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The Right Migraine Treatment Helps Patient Get Her Life Back

August 22, 2022 Posted in: Primary Care , Health & Wellness , Patients & Providers  3 minute read time

When students return to classes this fall at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Kelsee Welch will finally be able to continue her education after graduating high school in 2019. The Danville resident had her career path set – she wanted to be a surgeon – but constant migraine headaches threw up a roadblock.

Kelsee had experienced migraines since she was a child of 6 or 7. “When I had them, my mom would have me lay down in a dark room and I would spend all day in there,” she said. A children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen would help.

But the headaches continued to worsen as she aged. In her senior year of high school, they became unbearable and nothing helped.

Kelsee Welch Photo

“During my senior year, everything got messed up,” she said.

Teachers at Garrard County High School were understanding, but Kelsee couldn’t study as much as she wanted and didn’t do as well as she could have on her advanced placement tests. She missed a lot of school.

At one point, she was having migraine pain every day for a month. In treating the headaches, she was taking as many as 10 Tylenol a day, which comes with other health risks.

“Migraines can be very debilitating,” said Fred Odago, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical GroupNeurology in Lexington. “I have had patients who have reported that migraines have prevented them from being productive in life. This includes keeping a job, attending classes and being successful in school as well, as interacting with family members and friends in social settings.”

After graduation, she couldn’t go on to higher education because “I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up. You just don’t know when migraines are going to happen,” she said.

Kelsee changed family doctors. Her new provider referred her to Dr. Odago.

“He was the first specialist I had ever seen,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of different doctors, and no one had referred me to a specialist.”

Dr. Odago worked with Kelsee to develop a treatment plan. She kept a migraine diary, tracking her activities, any medications and the severity of her headaches. 

“We were slowly trying to figure out different triggers,” she said. “Some nights, I was getting less sleep, or hadn’t eaten … those would trigger migraines."

Dr. Odago said the migraine diary helps patients keep track of the frequency and severity of headaches, which can help determine whether patients are having an effective response to medication.

“In a migraine diary I look for the number of headache free days as well as response to acute treatment such as the triptans,” he said.

Kelsee took several different medications, but nothing helped. 

“There is an emerging concept in migraine medicine that headaches have a genetic component, thus it will make sense that patients may respond differently to varying medication,” Dr. Odago said. “It is encouraging to know that in the current era, there are several options for migraine patients with new medications being approved by the FDA at a rapid rate.”

They finally found a monthly injection of one medication helped ease the pain. Kelsee found that the migraine diary entries were much shorter; the headaches didn’t come as often. For the past seven months, she hasn’t had a migraine. She was even able to celebrate her 21st birthday pain free.

She is able to plan more things with her friends. She sees her family more. She has a new apartment with plenty of natural light.

“It is encouraging to know that people can get their lives back by having the migraines controlled just like Kelsee, who is now scheduled to attend college,” Dr. Odago said.

“It feels like I have more control over my life and more control over what I do every day,” Kelsee said. “I think that I’ve experienced a lot more since I’ve stopped having migraine.

And she’s looking forward to the future. She has been leaning toward a career in psychology and social work … and her return to school this fall is a first step on that path.

“Dr. Odago is really an amazing neurologist,” Kelsee said. “I don’t think I would have gotten to where I am without him.”

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