Migraine Journey Wednesdays (Vol.1 – Valerie Taylor)

'I’m Valerie Taylor and I live in Northeast Ohio, USA and I just turned 42. I started getting migraines when I was about 26 years old. They weren’t frequent or too severe to start out with, but over the years, that has changed. They’ve gotten a lot worse in frequency and intensity as I’ve gotten older. 

My Family’s History with Migraines

My maternal grandmother experienced migraines when she was younger. I know they were intense, but I’m not sure how frequent they were. Similarly, my mom too had a couple of migraines when she was younger.

I have an extra lumbar bone in my lower back which causes scoliosis, which i think could also be one of the causes to my migraines. My maternal grandmother and my mom had the same thing too. Furthermore, two of my dad’s sisters get migraines as well. One of them takes a daily medication to try to prevent the migraines from starting. I’d have to say my migraines were inherited from my family.

My Triggers & Symptoms

My triggers are the air pressure, dehydration, some cheeses, allergies, lack of caffeine, lack of sleep, and stress. I get anywhere from 5-8 migraines a month that range in intensity from a 5-10. My symptoms are always congestion, neck pain, sensitivity to light, and mind fogginess. Sometimes I will experience sensitivity to sound and smell, nausea, vomiting, and teeth grinding.

The affected areas where my migraines always occur are both frontal sides of my forehead, usually it’ll run down the right side of my neck as well. Sometimes it even goes down into my eyes.

The People Around Me

My family and close friends are very sympathetic to my migraines. When I have one they understand to just leave me be. My boss and co-workers however are not as understanding and sympathetic. I don’t think they realise how hard it is to focus/concentrate/think with a migraine. My pets have definitely been there for me. I have a dog and cat, and they both know when I’m not feeling well. My dog will lay down with me, while the cat will eventually make his way to the bed and snuggle up with me. My dog has always been in tune with my emotions & health.

The Effects of Migraines on My Life

As my migraines have worsened over the past years I find myself becoming slower in my activities when I have one. I will go to work and push myself through the day. However, if I’m home I’ll just take it easy and let the migraine calm down on its own. If I absolutely must go do something when I’m off I’ll push myself through it.

What I’ve Tried

Before I take my pain medication for my migraines I will try many things (I’m stubborn that way). It’s also because I only get 6 pills of my pain medication a month, and most of the time I end up having to take two of them. I try drinking water, having a couple cups of coffee, eating something even if it’s just a granola bar or something small. Other than that,  ice packs on my forehead, the back of my neck, and sometimes on my eyes helps. Whether I’m nauseous or naughty, it is really hard for me to eat when I have a migraine, I just don’t seem to be hungry when I’m in the middle of one.

Today I am trying something new and using earplugs. I had read somewhere that someone was using earplugs to help block out the air pressure. It seems to be working so far. My migraine went from a ‘9’ down to a ‘2’ in just a minute or two.

If I have to resort to taking my medication which is 10mg Rizatriptan the generic for Maxalt I’ll take one if its a somewhat mild migraine. If its an 8 or above in intensity then I take 2. Sometimes it takes an hour or so for it to start working but it does work. I also go see my chiropractor 1-2 times a month which really helps. I used to take Imitrex but over time my doctor had to keep increasing the dosage and we realised it wasn’t working for me anymore so we stopped.

On Days Things get Unbearable

I will literally lay in bed all day. The only time I move is to take my dog out, use the restroom, or get a snack. I barely get on my cell phone, and I don’t answer any phone calls or texts unless it is absolutely necessary. So far I’ve only gone to the emergency room once for a 3 day #10 intensity migraine. If it wasn’t so darn expensive I would have ended up going more often for my real bad migraines.

Some Advice for My Fellow Migraineurs

Keep track of your migraines, use the Migraine Buddy app (which is awesome) or write it down and then talk to your doctor. I think talking with your doctor regularly is key so if something needs to be changed right away or if they feel you need to see a specialist they can direct you in the right direction. Don’t give up, there are lots of different treatments out there for migraines.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.'

Healint Singapore