Ten Things That Didn't Cure My Migraines

3 years ago

I feel like every third woman I meet gets her the migraines, and I’m starting to get suspicious. Did they put something in our lip gloss when we were teens or something? Were the pages of Judy Blume books filled with some chemical that’s affecting our heads now? I don’t know. And I’d still read “Forever” all over again, even if that were the case. What I do know is I’ve tried every ludicrous thing you can think of to get rid of these ding-dang migraines, including:

Image Credit: klueske

1. Biofeedback. I went to this place where they hooked my head up to wires and made me picture myself with a white light coming out of my head. Or maybe it was supposed to be going into my head. I forget. White light was doing something somewhere, but really all I wanted to do was go to the light, so bored was I with this technique that helped me not at all. I do recall that I was getting biofeedback when the O.J. trial reached its dramatic conclusion, and I stood in the employee lounge with electrodes sticking out my head to hear the verdict.

2. Acupuncture. This also did not help, but I tried it for a long time because I cannot begin to describe for you how cool it felt the first time I got the needles put in — which, by the way, don’t hurt and have the thickness of a cat whisker. Not that you probably go around poking yourself with cat whiskers, and if you do, I’d really like to hear what exactly is wrong with you. My point is, they put the needles in, and I felt this … whooshing all through my body. It was so odd. And I figure acupuncture’s been around 2,500 years. There has to be something to it, right? But my migraines raged on.

3. Chinese herbs. I took these little white pellets that looked like I was popping white rabbit poop. I also drank tea that you had to ingest when it was lukewarm, and although it tasted horrific, I felt fantastic afterward. I had the energy of a thousand suns. And? Migraines.

4. Meditation. I’ve done group meditation, transcendental meditation, guided meditations and one thing I can meditate on is that I ... STILL HAVE FREAKING MIGRAINES.

5. Running. I heard that exercise helps, as long as you don’t exercise when you have a migraine. I trained for a marathon and my then-husband noticed I had fewer headaches when I got into serious training. He was right. But I’m not able to run 20+ miles a week anymore, which is the only time I saw any effect from exercise.

6. Noting my triggers. I went to a headache doctor, who made me keep a diary, and for me, what causes my migraines are disturbances in sleep (like if I have to get up earlier than usual), MSG (which hides in everything under sneaky names like "modified food starch"), crying and hormones. So if I have a completely predictable life, stop eating pretty much everything but lettuce, have a sex change and stop with those pesky emotions, I’m all set.

7. Botox. I already get that Panama Canal wrinkle between my eyebrows shot up with the Botox as it is, so once I had the doctor give me Botox in my temples, because that’s supposed to help. Guess what. Migraines. But my temples have never looked younger than they did for those three months.

8. Nerve block shots. At a headache clinic, a doctor had me lie facedown on a paper-covered table while he injected my neck and head with 20–30 shots. He told me I might start to feel “a little nausea.” I had an impressive 30-year no-barf streak going, so I wasn’t too worried. Somewhere at about shot number 15, I felt this WOOMP! There it was. Like when you turn on the flame in a gas stove. WOOMP! Nausea consumed me. “Honey! You are green!” said the nurse as I raised my head from the table, leaving a sweaty Shroud of Turin of my face on the paper. The shots were stopped. And? I still had migraines. But I sure was able to move my neck really well for a few weeks.

9. Good old American drugs. I’ve taken a slew of prescriptions for my migraines, and they usually work, but then give me a whole new headache the next day, which is a common drawback. So if I get into one of my spells, where I have a headache day after day, eventually I have to just tough one out and take no drugs, or that rebound effect will keep happening. I know that bad headaches aren’t the end of the world. But those times I have to ride out a migraine for 24 hours? I am not what you’d call happy. I think of my great-grandmother, who had zero drugs, who used to lie in bed for three days with migraines. So thank you, pharmaceutical industry, for even the flawed drugs.

I’ve also taken preventative meds that keep migraines from happening, and they worked beautifully on headaches, but they caused me to lose about 20 IQ points. I remember standing open-mouthed in the shower, looking at the shampoo and conditioner, feeling baffled by what thing came first. So I have a choice: having headaches or becoming Forrest Gump. Without the money. Or Robin Wright.

10. Drug trials. I have participated in a few studies, and I took one medication that worked miraculously well. It was a double-blind study and I thought it’d be just like me to fall for a placebo, but it turns out I did in fact have real medication while I did the trial. Now I just have to wait five years for them to put it on the market. Yay!

So, my conclusion is that I am stuck with migraines until menopause, and maybe even after menopause. But there are worse things. I could be someone who sticks herself with cat whiskers and pops white rabbit poop.

Originally published on Purple Clover

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