I used to be a chronic migraine sufferer. I’m not anymore.
In my deepest valley, I was getting wicked tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines for a combined twenty-five days per month—and medicating for eighteen of those days… or more.
I had tried “everything”—drinking more water, cutting caffeine, axing gluten, blah blah blah. Imatrex, Maxalt, Triptan this, yada yada. Nothing worked, and I was getting discouraged. My prayers to God weren’t helping either—at least, not with healing.
My doctor eventually referred me to a renowned migraine clinic here in Calgary. They tried Botox (yes, I’m serious), and even injected me with Demerol during one particularly evil week of migraine, my worst run ever.
My first step was to stagger through a hellish couple of weeks detoxing from my chronic overmedication. Don’t judge; the migraine clinic told us that most doctors advise their patients to overmedicate based on the belief that if a drug is narcotic, it’s not addictive. What I learned was, drug dependency can still form without addiction. Migraine sufferers in particular overmedicate to the point where they get rebound headaches. In other words, they’re causing much of their own pain.
After my detox God and I had a serious conversation about where my life was headed. I was “this close” to calling in a sick leave from my pastoral position at the church. Instead I basically prayed, “God, you and I are gonna have to start writing a different story because this one sucks.” I’m not a ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ kind of guy but I basically took authority over my malady and declared a new day, in Jesus’ name.
About this time my neurologist also prescribed a cocktail of daily meds to swallow: 500mg of Magnesium, 500mg of Niacin (NON-FLUSH), and a children’s aspirin (81mg per day). *I’m not a doctor, so I’m not advising you to take anything medicinal. But this definitely started making a difference in the severity and frequency of my migraines.
Next I started drinking an energy drink (after awhile, every morning). I drink “Beaver Buzz” because it has natural sugars and the highest taurine count I could find at the time. Taurine has been linked to reducing migraine severity. Most doctors advise migraine sufferers to avoid caffeine. So then why is there caffeine in Tylenol Migraine capsules? Migraines are not just a dilating of the vessels. They’re also a constricting of the vessels. At this point caffeine is quite helpful.
Third, I started regulating my protein intake. I buy protein bars with 30g of protein per bar and snack on one every day so that my protein count never droops too low. I have felt migraines coming on and snuffed them out with nothing but Beaver Buzz and a big chunk of Protein bar. Seriously.
Regular bedtimes and exercise are also important. As are continual prayer.
Now, I get maybe 3-4 migraines per year. I do have headaches every couple days, but these are minor irritations I can either ignore or deal with using Advil or an energy drink. So I’m living a completely different life than I was living two years ago
, when I hit my lowest point. I praise God for helping me find what works for me. If you’re a migraine sufferer, maybe it’s time to talk to your physician. Here’s a visual depiction of my journey:
Are you a migraine sufferer? What have you tried? What’s working for you?