past 3-4 years and migraines have been a regular feature of my life, gracing my brain with their presence three or four times a week on average, sometimes more.
A day with migraine is a day lost. They render me useless.
Thankfully in more recent years prescription Sumatriptan has been successful in evicting them, but it takes 1 & 1/2hrs to work and I’m left feeling like an empty shell, totally gutted and exhausted for the rest of the day. Such medications are also restricted, so many with chronic migraines, such as myself in the UK, may find doctors will not prescribe nearly half as much as you need. This means some attacks you simply have to ride out, even if they bring you to your knees.
I’ve been through diary tracking and numerous lifestyle changes in an attempt to identify triggers or spot correlations, but nothing has been sound. There’s nothing to predict or prevent them. No treatment touches my migraines apart from Sumatriptan. A rather unhelpful neurologist made my appointment into a competition, telling me he had the worst migraines, worse than mine, and that he grew out of them when he turned 35. In response to my look of frustration and query as to whether anything medically could be causing them, he simply said I’d probably “grow out of them” when I’m 35 like he did. Only a couple of years to go then. I wonder if I’ll turn into a pumpkin, too. Needless to say, the support around migraines has been, in my experience, very poor.
Living with migraines can be incredibly unpredictable and resultantly impractical. You never know how you’ll feel or when they’ll strike. I’ve lost so many days, probably adding up several months of life, to migraines. I also have other health issues, from Pernicious Anaemia and connective tissue disease, to fibromyalgia and a stoma. When I don’t have a migraine, chances are I have a headache. Most days they’re what I class as ‘low level’ headaches, which I’ve lived with for years and can manage, probably because I’ve grown used to them. Other times I get bad headaches. Migraines are in a class of their own. Last year I also have my first experience of cluster headaches, several delightful weeks of hell. A day without anything is blissful respite.
If you suffer with migraines, please do seek medical investigation and advocate for yourself, keep pushing until you get some kind of testing, support and treatment. Don’t suffer in silence. And please know that you are not alone.
Freelance writer & blogger at InvisiblyMe