This is the first in a series called “Who’s Your Migraine Buddy?” where people living with migraine share their stories of those pets and people (or maybe a thing?) who help them through their migraine attacks.
This is Ali, and she was one of my best migraine buddies — ever. For the last 17 years, the little cat you see here sat on my lap when I was at my desk, slept beside me every night, and seemed to always know when I had a migraine. Licking my hand was one of her favorite things to do.
Ali had been slowing down, and recently, acted as if she didn’t feel well. A trip to the vet last week told us why. Our poor little friend had arthritis, and she had breast cancer. We caught the cancer too late to do anything about it. It had started spreading. This was our first experience with Teresa Essig, D.M.V. Our former veterinarian moved several months ago, and a friend recommended Dr. Essig. She was so very kind. She told us that it was too late to try surgery, especially given Ali’s age. She said she could give us pain medication for Ali, but that it wouldn’t buy her much time or completely relieve her pain. The worst thing she told us was that Ali was in pain. She’d been biting me lately. Not the gentle bite of playing, but really latching onto my hand and biting. Dr. Essig said that was probably because she was in pain.
Ali, Migraine BuddyFor John (my husband) and me, hearing that Ali was in pain, and that pain medication couldn’t get her to a pain-free state left us with only one choice. So, we released Ali from her pain and plunged into our own. Dr. Essig was so very gentle, giving her an injection to make her sleepy before the final injection. I held Ali, and she nuzzled against my arm, hiding her face. All I could do was hold her and know that she wouldn’t hurt any more.
Migraines triggered by crying filled the next three days for me. That now seems so ironic since Ali always licked my hands and my chin, trying to comfort me during migraine attacks. Whether she was on my lap or lying beside me, her warmth was always comforting. Her purr was always soothing, and listening to her helped me relax and get to sleep. Sweet, gentle Ali was my migraine buddy, and I’ll be forever grateful for having her in my life.
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.