As I was prompted by my mother to write about my experience with migraine, I am suffering from one currently. I am chugging water with drips of ginger essential oil and peppermint to curb the severe nausea but I will ultimately have to take my rescue medication, diclofenac and Compazine to settle this episode. I am attempting to study for a final exam I have tomorrow. I am a 22-year-old sophomore at the George Washington University majoring in political science. 22 sounds a bit old to be a sophomore in undergraduate school? Indeed it is as most of my classmates and peers are turning 20 as I turned 22 this past Thursday.
I was forced to take a gap year in between high school and college due to the severity of migraine symptoms. I was diagnosed at 16 by my neurologist with New Daily Persistent Headache, NDPH. They were ultimately so debilitating, I had to withdraw from my formal high school and was home- bound tutored, taking the minimum requirement of courses to pass sophomore year.
I had tried everything available to me to subside the severe head pain along with the body symptoms I suffered from. I tried botox injections, nerve blocks, DHE infused visits to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia along with countless prescription drugs cocktails. I had no relief for an entire year from this nightmare. I was so desperate for this head and associated body pain and nausea to subside, I consulted a more holistic route such as diet eliminations, acupuncture, biofeedback, psychotherapy, and herbal supplements.
My junior year, I was able to attend my formal private high school for about half of the year then was severely debilitated again due to migraine I had tutors come to my house again since I was home bound. While my friends were stressing about AP American US History I was just completing the minimum requirement of courses to pass high school. Fast forward to my senior year, my private formal high school is unwilling to accommodate my special needs and I was forced to enroll in Homeschooling.
Although I had to leave my friends and formal high school setting, I followed an unorthodox route to get my diploma. I was able to take college level courses as a university near my house to receive high school and college credit which counted towards my senior year high school diploma. The flexibility of a college schedule afforded me more time to receive my special treatments for migraine and time to relax, as opposed to being stuck at school from 8-3. I was also able to choose the class times which revolved around the severity of my headaches at different times of the day, morning being the worst.
Although I did not walk cap and gown with my friends from my formal high school, this alternative was a better choice for my special circumstance. Since I was only physically able to meet minimum requirement of material for my classes, I took a gap year from high school to college as my migraine headaches were unpredictable and I needed to complete more credits to graduate from high school.
During this time, I was involved in an AMGEN CGRP study at the Jefferson University Hospital Headache Center. I had been living and coping with the symptoms of migraine for 4 years and had more control over my migraine but believe having the privilege to receive this drug from the study afforded me the ability to attend a conventional university in the fall.
Today, I definitely experience less frequent migraine headaches and associated symptoms, but I am not completely migraine free. However, I continue to spread awareness to faculty and professors who do not understand what it is like to live with migraine while simultaneously performing at the college level.