As part of the Migraine Explained series, I wanted to share some stories of the people that struggle with Migraines. I tell my story on this blog but I want to give other perspectives of the disease as well. So, Occasionally, I will be having a guest writer that will share their Chronic Migraine story.
Julie’s Chronic Migraine Story
I’ve been living with Chronic Migraine for over 23 years. I was diagnosed with migraines when my youngest son was one years old, while living in Phoenix, Arizona. At this time, I was referred to a neurologist by my primary doctor. During the first year, my neurologist blamed my migraines on being an overwhelmed, working mom of three sons under the age of seven. Not until the second year of suffering did she diagnose me with Chronic Migraine.
Migraine Tracking and Triggers
Over these last 22 years, I’ve kept journals of all my daily symptoms, medications, treatments, triggers and what I’m absolutely not going to try.
My Migraine triggers are tuna, hot dogs, processed meats, chocolate, Chinese food & avocados (but I love avocado so I will prepare to get a migraine; worth it). I use to be able to enjoy a glass or two of wine but over the last 5 years I absolutely cannot tolerate it. I can have an occasional beer, margarita or a Mimosa.
Migraine Treatments that Didn’t Help
Early on, I was prescribed Topamax ; but the side effects were horrible (It’s on my DO NOT TAKE list). After four rounds of Botox Therapy, it did not help me. I did however end up with droopy eyelids for over a year.
I started taking Aimovig for 4 months, but it made my already chronic migraines worse. My doctors switched over to Ajovy and so far so good. I will be taking my 3rd shot March 25th.
Maxalt worked and was my #1 choice but the insurance company stopped covering it.
Current Migraine Treatment
I’ve am currently taking Imitrex with no side effects. Also I’m prescribed Sumavel DosePro auto needleless injection, Amitriptyline, Promethazine, Zofran, Fioricet, Meclizine (for severe vertigo) and Xanax. I take Benadryl daily as well.
After the new drug, Aimovig did not help, my doctors switched over to another new drug that recently became available called Ajovy. So far, this new CGRP drug is helping and I will be taking my third shot in a few days.
I have been going to a Pain Management Doctor since 2016. They are treating me with monthly injections, nerve blocks and Radiofrequency Ablation. The areas I get these procedures done are lower back, neck, shoulders, scalp/head and face.
What my Migraines are Like
My chronic migraines can present with different levels of pain and symptoms every day. I can function when I have a level five to seven migraine and Fioricet has been my lifesaver for these times. When I have a level eight or nine, it becomes very difficult to function. The best thing I can do during these times is to stay in my cold, dark bedroom.It is never too late to live a dream. It is never to late to fight through chronic illness and give back to others. ~Julie Davis
My Experience with Migraine and the Emergency Room
A full blown migraine will sometimes hit suddenly and may last up to 4 days and then I go to the Emergency Room. I have been blessed that when I go to the Emergency Room, I am treated with respect and most of the time, the staff acknowledges what the best ” migraine cocktail” helps me.
Sometimes there is a protocol that the ER has to treat me with, before going to the preferred “migraine cocktail” I require. Just in case, I have a copy of the written documentation I keep in my phone notes to show the ER doctor what is the best ” migraine cocktail” for me, as per my doctor’s orders.
Another Challenge Added
In February 2018, I was diagnosed with facial Shingles. Two weeks after I was also diagnosed with Postherpetic Neuralgia, a painful chronic condition that can occur following shingles.
My doctors all felt so extremely bad for me, when I got facial shingles. Not only am I dealing with chronic migraines, but now got attacked with facial shingles and nerve damage to my face.
My Support System
With Chronic Migraine and chronic nerve pain, it is only obvious that depression sets in. There are many days I withdraw from wanting to see others.
My husband often feels helpless but he is a great support to me. I have a great support system; my husband of 33 years, 3 wonderful young adult sons, great friendships, a loving sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law and recently an adorable grandson (my first).
A New Adventure!
I have always been the one that wears many hats and keeps everything going. I am also the one that wants my loved ones to come first and to be happy. This year, I have taken baby steps and starting to place myself first and taking time for “ME”.
On December 31st, 2018, after being on medical leave all year, I resigned from my high paying and highly stressful job. I found a job closer to home, that is part-time and not as stressful.
Also, starting in May with the financial support of my oldest son, I am going to start school. It’s a 9 month course, in Esthetics and I will become a licensed Esthetician. With the encouragement of several family members and close friends, I think I will be successful at this profession. I feel like I could be very helpful with those that suffer with chronic pain and migraines. I do feel as if it’s giving me a purpose and I feel a new adventure is just what I need.
Migraine Can Be Hereditary
Sadly, my middle son gets migraines as well. He was diagnosed at age 5. It started with him getting car sick. Shortly after, I realized his symptoms were like mine.
I always had to carry an emergency pack for him, in the car and in my purse. When he went to kindergarten , I had to make sure the emergency pack was in his backpack. This contained the dissolving maxalt tablets & his dissolving zofran tabs too.
I got a call from the school nurse that he could not keep any medication in his backpack because all prescription medication had to be kept in the nurse’s office. I drove down to the school and explained that with migraines my son had to have access to those medications within minutes otherwise he could become ill quickly. They fought and argued but I finally got them to agree.
My Hopes for the Future
Please keep me in your prayers as I start on a new adventure. I hope that I can bring relief and treatments to those that suffer when I become a licensed Esthetician. It is never too late to live a dream. It is never to late to fight through chronic illness and give back to others.
I want to thank Julie for sharing her Migraine Life on The Frozen Mind. It has been a pleasure helping her tell her story. I want to wish her the best of luck with school and her new adventure. She will be able to provide much needed help to those that are also struggling with Migraine as well as facial nerve pain.
Migraine Explained Articles:
- Migraine Explained: Cognitive Dysfunction
- Migraine Explained: Migraine Triggers
- Migraine Explained: Season Change
- Migraine Explained: Allodynia
- Migraine Explained: Status Migrainosus
Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information and first hand accounts about a serious medical condition. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice.