Migraine Journey Wednesdays (Vol.27 - Ria)

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Hi, my name is Ria, right now I live in Singapore. I’m 34 years old and I teach kids from ages 12-18.

My Migraine History 

I can’t recall exactly when I first started getting migraines but I think I was in my mid to late teens. They were usually timed around my menstrual cycle and occurred a few days before and after. In my mid-20’s I started to get migraines more frequently, 3-4 times a month. Lasting on average 3-4 days. I would suddenly find myself unable to speak or think clearly and realise I must have a migraine coming. I spent many days just laying indoors with the shade drawn hiding from the sun and feeling relief once the sun set. 

In my late 20’s to early 30’s, my migraine frequency escalated due to stress. I was suffering from migraines up to 25 days out of a given month. I became desperate. Seeking help, I was prescribe to take Topiramate and Sumatriptan daily along with painkillers I was already using. This has since made a huge difference in my life. I still get migraines, but now I am down to anywhere between 1-4 in a month (3-12 days).

I’ve realised that often the day or two before a migraine I trend to feel despondent or depressed. Often this lifts once my migraine arrives. Noticing this has helped e realise the importance of again monitoring my migraines more closely to see if there is anything I can use to mitigate this. 

I recognise triggers such as coming down from a stressful week too quickly and trying to set routines in place on weekends. Other triggers for me are coffee and not following a sleep routing/being tired. Recently I developed or discovered that I am lactose intolerant so I am trying to avoid dairy and see if this leads to less issues. 

The People Around Me

My boss at work calls me ‘sicknote’. He is a nice man and has begun to be able to notice visually when I have a migraine. He tried his best to be understanding. My family and friends all know about about my condition. However, they cannot all understand it. I will never forget a friend of mine asked me “Would you rather loose your left hand or never have a migraine again?” She was so surprised when I paused to give it a serious thought. As I’m a righty and we have made so many advances in prosthetics I really was trying to weight it up. 

The Effects of Migraines on My Life

As I teach it can be challenging some days to control the level of noise and light around me. Taking time off is very difficult so I have seldom done so unless I was almost dying. I get nausea, sensitivity, dizziness, I get confused and find it hard to speak clearly. I try to make sure my lessons are very prepared so that if I wake up with a migraine then I can “drift” through the day. Mostly the students cannot tell unless things are very bad. Once I am not at work, I do nothing , I cancel all social events, I don’t even go grocery shopping. 

Treatments I’ve Tried

I have taken many things but currently my best combination are Topiramate 50mg daily, Sumatriptan 50mg, combined Ibuprofen 200-400mg and Paracetamol 500mg.

On Days Things Get Unbearable 

I stay inside, I drug up, I sip water all day long, I play documentaries in the background so I have white noise to help me fall asleep. I use cool towels or icepacks, or the aircon to find a cool temperature as I often find my body has heated up. 

Words of Advice for My Fellow Migraineurs 

I would go to my doctors and not expect them to be able to prescribe me anything that helped. After many years of nothing then one day they did. Now I keep hoping for new changes and advances that can keep helping. I try to mix things up. I plan to see a nutritionist to help identify any other possible triggers I may have missed all these years, or any beneficial foods. Like breathing, migraine days are a part of our lives. They can be tiring, but we can try to make each day as easy for ourselves as possible.

Thank you, Ria, for stepping forward to share your migraine journey with everyone. When you share your stories it not only helps other but you heal in the process too. If you would like to share your story and let your voice be heard like Ria you may do so here: bit.ly/2rJcpMR 

With love, the Migraine Buddy Team 

Healint Singapore