Don't Ignore The Migraine


#1

G’day,

I’ve suffered from Migraines (with Aura) since I was 11 (so, err, nearly 3 decades). A migraine (with, or without the aura) is not just a bad headache. A migraine is a dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, which can cause symptoms such as headache and nausea, but also sensitivity to sound and light, blurred vision, confusion, aphasia, cramps, sweating.

The “aura” is a cue that the migraine is beginning, and, for the 1/3 of migraine sufferers that experience it, can manifest itself differently. When I was younger, I used to see fireworks, but these days I experience a blind-spot right in front of my eyes, followed by under-water-like vision for 5-15 minutes. It is within those first few minutes that I have my only chance to attempt to take drugs to ease the upcoming suffering, because before the aura has finished, my stomach will have “closed” for business - my sympathetic nervous system will tell my mouth not to even swallow my own saliva, as it stops my stomach from processing any more food, and thus can trigger the intense nausea and vomiting.

Ultimately, in my experience, it doesn’t matter, as no drug/s have ever succeeded in reducing the symptoms of migraine. (The one “preventative” drug that I tried a while ago made me put on around 1kg per week, so that had to stop.) The only “cure” is to go to bed in a dark, quiet room, with a bucket. What follows is around 6-8 hours of torment, stabbing pain, and hopefully the occasional lapse of consciousness. After that time, I’ll stagger out of bed, head held low because raising it fully invites instant pain, and try to think about maybe eating something. It will be nearly a week before the nausea will completely subside, and any fast head movements for a few days will still trigger pain.

At the age of diagnosis, I was experiencing a couple migraines per week… After a few years, they “normalised” to around 6-8 per year.

About a month ago, after I’d had a day off due to some unpleasant gastro, my boss called out to me across the office - "It’s a shame you are so unreliable. I have an exciting job that I was going to get you to do, but with all your sick leave, I just can’t rely on you to be here for it. " (Insert eye roll… If I’m the guy for the job, she wont not give it to me…) She then followed the statement up with my personal favourite… “I’ve had a migraine before. You just need to push through it and keep working.”

So, Friday morning… 9.15am, a strong aura starts. In all my working life, that’s been my cue - Wait out the aura (cos of the blindness etc) and then get thee home to bed ASAP! But… I’m so sick of this lady… I decide the best course of action, even though she wasn’t there to witness it, is to sit at my desk and do my best to vomit everywhere. (Yes… I know… Not proud…how have I gotten to the point that this seems like a good idea…?) So I sit… I go pale… I sweat… my body continually goes numb… but no vom vom, so after 2 hours of agony I get up, tell my - well, he was my boss, no idea who I’m meant to report to these days - that I’m going home cos I have a migraine, and leave.

Unfortunately for me, having postponed any attempt to appease it by several hours, the migraine wreaks its revenge by wrecking my body. Twas not pretty. And then I get a phone call… my youngest has a temp over 38C, is vomiting (too)… I need to pick him up. I need to drive… to get him… and the other 2 kids (or else have to go out again later to get them)… with a migraine from hell… The phone rings again, still clutched in my hand from before… its my wife… the childcare centre have called her, because it’s been an hour since they called me and the bubs is still unwell and vomiting… (Did I mention, time has little meaning during a migraine)

I finally stagger out of bed… get in the car… and drive. In my life, this was the 3rd time that I have driven with a migraine, each time deemed out of necessity. For me, whether I’m driving a car with a migraine, or just getting out of bed to go pee, the result is the same - my body says NO, and goes numb from scalp to toe. I’ve read it’s a bit like having a stroke. Each time I swear I’ll never do it again. I shouldn’t have done it. Should have found another way. But there was no logic happening in my head, so I got the kids, and I got home, and 3 hours later my wife got home from work, and by around midnight I finally felt the migraine “end”. My “6-8 hour” migraine lasted over 12 hours, all because I tried to ignore it, because my boss is a bitch.

Now… I’ve always thought that, as debilitating as they are, migraines were considered “non damaging/threatening”. Well, this past weekend I’ve been reading up on this topic, and apparently there is a new train of thought that, whilst it is unlikely that a migraine could directly cause death, a prolonged migraine could bring on a heart attack or stroke in susceptible people. Indeed, a migraine that lasts for more than 2-3 days is considered Emergency Department worthy. Further, some research suggests that particularly with Migraine With Aura, frequent migraines, or migraines experienced over a long time, can cause lesions to form on the brain. Yay.

So, if ignoring a migraine, like me, causes you to experience longer symptoms… Just Stop It and go to bed!

Cheers

cosmic

PS When I was first diagnosed, the doctor blamed Nutella and peanuts. These days, the consensus has moved toward not specific foods, but rather - routines. If you change your eating and/or sleeping routines, it may trigger a migraine. So, eat what you want, but eat meals at the same time of the day, and don’t sleep in/stay up late… Yay, what fun lives we get to lead.


#2

I had my first visual migraine this year… This about sums it up.

I went to hospital they said it was nothing and sent me home. No headache no nothing, but it’s scary when your vision turns to this. I’ve been getting migraines since last year, stress and too much caffeine are my usual triggers.

I agree with you migraines and tension headaches suck, at the end of the day your health comes before your job and if you need to preserve your health first you can always get another job later working for someone who has a heart.

By the way your supervisor sounds like a total dick. My younger self went through a similar situation with my boss who was a self confessed narcasitic sociopath, I told him to stick his job where the sun doesn’t shine. Now I’m older, I probably would have found a more constructive way of dealing with the situation, but you might consider the first option also.


#3

I also get “aura” and yes it’s an indication a massive headache is coming if I do nothing about it, but I don’t think my headaches are anywhere near as bad as what some people suffer. I’m not sure if they are technically migraines or not, never been diagnosed. My Grandmother on my Dad’s said and my father both suffer(ed) from them as well. If I sense aura coming on and take a few panadol that pretty much nips it in the bud and I can get on with my day. There’s no rhyme or reason to when they appear, sometimes I don’t have them for ages and then suddenly I’ll have a few of them with in a few months.

Oddly one time I felt it coming on just as I was going for a run that I’d really been looking forward to all day after work. I could have gone back home and had panadol but I thought “fuck this” and just kept running. I don’t know if it was the blood pumping or the exertion or whatever, but the aura passed very quickly and there was no headache to speak of. YMMV of course!


#4

Between the ages of about 13-17 I had frequent migraines. I still get them from time to time but no where near as often as I did.

At the time the doctor blamed combinations of food - usually a can of coke and chocolate.


#5

@Orestes Lovely image to show your aura! And, sorry to hear that you have just joined the migraine club.

I have been very lucky, in that my current employer (owner) is the only one to date that has not shown any understanding, but then - When I told her that my family are my first priority, she told me that her business should be my first priority.

@mitty My wife had never had a migraine until she became a mum. She says if she hadn’t heard me describe, and seen me experience a migraine, she would have thought she was having a stroke. Anyways - she sees pinwheel auras, and if she takes something, quite often she has no real follow-on either. Interestingly, she can also eat during her migraines most of the time, whereas, as described above - I cannot! I think the sometimes major differences between people helps to make migraine that real kettle of confusion for those who don’t get them.

Oh - apparently you need to have had 2 auras with migraine to be clinically diagnosed… There is no test/s to verify the diagnosis. So - congratulations! :confused:

@andyb Certainly puberty seems to be when both males and females tend to start getting them. And for women at least, menopause I believe can in some cases “cure” migraines, but also may go the other way and make them worse. And as my wife experienced - apparently either the hormones released in pregnancy and/or childbirth/breastfeeding started hers.

The funny thing for me… I was told chocolate and nuts were bad… and as such cut nuts entirely from my diet (inc peanuts, which aren’t nuts) and massively reduced my chocolate intake. And - the migraines reduced notably. Slowly chocolate returned to being a regular intake, but I continue to avoid nuts. Even after being told that it’s not the type of food, but the food patterns, I have continued to avoid nuts, because I have such a strong association now between the two…


#6

I started getting them when I was about 15. Nasty bloody things, and the cure back then was worse than the migraine itself. Huge orange tablets called cafergot. You had to chew them, and if you didnt feel sick beforehand, you would after that. I just would not have them after a couple of months, preferred aspirin and a dark room. Mine used to last for up to 3 days, horrible.

All that said, I have not had a single migraine since doing 6/12 on Herbalife back in the early 90s. I cant say that was definitely the thing that helped (I havent had any herbalife since then) but I havent had to cope with a migraine ever since, thank the lord.

HObo, you have my sympathies. Mine were never as bad as yours, I hope you can find a way through them.


#7

It started on one side of my vision and built into a star exactly like that with total blindness in the area affected by my visual disturbance. My first thought was to get to a hospital because I thought I could have been having a TIA it progressed to the usual effects, one sided headache with some numbness in my face.

I’ve been given what they give for migraines now which is a mild anti-depressant, that doesn’t work for its intended purpose but which seems to work for its off label purpose of treating migraines and tension headaches called Relpax. Prior to triptans I was told it would have been taking some Valium and a good lie down in the dark. Apparently one of the contradictions of Relpax though is that it can cause sudden death in the elderly… It works when I can feel a tension headache or migraine coming on, though it does make you drowsy.


#8

Hey @kyte :slight_smile: I’ve had cafergot too, but they were non-chewing ones. Don’t think they helped me… but I always remember a home remedy that someone suggested to me - when the aura starts, quickly grab a cup, put in 1 tablespoon of instant coffee, and 1 tablespoon of sugar (basically to make it palatable), melt it with as little warm water as possible (not too hot), then scull it. I imagine cafergot probably delivered more caffeine than the tablespoon of coffee… but if the stomach has stopped working, maybe the coffee as a liquid is better absorbed (perhaps too why you had to have chewable ones…?)

@Orestes Migraine relief… dropping dead… Mmm. Well, I did spend a few years on tablets that could have potentially shut down my liver/kidneys etc (immuno-suppressants)… And (for a time) took bisphosphanates to remedy osteoporosis, despite one potential side effect being a spontaneous femur break…


#9

I’m taking tablets to prevent other things right now that could lead to irreversible stiff muscles among other things. Isn’t medicine fun? What’s supposed to help you could equally likely kill you.


#10

I do IT work for a guy who has done a lot of research in the area of chronic headache and has found some osteo-related causes that he can treat. Similar to chiropractic, involves manipulations of bones in the upper spine. Ethically I probably shouldn’t name him on a public forum but if anyone is interested PM me. I only mention it at all because I’ve had one or two migraines in my life and I can’t imagine what it must be like to have them chronically.


#11

Yeah, as an infrequent sufferer of migraines (1 every couple of years), I can’t imaging having to go through one regularly.
Regarding the mention of certain foods as triggers, I have seen some anecdotal evidence around the use of a ketogenic diet to lessen the effect and severity of migraines.
And this one person on Reddit… so pretty conclusive… :slight_smile:


#12

As I said, Triptans work, I take one and it makes me feel kind of sick, I take two and it puts me to sleep. They’re an anti-depressant so they have a similar side effect profile to ADs in the type of nausea you feel, but if I catch it early enough? No more migraine. If I’m really feeling sick I’ll take some Valium also and have a good lie down.

Just watch the side effects, they can cause T Wave inversions especially in the elderly. This is not what your heart should be doing

http://www.patientcareonline.com/sites/default/files/figures_diagrams/Brady1B.JPG

This is a normal T wave

Abnormally slow heart action can lead to sudden death.