I was 24 when I had my first migraine. In the middle of University finals, I thought I was dying. I didn’t think a person could feel so much pain and live. [Tweet this.] For the next two years, the doctors would treat me as though I was over-reacting to a headache. I was resigned to living in the pain that my aunt and mother lived in.

I was a regular in the ER and was given a medication I was allergic to twice and sent into shock. If my then fiancé (now husband) hadn’t been there, I’m sure I would have at least come close to dying, as I was given a med, not hooked up to monitors and left behind a curtain until staff had time between “real patients” to see me. I was never treated seriously because I just had “a headache.”

I was given pain killers and steroids injected into the tendon that connects the neck to the skull. The injection made me scream every time, but it would break a migraine cycle that otherwise lasted up to 45 days. I was given every type of Triptan on the market with no success. My doctor would complain of his frustration as though he were the one in pain. I was a burden to his practice.

Up to this point, the story is typical for many migraine sufferers. Then it all changed. I moved, not knowing that changes in barometric pressure can trigger migraines. I was ok from our move-in date in April until mid-September, living on an acetaminophen and ibuprofen diet. Then I began to get emergency-room migraines again. Finally I found a doctor who took it seriously. Unfortunately, it was almost too late. The migraines began to get what the doctors called “complex,” bringing symptoms such as dizziness, loss of vision and hearing, and palsy. Then one day I was found unconscious in my office at work. Luckily, I worked in brain injury rehabilitation, so my coworkers immediately gave me stroke-tests and sent me to the hospital. I was out of work for six months, being unable to dial a phone due to the palsy, unable to drive due to vision problems, unable to focus, walk properly, go ten minutes without crying, or to exist in a world with lights. I took up to 60 mg of morphine a day to avoid going to the hospital. I was told I had either a brain tumor, an inner ear tumor, MS, or epilepsy. I was told to prepare for a fight. Months of testing (EEG, CT Scan, MRI) resulted in being told I needed to move because the rapid barometric pressure changes were practically killing me.

I moved and was better two days later. I still have migraines, but have found medications that help. I do yoga to avoid tension headaches and regulate my diet and sleep habits. No chocolate, no alcohol and no caffeine. Lots of water. I have a homemade Gatorade recipe to keep me hydrated on hot days. I see an optometrist every six months, as my vision changes often.

It has been a year since I’ve been able to return to work. Many people don’t know that migraines change your hormones, as your pituitary gland reacts to the migraines and performs differently. I gained 40 pounds throughout the ordeal, and my doctor told me that I went through almost a second puberty. I am fighting tears still just remembering the fear and the pain. [Tweet this.]