I have chronic intractable migraine. Over the past 12 years I have been in pain almost daily. I usually get one or two days’ reprieve from migraine a week, but sometimes, I can be in a cycle for months at a time.
My daily life is challenging. Even though I experience such intense pain, I still have to be a mother to my kids and a partner to my husband. Trips to the grocery store and the bank continue, as do preparing meals and doing laundry. Sometimes we just eat sandwiches, have breakfast for dinner, or order takeout for a week straight. You’ve heard the phrase, “parenting is a full-time job.” Parenting with chronic migraine feels like a full-time job with overtime and no weekends off.
The following images show what my life is like during a very difficult cycle that won’t break.
Migraine in pictures
Sometimes, first-and-second-line treatments aren’t able to provide relief. When this happens, I typically contact my headache specialist to explore other options for breaking a stubborn migraine cycle at home. Unfortunately, the course of treatment they recommended wasn’t effective — and caused insomnia to boot.
Scenes from urgent care
After four weeks in pain, I made the decision to go to urgent care. My pain level remained steady between a 5 and an 8 every day. I could no longer deal with the increasing pain, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. Any time I go to urgent care, I make sure that the protocol my headache specialist and I came up with is followed. It had been several months since I’d had to go. This is what chronic intractable daily migraine looks like when you can’t take the pain anymore.
Home from urgent care, but still in pain
I took this photo after my trip to urgent care didn’t break my migraine. After I got home and went to bed, the pain spiked in the middle of the night. A week later, I was still in the grip of severe pain.
Miles for Migraine 2018
Migraine can also make me feel empowered. I had the pleasure of being one of the patient speakers at the Miles for Migraine Walk/Run event in Washington, D.C. in October 2018. The organization presented me with their Warrior Honoree award for my advocacy work. My best friend and youngest son walked in support of me. It was an amazing day to be someone with migraine!
Smiling through a migraine attack
Later that month, I had the honor and privilege to be asked to be a keynote speaker at a special event. The meeting was focused on elevating the patient voice and I was there to share my perspective as someone living with chronic migraine. You can’t tell by this photo, but I was dealing with extreme fatigue from a new migraine medication I’d started. I was also in the middle of a migraine attack. Although my body was working against me, I still had to show up and tough it out for the long day that was ahead of me. The day was a success, but as soon as I got home I crashed and slept for an entire day to recover.
More than meets the eye
In every photo above, I am in pain — in some cases that’s obvious, in others it’s not. There are many, many more people like me out there who are doing their best to make it through each day in spite of near-crippling pain. I hope these photos give you a peek into my life with migraine, and help you better understand what it’s like to live with an invisible illness.
For more information on how to manage migraine, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
MIG-US-NP-00114 FEBRUARY 2019