I have had the beginnings of a migraine for four days. This is the longest one I’ve had in years. The pain is blossoming from behind my left eye right now; yesterday it was my right. I can feel a little bubble pulsating behind my eye, making it watery and red. If I push my finger under my ocular bone really hard, the release is a miracle. But I can only do that for 10-20 seconds before it starts to really hurt my eye. The pain starts to pulsate out to my temple and then spans my forehead and farther back into my skull. So far, my usual go-to drugs of ibuprofen and Excedrin Migraine have only put off the inevitable. This is one bad headache to not be killed by those two drugs. But it’s not REALLY bad…yet. I’m basically holding it at bay with these pills hoping it will eventually die. But I can’t take them forever.
Lots of different things set off my migraines, no one thing in particular. Sometimes they are visually set-off, but not in the way most people think. I can sit at the beach with the bright sun in my eyes for hours and not get a migraine. But put me in a dimly lit room or outside on an overcast day for a few hours and the headache will set in. Sometimes they are set-off by sounds; a major trigger for me is conflicting sounds. So, if a TV is on in one room and a radio is playing in the other I will almost immediately start feeling a migraine. Stress can set them off for me too, but not as much as visual or audio elements.
The headaches started when I was in 5th grade. I had never really had headaches before that I can remember. I used to get them every other day. My parent’s, especially my dad, thought that I was making it up to get out of school because they would come so often. It didn’t matter that I was a straight-A student.
The first few years were the worst. I would be in so much pain that all I could do was rock back and forth in the dark and moan. The pain would make me nauseous and sometimes I would be sick. I would push my fingers into my temples and hold straight ice on my forehead for hours because that was the only thing that gave me any relief. My mom was a nurse, but she had never seen anything like it before – it does not run in our family. She would give me Tylenol, but anyone with migraines will tell you that Tylenol does nothing for them. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I could barely walk when I had them. And I couldn’t even just lay there in moan on my bed, I had to be on my knees with my head against a high pillow in an exact position – any other way would make waves of nausea wash over me.
They finally took me to the doctor when I started getting sick from the headaches. The doctor didn’t know what to make of it – they gave me a CAT scan and an MRI to make sure I didn’t have a brain tumor or something. They came out clear. Finally a doctor diagnosed me with chronic migraines, but at the age of nine in the mid-nineties there weren’t any migraine medications for children. They gave me Reglan for the nausea, which helped a little.
Once I got to high school, I was so used to the headaches that I could feel the difference in my head between a small tension headache and an on-coming migraine. I would take four ibuprofen when I felt the migraine coming and it would usually knock it out before it got bad. Then came college – I was in classes most of the day and running around a huge 2,000-acre campus between. There wasn’t much time to run back to my dorm/apartment for pills and I was a typical college student: too distracted to always remember to carry them. One day I tried to walk to a class while in the throws of a major headache and I almost passed out on the way. I sat on a bench and called a friend to come and get me. Shortly after that, my new doctor prescribed me Midrin for my migraines – an adult drug that I know qualified for.
Midrin was a strong drug – when I took it it made me feel like my heartbeat was slowing to a crawl and it made me so weak that I couldn’t stand or move my arms. But it worked fast and it was extremely effective. The first time I took it I was scared I was having a bad reaction. All I could do was lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling. It didn’t make me feel tired, but lifting a single finger was exhausting. But that only lasted about 20 minutes and then I was good-to-go.
In the last few years since I have graduated college, the migraines have become less and less frequent. My doctor said that children diagnosed with chronic migraines really bad like I had them often see the symptoms go away as they grow older. That was certainly true for me. At 23, I barely get them any more – maybe once a month or once every two months. And when I feel them coming I can usually knock them out with Excedrin Migraine pretty quickly. People can tell me that Excedrin is just aspirin and Tylenol and caffeine, but no one will ever shake my belief in that drug. I have tried everything and Excedrin is the ONLY thing that has ever consistently worked to give me relief from my migraines.
I have a standing Midrin prescription that I haven’t really used on a regular basis in years, but I used it today. And it’s not working. This is the second time I have used this bottle in the past year and both times it has not worked. I don’t know why – I never used Midrin enough to become immune to the drug because it was prescribed to me so late. I hope to God that this bottle was just a bad batch because if Midrin has changed in some way and no longer works, I am SOL.