Week 2 – Small Successes

Well, I haven’t managed a day without frova this second week so that is not such a positive thing. I didn’t take frova Tuesday but then I took 2 on Wednesday, 1 in the middle of the night between Thursday and Friday (so technically I guess one of those days was “frova-free”), 1 Saturday morning, 1 Sunday lunch, 1 Monday morning, and 2 today.

So where are the small successes you might ask? First, I made it through a full week of work last week because I did not wake with a migraine once. Second, in 7 days, I only woke with a migraine 4 times. Third, despite having such a bad migraine on Wednesday that I was home in bed by 5pm and missed my family dinner, the rest of the time the migraines have been relatively short-lived and managed with only one frova.

It may not seem like a big deal when I have still had to take so many but to me, these small steps are positive. I was especially enthusiastic about my full week of work. I was starting to wonder if I’d ever have one of those again. I explained to my students about my frequent absences because we were talking about mental health and it being stigmatized since it is an invisible disease and I explained that having migraine is also an invisible disease that can be stigmatized. I was in no way saying that mental health issues and migraine are the same (thought they are co-morbid but more on that at a later date) but I wanted them to understand the idea about stigma and invisible illnesses.

“I thought you were just taking extended weekends and more holidays,” one of my students said. No my dear, there is nothing holiday-like about a migraine day.

So now I am half way through my first dose. Not a huge improvement but maybe a slight one to start with. No side-effects (touch wood) so that is positive too. Next week I will have botox injections again as my neurologist feels that I should continue with those for now. My last set of injections did NOTHING for me which was unusual but maybe with the Aimovig there will be more success.

I’ll check back in next week. For now I will sip my ginger tea and read my amazing book – The Wolf in the Whale. I highly recommend it.

T+6 – Day 2 Frova Free – So Far

It’s only 7:30pm and I have slight pain under my eyes but I have been dealing with that since about 1:30 and it comes and goes so I am hoping that this means that I will have a second frova-free day in the past week. How amazing would that be. Wish my head was completely pain-free as I wonder and worry about the pain increasing and then having to take a frova but this is a small success.

I was thrilled to wake up pain-free this morning! I felt better than I had in ages. I slept well and I woke up well (although I always feel like I could sleep another 2 hours.)

So what do I attribute the pain-free morning to? Is it the Aimovig? Is it my awesome buckwheat pillow (which still feels quite hard and makes my ears physically ache a little) or do I attribute it to GINGER???

I came across and article yesterday (read it here) that says that research was done on the efficacy of ginger in stopping a migraine attack. It was found to be as effective as Imitrex to relieve migraine. A quarter of a tsp of ground ginger mixed in a small amount of warm water was supposed to be effective. I would have liked to read the whole scientific article but I had to pay $7.00 for 48 hours of access so I just used the Coles notes version from Migraine Again.

I decided to give it a try and had an inch of fresh ginger grated into a cup of hot water to make a strong tea. Maybe the ginger works as a preventative or lasts long enough in the body to abort a migraine as it begins while I am sleeping. Who knows. Who cares? If it works, I will take it.

So my experiment with Aimovig is not very scientific as there are too many variables: injection, pillow, and ginger. But if the combination of the three works, or if one of the three works and I’m not sure which one it is, I really don’t care as long as something works.

So if you don’t take Aimovig but you haven’t tried ginger, give it a try and let me know in the comments if it works for you. Or if you have tried it, let me know that as well. I am interested to know what the community of migraineurs has to say about it.

Imagine if after all these years, all I had to do was gnaw on a piece of ginger every night.

Image credit: Image by siala from Pixabay

T+5 – Night Triptan

When Gus, my gentle 20lb cat, scratched at the bedroom door at 4:30am this morning to be let in, I knew that I needed a triptan if I wanted to function properly today. I use a contact lens case and have a few Frovas unwrapped** in there and a travel mug full of water and they both live by the side of my bed. I used to have to get up to go to the bathroom to get my dose but I found that often I was so groggy that I wouldn’t actually get up and then by the time the alarm rang, my migraine would be in full swing and beyond catching. This way, I can deal with it as soon as I wake enough to know that I have a migraine then fall back asleep. That usually allows me to continue with my day when the alarm rings.

When I get a migraine while I sleep, I often dream that I am battling a migraine and trying to get through my day. The people in my dream will often tell me I have a migraine or I tell them that I am trying to deal with a migraine. Sometimes, a person in my dream actually puts his face up to mine and says, “wake up” and it is so startling that I do. I do wish that my dreams were more gentle in letting me know about my migraine but then I wouldn’t actually wake up I guess.

So after my 4:30am frova, I slept until 7 and then dozed until just after 8 but woke still feeling that the migraine might come back. By mid-morning that sensation had gone and the rest of the day was good.

Now it may sound like I am trying to find an excuse for my night migraine but I did eat my supper early and I did have a medium popcorn with the movie so my level of nutrition before bed was low. We also went to bed later than usual so those two things may have triggered the attack. And the CGRP is not supposed to cure 100% of migraines (I wish) so maybe this was one of the ones leftover and not because the injection hasn’t worked or the pillow hasn’t made a difference. It’s too early to give up so easily.

See you tomorrow.

**Who decided that triptans needed to be packaged in child and migraineur-proof wrapping? The little tear off corners always just rip as soon as I pull on them making the frova impossible to pop out. There I am, just wanting to crawl into a dark cold cave with a mint facemask and I am rummaging around trying to find some scissors or something to pierce the blister holding my meds. It’s not fair. They should be easy to access, not locked away like some cruel joke to see how desperate a migraineur actually is for the triptan. Obviously not a migraineur who invented that.**

T+4 – Day 1 Triptan Free

It’s 9:30 pm and I haven’t taken a triptan yet. My head started to twinge a bit around 5:30pm but I wanted to give the feeling time to move in or move out before I jumped to Frova. Luckily, it moved out! So I can officially say that this is day 1 without a frova since my injection on Tuesday. I have been thinking about it all day and wondering if I was going to get a migraine so it wasn’t a relaxing, carefree day of no migraine but I am not complaining. I’ll take and celebrate the triptan-free day!

Now I will see if this migraine-free status remains throughout the night and if I wake migraine-free. That will be a big hurdle that I have overcome if I do. Not that one night without triptans and without pain means that I have overcome it forever but I will celebrate the small successes.

The new pillow was not easy to fall asleep on… because it is smaller than my normal two pillows, my arms hurt from being in unusual positions. I was also cold because there was no connection between the pillow and the covers so I need to figure that out tonight. My husband said that it reminded him of sleeping in a bowl of rice crispies because of the noise that the pillow makes each time you move your head and it’s true, but it’s not loud and difficult to sleep through. Once I was asleep, I didn’t wake up from the sounds of the buckwheat moving. Tonight I will see if the new pillow helps to avoid a migraine attack during the night.

Even managed to watch a movie – Hotel Mumbai. If you haven’t seen it and you are interested in movies based on real life, I strongly recommend it but it is brutal. I cried through half of it. Maybe that released some pressure inside of me and that flushed out the migraine! It’s hard to accept that humans can be so brutal to each other.

See you tomorrow.

Image credit: Image by Adam Hill from Pixabay

T-0 Injection Day

So this is what I looked like last night (thanks to my husband who thought these made great photos):

While I had intended to remain triptan free, by 9:30pm, I was in agony and couldn’t sleep so reached into my drawer of goodies and tried a naratriptan which was new to me. I also had to take an anti-nauseant to keep it down. This morning I woke with pain around my eyes, like I had been punched, which gradually moved into another migraine that was treated with a frova. I don’t feel like I’ll ever get away from those.

However, at 10am, my giant box of Aimovig arrived. I have decided to name my injection Bach as I prefer the soothingness of Bach to the fiery heat of habanero (although it did burn a little as it was injected…). I’ll need to make alternate arrangements for the delivery of Bach next month as I plan on being at work because this is going to work SO WELL that I will never have to miss work again.

After unpacking the box and letting the injection come to room temperature, I decided to inject it into my thigh. The white cap did not gently slide off as the video shows, I had to pull quite hard to get it off. The injection itself was easy but I could feel some pressure and stinging as it went in. My injector clicked twice as it started and ended. The video shows the window becoming a light yellow, almost liquid filled, but in actual fact it’s a yellow plastic plunger that fills the window. There is no mistaking that the medication has been pushed in.

The injection site hurt for a while if I touched it accidentally and my leg felt like there was a light line of pain going down to my foot but that only lasted a minute or two after the injection. Overall, it was quite easy and fairly painless.

I did the injection at 12:30 and took a frova at 1:30 to clear the remaining migraine from yesterday (and the four days previous). So now I wait to see what happens. Some people say “Miracle!” and see an improvement immediately. Others see no improvement. Others still see a worsening of symptoms and a resistance to triptans. Best case scenario? My migraines are gone. But I would be happy with a reduction of 50%.

I’ll keep you posted.

Here is a video my husband did of my first injection.

T-1

My name is Erika.

Today is one day before I get my first Aimovig injection. I wanted to blog about the experience because the drug is new and not many people are necessarily using it yet so I thought maybe someone might be interested in learning how it goes. So here it is. Or at least, here it will be tomorrow.

For now, a bit of background if you are interested.

Why habanerobach? Two reasons:

  1. my husband picked it
  2. Somewhere, at some time, some poor migraineur has disclosed that she has migraines and the response has been, “Oh! My sister’s friend’s aunt has migraines and she eats three habanero peppers as soon as she feels the migraine and they go away. Have you tried that?” or “I get headaches too but I find that listening to soothing music like Bach really helps my headaches go away.” We’ve all heard something like that.

Today, I am on day 5 of a migraine that keeps coming back every 6 hours, once my Frovatriptan starts to wear off. Working on a computer is not ideal at the moment but I wanted to get this up and running to be able to blog the journey as I start my trip down Aimovig lane tomorrow. So this page needed to be built and content needed to be added.

To be fair, the migraine is a level 1 at the moment (on a scale of 1-3: still functioning, slowed down, unable to do anything) but it is there and threatening to get worse if I push it too far. I am home from work because being in an environment with 780 pre-pubescent teenagers is not very conducive to getting rid of a migraine.

I want to be drug-free before I get my first injection so the Frova that I took sometime in the middle of last night is the last one I intend to take before my injection. I know this could mean a very painful 36 hours but I want to feel the effect of the Aimovig, not the possible Aimovig + something else effect.

It is my goal to blog almost daily about the Aimovig and how it is working for me but at the same time, life happens and I may fall behind. I am also planning to share about my migraine journey from the past 35 years so that you can see how I got to where I am.

Aimovig doesn’t come easy. It’s been a long road full of failures to get to this point and I am excited and nervous about the unknown journey ahead. My biggest fear? What if it doesn’t work? But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. For now, I am hopeful.

Thanks for joining me on this journey!