Posted 12/15/2008 5:04 PM (GMT -6)
I'm a new member. I just experienced my first migraine in two years - and the first time I've had to actually tough one out in many years. I was unable to get meds in time to head it off, and so I just went through the worst 72 hours in my life.
Here's my story: I'm a 48-yr-old woman. I used to get migraines as a child. They would always start with a blind spot, which would get larger and larger until it blotted out half of my field of vision. After about 30 minutes it would expand into a dazzling aura, which would finally explode and disappear - and that's when the pain would hit. As a child, they had no meds that could help, so I would just have to shut myself in a dark room for anywhere from 10-24 hours, dry-heaving and writhing in agony, followed by several days of fogginess and fuzzy thinking. I would get them maybe twice a year, and it was the one thing that I feared more than anything on the planet. The first sign of that unmistakable blind spot would send me into absolute, paralyzing terror.
Once I entered my twenties they seemed to just disappear. I didn't have another for for over ten years! I thought they were gone for good. Unfortunately, when I was in my mid thirties, out of the blue I got hit with one while at work. I recognized that shimmering blind spot instantly, even after all those years. Struck with pure terror, I had a friend rush me to Urgent Care. They told me that new drugs had been developed that could stop a migraine in its tracks, provided it's given in the early stages, before the aura disappears and the pain hits. They injected me with something (still not sure what), and I went home. I did have some pain and a bit of nausea, and some mild fuzziness afterwards, but it wasn't ANYTHING like I'd experienced as a child.
I didn't have another one for 5 more years. Then, several years ago I was on a cruise ship in Mexico when I got the blind spot. Again struck with panic, I rushed down to the medical center onboard the ship. They immediately injected me with a drug cocktail that included the European version of Immitrex. It knocked me unconcious for 4 hours, and then I woke up feeling 100% fine, as if nothing had happened! No fogginess, no fuzzy thinking - it was fantastic! I thought that if these kinds of meds are available, then I don't need to be quite so afraid of migraines anymore.
Strangely enough, my next one, which was two years ago, also happened on a cruise ship, this time in French Polynesia. Once again the ship's medical center immediately injected me with a drug cocktail which included Immitrex, an anti-nausea med, and I believe some kind of opiate. I went to sleep for four hours, and woke up completely fine and refreshed.
Now it's happened again - only this time I'm here at home, and things didn't go nearly as well as I would have expected. I came to work on Friday feeling slightly "off". about ten minutes after I arrived, the blind spot appeared. I immediately called my husband to come get me, and then called my doctor's office. I'm now in an HMO, so I have to clear any medical visit, even to Urgent Care or the ER, by calling my primary-care doc's office first. They said to come on in - they had an appointment available in 90 minutes. NO, I said, that's not soon enough - if I don't get the meds in within 30-45 minutes, I'm in trouble! Sorry, they said, that was the first opening.
I asked if I could go to Urgent Care or the ER, since they might be better equipped to deal with something truly urgent that needs attention NOW. Sorry, they said - the rules of the HMO are that if your doctor will give you a same-day appt, you are not covered to go to Urgent Care. I asked them to confirm that they even had the appropriate meds to help me, because if they didn't, I would be much better off at Urgent Care. They said they were sure they could provide me with whatever help I needed.
So we went over there immediately, hoping we might be able to plead with them to get me treated soon enough to head off the headache. Didn't help. They stuck me in an exam room and left me there for an hour. Naturally, by the time the doctor showed up I was already writhing in pain and vomiting. And what's worse, they didn't even HAVE any of the necessary meds there! All they could give me was a shot for anti-nausea, and some kind of anti-inflammatory. They also gave me a scrip for Vicodin, which my husband had to go fill (leaving me writhing in agony in the car for 30 minutes). They said I could make an appt. with my doctor for sometime in the next few weeks to discuss a treatment plan for the future, but for now that's all they could do for me.
So I went home and tore my hair out for 15 straight hours. I managed to get a Vicodin in occasionally, but it barely made a dent in the pain.
Saturday I felt a bit better, although still raw and foggy, and still had some head pain. I continued taking the Vicodin, even though it made me dizzy - I figured something was better than nothing.
Then Sunday, I woke up with the worst migraine pain I've ever had in my life. I can only assume that it was a brand new one - and that I slept through the visual disturbances. I was way too ill to have my husband take me anywhere, although in retrospect I wish I'd had him take me to Urgent Care (since the doc's office was closed) to at least get a shot for the nausea. The dry heaves were constant for several hours. I was unable to get any pain meds in at all, so I just had to tough it out.
It finally released it's grip late Sunday.
Now it's Monday, and I can't stop thinking about it. I feel truly traumatized. It was by far the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life - 11 on a scale of 10! - and there were moments when I really wanted to die. If there'd been a gun in the house (which there isn't), I might have wanted to put a bullet in my head to stop it - that's how bad it was. It's just a pain that is beyond my ability to handle. I don't even have words to describe it - and I can't imagine anyone who hasn't experienced it could even comprehend how awful it was.
What I don't understand is, why could I not get the treatment I needed, WHEN I needed it, here in my own country? Why was I treated BETTER on foreign-flagged cruise ships than under my own doctor's care? I have an appointment for later in the week to discuss this with her, because I need to know that I will NEVER have to go through that again. And I shouldn't HAVE to! There are meds available that should save me from that - and I am entitled to them. The migraines seem to be coming a little more frequently now - even if the frequency is measured in years, it's just not something I can handle. Ever.
I don't think I could live through another one. I really don't.