Seamus, Wellington

How long have you had migraine and what type of migraine do you have?

I started getting vestibular migraines in my teenage years, however, I managed them well with sleep, exercise and paracetamol. They are chronic, happening most days, and I often get an aura with them

How does migraine disease impact your life?

Living with migraine has been difficult. Because of the misconception that migraines are just headaches and not a neurological disease has led to feeling isolated and difficulty explaining it to other people. Trying to avoid triggers is also difficult.

What medications, treatments or lifestyle changes have you tried to help manage your migraine disease?

I take nortriptyline and use a roll-on migrastick (lavender and peppermint oil) to manage my migraines, and have cut out dairy products from my diet. I have cut down on caffeine and alcohol too. Sometimes I take ibuprofen if it is very bad. I practise yoga for 20 minutes, go for walks and go swimming every week to manage my stress and anxiety levels.

What are your biggest migraine triggers?

My biggest triggers are bright sunlight, red wine, poor sleep, stress, anxiety, noise, stormy weather, strong smells, staring at a computer/TV/mobile phone screen for too long, indoor shopping malls, reading and neon lights.

How do you manage during a migraine attack?

During a migraine attack, I usually lay down in a dark, quiet room and put a migraine relief cap on for 20 minutes, which I keep in the refrigerator all the time. Usually an hour or so is enough for the migraine to fade. If I’m outside, I’ll put on some dark sunglasses. However, I have been hospitalised with a severe migraine attack 2 years ago.

How do you stay positive living with migraine disease?

I’m naturally a positive person, so I try to distract myself from the migraine with positive thoughts, and try not to concentrate on it.

How can migraine care improve in New Zealand?

There needs to be more public awareness and education about migraines and they need to be taken more seriously by health professionals, such as GPs and nurses. Also, there needs to be more effective and safer medications funded by the government.

What advice do you have for other people in New Zealand living with migraine?

I would recommend that people find support groups online, such as on Facebook, to share your experiences of migraine and to share tips on how to treat them properly. Also, it is good to find a doctor who is fully educated about migraines. If your doctor isn’t, then consider changing your doctor. Try to avoid triggers as much as possible, although it’s not always possible.

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