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It’s not just a headache

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By Fiona Reid
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It's not just a headache

A MOFFAT mum has spoken out to raise awareness of the debilitating effect of migraines.

Ellie Crossan shared her story for Migraine Awareness Week 2023, which runs until Saturday.

She has had suffered since she was eight and in 2010 was diagnosed with chronic migraine, which means experiencing more than 15 migraine days per month.

Ellie, who is a teacher, said: “Having this number of migraine days starts to affect your overall health and energy levels, the way it was explained to me was that migraine is a symptom of a complex neurological condition.

“This has had a debilitating effect on my family life and career.

“As a teacher, although this is a very rewarding job, it can be a very challenging environment when suffering with chronic migraine. With little flexibility, I felt like my only choice was to reduce my hours to part time.

“As a mother, I often felt unable to give the best of myself to my children and felt wracked with guilt as a result.”

Chronic migraine is classified by the World Health Organisation as one of the most debilitating illnesses. More people in the UK suffer than have asthma, epilepsy and diabetes combined.

Ellie has tried numerous different medications, supplements and devices over the years but said any results are ‘usually short lived’.

She pointed out that oft-prescribed medications are not ‘migraine specific’, but added: “In 2019, the Scottish Medicines Consortium passed the use of anti-cgrp medication, the first ‘migraine specific’ medication. Unfortunately, although this was passed for use in Scotland, it was not available in Dumfries and Galloway.”

However, with worsening health, she took matters into her own hands and approached the National Migraine Centre and was prescribed anti-cgrp medication privately.

“I have gone from 20 migraine days per month to between 3-5. While it might not work for everyone, this medication has changed my life,” said Ellie.

“My husband and myself have spent the last nine months fighting the NHS in Dumfries and Galloway to provide this much needed medication in our region, and I am delighted to say they have recently relented in my case, which I would hope means it will be available to others.

“Qualifying standards for anti-cgrp state that you should have more than four migraine days per month and have tried three or more preventative treatments that have not worked.

“While there are no cures for migraine, I am really hopeful for the future, rapid developments and new treatments are becoming available all the time. I would hope that the local health board will keep up with innovations going forward.”

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has been working with the Crossans to try and resolve some of these issues.

He is disappointed that unlike other health boards, Dumfries and Galloway does not have a dedicated headache clinic, which results in a postcode lottery for treatment.

Mr Smyth said: “Hearing Ellie’s story and how much she and her family have suffered over the years really hammers home how serious migraines can be.

“Often they are dismissed as ‘just’ a headache but they can be so much worse and have a huge negative impact on people’s lives.

“I’m happy that Ellie has been able to get the anti-cgrp medication and I hope that this can provide some relief but it has taken so long and this is really unacceptable. It’s clear that we do need to see better support for this facing this debilitating condition.”

Help and advice

Speak to your GP

The Migraine Trust at www.migrainetrust.org

The HeadsUp podcast by the National Migraine Centre

Tracker app migrainebuddy

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