The Mother of All Headaches

Wendy Porter-Ouellet By Wendy Porter-Ouellet, 22nd May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Headaches & Migraines

My article about migraine headaches is based on my own experiences with them, how they affected me, the medications I tried and which ones worked, which ones did nothing to alleviate the pain.

The Beginning of a Nightmare

Throbbing, pulsing, stabbing agony, excruciating pain. These are merely a few words to describe what millions of us are plagued with on a regular basis, the dreaded migraine headache. The sudden onset of intense, throbbing pain on the left-side of my head was the beginning of a six-year nightmare, one that would turn my world upside-down. That first migraine arrived without warning in February 1996, it simply exploded inside my head. OUCH! As someone who had suffered relatively few headaches of any kind, I was somewhat frightened by the magnitude of the pain, but popped a couple of extra-strength Tylenol, grabbed an ice-pack, then retreated to my darkened bedroom to ride out the storm that was roiling inside my head. Eventually it disappeared. Relief never felt so good.

The Search for Answers

Over the next six months, these horrific headaches occurred on an average of one per week, which was far too many in my estimation. By this time I'd had a few appointments with my family doctor, who had diagnosed migraine headache and from there I began a journey into the world of tests, specialists and medications. The quest for information on migraines started with visits to the local library, and later, with numerous searches on the internet. Educating myself about migraines meant learning anything and everything I could find, such as, causes, triggers, treatments, therapies and medications. Triggers, I discovered, could be environmental factors such as bright lights, especially fluorescent, tobacco smoke, intense odours and fumes. Hormonal changes, stress, certain foods, skipped meals and changes in the weather are also culprits. Through the aid of a carefully kept food diary, I discovered that foods were not among my own personal triggers. It also became very apparent in the early stages what could hurtle me into the black hole of torture. Changes in the weather guaranteed at least one, if not more, days of pure agony, particularly with a forecast of rain or wind. Certain odours and fumes, such as tar and perfume, ranked at the top of my list, as did hormonal changes. Without fail, two or three days before my period arrived, a severe migraine landed in its usual spot, the left-side of my head.

More Doctors, More Drugs, Less Hope

By the time I was beginning my third year with what the "International Headache Society" defines as a "severe headache pain with a pounding quality, accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to head movements, sound and light", visits to my doctor occurred on a regular basis. Quite often it was to either change medications because the previous one didn't work, or to increase the dosage or amount of the narcotic pain reliever I'd been prescribed and was developing a dependency on. Whenever a new preventative drug was prescribed, my hopes would rise, only to be quashed when it became evident it wasn't going to work. During this time I met with two different neurologists, had the first of two CT- scans, blood tests galore, IV treatments where I was hospitalized for a couple of days at a time, and cut all caffeine from my diet. All was to no avail, leaving me extremely disappointed and very discouraged. The doctors were also perplexed, not knowing where to go from that point. I was praying for a miracle.

A Glimmer of Hope

My research was ongoing even though I was becoming more depressed with the state of my health. It seemed that no one had answers but I wasn't ready to give up, not yet. At this point I was willing to try just about anything to end the pain in my head. While surfing the internet I discovered the world of alternative therapies and once again felt a tiny glimmer of hope. Acupuncture, acupressure, massage therapy, detoxifying diets and chiropractic treatment were a handful I read about and actually tried. Much to my dismay, none of these proved to be successful, which only seemed to keep me dependant on the pain meds. This didn't make anyone happy, except for me, and only because taking the pain pills kept the pain from overwhelming me, and helped to provide some semblance of a normal life. With all the preventative medications and treatments I had tried and that had failed, I was at a very low place in my life. My family life and my job were both suffering due to my illness, and even though I didn't realize it at that time, the pills I relied on to keep the pain at a tolerable level were also contributing to the chaos all around.

The Beginning of The End

When I reached the fifth year of my hellish journey, two significant things happened. Rebound headaches (which I'd never heard of before) started to bombard me on a daily basis and were caused by my constant use of the narcotic pain medications. It was at this point that my family doctor advised me to start a methadone program, which I did. The methadone was to wean me off the opiates that had provided relief to my throbbing head for such a long time and I was terrified at the prospect of being in constant pain but I was told that since methadone is also an opiate, a non-addictive one, that I would very likely see a marked improvement in my headaches. That made me feel a bit better, gave me more hope than I'd had in a long time that maybe I would be on the road to recovery. How wrong I was.

Happy Endings

What transpired over the next fourteen months I can only describe as more of the nightmare I'd been living for so long, only in a different way. Much to my relief, the headaches did seem to improve vastly, however, I was living in a cloudy, hazy, surreal world and I didn't even seem to notice, or care for that matter. My family grew increasingly worried about me, finally taking matters into their own hands and on the advice of an addictions counsellor, succeeded in getting me into a program where I could be medically detoxed from the methadone. Believe it or not, my story actually has a happy ending, my favourite kind! After six long and very painful weeks in the hospital, my body was finally rid of all the drugs, most importantly, the methadone, and I returned home to my family, healthier, happier and headache-free. There were still some rough days but eventually those too were smoothed out and the nightmare was finally over. I had survived.


Headaches, Migraine Prophylactic, Migraine Treatment, Migraines

Meet the author

author avatar Wendy Porter-Ouellet
Introducing, Wendy Ouellet, a young-at-heart woman who is a wife, a mother of four incredible kids, a former education assistant and now a stay-at-home writer. Many interests, skills and expertise.

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author avatar Retired
24th May 2013 (#)

wow! glad that u had a happy ending. i have never had migrane but hv seen ppl suffering frm it. thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Wendy Porter-Ouellet
24th May 2013 (#)

Yes I was indeed a migraine sufferer for six long years, but I am so thankful that I now rarely have one, only once in a while and usually when it is raining or very windy. Thanks for reading my article, it was my first here on wikinut. Take care.

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