Friday, January 31, 2014

The Agonizing Decision To Treat A Migraine

To take my Triptan or not to take my Triptan - This is the question I'm constantly faced with. Having a rescue medication that takes the edge off the migraine pain in my coping toolbox is a big deal. The problem is that I hate the way it makes me feel. You may remember a while back I wrote about some of the crazy side effects I get in addition to the expected side effects when I take Sumatriptan (Imitrex).

Honestly, some of these side effects scare me. My migraine doc has assured me that I'm okay and it is nothing to worry about but I tend to think he is a little too cavalier about the whole thing - or perhaps I'm just a worrier and nothing he says will reassure me. But these meds are vasoconstrictors and I get the chest tightness, pains in my neck and even in my legs most of the time when I take it so I feel like a little worry is perhaps valid.

Being in all that pain scares me too. Back when I first started getting migraines as a young kid I was certain I was dying - nothing could hurt like this and be okay. All these years later, armed with the knowledge that my migraine pain is not cause by my brain exploding and seeping out through a growing crack in my skull, the pain still scares me. I still can't believe the horribly intense pain of a bad migraine is not the result of some catastrophic event. And since the pain went chronic, a new fear has taken hold. What if I can't escape the pain, ever. What if I can't handle it?

I can't treat every migraine so am I always trying to conserve my rescue meds and simply ride out the less severe migraines. Of course, it's hard to tell which ones are going to be less severe until it is too late to properly treat the migraine. It's a gamble - a tiresome game that I've been playing for the last 8 years now.

At times I've gotten overly confident after a handful of days pass without the need of my rescue meds and have begun to think that I should stop taking them altogether and just deal with the pain. Of course, as soon as I have that thought I get a really bad migraine. I might ride it out for a day, hoping that a night's sleep will take care of it, only to wake up in the morning feeling worse than the night before. Desperate for some relief, scared it will never come, feeling exhausted and beaten down, I'll take my rescue med, curl up under covers and pray for some relief. If relief comes it will only be temporary and by bedtime the pain will be returning and by morning I'll be right back to where I was the day before. A pattern takes shape and it may go on for several days or even a couple weeks.

Every single day of this kind of pattern I'm faced with the difficult decision of when to take my Triptans. The worst part about trying to decide is not knowing what, if any, impact the Triptans may have on my health. All I know is that each time I decide to take one it is because I'm at the end of my rope and I feel like I can't handle the pain on my own. Meanwhile, somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm fearing the day will come when my rescue meds no longer work.

On the surface deciding to treat a migraine sounds like an easy decision but it has become a far more complex matter over the years.

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