Migraine

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” — Dread Pirate Roberts aka Westly;  The Princess Bride

For some people, this is not just a clever line from a movie; it is quite literally true.

There are many “invisible” illnesses (ie- Lyme disease, MS, lupus, et al), and while I’ve known several people who struggle with them, there is one that I am very – one might say intimately – familiar with: Chronic migraine.

For the last 12 years, I have been dealing with a poorly-understood headache condition that is most commonly diagnosed as chronic migraine, although I have also received diagnoses of cluster headaches and occipital neuralgia (which really just means pain at the base of the skull and is more a description than a diagnosis) and even trigeminal neuralgia (which, again, just means pain in areas supplied by the trigemnial nerve).

But the one diagnosis that has dogged me persistently is chronic migraine, meaning 15 or more headache days per month. I cannot describe it better than the headache specialists at Johns Hopkins already have, so I will quote from their website:

Most migraines typically last a few hours to a couple of days and respond well to specific treatments. However, in some patients, The migraine is particularly severe and long-lasting—and may even become chronic, occurring continuously for weeks, months, or even years on end. If improperly managed or left untreated, intermittent migraines may essentially transform into a chronic daily headache, with continuous and smoldering symptoms that periodically erupt into a “full-blown” migraine.

That’s pretty much my life in a nutshell. And I have learned to cope.

Although I have mentioned migraine in the past (here and here and here for those who are interested), it has been rare for me to dedicate an entire post to nothing more than migraine (except, perhaps, for a serial post about being thankful for the lessons of migraine beginning here although I didn’t re-read the entire thing because, well… I’m currently fighting a migraine).

In the main, I’ve avoided it because I do not want to fall into the habit of complaining. Recently, however, I’ve found that discussion of the problem with others who suffer or who care for a migraine sufferer can be useful, even helpful, so long as I am careful not to merely moan and groan but point to tips and tricks I’ve learned or how God has used an unpleasant circumstance for His good and glory (which He has many times).

So after a couple of suggestions from friends new and old, I think I’m going to try something new on here. On the off chance it gives hope to one person or makes a single soul feel less alone, I am going to dedicate Mondays on this blog to a discussion on migraine. May the Lord set a guard over my… ah, over my fingers, I suppose… and use this space and discussion for His purposes and glory, and may I resist any temptation to whine!

As always, I welcome any comments, feedback, sharing of your own migraine stories, or whatever else you may wish to say so long as foul language, insults or derision aimed at anyone else, and so forth are avoided.

So starting Monday, look for a post about what migraine is… and what it is not. Perhaps, even, we can pray for one another that God may be glorified either because of or despite migraine. Certainly, we can pray that God may bring comfort to those who suffer without His peace.

Blessings to you!

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2)

**Update July 2017: Although I had fully intended to write about my migraine journey and the spiritual lessons therein each Monday, in my real life of teenagers, work, church, and everything else, it is not happening.

It would seem that actually coping with migraines and the associated fatigue, brain fog , etc., etc. does not necessarily lend itself to such ambitious aims. So instead of every single Monday, I will just put every migraine-related post in a category (cleverly called “migraine”) where interested parties can find these posts and read them at their leisure… 

Thanks!

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Migraine

  1. So sorry to hear of your pain, but glad you can use it to encourage others. I get migraines, (woke up this morning with one) but 3 days is the longest I’ve ever had one, and that was long enough!! Usually, if I don’t try to tough it out, OTC migraine meds work – or turmeric, fever few, peppermint oil & hand stress points can help too. I can’t imagine how you’ve learned to cope. God’s grace is sufficient, but it’s still hard for me to imagine. I have a friend who suffered from trigeminal neurolgia – you can read her story at janiegarber.com I’m praying you find relief in some way. May God comfort you and minimize the pain so you can function.

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    1. Well, I really do hope He can use it. I figure if He allows it to continue, than I need to find a way to use it for His glory. There isn’t much that works for mine. I can’t take the triptan class of drugs anymore, but I take tons of magnesium and other supplements. I do have one prescription that works OK if coupled with naproxen sodium. Mostly, though, I’ve had to learn when to push through and how far and when to back off. 🙂 I had one doc tell me I had trigeminal neuralgia, but I disagree. My facial pain isn’t that bad and it isn’t always present. I’ll definitely look at your friend’s site. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  2. I have been struggling with headaches ever since being pregnant with both children. Recently, it has been progressing every day (will be seeing the doctor this afternoon). Anyway, I started dabbing peppermint essential oil on the back of my neck and, surprisingly, that has helped quite a bit. I am not sure if it the “placebo effect” or what, but I am now dabbing peppermint on the back of my neck at the times of day when I have noticed a trend in the intensity of the headaches.

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    1. I am sorry to hear that! Headaches are no fun. 😦 May the Lord lead you to a resolution. I have tried a variety of essential oils, but unfortunately none have had even a slight impact on my headaches. Dietary changes help some, medications help here and there, and keeping my eyes on Jesus helps most of all – especially with the emotional aspects! And I have to say that God has brought good from it in often unexpected ways, as is His habit. 🙂

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    1. I am so sorry to hear that. How old is he? I pray that the Lord will lead you to answers and helpful remedies quickly! I will be happy to share some of what has helped me if it’s useful to you. Hang in there as you search for answers – it can be a long process, but God can truly use every bit of it for good!

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      1. So young… One of my friends has a 16-year-old who is going through the same thing. Well, for me, eliminating wheat from my diet helped reduce severity and frequency of full-blown migraines. Of course, that doesn’t work for everyone, and I will warn you that it took months before I saw a difference. I find it easier (and cheaper) not to replace wheat but just avoid it! Other things that have worked are making sure I have protein at every meal, regular exercise (although I have to avoid exertion when it’s hot outside or in very bright sun), wearing hats and sunglasses in bright sun, avoiding flickering lights… Some supplements that I’ve found helpful are magnesium in an easily absorbable form like magnesium citrate (my neurologist recommended 500-700 mg per day for me, but I’d check with his doctor first), fish oil, riboflavin (aka vitamin B2), and butterbur. Getting adequate sleep and trying to maintain a consistent sleep schedule is also important although I know it can be a struggle. Stress is also a trigger for me, including “good” stress like being excited. I just have to kind of push exciting or stressful thoughts out of my mind, and meditating on Scripture can be very helpful here. 🙂 I also take a preventative medication, but it can be tricky to find one that works. I know a friend of mine has had great success replacing her shampoos, soaps, lotions, etc. with more natural products. Hmm… I am sure there is more, but that’s what I’ve got off the top of my head! It’s a little overwhelming, but I have learned to just make one change at a time. Otherwise, you’ll never know which one worked or didn’t work!

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      2. Happy to do it! It can be so tricky because everyone is so different. For one friend, smells are a huge trigger, but they don’t bother me at all. Hope you can get him some relief! My heart really goes out to young people. 😦

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