Christopher’s story

All I do is keep going and doing the best I can

Christopher Mason

My migraine started in 2013, before then I had the occasional headache but nothing compares to the migraines I suffered since then.

The first migraine happened in 2013. I was at work in the NHS, sat at my desk and I got a pain like someone had hit me in the side of my head with a brick, something I now know to be called a thunderclap headache. The pain was unbearable. I left my desk and went to get some water, hoping it would help. I noticed my arm on the left side felt heavy and my left leg was dragging slightly, but I thought nothing of it. I sat down to have my water and I could feel the water dribbling down my face, at this point I became more worried. So, I got up and went to speak to my manager, which was difficult as my speech was slurring and I was really worried.

I rang the GP. I tried to get my words over and explain and you could hear the panic in their voice. Within 10 minutes of that call an ambulance came and I was taking to hospital and admitted. I couldn’t raise my left arm of move my leg, my speech unrecognisable and they were stumped. I was admitted and some investigations done, CT Scan etc and within 24 hours my speech was back and I could move my limbs.

It was odd! My blood pressure and heart rate were really high and at this point they discharged me a few days later and I started medication and was to be followed up in the Stroke Clinic.

The second attack

A week later I was having a further CT Scan and it happened again, this time in the scanner. I was rushed to A&E and was monitored there. I had exactly the same symptoms but this time my platelet count was really high. They treated me for a bleed and I was scared. I couldn’t speak and was finding it hard to communicate with those around me. I felt so useless and alone. I was lying in a bed not knowing what was happening.

I saw the Stroke Team who tweaked my medication at the time and I was moved to a ward for monitoring. But this time the symptoms lasted a lot longer, and it I was left with some weakness in my hand and foot on my left side, which I still have until this day.

Referral to a neurologist and a diagnosis

After seeing the stroke consultant again, they referred me to a neurologist. At this point I feared the worst, as you do! But I went and saw him and I’m so glad I did. He looked at all of my notes and scans, he sat back in his chair and said “I think this is hemiplegic migraine. This would answer some but not all of your symptoms, but let’s start treatment”.

The medication helped at first but it didn’t stop the hemiplegic symptoms I had, so if I was out and had an attack they sent me to A&E. I got to know the staff so well and even still have to attend when my symptoms are bad.

Medication

I started on a triptan first, but due to a complexity with another condition I have it was changed from tablet form to subcutaneous injection form, which I’ve found helps a bit better for me.

I was then put on a beta-blocker, but again another interaction with my condition so that was stopped. I was then placed on fluoxetine and topiramate, but after a while this was changed to duloxetine and topiramate. As my nausea and vomiting is a major symptom I was also placed on cyclizine.

Managing my migraine

Fast forward a few years and with the addition of botox treatment that is carried out by my neurologist, I’ve noticed a massive reduction in my migraine, even to the point of having no episodes for a month. Compared to having over 20 a month of varying severity this was a massive achievement and I couldn’t thank the neurologist and the team more!

Don’t get me wrong I still have times I need to go to A&E when it’s a bad attack but those are less and that’s all that matter to me at the moment.

I still work in the NHS but have moved to other avenues and departments along the way. My managers and team are great they know exactly what to do and where my injection is kept if I need it.

I couldn’t ask for a better group supporting me along with my family and fiancé. If I look back over the past seven years that I’ve suffered with my hemiplegic migraines, I’m in a much better place now and all I do is keep going and doing the best I can.

You can follow me on Twitter at @ChrisMasonNHS

The views and opinions expressed in this ‘Migraine story’ are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Migraine Trust.