Graham's story

GrahamI have suffered migraines for the past four years. I get the full works; nausea, vomiting, aura, tight upper chest, impaired hearing, slurred speech, burning eye balls, severe pain over my left eye and side of face, loss of balance and occasional blackouts, my body shakes with the pain and I’m usually reduced to tears and screaming. Not good!

I was first sent to an ear, nose and throat specialist as it was thought to be sinusitis. Waiting for this appointment took a couple of months before I got a date with the specialist. Once he had listened to my symptoms and I had an examination, he discharged me back to my GP with a note advising that he thought it was a migraine.

Under the care of my GP I experimented with differing medication of which none worked. In the July of 2014 I had to go sick from my workplace and I never returned. I was under a contract that wasn’t renewed. My employer said that they no longer needed me because the project I was brought in for had been completed and I was no longer needed. I suspect it was due to my sick absences caused by me continual migraines. I haven’t worked since.

It wasn’t until November 2014 I saw a neurologist and he arranged a MRI of my brain. I went back to see him in the February 2015 and there was no problem with my brain scan and he recommended amitriptlyline for the pain. It was at this stage I was diagnosed as having chronic migraines.

I suffer migraines at least five days a week, lasting from five hours up to four days. The only relief I can get is by laying in a darkened room and try and sleep it off.

I have attended a pain management program organised by my local hospital. From this I have learnt how to to own and deal with the pain and how to use meditation techniques to help. I have several relaxation tracks and Apps on my phone that talk me through the pain and help me relax. With this technique I have learnt to relax better with the onset of a migraine and using my focus and breathing to go through the migraines with better frame of mind. It’s worth everyone trying this skill.

I have found one of the hard things to deal with is how other people react to my migraines. Most people cannot understand the impact that a ‘headache’ can have on your life. They relate it to their own experience of having a headache or hangover and relate the level of pain to that. As migraine suffers know a headache is just the tip of the iceberg of a full on migraine!

In December 2015 after visits to orthopaedic specialist, as I was experiencing neck and arm pain, it was discovered that I have a slipped disc in my neck causing me nerve pain. The orthopaedic specialist said that the trapped nerve could be the cause of my chronic migraine condition. I am now on his waiting list to have surgery, anterior cervical discectomy and disc replacement. I am supposed to have this in a few months time. Although there’s no guarantee of being migraine free, I am willing to undergo the operation to see if it helps.

I have tried to raise awareness with my social network. I have created a JustGiving page that I tell my story and ask for donations to show their support. At least I know with each donation they have read my story and have a better idea of what I am going through. It also gives my friends something to approach me with by asking how the fundraising is going. Also by having the donations and messages from people that care gives me a boost to know that my friends are educated and are there for me. So far I have raised £250 for The Migraine Trust through my JustGiving page.

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.