The many faces of migraine

More than 500,000 Danes suffer from migraines, but there are no definitive answers as to what causes migraine and how the disorder can be treated. Often, the disorder is associated with an intense and unpleasant headache that mostly comes out of the blue. However, some get warnings, the so-called aura symptoms that can come out in several different ways. 

Among other things, speech difficulties, memory loss, numbness and visual disturbances.
Some people who suffer from migraines seek out into a jungle of alternative treatment methods in an attempt to tame the migraine attacks. This is because medical science has no definitive cure and there is no guarantee that those affected will ever get rid of the disorder.
This is the story of people living with a debilitating disorder and of today's science trying to understand the mystique of migraines.

The neuromodulator sends electrical impulses to the large facial nerve, the trigeminal nerve. It reduces the pain signals from a migraine attack. Helene Lade Moeller has suffered from migraines since she was nine years old. Today her disorder is categorized as chronic migraine. 

23-year-old Zachery Joergensen was only 10 years old when he was first experienced a migraine attack. At that time, he did not know what it was, and every attack therefore became something he got scared of.

“I didn't dare get up in the morning because I was afraid of the attacks I would get during the day. I often cried that time,” he says.
After he got older he started to learn approximately when the attacks were coming and therefore he can now prepare for it, but it wears him out, and he is completely exhausted when the migraine is over. At night, he doesn't get any rest either. Often he wakes up with pain. Today, he is no longer afraid of the attacks themselves but more the suffering that is affecting his life.
"I'm afraid of the loneliness of the migraine envelops me and isolates me from the life I would like to live if I don't defy it," he says.
When Zachery Joergensen gets a migraine attack, he uses a medication-free patch that he applies to specific places on the body. When the patch comes near the skin, it emits signals that stimulate certain points in the body, that soothes his migraine pain.

A robotic sound buzzes from the chair while Michael Jacobsen gets raised so he's in the right position to get a daith piercing. Over the past year, he has had more and more migraine attacks, and he hopes the new piercing will ease the pain so he can cut back on his medication usage. The holder of Pierce Artist Denmark, Michael Strauss, is ready to make a point measurement in the ear so that the needle is put in the right place. "It's about hitting the right spot, so the piercing just tickles the vagus nerve, that's what gives the effect," says Michael Strauss.

A colorful warning

Migraines are often associated with a very uncomfortable headache, which usually comes out of the blue. But some migraineurs get a little hint when an attack is underway.

Migraine with aura, can be translated into migraine with a warning. The warning comes in many forms. Some suffer from speech difficulties, memory loss, numbness in different parts of the body, and others get visual disturbances.

Migraines occur due to a lack of blood supply to an area of the brain. Depending on which area is not getting enough blood, it can cause various aura symptoms. For example, if it is in the area where the visual impressions are processed, it can cause visual disturbances.

Visual disturbances are the most common aura form, but only 20 percent of all migraineurs get aura symptoms, and twice as many women as men experience these aura symptoms.

Some get multiple visual disturbances one after the other, and some only get one. Some migraineurs have the same visual disturbances and others have their own unique light show, which plays out in front of them when an attack is underway.

Tina Soerensen: “It is like my view gets dissolved in the lower left side in circles like soap bubbles. It is beautiful and fascinating. I had my last attack a year ago, when I was 51. When I was in my 30s and 40s, my attacks were different. They started out with the people who surrounded me looking like they had harelip.

Jane Jespersen: “I see faint white spots flying around. Sometimes they can look like blue lights just like when an ambulance drive bye. I always have severe headaches especially around the eyes afterwards, and I have no idea what triggers it. The attacks can last from 1-12 hours.¨

Ida Marie Boeje Jensen: “I see shimmering stars in blue and white, and my vision becomes very blurred. I can neither use my phone nor read books when it happens. Fortunately, I don’t have that many attacks anymore, after I went to a neurologist and stopped using birth control pills.”

Malene Baekgaard Jakobsen: “It starts as a circle in the middle, but slightly to the left in the field of view. Inside the center of the circle it is blurry. The circle gets bigger and bigger and lasts 30-45 minutes. After that I get a headache that gets worse and worse. When it hits me I prefer to lie in fetal position in a bed in the dark for 5-8 hours.”

A bright light points directly into Bodil Breinbjerg Martinsen's eye and on the other side the alternative therapist, Jena Frederikke Krogslykke sits and reads Bodil's body condition as an organic dashboard. She can see the condition of the intestines, kidney and liver, and right here Jena's treatment of Bodil's migraine starts. Jena sees man as a whole, where everything is connected - kidney, liver, intestines and the psyche.

For Bodil, an unhealthy lifestyle in the form of wrong food and stress resultedin a migraine attack back in 2011, where she experienced a severe headache that could not be stopped by painkillers. Then the migraine attacks became more and more frequent. It cost a lot of energy, and had consequences for her work and family life. But now she has gradually changed her unhealthy lifestyle. "I have migraine attacks every 4 - 6 weeks, but in a course with alternative treatment, it has become clear to me that it is not only my diet that tricks an attack, but also if I'm stressed out for a longer period of time," says Bodil. She has reconsidered several elements of her life, and not only diet has changed. In March she quit her job. All of this has given her fewer days with attacks. Today, she gets an iris scan to follow up on whether her internal organs are working properly.

Back in 2005, Jette Nielsen got a small electronic chip, at the size of an almond, inserted into her head, as the second migraine patient in the world. She has suffered from chronic migraine all her life, so when she was offered to get the chip that had proven effective on cluster headache patients, she said yes, even though the treatment was still only an experiment. When she gets an attack, she has to hold a remote control up against the cheek. It activates the chip, which forms a magnetic field directed to the site where the headache is formed. The hope of relieving the pain has been turned on and off many times for Jette Nielsen, which has resulted in a lot of frustration and some dark periods in her life. However, it also turned out that the treatment with the chip did not have much effect on people with migraines. But Jette Nielsen keeps the chip. “I've tried pretty much everything to find a treatment. One year my husband and I spent about 100,000 Danish kroner ($ 15000) to try all kinds of alternative treatments, but nothing worked. I have gradually realized that there is nothing to do, but I keep the chip. Maybe someone will develop a system in the future that will make it work, ”says Jette Nielsen.

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