Saturday, June 12, 2010

Excedrin Migraine: Turning Epic Fail into Epic Win!

My whole life I've suffered from two things: epic migraines and even more epic cramps. Alright, well it hasn't actually been my WHOLE life. I didn't start getting them until I hit puberty when I was fourteen, but right from the first churning of blood and eggs in my body, before it even exited my body, their was distinct, crippling pain that kept me home from school. I didn't know what it was, what it would mean. Awful abdominal pain that actually prevented me from walking, fever, vomiting, numb face and legs, and my very first migraine occurred a mere eight hours before blood appeared in my underwear. The migraine brought its own forms of pain: aching head, nausea, sensitivity to light, and the sound of my own breathing felt like a million explosions ripping through my ear drums. My vision went black if I tried to sit up. Sometimes my vision went all wavy and zig zaggy. I screamed, but the sound only made it hurt more, but I couldn't stop because sometimes all you have is the scream.

When I found blood later that mom said, "Welcome to being a woman. It won't always be this bad. It gets better with time." I was just as bad the next day and couldn't go to school.

That was March 3, 2003. 3-3-03. Memorable. And made more memorable by the fact that my mother had lied. Or maybe she thought she had told the truth. My periods seem to be much more painful than my three sisters' and my mom's. And I know I said I wasn't tolerant to pain, but I think every female is biologically designed to be able to withstand cramps in the lower abdomen.

Seven long years later, and I've been searching for a way to manage those migraines (which don't always occur with a period but do occur once a month without fail) and cramps with little success. I've tried so many methods, including birth control, to put a stop the monthly pain. My doctor finally decided there was nothing we could do about cramps with my period, but we could make my periods come every three months instead so it was only four times a year when I couldn't move or eat. The migraines I found a great cure for: Imitrex, a prescription drug for migraines that take away all symptoms within half and hour, and they don't come back six hours later.

Unfortunately, when I turned eighteen I got taken off of Daddy's insurance and I could no longer afford the Imitrex. After one vicious migraine attack caused by a high pitched whine in a vacuum cleaner that sent me home from work in agony and tears, Boyfriend ran out to the store desperate to find me something helpful.

Enter Excedrin Migraine: a high powered, high volume dose of caffeine, acetaminophen, and aspirin that you have to take on a full stomach with a full glass of water and no more than two (one dose) within a twenty four hour period. This is a serious painkiller.

Treating my migraines? Epic Fail. It didn't do more than take the edge off of the pain, but all of the migraine symptoms stayed: wavy vision, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea. None of them took a hike on this stuff. So the Excedrin Migraine took a hike to the back of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom where it stayed, unused and forgotten, for a month.

Then the most terrible thing in the world happened. My withdrawal bleed from birth control came (it's not considered a period on birth control because there is no ovulation), and with it the cramps that I endure every three months that make it impossible to do anything except lay in bed and cry and writhe in agony. Unfortunately, there were no painkillers in the apartment to be found. We had finished off the Extra-Strength Rapid Release Tylenol the month before, had finished off the ibuprofen days before, had no aspirin (which I take every morning to help prevent migraines, which is marginally effective), no Midol, no Pamprin, we had absolutely nothing...except some Vicadin that our roommate always seems to have on hand. But those are prescription, and I don't take prescription drugs that aren't prescribed to me because that's a big illegal no-no, and while I don't always agree with the law, I ALWAYS follow it. ALWAYS. I was that girl in school who never got in trouble, never did anything that I wasn't sure about, because I DID NOT want to break the rules. Because I didn't like getting in trouble.

Desperate, I raided every cabinet, every drawer, every single purse I had ever used...and finally, behind the tampons in the medicine cabinet, I found the Excedrin Migraine.

At this point, the cramps are coming on in quick waves so violently my legs have already gone numb, and my face and hands are tingling, on the verge of numbness. My ears are ringing, I'm physically exhausted. I read the directions (no matter how many times I've taken any medication, I always read the instructions. I fear overdose and stomach ulcers and getting some form of Ebola Gangrene of the Stomach or Blood that might result from not taking medication properly)fell to the floor, my legs no longer capable of supporting me, and downed two pretty pacific ocean blue green and white pills with a full glass of water.

I dragged myself the four feet from the bathroom to the bed, pulled myself up, and curled into the fetal position, praying that it would curb the pain at least a little. Do ANYTHING, any change would be welcome.

Thirty minutes later...

They were gone.

Not a twinge. Not a pang. Not a dull ache to be felt.

Completely gone.

EPIC WIN! For the first time in the seven years of puberty I had suffered, I had found something that didn't merely take the edge off, but had GOTTEN THE CRAMPS TO STOP! Albeit, the drug was for migraines, not cramps, but it was successful!

Of course, it wasn't perfect. The cramps started twinging again twelve hours later, and the directions said not to take more than a dose in twenty-four hours, so I had to content myself with a heating pad that kept the cramps from taking over. But I had a solid twelve hour release from the pain, and it was appreciated.

One dose of Excedrin Migraine is roughly three doses (or six pills) of Midol. And if it takes that high of a dose to take down my cramps, I can't imagine why my doctor doesn't just skip all the "trial and error" bullshit and just give me the prescription painkiller she mentioned that one time.

I'm not one to abuse drugs. I don't like taking pills or liquid medication. Taking more than two pills in a row makes me toss my cookies (which is why I stopped taking vitamin packets), and I'd generally rather suffer than risk taking something that makes me throw up. Throwing up is the worst feeling in the world. Before you do it, while you do it, after you do's just a bad feeling. But in the mean time, I have the Excedrin Migraine, which works wonders. It is a God among other medications. Absolutely fabulous.

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