Reader Stories

Your Headache Stories, Part 6: From Amanda

Amanda’s story is particularly sad because the women in her family have a tragic history of headache.

I’ve had headaches since high school. I’m 24 now, and doctors are stupefied when I say I have headaches at least four times a week. It varies, though . . . some weeks I have none, some weeks, obviously, I have them every day.

I had a CT scan in college, and it showed nothing. Doctors have told me to try different mineral & vitamin cocktails, they’ve given me Topamax, Ultram ER, and the latest is Axert. The Topamax I received was only a 40-pill bottle, and the refill on it was $86, which I couldn’t afford. So I tried the Ultram ER, and that put me on a different planet. Didn’t really do anything for the pain, but now I know what to take if I don’t want to have to think. I haven’t tried the Axert yet, because the last time I was at the doctor, he told me I have elevated blood pressure . . . so taking a migraine medication doesn’t sound like a smart thing to me anymore.

The headaches run in my family, too. My mom used to get terrible migraines, as did her sister, and her sister’s son. My cousin had them as a child until he was involved in a sledding accident and incurred major head injuries. The kid had to learn how walk again, but he hasn’t had a migraine since!

I’m tired of taking 1000mg+ of acetaminophen to get any sort of relief. I’m tired of combining acetaminophen and aspirin or ibuprofen. I’m afraid of trying anti-seizure meds or anti-depressants . . . I’ve been on anti-depressants before — for depression — and I didn’t like them then! Why would I take now if I’m not depressed, ya know? I’ve been thinking of trying herbal pain relievers. My mom used to do biofeedback for her headaches, but I don’t think anything ever came of it.

The thing I’m most afraid of is ending up like my mom. She died four years ago at the age of 43. She had high blood pressure, thyroid problems, she took ALL kinds of pills daily for all her physical ailments — including tons of headache pills — and it basically killed her liver. She died of hepatic steatosis, which is a “fatty” liver. The liver becomes so bogged down with fat that it can’t function.

So since I’m already showing signs of hypertension and I do have frequent headaches, I get really scared sometimes. And at this point in my life — two years out of college, living in the DC-Metro area, where it’s uber-expensive to live — I can’t afford to go to the doctor every week or two weeks to try to help my headaches. Not to mention the time away from work. This week alone I’ve left early three days because of this headache.

I worry that when I say, “I have to go home, I have a headache,” that people/my co-workers/my friends will think I’m just making it up or blowing the pain out of proportion . . . but I don’t think many people realize how bad the pain can get. I actually know people who say they’ve never had a headache in their entire lives. I can’t fathom that!

The good news? Amanda has since tried Axert and found it to be an effective abortive. I hope your relief continues, Amanda!

You can read previous stories from readers at:

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