Rebounding: Too much of a good med is bad, but tricking the brain is good

Joan Didion“That no one dies of migraine seems to someone deep in an attack as an ambiguous blessing.”

I sure would like someone to explain to all us chronic migraine sufferers how the hell we are to treat our migraines without actually treating our migraines because I sure get sick of people saying we are over medicating. We are in a sucky, sucky place. Some of us are not in this sucky, sucky place because of medication overuse (although that sure is the assumption)… for example, I could not possibly have overused medication when my migraines went chronic because my doctors would have had to have had me ON medication. I wasn’t because I was young and trying to get pregnant, didn’t realize I was infertile so spent years not on medication at all… which by the way was rather painful so that experiment had to end.

I think my migraines went chronic because I have fibromyalgia which also was never treated, but who knows. The migraines were very violent back then and became chronic pretty much as soon as I was unable to control my sleep cycle… when I was no longer a full-time university student and was working and going to school as a grad student I could not sleep in or ‘recover’ sleep on the weekends and they just got more frequent. I took a year off to get control of them and as soon as I began to work full time the migraines exploded.

Anyway, we can’t take a triptan more than three times a week for fear of rebounding. Or it becomes less effective. Or if you’re me, chest pains, shortness of breath and so forth. Painkillers can be a rescue med, but the same thing. You can get used to them, so they become less effective. You can rebound. Anti-inflammatories same story, except they can also completely destroy your stomach and intestines as I found out when I was taken off my triptans (because of shortness of breath and chest pains blah blah). And rebounding again. So too much of a good thing is bad.

Also, acute migraines are bad. And when you have an acute migraine and need to go to work you need to go to work so… you need to do something. And that something apparently is suffer. So what you apparently need to do is decide when you want to suffer and when you want to treat your migraine. And it would be much better apparently if you would choose to just suffer more often than not. But you have to choose quickly because for a triptan to be really effective you have to treat it quickly… so you have to intuitively guess whether the migraine you are getting is going to be mind-blowingly acute and needs to be treated right away or is going to be one you can suffer through without any medication. And that is the sucky, sucky place they expect us to live through… because otherwise clearly our situation is being caused by overuse of medication.

During most of the month, I can usually suffer pretty good because I know when a migraine is an acute one… usually. But for the week or week and a half that is my hormonal status migraine from hell? I’m screwed. That is a level of suffering apparently I’m not equipped to deal with. Triptans don’t work. My painkillers don’t even dent it. I begin to have troubles sleeping and once I can’t sleep then I fall into a sharp, deep depression. I’m lucky I survive each month. Seriously. I don’t know how to treat those things. It is hard enough to juggle medications the rest of the month, but when the pain peaks like that and just stays up there it is out of freaking control.

I think we need something to trick the brain. Something to bump us out of pain like that. Something strong or different we can use occasionally to control those situations. Case and point… when I started my new job and the whole commuting thing it triggered a migraine streak that lasted a couple of weeks or more. Maybe three weeks total. I lost track honestly. A bit of a blur. It was non-stop. I was sleep deprived as well because of it. Obviously, I couldn’t keep treating it, so I was just suffering through it hoping it would diminish on its own or out sleep it on the weekend. But I was stuck in the pain. It was too entrenched. My neck and shoulders were insanely sore. As was my scalp, jaw, and teeth. I was beginning to think commuting was just not going to work period. And I had no other medication options to try. I already tried the ER and they did the same Toradol thing they always do and that does nada for me, especially at that point. So all I did was get an OTC painkiller with a muscle relaxer in it. Because I can no longer take anti-inflammatories that is not an option but it used to work with Advil for me, just a way to trick the brain with something different. And this did it. I took it before bed figuring it would a) help me sleep and b) loosen up my neck a bit. It did both and I woke up without the migraine. I got a new migraine later that day, but much later and I didn’t have to take anything for it, was just able to nap after work. Same the next day. So that one OTC med helped me sleep and gave me two medication free days and relatively low migraine pain days as well. So maybe it is just a matter of more variety in our options. Plus, really we ought to all be getting alternative options.

But when it comes to medications it shouldn’t just be option A and then B if A doesn’t work because we get too many migraines for complete coverage. And then we get stuck in a bloody migraine.


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