The title is an absolutely true statement made by the man who was my GP at the time!
I was about 48, having the occasional hot flush and night sweat and I realised my child-bearing days were, essentially, at an end and I was getting old – but that’s NOT why I wanted – no, needed – HRT. I had noticed that at certain times during what had turned into an increasingly irregular cycle, I would feel really well followed – several days to a week later – by an intense migraine that would consist of a terrible headache plus nausea and severe vomiting which lasted for about 24 hours. All I could do on those days was go to bed with a bucket next to me and try to sleep. Sleeping, I didn’t feel the pain but, every time I woke up during an attack, I knew several things would happen. First I would be assailed by an excruciating pain on one or other side of my head which would be followed after an almost intolerable length of time by – at the beginning of the 24 hours – violent vomiting and – towards the end – dry heaves that were even more violent.
Each migraine was followed a few days later by a scant ‘period’ which lasted some days and, when that was over I would settle into a month or two or even three of being ‘okay’, followed by a few days of feeling really well again and knowing that, without doubt, the next bout of migraine was soon to follow.
After my GP refused the HRT, I went away feeling resentful and I felt as though there wasn’t much I could do about it. I took various herbal remedies but nothing made any difference to the hot flushes which soon started in earnest, the night sweats which were so uncomfortable and the various bouts of feeling like crying for no reason at all and, as night follows day, severe migraine.
This carried on for, possibly six months, but the cycle of hot flushes etc followed at decreasing intervals by diabolical migraines sent me back to Dr. R-S. (I won’t use his name as, though he isn’t American, he might sue me!😂) This time, he finally took pity on me and compromised by giving me HRT patches which I had to stick to my bottom or hip area. I can’t remember whether I changed them once a week or every day or what but, immediately, the migraines settled down as did the hot flushes etc.
After several years of patches my skin became intolerant of the adhesive and I changed to little tablets, almost exactly like “The Pill” but not so strong. (Strangely, it was “The Pill” which started the migraines, when I was in my twenties so I was unable to take them as birth control.) I carried on with those for a number of years then, slowly, cut down and stopped. Immediately all the symptoms returned including severe migraines. I started HRT again and went on until I was in my sixties then decided I must stop. (There were often reports of what nasty things HRT might do). Almost immediately I stopped the HRT, I started getting hot flushes again and still have them from time to time but, luckily, as there probably isn’t a big rush of oestrogen, or a big loss, I seldom have really bad migraines, maybe one every two years or so.
For those of you who haven’t ever had a hot flush, let me assure you of two things. First, there are loads of women who never have even one hot flush, let alone ten or twenty a day; and secondly, a hot flush can’t kill you though the feeling certainly isn’t pleasant! I remember when we lived in East Malling and had a back boiler run by a wood-burning stove which fed all the radiators. There would be times, in the depth of winter, where I would just close the curtains and take off everything but my underclothes then, nearly as quickly put all my clothes back on. They don’t last long but they are very uncomfortable. You know when you hear about someone who has combusted spontaneously? You think, “OMG, I’m going to do that! That’s what happened to that poor person.” But of course, it doesn’t happen.
Migraines run in my family. My father suffered from them, at least one of my half-brothers does, my daughter and grand-daughter are also afflicted. They’re obviously not all connected to female hormones but mine were and I’m so pleased I was able, in the end, to convince Dr R-S that I wouldn’t sue him!
Epilogue: Judy had migraine, too, but it was completely different and very scary! She only had a few episodes and the first worried her intensely. She was, at that time, a probation officer and was appearing in court to give background on one of her ‘clients’. She suddenly found that her sight went from normal to tunnel-like to complete blindness in just a few moments. She was worried about what was wrong with her but, more, she was worried about her ‘client’ and whether she could do her job properly. Luckily for the ‘client’, her sight came back in very quickly but she was exceedingly worried about why it had happened. The doctor was able to reassure her after a complete check that it was a type of migraine.
Another epilogue: Some people who have migraine have what is called an ‘aura’ before they are hammered in the head by the migraine attack. As far as I know, an aura is a bright light in the eyes, although I could be wrong. I don’t get them with migraine though I have had what I call ‘castellation’ – a flashing light that suddenly appears in my eye/s in the shape of a castellation except it is semi-circular. They often just appear, work their way around in a complete circle, then disappear! Really weird and, in me, not connected to more than a light headache, if that. (Below is a poor drawing of the shape of a castellation which, really, should be in flashing glowing white!)