I've been suffering with migraines for about eight months now, which happened to be three months after having George - whether or not it's related, I have no idea. I've done so much research and been back and for the doctors so much, that I thought detailing my experience might potentially help someone else.
I'm now on daily tablets to help control them and have been tracking my diet, sleep pattern and hormones to see what could be causing them.
Here's my migraine story....
Before the migraines
Growing up, I used to get the odd headache (like most people I guess) and migraines once or twice a year. Nothing I couldn't deal with, really. I didn't even suffer with pregnancy headaches, which I counted myself lucky for as my mum had suffered badly with me and my sisters.
Until I started suffering with them this year, I didn't even know migraines could affect people on a daily basis and to the scale they have to me.
Welcome to the world of migraines
The middle of January 2018, I had my first migraine of the year. I usually get them once a year, so just assumed I'd have this one and be back to my bubbly self the following day. How wrong I was. Day after day, I'd be bed-ridden with the migraine aura symptoms, followed by a pounding headache. This was a nightmare with a young baby. My husband had to take time off work, and my parents and in-laws would have George for the day whilst I spent the day feeling sorry for myself in bed.
I'd get a few days break from the migraines each month, but even on those days I'd feel all fuzzy where my brain had what I like to call "migraine scaring". My speech was slurred and I'd take forever and a day to try and get out what I wanted to say. On average, I was getting migraine episodes 15 to 18 times a month.
The migraines always follow the below pattern:
- Tiredness and moodiness
- Tingling/pins and needles down my left arm, and in my lips and tounge
- Aura - strange flashing and fuzzy patches in my vision (usually lasting about 20 minutes)
- Pounding in my head (lasting anywhere up to 24 hours)
Over the last eight months, there's been times where I've almost fell into depression due to the affect it was having on my daily life. I was on maternity leave, to spend time with my gorgeous baby boy, and I couldn't even do that. As soon as the aura symptoms came on, I'd feel my heart sink. Luckily I sought help before it got any worse on my mental health.
A trip to A&E
On the 15th February 2017, I took my first trip to A&E. The pain and sickness was terrible and I felt that I just couldn't cope anymore, and because it was a Sunday, A&E was my only option in order to get any medical-type help.
When we got to the hospital (I always hate going to A&E as never think I should be there unless my arm is hanging off) , I was seen by a doctor and given oxygen (as apparently this helps) as well as a nasal sumatriptan spray to go home with.
The migraines return with avengeance
Following my trip to A&E, I thought I might have been cured (how naïve I was!). The sumatriptan spray seemed to work for about a week and then the migraines returned. And they didn't just 'return', they returned with extra pounding hammers!
About two weeks after the trip to hospital, one Sunday, I was prepping dinner for me, Greg and the in-laws. Blumin typical, as I started getting food ready, the migraine aura appeared. Greg told me to go lie down, so I did. About 20 mins after lying down, the pounding set in and I couldn't lie down any longer as the pain was so bad. Greg walked in and I was sat on the bed, rocking back and forth, crying in pain.
He was adamant there and then that we go to hospital. He rang his parents to come and collect George. Now, he says he should have phoned an ambulance at this moment, but with his sensible head one, he thought he would get me to hospital faster himself.
The second trip to A&E
Greg drove me to A&E (again!), but this time, I was in and out of consciousness, being sick and couldn't move or speak. On the journey to the hospital, I was trying to tell Greg that I was warm and wanted the window open. But getting frustrated as I couldn't speak properly, I instead opened the car door!
Greg immediately pulled over in shock. At the time, we were travelling 60mph around a corner - but all I wanted was some fresh air. Thinking about it now, it's absolutely crazy and thank goodness nothing serious came from that strange action. The next few hours I have hardly any recollection of.
Pulling up outside A&E, Greg carried me towards the doors. People could see him struggling, so pulled up a wheelchair for him to put me into (thank you whoever you might be). We didn't have to wait long though as I was in a terrible state. The nurses took me through to the consultation area. I remember a nurse trying to ask me what was wrong and I could not speak, no matter how hard I tried.
Greg informed me of what happened following this.
Five hours in Resus
I spend five hours in Resus, where I had constant monitoring. I slept and was unconscious for 99% of this. Doctors were trying to get information out of me to help them diagnose me, but I was no use.
At first, doctors thought I might have a bleed on the brain. I can't image what must have been going through Greg's head. It upsets me now thinking about what I put him through. He phoned my parents and his parents, telling them the potentially upsetting news, informing them that I was going to be sent for a brain scan. Luckily the results came back clear. But the doctors were still non-the-wiser.
Next, they wanted to rule out meningitis. I started to come around later that evening, when Greg explained everything to me. It was so surreal. He mentioned meningitis to me and I knew I had heard that word before, but couldn't remember what it was or what it meant. My brain still wasn't quite back to its fully-functioning self.
That evening, I was transferred to a bed in A&E. As I had begun to come round to being myself, the docs weren't as worried, so there was no longer a need for me to be in Resus. This was a huge relief for Greg!
I was kept on constant fluids, painkillers and antibiotics (for if I did have meningitis). I did feel pretty rough. When the morning came round, I was given a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) so that the doctors could find out whether it was meningitis I was suffering from.
In the end, these results also came back clear. Thank god. The lumbar puncture procedure was horrible, but I knew it was important that it be done. I was allowed home as soon as the results were back and the doctors agreed it was a bad migraine attack.
My migraines up till now
Since my second hospital visit, things have started to improve. I was given sumatriptan tablets to take and have since made numerous visits to my GP to see how they can help.
I've been put on Propranolol (40mg twice a day) and I take sumatriptan tablets as soon as I get the migraine aura symptoms. I can't pinpoint what has been helping, as I've also cut out cheese, which I identified as a potential trigger if I have too much. I used the app "Migraine Buddy" to keep a diary of my migraines to help me understand them a bit more. I definitely think its helped - there's also a chat function where you can chat to other people suffering from migraines. It's always nice to know you're not alone.
As another preventative method, in June I had the Daith piercing in my right ear. To be fair, whether or not it actually works I have no idea, but since having the piercing my migraines have probably reduced by half.
I now have migraines about five to eight times a month, and I'm always prepared and ready to treat them. The sumatriptan tablets don't always work, but I wouldn't not take them now.
I'm now considering the Botox method of prevention, which is now available on the NHS should you have tried numerous other options. I'm even open to paying for it, just to get rid of this debilitating illness.
I never really knew how common migraines this regular actually are. I do feel sorry for others also suffering and understand there are people a lot worse off. My advice is to take every day as it comes and seek medical help. I really don't know what I would have done without our awesome NHS!
Are you suffering with similar migraine symptoms? Feel free to message me to chat about it more. I'd love to help you out.