All of my adult life, I have struggled with migraines. After investigations, tests, visits to various doctors it seems they are mostly due to hormone fluctuations, and can be triggered by tiredness. I can go for weeks and sometimes months without one, then may struggle with one or two bad migraine attacks over a week, or have a handful of milder but still hard to manage ones.
For me, migraines start slowly but because I know my body relatively well, I can feel the signs. They tend to last 12-24 hours but sometimes can take 48 hours or more. I tend to notice that I feel a bit vague, and my ears feel like they are ringing a bit, and waves of nausea will often follow. The actual headache pain part of my migraines hits usually a few hours after the nausea starts and it begins with a low level throb above my right eye and across my face, that then becomes a stabbing pain that radiates across my whole face and head, that feels like my head is being squeezed and I usually feel like my head is throbbing in time with my pulse.
Light, sounds, touch and smells bother me, both pre the head pain and during.
I usually try and manage and medicate as the symptoms manifest. After many years of trial and error, my GP and I have come up with a combination that works for me.
Initial pain medication, usually paracetamol based, with a caffeine drink. I keep a stash of diet cola in the fridge for this very reason. I also use some essential oils, peppermint and lavender, in a cream, that I massage onto my forehead. This doesn’t stop the migraines but it can help to semi slow them down, until I can get to a place where I can rest.
I take a nausea medication prescribed by my GP, next, to ward off the nausea and vomiting that can ensue.
I then take a vasodilator medication, because for me, migraines are caused by the blood vessels in my brain being constricted and this helps to counteract that.
When I am able to, I take codeine or naproxen, and then I go to bed, in a dark, quiet, cool room, and try to sleep the migraine off. I drink as much water as I can tolerate, and usually within a few hours, the worst passes.
They are not much fun, as anyone who suffers from a migraine or migraine attacks knows. They have meant I have had to cancel plans, or leave work early, or have had to on the odd occasion, ask the husband to come home from work early to look after the children so I can rest.
We have tried lots of natural remedies, and therapies, a few alternative treatments, diet and other things, and sadly none of them work. Migraines are part of my life, and whilst I am lucky that I don’t struggle as badly as some people do, they are a pain, literally and can knock me hard, and make life complicated.
One day, perhaps there will be a cure, but migraine causes are different for everyone, so it’s going to be easy.
The only think I haven’t tried is a piercing in the cartilage in my ear, which some people swear by, for migraine relief. I am not fully convinced on this one, so it’s not something I plan to do soon.