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I am a longtime migraine sufferer.
They started back in high school, but I did not know what they were back then.
I would see spots and then feel a throbbing pain in my head and then it felt like a tent spike being shoved and banged into my head repeatedly—over and over.
Then came the vomiting and begging God to end my life, followed by climbing into dark closets to avoid any light—but the pain kept coming.
I feared I was dying of a brain tumor. The pain crippled me emotionally and physically. I never had a headache like this, and I was on a school bus going into New York City to listen to my first opera. I was sure the music was not going to help this headache feel any better.
My doctor sent me for a battery of tests. First, a CT scan, followed by a series of MRIs. He had blood work drawn to see what was going on, while I sat paralyzed waiting to find out if at 22, I was going to die from some brain injury I did not know I had.
At 22, I knew nothing about what a migraine was, why it happened, or the pain it inflicted on your life, but I knew I needed a solution to this pain it was causing me.
Secondly, the doctor gave me a plethora of medicines to see what worked to prevent these damned migraines. We needed to learn what helped and what did not. Soon a barrage of different medicines to prevent these stupid migraines was given to me—one medicine, then another, a nose spray, a shot.
After they all failed to help, the doctor tried onset medicines to take as soon as I knew one was coming. Once I saw the aura, I was to pop another medicine into me, but nothing was working. I would see the aura, pop my meds, and then throw up again. I felt depleted in life. The pain was winning in controlling my life; I needed my life to control these migraines.
This had become my full-time job. I felt like a test rat. Try this, this, and this.
Year after year the migraines came, and my mental health struggled. It got to the point where I could plan my life around those few days I would be down. I was guaranteed two days off my life monthly. I needed to take matters into my own hands and learn what else could possibly help me.
I decided to investigate holistic options. I read anything I could on the subject. I asked friends, coworkers, and family members if they had any holistic ideas on how to stop this horrible pain.
No one did, so I spent time doing research on migraines, causes, and how I could diminish them without a prescription. I read book after book on essential oils and their uses. I fell in love with a book I now call my holistic bible and followed it to the letter.
I started using cold compresses on my forehead while lying in a dark room. It eased the pain a little bit. A little weight lifted off my shoulders with the ease of the pain. I soon carried a peppermint oil roller with me. If I started to get a headache, I rolled some on my temples and wrists. The smell helped my head feel a little better, so I kept digging to see what else could help.
I cut out caffeine and went gluten-free. The migraines became less frequent. I still got migraines, but they weren’t as severe. I never begged God to die again. I felt almost human again and less and less like a lab rat.
I tried different things. Some worked and some I had no luck with, but we must try different things till we find what works for us.
I took matters into my own hands and tried some holistic avenues to healing myself.
>> I bought an essential oil diffuser and mixed lavender and peppermint oils and when I got a migraine, I turned it on. I slept with it by my bed just in case one woke me at 2 a.m.
>> I bought apple candles because I learned the smell helps with the pain of a migraine. Something about the smell of apples helped ease the pain.
>> Drinking tons of water helped in fending off more migraines. I always keep a bottle of water around me now.
>> My mom told me Oprah said ginger works for migraines, so I bought ginger honey tea.
>> I made my own eye pillow filled with lavender to put in the freezer and use on my forehead as needed.
>> Someone told me feverfew herb worked, which I tried and had no luck with, but you must try different things till you find what works for you.
>> Being in a dark room with an ice pack or cold washcloth on my face helps.
>> Letting my hair loose helps because ponytails seem to bring them on (because too much tension on my head brings one on).
What I did find out is Excedrin migraine works when I have the most horrible of migraines, but for the other less harsh migraines, herbs, and oils, along with dietary adjustments seem to be working right now.
I’d rather use just about anything rather than put prescription medicine in my body. The fewer chemicals in it, the better I feel about my health, so I try all the holistic approaches first.
I hope if you have migraines, this helps guide you toward some alternatives to popping those prescribed pills, but for me, if I need the medicine, I will take it—but I will try limiting foods and smells and I will add herbs and teas first.
The balance between medicine and holistic healing is a choice that each of us must make for our own bodies.
Here is to hoping for a migraine-free day for all us sufferers.