It’s been a very long time since I had my first migraine. As a child I suffered terribly with nose bleeds often causing a scene worthy of a horror story! The nose bleeds stopped when I was around 17 years old and then the migraines began and although I had suffered from headaches I was caught completely off guard with the volume of pain that accompanies this wonderful condition. They started fairly irregular at the beginning but by the time I was in my early 20’s they were becoming uncontrollable.
By the time I went to the doctors for help I was waking up with a sore head, eating lunch with a sore head and going to bed crying from pain and pure exhaustion. I had a young child and a full time job so had no other choice but to dose up on over the counter painkillers, grit my teeth and get on with it.
I was initially prescribed medication that helped for roughly six months, it was a long time ago and I can’t remember the name, all I remember is that it began with an ‘S’ and made me put a lot of weight on. I went back to the doctors and was then put onto propranolol, 10mg at the start – again this worked for roughly six months, the dose was slowly increased and this seemed to help for a short period of time.
At this point I gave in and resided myself to the fact that apart from painkillers and sleep nothing would help with the pain management. The migraines started increasing again and I was eating codeine like sweeties. The doctor advised using sumatriptan, but this has got to be the worse medication I have ever taken. I felt disjointed and weird, the world was spinning and I just wanted it to stop, obviously I have never taken that again!
I decided to take matters into my own hands after a bit of research into the use of epileptic medication and the benefits people were having. I was prescribed gabapentin about 18 months to two years ago, with the dose being slowly increased to 600mg three times a day; I was also taking 180mg of propranolol. Due to side effects I did not drive for two weeks, I only felt a little dizzy and spaced and still maintained my work life. After a few days I woke up with absolutely no pain, it has honestly got to be the strangest sensation as my head had hurt every day for well over a decade. I felt clear headed like a fog had been lifted from my brain, it was amazing!
I started having heart palpitations despite being on such a high dose of a drug that supposedly prohibited that from happening. I had an ECG and even had a palpitation for the nurse’s benefit. However, despite having a palpitation, on the machine my heart appeared to be in perfect rhythm I have had no further testing.
I still take the gabapentin and the propranolol but the migraines are starting to creep back. I have at least two to three attacks per week which is better than every day but still very frustrating. I am meticulous when it comes down to food to ensure I do not cause a trigger, however, the weather has a massive effect on me and obviously being a woman my menstrual cycle also plays a huge part in my migraine pattern.
At this time I am suffering with a stomach ulcer due to the volume of NSAIDs I have to consume on a weekly basis to control the pain and allow me to continue to pay the bills. Non-migraine sufferers have no comprehension of the pain and general discomfort migraines cause and this is plain to see as they are still not classed as a disability unlike its cousin epilepsy.
I have full faith a cure will be found, there is always a cure it’s what nature does.
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.