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A Lifetime of Migraines
Date:12/21/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Judy Brown says she has suffered from terrible migraine headaches since she was in her teens.

Brown, now 51 and living in Nashua, N.H., remembers being out with friends when she was 16 and having a migraine come on, even though she didn't understand at the time what was happening.

"I would have to find a quiet place," she said. "Sometimes it would be a car, a back seat where I could lie down. The noise and lights and all that bothered me. I didn't know they were migraines at that point."

Migraine pain, she said, is all-consuming. "It takes control of your whole body and your whole life," Brown said. "For as long as it lasts, your life is on hold."

Brown wasn't diagnosed with migraines until after she had graduated from college and had taken a job that required frequent travel. The headaches became so bad that they were interfering with her ability to drive for her job.

"I remember taking enough aspirin that my ears would ring," she said. "You keep taking it, saying 'This will help,' but it never did."

A neurologist diagnosed her with migraines and prescribed a high dosage of beta blockers, but she didn't respond well to the medication. "The headaches were gone, but I couldn't function," Brown said. She recalled being weary in the afternoons, sleepwalking and having vivid nightmares.

She next turned to a New England headache clinic that she'd heard about from friends. After a three-hour diagnostic visit, the doctors there began tapering off the beta blocker. They also provided her with rescue medication she could take when a migraine came on, to help minimize its effects.

The migraines haven't gone away. In fact, Brown estimates that she has about 10 a month. "I was in bed this afternoon for migraine," she said. "I went out golfing this morning, and it was cold and windy and brought on a migraine."

But over time,
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