Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I'm one of the 28 million (!) migraine sufferers. Are you?

My mom suffers from them, and so does her mom (but both of my little sisters lucked out).

My mom warned me when I started on the pill, of the risk of increased migraines. She had to quit taking it a few months in when she realized what a migraine trigger it was. Of course I was in denial (different people! different triggers!), and for a while, my migraines seemed to be the same. I got 2-3 a month in college and I was getting them about once a week in varying degrees for the first year after I started the pill.

Then they gradually increased, and lasted longer. (36-48 hours) I had to start taking time off work--half days & sometimes full days--because I just couldn't function. I felt helpless, and wimpy. Especially because it's hard to get E (or anyone) to understand the debilitating nature of a migraine. The blurred vision, nausea, and sound/light sensitivity were difficult to explain.
For about a year and half I toughed it out, but we finally decided I should quit. things have gradually improved over the last four months.

Although I still get a migraine like clockwork the day before Aunt Flo comes for a visit and when I'm really stressed, I've learned how to manage them as well as possible.

Sometimes meds prove necessary (usually Excedrin with a LOT of water), but my preferred method of migraine treating involves a hot rice pack on my neck (or a hot bath), and a cool cloth over my eyes while lying down. Then I ask E to rub my neck and shoulders, and sleep for 1-3 hours.

If I'm not home & without medicine, caffeine can help a little.

Despite years of warnings, I always ignored my mother's good advice to catch headaches early. One of my biggest problems was thinking a nagging headache would eventually go away. for me, they always turned into a migraine, and by then it was too late to treat.

Are you a migraine sufferer? How do you treat?


Anonymous said...

Wow - your frequency of migraines is so scary to me. I wouldn't say I am a sufferer because I only have about 4 per year. But man do those suckers really knock you out or what? I mostly get mine when I am dehydrated and don't realize it. The first time I got one when Greg was around he nearly took me to the ER - I just had to explain to him - stop, be quiet, get me drugs (excedrine!), a cold wash cloth, and go away for a few hours. Sounds like we deal with it similarly. I'm so sorry you get them so often!

Laura said...

I had "chronic" migraines in HS (1-2 a week) and was on prescription medicine for a few years. I stopped having them so frequently and developed "ocular" migraines--they are rare, but I get the migraine in and behind my left eye. It's SO PAINFUL and when I get one now I'm out for two days. Luckily, I only get those a few times a year and get a regular migraine about once a month. I blame the pill, and I can't wait to stop taking it (only a few more months..).

I usually just try to sleep when I have a migraine.

steph c said...

I get migraines a few times a year.. I hate them. I've only had one with an aura, and I seriously thought I was going to die: I had a "hole" in my vision, I was shaking, nauseous.. then the pain started.

I've grown to be BFF's with Excedrine, a hot, wet washcloth on my head, and sleep. It's the only thing that really does the trick.

Kelly Loy Gilbert said...

Oh man, the worst. :( I've had migraines, but I can't imagine them lastingt 48 hours--you poor thing!!! I had migraines with aura (which was absolutely terrifying the first time ... I thought I was having a stroke) and I had to go off the BCP too. I've had migraine-like headaches since then, but never the visual aura. I'm very convinced those were the result of the pill.

Excedrin helped me too, and I think your mom is totally right about catching it early. I did get a prescription for Imitrex, but never ended up using it, mostly because the side effect warnings were sort of terrifying.

Sometimes a little peppermint oil (you can get it at Henry's ... which I miss!!) rubbed on the forehead helps me too. It's very cooling and helps the muscles relax, which makes me feel a little better.

Christine said...

Excedrin works best for me. Also, pinching the nerve in my hand. http://www.handresearch.com/news/headache-break-hand-massage-reflexology.htm
I can't do it to myself very well. It works best if someone else does it to me. Because it hurts pretty bad. But it works really well. I do at least 3 minutes on each hand.

Jade said...

I am definitely a chronic migraine sufferer - it's to the point that I have to carry a container of Advil PLUS my migraine meds with me everywhre I go to try to keep them at bay. When I feel the onset of a headache, I immediately take 3 Advil (600 mg total) as indicated by my doctor with tons and tons of water. If that doesn't work, I take Imitrex (the nasal spray type). I also have a prescription for Zomig but haven't had to use it yet. Yep. That's tons of drugs. If I'm home, I make some of TJ's Bedtime Tea and the chamomile and mint help to soothe me. I hope you find a remedy that works for you! Good luck!

Caitlin said...

I started getting them a couple times a week this fall...I went dairy free recently [maybe a month ago now] and it's helped a TON. Like...kind of ridiculous. I haven't had one since I quit dairy. Harsh reality when summer rolls around and we're at Captain Sundae...but I'll cross that bridge when we get there : )

Emily (The Culinary Couple) said...

I've never had migraines, but I've been getting tension headaches since I got pregnant. (Well, really just since the start of the second trimester.) I also love the cold compression on your neck trick, and I'm fortunate that my husband gives some pretty great massages. Also, for me (and probably more related to being pregnant), I discovered that if I eat small meals throughout the day, I'm less likely to get them. Chocolate especially helps :)

Natalie | Make Today Great said...

Oh I hear you darlin. I get them an I hate them. I think we have about the same frequency.

I always require drugs of some sort... but I second the bath and sleep. And lots of water. My husband was getting a headache the other day and I sat him down with three glasses of water and he was cured. So at least I know a lot in pain management right?

Jessica Lynn said...

Oh, I feel for you; I get a migraine that lasts 48 hours—almost to the dot—every. single. month. THey've started to scare my husband (and me) to the point where I'm probably going to get off my birth control. The problem with mine is that there isn't a specific remedy that gets rid of or diminishes mine :( Some months Excedrin does the trick and other months it's a hot bath or lots of sleep or a glass of wine...It's terrible, as you know, and I'm pretty much guaranteed to be out of commission when one strikes. Ugh. I'm dreading the one that'll be here in a few days :(

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