Farah Ashoka started getting bad headaches as a schoolgirl and was usually dispatched to the nurse, given a couple of paracetamol tablets, and told to have a short lie-down. For many years she suffered in silence, internalising the pain – not wanting to appear to be trying to skive off school.
The situation escalated through her teens and up to her late twenties when she finally sought expert help. “By the time I saw a neurologist, I was at about 29 migraine days a month,” she reveals.
Speaking to Dr Naji Riachi, Consultant Neurologist at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City and Clerkship Director of Neurology and Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs at Khalifa University College of Medicine, in episode 1 of Gulf News and Novartis’ six-part Mind your Migraine vodcast series, Farah points out that even with the diagnosis, life was tough. The migraine started to physically show on her face, and she suffered fatigue, loss of memory, and even loss of vocabulary, struggling with simple words like ‘and’ in conversations. It eventually led to her quitting work.
What affected Farah as badly as the migraine was people’s misconception that it is just a headache when in fact it’s a chronic condition. Dr Riachi reminds Farah that her story is not unique and points out that 36 million people in the US alone suffer from migraine, but sadly only 25 per cent of them have their condition diagnosed accurately.
He also offers light at the end of the tunnel for patients like Farah as he discusses cutting-edge new FDA-approved treatments that include injections. “Now we have subcutaneous injections that have really been such a joy to have because they are almost like a miracle migraine treatment,” says Dr Riachi.
If you endure migraines or know someone who does – or want to understand what sufferers really go through and how it is different from headaches – this series is for you.
Episode 1 drops on May 25. Make sure to tune in wherever you listen to your podcasts. The Mind your Migraine vodcast series will be available on Gulfnews.com/mind-your-migraine