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Lucy Fazenbaker: Living with severe migraines

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Addison Berreth

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Lucy+Fazenbaker+at+Music+Midtown+in+Piedmont+Park.
Lucy Fazenbaker at Music Midtown in Piedmont Park.

Lucy Fazenbaker at Music Midtown in Piedmont Park.

Courtesy of Lucy Fazenbaker

Courtesy of Lucy Fazenbaker

Lucy Fazenbaker at Music Midtown in Piedmont Park.

Most people have experienced a bad headache before. They might have had one so severe they felt dizzy or nauseous. Most people can agree that headaches are not fun. Imagine having one that never stops.

Grady high school sophomore Lucy Fazenbaker has been suffering from a continuous migraine for over two years.

“Most people don’t understand that it just doesn’t ever stop, it’s been one migraine.” Fazenbaker said, “Most days I can handle it pretty well, but some days are really bad. Some days it’s hard for me to walk, see, or hear, and all I can do is lay in the dark.”

Although both migraines and headaches cause pain, migraines induce significantly more severe symptoms. Migraines may cause sufferers to experience  nausea, stomach pains, and sensitivity to certain lighting and smells.

“When I first got my migraine, I missed a lot of school.” Fazenbaker said. “I started to faint and fall in class, and I didn’t really know what was going on. I had trouble walking, too.”

During the first few months of experiencing her migraine, Fazenbaker went to the nurse for a total of 82 class periods. The school board recognized the issue and attempted to change Fazenbaker’s schedule in order to give her time with the nurse everyday.

Courtesy of Lucy Fazenbaker
Hospital visits are common for Fazenbaker because of her migraines.

Fazenbaker visits doctors frequently, but they still haven’t determined a clear diagnosis for her case.

“The doctors know that I have the migraines all the time, but they don’t know what it’s caused by,” Fazenbaker said. “It could be hormonal, but there could also be something more seriously wrong. I’ve gotten multiple tests at the hospital and many MRI scans to see if it’s cancerous, but thankfully it’s not.”

Fazenbaker’s case can be falsely labeled as a chronic migraine. This kind of headache is more common, but less severe. Symptoms of a chronic migraine occur at least 15 days per month, unlike Fazenbaker’s problem, which never stops.

Recently, Fazenbaker has been trying out a new form of treatment: Botox. An injection that started as a wrinkle reducer, Botox is becoming more widely used for the treatment of chronic migraines. When injected into a “trigger point”, Botox releases acetylcholine, which blocks the contraction of the muscles. This relaxes muscles that are sensitive to the pain.

“I get about 36 shots in my head per session,” Fazenbaker said. “They hurt a lot, and I usually cry a little bit. One time, I asked the doctors what the crackling noise was, and they said it was my nerves breaking from the needle.”

Along with Botox, Fazenbaker uses acupuncture and dry needling to help with her migraines. Overall, she says she gets around 90-100 shots in her head per month.

Although these methods help dull the pain, Fazenbaker says they are not a cure.

“The Botox definitely lessens the pain, but it doesn’t make it go away completely, which was the main goal.” said Fazenbaker.

Fazenbaker is also trying a newer, unique form of treatment: daith piercings. The piercing goes through the innermost cartilage fold in the ear, potentially reducing the symptoms of the migraine.

“I’ve been on lots of different medications, so I’m trying something new this time.” Fazenbaker said. “I have my right piercing already, and I’m getting my left one soon. A lot of people say that getting a piercing in their ear has helped with their migraines, so I want to see if it works for me.”

Courtesy of Lucy Fazenbaker
According to the American Migraine Foundation, daith piercings put constant pressure on the pressure point in the ear that can help relieve migraines.

Despite her migraine, Fazenbaker is still finding ways to live her best life. She actively participates in yearbook and Latin club, and takes weekly dance classes. Because she deals with her condition so positively, many of her classmates aren’t even aware of her condition.

Fazenbaker also has recently started working as a server at Paolo’s, a dessert shop in the Virginia Highlands.

“I love my job,” Fazenbaker said. “Working at Paolo’s makes me so happy, and I hope to be working there for a while. It helps to distract me from my pain.”

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Addison Berreth, Writer

Addison is a sophomore and is excited to be writing stories for Nexus this year. She also participates in HOSA club and dances outside of school.

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