Star Trek: Generations: What role do Migraine/Headache Disorders play
in your family history? Do others live with it? Does this make a difference in
how you talk about it?
I have inherited the genetic makeup from my parents for Migraine Disease. My dad had them when he was young, before his teen years, but in that age they called them “Sick Headaches“. He would get the horrible pain in the head and sick at his stomach. He said after he would throw up he’d start to feel better and slowly it would fade away and be gone the next day. He said he stopped having them when he became a teen. My mother developed Migraines during her Pre-Menopause and during Menopause stage of life. She started early in her mid to late 40’s. I do remember going over to visit (I had moved out then as I was married in ’82) and she’d be in a dark room we called The Den with wet wash cloths, ice pack and at that time the only thing they prescribed for her head pain was Darvocet. It didn’t work very well for her and sometimes she would get very nauseated and they didn’t give her anything for it. My sister was still home at the time as she is 9 years younger that I am so she witnessed the brunt of it. But it would take my mom a couple of days to fully recover. They didn’t have any information back then on Migraine Preventive, Triggers or Abortive Medication. I started doing some research on my own at that time and they were slowly coming out with possible food triggers and at that time they were only reporting Nitrates and starting to uncover MSG. We would have heated debates over what I told her she could not eat and she would refuse to give up those foods stating “I’ve eaten them all my life and never gave me trouble so why now”? I remember being so frustrated and after a few head-to-head disagreements I gave up. There was no getting through to her. But I did not know I was gathering info that I would later have to use at that time.
My sister started getting Migraines in her teenage years. She was just like mom at the time-would not give up her favorite foods. My family stubbornness runs deep and hard to break sometimes. She still gets them from time to time and I’ve heard her horror stories of trips to the ER for intervention and I vowed I would NEVER go to an ER and be treated that way! I started getting Episodic Migraines in the mid to late 80’s, exact year I’m unsure. It was a couple of years I believe after the birth of my only child in ’85. My 1st one I remember I felt like I was dying, rolling around on the bathroom floor near the toilet. Pure agony and the only thing I had was Excederin. Didn’t touch the pain! Tried Tylenol. Nope, didn’t work either. My parents having experienced them 1st hand and knew the agony I was in-well my dad hopped into the car and drove me over some of my mom’s Darvocet. I know it’s a no-no to share medication but I was so desperate.
A little while after that is when Imitrex 1st came out. Of course my PCP gave me an RX for it and of course as it was a new drug the insurance would not cover it as I found out when I filled it so I had to pay full price for 9 pills. I remember vividly at K-Mart Pharmacy in Niles squeaking out loud to the pharmacy tech ringing up my bill “what, $175.00 are you flipping nuts”???? I was over a barrel and had no choice and paid for it. I think at that point I was debating which is worse-the money or the head pain? I was very stingy with those pills and took them as a last resort, which was not a good idea. But they were just too expensive and could only get them filled once a month. Yep even back then the insurance had limits on what you can fill monthly. In 2010 I became Chronic having Migraines daily at what is now considered my “norm” of a level 5 and I take my abortive med when the pain escalates at least 2 times a week to a 8-9 and sometimes 10. When it’s gotten so bad and nothing will touch it I have gone to the spare bedroom or bathroom and laid on the floor rolling and crying in pain as I still refuse to go to the ER. Just earlier this month for the 1st time I called my Neuro after hours emergency phone number on a Thursday. Never got help after many , many calls until that following Monday when they called me to admit me into the infusion center. The migraine was still raging and I went, but I’m shopping for a new doctor. What kind of doctor would leave a message with his phone service that he will not accept calls on a Friday for Migraine Emergencies when he specializes in Migraines? Go figure.
Things have come a long way since then but the cost of the medications are higher, there is still a really bad Stigma about Migraine as a legitimate disease. Some doctors are still not educated in Headache and Migraine Disorders. Patients still have to research online for alternative treatments, medication options and medical procedures to take to their doctor. More information is available online as they are slowly learning more about this horrible disease. But we need to get the word out about how debilitating this disease is and how many people it affects and get the Stigma taken away from it. It’s not “all in our heads” and it won’t just go away with a OTC med in a majority of cases. It’s a neurological disease that affects the WHOLE body.
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June, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is issued by FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.