Written by Kelly Amspacher for Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc.
Oh my heavens…I think I’m having a burst aneurysm and I’m going to die. This is the worst pain imaginable, more than childbirth. Is how I was awakened. Is how I was awakened February 18, 1999.
The trip to the emergency room is forever etched in my mind. The spinal tap, lab work, CT scan, MRI and angiogram were completed within six hours. As I lay in my hospital bed waiting for the test results, I knew my life of episodic migraine was no longer. I began having migraines as a child. At the age of six years old, I vividly recall several days in a row, almost monthly with such head pain that I needed to be in a dark quiet room, lay motionless and receive Phenergan suppositories for vomiting. The diagnosis of migraine wasn’t made until my mid-twenties. Every doctor told me I had a “headache” from vomiting and never considered I was vomiting from the “headache’!
My initial treatment (as an adult) was Fioricet with codeine. I was reluctant to take the medication due to its potential side effects and my professional nursing responsibilities.
My migraine progressed after that tell-tale February night to chronic intractable daily migraine. I was under the care of a neurologist who had a sub-specialty in headache disorders. I was placed on two daily preventatives and one abortive. Throughout this time, February 1999 – September 1999, I was in the emergency room four times for migraine treatment. It was obvious that my migraine was beyond the scope of the neurologist’s level of care. I was referred to the Thomas Jefferson Headache Center.
As a patient at Jefferson, I was referred to neurosurgery for an occipital neurostimulator for pain management. While the stimulator did not provide me total pain relief, it allowed me to have some quality of life.
Even with the occipital neurostimulator, my chronic intractable daily migraine pain was a 6/10 on average every day, all day. A supraorbital neurostimulator was implanted. Once again, I am not “pain free” but feel control over the pain. I was also being treated with Botox, a multitude of daily preventatives and abortives (various routes of administration).
My migraine journey has included trying over 40 medications, both preventative and abortive. Botox was tried with no success. About six months ago, my nurse practitioner at the Headache Center and I discussed the need for a new abortive. One that did not “interfere” with other abortives, did not have many potential side effects and was portable.
The answer was Nurtec. Nurtec quickly dissolves under the tongue; therefore, portable…no water required. It can be taken anytime, anywhere. I take Nurtec approximately three times a month. The efficient onset and long-lasting effect have significantly decreased the usage of my other abortive medications.
With Nurtec, I begin experiencing pain relief in 60 minutes after taking the dose. By two hours, my nausea, light sensitivity and sound sensitivity are reduced and I am able to regain some quality of life. The abortive effect generally lasts 24 – 36 hours.
Nurtec, or ‘new technology’ (as I refer to it), has proven to be a valuable abortive medication in my toolbox. Its mechanism of action specific to CGRP receptors is a welcome pharmacologic advancement for migraine attack treatment.