Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Brain hurts

I got my first migraine when I was 18 right before heading off to Trinity U. It was triggered by what I considered a traumatic event, in this case a trip to the dermatologist's office. At the time I had these warts on my hand so the doctor advised a thorough spraying of liquid nitrogen.

I don't know if you've ever had cryotherapy, but for even a small area of skin it's not pleasant. This was the entire top of my hand. It took forever and hurt like a b@#%^. By the time he had finished I didn't know if I wanted to pass out or hurl. I went for option B. By the time I got home I was yacking about once every 20 minutes. About 10:00 that night we decided a trip to the ER was in order. I got a little morphine, a good night's rest, and problem solved. I had just survived my first migraine.

Over the next year I had maybe three or four more. By about the fifth one I had been prescribed what migraine sufferers consider a miracle drug - Imitrex. Imitrex was at the time only available in self injecting shot form, but if you're in that much pain, a shot is welcome if it provides relief.

The migraines gradually increased in frequency until I was getting them about once a month, then once a week, and then once a day. By that time a pill form of Imitrex had emerged on the market as well as another brand, Zomig. The good news was - the pill was effective, the flip side was - I was popping Zomigs like candy.

I hit rock bottom with my migraines the summer/fall of 2005. The Zomig pills and Imitrex shots had both stopped working for me and I was making ER visits 2-3 times a week. We were on a first name basis with a good portion of the staff at Chandler Regional Hospital. It was a bleak time for both Ryan and me. Because we were in Arizona with no family close and few friends nearby, I had to rely on Ryan to get me home from the hospital and he was missing massive amounts of work.

I finally broke the ER cycle when I got put on a tiny daily dose of morphine in pill form. I also went back on dialysis which I think shifted my body chemistry enough so that my Zomig started working again. These days I still get migraines about twice a week, but they're very manageable and I'm no longer on the morphine. I've had them long enough to associate that slightly "off" feeling with migraine onset and can usually cut them off at the pass.

Every so often, though, (like this morning but it's gone now) a bad one will sneak up on me and I'll have flashbacks to my ER days. There were times when I was horking in the ER waiting room every 15 minutes that I literally wanted to die. And if a magical fairy had flown in and given me the choice of:

A) working kidneys
B) no more migraines

I honestly don't now what my answer would have been.

2 comments:

Jason said...

I've never had a migraine. Do they feel like those ice headaches you get when you drink a Slurpee too fast? Those things have literally brought me to my knees once or twice...

mcsteans said...

Hee. You know, Ryan once lost a Frosty eating contest due to an ice headache.

No, it's nothing like an ice headache. It's also nothing like a regular headache. It's really hard to describe, but it involves hypersensitivity to the point where any loud noise makes me want to hurl.