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Migraine Rescue Meds: A Long Journey

Medicine in a question mark

Migraine rescue meds is not exactly a short list for me. My journey includes many changes, disappointments, and some wins. Keeping track of each medication I have taken is almost harder than tracking the actual migraine attack. Read Migraine Tracking: What, Why, and How to learn more about tracking your migraine attacks. This road takes its toll and affects each area of my life as well.

Migraine Rescue Meds: No One Size Fits All

It is so important to remember that each person is different and each person living with migraine will have to find out how their body will react to a certain medication. That said, I will share my journey here. My hope is to  inspire you not to give up. Don’t quit the fight if you have tried many different things. Your life and your future are worth it. Even if you try something that worked great for someone you know and it didn’t work for you, that is not the end of your story. Instead move onto what might work for you. 

It may be that you need a different dose, a different combination of meds, or a different medication all together. What is important is to communicate with your doctor and advocate for your health.  My journey has been long to find medication that works. I had to be clear about how things were going and speak up about how I was doing. That part doesn’t always come naturally. However, it must happen in order for me or anyone else to get the best care. This road is one I am still navigating and as I go through life I am still looking for answers.

Migraine Medication

Your Healthcare Provider Matters

The beginning of my actual diagnosis put me in the care of a neurologist who was kind, compassionate and who I trusted. I even drove a distance to see him after I moved and continued in his care for ten years. However, I realized I was not getting better and I needed a new plan. I am by no means blaming him. I believe he gave me his time and care, but sometimes we need new eyes. My triggers and body changed as well. I also found benefit in having all my doctors within the same health care system. This does not mean you have to, but I found it convenient for doctors to be able to see my tests or other records automatically. I didn’t have to have things redone or sent over.

When I met my new neurologist  I knew my life would be different. I will share why, but first I want to tell you just a bit about him. I found him to be a great fit. He followed my care in the hospital and was able to see what the other neurologists noted in my last admittance. I am now cared for by a very kind and knowledgeable woman who worked closely with him before he retired. I note this experience personally to say that you should trust your doctors and they play a crucial role in your care. 


My journey for the right meds is still ongoing, but I feel it is one that is moving in the right direction because my doctor and I are a team. I will be sharing more about that soon. I should also note I am no stranger to the hospital, but this is a part of the migraine beast and despite all efforts it is sometimes a part of getting over the  attack. My goal is to decrease these visits or even better to eliminate them!

Rescue Meds: The Beginning

I will share my journey here so that you can see it may take time, persistence, and unfortunately some wrong medications to find what works. However, I hope your journey leads you to what works much faster than mine. Additionally, sometimes our bodies change so this migraine road we travel is one that is ever changing.

When I started out with my migraine diagnosis I was prescribed Fioricet. Wow, it worked so well for a while! I took it and it affected me causing drowsiness as it took away the pain. I needed to rest a bit after taking it, but it did not affect my daily life. Those were wins for me.  As time passed it stopped working. Then my migraine attacks started becoming more severe. 

This was just the beginning of my search for what would work. I have tried so many I know I will miss a couple. Some new medications tried included Imitrex, Cambia, Nurtec, and Ubrelvey. The only one that worked was Nurtec and that was short-lived. I had also tried Imitrex in pill form and a Sumatriptan nasal spray. Neither of those brought relief. 

More Promise with Similar Pattern

migraine medication options

 In addition to those I tried Zomig tablets and nasal spray. For quite some time the nasal spray was my saving grace. It would stop an attack within 15-30 minutes and I could get back to life. At times I needed longer, but it kept me out of the hospital and was a game changer.  However, it stopped working as well.

So this brought on  taking a combination of meds or alternating those  things. One option for me is to take the Sumatriptan injection, muscle relaxer, Diclofenac, and Reglan. Or I can take Reyvow. Reyvow is a different type of medication and has stronger side effects. It is advised not to drive for 8 hours. That isn’t hard for me anyways since during an attack I don’t feel like going anywhere.  If either the Reyvow or injections and mix of other medications doesn’t work then I take whichever I didn’t take four hours later. 

Both of those things offered hope for a bit. However, the same theme rings true for them as well. They just didn’t stand the test of time. I am not giving up on them. As there are times they bring relief. It just seems migraine can feel like a game and sometimes it feels like you lose. 

Rescue Meds-My Current Reality

A new and exciting option for me is Trudhesa. This medication is like DHE, which is only given if you are admitted in the hospital. DHE has proven to work for me. However, it has required me to spend 24 hours coming off of my Sumatriptan injection and then it takes several doses through my IV. This is sometimes after I have already been in the ER for awhile and they are moving on to last resorts. Now, that I have a pattern of clearly what does not work and what does, I have qualified for this new medication. It is supposed to work similar to DHE so if I can take it at onset it could prevent a full blown attack and hopefully keep me from the hospital. I’ll keep you posted.

Migraine Medication and clipboard

My final lifeline is the ER. This year I have had 4 trips, with 3 admissions. This is a better track record than some years, but I am working towards less and hoping for no hospital trips. If I can’t manage the attacks at home, then I have no choice. Read more about migraine and the ER in Patient Perspective: Migraine and ER.  I explain how to prepare and what to expect.

The ER does seem like the last place you would want to be for a migraine, but if your migraine is intractable as mine can become you may find yourself there. For me, there are meds they go through that they can give in the ER that are the first line of defense so to speak. Typically, the popular “migraine cocktail”, which we are trying to get away from saying, does not work for me. It did years ago, but not anymore. Now, with my admissions there is a medication I mentioned called DHE that is one of the regiments they give me in the hospital. You have to be admitted to take it and you have to come off other medications as well. It works well for me, but it also takes time over several doses. Typically I need more than the minimum. This means time away from family and work, but I can’t be with them anyway when I am going through a migraine attack. So this is truly my last resort as I want to stay home, but I want to get better too. 

Hope for the Future

My hope is for migraine management where I continue to stay at home and have less attacks. Doctors tell me that my migraine attacks are very complex and can be difficult to treat. I don’t feel like I want to be the winner in that category. I will be writing more about my recent attacks and treatment. 

My biggest hope is that my attacks become less frequent and severe. I will keep you updated as I continue to journey with Botox and these new medications. Botox for the person living with migraine can be a different experience for someone who is not. I am hopeful I will see a positive change and if not we will find what works. I am also working to be balanced with my other areas of life as well. Sleep, yoga, and running are therapeutic to me when I can balance them. These are topics to revisit. I try to be diligent about doing anything I can to be in my best health. Migraine sure can weigh you down with guilt about what you can’t do. I try with all I have to do everything I can do.

Looking Ahead

Preventive medicines are also a big part of my journey. I will be writing about those, including Botox. I will also cover how balancing things like sleep and exercise have made a difference in my well being. Above all else, return anytime for encouragement. Migraine is not one’s fault and it is not something to fight alone. Also find additional migraine information and resources at the American Migraine Foundation. I am currently in their Emerging Advocate program and am so excited about all I am learning. I have a passion for learning and supporting others.


Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the medical and health area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any medical or health related decisions. For your health related questions, please seek the advice of a licensed physician or any other qualified health care provider immediately.

15 thoughts on “Migraine Rescue Meds: A Long Journey”

  1. Pingback: Botox and Chronic Migraine - Migraine Road

  2. I sincerely appreciate your warm words. You and your health journey have also been on my mind. Since I know the difficult path ahead, I wish you the best.

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, I’m sorry you have to live with these migraines but your information is really helping other people. You’re doing so well and keep going with the yoga and getting good sleep, I’m sure it will help you. x

  4. I have been thinking about you lately and was hoping things were going ok. I sincerely wish you the best with the new medication. You have been on quite the journey and I’m glad you always have healthcare professionals who do their best to help you and get you through. It’s not easy, but you seem very resilient. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. I have thought about you and your health journey as well. I hope the very best for you as I know the road is not easy. So thankful for the supportive community.

  5. It’s so true that things aren’t always a one size fits all and it can take time to find the right doctor and medicine to help! For those who suffer with migraines, this is really informative and reassuring to not think it has to be the perfect plan first time round!

  6. Very helpful post, I hope the attacks are fewer as well for you. And wish you the best as the days pass. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  7. This is such an important post! Especially understanding that medically speaking, things aren’t one size fits all and finding the right doctor is so important. It took me over 30 years to find a doctor I really trusted.

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