What’s it like to live with awful, chronic migraines? The kind that affect your school work, your friendships, and your career choices? That’s what Stephanie lived with for 23 years – till her mom mentioned a treatment in passing. This is her story.
The pain makes me extremely nauseous and dizzy and I usually end up curled up on the bathroom floor crying, throwing up, pulling at my hair and wondering if I might spontaneously combust. This ‘third stage’ can last for up to three days and I spend most of my time in the bathroom or hiding in a dark and silent room.How old were you when you had your first migraine?
I believe I’ve had migraines since before I could even communicate with the world, but they were officially recognized when I was around 3 or 4 years old.
How did your migraines affect your life?
Although I managed to make it through university it was understood that I wouldn’t be able to live a ‘normal’ life. I typically experienced 1-5 migraines a month and they lasted for up to three days in which I was completely incapacitated.
However, the misunderstanding surrounding migraines was the most difficult part of my situation. Most people don’t consider migraines to be a real disability and expect you to just take an Asprin and get over it.
I had a hard time holding down a job and became tired of trying to explain myself to people who assumed I was just unreliable, dramatic or just straight up crazy.
One of my migraine ‘triggers’ includes emotional changes so I couldn’t let myself become upset, excited or stressed. Having to live like a robot really damaged my social and professional life. Very few people are sympathetic, most are just angry or annoyed that you are taking more time off and missing important events.
What sorts of diagnoses did you receive from doctors? What treatments did you try?
The underlying cause of my migraine attacks has been diagnosed as everything from anorexia/bulimia and depression to brain cancer and a variety of other diseases. Most of my life has been spent in a doctors’ offices, in pain or in fear of being diagnosed with something else.
I have tried every conventional migraine medication including prescription pain killers and treatments, lifestyle changes, hormonal birth control and homeopathic remedies. I have eliminated just about every type of food from my diet for a lengthy period of time and even tried some crazy remedies such as standing on my head for hours to ‘assist blood flow to my brain’.
What finally worked for you?
Several months ago my mom suggested I try taking a magnesium supplement as she had read that it was helping some chronic migraine sufferers.
I had very little confidence in the idea since I was already taking a multi-vitamin but I tried it anyway. Magnesium is natural and definitely not as scary as some prescription pain medications. In the first month of taking magnesium the pain and frequency of my migraines dramatically decreased. By the third month I barely experienced a mild headache!
True magnesium deficiencies are difficult to diagnose and often overlooked, but new research has been revealing a definite link to chronic migraines. Of course I can’t speak for everyone, but magnesium really helped me.
How is your life different now?
I feel like for the first time in my life, I actually have a chance to live. I’m going back to school, getting back out into the world and looking
forward to having a real job. Life used to be a painful curse to me, and I sometimes wished something would take me out of my misery.
Migraines will always be a part of my life, but so far I’ve been migraine free for several months! That is something I can live with. I am so thankful I can’t even describe it.
What advice would you give to others who are suffering from un-diagnosed health issues?
Never stop looking for an answer or relief from your condition, new research and treatments are being discovered every day! Also, don’t always accept the first diagnoses or treatment plan you are given, especially if you are uncomfortable with it or if the side effects are unbearable.
There is no shame in asking for a second, third, fourth or even tenth opinion if you feel something isn’t right. Don’t let anyone downplay how you feel or accept that it is ‘all in your head.’ I guarantee that you are not alone and that someone will understand.
Do any of you have migraines? Or suffer from an undiagnosable health problem?