Almost every day, for nearly four decades, I had a headache. In fact, headaches were so commonplace, I stopped noticing them and merely accepted the ever-present throbbing as normal.
That’s to say nothing of the migraines, which were crippling—leaving me on my back in bed, with the lights off and no noise, shutting out the world. I had a migraine nine to 15 days every month. I felt stuck at 50 percent capacity, incapable of reaching my potential as a wife, mother and business owner.
Usually, my migraines would last a day before withdrawing back into a headache, but a few years ago, I suffered from an attack that lasted 12 days. I was in so much pain, I didn’t want to move. I couldn’t sleep. I threw up, it hurt so bad. I kept telling myself “it will get better tomorrow,” but after almost two weeks, I forced myself to the emergency room.
Their response: Sorry, but there’s nothing we can do.
Initially, this left me with a sense of despair. Is this really going to be my life? What if this doesn’t go away? What about my kids? Who will take care of my family? Migraine can feel hopeless because while the pain is excruciating, there are no visible symptoms. As a result, well-meaning people often don’t fully appreciate how insufferable life as a patient can be.
But I was done accepting my situation as normal, and I resolved to find a solution. That led to a journey to find not only the right neurologist, but also the right medication that worked for me. It took time, but after 25 tries, my physician and I found a treatment that finally brought migraine relief.
It may sound trite, but unless you’ve gone through a situation similar to mine, I don’t think it’s possible to fully understand the impact of finding the right medicine. Every day, I still wake up and examine whether I have a headache, but unlike before, the answer is usually “no.” It’s ironic because rationally, I understand a pain-free life is supposed to be normal, but I dealt with headache and migraine for so long, I can hardly believe they’re mostly gone.
Sadly, migraine treatments are not a lifetime guarantee. It took 25 tries to find the right one for me, but it could stop working one day, and I want to know there is a 26th option to try or a 27th. For that, we must keep pursuing new solutions.
As someone who intimately understands migraine, I fully appreciate the research being done to counteract this condition. My story is proof these efforts are worth it. I was living at half capacity for almost 40 years.
Now that I’m living pain-free, I can be a better mom, wife and business owner. I can do so much more for society. Compound that change by the 38 million people who suffer from migraine in the United States, and the economics of innovation make perfect sense.
I don’t share my story because I want sympathy or pity. I share it to as a message to other patients. Please don’t lose hope. Please don’t accept your situation as normal. Your solution is out there; it’s only a matter of time before we can find it.
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