Friday, August 1, 2008

I’ve suffered from migraines most of my life

Pin It When I say suffered, I mean it.

I can remember being a kid and getting these headaches which were so bad that light seemed to cut through my retina and into my brain with all the intensity of sunburn. One memory I have is when I was in the fifth grade. I was taking part in puppet shows my class was doing for our parents. We’d spent weeks writing scripts, creating Paper Mache puppets, drawing and coloring backdrops, and practicing these plays over and over again.

One of the dads had built a small theatre which the students could hide behind, complete with a cutout “stage” with hooks to hang our various backdrops. I remember that the curtains even worked.

The night of the shows came and I found a migraine coming on. This one was relentless. It was terrible! Only, my teacher didn’t believe that I really had a headache, and wanted me to perform my play with my partner, Daryl. I remember crunching up into a little ball behind the ‘theatre’ and crying. There was just no way, I would never be able to do it.

My teacher was irritated. She was upset to the point that she refused to let me call my parents to get a ride home after the shows were over. I guess she’d felt I’d ruined the evening she’d put together for the parents, and she was determined to make sure that I knew it.

Luckily, my best friend’s mom, Joni, was there and offered me a ride home. The whole way I felt queasy…my stomach turning over and over. Even the slightest bit of light seemed as if it were destroying my insides and racking me with relentless agony.

I threw up.

Luckily, it was halfway out the window and most of it hit the road, however, a portion of it ended up all over the station wagon door.

These were the intensity of headaches I’ve endured my whole life. Usually hours of tormenting pain followed by vomiting. To tell you the truth, I often welcomed the vomiting simply because I knew that the headache would soon leave me, and I’d feel better.

This happened about three times a week while I was growing up.

Now today, as an adult, I still get these migraines. I wish they’d have gone away altogether, but they haven’t. I feel fortunate that they rarely get me to the point where I feel like I am going to throw up anymore—but it still happens sometimes.

So, why am I blogging about this? It seems such an off-the-wall entry. No, I’m not looking for sympathy (though if my mom had taken photos of me vomiting or lying in bed crying I’d probably post them for dramatic effect). I share this with you because I have learned some secrets throughout the years. I’d like to share these with you in the event that they could make you feel better when you have a migraine. However, let it be known that these are not fool-proof and there are things out there which might help out even more than what I am sharing (if you know of any, I’d hope you’d share).

  1. Hot or cold shower and pull your hair (it feels better, don’t ask me why).
  2. Pressure points on the side of your head or between your index finger and thumb.
  3. Put two tennis balls in a sock and lie on your back with the tennis balls under your neck where it hurts. This really does help.
  4. Two Excedrin Migraine and a Dr. Pepper.
  5. Two extra-strength Tylenol and three Advil.

Remedy number 5 I only learned about a few days ago from a friend of mine. She told me that her doctor claimed that it had the strength of a prescription remedy, but could be purchased over-the-counter separately and put together.

I didn’t believe her though…Tylenol never seemed to work for me, and Advil was a joke. My headaches laughed at these.

Tonight I started to get a headache…like a performer waiting in the wings for his cue to take center stage, I could feel it coming on…waiting, patiently waiting. I put off trying a remedy, hoping—perhaps—it would go away on its own.

It didn’t.

I could feel the horrible monster beginning to awaken and move about my head. I decided, for the first time, to try remedy number 5.

It worked.

I couldn’t believe it.

I found myself amazed.

In the space of about 10 minutes, my migraine was completely gone. I could feel it flowing away, like morning dew burned away by the sun.

I am now a believer in the power of two weak things put together for the strength which they have when combined. It is truly a power not to be reckoned with.

When I was a kid, I had to endure the agony because I had no known way to stop it. Now that I’m an adult, I choose to suffer no longer.


Gerb said...

My sis-in-law Christy has migraines pretty much 3 weeks out of each month and recently found out that a teaspoon of Morton's Light Salt in a glass of water has helped them go away. Sometimes it takes 2 glasses, but she says this salt has extra stuff that regular salt doesn't have & that must be what does the trick. So, if #5 ever doesn't work, give it a try.

By the way, your teacher was a jerk.

Danielle said...

Wow. I started having migraines when I was 12, But I don't get them as often as you have. I would get them pretty religiously once a year, then I didn't have one for about 5 years, then I started getting them every few months. I went to the Dr. and he gave me a bunch of sample prescription migraine pills. They work really well. Excedrin and Pepsi could never touch a migraine that I'd get. It start with blind spots, and I couldn't really see, couldn't read anything. Then I get nauseous and throw up. (that's eased up as I got older), then horrible pain that no matter what I do, won't go away. So maybe I'll have to try #5. Once my sample pills run out, I'll have to pay $20 for a single pill. But then again, the relief is worth $20. I feel your pain!

Bee said...

I too suffer from migraines. Two advil and one excedrin will usually nip one as well. This too is a combination found in a prescription.

Also, avoid artificial sweeteners (diet cokes give me one every time), nuts, and certain cheeses. I know, bummer, huh?

Another thing you have to look out for are rebound headaches caused from all the medication you have to take to get rid of the migraines.

Teachinfourth said...

Gerb - Thanks, I always am looking for new things to add to my arsenal of migraine get-riddage. As for the teacher, she was pretty cool a lot of times, she just took some things personally sometimes.

Uncle D - I'm glad they're starting to get a bit better than in years of yore. I know that there is this stuff in Canada called 'Goody Powder' which you put under your tongue and it's supposed to work nearly instant magic.

Bee - Hmmmm...I wonder if that was the combination my friend told me and maybe I wasn't listening to her well enough. Regardless, it worked last night!

Danielle said...

"Goody Powder", huh? Is that the new term for "Coke". HAHAHAHA

Miya said...

FINALLY there's someone who agrees with me when I say that the vomiting is a godsend once you've dealt with the nausea for hours on end! I had a horrible migraine last night, and we finally had to go to the gas station and buy some Excedrin, but by then I felt awful and the pills didn't work that well. I'll have to try that Tylenol/Advil combo though!

Teachinfourth said...

Uncle D - No, if I was to choose something else for the stuff I'd probably call it "Dr. Pepper."

Meem - You're right ,you just don't know unless you've experienced it. I don't know why we sometimes feel the migraine coming on and don't take preemptive actions to stop it...we hope it will simply go away on its own.

Farscaper said...

I think I was born with a headache. I'm lucky that I only seem to get migraines only a dozen or so times a year (it has been increasing with age though).

I've tried all the things on your list. Nearly every time I get one I start praying that I either fall asleep or die. Looks like God doesn't want me yet.

I found that pressing on your upper gums above your front 2 teeth helps. Also pressing just under your nose (on your lip but outside your mouth) can help a bit.

My son's teacher last year suffers from migraines (bad ones like yours). She went to a doc and finally found a connection between her migraines and her heart. She had a hole in her heart. When the school year got out last year she was supposed to have surgery to close that hole. This is the latest theory about the source of chronic migraines. You might want to seriously consider having your heart looked at (by a specialist) to see if this could be your source of pain.

I won't know how her surgery helped her out until I see her again this next school year. She will be teaching special needs 1st grade at the school you will be teaching at. You might get some insight by talking to her sometime.

cari said...

I am blessed to have had only one in my life. I feel for anyone who suffers from them. I'm glad you found something that works for you.

I'm with Gerb. You're teacher was a big fat JERK!

New York Acupuncturist said...

If you regularly suffer from migraines, you should see an acupuncturist. An acupuncture session can stop a migraine if you're in the middle of one and regular treatment can reduce the occurrence and severity of migraines.

jacs said...

i know i told you caffeine with the excedrin was money but i tried something new with corey. he gets about 2 every week and sometimes the nausea is too bad to get enough caffeine by drinking, so i've started giving him 1-2 vivarin to put in his pill case. he said he actually likes it better but he takes it at the first tingle. that and an icepack on the back of his neck or on his forehead helps.

Emily said...

I hate migraines. At the hospital, we use a "cocktail" which is benadryl, an anti-nausea drug, and IV ibuprofen. So, if I feel it coming on I'll take one of two benadryl, ibuprofen/tylenol (the combo you said is ok), and stay in a cold, dark room.

Just remember: Don't take more than 4000mg Tylenol in one day, or it will fry your liver and I'll be seeing you at work :)

Emily said...

Oh yeah. The anti-nausea drug isn't available over the counter, however, the combo of the things I listed usually calms it down so you don't feel as nauseated anyway. Benadryl works to stop the pain, the vessel constriction, as well as make you sleepy, since sleep is often the only thing that can shake people out of it.

Stephen said...

I don't know how I ended up on your blog. Call me a Blog Stalker, I guess. Migraines caught my attention. Tip #5 works wonders for me. One doctor told me that combo is the same as the drug Imitrex. I usually just take 2 extra strength of each. I have had migraines for about 18 years. Not as bad as yours, though. Also, ice cream, popsicles or anything cold will help me, too. As for the pressure points, you can also massage the point on the top of your head towards the back (feel around until you find it) and the point between your eyebrows. (also called the third eye) Massage those two points together for a few minutes and it should start relieving the pressure. I was taught this by two different massage therapists. I have learned enough through the years that I no longer seek medical help for my migraines.
I bet you don't get many random posts like this. Stephen

Teachinfourth said...

FS - Thanks. I'm going to have to try it the next time I get a migraine.

Cari - She was...but only sometimes.

NYA - That kind of makes me nervous...people sticking knitting needles into your body. However, if they continue to be as often as they currently are, I just might do that.

Jacs - The icepack is something I've done numerous times. Love it.

Emmy - You'll have to whip me up one of those delightful drinks so I don't do it wrong.

Stephen - Thanks for stopping by. I think I'll try your remedy the next migraine I get. I actually had one yesterday...wish I'd gotten your comment sooner. Ah well, I'll try it next time. Thanks.

Grafxgurl said...

i have terrible migraines too..throwing up and everything.
it usually helps when i get someone to massage REALLLY hard on my neck at the back, just below the head. Usually an angry person does it perfectly. just the right amount of pressure...
sigh but i do the hair pulling thing too... that and a hotpack.

Lars said...

I suffer from migraines daily, one of those fun genetic traits passed on. I have to see a neurologist for mine due to the fact that OTC remedies don't touch it.

1) Dairy all together will set off migraines.
2) Chocolate too. Actually there is an entire food list of things to avoid but I am not sure where I placed mine (refuse to abide by some of it, such as the cheese.)
3) Temperature inversions can cause them as well so you can prepare by paying close attention to the weather patterns.
4) Staying hydrated usually helps.
5) If all else fails and there is no end in sight, the ER can give you a shot of Toradol in the rear that helps. Next move for me after that is heavy duty pain killers. I have only found one prescription that helps me cope and that was after 6 years of trial and error with a plethora of prescriptions the Neurologist could think of to help.

Sorry this was long, I just can empathize with the discomfort of frequent migraines.

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