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My Migraine Story: From Fear to Freedom

I am a 41-year old woman living in sunny California, with a wonderful family and a great job. Sounds idyllic, right? The problem is if you look closely, you would see that I am tired and frustrated from my fifteen-year battle with migraine disease. You would also see my family tiptoeing around me because they are unsure of when my next migraine attack will hit. That is, until a year and a half ago when I started a clinical trial for an investigational acute treatment of migraine to manage my debilitating illness. But, let’s start at the beginning.

The Start

I had never experienced a migraine until after the birth of my first child. I had a few headaches during my life, but never anything like the migraine attacks I started having 14 years ago. For me, my migraine disease is so much more than just a headache. When I experience a migraine, it’s a constant pounding in my brain, sometimes lasting three to four days. My vision blurs and all I can do is lie down and wait for it to pass. I started missing work events and couldn’t concentrate during meetings. I stopped participating in family activities and even my small children began to feel the stress of my illness. Over the years, they started tiptoeing around me, and as a mother, that is truly disheartening – my children were afraid to be themselves around me.

After years of logging and analyzing my migraine attacks, I realized that they were triggered by stress and hormones. Even knowing the triggers and seeing countless different neurologists and other physicians, finding relief was still not easy. At one time I was taking eight different medications a day to treat and “prevent” migraine. 

Toughing It Out

There is no “one size fits all” approach to migraine treatment. What works for you, may not work for me. And boy, did I understand that as I started the long process of finding the right treatment for my migraine. Over the years, I’ve tried several treatments – prescription and holistic – birth control, acupuncture, injections, etc., and that is when I discovered that I have anaphylactic allergies.

I was devastated. Now, not only did I have to find a treatment that can work for my migraine but it had to be one that would not cause me to have a life-threatening allergic reaction and end up in the emergency room. Additionally, I was confronted with the side effects of the treatments. At one point, I was afraid to take my medication because I didn’t know what side effects it would trigger. Another issue is that I would have to take my medication as soon as I felt a migraine coming on in order to get the best chance of it working, but if I was busy – in a meeting, taking care of my children – and missed the start, I knew the medication would not work at all for that attack. All I could do was “tough it out” and spend the next few days in my bedroom crying, desperate for it to end.

A Ray of Hope

By now, I was a regular at my doctor’s office. I had tried several treatments and had not given up hope. I heard about an ongoing Biohaven clinical trial for an investigational acute treatment for migraine. Even though I was nervous about trying yet another medication, I decided to give it a go. At this point, what did I have to lose?

I’m so thankful that I did take a chance on this clinical trial. The first time I took this medication, I started to feel the effect set in less than an hour later. As I continued taking the medication as part of the trial, I started feeling hopeful about a life without the constant fear of my migraine disease dragging me down. Each time I felt one starting to rear its head, I’d take my pill and it would subside, just like that. I couldn’t believe the difference it was starting to make to my life. I was discovering parts of me hidden away for so long because of this illness.

As the trial was wrapping up, my old familiar nervous feeling crept back in. My life had changed in a few short months and I didn’t want to go back to the old way. I was now living a life without the worry and fear of my next attack. Even my family was anxious that things would go back to how they used to be – we all felt the impact this investigational treatment made to our family life. 

Looking Ahead to a Bright Future

I feel fortunate that I was able to enroll in the Biohaven compassionate use trial after the official clinical trial wrapped up. When I heard that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Biohaven’s acute treatment of migraine earlier this year, I could not have been happier. I feel empowered again – empowered to live my life on my terms and not have to worry about being able to show up for my family, my work, and most importantly, myself. 

This resource was created with support from Biohaven Pharmaceuticals. The author has shared her honest and true experience and was not compensated for this article by Biohaven or any other organization.

 


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