Thursday, December 16, 2010

Migraines -- a real pain

I learned a new word: Migraineur. Not to be confused with one who creates new business ventures (entrepreneur), a migraineur is one who regularly suffers from migraine headaches.

I am such a person. They started when I was a teen, and seemed linked to my monthly hormonal cycle. A migraine headache is not easily confused with a run-of-the-mill sinus headache... and no offense to the cute gal who pushes Excedrin Migraine on TV... but that pill does NOT knock out a migraine!  It's just got a bit more caffeine in it.

While a dull headache doesn't phase me, the pulsing, piercing pains that make a guillotine look like a refreshing alternative to a pillow.  

A real migraine makes me feel nauseous, sensitive to sound and light, dizzy, and the pain is so intense that I can't think straight.  And it is all confined in this small space on top of my neck!  I want to scream but the noise of my screaming would be annoying.  When it happens in a public place (like at work), it's horrible.
And if others are around when a migraine strikes, I'm likely to use my less cultivated vocabulary to describe how I'm feeling and what they can do to help me.

When I was pregnant and for several years thereafter, the migraines ceased.  I enjoyed 15 years with less than one migraine per year.   But now, they are baaaack.   Possibly linked to the polycythemia vera.

An MRI of my brain shows several white spots that are consistent with migraine damage (no surprise to my brothers that I have brain damage) from days gone by.

We've spent this year trying various medications to keep them at bay.  So far, the prednisone (steroid) I take for the Behcet's Disease works the best.  But I can't stay on the steroid long term, as it is not good for bones (and I already have degenerative disk disease in my spine).

So now I've started Topiramate, a medicine for epilepsy which is also used for migraines.  One of the side effects is loss of appetite.  I'm hoping this counteracts the side effects of the steroid (munchie activator and fluid retention).  We'll see.

The National Migraine Association's website has links to many sites and sources of great information for migraine sufferers.  Check out the website:

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