Lauren's story

If you're reading this and you're a sufferer, I'm with you

Lauren Gilbert

I remember my first migraine, I was 8 or 9 years old and all of a sudden I couldn’t see, these weird wiggly grey lines obstructed my vision and I instantly felt like I was going to vomit.

Fast forward nearly 15 years and I still suffer with migraines.

Despite many changes to my diet and writing a diary keeping track of my every move for years, the triggers or causes are still unknown. Sometimes it’s down to stress or tiredness, sometimes I wake up in the morning and can already tell it began in my sleep or within minutes of waking up I can’t see properly.

My migraines, as with many others, are completely unpredictable, terrifying and debilitating.

Impact on life

Migraines have had a big impact on my life, my GCSEs were all but average, due to having being sent home multiple times a week, or suffering from a migraine before or mid-exam, and have reflected this all the way through my undergraduate degree.

I don’t drive because I’m terrified of going blind whilst driving at 70mph on the M1 and have no idea how I would cope in that situation.

At university I missed out on a lot due to being in bed with migraines, not enough people understand the complexity of them, and that it’s not ‘just a headache’.

Great support

Despite all of this though, I have received incredible support from local health services. I am now taking a regular dose of beta blockers, my migraines have become much more manageable. Beta blockers have altered the visual disturbances to a point where sometimes they last no more than 20 minutes, as opposed to the 3 hour experiences I would get when I was younger.

I also was prescribed the Zomig nasal spray (my mum and I refer to these as my aeroplanes, because that’s exactly what they look like!) and if taken soon enough can take some of the edge off of the pain that will follow later. Along with this, when an attack begins, once I’ve taken the Zomig spray, I also take 900mg of Asprin. Dissolvable Asprin.

Any advice I would give, particularly for girls and women taking Epilim, is not to take it if you have the contraceptive implant. Thankfully, my nurse informed me that the two of these do not work well together and can often reduce the purpose of both the Epilim and the contraceptive.

I can’t stress enough how much one doctor changed my management of migraines when she explained that, for a lot of people, your stomach shuts down during a migraine attack. Taking whole tablets can take a while to breakdown and begin to work, which is why dissolvable Asprin is a godsend for me.

Listening to my body

I know that I will live with migraines for the rest of my life, but over time I have learnt to listen to my body. If smells become too strong (or sometimes you just feel like the air you breathe through your nose is too cold), if I suffer from a stiff neck or joint pains, or just generally feeling under the weather, I know I need to look after myself and be prepared.

I know that finding a cure for migraines is highly unlikely, so if you’re reading this and you’re a sufferer, I’m with you, I’d give my right arm to never have to experience one again. But don’t give up trying out new things that might work, even just a little bit. It took me 13 years of different mediations, appointments, scans, fads and old wives tales my mum found online to figure out which was the right path for me to begin my journey of living with migraines.

If you’re someone who has a loved one who suffers with migraines, please be patient with them, especially if they’re young.  I know when mine first started, my mum just assumed I was trying to get the day off school with my ‘headaches’, but I didn’t understand what was happening to me then, so how would she?

Listen to them, let them explain if they have visual and/or physical auras and get them to a doctor. I can’t thank my neurologist and GPs enough for the help and advice they’ve given me.  I don’t fight my migraines anymore, I don’t let them depress or anger me. They’re a part of who I am, and I won’t let them interfere with my life plans.

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.