My Journey with Headaches: How They Have Shaped Me Into Who I Am Today

By Sydney Newcomb

Normally I’m not the type of person to open up about my personal experiences, especially my struggles, but I know if God wouldn’t have put me through this, I wouldn’t be who I am today. In fact, many people don’t even know that I struggle with this daily. I’ve taught myself over the time I’ve had these headaches to try and smile through the pain. Some days that's definitely harder than others. But like I said, I wouldn't be who I am without these stubborn headaches. You’ll learn throughout this article my experience, how it began, and even some of my thoughts during the process. I really hope some of you take the time to read about my journey. Thank you for letting me open up and tell my story, hope you enjoy!

A little background:

Currently I have New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH), which is exactly what it sounds like. I have a constant headache all day everyday. Every day is a new challenge, but every day is also a blessing. Many tears have been shed, but I have also seen the world in a light like I’ve never seen it before. With the help of my loving family, friends, and amazing doctors, I’ve come a long way since the beginning. So let’s see where my journey started...

Where my journey began:

I’ve always been the person to be vocal in class and always have a smile on my face no matter what; unfortunately, that drastically changed my junior year. I remember almost every moment like it was yesterday. It was October of 2017, my birthday actually. That day we had a volleyball game, but before the game I remember getting the sharpest pain in my head I had ever felt.  I just looked past it and played the game I loved. After the game, I still had this throbbing pain that wouldn't go away. After about two weeks of dealing with this I finally broke down and decided to go to the doctor. The doctor just put it off as a strained muscle in my neck so I started taking physical therapy. After months of physical therapy and still no relief, I decided to seek further help at a neurologist.

Neurology:

Finding a neurologist that would see me, because at the time I was still under 18, was a challenge, but we finally got an appointment. Unfortunately, the only thing we got accomplished was a few medications. I felt hopeless. I felt like giving up right then and there. Within the next couple of months I got another appointment with my neurologist, and luckily during that visit I got recommended to John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which has one of the best neurology programs in the country.  

Good Morning Baltimore:

Going to Baltimore, I was scared out of my mind and had no idea what to expect. I was so used to my neurologist back at home, and I’m not the best with change. It took months and months for us to even be seen for an appointment, but once I got there and met my doctor I had no idea why we didn’t go there earlier. He made me feel like I was his only patient and he had known me my whole life. Not only did he give me the best medical care while we were there, whenever I got upset he would take the time to comfort me and reassure me everything was going to be okay.

Trial and error:

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I’ve tried many medications and supplements, I’ve even tried things such as nerve blocks, been admitted into the hospital, and botox. Unfortunately none of these have worked so far. Sometimes it’s really hard to be optimistic and keep my faith up, but I have the absolute best support system behind me. Even though at times it is hard to stay optimistic, that’s not going to stop me from getting these stubborn headaches away!

Yes, I know this isn’t the most flattering picture, but it’s basically been my life since October of 2017. This was one device i tried while in Baltimore, which sent something similar to an electric shock through your head.

How my headaches have helped me:

Yeah, you heard me right: my headaches have definitely helped over the past year and almost half I’ve had them. Ever since that day I first got my headache, I’ve definitely become closer with my family, but most importantly my relationship with Jesus has grow more than ever. Even on my bad days, I know i have people there for me. These headaches have been possibly the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced, but I know without them I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today!