I Got a Daith Piercing for Migraines

And accept that I don’t need to be cured to be okay

Knowing that others have been “cured” of chronic migraines makes me feel like there is something that I should be able to do that would “fix me.” I already follow a ketogenic diet to manage narcolepsy. I stopped using artificial sweeteners, and quit drinking alcohol. I practice mindfulness and use energy therapy like EFT, the Emotion Code, and Reiki. What more do I need to do?

The answer is nothing. I don’t need to be fixed. I’m not broken. (Neither are you.) Pain is a part of human existence, and everyone experiences it in one way or another. My version is no better or worse than anybody else’s. So what I need to work on is acceptance.

I need to accept myself when I’m in pain and be able to sit with it. Even if I didn’t do any of the things I listed above, it wouldn’t be my fault. When I stop pointing fingers at myself, beating myself up, or contemplating what I should have done to prevent the pain, it gets easier. Sitting in it helps.

Letting go

Today, after crying and meditating on the pain for a bit, I realized it was dissipating. I was crying out of grief that my latest attempt at “fixing my head” was a failure. I had a lot of hope that this would be “the answer” that I have been looking for.

This one seemed rather harmless since, if it didn’t work I would just have a couple of extra ear piercings.

What is a Daith Piercing for migraines?

The theory is that there is an acupuncture point connected with the digestive system in this part of the ear. Some people believe migraines are related to the digestive tract but it is difficult to identify how or what exactly causes them. Having an earring there applies constant pressure to that point, so its like continuous acupressure treatment. People get Daith piercings for migraines hoping for complete or even partial relief.

daith piercing through the ear's innermost cartilage fold, the crus of the helix
Photo by Wikimedia

There is little to no scientific research on using Daith piercing for migraines, and the American Migraine Foundation warns against it due to the risk of infection or additional pain caused by the piercing itself.

However, since I’ve already tried modern medicine, had numerous CAT scans and examinations to rule out any known causes of my pain, I was ready to try anything. I wanted to be fixed.

The acupuncturist didn’t make any promises, but she was optimistic. I was hopeful too. We discussed my migraine history and the patterns I had noticed. She decided to map both the Daith and the uterus point since my migraines tend to accompany my menstrual cycle.

She marked tiny black dots in the spots where the needles should go through. Then, I went to the nearest piercing place with a good reputation.

What happened next?

Three weeks after I got the Daith piercing for migraines, I still didn’t know if it was effective. I got my period moments after boarding a 14-hour flight, and I thought, here we go. I was expecting my usual migraine plus excruciating cramps, nausea, ravenous hunger, everything that I have endured for the last 20 years of menstruation. But it didn’t come. The flight was uneventful.

I thought that was strange, but in a good way so I didn’t focus on it too much. The next month was similar; no cramps, minimal bloating, or even discomfort. I hardly dared whisper the words, no migraine!

And now?

This week was tough. I felt the headache creeping in the day my period started, but I was in denial.

I blamed my sinuses.

The weather.

Air pressure.

A virus.

I went out even though I know the sun makes them worse.

This isn’t a migraine. I don’t have those anymore….

I was determined. I needed my cure to be real.

When I got home, it was evident what I was dealing with. I popped some magnesium, drank a huge glass of water, put some peppermint oil on, set up my meditation music, and lay down to process.

Processing Grief

I cried. I felt grief that the cure that I so desperately wanted wasn’t a cure. It’s so hard to live with a chronic illness and rely on yourself to fix it. I have let myself down, time after time seeking out alternative treatments that could make my body ‘normal’. I felt guilty and disappointed in myself. I wondered what I did wrong.

But, I had to take a step back and breathe. I realized that although the pain was back, I’m okay. I can recognize, even if I didn’t receive the ultimate cure, the improvement is incredible. Nearly three months without a migraine is a huge win. Having a “normal” period is amazing.

Even if the migraines are here to stay, they seem to be less frequent, and less severe right now. The important thing is to be in this moment. Not to mourn a past or a future I can’t predict.

I allowed myself a few minutes of grief for the lack of a cure, but the rest of the day I stayed focused on the present.

We don’t have to go out of our way to fix ourselves. We don’t need to go on a never-ending journey seeking every obscure treatment available to make ourselves “better”. We are enough just as we are today. If we can sit with ourselves, and learn to accept ourselves, even love ourselves, the pain gets easier to manage.

I am enough, and so are you.

*Originally Published on Medium September 11, 2019 by Kayla Douglas

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