Daily Archives: December 6, 2012

Migraine Day

Every month, on the day of the Planning Commission meeting, I end up with a migraine. I have no idea why, but here we are again on PC day and my head is ready to explode.

At 37 years of age I have been getting migraines for 34 years. At three years old, the headaches started. My parents didn’t know what to do for me, then, as really what small child gets headaches?

Don’t get me wrong, they tried. They would lie me down in a dark room, with a cool wet washcloth on my face, rubbing my head and telling me it was being shipped to the moon, every time it happened. And it happened a lot.

I remember my Dad sitting beside my bed for hours, trying to relieve some of the pain. I can remember being about four and realizing that you could not cry when you had a headache. Crying only made the pain worse, even if that is all you wanted to do.

Eventually, in kindergarten, they found out part of the problem was my eyesight and I got glasses. This was 1980 so the glasses were big, brown, plastic monstrosities that covered most of my little face. My classmates were all supportive, I remember that. They all told me I looked like a teacher or a secretary and for a five year old in 1980 that was incredible.

The glasses helped with some of the mild headaches, but the migraines remained. For years, I just suffered, taking Excedrin to help knock the pain back a bit, lying down in a dark room with no noise or light. Unless I had to work, then I would attempt it. It depended on the job though, on whether or not I could make it through.

When I was a teenager and waitressing, there was no working through a migraine. As a babysitter, if it was the good kids, my brain could survive. Then, as an adult working as a CNA (certified nurse’s aid) I did it a couple times, but when I ended up so sick from pain I almost passed out, that was enough. I called in over the next couple migraines.

When I was working as an insurance agent for a large 24/7 call center based company, I would deal with them. As long as none of my customers yelled at me, my brain would take it. The worst part was the 3/4 mile walk to my desk from the parking lot (not joking, it was a long walk.) Every step would make my head pound worse.

There was only one time when I was at that job and just couldn’t take it anymore. They send me home. Now, I’m partially blind from a headache, walked all the way to my car, got in, and just reclined the seat and slept for 2 hours in the cold car, until I was okay enough to drive the 45 minutes home.

I learned,after that, that if the impending migraine symptoms were there, to call into work. No job is worth taking the risk I did driving home that day.

Through all these years, I never really asked a doctor about my headaches. I figured they were just part of me, and I just took Excedrin. This continued until after my cancer diagnosis and my nephrectomy. Then I lost my ability to take Excedrin.

With only one kidney, and a history of kidney cancer, I cannot have any NSAIDs, or aspirin. I am also supposed to limit caffeine. My wonder drug was gone.

I panicked. My doctor gave me Imitrex for my migraines. They help, although most times I do have to take two doses and it doesn’t abort all of them. Earlier this year another doctor put me on a preventative, Propranalol. At first I thought it was a placebo and would never work.

Then, I ran out of it. Immediately, I had a migraine, three in as many days, or one nonstop, not real sure, the Imitrex would calm my head for a bit, then bam, right back. Needless to say I went back on the propranalol and I am staying on it. Now, I am down to about two migraines a month. One on PC night, the other scattered throughout the month.