I’m so excited to introduce you to a strong, smart lady I met through Instagram. She’s amazing and wants to tell her story, so I invite you to open your heart and take a peak into the life of Mandy with Migraine! This post is part of a series that will be running on Achy Smile indefinitely. We hope to share stories from people all over the world about their life with migraine. To read them all, go to Guest Stories.
Written by Mandy Britton
Who is Mandy?
My name is Mandy. I am 35 years old and married for almost 8 years, step-mom to a 16-year-old girl (she has migraine as well, we are trying to figure hers out now) and trying to have a baby of my own. I work in the Ops Dept for Food Services of America as a Backhaul Coordinator and want to go to school for Hair Design and Esthetics. I love animals and we have 3 dogs and 3 cats. I love tattoos as well!
When the Migraine Started
From what I remember, I had my first migraine at 8 years old, coming from two families where migraine runs in the genes. I remember my first one vividly. We had gone to visit my maternal grandpa’s grave and leave flowers (he had passed away about 6 months earlier). On the way home I was in the backseat and started screaming in pain. I was nauseous and seeing yellow out of one eye and blue out the other (this is still my aura when I have migraine). I bawled, which only made the pain worse. My mom gave me Tylenol because I was so young, but it didn’t work, so she called for advice. The doctor told her to give me half of one of her Imitrex. It worked…but it wouldn’t be effective for long.
I visited the chiropractor regularly after this and as I got older and into my teen years the migraines became more frequent. After I reached puberty and started my menstrual cycle at age 13, I started getting “menstrual migraine,” which would last the entire duration of my cycle and nothing would touch it. Our family doctor, when I was a teenager, was not receptive. He would give me whatever worked for my mom and say, “you’re her child, it should work for you.” It never did.
My Migraine Symptoms
My symptoms depend on the severity of the migraine. A mild one is just a headache that is annoying. I might not like looking at the computer screen but I still can and I might have some pain in my sinuses. With a bad one, my jaws usually hurt, my neck will be tight on which ever side the headache is on, ears are sensitive to sound, and I get nauseous but never throw up. During a severe migraine I can’t move, tolerate light, nor sound. I cannot do anything but lay still in bed. If I can’t get rid of the more severe migraine, I usually end up in the ER. I also get aura with some of my headaches, which is still the same yellow out of one eye and blue out the other.
Talking to a Doctor About Migraine
I have been to so many neurologists over the years between the ages of 15 and 26. And of these doctors had one thing in common – they would order a CT scan and an MRI and find nothing wrong. They would pat me on the head and send me on my way. Nothing on the scans, I must be fine, right? WRONG! My doctor at Kaiser did started me with an IUD which stopped my menstrual cycle and the migraines that accompanied it. Then, FINALLY! I met Dr. Dale Carter in November of 2016. She was a HEADACHE SPECIALIST! A novel concept, right?
Dr. Carter had so many ideas, it was amazing to find someone who knew what they were talking about. We discovered that triptans and narcotics do nothing for my headaches. I was taking so much Excedrin and/or Ibuprofen that I was having rebound headaches as well. We tried muscle relaxers instead and after a few that didn’t help we found one that did. I started Yoga for migraines, I have shared this regimen with a lot of friends who get them. It’s very helpful. I no longer take Excedrin and only Ibuprofen for body aches or fever. Sadly, in November 2017 Dr. Carter retired. I see a new doctor soon. I meet my new specialist on February 15, 2018. She is a specialist though…thankfully! I also started acupuncture in 2017 and it’s helpful.
Migraine at Work
Luckily, I have been employed for the past 9 years between two companies who have been very understanding. I have FMLA for migraine so if I have to miss work, it’s not held against me for up to 3 days a month. I’ve been lucky in that way. If I do have a mild/bad migraine that I attempt to work through, my coworkers and supervisors are very understanding and do everything they can to help me make it through the day. If it gets worse, they’ll just tell me, “go home to bed, it’s ok.”
Hobbies, Friends, and Migraine
I know I was born and I know that I’ll die…the in between in mine…I am mine. —Pearl Jam
My hobbies include board games, adult coloring books, painting, creative journaling, Snapchat, Instagram and “Netflix and Chill”…I’m also an avid music fan. My favorite band/obsession is Pearl Jam. I love Doctor Who and Supernatural, too. My family and friends are all really understanding of my migraines. I once even went to an Ace Frehley concert with my husband with a migraine…just because I had promised him I’d go. It was a mild one and he cuddled me the whole show. But had I told him I couldn’t go, he would have been fine with it. He takes care of me when I’m sick in bed with one and has rushed me to the ER and sat there for hours with me.
Life with Migraine Now
Life with migraine since I met Dr. Carter has improved greatly because I have found better ways to get rid of one, or even stop it before it starts. She sent me to physical therapy with a therapist who specializes in migraine and I learned so much from that experience.
I am worried now, though, as we have decided to try to have a baby of our own and that means I have to stop taking all prescription medications as well as some of the supplements I take. I finished weaning medications in December and I had my IUD pulled out just two weeks ago.
I haven’t had any major attacks yet, but I expect it hitting me again…but I have a bigger arsenal in my pocket now. Yoga, Benadryl, trying to avoid gluten, avoiding all foods I know to cause them (which I have always done once I discovered a food was the cause), acupuncture, and aromatherapy (my mother in law sent me migraine care essential oil, diffuser bracelets and an oil diffuser, these are amazing, I love them!). Plus, I meet my new doctor this month! I don’t really have hope that migraine will be “cured” in my lifetime, but I am hopeful that I can continue to fight them and win.
Find Mandy on Instagram
You can find Mandy on Instagram @oyitsmandy
Achy Smile’s Thoughts
Mandy, you’re an inspiration! I hope that you have a healthy pregnancy when the time comes. I’m sure it will be a beautiful experience, especially with your positive support system. Your step-daughter is luck to have you. Your experience with migraine will help her through her own migraine journey. We are looking forward to hearing about your new doctor soon! Be sure to keep us updated.
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!