Imagine losing a quarter of your work week to a migraine. Let’s say you go home to try and prevent it from getting worse. You take a nap, and you wake up feeling better. But then you can’t sleep that night. So you’re tired the next morning, and lo and behold, by noon? You’ve got another migraine.
Imagine this cycle going for weeks. Years, even.
Imagine trying crazy diet, sleep, lifestyle changes. Saying no to concerts, and amusement parks, and conferences because you’re afraid that they’ll end in misery.
This is my life. Or rather, was. I’ve managed to successfully reduce migraine frequency in the last week. I know, that’s not a very long time period, and you might walk away from this blog post before I finish, thinking that I’m crazy. But let me ask you a question:
How long has it been since you took pain medication?
And, how long have you gone between taking medications?
The answer, for me, was two or three days to about a week.
That’s right. I couldn’t go a whole week without popping an Imitrex, or an Excedrin Migraine. And I bet, if you’re a migraine sufferer like I am… neither can you.
In the beginning of February, I decided to stop. I had been pouring over websites to find a neurologist, a different doctor, so that I could find some miracle drug that would cure my pain. And one of the forum posts I found, someone said that they went to an EXCELLENT doctor, and that doctor made all of her patients detox from pain medication before she evaluated them and prescribed new drugs. She would offer Magnesium I.V.’s… but that’s about it.
So I called that excellent doctor and tried to get an appointment. According to the receptionist, they were scheduling new patients 9 months from now. And I’d need a referral.
Being stonewalled like that made me think hard. I couldn’t live another 9 months “out of control” like this. I’d had new symptoms, more… mental, symptoms, recently, and they scared me. My eyes got blurry and I couldn’t read, at one point. Oh, and I forgot a friend’s name. Like, I checked email, a staff directory, facebook and my phone to make sure that the face and name were the person I wanted, because the name sounded… strange, to me.
And I thought about what that “EXCELLENT” rated doctor would tell me to do, and I realized that I needed to detox.
It was not fun. I had a Thurs-Tues migraine, varying in intensity from 2-6 (on a 1-10 pain scale). I lost a bit of time at work — thankfully, mostly afternoons.
But since that “detox” headache… I haven’t had an outright migraine.
Symptoms, yes. But, instead of medicating, I’ve just loaded up on water and had some downtime.
I’ve found that I have an almost everpresent dull ache. It’s “for” different things at times — sometimes, it’s because I’m constipated or under other stomach distress. Sometimes, it’s because I’m stressed. Sometimes, it’s because I’ve had poor posture and I’m getting a sore neck or tension headache.
But the dull ache isn’t the end-all beginning to the migraine anymore. When my body was addicted to pain killers… it was. If I had a dull ache and ignored it or didn’t go home immediately… nine times out of ten it turned into a migraine.
I’m not saying that I’ll never take the drugs again. I’m traveling next week (sorry, friends!) and I’ll probably be popping Excedrin Migraine like candy during the 12 hour a day conference I’m going to. But, I’ll certainly try “downtime,” first. I’ll try hydrating, or using my glasses, or stretching.
I think that, when you remove the option of drugs from the pool of treatment ideas… your migraines can become more manageable. Mine have.
Brightest blessings to you guys. As I said, I’ll be away for a week, and I’ll have minimal access to the interwebs. So, expect a post from me in March.