July 27, 2006

Migraines – what a pain

Posted in health, migraines at 3:30 pm by way2much

Ever since I can remember I suffered from severe headaches.

It would be excruciating and not being able to explain the pain better than “it feels like my head will explode at any given time” was a bit frustrating, to me and to my doctors.

It was never just a pulsing, or a throbbing, it would be this intense pressure with everything else combined.  I would feel like I need to throw up.  But never did. 

I didn’t want any light.

I didn’t want to hear a sound.

My dad would walk into my room and I would be crying and he would say, “Let me make it better.”   He would take his massive hands and grab the back of my head with one and the front on my forehead with the other and press hard. I would get a second of relief but once his grip let up, it came rushing all back.  I forced a smile and a thank you and he knew he didn’t fix it, but at least he tried.

I am not sure what medicine my mother would give me. Was it Bayer, Tylenol – I don’t know. I suffered through my teen years. The only thing to alleviate the pain was falling asleep.

College was no better for me.  I would try to warm towels in the microwave and place on my forehead. I would take some more medicine -over the counter type and pray that the pain would go away. My boyfriend (now my husband) would sit by not knowing what to do. I would cry. Crying made it worse, but I couldn’t help it.  I wanted it to stop. Why would I get these headaches, what caused them?

My pediatrician said it was puberty. Deal with it. No one suggested more testing.  I had to deal and suffer and wait them out.

The worst times were when I was pregnant – because I chose not to take any medicine afraid it will go into my child’s bloodstream as well. I suffered immensely. I was now in control of my own health in terms of finding a doctor I was comfortable with.  It was hard. I went through a few, especially since I moved to another area as an adult, I had to find my own way around. I chose my husband’s doctor but hated him immediately. I went to a woman’s clinic, but it was far from my home. I loved them there but it was too much of a hassle. What topped that decision off was when I became pregnant my second time around. My GYN was not OB! So I had to find another doctor.

I am now satisfied with the doctors I see. Although my primary care doctor dismisses much of my complaints.  I see his associates and I love the nurse practicioner. She is amazing.

I have had Cat Scans – which show everything to be OK – any ideas of brain tumor or otherwise were dismissed. I was relieved. They did say that I have a deviated septum.  So this could be the reason for my sinus problems. I get sinus headaches as well, but I can tell the difference between sinus headaches and migraines. My doctor suggested taking my medicine immediately – I used to wait until I was sure it was a full blown headache and not just a small one.  But they said do not take that chance – take the pills immediately.  So I did.  And it worked. I am not sure what I used to take as some of the pills did not agree with me. I know they contained, Caffeine, Acetaminophen and Codeine. But I have Fiorinal in my cabinet now and I have not had to take it in years – knock wood (not that I am superstitious – oh who am I kidding!)

My headaches were so bad that I would become dizzy, nauseous and scared. I would take a hot bath to relax myself as sleep was the only cure.  My husband would wait up at night, keeping watch so I do not fall asleep in the tub and inadvertantly drown.  I always fell asleep and he would always gently wake me up to get dried off and into bed. He was always hesitant afraid my headache was still there, but if I was able to fall asleep, it would usually be gone when he woke me. I was very fortunate not to have drown.

My husband started to work nights and made me promise him that I would not do this when he was not home. My mother had bought a heating pad that you warm in the microwave, so instead I would take a hot shower and breathe in the warmth.  I would crouch in the tub as standing would be exhausting.  I would leave the shower, heat the pad and lie in bed with it over my eyes and think of anything soothing. Usually it was the crashing of waves hitting the shore.  It always worked. Keep in mind I had 2 children.  They were so good. Mommy had a headache, they knew to sit and watch TV and behave.  It seems like a life time ago.

I think the turning point was when I moved to my new house. I was 28 and I just got fitted for contacts instead of my glasses. Everything was new.  I suffered fewer and fewer headaches, but I still got them. I could swear it was the contacts that made the difference. But who really knows? I still suffer from headaches, but they are not the excruciating migraine type. But as soon as I feel one coming on I grab for the Excedrin Tension or Migraine medicine. I take 2 pills. I don’t wait to see if it will be a bad one or not. I just take the pills. I don’t usually like to take medicine, but for my headaches – I don’t like to take the chance on not taking them. I swear by the Excedrin and I swear that Tylenol makes it 10X worse.

My daughter is 11 and has been suffering from headaches for 2 years now. Yes perhaps puberty is the onset of it. But the doctor says give her Tylenol. Guess what? She says it makes it worse! And I believe her. I used to give her Motrin, but they say that is not good for her. She is now over 5 feet tall and over 80 pounds. I give her 1 Excedrin and she is fine.

Hmm. Makes you wonder.

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