Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Some of you know that I have a history of migraines. They are chronic beasts, I typically get them once a week, for a few days. I've been getting them for years, and only since getting health insurance from the job I've had for the past five have I been able to get any consistent care for them.

As one can expect from chronic migraines, they have controlled a significant part of my life.

I don't remember when I started getting them. I know it was in high school. I remember downing way too many ibuprofen one time while working on the set of the high school musical and shaking while trying to use the band saw. I was laughing because the pain was so bad, I just couldn't handle it.

I didn't really understand them for most of my life. They were just bad headaches. Really bad headaches. They got worse under fluorescent lights and around computers. I had a hard time concentrating. I went days at a time where it felt like blood just pounded between my eyes and my temples. I just assumed people had headaches every day like I did. My parents had headaches a lot.

When I started working at my current job, I started getting them almost every day. I worked on the phones when I started. The constant talking wore on my head. My jaw started to click after my shifts. The pain radiated into my temple, then into my eyes. Staring into the computer for long shifts didn't help either. Once I got health insurance, I started keeping track of my migraines.

When I finally got to see a doctor about them, I had a lot of data. He sent me to a neurologist quite promptly. I was put on a medicine for the bruxism that developed because I grind my teeth. Later, when my blood pressure became high, they put me on some of those meds too.

About two years ago, I had a migraine strong enough that it ended me up in the emergency room, which is when I found imitrex, the blessed drug that I take when I'm having a migraine. I love this medicine. It keeps the pain at bay. If a migraine is a build up of pressure in my head, then the imitrex drills a hole and releases that pressure. The fluid still flows into my head, but the pressure never builds up. If that makes any sense.

The imitrex side effects are terrible, though. It makes me really sick feeling. My stomach cramps up, it makes me both unable to eat from nausea and extremely hungry. I get really tired, but it gives me a buzz. It slows my thinking, so it takes me a long time to think things through. I get really lethargic. I just don't want to do anything, because the effort to get up and move just doesn't seem worth it. It's almost like a depression, but it's more apathy. If I have to take the imitrex for more than a few days, the effects compound, landing me in a funk. However, if I don't take the imitrex the moment I start to get a migraine, the medicine doesn't work, and I have to take twice the amount.

Anyway. So in the past few months, I've been getting very long migraines, with very few breaks between. I went back to my neurologist (a new one) and he started me on topamax, a medicine that's supposed to prevent migraines, not just stop them before they happen.

I've been on it for about two weeks now and so far I've been pleased with the results. I have been through two weekends without a migraine, which is pretty impressive for me. It's kind of strange. I've been doing a lot more work around the house. I've been more positive thinking. I am tired, but it's not mind-numbing. I want to take naps a lot, but it's not an exhausted tired.

All in all, it will be nice if the topamax works. I'm hopeful so far. It's been rather nice going without a migraine for two weeks. I've gone without one for two weeks before, but never without the general feeling of the doom of "when is it the next one coming?"

Heck, I made it through a movie without a migraine! In a theater!

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