How long have you had migraine and what type of migraine do you have?
I’ve had migraine attacks for around 21 years. I suffer from cluster headaches which usually turn into a migraine. Typically pain behind my left eye, with nausea and without aura. They can last for hours to days.
How does migraine disease impact your life?
My migraine attacks began early in my nursing career when I started doing night shifts. For many years, migraine impacted my life significantly. I had lots of sick days with the pain and debilitating nausea and vomiting. I basically just tried to sleep it off an attack in bed in a dark room. This lasted for years until I finally stopped doing night shifts and got on the correct medication regime.
What medications, treatments or lifestyle changes have you tried to help manage your migraine disease?
Oh where to start!! I’ve tried 3 different beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, anti-epilepsy medication, antidepressants, NSAIDs, homeopathic remedy, naturopath, multiple acupuncture sessions, cranial osteopath, chiropractor, neurologist and my GP.
Luckily, after so many years of trying to get my medication combo right I am on nadolol and amitriptyline daily as a preventative and ibuprofen and triptans along with ondansetron when I have an attack.
I kept a headache journal for 8 months when everything wasn’t working. I also try to have a well-balanced diet, lots of water, reduce caffeine and stay active.
What are your biggest migraine triggers?
Menstruation is always terrible, late nights and not enough sleep, stress and unfortunately white wine.
How do you manage during a migraine attack?
The key for me is getting on top of them quickly and just taking my meds and allowing my body to rest and recover. Sometimes this is easier said than done with two energetic boys and a puppy!
How do you stay positive living with migraine disease?
It’s taken many years of getting onto a good plan that works for me. I hate having to take medication every day, but I’ve just learnt (the hard way) that it’s the only way to function with this debilitating illness. Sometimes it does get the better of me and I think why me when I’m going through a rough patch, but I now know it’s just a phase! I make sure I listen to my body and try to fit a bit of me time in every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
How can migraine care improve in New Zealand?
I think New Zealand is really behind in the funding for better medicine to help those with migraine. It’s such a common illness that’s just been swept under the carpet. Other countries are so advanced with amazing drugs that we can’t even access. It’s so wrong.
What advice do you have for other people in New Zealand living with migraine?
Migraine is something that many of us suffer from, and through discussion on forums such as the Migraine Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand private Facebook page we can see what is working for other people. Knowledge is power! Keep trying new things and keep going, what works for some won’t work for others. Listen to your body and do what works for you. Above all, hang in there and know that you are not alone.