I had my first migraine attack at around age 12 and continued to suffer episodic migraine attacks during my teens and twenties.
After the birth of my second child my migraine attacks became more chronic and I started to try more migraine-specific medications. Preventative medications didn’t decrease the attacks enough, and some of the medicines were too hard on my stomach as I suffered from gastric ulcers in my 20’s.
By age 39, I was taking way too many NSAIDs and triptans to be healthy. I also ended up in the hospital every 3 months or so because of weeklong episodes that just wouldn’t respond to treatment. It was at that time my doctor (in Canada, where I’m originally from) booked me in to see a neurologist. The neurologist discussed all of the different treatments with me, from beta-blockers to Botox, and because of my medical history and side effects I’d had from other medications, decided we should try Botox.
He used a migraine protocol of about 30 injection sites on my forehead, over the top of my head, neck and shoulders. I’m needle phobic so these treatments were difficult, but 100% covered by medical insurance.
I continued with Botox for 2 years every 3 months and my migraine attacks diminished to where I was only using minimal triptans and NSAIDs about twice a month. I went from an average of 21 days of pain per month to about 8 days.
In 2014, my family and I moved to New Zealand from Canada and Botox was barely known here. There was only one doctor in the Auckland CBD who was injecting with the full protocol at a cost of $1,600 each treatment. I went twice, but couldn’t justify the cost, so stopped.
To my surprise, my migraine episodes stayed relatively few for 3 years. However, in the past 6 months, I’ve become severely chronic again, likely due to perimenopause, and there are also changes in where I feel the pain and its severity. I now have no pain-free days, and only about 3-5 days a month where I am almost pain free, enough that I feel like a normal human.
I tried the Watson technique from the Headache Clinic, which didn’t help. My doctor also injected just my forehead with Botox, which only resulted in the rest of my scalp tightening and being intolerable. I have an appointment with Auckland neurologist Dr Rosamund Hill soon, so I’m keeping a daily diary again of my pain level and medications.