My Migraine Journey – Rykeita Larkins


My Migraine History

Hello, I’m Rykeita, 32 years old from Bronx, New York. I’m a mail carrier at the United States Postal Service.

I used to be the second person in my family to suffer from migraines. My mom suffered from migraines from when she was 16 years old. She went through trial and error of trying various medications from the triptan family to sprays. Nothing had worked for her. As she got older, she had this trick, which she later introduced me to. A half glass Coca Cola with excedrin migraine. Now she’s in her 50s and she barely has a migraine. Now, I’m the only migraine sufferer in my family.

My migraines started for me in the summer time of 2015, age 27. I thought it was just regular headache, so I would take regular excedrin. The pain would start behind my eyes though. But I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I had just started working at the post office and I was working up to 10-12 days straight before having a day off. Working long hours into the night. I just figured my body was tired. A year goes by and I wasn’t feeling the headaches as much! I thought it was over and the Excedrin was helping, until my body got used to taking the medicine that it didn’t work anymore.

In August 2016, the headaches became more frequent and the pain was becoming unbearable! I didn’t know what to do. I was still taking Excedrin at the time and would go to sleep. I would wake up feeling better, but then roughly 2 hours later, the pain was back. Around this time, the headaches were picking up. Someone would’ve thought I was a regular pill popper. I would take 2 pills in the morning to soothe over the headache. Then about 4 hours later, I was taking 2 more pills. In total, I was taking 6-8 pills. It was like a temporary relief.

One night, my migraine was so bad, it woke me out my sleep! All I could do was cry, which made it worse. The back of my eyes hurt so bad that it hurt to open them and I was in the dark. Eventually I cried myself to sleep.
The next morning, I called my mom and told her about these headaches. She said, “that’s not a regular headache, Rykeita. That sounds like you’re having migraines.” She asked me a few questions and she told me I needed to see a neurologist as soon as possible. She said she didn’t want it to be mistaken as a migraine and it’s an aneurysm.

I saw my regular doctor sometime in September. That was the only date they had available. I told her about my experience and the medicine I was taking. I wasn’t able to tell her my triggers because it was all new to me. She referred me to a neurologist. October 2016, I had my first appointment. The office had dimmed lighting which felt comfortable to my eyes. I did a CAT scan to make sure everything was okay and that came back normal. I was having migraines at least 4-5 times a week, roughly up to 20 times a month.

I’ve tried Sumatriptan, rizatriptan, and naratriptan and none of them worked. My neurologist tried to put me on another triptan and I told her no. Then she gave me topamax to use as a preventative. It did help control my migraines but the side effects were horrible. I took it for about a year until my neurologist realized my migraines were subsiding and she said it was okay to get off the medication. Little did she know, that was a mistake.

About a couple months being off of it, the migraines began to resurface and it came with a vengeance! She put me on diclofenac but to only use when necessary. As soon as I would feel a migraine coming, I took it and within 30 minutes, I was feeling better. My neurologist also prescribed me amitriptyline to help me sleep at night. I realized that lack of sleep was a trigger for my migraine.

Over the years, now jumping into 2020, I’ve learned that my triggers are lack of sleep, lack of eating, stress, drinking too much alcohol, like if I go out the night before, the light from my phone/computer or TV when I’m watching or looking at it too long, working long hours and too many days at work. I’ve also stopped taking all those medications that my neurologist was prescribing me because it just wasn’t working. Now, I take my mom’s advice of half glass of Coca Cola (caffeine) with excedrin MIGRAINE! Caffeine actually helps with my migraines. I can vouch for that one. But not everyone is the same.

Now, I may have a migraine about twice every other month. The longest I went without having a migraine was 117 days. I’ve been watching my triggers honestly. Trying not to be on my phone/computer too long, eating healthier and more frequent, and I’ve been taking the amitriptyline to help me sleep at night. I also try to watch how much alcohol I consume when I go out. It’s not worth it the next morning. I’ve also been trying not to allow work nor people to stress me out. I try to remain humble as much as possible.

The People Around Me 

My mom is very supportive and gives me advice on how to control of my migraines and she put me on to the Coca Cola and excedrin migraine trick. Sometimes we have to make or create our own remedies when medicine isn’t working. My friends try to understand and be helpful as much as they can be. They may ask if I need a head rub.

The Effect of Migraine on My Life

When my migraines hit, I’m not as cheerful at work. I can’t really function at work. I move really slow and I don’t want to be outside. I just want to be left alone in silence, in the dark.

What I’ve Tried

I’ve tried various medications in the triptan family which never helped. It made it worse. My eyes would feel like they were on fire and the throbbing would get worse before it got better. I tried topamax as a preventative. It did help, but I would have this tingling feeling in my fingertips and toes and I could barely feel anything. I’ve tried diclofenac which helped a lot, but my neurologist said if I took too much of it, the migraines can resurface. It’s not meant to be used as a preventative! Now, I just take my mother’s advice: Half glass of Coca Cola with excedrin Migraine, As long as I catch the migraine before it strikes, it does work wonders.

How I Cope On Unbearable Days 

When my migraines are unbearable, my coping mechanism is to lay down in my bed in the dark and try to fall asleep, hoping by time I wake up the migraine is gone.

How Migraine Buddy Helps Me

My neurologist introduced me to this app and I love it. I’m able to record everything. The time it started, medication I took, how bad the pain is, my sleep pattern, and it keeps track of this on the calendar. I also like how it tells me how many days I’ve been migraine-free!

I’m not a fan of taking various or numerous pills. Sometimes we have to find our own cure and try to control our triggers the best way we can. It took me almost 5 years to get it together. I know my fellow migraineurs can do it too! We can’t allow migraines to take over our lives and keep us from enjoying life and having fun.

– Rykeita.

Thank you, Rykeita, for stepping forward to share your migraine journey with the community.

When you share your stories, it not only helps others but you heal in the process too. If you would like to share your story and let your voice be heard like Rykeita, you may do so here:

With love, Jenny and the Migraine Buddy Team

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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