Seasonal Headaches and Self Healing

Angela Tucker, Staff Writer

The final belt rang, signaling that it was finally the end of the day, and hopefully, the pounding that had made it hard for me to focus in half of all my classes. I got off the phone with my mother, who I had asked for some pain relief pills as I exited out of the school building. I shielded my eyes from the rays of the sun as it only increased the thumping in my head as I slowly walked my way to my mother’s car.

Since the end of my sophomore year, my headaches had only increased in size and how often they returned. Now, almost finished with my junior year, I finally found out why I keep having so many migraines.

In March, my mother and I visited Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge. The entrance had a very welcoming aura with colorful picture paintings of the animals kingdom. We found our way to a waiting room and made it just in time as families with their children began to pile into the room to check in for their own appointments. The wait wasn’t too long, however, as we were called in by a nurse who was in charge of collecting my information. It began as if it was a normal check up with my height, walking in a straight line to check my balance, checking the reflexes in my knees and my heart rate. In new places I tend to smile awkwardly, but she did make me feel a bit better by having a small conversation about my pets at home.

The lovely lady had then left telling my mother and I that Dr. Mohammad Ikramuddin would be with us in just a moment. He walked in after a couple of minutes, greeting my mother and me with a hand shake. He sat down in the doctor’s chair and began to ask me questions about the pain and how often I get the headaches. The pain, I claimed, was about an eight on the Stanford Pain Scale half of the time, and I would often get them every other day, usually after school hours. With this information, he sat his hand on the side of his head explaining that headaches are caused by blood vessels that send messages to the brain. As Doctor Ikramuddin is busy helping others he doesn’t have time to confirm the effects of headaches, but this website does back up his information.  

I was given a headache calendar that keeps track of the days my headaches. I had to record what caused them and the date they occurred. I had to have the calendar all filled out upon my return to Advocate Children’s Hospital. Dr. Ikramuddin also prescribed me Topiramate, which helps to prevent headaches, but he warned, wouldn’t make them go away when I was in the middle of having one.

Topiramate isn’t the only medication I’m on at the moment. The first medication I started on my journey of recovery is Escitalopram, which helps to balance the serotonin in my brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that has a wide array of functions, but is mostly known as the “happy chemical.” Lack of serotonin can cause depression and anxiety. I began taking Escitalopram in July. That day we went to the Renaissance Faire. I tried to enjoy myself, but the side effects of the medication made me really dizzy and grumpy. Along with many blood tests, I am also taking vitamin D due to me not getting enough sunlight.

I was given the warnings of the side effects, but I wouldn’t have changed anything as it has helped me over the school year. I’ve been more comfortable socializing with the people in my classes, which leads me to not being alone in half of my classes. Although I am still quiet in groups, there has been a lot of improvement. I’ve also improved when it comes to giving presentations in my classes.

I also see a therapist on a regular bases, which helps a lot. Typically, I go to a waiting room that is connected to a large building in Vernon Hills Medical Center. I remember the first time I met my therapist. “Sit back and relax,” she said as I settled into the chair. She promised that everything I said would stay between the two of us, which helped calm my nerves. That visit and the two after them, admittedly I cried. It felt good to be able to open up. As each session came and went, she had gotten to know me better. She came out with the conclusion that I have a big issue with self-doubt. That is definitely true. Doubting myself results in me staying away from a lot of typical teen activities: driving a car, getting into a relationship, getting a job. Therefore my therapist and I have been talking about methods that will help me to accept myself so that I can push forward.

Most recently, she has me looking in the mirror every morning and repeating, “I disconnect from the thoughts that make me anxious. I embrace my life just the way it is, without conditions or limitations. I look forward to living and enjoying everything around me. I love life”. Admittedly, I don’t stare in the mirror, but I do go and read this to myself often as a reminder that life is hard and the blocks in the way on my path to success won’t be there forever as long as I push myself.