April 21, 2010

Migraine Headaches

Posted in Breast Cancer, Health, Weather, Women tagged , , , , at 7:03 am by Liliana

Migraine Headaches

Migraine Headaches

I get migraine headaches.

From childhood I have suffered from headaches, but migraines are in a different category altogether. Four years ago, after my breast cancer treatments ended, my oncologist advised me to take Arimidex, a drug that lowers estrogen levels, and, we hope, will help keep the cancer at bay. One of the side effects of Arimidex is migraines.

Spring seems to be an especially opportune time for migraines. I am convinced that changes in barometric pressures and temperature are the main culprits. But there are many others. A glass of red wine, eating a few walnuts or a piece of cheese, working too hard. Worrying and stressing can also take me over the edge.

Sometimes I wake up with a migraine headache and I feel dazed, my mind cloudy and unclear. My jaw is tight, and I feel like I have been grinding stones with my teeth. My temples hurt. The top of my head aches. I have trouble concentrating. Noise is amplified and gives me pain. Light makes me wince. My teeth hurt. My hair hurts. My shoulders are stiff. And when things get really bad, I feel faint, dizzy and nauseous. My eyes hurt.  I get double vision and shapes start dissolving and dancing on the sides of my eyes.

The only medicine I am allowed to take is ibuprofen. To take anything else would increase estrogen levels and undermine the effects of Arimidex. Most of the time, I wait and hope against hope that the headache will go away on its own. It never does. If I am at work and realize that the point of no return is coming, I make a decision to go home. I have to be careful not to wait too long because sometimes my vision is so bad that I have trouble driving.

Once home, I darken my bedroom, cover my head with my comforter and go to sleep. Sometimes I sleep 3-4 hours at a time. When I wake up, the migraine has usually receded  deeply within my head. Although not gone, it is mostly controllable at this point. But it will follow me like an evil shadow for the next three or four days and try to resurface again. It is a battle. Sometime I win, sometimes the shadow.

To my subscribers: I accidentally sent this posting out last Monday. I was writing it while I had a migraine and instead of pressing ‘save’ I pressed ‘publish.’ Sorry about that!