Posted by: ritagone | February 6, 2019

Facing Something a Little Bit Scary

 

 

First of all, my disclaimer: what I’m about to share with you is not scary at all compared to what many of you reading this are facing.  I realize that.  So don’t shoot the messenger.  But this is my experience, and so I share it because it’s what I have, what’s happening to me now, and maybe it will help someone even a little bit.

I suffer from migraine headaches,  as many of you know, and have done so for almost 50 years.  They have morphed and changed patterns over the years, but they have always remained knock-outs when a bad one comes along, and in recent years I’ve had bad ones about six to ten times a month.  At those times I take to my bed, close up the room to make it as dark as possible, go into a fetal position (figuratively) and try to sleep if I can.  I lose at least a day in my life. (And losing a day at my age is no small thing anymore!). 

Now along has come a new migraine drug that is a co-venture between Amgen and Novartis, called Aimovig, and I qualified for the trials and had success there, so I’m now on a regular prescription basis: once a month I inject myself with an Epi-pen with the Aimovig and hope for the best.

So far, so good.

The Aimovig seems to be changing my headaches.

For the better.

So here’s the scary part: My headaches almost always start in the wee hours of the morning: midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m.  In the past, I would get up, take an Imitrex, go back to bed and sleep, then wake up headache free.  The problem is that you can only take so much Imitrex, as it’s not good for your organs or something.  Of course not.  There must be a catch if a drug does something as miraculous as getting rid of a migraine when it starts!  So whenever I have a clear day, with nothing going on, I have had to allow the headache to get worse and take to my bed, as described above, and waste a day.  Then for some strange reason my system re-boots itself and I can usually go about a week without a sign of a headache.  Don’t ask me why; in fact, don’t ask my neurologists why.  No one seems to know how the brain or the nervous system works for each migraine sufferer.

But now, with the Aimovig, there’s a new pattern: when the headache begins, if I get up and don’t take the Imitrex, there’s a good chance that the headache will go away on its own. 

I say “good chance” because there’s the possibility too that it won’t.  That’s the risk referred to in the title of this piece.  If it’s a day that has a lot to it: I’m teaching, we’re going out to dinner, the theater, whatever, can I risk not taking my Imitrex and winding up with a really bad headache that means I can’t function?

My neurologist has said that I have to push through this concern and take the risk to let the Aimovig do its thing.  Easy for him to say. But when you’re sitting up in bed at midnight and contemplating the to-do list for that day, and when you know that popping an Imitrex will quickly solve the headache problem, and if you don’t take it, your headache might get worse, what would you do?  I’ve even taken to getting up at midnight and going to my home office, because there seems to be something about getting up and starting to function normally that affects the headaches positively and sends them on their way.  But again, it’s a calculated risk. Every time I don’t take the Imitrex and let the Aimovig work, and the headache – however slight – does go away, I’m encouraged the next time to not take the Imitrex.

But it’s a risk.  Always a risk.  And always scary.

That feeling of suddenly realizing you’re headache free is one of the great wonders of my life now.  Makes me almost break into song.

What is there in YOUR life that scares you but that you try to do anyway?  I think we all have actions and deeds that we know we have to risk doing because we’re better people when we do.  But that doesn’t mean the scariness goes away.  And it doesn’t make the risk any less.

So I sort of know what you’re going through, and I do feel your pain, a bit.

Let’s try to be braver together.

 

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