Living with severe migraines | Migraine diaries #1


Over the past ten years, my migraines have become increasingly frequent and more painful. I’m currently suffering with week long migraines around once a month, and smaller, 24 hour (or less) migraines every few days.

These migraine attacks are extremely disabling. I can’t see, I can’t stop throwing up, and I feel like there’s a knife being twisted into the right side of my head. As well as the physical symptoms, they make me feel depressed. Migraines are stealing so many of my days, making me cancel so many of my plans, and forcing me to spend far too much time in my darkened bedroom.

Some people might think this sounds dramatic, but I just want to make it clear that a migraine isn’t just a headache, it’s an excruciating pain that stops you from living your life.

Why do I get migraines?

Migraines are a medical mystery according to the million doctors I’ve seen over the past ten years. Unless you have a very obvious trigger (for instance, you notice you always get a migraine after you eat a certain food, or smell a particular perfume etc.), you’re very unlikely to find out what the cause is.

This frustrates me so much. I get migraines when I eat junk food, when I’ve been on a strict diet, when I’m happy, stressed, angry, full of energy or absolutely drained. I very often feel useless that I can’t control my own body.

So the doctors have decided that all they can focus on is preventative methods of treatment… which brings me on to my next section of failed attempts.

What have I tried so far?

Beta-blockers

The Migraine Trust‘s description of beta-blockers for migraines: “These drugs have several actions and are used to treat people with high blood pressure, but are also effective in treating migraine. They reduce activity of the brain cells involved in migraine.”

I’ve tried two types of beta-blockers over the past eight years. I first tried Propranolol when I was 14. At the time this worked really well, but as a stupid teenager, I could’t be bothered to take them any longer as I thought I was cured, so I stopped. My migraines were okay for a year or two after this, then came back with a vengeance.

I spent the next six years just taking painkillers whenever I got a migraine, which was once every few months while I was at college and university. This didn’t seem like a big deal to me, so I didn’t bother going back to the doctors.

Since starting full-time work last May, my migraines have been horrendous, so the doctors tried me on Propranolol again. It made me super sleepy this time around, so they switched me to 50mg of Atenolol, a different beta-blocker, a day.

On this dosage on Atenolol, I was still getting frequent migraines, so was told to up it to 100mg a day. This was still ineffective, so the doctors decided that beta-blockers don’t really work for me, and I’m now trying a TCA.

TCAs

The Migraine Trust says that Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) “were previously used for depression, however, they are also effective at preventing migraine. They can be helpful in people with migraine who also have difficulty sleeping. Tricyclic antidepressants are thought to block the re-uptake of 5-HT and norepinephrine and may block 5-HT2 receptors.

I’m currently weaning myself off of beta-blockers, and starting my course of these in a couple of weeks, so will keep you all updated! I’m also waiting on blood test results to check that I have no abnormalities or deficiencies that are causing my migraines, so fingers crossed this all comes back clear!

In next month’s Migraine diaries, I plan to tell you all what I do to help/stop my migraines, and what alternative methods I’m planning on trying in the near future.

Do you suffer from migraines? If so, what have you tried to stop them?

 

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14 Comments

  1. August 13, 2017 / 8:08 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote this post and look forward to keep up with it too! It’s absolutely horrific to deal with so I’m glad you’re also giving a first hand perspective of what may work and what may not.

    I’ve also been on propranolol and almost exactly like you, couldn’t be bothered to take them (and/or just forgot) as I was around 14 too. But nothing seems to be working for me besides strong painkillers. I sympathise so (so) much, it’s stolen so many days and opportunities. It’s actually quite sad!

    When they do occur though (ofc you may have already done this bc, a decade of migraines, just like myself, gets you trying things out of desperation so I don’t want any suggestions to sound like I’m belittling your efforts. But, a cold compress always helps, and I usually apply vapour rub around the area of the pain. Also, apparently (I say apparently bc it’s helped me but I can’t be sure it was this method or simply the painkillers kicking in) but placing your extremities, so your hands and feet in warm water and placing a ice pack on the back of your neck helps. Worth giving it a go I say!

    Faye x
    https://cultureeighteen.wordpress.com/

    • August 13, 2017 / 8:41 pm

      Thank you so much for this comment Faye, honestly means so much for someone to understand exactly where I’m coming from. I’m so gutted for you that you experience them too, they’re so much worse than everyone who doesn’t suffer with them assumes! And those tips are so useful, haven’t tried vapour rub or the ice pack/warm water trick so will 100% give them a go. Thinking of posting for this series once a month, so deffo let me know if you have any other tips, I’m willing to try anything at this point! xxxxx

      • August 13, 2017 / 8:55 pm

        No worries at all! I hope they really do improve for you. I’d definitely try it, but also be careful to not get it near/in your eyes (I learnt the hard way!) Good luck sweet xxx

  2. August 14, 2017 / 6:49 pm

    I used to get migraines all the time as a child with similar symptoms as you, vomiting and feeling like a knife is in my head. I couldn’t walk through Macy’s at the mall because the men’s cologne and women’s perfume mixed together was a trigger. My doctor suggestd going to the Chiropractor and I started to get them less often and when I do get them, they aren’t as debilitating. I also stretch my whole body a couple times a week to keep my muscles from being so tight all the time and it really seems to help!

  3. August 17, 2017 / 9:41 am

    I totally sympathise with you! I’ve been getting migraines for the last 7 years but only in the last 2 years have they become unbearable to were I can’t see or move, it has stopped me from doing so many things and I have tried so many things to get rid of them. My body must be used to the pain killers as no pain killer gets rid of them anymore, I’m currently trying natural health methods, by cleaning up my diet and taking 500mg of magnesium a day so hopefully this will help as the doctors are no help whatsoever! Hope your medication works for you 🙂

    • August 17, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      So sorry to hear you suffer with them too 🙁 I feel the same about pain killers a lot of the time, they don’t work! I’ve heard magnesium works before, but my doctor seemed skeptical when I mentioned it to her.. no harm in trying it though! Let me know how you get on with it, and I’ll definitely give it a try xxx

      • August 17, 2017 / 5:30 pm

        Its so annoying that we can’t get an answer for what it is, to go through this for the rest of our lives would not be okay! Oh of course, I’ll let you know how I get on with them😊

        • August 17, 2017 / 6:28 pm

          I know, I hope we get some answers! Thank you ❤️❤️

  4. Tania Jayne
    August 24, 2017 / 10:35 am

    Ive been a chronic migraineur for 20 years now, so I feel your pain. I’ve tried numerous medications over the years, with varied results. But I t wasn’t until the types of migraine I was experiencing were identified that I really saw a significant improvement in my symptoms. I have basilar type migraine (a rare form that can cause loss of consciousness) and hemiplegic migraine. Both respond best to specific medications and can be made worse by some of the standard migraine treatments. I’d highly recommend asking your GP for a referral to a specialist migraine consultant, who will be able to identify the type of migraine(s) you’re experiencing and will know the most suitable treatment options. Good luck and if you ever want to talk, I’m always here for you. Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

    • rosieslifexo
      Author
      August 26, 2017 / 1:39 pm

      Wow my GP has never talked about the different types of migraines with me! Thank you so much for this comment, I will definitely bring this up at my next appointment. Really glad to hear that yours are improving 💖 Xxxx

  5. September 5, 2017 / 8:04 am

    I’m so so sorry you have to suffer with this – migraines are horrendous and the fact that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all cure makes it so much worse. I too suffer from chronic headaches, but mine are a mixture of migraine and tension type. Going to see a chiropractor has helped tremendously with the tension type aspect but the migraines are much harder to tackle – although I know that they’re mostly triggered by smells/chemicals so I do my best to avoid these triggers. I really hope that your medication works out and as some of the people above I’d recommend going to see a doctor who specialises in migraines/headaches as GPs can be pretty useless! Also trying to identify triggers (e.g. being dehydrated and not getting enough sleep is said to affect many migraine sufferers) could be helpful, although as you said this can be very difficult.

    Lots of love, Maria xoxo

    • rosieslifexo
      Author
      September 8, 2017 / 11:11 am

      I would LOVE to know what type of migraine I get because I honestly have no idea. The doctors at the moment are exhausting all medication options before refering me to a specialist 🙁 Thanks so much for all the advice, and so glad to hear that yours are improving 🙂 xxx

  6. September 10, 2017 / 7:17 pm

    Oh gosh they sound horrendous! I get hideous migraines when I’m on my period but nothing like as bad as yours 🙁 I hope the TCAs work for you xo

    • rosieslifexo
      Author
      September 28, 2017 / 6:03 pm

      Sorry to hear you get them too, thank you!! Xxx

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