Debbie


My name is Debbie and although my first migraines began at 25, I remember suffering from debilitating headaches beginning at age 10. At that time, my mother, a migraineur, told me not to sit so close to the TV, and thought I needed glasses.

Jump forward to 1977: I have a throbbing, right-sided headache, nausea. I am in bed under the covers, just praying the pain would go away. My doctor diagnosed me with sinus headaches. I found that medications with caffeine, a decongestant, and aspirin helped for a while. This went on for years. In 1983 my family doctor finally diagnosed me with migraine. We treated them with ergots and tried propranolol to prevent the attacks, with less than optimal success. Imitrex was a life-saver when it came on the market.

My story gets complicated in 2001 when my migraines became chronic. I have a migraine nearly every day. I have seen 5 neurologists, been hospitalized at a leading headache center, had more MRIs than I can count. I have had trigeminal nerve and trigger point injections and 3 rounds of Botox without success.

I am a “frequent flyer” at the local emergency room. [Tweet this.] Every time I go, I wonder if the doctor on call will believe me and give me enough medicine to end the pain. Some doctors seem to think I am only seeking drugs. I am questioned, poked, prodded, had bright lights shone in my eyes, and given medicine that doesn’t work. My friends give me well-intentioned advice from giving up chicken to trying magnets. Some get miffed if I don’t take their advice, but I can’t chase every so-called cure there is.

In spite of the negatives that having migraine disease brings, there are many bright spots. Right now I have a neurologist who is determined to get my migraines under control. My loving husband is very supportive and will take me to the ER when I need to. He is often a better judge of my pain than I am.

Right now I am convinced that my migraines are here to stay. On the surface, I seem to be less affected than I really am. I decided that unless I am beyond functioning, I will maintain my social life, attend church functions, and exercise. Unfortunately, this backfires when I am really sick. There is one thing I would like: I want to have people know that there is a person behind the pain. [Tweet this.] Instead of asking, “How’s the head? or How’s the headaches,” I would like someone to ask, “How are you? How are you coping right now?” Then I would know that they care.