Migraine pain and symptoms affect 18% of women and 8% of men. According to the [UK] Department of Health (2005) eight million people get migraine making it the most prevalent long term neurological condition. – The Migraine Trust
I am so sick of begging for more medication or help in general with my chronic migraine and insomnia. Doctors don’t listen. They don’t understand. Most of them are middle-aged men with no idea what a migraine or PMS (which triggers migraines) feels like or how debilitating it is. Living in darkness, confined to your bed, in constant pain and unable to do anything but exist is depressing and can lead to suicide – and yes, I’ve thought about it, it’s hard not to.
I’m tired of explaining that my situation is long-term and that I need higher doses because my life is stressful. I don’t have a choice about that, and yet they seem to think I do. I’ve even requested a referral to a migraine clinic or a neurologist and was met with a resounding “no”. If this continues much longer, I’ll consider self-referring though it’s expensive.
My medication works (Amitriptyline and Verapamil) 99% of the time but not at the tiny doses they prescribe. It did at first, but not now. I know the doses I’m taking aren’t dangerous because my mother’s taking 3x more than what I do, and I’ve never suffered any side effects – my blood tests were all clean and my BP and pulse is good.
I don’t understand the problem.
It is estimated that [chronic migraine] affects fewer than 1 percent of the population, but this still means that there over 610,000 chronic migraine sufferers in the UK. – The Migraine Clinic
This makes me believe that GPs are under-educated when it comes to CM and the interlinked insomnia.
Migraine is the least publicly funded neurological condition particularly relative to its economic impact. – The Migraine Clinic
The CM and insomnia began suddenly in May 2011 and for 5 months I went untreated while multiple tests were done, including a brain MRI. In that time, I educated myself to a certain degree.
I have a dysfunctional hypothalamus – the regulation centre of the brain. Neurotransmitters that aid that regulation such as serotonin (affects happiness, appetite, and body temperature) and melatonin (affects sleep) are usually in short supply, and the stress hormone cortisol is usually quite high.
There are other health implications for migraine sufferers as well. I’m more likely to suffer from stroke because during a migraine, the blood vessels in the brain constrict, reducing blood flow. Those that experience aura (distorted vision) are most at risk.
I started taking cod liver oil, magnesium, B vitamins, zinc and motion sickness tablets and taking short bursts of regular exercise.
To some extent, this helped. But when a junior doctor accused me of putting it on so I didn’t have to work, I was shocked. I had to tell this woman I was a carer for my mother and then she went on to test me by asking what health problems my mother had.
Afterwards, I took two steps out of the hospital and cried. In public. I’d never done that, and my protective mama bear went back in and complained. I got to see a consultant, surprisingly someone I knew, as he was my former best friend’s father. I was suicidal and genuinely felt like I was dying from the pain, and if it didn’t kill me, I’d kill myself. It didn’t help that no matter what I did – I tried everything – I slept about 6 hours every 3 days. He provided medication.
For the first few days, there was immense pain, then one day I woke up in heaven. No pain, and I could think. And sleep. Happiest day of my life. No doper was higher than me that day.
I had my life back.
I know what my triggers are: stress, insomnia, too much strenuous exercise (although a little can give relief), dehydration, bad sleeping positions, digital motion sickness, erratic blood sugar levels, eating too much salt, PMS, severe weather storms (which have been battering the UK one after another for the past few weeks), incessant bright light, loud noise and strong smells.
I still want to learn more about migraine so I’ve bought the following:
- Migraine by Oliver Sacks
- The Migraine Brain by Dr Carolyn Bernstein & Elaine McArdle
- The Migraine Revolution by Martin Brink
These appeared to the most informative of those currently available on the subject.
I enjoyed Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. It helped understand the brain a little better after my mother had a stroke and suffered trans-global amnesia as a result. It must be interesting to be a neurologist, but tough too, not having all the answers to what makes the brain tick.
If these are any good, perhaps I’ll gift them to the doctor at my next appointment.
P.S. I also suffered a rotator cuff injury to my left shoulder a week ago, and together with the migraines and severe and extended PMS, going online was impossible despite several attempts.