Gary's story

"I can only hope that there is a magic solution out there in the near future"

Gary Hornsby-Shawe

Growing up with migraine has not been easy. As a youngster I was embarrassed to tell anyone I was a sufferer as misinformation and ignorance meant that people would just think it was a bad headache.

I know every sufferer is different but my symptoms are horrendous head pain, usually to one side of the head. This is mixed with pressure behind my left eye (usually) that feels as if something is trying to force my eye from its socket. This causes my eye to water and my sight is affected, my vision blurred. Sensitivity to light is also a big problem along with loss of balance, feeling terribly nauseous, with pins and needles and loss of feeling down my left arm.

Attacks are sometimes mild, as if all the symptoms have been diluted. Other attacks are so severe I have been in tears of pain (not a pretty sight for a grown man of 50 years!) and have been know to pass out.

Trying different medication

I have tried every single migraine medication available through the NHS, and for me, preventative medication does not work. Tablets such as the triptan’s take too long to work so for the last five years or so, I have been using Zolmitriptan nasal sprays which work really well for me if I catch the migraine early enough. If I wait too long before taking a spray, it is too late and a full attack usually occurs even with the medication.

I am waiting to see if the new injection will be made available to me and I keep in regular contact with my GP.

My employers are fairly understanding of my condition but I have been violently ill at work (vomiting) several times because I have waited too long before taking medication. Then I have had to go home and go straight to bed. Saying to myself “I will just finish this then take some medication” is terrible!

A work colleague that did not know about my condition once witnessed me have an attack and was kind enough to drive me home. I had no medication with me so I suffered the full force of the attack. Once home I stumbled out of the car, was violently sick in the front garden and staggered to my front door to let myself in.

I received a telephone call the next day from my colleague who was so shocked at what he had witnessed he wanted to check that I was okay. In his words, if he did not know it was a migraine, he would have thought I was severely intoxicated. The plus side was that he now understands what a migraine is.

Triggers

I have to avoid digesting certain things…sesame seeds!!! and real ale!!! Sesame seeds is an odd one which I can manage to a degree (some foods are cooked in sesame seed oil). Real ale is difficult as it is such a large part of my social life, so I have to be careful. Salicylates was one word that was mentioned to me as a cause of migraine…but the list is endless and to try and avoid them all is near on impossible.

I have changed my career to try and limit my stress levels too.

So, as I get older, my migraines seem to be increasing in both severity and frequency. I can only hope that there is a magic solution out there in the near future!

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.