In praise of migraine medications...

I only recently figured out that what I thought were just Really Bad Headaches were, in fact, migraines. I feel validated, I suppose. Nice to know that when I was curled up in bed with an eye mask on, wishing I owned ear plugs and strong narcotics, that I wasn’t just being a big wimp.

So, I went to my doc. “Doc,” says I, “whimper big pain sniffle sound sensitivity sob nausea whine” and so on. Doc, knowing I have no health insurance, kindly writes me a scrip for the generic stuff, Midrin.

Surprise, surprise, one day later, I’m out with a friend and starting to wonder why I’m feeling sick to my stomach. Then I notice the sound sensitivity - which starts with feeling like someone’s trying to do a Roy Batty to my head - and it occurs to me that I’m about to go into a full blown migraine, the kind that usually lasts several hours. I grab my medication, take two red pills and hang in there.

In half an hour, it’s gone. Like someone has peeled a skin tight wrapping of pain off my head, it’s gone. No more nausea, my ears spring back into their correct position, my head is clear as a bell. Half an hour, when usually I’m out for five or six hours at least.

Hot DAMN! This is fantastic! It’s as big a deal as getting my depression treated. All of a sudden, I have this chunk of time with my friend back, when before it would have been completely lost. I don’t have to worry about these things hitting out of nowhere or deal with hours of throbbing pain that I can’t do anything about.

So, look, you guys: if you’ve got Really Bad Headaches that might be migraines, go see your doc. Treat 'em! IT. IS. A. GOOD. THING. Seriously.

I saw recently that they were promoting the use of Topomax for treatment of migraines. I took Topamax as a mood stabilizer for bipolar. Couldn’t tolerate the confusion and fuzzy feeling. It ain’t called Dopamax for nothing. Anyone with migraines has my deepest compassion. Those things sound brutal.

Glad you found a good med, phouka. I don’t get them nearly as bad as I used to, but I remember taking lots of meds that were worse than the migraine (I was on Cafergot and a high blood pressure med - Inderal, I think). I seem to have grown out of them a bit – 4 Excedrin at symptom onsent and half an hour’s rest usually kills 'em.

Interesting, I also get that feeling when the headache finally goes away, that is bordering on euphoria. Like the absence of pain is so profound that you’re elated at feeling normal. Getting migraines with any amount of regularity can be a real burden on living your life.


Imitrex is my migraine killer of choice. Kills ~10/month, and is the reason I have health insurance. Don’t you feel vindicated, phouka? Isn’t it great to know that they weren’t “just headaches” that knocked you out?

I think only someone with migraines or someone who is close to someone with migraines can begin to understand the pain and life disruption. I can’t tell you how much it irks me when someone with no experience with migraines says, “So what? Its just a headache - I get headaches all the time, and you don’t see me complaining/taking off work/going home sick!” (ARGH!! mumble mumble pit pit. . .)

I get migrains all. the damn. time. It sucks. I’ve pretty much concluded that they are heat induced (if I sleep with the air conditioner above 74 I wake up in the middle of the night with a migrain. 73 and below? I’m fine).

In high school, the doctor gave me a prescription for some blood pressure medicine that doubled as a migrain reducer (my blood pressure wasn’t the least bit high). The Doc told me to take 20 mg of whatever it was and that I might feel dizzy, but it should be no biggy. Yeah, I would pass out. Even when I would take 10 mg, I’d get really fuzzy. Upside: no migrains. Downside: random passing out.

I actually would have dealt with the dizzy spells, except I was on the tennis team and outside in the heat at practice for 3 hours a day. I got off the medication and now I have learned to work my way though my migrains (breathing, visualizing, hitting myself in the temple :smack: :D). Learning what triggers my migrains was also a big help.

After fifteen + years of a lonely battle with migraines, (hormonal, food triggers, stress and the ever-fun, barometrically related YAY ME! I have my migraines under control with the power punch of:

Correg 10 mg, as a preventitive. (blood pressure med) and if one squeaks by I hit it with either Imitrex nasty aftertaste, but it beats having my head feel like an ice pick is being driven inside it. or MaxAlt.
If anyone has problems with migraines, figure out if it is stress related, food triggers ( there are alot of foods that just send up flares of sheer pain into your skull before you even fully digest them… yes, I am talking to you, red wine cleverly hidden in that fabulous gumbo dish. You ruined my night all those years ago. and BACON, you heartless wench… and the ever popular with wimmen, hormones (YAY!) Barometric headaches or migraines are not as common and I am more accurate than the Weather Channel. w00t!

There are more ways now to prevent them or abort them so you don’t have to suffer.

If I didn’t have these options, I probably wouldn’t be able to function 2-3 days a week.

Ah yes. MaxAlt- my savior. That stuff was GLORIOUS! It had a lovely, minty after taste as well.

Shirley, I get weather related migraines as well. Every spring I can count on spending the first warm, humid weekend in bed.
Sausage, you are exactly right. When the pain finally goes away, it is a sort of euphoria. You just want to sob with joy that there’s no pain.

I’ve had my share of migraines and believe me, the feeling of one going away is one of the best feelings ever. I went through it seemed like every medication out there but they all made my migraines 10x worse. I finally found a preventative that works for me. I take Vivactil twice a day and mannnn do I love that med. I kinda think I’m addicted to it though… if I forget to take a pill even five minutes later I’ll get a throbbing pain in my temple until I take it. Ah well. I hope you continue to have success with your migraine treatment, phouka!

Ah yes, fellow migraineurs! Phouka - I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you, and have realized what the heck is happening to you.

I’m very lucky that I only get minor ones regularly - the pain isn’t too bad, but it does wear on me after a few hours, or days. Took me a long time to get them diagnosed as migraines. I’ve finally learned to take the Imitrex as soon as the symptoms start, instead of being in denial for so long the abortive no longer works. I don’t get the aura stuff too often, but I’ll catch myself rubbing my eye or temple, and one side of my sinuses gets stuffed. Then it’s time to pop the I. Also fortunate not to have very noticable side effects - just scalp tenderness (?) and a feeling of spaced out tiredness.

Dang monthly hormone swings.

I appreciate my fortune even more when I get one of the full-blown, throwing up, no light, no noise, never-ending monsters that a lot of you get every time, brave souls.

I know the research isn’t fully in, but I have to admit that I’m taking supplements regularly, and my anecdotal (headache calendar) memory tells me that the decrease in severity I experienced a few years ago was associated with taking a constant feverfew/magnesium dose.

I never noticed the uplift post-migraine until I read about it in Oliver Sacks’ book, but it’s definitely there. Anyone ever had a stomach migraine like he describes?

For me, the Imitrex, it did nothing. A cup of coffee and then Tylenol until it went away, was what I had to resort to, thanks, doc. He told me that’s all there was for treating migraines. By the time I learned better I wasn’t having them more than a couple of times a year.

In my thirties and forties I used to get migraines four to five times per month—it was mostly migraines that got me good and addicted to prescription codeine based pain pills. That and the fact that I LIKED codeine based pain pills. After detox and rehab, a doctor gave me Midrin and I’ve taken it ever since. Strangely enough, I feel no compulsion to abuse them, and they seem to do the job. I will say that during my fifties, the frequency of my migraines became less and they seemed to be not so painful as the earlier ones. I well remember wanting to kill the damn cat because he wouldn’t quit stomping on the carpet.

I had figured that my migraines were mostly stress-related, what with having no job, the teacher hiring season about to end, and being mostly broke the past year. However, I think the barometric pressure thingie may well play into it, as last Saturday when I drove to Austin, the last remnants of Dennis were showing up. It rained all that day and most of the next two, and my sinuses were definitely involved. Good to know.

Had another migraine yesterday, dang it. Like it was out for revenge, it showed up about an hour after I posted this thread. This time, I ended up taking all five of my allowed migraine pills over the space of about seven hours. There was also the constant sipping of ice cold water and a cold pack held against the back of my skull. It finally went away around nine o’clock, and my friend had to convince me not to go into overdrive on paperwork that I’d put off because of the migraine. I listened, went to bed early, and woke up clear headed. Let’s hope there’s no more of these thing cruising around my head for an opportunity. sigh

Glad to see that most of you have found meds that work much of the time. I’m not a migraine sufferer myself, but my girlfriend - porcupine - gets way too damned many of them. Often several each week.

I spent a good chunk of last Saturday in the ER with the girlfriend because her migraine refused to respond to anything - she take a couple things as preventatives and then Imitrex when those don’t work. If the Imitrex fails, there’s Norco which sometimes at least takes the edge off the pain and allows her to function fairly well. However, if nausea accompanies a migraine which refuses to respond to Imitrex and the vomiting starts, it’s off to the ER we go. In the past 3 years I think we’ve made about 10 ER trips. Once we get there, a dicey road trip with someone suffering so badly from nausea and essentially sensory overload, we’re in for a nearly inevitable argument with the ER doc to get him to administer something that’ll work - Dilaudid, morphine, and most other things won’t do much for her when she reaches this terrible stage. The only thing she’s found that works consistently is a combination of Toridal and Demerol administered intravaneously. And there’s damned few docs who seem to wanna specify Demerol these days. Guess the heartless bastards are keeping the good stuff for themselves.

Migraines, it seems to me, are yet one more indication there is no god; or the if he indeed does exist, he’s one cruel bastard.

There are some seizure medicines that have been proven effective in migraine management. I’m not sure if it is as a preventative or abortitive.

A friend of mine takes Fernol (sp?) for her migraines.

I think ER docs are trained to beware of people asking for Demerol, or any specific pain med. It must really suck when it’s the only thing that works and you have to convince them you’re not just feeding an addiction.

I’ve never been officially diagnosed but on rare occasions get headaches that sure as hell seem like migraines. And I know all about the after-it’s-gone joy. Life seems so wonderful…no horrible stabbing throbbing pain…

Does she see a neurologist on a regular basis? Could there be a protocol for contacting the regular doc to talk to the ER doc? Obviously, the last thing she needs is delay piled on delay.

Yep, porc’s regular doc is a neuro. She sees him about every 3 months and talks to him by phone within a day or two of every ER visit. She’s had migraines since she was about 5 years old and was diagnosed “officially” as a migraineur in her teens (she’s 40 now). And you’re right; we should see if getting the ER doc to page her neuro to get his okay for Demerol is something doable. Her neuro is a very accessible guy (he’s a migraineur himself) and Demerol is the only thing that works with any consistency and has shown no tendency to cause rebound headaches.

I’ve also considered going with her to one of her neuro appointments to see if he might have any advice for me for dealing with the ER staff. Obviously, porc’s not really up to a protracted and cogent conversation with those folks when she’s in that state. I probably need to take a more active role.

Yup. During our last visit, they stuck us in the little ER bed room and we waited there for 30 minutes before anyone came in to see her. And the ER just wasn’t that busy. After talking to the folks at the triage desk and getting registered, we only waited about 2 minutes before being ushered into the ER proper. There were plenty of open ER beds and lots of parking spots right near the ER entrance which isn’t always the case. And even after the doc saw her, both times I had to go find someone to actually administer the meds he specified. This particular doc was especially stubborn, too. Most of them will at least ask what meds have worked best in the past; not this guy. He knew exactly what he was gonna prescribe before even talking to us. And before he ordered the Dilaudid, he ordered only an anti-nausea med and refused to provide anything else until it became evident that only an anti-nausea drug wasn’t gonna cut it. Again, which if he’d have bothered to ask, or looked at her history, he’d have known that route had about zero chance of working.

True enough and porc and I both understand this. What’s galling is that the ER docs presumably have her ER treatment history available to him, but never seem inclined to have anyone look it up.

Porcupine has taken pretty much everything which has ever given any indication of even a minor change of preventing these damned things over the years. She keep herself pretty well informed about the medical news in this area and her doc was ranked a couple years ago (however “they” determine those kinda things) as one of the top five neurologists in Chicago.

Actually there’s surgical procedure being investigated in some places now - still highly experimental at this stage, of course - that seems to hold great promise for nearly complete relief for chronic migraine sufferers. One center doing this surgery reports a success rate approaching 100%. Simply described, through some kinda resonance imaging technology, a map can be produced of the brain showing the exact capillaries which swell during a migraine episode. Then using micro-surgical techniques, a brain surgeon can go in and block off, cauterize, or remove, those particular blood passages. It is believed that the swelling of the capillaries in the brain is what causes migraine pain. Which is why anti-inflammatories, of which Imitrex is one, are often highly effective as abortives.