I was 17 when I experienced my first migraine. I had just started my senior year of high school and was so excited for what the year would bring: applying for college, senior prom, making memories with friends and so much more… All of this changed when I woke up one morning with an excruciating headache. Before this, I was a very active and involved student. I was always hanging out with my friends or attending high school sporting events. When I told my mom how bad my head hurt, she gave me some over the counter medication believing I would be fine in a few hours. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Days went by with absolutely no relief. The pain just continued to get worse. I would call my mom from school crying, begging her to come pick me up.
This started the three-month period I refer to as “my dark times.” The neurologist we consulted ordered several tests, but they were ultimately unable to provide any relief. My mom decided to call The Headache Center. They got me in quickly and tried so many different treatments. However, the daily headaches persisted with minimal relief. I would wake up with a migraine every single morning. My mom would walk me to the car with a towel over my head because I couldn’t bear the light. I would go The Headache Center to try another infusion or nerve block. This went on for days, while they kept changing my medications, trying to do whatever they could to break the vicious cycle. At this point, I was in a very dark place, mentally. My senior year was ruined by a headache that no one could ever understand.
I felt very alone as if no one understood what I was going through. To everyone else “it was just a headache.” I was certain that this relentless daily headache was going to ruin my life. I was out of school for 3 months and missing out on the things I had been dreaming of since I was a freshman. I feared I was not going to be able to go to college. I was devastated with the realization that this was even a possibility. At only 17 years old, I was disabled in a way I did not even know was possible.
The Headache Center enlisted a team of nationally renowned headache specialists to assist with my treatment. One particularly helpful psychologist instructed me to wake up every day, get dressed, and do something that made me feel like myself. So, instead of lying in bed all day long in total darkness, I would wake up, get dressed, and color a picture. Even if it was only for 15 minutes, it gave me a sense of purpose that I so desperately needed. We continued to try other medications and infusions at The Headache Center, and slowly, over time, I finally began to feel some relief.
I will never forget the day I woke up without a headache. I was able to go to school and see my friends. I was so excited to finish the rest of my senior year strong. Fast forward to where I am now, 23 years old and a college graduate with a full-time job, it seems so surreal. I never dreamed I would be able to accomplish all the things I have since my migraines first began. I still suffer from chronic migraine, but with a lifestyle modification, a prevention and attack plan tailored to me, I can truly live a normal life.
– Elizabeth Anne Walt