A Release of Pain: One Year Later

This time one year ago, I was in a hospital bed at St. Vincent’s Riverside, listening to Brian try to calm me down before they knocked me out, shaved my head, and cut it open to dig around for a bit. It was a decision I had made a month prior, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be something that would kill me – the the possibility of losing my migraines completely was just… the possibilities were endless.

And when I woke up this morning, with just a twinge of head pain from the stormy weather, I thanked God once again for the successful surgery that has taken away 98% of my migraines

It’s been a hell of an adventurous year. I literally had zero migraines for almost 8 months after the surgery. And when I did have some kind of head pain, an Aleve took it away. I remember looking at Brian a few times and asking him to explain why my head hurt.

“Well, what does it feel like?” he’d ask me, amused and sarcastic at the same time.

“My head… it just HURTS,” I said, frustrated.

“Does it feel like your migraines? Localized in one spot?” he asked me, and I shook my head.

“No. My entire head hurts,” I answered.

“That’s a headache, Jamie. Go take an Aleve. It’ll go away,” he answered. And it did. It always did. It was craziness. I haven’t even gotten through the bottle of Aleve I bought at the end of last year yet.

The giddiness of not having migraines anymore followed me the entire year. I turned my head left in traffic. It didn’t hurt to lay down on my super soft latex pillow anymore. I actually went DAYS without any head pain, and after a few months, I stopped carrying my medication with me everywhere I went.

Little things became big victories. A couple of months after the surgery, I started sleeping on my left side. Brian noticed it when he woke me up one morning.

A month after that, I turned my head left without pain and didn’t even realize it. I was too busy yelling at Brian for poking me repeatedly.

In November, I ran my first half marathon post surgery, and finished it in tears with my sister because for the first time in a long time, I finished it without a migraine. Three days later, I did it again, only to beat my previous time.

In January, when I was able to really start running and training again, I started to count the miles I was running without any head pain. At the time, part of my head was still pretty numb, but I was able to go running.

In February, I ran another half marathon, and I beat my goal time.

In March I ran a bunch of races, and none of them ended in a migraine.

It was delightful. Rejoicing. I felt like a new person, being given back her life after a decade plus of pure agony.

It was short lived, however, because at the end of May, I was hit with a migraine that wouldn’t leave me for three days. After talking to my neurologist, she calmed my fears: I didn’t destroy my head again. Migraines are a chemical issue in the brain that can be caused by a variety of things. For me, it’s a dangerous cocktail of lack of sleep, too much stress, a too high blood pressure, and the barometric pressure dropping or rising significantly. Dr. Doty re-prescribed me Maxalt and sent me on my way.

I’ve only had one more migraine since that one. Two migraines in a year? I’ll take it.

Since then, I’ve made some moves to improve my overall life to make sure I don’t get a migraine like that again. And aside from ungodly heat or psychotic rain storms – it’s worked. I’ve essentially been migraine free for a year post my surgery.

This year has been a year of relearning who I am and how to function, only this time without pain. I can’t wait to see what else I can learn.

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5 thoughts on “A Release of Pain: One Year Later

  1. Claire says:

    Thank you for sharing! I’m meeting with a surgeon today about this procedure. Like you, I’ve decided whatever insurance pays I’m in. Your experience helps me believe its worth the risk!

  2. Katie says:

    Hi, I have researched and researched endlessly for help. Let me start off by saying I’m 27 and have always been healthy until I had a weird infection and inner ear virus which began a vicious cycle of burning nerve pain in the. Back of my head. I’ve been hospitalized for over 20 days in the course of 9 months. Every day my head hurts in some way. I feel like it all is stemming from the occipital burning. I’ve had so many different meds including 3 occipital nerve blocks which helped with 80% or so of the pain but were very short lived. I am looking into the nerve decompression surgery. I’ve found a dr in Houston TX but I live in winter haven, FL. I began searching last night for surgeons in FL and that’s how I came across your blog. I’ve been reading it and I’m so happy you have found relief. I was hoping you could share with me if your insurance ever approved, if they didn’t about what you had to pay (if you don’t mind) the one in TX is 15K approx without ins coverage. I’ve already made my mind up that the SX would happen with or without the ins. Help. I’m desperate to have a better quality of life. I was also interested in the recovery. I took fml last July when this all started and work for a very lg Corp. I just tough through work now but know I can’t keep up much longer. I wanted to know what to expect if I did to the surgery.

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