When Tony and I were first married, we lived in Bellingham, a beautiful, hippie-dippie city in which the population swelled by 18,000 during the school year. Bellingham is on a bay, in a valley, and nestled between mountains and hills. The weather is terrible because it changes so frequently – it can be beautiful in the morning and gray and overcast by early afternoon. The clouds roll down the mountains and through the valley, the barometric pressure changes uncommonly fast, and clothing choices in the morning almost never match what you’ll need for the afternoon.
I blamed this God-awful shifting weather for my migraines for three years. I went to see specialists and neurologists, had my noggin scanned, my sinuses inspected, and still, I experienced thrice-weekly migraines the whole time we lived there. It was horrible, and probably contributed to the depression I battled at that time.
Do you get migraines? If so, then you know how debilitating they are. I would power through them because I simply had no choice; I had to do homework, I had to go to grad school, I had to go to work. But still, when I could afford to, I would let them put me right into bed for the whole day.
Then we moved out of that valley and into another, 30 miles south, and things got better. The weather here in the Skagit Valley isn’t nearly so fickle, and I’m sure having a steady pace in life helped immensely with my overall mental health.
However, two other factors combined to eliminate my migraines, factors that are so obvious in hindsight that I can’t believe I didn’t think of them when we were living in Bellingham: I quit taking birth control and then I got pregnant.
Now, graduate school would not have been a good time for Tony and I to have a baby, but the hormonal birth control? If I had chucked that, I probably would have eliminated most of the migraines. But I didn’t, and I didn’t even realize that it was the big problem until after Jamie weaned.
A few months ago, I started birth control again, and the headaches came back. Three times a week, at least. Except that this time, instead of just lying down and sleeping until the headache abated, I had a prescription for Imitrex. Oh, blessed science. I wish I had had access to this drug years ago. I take it as soon as I feel a migraine starting. It makes me nauseated and woozy for about 30 minutes, and then, so long as I eat something substantial (full of protein and fat), I feel fine. Like, 100% fine. Headache gone, miracle experienced, back to life fine.
I was still kind of an idiot, though. I honestly didn’t draw the link between the birth control pills and the headaches until I realized that I had taken 20 of the 30 Imitrex pills prescribed to me. In a MONTH! Something had changed, and the only thing that had changed was the birth control. The doctor confirmed that it was the most likely culprit.
So, turns out my headaches are hormonal. I stopped the hormonal birth control and will NEVER USE IT AGAIN. Yeah, I still get migraines twice a month, when I’m bathed in hormones like any fertile woman, but that’s just so much better than three times a week. Yesterday, I started to get a headache around 10:30 am. I went home, took an Imitrex, laid down for thirty minutes, and then went to my sons’ preschool Thanksgiving lunch. It was delicious, and by 1 pm, I was back at the office, raring to go.
I thought I’d share because, well, I would have liked this information when I was younger. If someone had said to me, “hey, you might consider going off the Pill to see if it cures your migraines,” I might have had a happier life for those three years.