"I can do more than just exist"

Introducing our latest addition to the ContentChecked blog: Michelle Tracy!


Hello fellow Migraineurs! My name is Michelle Tracy and I have battled chronic migraines since I was 19 years old. Even though 11 years have passed since then, I still remember that fateful August night before my sophomore year in college when I had my very first migraine. I was initially treated in the Emergency Room since neither my parents nor I knew what was happening to me.

Because I was chronic pretty much from the get-go, I was urged to see a neurologist quite quickly and have been under the care of one since very early on in my migraine journey. It became clear that one of my most intense triggers was changes in barometric pressure.

In addition to cutting out a handful of trigger foods, I have been on a plethora of medications, including preventative, abortive, and rescue medications. Currently, I am trying Topamax once again as a preventative, in addition to receiving Botox injections for migraine every three months. I've tried all of the existing triptans at one time or another and currently Relpax and Sumavel Dosepro (needle-less injections of Sumatriptan) work best for me.

One thing that I am beginning to accept is that there is no cure for migraines right now and that I must learn to actively manage this disease rather than just idly hoping for a cure. While medication has certainly been helpful, acupuncture, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and one-on-one counseling have been vital to my continued ability to live with migraines. I am learning that I can do more than just exist; I can make a life for myself.

When I had to quit my work as a preschool teacher due to the frequency and severity of my migraines, I was devastated. Teaching was never just a job to me; it was a way of life. I found myself with very little money, no professional fulfillment, and hardly any social interaction.

This was when I began to blog and get involved with organizations such as The U.S. Pain Foundation, The American Headache & Migraine Association, The 36 Million Migraine Campaign, The Migraine Research Foundation, and others. Blogging allowed me to get my feelings out and to connect with others who were feeling the same way. I was also able to join some online support groups for people with chronic migraines, which has been such a joy and a comfort to me. There truly is no better feeling than expressing a sentiment and having a roomful of people (even online) respond with "Me too." It's powerful to know that I am not alone on this journey. The advocacy work to raise awareness and the fundraising that I do also allow me to feel as though I am part of the solution, that I'm potentially helping even on days when I'm flat on my back in bed.

Most recently, I have been working with the creators of the app "Migraine Buddy", preparing to go to the American Headache & Migraine Society's annual patient conference in June, gearing up for Migraine Awareness Month, and guest blogging for MigraineChecked. I'm preparing to see a new migraine specialist and I'm feeling optimistic that he will have some ideas on how to better my migraines. I'm lucky to have my family, my incredible boyfriend, my two best friends, and all of my support group buddies to cheer me on and keep me going. For now, I will continue on as best I can and hope that you will do the same.

You can read my personal blog at: www.migrainewarriorblog.wordpress.com
You can follow me on Twitter at: @CheDeco

Michelle L. Tracy
U.S. Pain Foundation Ambassador