Teri Robert has been living with migraines most of her life. Her first one, she says, happened when she was six years old.
Migraine, to be clear, is not the same thing as a bad headache. It's a genetic neurological disease characterized by "attacks." This often involves head pain, but symptoms can range from hiccups to physical numbness to vision loss. Migraine attacks can be incapacitating, lasting days at a time.
Through her mid-30s, Teri's migraines were episodic, coming and going with no discernible pattern. But then, they unexpectedly turned into a condition much more debilitating--chronic migraine, defined as 15 or more days per month with migraine and headache. Her medication no longer seemed to be effective and, to make matters worse, her doctor retired.
Her migraines became so frequent, so intense that she was essentially bedridden and had to quit her job.
Teri was so desperate for relief that for several years she made the eight-hour drive from her home in West Virginia to see specialists at the Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia.
But Philadelphia was so far away, and when Teri worked to lose a lot of weight, her accomplishment had unexpected consequences. The dosage of her blood pressure medication--which also helped prevent her migraines--had to be cut in half. Within a month, her chronic migraine had come back.
Teri knew she needed to find a doctor who not only was closer, but also someone she felt she could trust. So she reached out to a doctor she had come to know as a friend--Dr. David Watson, director of the Headache Center at West Virginia University.