Another Migraine, Another Show
I went to a neurologist once for recurring terrible headaches. He said to me, “My man, you are a migraineur!” which meant I was one of the lucky people who would get migraines probably the rest of my life. Actually, unlucky me.
If you are one of those people or know someone who gets migraines or bad headache, read on. I want to tell you my story and hopefully you or a friend won’t have to suffer as I did.
My migraines began when I lived in an old English Tudor in Belmont that just so happened to have an exit vent blocked by cement (the vent that lets go of the toxic fumes from your furnace). I worked from home, so my partner wasn’t showing signs of sickness, but I was. So, we didn’t get it that the problem might be the house until right atop the fireplace some strange yellow goo started seeping from the wall.
Once it was investigated, we realized that I had been exposed to carbon monoxide fumes in small amounts almost constantly for 2 years. During that time, I had debilitating bouts of fatigue and headaches. I would say it took about another year for me to recover from the fatigue, but the headaches remained.
At first, like most people, you assume that you should use over-the-counter medication and rest. I did this and most times the headaches went away. But as the years went by and as I got older, the headaches got more intense.
About six years ago, the headaches turned into migraines. Let’s define what a migraine is. The dictionary defines migraine as a recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. That is in short a small version of the headache. Mostly, migraines are so debilitating that I know I had to get into a dark room and put ice on my head and get completely quiet as I took the strongest pain medication I could find. Often that was something like Percocet or Hydrocodone.
Finally, and I’m not sure why it took me so long to go to the doctors to get it treated, but I rented out my apartment to a doctor for a year and he treated my migraines with actual migraine medication. Some of these are:
- Almotriptan (Axert)
- Eletriptan (Relpax)
- Frovatriptan (Frova)
- Naratriptan (Amerge)
- Rizatriptan (Maxalt)—my favorite was this sublingual version
- Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
- Zolmitriptan (Zomig)
This version of migraine medications are Triptans that target serotonin receptors. These drugs cause constriction of blood vessels and bring about a general interruption in the chain of chemical events that lead to a migraine. They don’t stop other migraines, but they will help the pain of one that has already occurred.
Let me say this about these medications. They are miraculous, but they will break your bank account. Some are 15 dollars a pill. So, if you are getting a great deal of migraines, you won’t be getting a great deal at the pharmacy. The way to go is to find preventative or prophylactic medication instead, which are also expensive, but not nearly as expensive as these meds.
There are other versions of drugs used to help prevent migraines. These are:
Calcium channel blockers:
- Amitriptyline (Elavil)
- Nortriptyline (Nortriptyline Hydrochloride, Nortriptyline Hydrochloride Oral Solution,Pamelor)
When I began to experience 3-4 migraines a week, I went to the neurologist. He prescribed a beta-blocker. This made my heart feel like it was going to come out of my chest. I couldn’t stay on the drug, no matter if it was going to help my headaches or not. Though this kind of drug did not help me, it has helped many people with migraines.
The next drug I tried was an antiseizure medication, which was Topamax or the generic Topiramate. This medication is a prophylactic med, which means that you take it every day no matter if you get a migraine or not. The cost is $32 a month if you take 2 tablets a day or $16 a month if you take one tablet. You do the math. For many months, I took 2 tablets, but I am down to 1 tablet now.
Topamax was the first medication that really helped. I believe in one year of taking it, I only got 2 migraines. I felt as if the med had given me my life back. And for that, I will be ever thankful for the doctor at Vanderbilt who prescribed it.
I have also taken Amitriptyline, but not for migraines. There is a group ofgastroenterologists who believe that this drug in very small doses helps IBS and digestive problems that occur from the body digesting food too quickly. In other words, Amitriptyline in small dosages (25mg a day) can greatly help IBS patients not get diarreah. I have shared this with many clients who have had great results.
The last thing I want to add that really helped me was a book called: “Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World” by Sharon Heller. This book describes an illness called Sensory Defensiveness, which means there are people who can be over stimulated by sound, light, taste, people, and touch. These people are generally migraineurs. Heller takes you through ways to overcome over stimulation.
I truly hope this information helps someone. If you know a person who suffers with any of the above illnesses, please share the information.