The Chronic Migraine Life: Such As It Is

I’m a new guest blogger on site, Nikki Albert, otherwise known as the Brainless Blogger. Other than migraines I have fibromyalgia, asthma, hypothyroidism and peripheral neuropathy. I’m a bit of a hermit as you can imagine with chronic migraines.

I was diagnosed with migraines when I was 21. They were migraines with aura. I would get your classic scintillating scotoma aura often depicted in images. With the blind spot and the arc of color that slowly takes up your entire vision. I also had horrible nausea with my migraines at that time. So much that they put me on triptans that dissolve. In the beginning I had around 6-10 migraines a month. My menstrual migraines were not diagnosed yet, so I have to assume it was more and that is why I say up to 10 rather than just 6.

The migraines inched up in intensity over the next four years until they were full blown chronic, more so if you count the menstrual migraines. I was taking my Masters at the time and it was a difficult experience. Especially when trying out new preventatives that dulled my thinking. I ended up not going for my PhD because I didn’t believe I could function without proper treatment. Little did I know, treatment is a complex thing and a little harder than I had thought to achieve any real success with. Certainly not easily and not quickly.

One thing I have learned about migraines is that they change. We often get blamed for this change, but it seems to me to be quite random. I was told my migraines went chronic from central sensitization. In other words my brain became more sensitive to stimulus and triggers in causing migraines and more sensitive to pain. Migraines beget more migraines. However, they couldn’t explain the sudden development of migraine associated vertigo (also called vestibular migraines) that occurred five years ago and has not stopped since. Nor could they explain why I developed persistent migraine auras; that is auras that persist outside of a migraine attack. The migraines changed. In their own way. No real reason behind it, yet anyway. My episodic migraines in fact do not resemble how my chronic migraines are in pattern either. I get way less nausea now. My primary aura before a migraine is tingling in the face and hands or halo aura and less the scintillating scotoma.

Clearly these migraines have changed for the worse. My migraines are currently daily. I do not mean constantly. However, every day. I get a pain gap in the morning most of the time; unless the migraine starts in the morning or I have a migraine for more than two days. However, if they can change for the worse, logic suggests they can change for the better. My hope, as thin, as it is these days lives in the fact that what can change so randomly for the worse can change just as randomly for the better. For example, in studies those with persistent migraine auras have been known to have them abruptly, spontaneously stop. A year later, a month later, or in people well into their 70s. It is that unpredictable.The migraines have had a dramatic impact on my life to this point. Almost taking my life. I am currently at the end of a long term leave from work for two years and will be returning to work soon. Working and chronic migraines is extremely difficult. In the past, I had to go on several short term leaves. Apparently employers are not fond of that at all. We do what we can to survive until we learn better ways to do so. On my leave from work I have been going to a pain clinic, psychologist, physiotherapist, learning meditation and doing biofeedback. All in hopes something would stick and I could add it to my big old bag of migraine coping tricks.I firmly believe that if the migraines do not change in frequency and intensity I must find methods to handle the suffering caused by them. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We can hope lifestyle changes and medications will improve the situation, but we must also cope and reduce the suffering that currently exists to improve our quality of life.

 

Nikki, Brainless Blogger

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