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I'm too young for this!

Good morning....

I am a 27 year old white female and I have suffered from migraines for 14 years now.  They seem to get worse the older I get.  When I was younger, the doctors related the headaches to my irregular menstraul cycles.  After I had my first child when I was 17, the migraines seemed to get worse....(no correlation to motherhood)  So the doctors did some tests and put me on some medication.  Medication didn't work, so I gave up with the meds and handled the pain.  Well in 2004 (22 years old) I had a hysterectomy due to some MAJOR complications I was having and for a second the migraines stopped, but then they came back with a vengence!  I would get a migraine at least once a week and it was starting to really take a toll on my body and my life.  So, in 2008 the doctors finally found a good med for me called INDERAL....it seemed to work up until now....

Now when I get migraines I can actually feel the spots on my head where they hurt.  Before the migraine would just stay on the left side of my head and eye, but now it finds its way all over my head, behind my ears, and at the base of my neck.  Also, I am a college student at the University of Michigan and lately I have had trouble reading.  I know what the words are, I know how to pronounce them, it just seems like I have to read the sentence 16 times before really grasping the point and by then I have a migraine from reading.  

My questions....

Will my migraines ever go away...

Is it normal to pinpoint on your skull where your migraine is....]

Is there any correlation between my lack of reading comprehesion to my migraines....

Any other input would be great!!

Thank you,

Dana Smith  
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They may never go away. It's depressing to hear, but for a lot of us, it's true. It's a condition we have to find a way to live with. I'm 22, have had migraines all my life, and have learned to accept the fact that I'll have them. It wasn't easy to do, but now that I've made my peace with that, I can function better because I'm not fighting the pain the same way that I was.

I can do that with some of my migraines. I call them "ice pick" migraines since it's like somebody's stabbing an ice pick into my head at that particular spot. Other times, I have more broadly spread out pain.

I have a very hard time reading as well. Given that I have a migraine 24/7/365, that means that my ability to read has been greatly effected. I attribute it to the fact that my brain's so busy fighting the pain, it doesn't really have the energy to comprehend other stuff.

Have you talked to your profs about your migraines? They might be able to help you out in some way. Under the ADA, maybe you could get somebody to read your textbooks to you, if you can learn through hearing. Then you could learn the information without having to try and do the reading yourself. I know such services are available, my best friend has a reader, and my mom was a reader, and used to act as one for me.

Other than that, it's a hard life, with migraines, but coping skills can be learned to make it easier.



Just like Dame already said, it is true that they may never go away. This is because migraine is a genetic neurological disease that a person is born with, and there is no cure for the genetic neurological disease migraine. But, the good news is that it is a disease that most people can control so that they rarely get attacks. For those of us who have chronic migraines, it may take quite a while before we find exactly the right treatment plan before our migraines attacks are controllable, but it is possible. Does this mean that you will never get another migraine attack in the future though, even if your migraine attacks become extremely under control? No, you will still get migraine attacks from time to time but then you will more likely be able to control them effectively with acute treatment. It is when migraines are chronic that acute treatment often fails.

There are so many preventative migraine medications out there. The daily medications fall into three main classes. So, just because the medication that they put you on when you were 17 didn't work, that doesn't mean that other medications won't work. Often, it takes quite a bit of trial and error to find the medication that does work. But, until you have tried them all, you cannot even begin to give up hope that your migraines will not be able to get completely under control.

What was the type of preventative migraine medication that they put you on when you were 17 that was not effective?

Also, Inderal is a Beta Blocker. You said it worked for some time but has now stopped working. That may actually be a good sign, because it did work for a time. You may need to switch to a new Beta Blocker since your old Beta Blocker has stopped working. Beta Blockers are one class of migraine medication. I currently take a Beta Blocker for my migraines as well, called Nadolol, which is different than Inderal. A different Beta Blocker may provide the same relief that the Inderal used to provide you.

The other two classes of daily preventative medications are antidepressants and anticonvulsants. It would be worth trying the class of medication that you have yet to try. If that does not work, it would be worth trying different medications within the same classes of medications you have tried before. So, if you have already tried the antidepressant Amitriptyline, it would be worth asking your doctor about Nortriptyline (or the other way around). If you have already tried the anticonvulsant Valproic Acid, it would be worth asking your doctor about Topamax (or the other way around).

Also, after you have tried all three classes of daily preventative medications, it would be worth trying Botox Injections as well. as they are another type of preventative migraine medication. Botox injections are extremely effective for some people. The injections are given every three months.

I think it is totally normal to be able to pin-point where it hurts on your head. But, whenever your migraine pattern changes, you should let your doctor know. So, if this is new for you, then you should let your doctor know.

And, yes, I think there could be a correlation between lack of reading comprehension and your migraines. It is extremely difficult to concentrate if you are in pain. Lack of reading comprehension can also be a neurological symptom of migraines though too, especially if it is a severe lack of comprehension, if you believe that it may be a neurological symptom then it is very important to let your doctor know that you believe your migraine pattern has changed (new symptoms) and that you believe you may be experiencing comprehension difficulties during migraine attacks that are unrelated to pain severity. Although, if it is just a matter of being in pain making it difficult to concentrate, I think that this is a very normal side-effect of pain.

Also, I think Dame's suggestion about letting your University know about your migraines is a great suggestion. I let my profs know and I also am registered with the Disability Services at my University and they provide me with accommodations and support when medically required because of my migraines. It is very helpful to have the support of the school... I know I can bring my acute migraine meds into class and exams with me, and as long as I can keep up with the classes if I have to miss a class because of my migraines or a doctors appointment then it will not go against my grade. I have often had to withdraw from terms (close to half of the terms I've registered in) due to migraine related medical reasons, but I have also graduated with a degree already too. Life is very possible, just sometimes a little bit different maybe then the way it appears that other peoples lives go. But... just remember that lots of people live with genetic diseases like diabetes and epilepsy and asthma and as long as they have medications and life-style accommodations they eventually get by too, even if life is sometimes difficult or even a bit unusual at times. And, with medication and life-style accommodations you will get by too, even if life might be difficult and might seem unusual. And, hopefully, the medications and life-style accommodations will eventually make life seem very normal and pain-free.

- marilee
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