By Sharol Klise
Like many people with migraine, I have lived a long time hoping to find relief. My struggle with migraine began in my early teens and got worse during my college years. When the attacks came, they crippled me with excruciating headaches and severe nausea.
Navigating college life was extremely challenging. I was unable to live in the dorms, participate in group activities beyond classes or even drive sometimes. My migraine disease robbed me of the college experience I had hoped for growing up. Little did I realize that my battle with migraine disease was just beginning.
Soon after college, the stranglehold that migraine had on my life worsened. The attacks became more frequent, occurring about 12 to 15 times a month. With this frequency, I was diagnosed with what’s called chronic migraine—not just migraine.
I started having symptoms that were worse and more widespread than ever before, including a series of alarming sensory disturbances where I would have difficulty speaking, experience impaired vision and even suffer from temporary blindness.
During my migraine attacks, which could last between four hours and three days, these symptoms would often strike first, and the characteristic head pain, nausea and vomiting would soon follow. The pain was so debilitating at times it felt like someone was poking at my brain with a pickax.
I tried anything and everything over the years that might enable me to participate in normal life activities. I tried various medications, chiropractors, acupuncture, herbal remedies and meditation, some of which were more successful than others, but nothing provided complete relief.
Living with migraine can be lonely. For nearly 40 years, I spent several days every month suffering alone in the dark, which many like myself sometimes find helpful to alleviate the symptoms, away from friends and family. It is a level of physical and emotional pain that only those who suffer from migraine can fully understand. What helped me push through the pain was the hope of finding relief that would improve my life.
Holding on to that hope was not easy. Over the years, I tried numerous medications to relieve my migraine attacks. None gave me the relief I desperately was searching for. They only made me sleepy, cutting me off from the world even more.
Each failed treatment diminished my hope for a better life. But things changed in August 2018 when I learned about a Biohaven clinical trial for an investigational acute treatment from a friend, who is a retired nurse.
My physician, neurologist and I have spoken many times over the years about treatment options for my migraine, and more recently I’d participated in clinical trials researching potential treatments. Even after participating in two trials, my struggles with migraine continued. Still, I kept hoping something would come along to help me.
Enrolling in the Biohaven clinical trial brought me the change I was looking for. For the first time, I did not feel like I had to lie down and go to sleep after taking a migraine medication. Finally, my hope for a healthier everyday life was firmly within reach.
Today, I’m a successful mortgage professional, and migraine no longer has an unwelcome grip on my life. I have even been able to purchase concert tickets, something I hadn’t done in years because I was afraid to plan ahead. I love to go to concerts, but the fear of having a migraine or worrying about a migraine happening during the event had kept me home.
By sharing my story, I want to encourage other people with migraine to not give up hope of finding relief for their migraine disease. Participation in the Biohaven clinical trial has helped me to better manage my migraine, alleviating the fear and anxiety I have carried with me for many years. I am lucky to find a treatment that works for me. I truly hope it works for you, too.
This resource was created with support from Biohaven Pharmaceuticals.