Dear Things You Don’t Know About Migraines,

I am not a doctor. My advice and information are gathered from 18 years of having severe, chronic daily migraines with a degenerative neurological component and a hypersensitive brain. The two latter diagnoses were caused by the first. I have seen many neurologists, several pain management doctors, some migraines specialists, and a whole mess of other practitioners. I am happy to answer questions and point others to information I have discovered. 

The street price of the pills in my purse must be … well, a quick internet search tells me Dilaudad sells for $10 a pill. And my mother thought I didn’t have a retirement plan.

For migraines, there’s so much information and misinformation out there. Even neurologists are handing out crap advice. I offer my own stories, things I’ve learned through touching the hot stove so you, perhaps, won’t have to get burned. Maybe you can offer your own goods and bads as well. Keep in mind I’m sort of the worst case scenario of migraines.

A friend of mine, a delightful Cajun named Rocky who groomed my dog, was told he could take Imitrex every day, several times a day, to treat his intractable migraines. Well, I’d been told for years, by a neurologists who specialize in migraine care, that doing so would give me a stroke or an aneurysm. That doctor hammered it into my head. Too many and my brain would explode. I took those things with extreme caution. And when my friend vanished for a few months, I was so worried his brain turned into pulp and he’d died alone.

My doctor was wrong. He hadn’t kept up with current research, and was giving me information based on two specific cases he’d been a part of. They’d traumatized him, and they were the basis of his treatment plan for migraine patients. But he was wrong, and it’s messed up how I take triptans for years.

Having a good pain management doctor will change your life. They can prescribe narcotics, if necessary. Their whole goal is to prevent you from feeling pain. And they know what they’re doing. If you’re having more than, say, four migraines a month, and especially if that number is increasing, think about seeing a pain management specialist. 

There are herbal remedies that can help. You must talk to your doctor about combining them with your prescriptions. Here are the ones I’ve tried, listed in the order of what helped me to what did not. However, this stuff is very personal and works very differently on different people.

  • Butterbur
  • CoQ10
  • Riboflavin
  • Magnesium
    • Note: I take the above in a supplement called “Migravent” that I buy from Amazon. I take three a day, as my doctor recommended, and it’s helped.
  • Folic Acid
  • Feverfew

Migraines cause muscle problems in our necks and shoulders, not the other way around. But we still have to deal with those problems, because the tightened muscles can then give us tension headaches which can kick off a migraine. Getting a massage regularly can be of great benefit. And they are not as expensive as you think. Call around; my massage therapist charges $50 each for a package of four, and I see her once a week. Her healing touch, positive attitude, and shining soul (I know, I’m not about that, but with her, you can’t not see it.) have helped me.

I have found it freeing to adopt this as my … mantra? no. position? maybe. Something. Anyway: “I will do everything I can, then I will let the rest go.” I have told the people around me that I will do everything I am able, then I will stop. It’s taken a lot of the anger out of our interactions. They no longer think I’m slacking or not trying. They know if I could do it, I would be doing it.

Ask for help. We’re conditioned in our American society to not ask for help, and not take help when it’s offered. It’s part of that rugged American individualism. And it almost killed me. For those of us who are never able to ask, remember that letting someone help you is a gift you give them. They see us hurting, they want so badly for the pain to stop, for magic to make it go away, for anything … and letting them help is a great way to fulfill that need.

Sorry lady, I’m gonna need that bouquet of yours. I’ve got a migraine, and I’m going to eat it during the wedding ceremony. I hope everyone else brought snacks; I’m not in a sharing mood. (Isn’t Feverfew pretty?)

I’m tired, and itchy from the hydromorphone. So I’ll go finish the book that the Sassy Little Book Fairy made me purchase in hardcover. Don’t go read her blog unless you want to get sucked into some good books. She’s like a drug pusher. You have been warned.

I’ll be reading, but I’ll still be

Payne.

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5 thoughts on “Dear Things You Don’t Know About Migraines,

  1. Fabulous post!

    I remember being really young (Five or six, maybe?) when I first heard about feverfew for migraines, and then getting extremely told-off for going straight into the garden and chomping down about half a plant like a huge, sunhat-wearing snail. Thankfully it grows like a weed in clay soil (I can heartily recommend sowing a few seeds of it if you’ve got a bit of green space, it will take over everything and fill your garden with bees and hoverflies) so it was back within the month.

    You’re spot-on about doctors being superstitious and going with their guts instead of research. I wish that more patients knew that they weren’t allowed to do this, and were better supported in talking back and arguing for better care.

    Liked by 1 person

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