Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Journey: Migraine

Oh MIGRAINE!!!!  I remember the days when I thought it was all an imaginary thing that was really just a bad headache.  But, a few years ago I experienced my first migraine.  I am known to handle pain very well but it became very clear to me that this was not just a bad headache!  Every three weeks I would spend three straight days in bed trying to sleep and trying not to puke!

What caused it?  My doctors haven't been able to figure this out.  I had heard that migraines start in many ladies after having an epidural done during labor/child birth.  Makes sense to me since I started having them after the birth of my son (my second child and the only one I had an epidural for).  But, my doctor thought the idea was ridiculous....  So, I had a cat-scan done of my head - nothing wrong....  My doctor felt that my deep love for coffee was not a factor because there is caffeine in the medicine to help relieve migraine pain.  So, the next thought was that maybe my birth control was causing it.  I met with my OBGYN to consider other options.  Before my migraines started I was taking a name brand birth control pill.  Due to changes in my prescription insurance I was switched to a generic version.  Could that have been the cause?  Well, it was going to cost me a lot of money to switch back just to see if it was maybe the cause of my migraines.  There was also the option to try other forms of birth control.  All of them were not covered by my insurance....  So, I decided that if my birth control was the cause of my migraines there wasn't much I could do about it....  

Next step for me:  I started taking a prescription medication that would help relieve the pain when I was having a migraine.  It didn't fix the problem but it did help enough to allow me to sleep a little more comfortably.  Which is the only thing that did seem to help - just sleep for 3 straight days.  My doctor did recommend taking a preventive prescription drug on a daily basis but for some reason I didn't want to rely on another daily medication....

Okay, so I am taking my prescription pain medication every time I have my usually migraine (3 straight days every 3 weeks).  Then, I discovered I had postpartum depression (my blog post).  My doctor notified me that the migraine medication I was on could not be taken with my depression and anxiety medication that I was now going to need daily.  The migraine medication even said that taking it with depression medications could result in comma or death!!!  Since my postpartum depression and life long issues with anxiety were impacting my life daily, I decided to stop taking the migraine medication.

Fast forward a couple of years:  My migraines were pretty consistent (3 days every 3 weeks) until the summer of 2012.  My family and I went to Boston to visit my brother.  For the entire week I was there I had a really bad migraine along with some other symptoms.  When I returned home it preceded to get bad enough for me to go into the emergency room.  They gave me their "migraine cocktail" and sent me on my way.  I was like a zombie by the time I left there.  Finally able to sleep!!!!  When I asked the nurse what I should do if the migraine returned she told me that 99% of the time the migraine will not come back (well, until my next "scheduled" migraine).  I had 4 peaceful hours and then the migraine was back!!!!  It lasted 15 straight days!!!  It was time to talk to my doctor about my options.  

This time I had a different doctor who I had never really spoken to about my migraines until this 15 day experience.  Really, why should I when my only option was a pill that could cause death?!?!  I'm glad I did talk to him.  It turns out that the migraine medication that I was taking in the past wasn't an option (which I knew).  But - there were plenty of other options that could help!  I could take a migraine preventative and this time I was more than ready to try anything.  Unlike a few years prior when the thought of me relying on a daily medication was out of the question.  

I am happy to say that it worked!!!!  We had to fine tune the prescription and strength but I finally have something that works for me!

Amitriptyline Tabs (25mg) 
Notice I said "that works for me".  Everyone is different.  There are many causes for migraines.  Some can be figured out and hopefully fixed.  So far this has been my journey.  Do I still have migraines?  Yes!  But no where near as often or as bad!  I can live with it and it isn't bad enough for me to seek other treatment.  So far, this is my "fix".

Other things that I have heard work (keep in mind that everyone is different and you should consult a doctor):

  • Botox injections:  I have a relative who swears these work for her.  She has to get them every couple of months but when she keeps up with the injections she has no migraines!!!  My family doctor does not have faith in this form of treatment... But, there are many reports I have read from people who swear this was the only fix for them and that it works GREAT!!  Beware, most have found that this treatment is not covered by insurance.
  • Another friend I know has stayed away from a preventative but uses a medication to help when she is having a migraine.  She takes Sumatriptan Tablet, USP 100 mg when she is having a migraine and she swears that it is the only relief she has found.
  • Others I know have actually found what the cause of their migraine is.  Oh, how I would love to know so I could "fix it".  It's not always easy, and most I know haven't found their cause, but I strongly feel that doing something (with help from a medical professional) is better than suffering with no end in sight.

1 comment:

  1. I can only imagine how frustrated you were when your medications weren’t doing anything for your migraine. On the other hand, I commend your patience and persistence in finding the suited treatment for your problem. It’s great to know that you found the medicine that suits your need, amidst the difficulties that you’ve had. Anyway, I hope you’re totally migraine-free by this time, Kendra! Take care!

    Cynthia Bowers @ Bay Area TMJ & Sleep Center