After being diagnosed with a sickness, a person would get treated for it. If they have a cold or the flu, they would usually get antibiotics that they can take for a week and the sickness will go away. There are many antibiotics to use for a simple illness like a cold. When it comes to migraines, though, there aren't many options to go through. There are no migraine-specific preventatives available. Usually people think that the treatment options for migraine are simple, but it's not (at least in my experience). For example, people use SSRI's to treat depression, but to find the right medication that works for them best, they have to cycle through different types until they find the right one. That's kind of similar to what a person with migraines goes through. In order to find the right medication that makes the severity and frequency go down, we have to go through months, even years, of trying different medications.
There are two types of medications that a migraineur can take: abortives and preventatives. Abortive medications are the ones that are to be taken on the onset of a migraine. The triptan class of medications are usually what is prescribed go someone. Ive used Treximet for a little over three years now, but before I found Treximet, I had tried about 5 other medications. (Off the top of my head, I know I've tried Zomig and Maxalt). The tricky thing about those is that if you don't catch it, the medication wont work and one would usually have to wait four to six hours before taking another one. If you take them too frequently, then you can get M.O.H., which is medication overuse headache. To get out of that cycle is even trickier when you have to abstain from the abortive that makes the pain go away.
The one thing that has always bummed me out about preventatives is that all the ones out for other types of illnesses. For example, gabopentin is used to treat epilepsy. Depakote is used to treat bipolar disorder. Those are only two of the list of medications used to treat migraines. Like finding an abortive that works, one has to go through the same cycle for finding a preventative. The last preventative I tried before Kaiser told me, "I'm sorry, Sydney. You've tried everything from what we see on your chart. There's nothing else for you to try", I was given a blood pressure medication. After being on it for three months and feeling like I had absolutely no pulse (which is just a weird side effect), I stopped using it. The last preventative to really work for me was Depakote, but after having the milligrams bumped up to a large triple digit, it made me have terrible side effects. I had just started college and I was unable to function; it turned me into a zombie! To truly find a good preventative that can help you is a troublesome journey of many side effects; it can either be a breeze or a terrible roller coaster.
After the nine neurologists I saw at Kaiser told me "There are no other treatments for you to try", I started doing my research. I now know that in two years, the first migraine-specific preventative will have passed the FDA and patients will be able to use it. In four years, another preventative will come out. There are also neuropathic treatments one can try, like seeing a chiropractor, or acupuncture, and even a whole list of many natural herbal supplements. Sometimes these don't work; every body is different. What might work for one person won't work for another. I've changed my diet, tried acupuncture and chiropractors but to no avail. When it has come to my treatment, preventatives would work and then after a year or so of being on it, it would lose it's desired affects and I would go back through the cycle of trying to find another one. All I can say about that is I've tried a lot. So much so that there really might not be anything else I can try. It's really made me lose hope at some points in my life. Migraine is a very frustrating illness, and like depression, doctors really don't know much about it. We are still learning.
Along with these preventatives, I've learned about another treatment that doctors use to also treat depression. This treatment is an intravenous infusion of ketamine. Ketamine is an animal tranquilizer, but it's also used in the ER when children break their arms as an anesthetic. Doctors are now using it to treat chronic pain and depression. It seems scary to be infused with an anesthetic, but after talking to the pain management doctor, he's told me that I should indeed try it! Like I always say, there is hope. This treatment is supposed to "re-wire your brains pain receptors", this doctor has told me. It can reduce chronic migraines to two a month and the severity can go down from a pain level of 10 to a level of three. (Now if that isn't a blessing then I don't know what is!)
Treating migraines will be a tough journey for anyone who has been diagnosed with it. From the unwanted side effects to all the doctors appointments that you have to go through. Hopefully with enough research there will be a reliable treatment option for it, as well as a cure. No matter what, though, never lose hope. Even if one medication doesn't work, there might be another that can. You won't know until you try it. I won't know if the ketamine treatments will work for me but at this point in my life, I really have nothing to lose. It might be my savior! With the new preventatives coming out in the near future, there will be different treatment options for everyone, and I really do hope that if you are suffering through this, too, they can help you. We'll get through it! Never forget that you are not alone in this.