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Migraine Awareness Month Interview with the Experts Part 2

And now Part 2 of my Migraine Awareness Month interviews. This time I interviewed Mary Ellen who has suffered for years with chronic migraines. She offers some wonderful insights and positive messages for those who also have to add coping strategies to their routines.

1. When did these chronic migraines start for you?

At age 21 ( 33 years and counting)

2.  How long do they last and how do you cope?

They could last up to 3 or 4 days. I took many different kinds of pain killers in the beginning – primarily Tylenol 3s. Then I began taking Imitrex and Tylenol 3s. I would isolate myself in a dark room with an ice pack and then when the pain was too great and there was no relief I would call my Doctor, a GP who has been my doctor for the past 22 years, and she would give me a shot of Demoral/Gravol and then I would return to bed and wait for the migraine to end. Now I have a different pain med routine. I take Indorol everyday and I use a 5 mg nose spray of ZOMIG and have regular BOTOX migraine treatment every 3 months.

3.  When you feel one coming on, how do you start prepping for it so that it impacts minimally on your life and work?

I start with liquid Advils right away and then wait about a 1/2 hour. If there is no relief and the headache is progressing into a migraine, I take a nose spray, ZOMIG, and try and lay down if I can. Many times I wake up during the night with a migraine and I spray right away. If the pain continues I take Tylenol 3s as well.

4.  I read that your migraines come on when you are relaxed, oh my, what strategies do you employ to deal with this?

There really isn’t a lot that I can do except I know that one of my triggers is lack of sleep, if I know that there is an special event that I want to attend then I try and get some rest before hand, but most of the time when the stress has subsided it can trigger a migraine. Unfortunately I have had a few challenging holidays where I have been unable to completely enjoy them as I have been suffering from a migraine. I no longer will take a red eye flight as I know that I won’t sleep and I will increase my chances of an attack.

5.  How does your family and workplace cope with your chronic migraines? What advice do you have for others in explaining and dealing with this with their workplaces and families?

I have an extremely supportive family. My older sister suffered, so my siblings and parents were always there for me. I guess I decided a long time ago to tell people what was wrong with me, that this is what my life is, that I cope as best I can and since Botox  I have had very few attacks, my life has changed considerably. I don’t hide it from work either, I tell people what it is like and what I do to try and manage but I have had to miss work I have also attended meetings and had to travel with a migraine but my colleagues know and are as supportive as they possibly can be, they usually want to help in whatever way they can. I have found that when I tell people they understand, they often have a friend or a family member who suffers and they are quick to tell me about their situation. My children have always been aware of my attacks and have been so supportive, they see how much of an effort I make to not miss anything that they are involved in and I know that they both understand the pain as they have each experienced one attack in their lives. Luckily it has only been one attack but it was enough for them to realize what I have to deal with.

6.  As I asked Dr. Shapero, what is your message to sufferers?

To not give up hope, to keep trying, that no two migraine sufferers are the same, our triggers are different, our symptoms can be different and what works for one does not always work for other sufferers. I would tell them to educate themselves, to read and research what is out there about migraine and to talk to their Doctor and keep pressing them to get them the help they need to refer them to migraine specialists. I have been seeing Dr. Rose Giammarco for 1.5 years and have been given a new life. I have travelled, worked and lived almost completely migraine-free since my first visit. Migraine may always be a part of someone’s life but with the proper support and medical care I believe we can live a good life.

Thank you Mary Ellen for your candid answers. You are an inspiration. For more information on Chronic Migraine’s, check out the website: www.mychronicmigraine.ca

As part of this series for Migraine Awareness Month I am also having a giveaway as mentioned in Part 1 of this interview with Dr. Shapero. You can also enter by doing the same things here, leaving a comment and liking on Facebook!


One Response

  1. I just wanted to let you know I empathize. My husband is a chronic migraine sufferer. He gets migraines at least 4 a week…some lasting 2-3 days. His stem from cyclic pain. He was in several accidents in the Army that got his neck out of whack. So not only does he have migraine s but also chronic neck pain, depression from constant pain, and PTSD. It is very debilitating for him and very hard for me to watch him go through this, steadily getting worse over the last 15 years. I wish this on no one and I wish you all the best!

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

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