I got my first migraine around the age of twelve. I don’t remember anyone outside my family taking it seriously; my mom suffered from clusters and chronic migraines that were usually stress related and my dad suffered from the annual two days in bed while throwing up in total darkness kind—again related to stress. I remember have to fight with a counselor once or twice during my summer at YCC about the fact that migraines are not the same as dehydration headaches.
My frequency and pain leveled up when I started teaching (at 22) and when I hit 30. Around that time my six week clusters in the spring with the occasional monthly migraine added a fall cluster. When I started taking Zoloft for the winter deepening of my depression I started getting really long migraine clusters, only to eventually figure out they were Zoloft induced.
This year, on new and year-round meds, I accepted that I have chronic migraines.
For the people lucky enough not to have migraines, the pain intensity can change as can the frequency. I’ve had a few sneak up on me during lunch that started with focusing trouble, hit the throwing up while trying to teach (I have had some outstanding students and understanding administrators), to lying on the bed with a heat pack on my neck and an ice pack on my forehead while praying and quietly sobbing.
Most of my migraines though are focused on the right front of my brain with pain levels that are managed through a delicate balance of medications that dull the pain enough to keep functioning while sapping at my energy levels. I slept quite a lot outside of work. Teaching high school is not actually the perfect job for a migraine sufferer (who knew?).
A year ago I started wearing an ionized magnetic bracelet which helped just a little with my pain levels. Just a little was worth it. Today, a friend (and fellow sufferer) and I drove to Walla Walla for a visit to a local piercer who has become pretty well known for daith piercings. Nick works at Tatmandu and has become very good at understanding how a certain little nerve cluster works with migraines. I was only hoping for a little more pain relief and what I got was the feeling of having all my strings cut and a sudden lack of pain. Pain had just become an accepted and unavoidable part of my life.
I’m sure I will still suffer from the occasional migraine, but I don’t think I’ll have to deal with several a week any more. I’m actually looking forward to being able to catch up on my grading, to having my frustrations be about student behavior or work quality rather than pain. I know this piercing doesn’t work for everyone—for me the quick pain of the needle was well worth a pain-free afternoon.
It was important for me to find out my little nerve cluster was enlarged and a sign of the pain I’d been dealing with. Depression, anxiety, and chronic pain (whatever its cause) can make people feel a little crazy, because so often there’s not an obvious physical reason. It sucks to wonder if everything was just in my head. I’m so grateful for the relief and for the knowledge that there was a physical connection.
Anyone thinking of doing this should make sure to talk to their healthcare provider and get a recommendation for someone who knows what they are doing. If you decide to get a daith peircing and live near Walla Walla, I can’t recommend Nick and Tatmandu highly enough.