Location: near Charlotte, North Carolina
Years with Migraines: 27 years
Occupation: retired (environmental chemist)
How long have you had migraines?
I have been a chronic migraine sufferer for over a decade, but have had severe migraines since the 1980s; they increased in both frequency and intensity in the last several years.
When do you usually get migraines?
I’ve identified my triggers. The list is ridiculously long.
What have you tried pre-Cefaly?
I have tried many migraine preventatives, or attenuators. It’s been a very frustrating process as what works for an increment of time ceases to be effective. More often, however, there is no effect whatsoever. I currently take a combination of triptans that, if varied, do not boomerang into another headache. There are multiple environmental and dietary triggers for my migraines so that has resulted in many lifestyle changes. We rarely dine out, I survey the ingredient labels of all of the very few items that I buy with more than three ingredients. High fructose corn syrup can be a trigger, also garlic, onion, mushroom, msg, aspartame, sucralose, grape, mango, chocolate, etc. obviously this limits what I can eat to what I can prepare from scratch. Fragrances of any type are very risky. All of our acquaintances and family are aware of the problem this creates for me, so loved ones limit the perfume and aftershave they wear around me. However going to the symphony, for example, if I’m sitting near someone wearing perfume, or whose suit has been recently dry cleaned, I’m ill before the intermission and usually have to leave, since I’m with a group or with my husband, it doesn’t simply spoil it for me, it spoils it for everyone. So we just don’t go. Same with church, or any activity involving sitting in proximity to people unaware of the problem.
My husband and I were great travelers, however my sensitivity to the air fresheners and scented detergents and cleaners used in hotels condemn me to misery for the duration of my stay. So that’s off the table for the most part. If we can rent a house somewhere, we bring our own linens, and we travel there at a time of year where we do not need air conditioning or heat, and that works well.
What does your migraine feel like?
My migraines vary as they may occur at my left temple, over my right eye, or originate at the back of my head. A tension or sinus headache can trigger a migraine. I have been hospitalized several times over the course of my life due to intractability of a migraine. I once spent four days in the hospital trying to rid myself of one caused by mushrooms. (A friend did not believe me when I told her that I could not eat them, and she prepared a meal for us, swearing there were no mushrooms in it. She thought my sensitivity to mushrooms was imaginary. Apparently there was a heavy dose of them in our chicken dinner and it nearly killed me.) A severe migraine like that one will cause non-stop vomiting and very soon I am too weak and dehydrated and need IV liquids.
Over the years I have had many coping strategies to keep going. Sometimes, I won’t lie, it can be very depressing. However I have the support of family and friends, and I have an outlet with my horses, dogs, gardening, and reading. Audible books are wonderful comfort when migraines cause blurred vision such that I cannot read – and I listen to dozens of them in a year. My dogs are very much in tune with when I’m ill. I once had an english mastiff that would lie prone with me on the bathroom floor between vomiting sessions. She would lick the tears from my face. She always knew when I was not well and never left me during an episode of severe migraine. (I still miss her)
How did you hear about Cefaly?
My husband researched into the TENS devices used for migraine as an alternative treatment.
What’s your Cefaly experience like?
The beauty (or one of several) is that the Cefaly does not have dramatic side effects like many of the medications. It has been a tremendous blessing for me! First of all, if I wake with a migraine (typical) and need medication, I can use the Cefaly for relief until the medication begins to take effect. I usually try one round with the Cefaly first to see if it will knock out the migraine without medication – and while that happens sometimes, it cannot be relied upon as a solo treatment. In many cases I still need medication to permanently displace the migraine. However, bearing the headache until the medicine works has been tremendously improved by the use of my Cefaly. I don’t know what I would do without it. Cefaly has reduced migraines, reduced the impact of migraine until medication works, and in some cases has eliminated the migraine without medication.
I alternate use of both the original (larger) Cefaly and the newer more portable one. The smaller one goes with me wherever I go. It’s wonderful for those middle of the night migraines because I can rest with my head on the pillow while wearing it, it is uncomplicated to position. It is simple to keep charged. The larger Cefaly is still a good alternative and I use it frequently as well. Generally I use it for the night time prophylaxis treatment my neurologist has recommended.
Also, I wanted to share that I ride horses when I’m not on medication (the medication affects balance so I cannot ride when taking pills) – again Cefaly is tremendous in this regard. If it knocks out my headache, I can still ride on that day. Riding is especially important to me, not only for the exercise and fun, but also because it is one of the few remaining artifacts of a normal life. For what portion of my life Cefaly has returned to me, I am exceedingly grateful.
What made you want to share your story?
For a person like me, this is a miracle invention, and it has improved my life and coping strategies with migraines enormously.
Cefaly is not a cure-all for my migraines, but it is indispensable to me as a coping strategy in dealing with chronic migraines. I would recommend it to anyone for its ability to effectively treat migraine pain, prevent and allay migraines. When one has the life altering effects of migraine to deal with chronically, a device like Cefaly is no doubt a life saver. If my experience could inspire someone to take a chance on it and receive a modicum of the relief I have had, then it is worth taking the time to write this to you.
My doctor has told me that my positive experience with Cefaly has resulted in his recommendations to other patients, and that they too have received relief. That’s a silver lining in my cloud, right there.
Migraines are a very lonely experience. Perhaps knowing that another person is also struggling with them may provide some comfort as well. And I believe that Cefaly is well worth trying – no sense in suffering needlessly if there is a remedy that works.
Want to share your story too? We’d love to hear from you! Please send an email to m DOT coder AT cefaly DOT us. Please include your name, contact information, and let us know where you’re located so we can set up a good time to talk.
If you’re wondering if Cefaly is right for you, click here for more information and, of course, check with your doctor.