Some posts are harder than others to sit down and write, this post is one of them. I have had migraines since I was in the 4th grade. I distinctly remember that first one. It was during a math test and I remember the pressure and constant pain in my head just growing until I couldn’t focus my vision anymore. I was not one to complain so my teacher let me go to the nurse. I laid down in the dark with an ice pack on my forehead and it helped but as soon as I went back to class the pain was overwhelming again. I remember the nurse calling my dad and telling him this was the only time in my school career I had begged to go home so she thought he should come pick me up.
My dad has a history of migraines as well, it runs on that side of my family for sure. However, mine started very young and after being left untreated and unchecked for years have caused me so many problems. I found an amazing neurologist almost 8 years ago and together we have found treatments that help and he is committed to my vision of as few pills as possible. Two days ago I had another round of occipital nerve block injections to help numb my swollen nerves to the pain I am in almost constantly.
I finally found a neurologist after I was in a very bad car wreck and my migraines got worse, so much worse. I remember laying in bed not even able to cry because the pain was too much, just wanting a release of any kind from the constant pain. By the time I went to the neurologist I had some level of headache every single day for over a year. All of this to say that my pain tolerance is pretty high and that leads me to have slower diagnosis and really have to advocate for myself. Example being I broke my nose in the above mentioned car accident-right on my bridge, and shattered all of the cartilage and they gave me no pain relievers at all. I finally broke down in tears 2 days later and called their office begging for something because the pain was overwhelming. I was young, scared, and in a lot of pain just trusting the medical professionals to do what was right for me.
Sadly, because of my extreme pain levels I have been on many very heavy narcotics over my lifetime and that always makes doctors hesitant to prescribe and take your pain seriously. This is one of the many reasons I love my neurologist, he listened when I said I did not want drugs just freedom from pain. People who live with chronic conditions will understand how hard it is to find a doctor to take you seriously. I did not begin my journey to finding relief until 2013, while I am sure this post seems like a tangent it really isn’t. To understand my journey on some level you as the reader have to understand my motivating factors. We have touched on so many other elements of my life and this journey I am on, I would be remiss not to mention one of the biggest impacting factors of my entire life.
I can remember laying in my bed knowing that in a few hours I would have to get up and go to work, run a large office and handle customers and employees, then come home and be a mother. I remember laying there feeling like a burden on my family because I was silently crying in my bed at the thought of having to do anything at all with the level of constant pain and pressure in my head. My wife and my kids are amazing and supportive but in those dark moments all your mind tells you is that life is easier if you are gone. Once those thoughts started I knew that my migraines had gone way too far and I needed a solid intervention of pain relief. I was honest with my neurologist and told him about the dark thoughts that were coming with all the pain and we did a nerve block that day. I had never felt such instant relief! For the first time in what felt like years, my head didn’t feel like it was going to explode with pressure and pain. I was an avid convert to nerve injections. They are obviously painful, having a long thin needle stuck into the nerve cluster at the base of your skull is not for the faint of heart, but as we discussed I was at the end of my rope. A combination of nerve blocks, life modification, and an as needed medication has helped knock my migraine days down considerably. We almost got me pain free entirely but some things are just not meant to be.
In addition to nerve headaches I suffer from hormone induced migraines as well, when I have both at once is when I cannot see straight or remember things. I talk a little weird and my brain processes things slowly. Sometimes it feels like I am in a fog of pain, all I feel is groggy and what I can only call the ghost of the pain. I can feel where the migraine is and it is coming on strong and then I can feel the pressure on my nerves, these are the weeks (not days) I know will be hard on me and my family.
I am having one of these episodes this week as I write this. I had my nerve injections and I am on my Rizatriptan but I am still in the fog of pain while the steroids in my nerves take effect. I still have to come to work, make dinners, shuttle kids to activities, and run my own business. Life doesn’t stop so neither can I, not to shame people who do- honestly I envy you. I am writing all of this down hoping someone will read this and feel better about their own struggle. Or maybe one of you will reach out to me and we can swap stories of pain, struggle, and perseverance. Please know if you are out there struggling with migraines of any kind, I stand with you in a quiet, cool, and dark room sending you positive vibes that your treatment will give you relief soon.