I developed a headache just before Halloween 2012. The symptoms included vertigo, nausea and feelings of pressure in my head. My vision was impacted. It was not an occasional or frequent headache, it was permanent, and while it was not always severe, it was always there.
I started to miss increasing amounts of school, not ideal for a sixth year student. My neurologist ran tests and, suspecting it might be migraine based on the strong family history of migraine, started treatment with preventative medication. Whilst some symptoms improved, others became worse; I had to drop out of school completely and my father became my full-time carer. I did my Leaving Cert, however, and while I secured a college place studying Creative Digital Media, unfortunately I was only able to attend for a couple of years and didn’t finish the course.
At a Migraine Association of Ireland informational event, we talked to specialists who felt it was clear that I was suffering from migraine. As a result I was able to get an urgent referral to the Headache Clinic at Beaumont Hospital. Over the following few years the staff at the clinic worked closely with me adjusting my medication in the hopes of keeping on top of ever more severe symptoms.
The easiest way to describe my every waking moment is that my brain is similar to a computer which is overloaded with too much data. Light, sound, touch, a busy environment, food; all cause severe discomfort and often increase my pain. I find it hard to think or speak coherently.
My type of migraine is known as New Daily Persistent Headache, a headache which does not come and go, but arrives and never leaves. I am lucky that my pain tolerance levels are high, but it is a constant struggle to keep going, try to function and appear as normal as possible in order to make it through another day. At this point medications are not working.
As with many migraine sufferers the impact is not limited to me alone. My friends rarely see me, as I suffer with an invisible neurological condition they do their best, but find it hard to fully understand.
Rowan Maher, Patient Story
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