Suicide to escape migraine!?

After 39 years of weekly to daily bang your head on the floor vomiting migraines, and now (after 7 years of taking) that the Imitrex seems to not be working anymore, my mother is at the point of considering suicide. I’ve relied on her and the neurologists to put a stop to this for too long. Now I turn to the internet and The Straight Dope.
I don’t even know what questions to ask. The only background that I can think to share is that I do not believe that she is honest with herself or the doctors about how unhealthy she is. She doesn’t eat enough and what she does is junk, she won’t believe she is depressed and take her medication, she is obsessed with receiving approval and can’t say no so her plate is always way too full and she can’t get more than a few hours of sleep at night because if her head is touching anything for too long, even the back of a chair, it makes her head ach worse. She has been on Dolgic and Zomig for two weeks now.
Could someone point me in the right direction?

I am NOT a doctor. But cluster headaches are known as “suicide migraines” because they can be quite unbearable to many sufferers. Clusters are so much more prevalent in men that some doctors never consider the possibilty of them in women. My husband is a cluster sufferer and has been for over 30 years. He is currently on an experimental regimen of prednisone, to be taken on a specific schedule at the first sign of cluster symptoms. He has also learned that Imitrex INJECTIONS seem to have a significantly better effect than the pills.

Please, check out these resources and if necessary, print them out and take them to your mom’s doctor.

Cluster info
Cluster support group
Cluster diagnosis
Another medical article on clusters

First, if she’s threatening suicide, I think you can have her committed for 72 hours to be evaluated. This kind of pain is nothing to screw around with. I saw a program about migraine pain, and the subject said the only thing that kept him from killing himself was the fact that he couldn’t hold the gun still long enough to pull the trigger.

Once she’s in the hospital, she may start to look at things differently and take better care of herself. They’ll have some control over what she eats, etc. I’d give the doctor a call and discuss her threats with him.

Has she tried any alternative medicine options? Nutritional medicine might be helpful from what you say about her diet and because some foods are migraine triggers. There’s also alternative pain relief methods, acupuncture, acupressure … there’s a multitude of things in the “alternative medicine” category that could be explored. But anything beyond popping some pills will require work and commitment. It may seem easier to give up but that’s also permanent and affects more people than herself.

Maybe a Migraine support or chronic pain support group of some sort. Sometimes it just helps to know you’re not alone.

Call her doctor and explain the situation. Tell him/her there is more to her story than you think she is sharing, tell him everything about her you know, and that she needs serious help. Insist that she needs immediate help and is considering suicide, and make sure he gives her something for immediate pain relief while a more long term solution is being worked out. She may need to be hospitalized for a while.

I’m sorry you and your mother is going through this. There are Doctors that specialize in managing pain, keep asking for referrals until you find someone that can help her. Migraines are very painful and can make day to day living very difficult. It is not uncommon that your mother is depressed because of it.

Good luck.

It’s totally real to feel like that, I’ve felt like it myself. IANAD, but she needs immediate help to deal with it. Chronic pain really does suck and makes your life just not worth living. Though she really should be eating and sleeping better, doing what she is now is prolly making her migraines worse. Depression can make them worse as well, so she should seriously get help for that.

LifeOnWry > supposedly, according to her responses to the doctors questions, she does not have cluster headaches. One Ex: she doesn’t see sparkles???

Kalhoun > Luckily, she wasn’t talking about anytime soon. She said she couldn’t live the rest of her life like this so I straight up asked her if she’s ever contemplated suicide. She answered “Not until recently. If they don’t find something to help me within the next 5 years I’m just not going to wake up”. They hit her in the morning when she raises her head off the pillow.

Wile E > She is very negative about “alternative medicine options”. She once got an acupressure massage from a friend of a friend and of course it threw her into such a migraine she ended up in the emergency room. I finally got her to try yoga and other relaxation type exercises and, of course, she says it only made it worse. She had an extensive allergy test done a few years back and it came back that she was allergic to lima beans and house dust. She has eaten lima beans and never had an adverse affect so she this the test was baloney. She gets defensive when I suggest just about anything. She is not going to be easy to help.

Velma > She has been seeing Dr. Steven Hertzog, the president of the headache something (what ever that means), in Dallas for a year/ two visits. She says he doesn’t know what he is talking about because he has never spent more than 15 minutes talking to her and the short opportunity she does have to speak he just stares at her blankly like he is waiting for her to shut up so he can go ahead and tell her what the plan of action is. I mention trying another and another and another doctor until she finds one she trust and she looks at me like I don’t understand.

YOU have my sympathy, whatever kind of headaches your mom is suffering from. I will never understand the concept of being a difficult patient - if I am in pain, I will try ANYTHING that has the remotest possibility of alleviating it. I can understand her frustration, though. As I said, my husband has suffered from clusters since he was a child, and he was well into his 30s before he had any kind of useful diagnosis, and the most of the treatments he has been recommended have had more negative effects than positive ones.

The only other advice I have for you is to do some research on your own and pester your mom’s doctors for help as often as it takes to get someone to pay attention and intervene.

Best of luck to you.

I read an article once about lifelong migraine sufferers and one woman said she used to beg her mother to kill her when she was a child b/c of the pain.

Deepest sympathy. I’ve had only one migraine, I can’t imagine what it’d be like every day.

All that said, Mdm. President, and I’m not meaning anything bad by saying this, it looks as if you’re going to have to take control, as it sounds like your Mom has given up. If I suffered like she did and couldn’t get a doctor to listen to me, I’d probably give up too.

Giving up is not an option, though, and if she’s not going to get in her doctor’s face, you’re going to have to do it. Call him up like Velma said and tell him that your mom is starting to talk suicide. Maybe she’s said it won’t be anytime soon, but he doesn’t need to know that, and you need not bank on that, either. It could be soon (God forbid), pain wears people down.

A classmate was telling me a couple of weeks ago about a medication her mom takes for migraines. She couldn’t remember the name of it, but she knew that it melts on your tongue and it’s hideously expensive: something like $20-30 a pill. I’m mentioning it here because maybe someone else who reads this thread knows the name of it.

If she won’t do anything you suggest, you may just have to let it go. It sucks, but if she doesn’t want help, you can’t force her. I’d ask her if she really wants to get better. Maybe I don’t understand, but it would make sense to be willing to try ANYTHING to get rid of those headaches. If some weird granola hippy therapy worked, why would it matter as long as the pain was gone?

If it’s been 39 years, it could be that being the “migraine lady” is her identity now. (I have relatives that are literally addicted to drama … they’re not happy unless something terrible is going on.)

LifeOnWry > Thank you. I don’t understand it either. I just assumed she was doing everything she could. That’s why I’v decided to get involved. I wanted to come here first to maybe get some leads.

Abbie Carmichael > That’s a really good point about her being the headache lady. To be honest I think she sometimes uses headaches as a scapegoat for not getting things done. Like I mentioned earlier, she is desperate for approval and if people think ‘My goodness if Susie can do all that AND the poor dear has a headache…’ It’s like she is addicted to the sympathy. I love my mother but she has more than her share of personality problems.

I got awful migraines, and after trying just about everything my doctor suggested that we try botox injections. Although I still get migraines occasionally, it is so much less frequently than I used to. Perhaps this might help your mother?

Yes, migraine headaches are worthy of suicide. Any severe pain would drive someone in that direction. However, sounds to my like your mother doesn’t do shit to avoid the problem. Diet, exercise and proper medication. She can’t stray.

My migraines are the 3rd of 3 headaches and are always triggered by a sinus headache, which is easily triggered by environmental factors such as smoke and food allergies. If I ate corn snacks with MSG and washed it down with a good German beer and a cigar I might as well hit my head with a stick (which I’ve done to the back neck muscles during a migraine).

Cluster migraine sufferer here. I don’t get into the treatment type things because I’m not too knowlegable – my first choice medication still works ok.

I was going to suggest some ideas, but she sounds really really difficult. So, I’ve got a more extreme treatment.

She needs to give over her lifestyle to someone else for a minimum of 90 days. Choices over food, exercise, and work are no longer hers. She gives up her responsibilities to clean, cook, shop, etc. My justification is that what she’s doing isn’t working, is it?
I don’t know if she can afford a spa place, but that would be ideal. Vegan meals are often very very low in trigger foods. What if she cleaned out her whole house, turned over her Visa for safekeeping, and ordered chef meals for 3 months?

An acquantance of mine went to the bahamas for 6 weeks, at a ridiculously low price because it’s an austere retreat for yoga. It was something like $30 per day including vegan meals.

Change makes headaches worse, but you have to go through with it. The body rebels when taken from equilibrium, but it doesn’t mean the change is bad.

I would suggest a medical naturopath - in my state they are primary care doctors and not so different from an (totally unable to find this) awesome MD. In illegal states the training is different and some are MLM crooks.

Here’s a pilot treatment that was reported by Discover Magazine a while back. ( Dunno how far they are from releasing a product, though.

Monica > Botox is what she is looking forward too. But in order for her ins. to pay for it her Dr. has to prove they have tried every other avenue. So for now it’s just a waiting game for the botox.
Apricot > That would work. I’m sure of it. I KNOW it’s her lifestyle that’s causing this. But getting her to agree to it would be like beating MY head against a wall. I will put the idea out there though. Wish me luck.
Finagle > What I was able to read looked really promising. I’ll search the Internet some more for it.
Thanks to all for the leads and support and Magiver and the others that suffer from this personally, if anything ever helps my mother you will be some of the first to know. Maybe you all will get something from it.

I don’t really have much to add here, but I think your mom seriously needs to make some changes in her lifestyle. Just want to say I have been there, I know how terrible it can be to be in constant pain, and to share what helps me. I have been a migraine sufferer since I was about 14, so approx. 10 years of near constant pain. Went through all the testing where nothing was found to explain the headaches, changed my diet, exercise, and sleeping patterns more times than I can count.

I love me some Imitrex, having long since developed a tolerance to any and all OTC pain meds, but the price is staggering. $172 for 9 50mg pills. I can usually go through that in a week. My fear is that I will develop the same tolerance to it as all the rest.

I have found that so many foods seem to be triggers to me, but that leaving them out and eating regularly helps a ton. Breakfast, light snack, good lunch, another light snack, and a good dinner. No pepperoni, sausage, or salami, no MSG, nothing with nitrites or nitric acid in it, no fresh strawberries :frowning: . I kept a food diary along with my migraine diary and figured it all out. A strict sleep schedule helps, and trying to keep things as routine as possible helps.

One thing to check is for excesses of spinal fluid at the base of the skull. Seems few docs consider this, but I know two different people who were checked, and then drained, and their migraines were in one case gone completely, and drastically reduced in another. I will get that checked myself as soon as I have health coverage again.

I feel for your mom, and I feel for you, too. I know I can be a real pain in the ass, fatalistic and depressed, during a particularly bad episode. It’s really about making a choice, whether you will do all you can to control the headaches, or if you will let the headaches control you.

Mdm. President, I strongly suggest you seek out medical advice from an MD that can personally examine your mother. You have no way of knowing if advice given here(or any other website) is valid, or even if anyone here is medically qualified to give such advice.
I’m going to close this thread, and hope that you seek out the professionals that can help.