A Day in the Life of Migraine
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ROBIN ROBERTS: Living with recurring migraines means so much more than dealing with the pain of just a headache. In fact, migraines can alter virtually every aspect of a person's life, including the most mundane daily functions many of us take for granted. Here now is one woman's dramatic story of her invisible disease and how she finds hope. It's in our series In Their Own Words, Moving Beyond Migraine.
JENNIFER VINOAnywhere I go, I'm always on edge, anticipating a migraine, and what if it happens. Always thinking for the worst case scenario.
ROBIN ROBERTSJennifer Vino is a public school administrator who has lived with intense recurring migraines for more than 20 years.
JENNIFER VINOI usually feel pain in the ear, kind of a tenseness in the neck. And then in the head, usually just around that eye socket, the temple area, a full throbbing, sort of vice-like sensation, as well as stabbing-- a stabbing pain.
ROBIN ROBERTSFor Jennifer, most mornings start with a headache and replacing the previous night's icepack with a fresh one.
JENNIFER VINOEvery morning, I wake up, right away go downstairs, put my ice pack on my head. I seem to always have some type of ache. I have to be careful of not saying oh, this is just a headache and not paying attention.
DR. MICHAEL SMITHMigraine is a series of biochemical changes in your brain. It's a neurological condition. It's not just a headache. Headache is only one symptom. You can have visual disturbances.
JENNIFER VINOThe aura I can maybe ignore and get through. DR. MICHAEL SMITH: The sensitivity to light, nausea.
JENNIFER VINOIt's when the wave of nausea hits. It just becomes this almost like a shock throughout the whole body.
DR. MICHAEL SMITHThey can last for days on end and recur multiple times a month.
JENNIFER VINOSo I keep my extra injections, my needles, in here.
ROBIN ROBERTSTo treat her migraine, Jennifer has tried almost every prescription and treatment available.
JENNIFER VINOBeta blockers, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants. I tried Botox. In the back of your head, there's almost a clawlike set of muscles. And so I will get injections in that claw area and also across the eye socket. And nothing has really seemed to work consistently over a long period of time.
ROBIN ROBERTSAnd it's not just meds. Jennifer wears specialized glasses to block painful fluorescent light. She keeps the overhead lights off when working in her office, and sunglasses are a must, even when it's cloudy.
JENNIFER VINOIf I don't wear sunglasses outside, even on a rainy day, I could be pushing myself a little too far.
ROBIN ROBERTSBut even with all the proactive steps she takes--
JENNIFER VINOI've been bookmarking stuff for fourth grade and third grade on Connecticut and US regions.
ROBIN ROBERTS--living with migraine can still be a gamble. JENNIFER VINO: Being an administrator, I am constantly running around.
SPEAKERWhat did we notice? Because there were some great discussions I heard going on with your partners.
JENNIFER VINOI'm in meetings. I'm having conferences. And it's a lot. On a not so good day, there is that feeling of relief as soon as I can get out of the building and be secluded in my car. And there's times where I've driven home crying, just because it is that relief. I feel like I can go mind over matter for a good part of the day, but once I let myself feel the pain, it just does become consuming.
SPEAKER 2They've asked me, well, is she really that sick, or does she just not want to come? ROBIN ROBERTS: Like many migraineurs, Jennifer often struggles to make and keep plans because of the unpredictability of her migraine.
JENNIFER VINOCertainly, I have great friends who know at the last minute I might call and just cancel on them. It's almost like the migraine becomes a child of its own that I have to take care of. ROBIN ROBERTS: Even after a full day of adjusting her life for her migraine, Jennifer even needs to protect against them when she's asleep. Before bed, she uses the Cefaly device, which delivers electronic pulses to the nerves around her eyes and forehead.
JENNIFER VINOIt's definitely helped with the severity of my daily headaches, and I find that it can take the edge off, which has been great.
ROBIN ROBERTSIn the morning, the 24-hour cycle of guarding against migraine will start all over again.
JENNIFER VINOPeople will say, wow, I'd never know. You're always smiling. How do you do it?
TRACY STOCKWELLKnowing that it's such a big part of her life, the fact that she is functioning on a very high level with that pain as a backdrop is just astounding to me.
ROBIN ROBERTSAnd Jennifer is determined not to let her migraine win.
JENNIFER VINOWhen they are a daily part of your life, you have a choice to either try and work through it, or you succumb. And if I did that, I would have a really miserable life.
ROBIN ROBERTSAre migraines impacting your life? You can go to webMD.com/migraine to assess your approach to managing them. You are going to get personal life strategies for living better that you can discuss with your doctor.