National Migraine Centre
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My migraine story

My migraines started about 8 years ago when I was 20. They started out as intense headaches basically - but they were debilitating. I was put on beta blockers which helped reduce the severity but completely changed my personality. I didn't like the drug so came off and just "put up" with my migraines for about 5 years. They got progressively worse (8 hours in length, nausea etc) and so I finally went back to the GP and asked to see a neurologist. She insisted I had to take amitryptaline for a while - which didn't work and so I finally was given the referral.

The neurologist was great - and told me about triptans which have been my life saver ever since (aren't they for everyone?)

So for the next few years I trundled on just putting up with migraines and not really knowing very much about them.

Then last year they started getting really really bad. My employers were supportive (as I'd been with the company for 5 years) but I was having a lot of sick days and I'd started waking up with them which meant I couldn't medicate them and was stuck in a darkened room crying and trying to sleep until it passed.

Summer of last year I got a new job and as a result I knew I'd have to go back on preventatives so I didn't take so much sick leave. I went on proprananol first which was fantastic - my migraines disappeared almost completely but I started suffering really bad depression and after 3 months the migraines started coming back. The GP then moved me onto atenenol which again worked for 3 months and then the migraines came back and this time I had constant pins and needles in my arms.

At this point I could never see the same doctor and felt like they were all telling me different things. One doctor suggested I go back to amitryptaline starting at a really low dose at 10mg and working up gradually.

At this point I moved house and as a result also moved GP. In February of this year things got so bad I had 19 migraine attacks in February (my record so far!) and knew I had to do something about it.

First of all I made an appointment to speak to a migraine nurse through Migraine Action (who was fantastic) and I got a new GP who was really supportive. At this point I also found a migraine blogger who was about the same age as me and had tried and tested so many things. She recommended many books to me and I began to educate myself about my migraines.

I couldn't believe I'd spent so many years just ignoring it and hoping it would go away. At this time I also made an appointment to the National Migraine Centre who were amazing! This was all a real turning point for me.

Turns out I'd been suffering Medication Overuse Headache (MOH) and had to go cold turkey off the triptans.

Educating yourself on migraines is a must. It's a chronic illness for most of us and it won't just go away on it's own. It's so easy to just ignore it and actually not know anything about it but educating yourself can really make such a difference.

At the moment I'm still busy trying to find the best medication for me and it's really frustrating and hard. I've also just been made redundant which means finding new employment is going to be a nightmare! But I'm not going to give up. Even if it takes me a year I will find the medication that works best for me and I'll keep to my migraine management tricks and tips that I know work.

Migraine is part of me as much as I hate it but I won't give up. I can't let it take over my life. I've found that reading as much as I can on migraines, getting the support from the NMC and my new GP (I now always visit the same one) as well as using this forum has made a massive difference.

If anyone is interested I have also written several posts about my experience of migraine on my blog - If you search for "migraines" all the relevant posts will come up. Here is a link to one of them:

Something else I recently participated in was the travelling diary from the migraine trust. Such an amazing idea! They send you a book and you write in it your experience. It also allows you to read other migraine sufferers' stories too. They are also available on flickr to view.

1 Reply

Hey Fran! Thanks for sharing your story with everyone. Just realised I never asked you if anything in particular triggered the onset of your original migraines all those years ago? Did you mention wisdom teeth coming through?

It breaks my heart that so many people a) don't get the treatment they need and b) know so little about migraines. We will change this! Oh yes! x


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