Journal of Migraine Sufferers

This is Isaac Perez from Madrid, Spain. I have discovered your WEB page on internet and I want to thank you for this wonderful iniciative. I have been suffering migraine since I was 15. It has changed during the time. First they were hard crisis every one month. I visited several doctors and after the rutinary checks they always reached to the same conclusion: migraine is a congenit ill (my mother) and there is no medical solution apart from having analgesics. So I start having aspirins, fiorinal/codeine, dololgial, tylenol, etc. Every time I needed more dosis and stronger medication. One year ago (I am now 38) I reached the limit: I had two fiorinals every day. So I deciced to visit the best specialist here in Spain (image the fees not covered by the social-security!). His theory is that the migraine is related to the internal flow of serotonine. The analgesics disturb this flow and provoque more frecuent crisis with less intensity. His treatment was to suppress analgesics and to have preventive medication: Orudis-Retard, Flerudin (to block calcium), and Imigran(sumatriptan) to abort migraine episodies. This treatment seems to work at the begining; I had less crisis but they were more severe. The Imigran never relief the pain. I supressed the preventive medication two months ago and the crisis are becaming more frecuent (one per week). At this pesimistic situation is very helpful to find your journal of migraine sufferers and realize that there is more people in the same situation trying to get ride of it. Thanks and do not hesitate to contact me for any reason!

---Isaac Perez

I'm a 49-year-old male who began having migraines when I was 30. There are definite triggers for me, which include a combination of stress and certain foods such as pizza, tomatoes, cheese, beer, wine, etc. I am very sensitive to light and sound. I prefer a dark, quiet room and a heating pad for my head. My headaches are usually on the right side of my head, normally radiating from my eye back to my ear. Some times they are on the left side, and there have been a few times when the migraine has actually switched sides and continued (one of the worst I ever had).

In the beginning, my headaches came only about every two to three months. I'd usually go to my family doctor (or doc-in-a-box on weekends) for an injection to help me sleep through it. My headaches became more frequent in the early 1980s and I finally sought help from a neurologist. The first preventative I tried was Inderal. It worked well as the doctor gradually increased the dosage over a two-year period, and my headaches went back to a major head-banger about once every two to three months. My neurologist said his goal was to completely eliminate my headaches. So, he jacked up the Inderal dosage. No headaches, but it made me impotent. When I complained, he switched me to Calan. That worked OK for a couple of years, but again my headaches gradually began to increase in frequency and severity. Along the way, I've had prescriptions for cafergot (very early on), fironal with codeine (worked well early but tapered off) and nembutal (simply to put me to sleep). Imitrex injections (not tablets) will always knock out my headaches, but often they will return within six to eight hours. At times, it has taken 3-4 Imitrex injections over a 48-hour period to control a migraine. Stadol made me feel very very wierd, made me vomit and did nothing for my headache. Paxil (which I began a year ago) has helped reduce the frequency and severity of my migraines, but nothing has worked like Depakote. My neurologist started me on Depakote (1,000 mg daily) in December, along with 10mg Paxil, and my headaches have virtually disappeared. Until I began Depakote, I was having two to three migraines per week. Since December, I've had two very mild migraines. The only problem is Depakote has caused me to gain about 15 pounds. One of the problems with begin a migraine sufferer is that most people have no sympathy because they equate migraines with just "a bad headache." For me, it's far more than just the pain. It's the total debilitating effect that leaves me mentally and physically exhausted from two-three-day bout with a migraine. I am grateful that progress has been made (development of Imitrex) and that more attention is being focused on migraines. I inherited migraines from my mother and have passed them on to at least one of my daughters.

I am a 36 year old male. I have been getting migraines since I was about 15 years old. I had few migraines throughout high school, but was relatively migraine free thoughout my 20's. However I haven't been as lucky during my 30's. In the past 3 years I have had approximately 20 episodes of migraine.

I tend to get an aura before the actual migraine sets in. My field of vision becomes fragmented, similar to looking through a kaleidoscope. I also get a numbness in my fingers or sometimes in my mouth. I often have a difficult time "thinking" during the aura period. I don't no if this is caused by my anxiety or the headache itself. I am actually relieved when the pain in my head starts, because I know the aura part is over.

I also know I have a migraine, because it hurts if I shake my head. I have been taking Imitrex injections, but I hate to give myself the shots (chicken). I tend to wait until the migraine is in full bloom, before I give myself the shot (dumb). I recently began taking the tablet form of Imitrex.

On the positive side, the Imitrex seems to prevent what I use to call migraine hangover, I would feel out of sorts for a few days after a migraine. With the Imitrex I don't feel that way. One thing I am curious about is whether anybody else tends to be obsessed with migraine. I know that after I have a headache, it is all I can think about for days, sometimes weeks. If anybody as a solution please let me know.


P.S. Exercise seems to help after the migraine.

What a joy to find your page! It seems I have had migrianes for more years that I care to count. Until recently, most doctors discounted the symptoms as associated with PMS. But through a long process of keeping a food diary, I found that my migraines were mostly associated with cured meats, chocolate, and red dye #40. This has made it very important to read food labels. It is unbelievable the amount of red #40 that is used in packaged foods. I have had the best results with IMITREX(shot form) than anyother medications. Many people who do not suffer from such PAIN have little understanding or patience with those of us who do. Thank you for this page and wonderful information.

I am a 32 year old female and have had the "normal" type of migraine for years. They generally happen once a year at the most, and really aren't that bad. However, for the last few months I've been having a kind of migraine which a co-sufferer calls "icepick migraine". I have between one and ten a day. They last between 15 seconds and 30 minutes long and are far more painful than a regular migraine - painful to the point that I was contemplating suicide a few weeks ago. I have no warning that they are going to appear - no aura or "northern lights in my head" as I get from my regular migraine. They just start and feel like a red-hot icepick of burning acid right above my right temple. They go away as suddenly as they start - often leaving blurry vision in the left eye and pain and numbness in the left arm, shoulder and chest. Before seeing a neurologist, I was given numerous ECGs, as the doctors thought the pain in the arm and chest could be cardiac. Apparently not, though. I have normal blood pressure and a normal ECG even when an episode is in progress.

Sometimes during the headaches I become unconscious and lose control of my bladder and bowels. (Not nice when you're at work!) I've had a CT scan and numerous EEGs and no abnormalities were found. The doctor has prescribed me Paxil, which is similar to Prozac, and I hope that it can give me some relief, but it hasn't yet.

Does anyone else have a similar type of head pain? I'd like to hear what has helped/not helped you and what you have done to help yourself re: diet.

---Charlene Vickers

Well here is my story about migraine. It's a little long and I hope you don't mind. Also you'll have to excuse my english...I'm french! Here it goes. The women in my familly have had migraines for generations. My mom has them, my grandmother, my great grandmother and also we have found letters from my great great grandmother describing the same headaches.

Ours are related to our mestrual cycles (a bit before, during and a little after for some of us) and generally stop when we are pregnant or when we menopause. Since medecine isn't very advandce in hormonal knowledge and specially not for women's problems, we had to search elsewhere.

I also went, like you Ronda, through all kinds of test and scans when I started having them (around the time I started menstruating) but have been told that : it's all in my head, that its psychological, that there is nothing wrong with me and so forth. Conventional medecine is a little lost with migraine sufferers.

One thing that really helped relieve the pain (and sometimes even take it away when it is taken at the very beggining of a migraine - when it's not too too bad just yet) is a pill called fiorinal. It comes in 15 mg-co (which is called fiorinal 1/4) and comes in 30 mg-co (which is called fiorinal 1/2). I used the fiorinal1/2 and it does help. It's a drag to take pills you'll say but hey...anything to stop the pain, cause let's face it sometimes you think you are going to loose your mind it hurts so much. I believe a pill will do less harm to your body than the stress you are putting it under with 8, 12 or 18 hours of constant pain. It all depends on how you look at it I guess.

My mother has taken them for a long time and now she has discovered another pill that works miracles for her (doesn't do anything for me, but they say it works on 70% of migraine sufferers only). The new pill is called Imitrex. It's extremely expensive and can't be mixed with certain other medication, The advantage of Imitrex (if it works for you) is that there is no side effect - no drowsiness and no upset stomach.

I researched a lot about migraines and I've tried many things. Two things have helped me a lot too and they are alternative medecines. First is osteopathy, which is a kind of physio but very very gentle. The other is homeopathy, which uses your own body chemicals to fight whatever you have. Both medecines are used in Europe a lot. The only problem is that since it's fairly new around the US and Canada there is a lot of people claiming to be good at it who are a waste of time and money. I guess it's the same in other medecine (you have good doctors and bad doctors, good dentiste and bad ones too) but it's harder to detect in alternative medecine. The thing to look at when you are shoping for a good osteopathe is : experience (they have been doing it for a long time and have a good clientele) and respect (for you the patient). osteopathie is a VERY gentle medecine and it does miracles when well pratice.

For the homeopathe it takes a little longer to see results. I've gone to 3 homeopathes (in 10 years) and finally I have found one who is amazing. She has actually reduced the frequency and the intensity of my migraines by 1/2!!! she is the only person that has really help me so far. I'm very lucky to have found her. Maybe I could ask if she knows any good homeopathe in the US?

There are some people who have migraines because of allergies (food or others). I know that the main causes of food allergies that trigers a migraine are : red wine, chocolate, cold cuts (meat), coffee, old cheeses, and I'm sure they are others.

If you can "catch" the migraines in time, if you can recognize the pain starting to creep up (usually in the neck, sometimes around the eyes, etc..) and if you take a fiorianal right away, chances are the migraine will be easier to deal with. The worst one (for me) are the migraine that starts in the night and when I wake...its there to stay, it's already very painful and the pills just takes the edges off (which is already better then nothing). When I had those, I used to not be able to move, or talk and I'd have to be in total darkness. I remember wanting to die. Also wanting to cry but couldn't cause the pain would have been worse. This women really helped me and now when I have one, I can't run around but I don't have to be immobilized. I stay quiet but I can talk and do certain things.

Migraines have many causees. It could also be because of a strain in the body (car accidents or a fall are often the causes) and that's were a osteopathe (a good one of course) can really help. But that's yet another story and I've taken enough of your time already so...

I hope I didn't bore you and that I could help a little! Sorry again for the terrible english, I hope I'm making my point accros anyway?

Keep up the good work and let's pray for a fast and easy cure for all migraines!

---Caroline Sˇguin

I am 32 years old and have been suffering from diagnosed migraines for the last 3 years. Prior to the first major migraine 3 years ago, I had headaches in my youth that now, with more information, I believe were also migraines.

The time lapse between my migraines when I was younger were years - I remember one when I was 11 years old, around 15 years old and then a couple during college in my early twenties. I would just shut myself up in a dark room and suffer.

3 years ago I had an episode only a few hours after eating some heavily MSG and fat laden Chinese food. I thought I was dying. I had no idea what was happening. My vision went and I was numb in my hands, feet and mouth.

There was about a year lapse between the first migraine, which sent me to the emergency room and a shot of demoral, and the next, which had the same symptoms. I then went to a neurologist who put me on blood pressure medication (no help and totally weirded me out). For the past year, the migraines are getting closer together - sometimes within a week of each other.

I have been coping and learning to watch the signs. I have a lot of stress with my job and find that my migraines almost always happen on a Friday. The vision aura is the first clue and, if I get the butalbital in before the numbness starts, I can cut short some of the really bad pain. If I am overly stressed and then have a trigger food, like wine, cheese, or pizza, I can count on a migraine.

I am learning how to deal with the migraines though my own self education. My neurologist did nothing to help and I am now looking for one who is not condescending and who empowers his/her patients and listens to their concerns, needs and ideas. I had an epidural when I delivered my daughter almost 4 years ago and wonder if that, or a car accident 1.5 years ago, have triggered my migraines to be more frequent. I do know that migraines run in my dad's family and depression in my mom's so I feel like it's in the bag - unavoidable.

---Ali Perry in Mountain View, CA ali.perry@Sun.COM

I am 17 years old. I haven't been to the doctor because I know what they'll tell me. I know I have migraines. Everything I hear about them is what I get. It starts with me fading out and getting really dizzy. I can barely stand up. And then on one side of my head I get the worst pain like someone sticking a knife through the side of my head. This lasts for as long as two or three days. During this I can't sleep at all because the pain is so intense. I would like for someone to e-mail me and tell me what is the best treatment. I would give anything for this to go away.