My Name is Brian and I Have Migraine

Brian and Lisa

Switching things up a little bit! I met another migraineur on Instagram and we hit it off! During our conversation, it hit me, Brian definitely needs to tell his story. Please open your hearts as he tells you about his life with migraine and feel free to leave him a comment.

Who is Brian?

Brian - Migraineur

My name is Brian. I am a 34 year old Auto Mechanic from New Jersey. I’m happily married to my wife, Lisa, and we have two Dogs. I have suffered from migraine since I was a teenager. Honestly, I have not attempted to do anything about them until the last few years when they went from being annoying to debilitating. My favorite hobbies include dorky things, like Star Wars and Video Games.

When the Migraine Started

At ten years old, I suffered a very serious concussion when I was not wearing my bike helmet and hit my head so hard I was throwing up for two days. I have always assumed the vomiting was related to migraine. I don’t remember when I started getting them, I just remember having these really “blah” days as a teenager where I wasn’t sick, but I just didn’t feel good. Not often, but enough that they were annoying and I didn’t even know they were migraine. On any given day, I would lay on the couch and mindlessly watch TV and not even register what was showing. The first, real migraine I really remember affecting me was at senior prom. In New Jersey, the thing to do after prom is go to the Jersey Shore. It’s the beach with carnival rides and a boardwalk. After a carnival ride triggered a migraine, I was miserable the rest of the weekend.  I lost my girlfriend to migraine that weekend.

My Migraine Symptoms

Not sure when I realized I was experiencing migraine, but they are brutal. Luckily I don’t have visual symptoms. I have never had issues with light, like many do. My symptoms are typically extremely stiff neck , extreme pressure behind my eyes, and if I drop something – its staying there, I’m not picking it up and causing my eyes to pop out. I also have head pressure, extreme sensitivity to sound – the littlest noise feels like I’m being beaten in the skull. In a really bad migraine, I experience vertigo, nausea, and coughing that leads to worse head pressure. This causes worse nausea that will ultimately lead to vomiting.

Brian With His Dog Playing Xbox
Brian playing Xbox with his Hot Dog

Talking to a Doctor

About ten years ago I finally had to do something about it. I said something to my family doc – mostly in passing. I’m not much of a complainer so I just try and touch things out. I was given two prescriptions, one for Maxalt, which was difficult for me because I often wake up with migraine in full swing. The second prescription was for the Big Kahuna medication called Fioricet, used as a last resort. The doc kind of scared me with that one, so I didn’t touch it for a long while.

Migraine at Work

A while ago my migraine had gotten to the point they were pretty bad, the auto shop where I work is LOUD and my migraine is very sound oriented. I wasn’t a happy camper. Plus, my former boss, was very insensitive at the time about them. According to him they are something women get when they are on their period. I rarely take off work for migraine, and when I do it is because I take Fioricet and I’m not allowed to drive. (This is Achy Smile, and this is SOOOOOOO not okay! I’m so sorry Brian, that your former employer was uneducated and insensitive. Happy to know you have a boss now who is more compassionate)

Hobbies, Friends, and Migraine

My favorite hobby is video games. With my migraine being so bad the past couple years, I spend more time doing “Netflix and Migraine” than I do playing actual video games. In my free time I would like to play a game here and there but I often just lay on the couch and fall asleep to a quiet nature documentary (thank you Sir David Attenborough and your soothing voice).

In the past, I’ve given up awesome Flyers playoff hockey tickets against the Penguins because of a migraine. I called my buddy up and told him I couldn’t go and he could have my ticket while I was hugging a toilet.

Brian and Hot Rod
Hot Rod always takes care of Brian when he has migraine

Life with Migraine Now

I hit rock bottom just a few weeks ago. I had the flu, it was the night before a major snowstorm in the northeast and all I wanted was soup. It felt like everyone was at the grocery store, getting milk and bread. I just wanted soup. I waited in line, forever, miserable. For once, it isn’t a migraine. Then I start coughing, and coughing. Suddenly it hits me, one of the worst migraine I have ever experienced. The coughing is so bad and I vomit all over myself in the check out lane at the grocery store. The vertigo is so bad I barely make it to my car.

All I want was soup. I go to take one of my pills, but the bottle is empty. I call in a refill, but the pharmacy said they have to call the doctor. My wife is trying help me the best she can, she calls my doctor’s emergency number and Walgreens is just being difficult. It isn’t like I want 100 pain pills just give me 1 or 2 headache pills. I sit down to eat my soup and realize I bought the wrong soup. That was my rock bottom. I see the doctor on Monday and we discuss options for a new medication called Topamax. I have been on this new medication since the week before Christmas and have had 1 or 2 mild migraine’s. It does tear my stomach up and I have no appetite, but I don’t care. I feel so much better.

Reading other migraine sufferers stories, I realize I have a very mild case. Many are bed-ridden daily, cannot work and I am thankful I’m not that bad. But I do understand the plight you go through on a daily basis and it’s a torture I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

Find Brian on Instagram

Achy Smile’s Thoughts

Brian is an awesome guy. His story about his former boss broke my heart. I can only imagine how many male migraineur’s hear words like this everyday by the men in their lives. Dads, brothers, uncles, co-workers, bosses, etc. It is up to us migraineur’s to educate the world around us about what really happens when we go through a migraine. It’s not a headache. Please take some time to read through Why I Blog and let’s start sharing each other’s stories. Want to share your story on Achy Smile? Please contact me and let’s get your voice heard!

3 Replies to “My Name is Brian and I Have Migraine”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Brian. My 18 year old son has suffered with migraine for some time now, and for his final 2 years at school was on and off different drugs as he missed large chunks of school due to migraine. He is now at uni in his first year, but remains on medication and is about to start CBT – the incidence of men with migraine is just not really talked about, so I will be showing him your post!

  2. Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad your son didn’t make the same mistake I did of just ignoring it and toughing it out like I did. I could have saved myself many rough days of misery by doing things differently much sooner. I hope your son finds relief and feels better.

  3. Hey Brian, lovely to ‘meet’ you and get to know more about you. I’m just sorry you’re also another migraine sufferer – it’s not something I’d wish on my own worst enemy. I do, however, love that you used the phrase Big Kahuna (very underused and under-appreciated phrase in my opinion!) 🙂
    Caz x

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