What would you do?

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hopefulmigrainer
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 902
   Posted 8/3/2007 7:39 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi.
 
I am a chronic migraine sufferer.  They started when I was around 29/30 and have gotten progressively worse.  I am now 43.  I have tried every preventative in each category (anti-depressant, anti-seizure, blood pressure).  Vicodin and Darvocet do not even touch the pain.  The only thing that helps is Immitrex and Maxalt.  The problem is I get between 25-30 migraines per month.  My life is ruled by migraine.  The world is survival of the fittest and I am a wounded animal.  That's how I feel anyway.  I overcame a serious depression and I'm grateful for that but the migraines persist.  I am on Federal disability but I have no health insurance.  The government does not automatically give you Medicare as most people *assume.*  I must wait 1 year and 5 months.  In California my share of cost for Medi-Cal is $1000/mo.  It actually hurts me to have Medi-CAL so I cancelled it.  The county mental health will charge me on a sliding scale but if I have Medi-CAL or any insurance whatsoever, they will bill that instead which means $185 a visit.  Same goes for prescription assistance.  It's crazy.  Rent here is outrageous.  I moved 2 counties inland to reduce the cost of living but I'm not making it.  The next step will be to sell my car.  Now I will be even more isolated and living with chronic pain causes depression and I don't want to slip.  I have had to move 4 times in the last 2 years.  It's a vicious cycle because the worry over finances and lack of health care causes more anxiety which causes more migraines.  I am at my wits end.
 
If you did not have health insurance and not even a dime for alternative treatments or fancy supplements?  What would you do?
 
Thank you.
 
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen."
 
Please allow HealingWell to continue helping others by donating: http://www.healingwell.com/donate/


carolyn1013
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 8/4/2007 12:25 PM (GMT -7)   
You sound like me about 10 years ago.  My migraines started as a teenager and I'm now 39.  I tried most meds out there when I was younger.  After living with my migraine pain for most of my adult like - I've learned the triggers (which aren't always the same) and learned how to manage them or head them off.
 
The key is in the preventative.  My neurologist has me on verapamil + imipramine.  The combination of the two is what works (both are cheap under $10 without insurance).  Stretching the muscles in the neck, back and arms that tighten with migraine is also a big key. 
 
Soft yoga or pilates or even just stretches for those areas is a must!  After you build up a few times a week for 10-15 min. is all you need.  You don't need to go to a gym or be an exercise freak - in fact until you get your migraines to a controllable level, avoid the aerobic exercises - they always made mine worse until I got the headaches stabilized.
 
Pick any of the breakthrough meds that work for you.  I take Imitrex, along with a mild nausea med.  Most of the big name ones have coupons on their website along with free samples.  If you sign up for info - they keep sending you coupons.  I get several from Imitrex every month or so.
 
Stay off the pain killers, muscle relaxers, etc. prescription and over the counter.  They make it worse in the long run.  Also avoid more than one alchoholic drink a day.
 
Food triggers migraines for some, but I think they have a lot of that backwards.  Chocolate for me doesn't trigger a migraine - but if I crave it I know a headache is coming and I choose protein (like a peanut butter sandwich) instead.
 
It is possible to manage them.  I have gone from a daily uncontrollable debilitating migraine to maybe 2 controllable ones a month around hormone changes.  Good luck.

hopefulmigrainer
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 902
   Posted 8/4/2007 12:36 PM (GMT -7)   
Carolyn,  thank you for your thoughtful reply.  I have written down the meds that you suggested.  I woke with a migraine today and yes, my neck/shoulders are very tight.  I have an ongoing problem with this as well.  My MRI shows 3 bulging discs, however, the ortho-surgeon told me that surgery was no guarantee for the migraines.  The neck pain is more tolerable than the migraines.  The question is "which comes first?"  It's the chicken before the egg question. 
 
The Immitrex is $195 for 9 pills.  I am going to research the coupons or PAP for this.  I have a clinic appointment on the 14th as I have not been under a doctors care since disability (3 months). 
 
My Sister is an aeorobic instructer and exercise bulimic.  She gets her migraines after vigorous exercise.  I need to walk and swim and stretch more. 
 
I'm glad that you have controlled your migraines and that you have signed up here at HealingWell.
 
Again, thanks.
 
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen."
 
Please allow HealingWell to continue helping others by donating: http://www.healingwell.com/donate/


carolyn1013
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 8/4/2007 7:19 PM (GMT -7)   
I'd stay away from surgery if you can help it - especially on the neck and back. My migraines are hereditary and I've had some family members try that - it made them worse.

Imitrex is expensive, but I have insurance again. If you and your doctor can't find one that works in your price range - I've had good luck alternating Excedrin and Ibuprofin about 2 hours apart (don't take more than 2 doses a day - and look up the liver issues that can result if you take too much). Naproxin didn't work the same.

Then put an ice pack and cold face cloth on your head, face and neck. Heat will made the blood vessels open more and make it worse - especially if you have neck issues (I had disk isues also that ended up controllable after doing the stretches continually for about 6 months).

Believe me I know what it feels like to want to throw any pill down your throat to make the pain stop). It will take about 6 mos for the stretching to work if you keep doing. When the headaches calm and you're calmer you can start to listen to your body to figure out not only what your triggers are, but the combinations of those triggers which are the worst. That's why no single med combination works for any one person - the triggers change continually.

If it's going to rain, I had 2 glasses of wine the night before, my period is due next week and I'm behind on my budget - I know I'm going to end up in bed with a migraine. But the next month, if the same combination happened and I was good about my stretching - I may be OK. You've got to slow down, get off as much meds as possible and listen to what your body tells you.

Between you and me - I get a headache even if I watch someone doing aerobics. When you're stronger and think about starting something aerobic, the alternating weights and slower step combination classes are good (there are DVDs also) or treadmill walking.

baseballmomof3
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 189
   Posted 8/4/2007 11:23 PM (GMT -7)   
hopefulmigrainer - just wanted to give you a little more input.  I agree with the other poster regarding preventatives.  I have had great luck with Verapamil and Trileptal.  However, depending on what is causing your migraines and what kind of migraines you are having, the abortive treatments can vary greatly.  I have to respectfully disagree with the statement regarding staying away from painkillers and/or muscle relaxants.  My neurologist has me on several meds that work and by taking those meds as instructed, I am actually able to take smaller amounts of narcotics and avoid having to have IV narcotics, anti-inflammatories and steroids IV in the ER.  I truly believe the harder you hit a migraine at the earliest onset, the better of you are.  If you wait and "try to tough it out", your pain will be worse (in my opinion) and will last longer and you will require higher doses of stronger meds.
 
I don't advocate that any of us should use meds unless they are needed.  However, I don't advocate that we suffer by trying to tough it out without meds, either.  Your abortive meds (such as Relpax, Maxalt, Immitrex, etc.) can definitely help but for me, that is never enough.  My migraines have nothing to do with the normal triggers - not hormonal and most of the time, not food related.  Mine are either related to sleep pattern changes or barometric pressure changes.  Unlike with food triggers, the barometric pressure is impossible to control and the sleep pattern changes are difficult because of my career.
 
Understand that a migraine isn't "just a regular headache".  When you have migraine pain, every vessel in your head is dilated.  This increases your blood flow throughout.  Your blood pressure increases, your heart rate increases, etc.  Treating a migraine isn't just about treating a headache - it is about treating an illness that effects your whole body.
 
Just a though - I hope, for your sake, that if you decide to do without any pain meds, your headaches don't become debilitating like mine for days and days on end.  I just don't want anyone to feel like they shouldn't take any meds to help with pain when they have a migraine.  I am a living, breathing example of someone who those meds didn't make worse - instead, they have truly given me my life back and I thank God every day that I have a neurologist who believes that you should be pain from from migraines!
 
DX:  Migraines since June, 2006, kidney stones
 
RX:  Daily - Verapamil, Trileptal
PRN:  Relpax, Prednisone, Dilaudid, Lortab, Lidocaine Nasal Spray


carolyn1013
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 8/5/2007 6:05 AM (GMT -7)   

I agree that you should not suffer or tough it out, and that "hitting it hard" at the beginning of the headache is key.  However, just throwing stuff at a headache when you're not sure what is causing it just confuses your body.  The triggers you have also affect me greatly.

I'm not recommending going cold turkey.  Moderation is definitely the key.  Long term it's not good to be on muscle relaxers and anti-imflammatories daily. 

I went through the stage of the IV and ER visits 20 years ago, and I went through the stage using moderate amounts of pain killers and relaxers to help ward off the break-throughs.  I've added OTCs back sometimes when I've figured out they'll work.

The neck, arm and upper back stretching and strengthening through mild yoga, pilates and general stretches made all the difference after about 6 months.  I'm still having trouble adding aerobic exercises.

Sounds like you have a neurologist who will work with you though - so that's very important.

 

 

 


hopefulmigrainer
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 902
   Posted 8/5/2007 2:13 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you for your replies. You guys have given me a lot to think about.

Since my migraines have gotten progressively worse, I think that hormonal changes may be a trigger. Perimenoupause can last up to 10 years. I too have the "barometric pressure" migraines. Since I've been on disability I have become a "night owl." I have insomnia so I can't seem to change my sleep patterns. I wonder if the "hours" of the day I am sleeping are a problem. I usually don't go to bed until 3-4 AM and get up around noon. I set the alarm for 11AM but it's hard to motivate yourself to get up when you are tired and have no committments. I often wake up with migraines but not always.

One time I had a 9-day period with no migraine. I had never experienced that before. Their seems to be no explanation for this. I have spent so much energy trying to "figure out" this condition. Everything seems to trigger migraines.

The hard part now is I don't have the $ to buy prescriptions. I used to take SOMA as my neck/shoulders are often tight. Pain killers really don't even touch the pain. The only thing that seems to work is a triptan (Imitrex).

I do neck stretches everyday. However, I am curious as to what the "arm stretches" are.

I don't want to sound like I'm making exuses but I live in a studio so I can't watch a YOGA or Pilates video.

What are you gals doing to manage your migraines?

Thanks!
Kelly
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen."
 
 

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