by Nesreen Suwan, M.D. and Beatrice D'Arpa
Migraine is a common, disabling, and chronic neurological condition that affects approximately 30 million Americans, primarily women. About one in five women may be affected, and one in four households may have a migraine sufferer. Although migraine is not exclusively a woman’s disease, it can have a significant impact on women sufferers. Unfortunately, the impact of migraine is greatest during the most productive years where family and professional demands peak.
Hormonal changes may be related to migraines accompanied by the fact that women’s role in society is different and more stressful than men because they wear many different hats. Most women carry the title of wife, cook, housekeeper and, household secretary as well as having a job.
How disabling is the migraine?
Most migraine sufferers rate their symptoms as severe. Symptoms of migraine include some or all of the following: moderate to severe head pain; sensitivity to light, sound or smell; nausea; vomiting; lack of concentration; scalp tenderness; worsening of symptoms with moving, bending over, going up the stairs or doing very simple household activities.
Often the only relief for the migraine sufferers is to be a prisoner in a quiet, dark room, disabled and not able to participate in normal life.
Considering the severity and frequency of head pain and its associated symptoms, migraine can be very debilitating and may significantly interfere with household work, social and family activity, and work productivity.
Migraines may significantly compromise and impair the ability to perform even very basic chores. How can a migraine sufferer even think about juggling a career, home and family when she is debilitated with migraines?
Beatrice D'Arpa is my patient. She is a college teacher who has graciously offered to share her story before and after we treated her, because she feels that this may help many patients who did not find answers to their endless suffering. She feels that migraine is not only a head pain!! “It wipes you out totally; it weakens your whole body.” She summarized her experience before she started treatment in our specialty clinic by saying
“I was always afraid”.
She was afraid to get a full time job because of frequent headaches and calling in sick. Before we treated her, she used to call in sick frequently.
“I was afraid to go to work with a headache, once my students saw me, they knew right away that I had a headache; my face would look strange and my eyes would be droopy” She said.
“Sometimes I was afraid to start anything new because I may not be able to complete it due to the migraines; and how do I explain it to someone who never had a migraine.”
Her fear was further complicated by the uncertainty of her condition and the endless side effects of medications that did not help.
“My scalp used to feel as if it was hit with sharp rod. I did not know if it was a tumor, brain bleeding, sinus, tension or a migraine and what to do with it.” She said.
“I used to take pain medications that were wiping me out and were causing chest discomfort and headache used to come back in few hours.”
She feels that going to the ER to treat intractable frequent migraine episodes was a burden on her and her family, and she was not comfortable with it, because she used to see different physicians who may not know her past history. “The waiting period may be so long and I used to get injections and medications and get the headache back in few hours.” Beatrice stated.
In our specialty headache clinic, Beatrice’s headaches, fear, and confusion came to an end. After thorough neurological evaluation, we proceeded with multidisciplinary approach treating her headaches.
She stated that she got her life back “Dr. Suwan has been available for me, it is a great feeling”
It was a great pleasure making a difference in Beatrice’s life.
The impact of migraine on the lives of patients and their families could be very serious and devastating. Fortunately, variety of treatment options are available that may control migraine headaches.
If you have been suffering from any type of head pain, conquer your headaches, get out of the dark room to enjoy a healthy life style with your loved ones.
Nesreen Suwan, M.D, is a board certified neurologist with extra certification in Headache and Pain Medicine.
IT IS NOT A BRAIN TUMORBUT IT IS DEBILITATING
As Featured In Glancer Magazine, July 2008