Go west, young man.
And I did. I went west with my parents, to the great beautiful prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada. I spent the next few years here under the open skies. I went to high school, and was heavily involved in music, and eventually in basketball. It was a fun time.
But, the strange sick/painful feeling continued.
You may wonder why I hadn’t figured out that something serious was going on by now. I think a partial answer is that it was "normal" to me. I thought everyone was like this.
I wish I could explain to you exactly how I ended up with my first diagnosis – migraine. But I really can’t remember.
I would like to say that I’d just had enough – I finally put two and two together, and marched off to the doctor, demanding an answer. The fact of the matter is, I think I might have just mentioned it during a physical in a puzzled sort of way, and I happened to get a doctor that knew at least a little about migraine.
A little. But back in those days, not only were there not nearly as many options for treatment, doctors simply knew a lot less (which is why I consider myself fortunate to have gotten a proper diagnosis so early). He prescribed a codeine/acetominaphin/caffeine concoction, which really wasn’t a great start. But for now, it helped when things got really bad.
My life was pretty full in these years. Apart from school (high school and beyond), I was involved in children’s camps where I taught such diverse things as archery and skateboarding (am I dating myself? I like skateboarding. Note that I already had migraine before falling on my head multiple times on the halfpipe!) 😉
I worked in the restaurant industry doing various things, travelled with an a cappella group, and eventually joined a music and drama team that travelled in Canada, Mexico and the USA.
Meanwhile, the migraine attacks continued. I was surrounded by helpful people that directed me to doctors and dentists and chiropractors. I did get some more up to date treatment from my doctor. For example, there were migraine medications (both preventative and abortive), food trigger elimination, and feverfew.
I didn’t take it all sitting down, though. I started my own research into migraine, and started discovering what had worked for others, what we know and don’t know about migraine disease, and what factors may be involved.
During this time I had four wisdom teeth removed, in two different countries. (Canada and Mexico. The Mexican dentist was excellent, but her English was only fair. Giving me the anaesthetic, she told me I would soon "begin to feel dumb". I think she meant numb. Or did she? After all, she was removing wisdom teeth!)
Two wisdom teeth were done surgically because they were well hidden away where a "normal" dentist couldn’t get at them. They needed to be removed, but removing them was not the miracle migraine cure.
Travelling so much did answer one question that I’m often asked – do the attacks get worse for you in different places? Places with more smog/more drastic weather changes/more humidity etc? The answer? No, they’re always pretty much the same. There’s something to be said for consistency!
I don’t want to minimize the pain I went through from migraine – at times it was almost unbearable. There was no question by this time that something serious was going on, and I was learning to live with something much more severe than "just a headache". So when I moved to the city of Calgary and began working at some diverse jobs, I started into some more intense treatment…
Continue to Part 3: Intense treatment