GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – For a young woman from Green Bay, the onset of a migraine meant canceling plans with friends, not being able to get out to hike with her dogs, and even calling in sick for work to be shut up in a dark room until the debilitating pain went away.
“It can make you nauseous, sensitive to light so you just want to be in a dark room,” described Christine Huntley from Green Bay. “ Any noises… anything can trigger it to get worse.”
That’s what Huntley had to deal with, four or five times a month, for much of her life.
“A lot of my plans had to be canceled in the past,” she recalled. “If you have a day trip planned, you just cancel it, because it wouldn’t be worth it. You’d be in pain the whole day.”
Like many people who suffer from migraines, Huntley didn’t realize that’s what she was experiencing.
“I didn’t know anything about migraines,” she said. “You learn to deal with it.”
Aurora BayCare Medical Center neurology nurse practitioner Sara Beno-Chambers says Huntley’s plight is actually pretty common.
“I’ve found so many patients who’ve learned to kind of just live with it,” she said.
In fact, Beno-Chambers says the way many patients have tried managing the extreme headache pain on their own has actually made it worse.
“They can end up using those over-the-counter medications too frequently,” Beno-Chambers explained. “That ends up causing a headache called a medication overuse headache.”
About three years ago, Huntley, a neurology nurse herself, started working with Beno-Chambers at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. In taking down the patient’s medical information, she began to notice some very familiar symptoms.
“So, I started to realize the complaints they were giving to me while I was rooming them and things like that, were things I was having,” Huntley said.
Huntley went from being a nurse to being a patient.
“For Christine, specifically, based on her frequency, we felt she would be a candidate for a preventative medicine and she’s on an injection once a month,” said Beno-Chambers.
Once a month. No daily pill to remember. Nothing holding her back from getting back to life.
“Being out with friends,” Huntley said. “I like to hike. I like to do stuff like that, so it’s made a big difference.”
Huntley says there are rare occasions where she will still feel a migraine start to come on, but even then, she has a way to stop it in its tracks.
“She’s got a rescue medicine that she can take as soon as she feels the headache coming on,” explained Beno-Chambers.
Which means Huntley’s days of canceling plans are a thing of the past.
“Now I can plan a day trip. I have two dogs, so we can go and hike as much as we can,” Huntley explained. “I can still function which is really, really great!”
Beno-Chambers says even if you’ve sought help for migraines in the past and didn’t find relief, there have been so many advancements in just the last couple of years in treating migraine pain, you should talk to a doctor again because help is available.