Opinion | Ways to Ease the Pain of Headaches

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To the Editor:

Re “Why Don’t We Have Cures for Headaches?,” by Tom Zeller Jr. (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, July 25):

Finally, someone is shedding light on a traumatic disorder that wrecks relationships and careers, and makes you feel crazy and completely alone. At 47, just as I entered the prestigious Smith College School for Social Work, my migraines started.

Three years later, as my fellow students and our families cheered our graduation, my heart sank. My migraines had become so frequent and so painful that I couldn’t imagine how I could commit to being a therapist. How could I hold other people’s emotional pain when I was in such physical pain? How could I still be a decent mother and wife?

Nine neurologists and three psychiatrists later, I came away with a suitcase full of drugs and multiple analyses: Grad school had been too much, gluten was the trigger, or perhaps I had bipolar disorder! I cried, railed and contemplated suicide.

Ashamed, I shrunk into myself and retreated to a dark room. I also faced painful rejection from friends who didn’t like the new me who could no longer drink and laugh.

Thanks to one Houston neurologist who is a headache specialist, an extremely devoted partner and the new calcitonin gene-related peptide meds, I have emerged with some semblance of a life. But I remain vigilant at all times. A migraine is lurking, and the fear never really goes away.

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