I have not suffered any permanent disability from these attacks. While they are quite unusual, I'm sure there must be other people who have suffered similar symtoms.
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Sorry about that hassle, I look forward to hearing from you, Angela.
Basically, I have had migraines on and off since I was 15 years of age; I am now 26. I get them about once every 3 months or so. They include the initial visual impairment which I call the electrocuted glow worm effect, followed by extreme headache and body pain including weakness, dizziness and a burning stomach.
I basically have to sleep it off, and for a day or two afterward I feel a little out of it.
I have discovered a natural remedy for my malady - I do not care much for western medicine and its chemically synthesized pharmaceuticals, which tend to damage the body more than help it recover. To me there is a connection between one's physical well-being and their psychological/spiritual well-being. Stress seems to be the primary cause of my migraine spells. Although stress is almost unavoidable, I try to reduce it through meditation nad basically not worrying, along with eating better and practicing something a friend showed me when I get migraines: reflexology. I won't go into detail about this as I am sure you have either heard of it before, or have access to journals on it.
Anyway, 8 times out of 10, this works for me - by basically massaging the inside of my thumb, the pain is reduced and almost disappears. The visual distress still appears, but the side effects are eliminated! I hope this helps!
First of all, for those readers who are wary of Imitrex, I have a couple of suggestions. Try the pill first. It has fewer side effects, and to my knowledge, nobody has reported any significant contraindications. As for the injection, the consensus among medical researchers who I personally know is that it is very safe among people with no history of heart or cardiovascular disease. Negative reactions do occur, but there is evidence that they are often the result of panic or anxiety as many people are unprepared for the sometimes-spooky side effects (the burning sensation up the neck and the tightness across the chest). The side effects seem to be more pronounced in women than men -- possibly because of body weight. To those for whom the injection almost always works, I suggest you discuss with your doctor an idea with which I have begun experimenting: injecting yourself with only half of the sumatriptan in the syringe at a time. The goal is to find the minimum dose of the drug that works in each instance. My migraines vary greatly in both duration and intensity, so it makes no sense to administer a constant dosage across the board. The injection gun is obsolete in this process, of course, so one must learn to perform a manual injection -- talk to a diabetic, it's really no big deal. Sterility MUST be maintained, so BE CAREFUL! Learn about sterile technique.
Also, I would like to comment on the subject lines having to do with the desirability -- and sometimes scarcity -- of narcotic-type pain relievers. Unfortunately, there does seem to be some correlation between alleged Imitrex ineffectiveness and an established fondness for narcotic-type analgesics. I DO NOT imply that Imitrex should work for everyone and that narcotics are not a viable, desirable alternative for some -- perhaps most -- migraine sufferers. But, the unadulterated truth is that the migraine ranks are polluted by a not-insignificant number of fakers and drug dependents, and the healthcare practitioners are well aware of it. I have personal experience with drug dependency, and I want to state unequivocally that narcotic addiction is not only possible, but very likely, among migraine sufferers. I make this seemingly-obvious statement (to some) because of the widespread idea that narcotic addiction is unlikey when administered for "legitimate" pain. My purpose here is not to stigmatize those for whom the opiates give life, but, rather, to encourage migraine sufferers of all types to exhaust all safe non-narcotic alternatives before turning to the opiates. To get an idea of what I'm talking about, attend an NA meeting in your area and ask the participants how many of them began their use of opiates as a result of "chronic" pain. My experience has been that the proportion is high. A personal note here: I have found opiates rather ineffective for my most severe migraines (I have tried literally everything except methadone). Sure, at times I was able to take enough morphine or Percs to completely sedate myself, but is that "giving life?" Let me say that in matters such as these I am a very liberal person -- by and large pro-choice when it comes to drugs. But, unfortunately, I am stricken with a love for the narcotic high (and, yes, narcotic high IS often present even when the drug is used by the letter); thus my continued abstinence from the opiates. I suspect that there are other migraine sufferers like me. It is to you that I am speaking. Deal with your pain in the most beneficial -- not necessarily the most enjoyable -- way. I would like to hear from those who make a proper reading of this posting.
My name is Sabrina. I'm 40 years old and live in Northern California. I've been an asthma sufferer since age 8, and a migraine sufferer since the age of 12. The last five years, however, have proved to be the most grueling for me in terms of migraine. Used to be I would have a migraine once a year, usually on the first day of school. Much as I loved school, I was always stressed out on the first day, mainly because I was a bit of a geek/nerd/book worm, and had trouble fitting in. That was very stressful for me. The symptoms of these headaches were acute throbbing pain at one temple or the other, sometimes extending behind the eye. I would also become extremely nauseous and hypersensitive to smells. Strong perfume would send me gagging to the bathroom, sometimes without a hall pass! I was a well-behaved sort, so this was the only time I got into trouble. By the time I was 17, these headaches stopped, and I never much thought about them after that.
From about age 18 to age 35, drinking was one of my favorite past-times. But as I got older, I noticed that my tolerance for alcohol diminished significantly. I gradually went from one mild hangover a year to several a month. At about age 30, I drastically cut back on drinking, only having a beer or two, or a glass of wine on weekends. I felt better, but the hangovers continued. They weren't normal hangovers either. I had the same kind of pain I used to have as a teenager and also sharp neck pains -- like a throbbing and pounding at the base of the neck and head. I'd also developed a mild numbness/tingling/tightness on the right side of my body. At the time, I did not think these symptoms were related to migraines, but after reading usenet over the past few months, I understand numbness and tingling on the right side is found in many migraine sufferers. When I was 35, I'd seen a neurologist, and after running many tests, she had no idea what it was. At age 37 I'd had the worst "hangover" of my life, from one glass of red wine. At that point, I quit drinking completely, thinking I'd developed an allergy to alcohol. I figured it was just as well. But the migraines continued, as well as the now constant numbness and tingling.
I began paying _very_careful_attention_ to what I ate and drank every day. When I got a migraine, I would record those symptoms too. I went to see another doctor, a GP, who gave me a list of the most common foods and food additives known to trigger migraines. I realized that my major triggers were MSG, certain cheeses, beer and wine, caffeine and chocolate. With the exception of coffee and chocolate, I've pretty much been avoiding the others.
I also realized that there were other factors, like too much or too little sleep, stress, loud noises, bright lights, perfumes, flowers, car exhaust, cigarrettes, diesel and tar fumes. The odors not only caused migraines, but gave me asthma attacks too. As for coffee and chocolate, I became very careful about how much I consumed and when. Any more or less, and I was destined for a night of pain.
The GP prescribed a narcotic combined with caffeine... I think it's called butalbitol. It worked great! Too great. I found myself becoming addicted to the stuff! Next, she prescribed amytryptaline in very small doses (10-20mg). I took this daily, for about 18 months. The migraines were not as frequent nor as severe, but they never went away completely. When that prescription finally ran out, I stopped taking it, because it made me dehydrated and I'd put on weight. I stopped taking anything, other than my usual megadoses of aspirin everytime I got a migraine. I'm not sure the aspirin actually did any good, but I didn't know what else to do.
About three months ago I read about Imitrex on usenet, and consulted with a headache specialist and a neurologist at Stanford Medical Center. They put me through several tests, such as ECGs, MRIs and brainscans, because they were concerned about the numbness and tingling on my right side. The tests showed no abnormalities. They prescribed Imitrex (25mg pills) for the headaches and as for the numbness and tingling, nothing.
I asked them about seeing a chiropractor, because I'd gotten a lot of relief from the numbness and tingling when I had regular chiropractic treatment. They said it was OK, so long as the chiropractor did not manipulate my neck. They were very suspicious of this procedure. I've not seen a chiropractor as yet, because I can't find one that my insurance will cover.
I take the Imitrex when I get a headache, but it doesn't work as well as I would like. Imitrex is great if you catch the headache before the pain starts. When I'm awake, I usually know I'm going to get a migraine when I feel abnormally tired, irritable, disoriented or confused. Sometimes I get a little warning pain that lasts for a few seconds. I know I'll have a full-blown migraine within the hour.
Unfortunately, I usually wake up with my head pounding like a jackhammer sometime around three in the morning. I take Imitrex anyway and try to get back to sleep, but I know it's too late. It will probably take two to four doses over the course of the next ten to twenty hours before the migraine goes away. During that time, the pain comes and goes in waves. Just when it feels like the pain is subsiding, it bounces back and throbs unbearably for about ten minutes. I've been known to collapse on the street from the pain. Then it goes away, as fast as it came. An hour will pass, then the pain comes back, a little less severe. A few more of these bouts and finally, the pain goes away completely.
As for the numbness and tingling, it's actually more like a tightness. The right side of my face feels like it's sagging, though it never actually is. In my right leg and arm, it feels ike someone were applying a tourniquet to various joints -- enough to constrict circulation, but not stop it completely. I'm acutely aware of the constricted feeling when I walk for a few minutes. Used to be that the hand pain was focused on the thumb, index and middle finger. Now it shifts back and forth between that and the baby and third finger together, then back to the thumb area. Most bizarre! I've told the headache specialist and neurologist about this, and they still don't know what to make of it.
Other than eating right, getting enough rest and avoiding stress, I'm not sure what else to do. I don't even trust drugs all that much any more, considering the lackluster performance of Imitrex. As for other treatments, I did stumble on one bit of unorthodox therapy that could work for some migraines. I attend school part-time, and I recently had an argument with a person in my psych class. The issue was never fully resolved, and I came home from school feeling inordinantly exhausted. The next morning, I awoke with a whopper of a headache, yet I had to go to school. I couldn't stay home and recuperate. So I pumped myself full of Imitrex and went to school. The issue came back, and I was having real trouble expressing my feelings about it. My head was pounding. I asked to be excused from the class. The instructor, aware of my altercation with the student and aware of my pain, had me stand up and stamp my feet and scream into a pillow. The release was great! My anger and frustration with this individual finally subsided, and best of all, within five minutes, my headache, which I'd had for about eight hours, was gone! Talk about blowing off steam! ---Sabrina email@example.com
At the age of five I thought I could fly and drove my tricycle headlong down our basement stairs. I suffered a concussion in my left frontal lobe and cervical neck injury. The concussion was not treated until weeks later when our family doc said my brain must have swelled. Since that time I suffered from blinding (what my mother called) "sick headaches". When at the age of ten I started menses, the "sick headaches" became debillitating about ten days surrounding the menses. School was rarely a problem as long as I made up missed work and tests, but when I found myself newly divorced with two children, I discovered employers want you to "be there".
After three years majoring in Psychology, then switching over to the medical field, I thought I would find help working as a Physicians Assistant. I have been on every drug remotely related to treating migraine. After working up to Tylenol #4's taking an average of 100 tablets every two weeks, combined with anti-depressants I found my health deteriorating rapidly. I admitted myself to a drug dependency inpatient clinic and found myself watching the same old black and white film on alcoholism, and a psychiatrist who spent less than fifteen minutes with me and charged me $2000.00 to ask me if I was still cramping, and insisted I was in a state of denial about my drug addiction. No one knew anything about opiate addiction, and I was told I would not be released until I admitted I was a junkie. They threatened me with saying they would write my insurance company that I had left AMA (against medical advice).
I went to a pain clinic, as an outpatient. While I was waiting to see the Dr. (who was a regular M.D.), I heard their inpatients lying in their rooms screaming for someone to help them. The nursing station showed no interest and didn't even respond. When I asked about this, I was told the patients were given nothing for pain. I was told the culprit to my daily migraines (the longest lasting 15 straight days with no relief) was that the daily use of the non narcotic medications I was taking was causing rebound headaches.
I have finally found an internist after seeing countless specialists, who prescribes for me Percodan or a synthetic equivalent. I also take librium and soma compound three times a day. I have imitrix which gives me temporary relief except during my periods. The stadol often worsens the migraine.
Last summer, there was a radio interview with a doctor from Harvard that had been experimenting with narcotics for chronic pain patients who were ready to commit suicide rather than subsist in pain. Also on National Public Radio, A Dr. also from Harvard discovered migraine was generated in the hypothalymus and affected the entire nervous system, hence the hyper sensitivity to light, sound, movement, the vomiting, the muscular spasms in the cervical spine, and the severe pain that accompanies migraine attacks. They hope to have a cure in the first 20 years of the next century!
I am so tired of being treated like a chronic pain leper! Finally, the states of California and Texas have passed legislation to again allow Dr.'s to prescribe narcotics for their patients who suffer in chronic pain. The results have been miraculous. People who were totally confined to their beds have been able to function as "normal people" after years of lost time.
I did try everything given to me by professionals, even the total elimination of any form of painkiller for 3 months... no difference in the severity or frequency of my migraines.
In response to some of the other letters I have read at this site, I do know that most migraineurs cannot take even what they call natural hormones, because they were made from horse urine, and I found the hormone replacement therapy (I have just entered menapause at the age of 42) made my migraines more severe. I found a book entitled "What's Wrong with My Hormones?" by Gillian Ford, and an understanding gynecologist who told me about a pharmacy specifically for women called Bajamar Women's Healthcare (314)997-3414. They mail prescriptions all over the world and have a great array of natural vitamins, etc. I am taking progest 100 mg. plus estradiol 0.35 mg. in the same capsule once per day. It has reduced the constant hot flashes to just several times a day. This is the first hormonal therapy I've taken that has not increased the severity of my migraines.
Recently, I found paternal and maternal links to a family history of chronic, classic migraine. As part of the gift of menopause, I have trouble sleeping and take Ambien on a nightly basis. Sleep disturbance is definately a trigger for me. Also, eating 5 or 6 times a day (even a few crackers) are enough to keep my blood sugar stable.
After losing 7 jobs in a two year period due to migraine, I lost my self respect and hope of ever being like "normal People). I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and two great kids who know I am not looking for attention, or a bored housewife looking for narcotics for kicks.
The multitude of so called professionals who are more than willing to place me on dangerous and useless drugs yet refuse to help a patient in chronic pain, should be called to account for their insensitivity and even vicious accusations that a migrainer is another junkie.
Until there is a cure, I feel I should not live in pain in a darkened room while my life ticks away uselessly. I have been able to write, sculpt, paint, be a dimestore psychologist to friends and relatives and feel hope that all the states in the union will adopt the Constitutional Amendments that California and Texas have written to help people like me to have a life.
My advice is try everything, if nothing works demand the right to be pain free. As a chronic pain patient I do not experience a "high" from narcotics, only a blessed respite from debillitating pain. Until the Reagan Administration, doctors were allowed to prescribe narcotics when they deemed it necessary. Now, unless you are dying, they do not want to help for fear of reprisals and the brainwashing they received in Med School not to give narcotics on a long term basis. Doctors are discovering that chronic pain patients (including daily migraine sufferers) are able to lead a full life if given the means to eliminate the pain.
---Kathleen Roberts firstname.lastname@example.org