I started getting migraines at 18 and have had them off and on all my adult years. Unfortunately, migraines are hereditary on my mom’s side of the family. Two years ago, almost to the day of this post, I had an excruciating migraine. It lasted a couple of days, and I thought my head would explode. After this came the dreaded migraine hangover. It’s a strange feeling–you can’t get your thoughts together, and everything moves in slow motion and blurry vision. The dull headache is present–which can and did last several days.
Two weeks later, it happened again, but this time it didn’t go away. This unwelcomed guest stayed for 15 months. Yeah, I know. Just, wow. After two or three weeks, I finally went to the doctor. Important note here, I am allergic or uber-sensitive to most medications. So, Excedrin Migraine or Tylenol were my only options for pain.
I went through various tests, medications, and other care: CT scan, MRI, sleep study, (don’t get me started on that one. UGH!) chiropractic care, muscle manipulation by a second chiropractor. Two doctors informed me that taking Excedrin Migraine or Tylenol every day would trigger migraines, and I would have to limit my use to nine times a month. I was beside myself.
I’m allergic to migraine meds, so they suggested antidepressants, of which I am also allergic. Next, we tried Topamax one a day for a week, then two, then three, then four. I felt like I had dementia. I couldn’t remember anything. I had problems finding words. I didn’t make sense. The frustration turned to irritation, with a change in my personality. I had to ween myself off of it. Unfortunately, it took another four weeks to do so, going backward in the prescribed doses. Plus, another several weeks to get it entirely out of my system. The worst part? It didn’t help the migraine.
The doctor recommended a blood pressure med, which again did not help. I weened myself from that after a month or two. Several other medicines were tried, which my body rejected.
Kaiser will help with the cost of chiropractic care, so I tried that. Frustration again! It would help for about 24 hours, and then the pain would return. After 6 visits, the doctor sent my results to a third-party doctor. This doctor had the audacity to say I no longer needed help. I was cured. I went through the roof. How dare he! He didn’t know a thing about me. How could he make a judgment call like that? I just wept.
My church prayed over me with usually immediate results. But again, the headache would return within 24 hours. Cold washcloths and ice packs helped some, and my wonderful husband massaged my shoulders, neck, and head each evening before bed.
I felt like I was being stabbed with ice picks in one particular place, so I looked up occipital nerves; it seemed a possibility. Every once in a while, I got ice picked in the same place on the other side of my head. Another reason to think this was the case. I was referred to a neurologist who did not believe this was the case. More meds. No results. Bad side effects. I changed neurologists and received seven shots in my scalp—excruciating injections and still, no positive results. All the doctors could do now was offer opioids or narcotics.
The next option was acupuncture. The first time I went hurt so bad for the entire visit. I left crying and in more pain than when I went in. They suggested I keep trying as it may take a few sessions to work. Needles going in were painful, needles coming out were painful, and the 45 minutes of “relaxation” was irritatingly painful and definitely not relaxing. I went. It hurt. I was a mess. I stopped going after the third or fourth visit. No help, I felt miserable.
All through this time, I played piano at Kaiser two mornings a week, mentored on Thursday evenings, went to church on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. As bad as my headaches were, I still wanted to contribute and not wallow in self-pity. I did have to change my four-hour shifts at the hospital to two hours each day. I did my part as long as my headache didn’t keep me in bed. Each afternoon, I would spend a good three to four hours abed, with a cold washcloth on my brow in a dark room with no noise.
A year into my illness, I injured my right shoulder and elbow in late October, resulting in a dislocated shoulder and tennis elbow. Talk about adding insult to injury. By mid-November, I took leave as a volunteer at the hospital and then mentoring. And since the pandemic, I have not returned. Anyway, at this point, I would do anything to get relief. Several friends recommended CBD oil, so in late October, I bought a bottle of 750 ml. I purchased this in San Diego, and Kevin and I drove home singing nearly all the way. The pain had decreased, and music was pleasant. Within a week, my migraine pain was lessening. Pain management, good. Since I had stopped playing at Kaiser, I wasn’t singing much. But my throat was scratchy. I thought maybe, I sang wrong on the way home.
I drank tons of water and tea, but it remained scratchy, and in December, although I wanted to sing Christmas carols, my voice just wasn’t there. I thought maybe it was because I wasn’t vocalizing, so I just didn’t sing. My headaches were better. That was what I was most concerned about. We visited our daughter in Oregon, and I picked up more CBD, this time, 1,000 ml, as the headaches were better but not completely gone. By the end of January, my mouth was burning, and my voice raspy. In the first week of February, my tongue and lips were numb. I looked it up–I was allergic. By then, my headaches were just about gone, but the cure had targeted my livelihood, my joy, my voice. Of course, I quit taking it, and thankfully I haven’t had a migraine since. I do still have a headache once or twice a week, but nothing like the pain I had before. I made an appointment to see the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor, but COVID 19 hit, and they weren’t seeing patients. I have yet to get the scope I need to see what damage the CBD oil did to my vocal cords. I am afraid of what the results might mean. I am still raspy, and my tone thin, not full like it used to be. I can’t imagine not singing again. So, the cure was a curse. I am saddened that the only thing that did help, hurt me as well.