My Head Will Hurt Forever

Note: My daughter Beth wrote this and I asked her if I could post it.

I’ve been getting headaches since I was 13, and migraines since I was 14.  I’m 23.

Since the first day they appeared, year after year, they got worse and worse.  My parents took me to numerous doctors, first locally, then in Pittsburgh, then in other cities in other states.  I tried all kinds of medicine and therapies, including acupuncture.  I took more vitamins and supplements than I can remember, tried diets, and read every migraine article I was given.  I was tested for food allergies.  I exercised, I didn’t exercise.  I drank caffeine, I didn’t drink caffeine.  I made many trips to the ER and endured a horrific week in a Philadelphia headache ward in attempt to ease the pain.

Still they came, sometimes constantly for weeks.

I dropped out of college, unable to keep up.  I’ve missed church services and events and spent many nights alone, unable to hang out with friends.

For 10 years I’ve repeatedly asked Jesus to heal me.  My family’s prayed.  My friends have prayed. Even people I don’t know have prayed for me.  I’ve gone forward for prayer in church many times and been anointed with oil more than once by pastors.

Often I’ve quit asking, thinking what’s the point – it’s been so long and nothing’s happened.  Doctors haven’t helped.  Prayers haven’t worked.  It’s always going to be this way.

At times I’ve resigned myself to a life of migraines thinking I was being content with what God had given me.  But I wasn’t viewing him rightly.  I wasn’t believing that he could or would work in my life.

James 5:13-15 says “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”

James puts it so simply – “Let him pray.”

And we’re to pray expectantly, knowing God is a generous Father.  Psalm 84:11 says “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  I know I need to trust that the Lord knows what is the very best for me.

I know God has used this trial for my good.  I’ve grown so much closer to him and am so grateful for all he’s done in my life through it.  So instead of giving up, I’m going to keep asking in faith that he will heal me.  Whether I see an answer here or when I meet him face to face, I serve a wonderful God.

“As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,
who does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number”
Job 5:8-9

Photo by Beth

  • Diana (DiGiacomo)

    Thank you for posting this, Mark. I watched Beth suffer with this trial through my years at IUP, almost 4 years ago, and I can say wholeheartedly that God used her example to teach me and encourage me in my own trials. I was often challenged in my own attitude and faith as I watched Beth look to God over and over again, even without seeing answers. Thank you for this reminder of the sweet lessons she taught me that I still carry with me today. God is kind.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Thanks Diana, and thanks for being such a good friend to Beth!

  • Sarah Danaher

    Beth, you're my hero.
    (and we should talk sometime. I'm a photographer, too.)

    • Beth

      Sarah, I'm no hero – I've blown it so many times- given into unbelief and grumbling and discontentment yet our loving Father has sustained me through it all. And yes, I'd love to talk photography with you!

  • Emily

    Every time I have a migraine, I pray for you Beth. And for the other "sickies" we both know… though i've never met you personally (that I can remember right now :) …) your example and perseverance has been an example to me and brought me much hope over the past few years. through many tests and migraines of my own, I remember you. And Jen. And Charissa. and the others. And I pray for us all. And at times when I'm tempted to give up, God in His kindness sends another reminder. like this. Thank you. I'll keep praying. And one day, I look forward to hearing how He's healed you.

    • Beth

      Emily, thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement. I will continue my prayers for you and know God has good planned for all of us in his perfect plan.

  • Dou

    I know you've probably tried everything but I have to offer this. My father had a co-worker whose wife had had headaches her whole life. She hadn't remembered a day not having one. My dad suggested to him the possibility of the headaches being caused by caffeine. He told my dad that she had tried cutting that out of her diet w/out success. My dad asked how long… because caffeine (or so he had been told) takes approx. 30 days to completely leave one's system. The man told his wife and she again tried cutting off caffeine from her diet. A little over a month later the man excitedly told my dad that his wife had her first days w/out a headache since she could remember.

    Again, I realize that this may not be an issue, and that migraines are a different beast (my dad had those too), but thought I would relate the one success story I know in the off chance. Also, beware of caffeine in many places one wouldn't expect; many aspirin manufacturers include it, chocolate has it, even some root beer (Barq's), etc.. It is many places.

    • beth

      Thank you, Dou, for this suggestion – I really appreciate it!

  • Elaine

    What a terrific post, Beth – simply excellent! Know that you have encouraged many today and we are thankful for your willingness to share. May the Lord glorify Himself in you, as He sees fit, as He knows best. Yes, until you are healed, we'll keep praying. :-)

    • Beth

      Thank you so much, Elaine!

  • Loren Pinilis

    I hope this doesn't come across as insensitive, because I know you've tried a LOT of different methods to heal your migraines. Probably the last thing you want to hear is one more person telling you about how their mother's uncle's college roommate cured migraines by doing such and such. So forgive my boldness, but my intentions are just to help if possible.
    I used to suffer from TMJ, which is closely related to some forms of migraines. I had occasional migraines and even a few ocular migraines.
    I discovered trigger point therapy. After throwing thousands of dollars at all sorts of doctors, I was literally "cured" in the process of a week or two based on massaging my own muscles in certain ways. It helped my TMJ. It helped my migraines. The principles (applied to different parts of the body) have helped my wife's back pain and have helped my knee pain. Check out "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook" by Clair Davies on Amazon. I'm not affiliated with the book or with him in any way other than being a customer that was greatly, greatly helped.

    • Beth

      Thank you so much Loren, I really appreciate this! I will check out the book. And I know you aren't being insensitive – I'm grateful for your care to tell me about this.

  • Raquel

    You don't know me, but my sister has been dealing with one migraine for 3 mos now. It always encouraging to see someone like yourself take your trials and bless others with it (whether you mean to or not).

    My sister undergoes surgery tomorrow for 3mo migraine. An MRI showed that her brain tissue has exceeded the cavity for which it was intended. So in an attempt to fix thing, they will be removing a piece of her skull to make room for the enlarged tissue.

    A lot of doctors don't think to a MRI, usually the condition that my sister has is not found for an average of 5 yrs. Have you ever done an MRI? I know sometimes question of what you have and have not done can be irritating, but my intentions are good.

    • Beth

      Hi Raquel,
      I'm so sorry your sister has to go through this. I will be praying for her and hope her recovery is quick. Thank you so much for the kind suggestion. I have had several MRIs and similar tests. Thank you for your care, Beth

  • wayside wanderer

    I have had very bad headaches since I was a teenager, too. The largest struggle for me comes during the headache. Suffering the pain is such a huge spiritual battle, what I am thinking when I hurt so bad, what I "preach" to myself, and who I am focusing on. Thank you for your words of encouragement and your sweet spirit. God bless you.

    • Beth

      I am so sorry for your migraines. I know what you mean – it's hard to remember God's promises during such intense pain. I will be praying for you.

  • Barbara

    love this!!! May God be glorified by faith that simply believes Him, no matter what.

    • beth

      thank you, barbara.

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  • Karine

    Thank you for sharing this. I've had a constant headache for the past 3 and a half years that has been getting gradually worse. Some days it's more difficult to persevere than others but I can truly say that this trial has been a blessing. The Lord has taught me so much through it. I have seen his faithfulness daily not only in sustaining me but also giving me peace and joy in the suffering. I know that God is good and He is sovereign so if he has decided that I should have this headache, he will use it for my good and His glory. I'm not suffering under the hand of a harsh tyrant but under the care of a loving Father who knows what he's working in me through this even when I don't. Whether he chooses to ever take it away or not, this trial has so practically shown me that God's grace is sufficient for me in any circumstance.

    Thank you for the reminder to continue to pray. Reading this I realized that I've given up praying regularly for the Lord to heal the headache, only praying on the worst days.

    I pray that the Lord would continue to give you hope and perseverance and heal you in his own perfect timing.

    • beth

      Dear Karine,
      I am so very sorry for this pain you are in. I can understand in some ways how terrible it is and how it's so easy to only think to pray in the worst moments. I have done that so many times. Or forgotten to pray at all. You are persevering in such a god-glorifying way by stating and believing these truths despite what you are suffering. You are an example of rejoicing in suffering – praising God for the good he does in our lives through it. Thank you for your prayers and I will be praying for you. He is good.

  • @lidialimardo

    Often when we hear (or read in this case) testimonies of people going through difficulties and trials in their lives, we always expect (sometimes without even realizing it) that in the end, they are going to tell us how God miraculously deliver them or healed them. But the truth is that God sometimes chooses not to. Not because our faith is week or we didn't ask properly, or because we are in sin or whatever, but just because He understands that keeping us in certain situation will bring more glory to His name. The blind man in John 9, for example, was born blind just so the works of God might be displayed in him.
    Like you've said, you serve a wonderful God, who's understanding of things and what's best for us, is greater than we can imagine. He's thoughts and plans for us are "for welfare and not for evil" (Jeremiah 29:11). From this post we know that, thru this trial, He has already taught you and those around you, many things that perhaps you wouldn't have got to know or understand so deeply otherwise. I pray that His will be done in your life and that you remain faithful until the end.

    • beth

      Lidia, thank you. everything you have said is so true, and i couldn't agree more. God definitely has good plans for our lives, even if we don't see it or understand it now. thank you for your encouragement.

  • Jessica

    HI, Thanks for sharing this. I hope you don't mind that I've forwarded this to my 2 sisters in Christ whose children (one 5 yr old and another 12yo) are suffering from migraines too. The experts can't seem to find any answers and yes, they are clinging on to God's promise and goodness as they persevere in prayer and trying various things too. Thank you for allowing us to share in your story and worshipping the Lord in this sweet surrender and trust!

    • beth

      Hi Jessica, I don't mind at all you forwarding this on. I know the frustration and pain of top experts doing every test and having no answers. I will be praying for your friend's children. And thank you for your kind encouragement. I really appreciate it.

  • Evie

    I totally understand. I have not been suffering as long as you have but I understand. I started getting frequent migraines over a year ago, out of nowhere. I had a few here and there that I could sleep off, but suddenly they were almost daily. Most of the time I have a constant background headache that feels like pressure, in between the migraines. I thought, there HAS to be something seriously wrong with me. Doctors dismissed me with prescription in hand. I'd try to explain to them how abnormal these headaches seemed but they just kept asking if I had too much stress in my life, etc. I had a few scans of my head done, xrays, blood tests, as well as a "nerve block" injection into my scalp. Like you I feel like I have tried everything: sleeping more, sleeping less, changing my diet, etc. (I did however discover that artificial sweeteners have a connection, like the aspartame in breath mints or other foods). I would always seem to get them on the same side of my head. I understand how you feel isolated. I felt like I was a broken record to my church family "I'm sorry I can't make it—I have a headache". Or the misunderstandings like "but it's just a headache, right? Can't you take some advil?" It is all encompassing and debilitating, I know. First I wondered if I'd ever get married considering the issues I have, but God graciously allowed me to get married to a patient man. Then I felt guilty a lot because I couldn't be as active or energetic as other wives may be ..and some nights I couldn't make dinner or even spend time with my husband. It is terribly isolating. But it is HUMBLING. Suffering strips us of notions of pride and helps put life into focus. And thankfully it is a trial that will NOT last forever! :-) Now I am learning to "live with" the migraines, instead of fighting them bitterly. While also trying to get appropriate medical help/advice. You are not alone and you still cannot be snatched out of God's hand no matter how much you are suffering!

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