Everyone that experiences Chronic Migraine Disease and other Chronic Pain Diseases, know all too well that along the long and bumpy road of Medical Care and Self-Help, there will be many stumbling blocks and pot-holes that we come across and must find a way to navigate and deal with these issues. For us seasoned Veterans in this ongoing war we should be use to these setbacks, and we do expect them and for the most part we can get around them pretty well. But once in a while you get thrown for a loop and try to struggle to recover and march on. Or rather, ease on down this long and difficult road.
For those of us who suffer this disease there are many Comorbid Conditions that go hand-in-hand with Chronic Migraine. It could be Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, PTSD, IBS, Lupus, Lyme. I could just go on with many other devastating diseases but want to focus on my key issues for now. Chronic Migraine Disease, Fibromyalgia and Depression. I have a few others but these right now are my main areas of concern/problems.
As most of you know by now that have followed me, I have suffered Migraines for over 25 years. They started out as Episodic and turned Chronic in 2010. I get them daily and no matter how many identified triggers (of which my list seems to grow in leaps and bounds lately) and alternative therapies I use in conjunction with Medical Care and Medications, there seems to be no relief.
Since 2006 I’ve seen 4 Neurologists, 2 Gynecologists, and 2 GP’s. All this time I have always complained about constant neck pain. I’ve actually had neck pain longer than that. I was in a car accident in the mid 80’s where I suffered whiplash from being rear-ended by a negligent driver. At the time they didn’t think it was serious and through the years I sought Chiropractic care that would temporarily help the problem but it never eliminated it. It would always come back a day or 2 after treatment and even with my doing cervical exercises at home and neck strengthening exercises, to no avail the pain persisted slowly getting worse over the years. For about the past 10 years I would hear crunching in my neck when I would rotate it and I could never fully rotate my neck to the LH side as it would hurt and pull, becoming more painful the further I’d rotate, to where eventually it felt “stuck” as it would not rotate further. My rotation to the RH side was not impeded. I did have a great Chiropractor in Bridgman that did take the time to x-ray my neck and showed it curved the opposite way of what it should. She worked tirelessly on my neck, doing accupressure and trigger point stimulation. It was feeling a little bit better and sadly this Chiropractor moved away and I could no longer get the care I was accustomed to. Good Chiropractors are hard to come by, as is Medical doctors.
About 8-10 years ago I suffered an injury to my shoulder. I suffered a small tear in my rotor cuff as a result of falling down my basement stairs on my back all the way down the entire length. I unwittingly put my LH arm up and out to try to stop my descent and that arm ended up being twisted behind me. Stupid me thought I could go to work as the panic wore off and the adrenaline, I was sitting at my desk and the horrible pain kicked in. I had to leave and get an x-ray and then be referred to an Orthopedic Specialist who gave me Cortisone shot and PT to strengthen my shoulder. The tear was too small for surgery but big enough to require injections, which were pretty painful. I’ve had those before in my hip for Bursitis and in both heels for heel spurs and those didn’t hurt. But the one in the shoulder hurt like a son of a hockey puck!! I had prescription Motrin to help w/the pain.
All during this time I was a guinea pig trying all kinds of medications and alternative and traditional therapies for Migraine Prevention and treatment. No combination seems to have helped so far. And all this time I still complained about neck pain but it was always glossed over and ignored. I was told “oh, it’s a part of the migraines-the migraines are causing it. I let it pass, like a fool. About a month ago after having a really bad experience with my current Headache Specialist who is a Neurologist, I sought out the help of a Pain Management Specialist. I was desperate. The neck pain was getting worse, even though I’m currently in PT and they assigned me a home cervical traction device that helps only temporarily. This doctor finally took my neck pain complaints seriously and ordered an MRI. I got my results last week and I have DDD-Degenerative Disk Disease in my 4th and 5th Vertebrae. I have arthritis settling in as well. I have some spurring and cartilage missing. And also the jack hammer ice pick Migraines I was having that no one else would pay attention to-well he finally did and I got a Bilateral Occipital Nerve Block. I was fighting one of those monsters and getting nauseated while waiting to see him on that day. Within seconds of those injections the occipital pain went away as did the nausea. He is waiting to see the results of this step before he will proceed with zapping those nerves. This coming Monday I will get more nerve blocks in my neck-Trigger Point Injections, to help with the neck pain I pray.
But I have suffered another set-back. Even though last week I was finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel, my Depression had to make a rude reappearance, and it made it big time. I thought it was under control with the meditation and other holistic approaches I was taking, but I do believe it started to skid out of control after my lack of care from my recent former Neurologist-he was not available for a major migraine due to medication withdrawal as he didn’t want to be quote “contacted for Migraine emergencies on a Friday” unquote from his answering service. And I refuse to go to the ER with a migraine and be treated like a drug seeking addict. So I had a major meltdown in front of my husband and daughter. Up until that point they never took the pain I was having serious until that night. I was at the end of my rope with all the chronic, improperly treated Occipital Migraines and neck pain. Even though this new doctor is helping this Depression is not letting up and seems to have gotten worse. With the Fibro and CFS the Insomnia has been really bad again. To the point I’m getting more forgetful, more clumsy, more touchy and more in the dumps. I can’t shake it off. When chronic Insomnia builds up it really damages the psyche over time.
When you are down and in your weakest point emotionally and physically, it’s easy for the dark thoughts to take over and crowd your mind. If the Depression is left untreated it can become really dangerous, especially if one has a history of entertaining thoughts of ending it all because the fight is too hard to maintain over a long period of time, and you just get battle weary. Battle fatigue sets in along with the chronic fatigue and pair that with poor medical care and poor pain management, well that is like throwing gas on a raging inferno if left untreated and unrecognized. After dealing with this for so long you think I would know better by now, but the subconscious mind is very powerful and oftentimes hard to break free from. And I don’t care how religious you are, until you suffer the unrelenting pain of horrible daily Migraines, if you haven’t been there you have no idea and have no right to judge that a person is not “Christian” enough to battle the demons of Depression. Support groups are essential for those in Chronic Pain. But recognizing and validating the pain someone is going through is sometimes better medicine than you could ever imagine.
The Social Stigma for Chronic Migraine Disease, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and importantly Depression has got to be put to an end! It’s the stigma and public perception, as well as the poorly educated Medical Profession, that makes people become more desperate and sink deeper into despair.
And if left unchecked and untreated it is an all-consuming anguish that some people think the only escape from the pain is to end it all. They cannot focus on other people or their “religion” because the pain is too severe and all-consuming. And if you have bad doctors who are not there when you need them the most, and no support from family and friends, you are more of an outcast than someone that has Leprosy. Getting people to understand that these “Invisible Illnesses” are real, legitimate and not just “in your head” is so vitally important. I know I can talk until I’m blue in the face to people, especially family and friends, but to no avail I get a blank stare and then get “unsolicited” advice on what I should try when in all due respect I’ve more than likely tried it more than once already in the past 25 years!! So please don’t tell me something I already know. I’ve been to a so-called “Headache Clinic” in the past and they do the same that all the other doctors do-turn you into a guinea pig and just experiment with different drugs. I was told to go to Mayo Clinic, but they don’t have the answers either. Why do you think they were partners in the launch of the current campaign :36 Million Migraine Campaign. Check out their YouTube video at this link:
And check out the official website link here:
I was so happy when I saw this on the National News when it was first launched with Cindy McCain, also a long-time Chronic Migraine Sufferer. This will hopefully bring more awareness, education and much needed funding to further develop Migraine Treatments. But also so that we can be treated with more respect and not less than 2nd class citizens.
If you know of anyone suffering Chronic Migraine Disease and think they are suffering un-Diagnosed Depression, or even if it is diagnosed, PLEASE do not tell them to “snap out of it” or “it’s all in your head”. You are just adding to the burden and the ostracism they are experiencing and will cast them further into that dark abysses of despair and desperation. It could very well add fuel to tragic thoughts they are thinking. When someone is Depressed and contemplating suicide it’s not a chicken way out, and they are not thinking what it will do to those that are left behind. They are too consumed with pain, anguish, untreated suffering and unrelenting Depression. They are not thinking like a normal healthy person because they are NOT healthy and may not be for quite some time. Not until they find a cure or better medication for this Neurological Disease. Please have empathy for us who suffer sometimes in silence. And offer a helping hand, not medical advice. But best of all be a friend in time of need and do not pass judgment. In reality all too sadly those who are in deep despair internalize their deepest thoughts and keep them hidden so as not to be labeled “Psycho” or “Psychotic”” or “crazy”. It can have tragic consequences. Just recently the Chronic Migraine Community lost yet another beautiful soul to suicide. We have to work to eliminate the stigma of Chronic Migraine Disease, Chronic Pain Sufferers-all those who have an Invisible Illness are ostracized and stigmatized and scared to speak up. Some are afraid of being locked up and institutionalized. Please don’t add to this stigma anymore and please help us fight to bring theses diseases to light and get rid of Stigmas.
|Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255||National Suicide Prevention Lifeline|