Symptoms versus Side Effects
Some days it can be a tough call. The debate can threaten to derail even the best treatment plans.
Do I wait to see how bad this one gets?
If I treat it now, I’ll be stuck with side effects for the rest of the day.
If the attack only lasts a few hours, maybe it’s worth riding this one out.
If it gets bad later on, it might be too late to stop it.
When using an effective treatment for a long time, it is easy to forget how bad Migraine disease can be without it. Sometimes I don’t lose the day to the actual Migraine attack, but to the side effects of medicines that stopped it.
I was checking e-mail when it hit me.
I get sensory auras more often than visual ones (they’re harder to recognize and went undiagnosed for decades). That’s how the latest attack started. There wasn’t any pain, just an odd sensation across the left side of my head. It started in my left temple and slowly spread from forehead to the base of my neck in about 10 minutes. I knew I needed to take an abortive, but I hesitated for just a moment. That little green pill would definitely stop this Migraine attack. It would also guarantee a full day of limited mobility because that pill would also tighten and stiffen every muscle in my body. I already have enough problems with muscle stiffness due to fibromyalgia. I certainly wasn’t excited about worsening one problem to alleviate another.
Skipping that pill would have created a bigger problem.
That’s the tricky part about episodic migraine. You have enough symptom-free days that you forget how bad the attacks can get. You start to rationalize that the side effects of abortives are worse than the attacks themselves. In my case, that’s not true at all.
So I pushed away from my desk and retrieved the little black bag containing my essential migraine tools. I also dug out one of my instant heat shoulder wraps and an ice cold rice bag. In less than 30 minutes I began to feel the drug take effect. The soothing heat around my neck helped relax my tense muscles and prevented the pain from getting worse. I wrapped the cold rice bag around my head and fastened it tight with sewn-in velcro straps.
Treating right away was a good call.
This particular attack ramped up very quickly. I had less than 10 minutes to act before the pain phase kicked in. Once this phase started, the pain and associated symptoms increased exponentially in a matter of minutes. I didn’t have any more time to ponder the risks of muscle tightness versus the pain and disability of a Migraine attack.
Worn out and stuck on lock-down
A few hours later, only exhaustion and widespread muscle lock-down remained. Once the attack had been aborted, it was much easier admit that sore muscles were preferable to hours of pain, nausea, light, and sound sensitivity, plus so much more. It took all day for this side effect to wear off. It was an urgent reminder that Migraine is alive and well and not going anywhere, abortive or not.