I clearly remember my first migraine. I was 14 and was on the school bus on the way home. I was talking with some friends and started to notice that slowly my lips and gums were getting numb. This was something over the next 2 decades I came to recognise as my “migraine starting symptom”. But back when I was 14 I had no idea what was happening. By the time I had gotten off the bus, my left arm and left side of my face was numb and I could only just see to get myself home. When my parents walked in the door I was lying in bed with a pillow shoved firmly over my head trying desperately to work out what was going on.
I can’t remember being too scared after it all settled down, but now having had children, I guess my parents would have been terrified as we waited to get the MRI scan. When the tests all came back clear the doctors diagnosed me with suffering migraines.
Over the next 20 years or so these migraines became a regular occurrence for me: when I got stressed; when I got a head knock at footy; when I slept awkwardly; or any other number of triggers. I was able to stop them from developing if, at the moment I started to get the numb lips and gums I took some codeine. If I didn’t, pretty soon my left side would be numb, I would only be able to see in the periphery of my vision and I would be in pain – most inconvenient in the middle of uni exams or just before kick-off for the Grand Final or while travelling in Eastern Bulgaria.
It got to the point that I would be taking large doses of codeine as a “just in case” line of defence against these migraines. It wasn’t that I always had a migraine; in fact, as I got older (and retired from footy) I seemed to be getting less of them. It was more the fact that the possibility of a migraine was constantly there. They were horrible and I didn’t want them in my life.
The amazing news is that I also clearly remember my last ever migraine too. It was February 10th, 2012. I had just flown to Sydney to attend a four day training course on how to target treatment to the upper neck to help headache and migraine sufferers. As per usual, with the stress of travel and the awkward position of sitting on the plane I noticed my lips and gums start to go numb. “Aha,” I thought to myself, “here’s a chance to see if this stuff actually works!” You know what? It did! And it does.
I haven’t had a migraine since. If I ever feel like my neck is a bit “out”, I ask one of the other physios here at Physique to give it a loosen up, and the regular treatment to my neck keeps the migraines gone.
At physique, we are so passionate about our patients not living with headache and migraine. We can help. If your symptoms are coming from your upper neck, who knows, we may even be able to give you back a headache free life.