Sharing My Migraine Experience

This Migraine Awareness Week we spoke to Kerry about her migraines and how she has battled with them over the years!

"I am 37 years old and have suffered migraines since i was a teenager. I grew up with my mum suffering migraines as well. They never used to bother me very much as I didn't get them often maybe a couple of times a year, but when I did get them I would be very ill and have to go to bed. I never took a preventative and just had a naratriptan if paracetamol, or ibuprofen didn't work. I would get them for a day upto three days. I didn't get many symptoms just the main growing thumping headache on my right temple and once that started generally feeling rough.

Since I have had my 2 children (oldest is 8) my migraines have become stronger and more debilitating. The migraines make me feel sick or nauseous, my head feels cloudy so I cant concentrate on anything, not even a simple conversation. My hearing becomes hypersensitive, and I am sensitive to light, having to lie down and sleep. As well as the usual thumping headache which is always on my right temple, I also tend to feel my face swelling up or a vein looking more prominent.

My main triggers seem to be the weather, glare, fluorescent light or sunlight, ham, my menstrual cycle, stress (although this effects me after the event and I have calmed down)  reading or concentrating for long periods of time.

My doctors have put me on propranolol which has been increased from 20mg a day, to 240mg over the last three years due to my migraines becoming stronger and more regular. I have been getting them daily, rather than a couple a year and have been diagnosed with chronic migraine and medication induced migraines. If I have a full blown migraine it will last upto three days and I then get a tension type headache daily (these were apparently mini migraines not tension headaches) which started three years ago. I came off the propranolol as I believed that was the cause. The daily headaches did stop, but when I started it again they came back especially when I was on a higher dose of 240mg, from 160mg. This does now seem to have settled, but it did take months to do so.

 Since being on the full dose of propranolol I find my migraines are weaker but more confusing. It seems to stop the actual pounding headache and has reduced the other symptoms but doesn't always completely stop them. I still find myself feeling tired, nauseous and sensitive to light and sound, and feel confused questioning myself about why I am feeling the way I am, only realising that I am getting a break through migraine. I also tend to get a really sensitive spot on the side or back of my head when I touch it and have recently started to get a twitch in my right eye just under my eye brow, before the other symptoms start, which is annoying. Because I don't get the headache I am reluctant to take the naramig so I take paracetamol with caffeine, which seems to work. Normal paracetamol doesn't help anymore.

 My migraines effects every part of my life. It takes me away from my children and husband causing us to miss family outings, or general family life and activities like housework.

On one occasion I had an episode that was so bad that I had to call my husband home from work and spend the day in bed. My oldest child was probably only two years old at the time and I just couldn't cope with caring for her. Even now if I get a bad migraine I have to go to bed and leave my husband to look after the children.

Since they have got worse they have effected my self esteem, confidence and have caused me alot of stress. At one point the episodes were so bad that I thought something more serious was wrong with me and I was really frustrated and worried. Even my kids were asking why I always had headache and my husband began trying to find other ways to help as he was getting fed up with me always having headaches.

Working with migraines is a struggle. They force me to take time off work or they reduce my ability to do my job.

Whilst working in a residential children's home, if I got a migraine they would rather I go and lie down in a for a short while rather than go home, which didn't happen often maybe four times in nine years of working there. If I got a migraine before I started my shift, I would usually take the day off (I don't work in residential anymore and now work part-time as a courier).

I have had to cancel many medical and other important appointments due to my migraines. The GPs response to my migraines has depended on how much they know about migraine and the available treatments. The advice given has mainly been to take propranolol, look at what I eat and try to relief stress. They have tried me with other preventatives like toprimate or amitriptyline but I didn't react well to them. Eventually they did send me to the neurologist to see what else could be done but to be honest I found that a complete waste of time, He just said it was chronic migraine with possibly some medication induced headaches and put me back on propranolol to build up to the full dose. Although he did rule out tension headaches and said my daily ones were likely to be constant migraine. It was a short consultation and he didn't really ask much about my migraines or triggers. Now the GPs wont let me go back and if the propranolol stops working they don't know what else to do with me.

I have however found other things that are likely contributing to my migraines that were unknown to me. For instance; This year I have been diagnosed with ADHD and given medication which although headaches are a side effect, I have found it to be helpful with my daily headaches, so much so they have pretty much gone. Although that could also be the propranolol. I was also diagnosed with Irlen syndrome (visual stress) and have been using coloured overlays when reading which has reduced any migraine related to reading for long periods and I am hoping to get the glasses for this as well to help with glare and sunlight issues. They think it will also help reduce migraine.

Currently I am taking slow release propranolol daily which as I say seems to be helping and my migraines have reduced alot. The main break through ones I get now are usually linked to my menstrual cycle usually the week before I am due my period. But the rest of the month I haven't had any noticeable ones. Also the ADHD medication appears to be helping too. Fingers crossed it stays this way!".

Migraine Awarness Week focuses on the reality of living with this neurological condition. Share your migraine experiences and get involved to help destroy migraine misconceptions. Until there is a cure, we are here to support all those affected. Until there is a cure, we are here to ensure all affected receive the help and respect they deserve.


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