Over the last 29 years I have had many horrible migraine moments. From missing out on family functions to being stuck in bed as a child in agonizing pain while the rest of my friends are outside playing, the feeling of being excluded and alone remains the same. There is one moment in particular that stands out to me today. It was about six years ago. Something that my husband and I like to do to get a break from everyday life is spend a night or two in a hotel by ourselves. I was feeling a bit stressed, so I decided to book a room at a local hotel for one night. I had a mild migraine that day and was hoping that being away from home without the kids or home life to stress me out will help. That night, I wasn’t able to sleep well due to the migraine and decided to stay another night. My rescue medication (Stadol Nasal Spray and Dilaudid) was not helping. I stayed in the bed all day and was in so much pain by the early evening that I had to call my husband to come take me to urgent care. Every severe migraine feels like the worse one ever, but this one felt like it was going to kill me. What was different about this attack is my right arm started to go numb. From the right side of my head all the way down to my fingers, it was numb and tingly. I was scared that I was having a stroke. My husband called the advice nurse and told her what my symptoms were and they prompted him to bring me in right away and that they would see me immediately. The car ride was torturous and felt like it took forever and a day. The numbness was moving down my right side into my leg. My daughter was rubbing my head to ease the pain as my husband drove us. When we arrived, I could barely walk unassisted the pain was so intense.
As soon as we got to urgent care, I was hooked up to an EKG machine and monitored closely. Nothing came back abnormal. I was given my usual cocktail of dilaudid, toradol and phenergan to abort the migraine. The doctor was concerned and put in a referral for me to see a new neurologist and get another MRI. I was there for about two hours. The pain started to ease from the medication and the numbness subsided and I was able to return back to the hotel. My daughter stayed with me and my husband and boys went back home. I was able to fall asleep pretty easily thank goodness. Being in that much pain and stress is exhausting. Needless to say, I was disappointed that I could not enjoy my mini vacation. That migraine attack was the catalyst that started me on a journey that has led me to managing my pain through natural means as much as possible. This experience led to me trying Botox for the first time, which failed miserably. After three rounds I was still in the same place that I started. I began seeing a pain management specialist after that, which introduced me to the idea of a neurostimulator to manage my chronic migraine. I currently have a neurostimulation system and it helps tremendously. And after having so many adverse reactions to medications and still being in pain no matter how many pills I took a day, I chose to approach my pain management from a different angle. Instead of putting Band-Aids on the problem I wanted to treat the entire body – mind, body and spirit. My therapist at the time introduced me to her friend who is a bio-energetic technician. Working with her, my fibromyalgia symptoms has been significantly reduced and my migraines respond much better to natural pain relief treatments and supplements as preventive treatment. I have started Botox again now that it is a more focused procedure. My second round was a few weeks ago and I believe it to be working this time around.
Everything happens for a reason, and although that migraine was scary and out of the ordinary for me, it has brought me to a place where I feel more in control over my treatment and quality of life. I still experience severe migraine attacks, but not as often as I used to. Finding adequate pain relief continues to be a bit of a struggle as I am allergic to triptans, DHE, and most NSAIDs. Right now, I use a natural migraine relief spray that was developed by a neurologist to abort a migraine. It is called Ausanil and it’s a capsaicin and ginger nasal spray. It is not comfortable at all as I’m basically spraying pepper up my nose. Yet, it works! When that isn’t enough to abort the migraine, I’ll take a cocktail of acetaminophen, ibuprofen and Benadryl. Even still, I have many days and nights when none of it works. I could go to urgent care or to the ER, but what winds up happening is a terrible rebound headache a few hours later which is not worth the $50 co-pay. So I pretty much suffer through it and try to minimize the pain and discomfort the best that I can with ice packs, darkness and quiet. My neurologist and I are still trying to figure out what will work best. In the meantime, the Botox, neurostimulator, and the magnesium/butterbur/CoQ10 supplements combined should help in decreasing the amount of migraines I have a month. Treating migraine is a process and requires much patience and perseverance. Knowing what works and what doesn’t, being open-minded, and sticking to your game plan makes it easier to find solutions that work, despite the disease’s morphing and ever-changing capabilities. Thankfully, I have not had another migraine that caused the numbness I experienced on my right side. If you find yourself having similar symptoms during a migraine, go to your local emergency room right away. It is better to be safe and err on the side of caution, especially if you have had a severe migraine for several days without any relief. All of us must remain proactive and vigilant in our health and well-being.