The Headache

For those that don't know my history:

The Origin
I've always been prone to headaches, but strong over the counter medication would take care of them. In January of 2010 I got sick with mono and have had a headache ever since. A bad one that never goes away. The neurologist says it is migraine, and I think he puts me in the category of daily persistent headache. It varies in intensity throughout the day, but an hour of being headache free is a rare, precious treat.

Pain and Symptoms
I feel the pain all across my forehead. When it gets bad, it wraps around my head, down my neck and shoulders. Sometimes my jaw is sore. Sometimes the neck, shoulder, and/or jaw soreness/tension is worse than the headache pain. When my headache intensifies, I become confused easily, have problems processing information, coming up with words, and generally come across as a space cadet. Luckily, I have a patient, understanding husband (who doesn't mind explaining that I have chronic headaches). Very often, I feel dizzy or ungrounded, similar to the feeling when you have an ear infection and you would get dizzy from shaking your head.

  • stress
  • strong perfumes/colognes
  • loud noises
  • bright lights
Treatments/Tests History
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic (including Active Release Technique)
  • Massage Therapy
  • MRI
  • Lots of blood work
  • Chinese herbs
  • Natural supplements and vitamins
  • Acupuncture
  • Drugs (amitriptyline, nortriptyline, topamax, verapamil, propanolol, imitrex, depakote, paroxetine, tizanidine)
  • Botox
Inpatient Treatment
After being with my neurologist a year and not making significant progress, he referred me to the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute where I was admitted to their inpatient head pain unit in December 2011. They used an aggressive treatment of IV drugs and abortive medication to be used at your leisure to break the headache cycle, and to create an effective treatment plan after discharge. At the time this page was edited, I am still adjusting to the medications and recovering, but I do see some relief in my headache intensity (I'm not waking up with bad headaches like I used to). However the headaches are still daily and reach a high intensity, but the abortives work to bring them down.

My Current Treatment Regimen
I am currently taking:
.4 mg methergine 4 times a day
100 mg neurontin 2 times a day and 300 mg at bedtime
10 mg atarax 3 times a day
10 mg of baclofen as an abortive, as needed, no more than 3 days a week
10 mg of flexeril as an abortive, as needed, no more than 3 days a week
1 mg of DHE injection as an abortive, no more than 2 days a week

Realistically Hopeful
In the beginning, I was searching for that treatment that would bring me relief. Because it's not normal to live with a headache everyday. Right? Well, after the treatments weren't working, I had to make the transition for my own emotions and well-being that this headache may be with me for longer than I want. This does not mean I'm giving up. This just means that I am accepting what God has given me now, in my current situation. I still have hope that I will feel better someday, and my 'normal' is different than it used to be.

Edited December 2011