It is almost impossible to fully express the pain to those who have never experienced a full migraine attack
My name is Clive Harris. I am 69, I live in East London and have been a headache and migraine sufferer from my late teens to the current day. I am no longer working since migraines really forced me into early retirement about seven years ago when I gave up my job as a college lecturer.
When my headaches started they were an occasional event, but as the years have gone by the frequency and intensity of attacks have relentlessly increased to the extent that headaches are now a daily event with full migraine attacks occurring most weeks and may last up to three days.
As migrainers know, it is almost impossible to fully express the pain to those who have never experienced a full migraine attack. To try and convey my own experience of migraine to friends and family, I explain that it is akin to having your brain locked in a permanent vice. Sometimes the vice is moderately tight but with a full migraine when the pain is at its most intense the vice screw is fully engaged. It is during such attacks that I experience personality changes, becoming moody, aggressive and extremely depressed. Sometimes when all else has been tried and I am feeling quite desperate, a visit to A&E becomes necessary.
Impact on life
The holidays and many social activities that I had planned for my retirement I am not able to undertake since making a commitment for any activity is difficult when you can’t be certain if cancellation will be necessary. Fortunately I have a very understanding partner, but being a former Relate trained counsellor, I do believe that for many sufferers migraines can have a serious impact on careers, family relationships and friendships.
Over the years I have seen many expert migraine specialists and have been prescribed nearly the full range of drug options. Some of the prophylactic drugs have in the past helped alleviate pain but my body now has an extremely low tolerance to these and they can in fact exacerbate the pain. Currently the only ‘rescue’ drug that helps me is a Sumatriptan injection. However, having an injection nearly always results in a follow up rebound migraine.
So I am stuck with the Hobson’s choice of whether to defer the pain—not always an easy decision! I will soon be starting on a course of the newly developed CGRP (Erenumab) treatment, and I am very much hoping that this drug, dedicated specifically for those with migraine, can help me.
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.