Exclusive interview with lifelong migraine sufferer: “I lost consciousness and almost bled out from taking ibuprofen.”

This personal interviews is with Mike, a youthful and active 65-year-old father of two and grandfather of three. Mike’s lifelong career is that of a general building contractor, involving homes, commercial properties, and multiple unit developments.

Mike is an individual who has been affected by migraine for several decades and has gone from having “no hope” to being “almost migraine free.”

In his darkest days with debilitating migraine headaches, Mike was self-medicating with handfuls of ibuprofen and up to six Imitrex pills each day.

What happened as a result of this? 

What happened as a result was an emergency, but could easily have cost him his life. “I lost consciousness and almost bled out on ibuprofen; I ended up running into a tree with my truck,” he explained. “My veins had collapsed and the paramedics could hardly get an IV into my arm by the time the ambulance reached the hospital.” The ibuprofen had severely damaged Mike’s esophagus, hence the out-of-control bleeding.

“It’s really a miracle that I don’t have liver or kidney damage from self-medicating,” he admitted. “I would wake up at 3 a.m. every morning with a migraine and pop an Imitrex. That was my alarm clock – my migraine. Come to find out, the medication was causing me to have more and more migraines.”

After speaking with a friend and learning there were potentially better options for treating migraines, Mike made an appointment with a respected neurologist.

What changed when Mike found a qualified and well-respected neurologist? 

“About three years ago, I found a great neurologist,” he said. “He listened to my history and worked with me to get approved for Botox®. With Botox, everything changed. In my case, it took about two years before I started seeing good results, but I knew it would happen.” Mike has a positive mindset and is a man of faith.

Mike said he found out consistency was critical in his treatment. “I can say that it’s very important to stay steady with the 12-week appointments. I do think that if you miss it, it’s like starting over, because that did happen to me.”

He also said he believes it is important to be mindful when trying to improve your health relating to migraine.

What is Mike’s recommendation when it comes to living with migraine? 

“I think it’s important that you really keep track of what’s going on, what you’re doing, and try to figure out yourself if there’s anything in particular that seems to bring on your migraines.”

When asked how successful the Botox treatments have been, he said, “I really think Botox works. It has worked for me. When I do get an occasional break-through migraine, it’s only about a 4 on the pain scale of 1 to 10. My migraines used to be a 40 on a scale of 1 to 10.”

For a better understanding of the pain scale, read this article. 

Mike has suffered much of his life with migraines. “I remember having them as far back as fifth grade. When they started, I was taken to our family doctor. I recall they became more significant when I was getting out of high school.”

When asked what doctors advised him to do to relieve the pain, he said, “Back then they didn’t seem to understand much about migraines; they told me just to take aspirin.”

Mike wasn’t the only person in his family that suffered from severe headaches. “I remember being told it was probably hereditary. My grandfather had them. Even when he was 94 years old, he still had unbelievable headaches. He thought it was from allergies. My Dad had them, but they stopped when he turned 50.”

Being a busy general contractor, Mike felt he had to deal with migraine attacks any way he could to stay on his work schedule. Self-medicating became an everyday practice.  “Probably around 1983, when I was about 31 years old, [the migraines] really worsened,” he said. “I was having them pretty much every day at that point. That’s when I started my personal regimen of taking between 18 and 21 Excedrin per day for several years. It didn’t take away the migraine, but I was at least able to go to work. I was usually working out of town during those years and I would often pull my truck over after work and lay down in the cab of the truck to try and feel better. During those days, doctors told me they thought my migraines were caused by changes in barometric pressure. They said, you know, every time the weather changes you will get a headache.”

When asked what medications he was given eventually by doctors as his condition worsened, he said, “In the early 1990s, I heard that a drug called Zomig® (zolmitriptan) came out to help migraines. My cost was $210 per Zomig prescription. I paid that because that’s what it was taking to get rid of a headache. I also remember some other medications that worked for short times.”

Mike was prescribed Imitrex® (sumatriptan) in the early 1990s. “Before I knew it, I had been taking medicine for migraines for about 25 years. Nobody really explained to me that as time goes on and as you take more of some of these medications, you can get ‘rebound’ migraines.” “I was told later that occurs after six consecutive days of taking them.”

Desperate for relief from migraine pain after suffering for many years, Mike began to seek help from family members, asking them for any leftover, unused pain medications. “The pain medications would leave me drenched in sweat and hallucinating,” he said. “I kept telling myself I couldn’t do that again. I was just so desperate, I would try anything.”

In addition to searching for pain relief with medications, Mike also had severe eye and environmental sensitivity.

“When I would get a migraine, it made me very light-sensitive (photophobia),” he explained. “The room had to be very dark, very quiet, and at a cool temperature. I couldn’t tolerate any sounds. The pain was unbelievable. I would lay there and moan. I also used to wrap a t-shirt as tight as I could around my head to try and relieve the pressure. It really didn’t help much.”

Mike said he had also heard good things about acupuncture. “So, I tried that,” he said. “They treated me on my feet. Not only did it not help, but I still have pain in one of my feet today, eight years later. I also tried massage therapy, but it had no positive effect on my migraines. I thought maybe I needed to exercise more, but it didn’t help either.”

Today Mike is managing quite well with his regular Botox treatments. He is an active man with a zest for life. Doing whatever he can to keep the migraines at bay is his goal.  He is addressing other health-related discomforts as well.

“About a year ago I started doing an enzyme treatment to rebuild healthy gut,” he said. “It has certainly helped with heartburn; I’m not sure about other things.”

“I also take natural supplements to strengthen my immune system and I am trying to eat much healthier.”

Identifying his migraine triggers has taken time and patience.

“I started recording what I was eating,” Mike explained. “I have learned that red, blue and yellow food dyes cause me headaches. I like both black and red licorice, but whenever I ate the red, I would get ill with a migraine. Brownies or chocolate cake also gives me migraine if I consume much. I always drank a lot of cola and I thought I would try drinking other beverages – like those that are promoted for sports enthusiasts, but they gave me more headaches.”

To be considered for an interview use the “contact me” feature on this website. Briefly describe your individual situation and I will be glad to respond to you. I am particularly interested in the variety of solutions readers have found that help their migraines.

Please consider sharing this article with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers.  Let’s help each other reach optimal health.  



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