Daniel Vance - Disabilities

Migraines are “a very painful type of headache” that can cause throbbing or pulsing in one area of the head, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea and vomiting, reports a National Institutes of Health website. They affect women more than men.

“With me, they started when I was almost 40,” said 56-year-old Marcia Robertson in a telephone interview. “I was having them only several times a year then and just 12 hours at a time.”

By age 43 she was waking up daily with a migraine. A doctor then diagnosed her with “intractable migraine headache.” Today, she has them literally around the clock and tries managing them with various pain medications.

She said, “I’ve always told people they feel like an ice cream headache that won’t go away. They are also like really bad hangovers in that I have nausea, too.”

Of course, she’d rather not have the migraines. She has lost friends. In 2000, the constant pain led her to quit a job in education she loved. She won’t drive because of being drowsy on medication and over the years has missed numerous activities involving her son and daughter, twins now 21. However, she’s still able to function well enough to do paperwork for the family business.

Her husband over the years has been her best advocate, especially with people discounting or dismissing her constant pain and occasional emergency room personnel believing she’s a drug addict seeking a “high.”

Besides traditional methods to soothe pain she’s tried chiropractors in three states, naturopathic medicine, diet modification, acupuncture and acupressure. The only things helping have been Botox injections administered to her forehead every three months.

“Many people don’t understand migraines,” she said. “They think they are no big deal. But with them full-blown, basically I’m not able to function and have to lay in a dark room with an ice pack on my forehead.”

Mostly because of the unyielding pain, she began in 1998 having bouts with major depression. Because of her children she never seriously considered committing suicide, yet she kept the option “on the table” until the Botox injections began working, she said.

To help her and others cope, Robertson started a chronic pain support group for her area. “It’s nice to be around people that understand chronic pain, people you can telephone and not depress with your problems,” she said.