Monday, February 9, 2015


The list of things we have tried for migraines is impressive.  Babygirl and I have tried standard therapies, natural remedies, dietary manipulations.  I've tried massage (Babygirl can't tolerate it), manipulation (including cranioscacral) and acupuncture.  We've done off-label uses of medications.  We've done oils and aromas and....well, you get the idea.

Last fall I read about a medical device called Cefaly, a device approved by the FDA to reduce the frequency of migraines.  Babygirl's doc ordered it for her last November, but we hit a couple of little snags obtaining it.

In order to get this thing, you go to the website and place an order, and then fax a copy of a valid doctor's prescription for the device to the website once they've processed your payment (insurance doesn't cover it.  They aren't going to mess with you if you can't pay).  One of their requirements is that the name on the prescription must match the name on the credit card used for payment.  Babygirl, of course, does not have a credit card in her 15-year-old name.

I sent an email asking the company what one does under the circumstances?  Well, since the FDA has not approved Cefaly for use in anyone under 18, one does without the device, was their response. 

That's awkward.  (You'd think the pediatric neurologist might have been aware of this roadblock.)

When I got sick last month, I had to see my doc, so I mentioned the device to him and explained the problem with getting it for Babygirl.  He had recently read about the Cefaly and immediately pointed out that the device would be excellent for MY migraines (I love that guy.  He didn't even need prompting) and immediately wrote me a prescription.  What with one thing and another (paycheck availability of a spare $400 not the least of them) we finally got the device last Thursday.

It's cute.  The box shows a picture of a blissful Scandinavian woman wearing her tiara-like Cefaly, looking as if a migraine could never, ever touch her again.  The reality is.....less blissful.

You attach a butterfly-shaped electrode pad to your forehead directly above the bridge of your nose, winging out over your eyebrows.  In the center of this there is a small button upon which the little tiara rests.  To start the treatment you push a button in the center of your pretty little crown and wait for the 'sensation' to start.

Aside note:  Remember in Lamaze class when they talked about 'pressure' and 'contractions' and never once used the more accurate "you-are-being-eviscerated-from-the-inside-by-aliens-PAIN!" because they thought maybe calling it 'pressure' would somehow make it magically hurt less?? Yeah, the Cefaly people think like that too.

The instructions say that the 'sensation' will increase in intensity over the first five minutes of the twenty minute treatment session and then remain at that level.  If the 'sensation' becomes too intense, you can press the button and the sensation will remain at its current (too intense!) level for the rest of the treatment without increasing.  The book recommends that you get over yourself as quickly as possible and move up to the full strength treatment for the full benefit.

Let me admit up front that I am a wuss. I'm not that jerk that tells the nurse the pain is 10/10 while joking with a friend on the phone, but I am not one to tolerate a lot of pain without looking for an out.  So the first time I tried the device I hit the button at about three minutes because I swear to you there were bees under that electrode stinging my forehead and I could feel it to the roof of my mouth.  And those bastards kept it up for the next 17 minutes.  How a device powered by two tiny AAA batteries can pack such a punch is a mystery to me.

It was hard to put a positive spin on this for Babygirl. 

But she is NOT a wuss.  Not to say that the first try didn't result in a sudden jerk of her head that knocked the device clean off the electrode.  But she made it 4 minutes in before hitting the this-is-enough button and sat through the next 16 without a peep. 

I did my second treatment after her (I really didn't want her to see my face).  I let it go to full.  Dude.  My eyebrows and eyelashes were standing on end, and my hair from the forehead to the crown of  my head was too. Toward the end the hair on the back of my head lifted as well.  My eyelids were vibrating and my skin from my eyelids to my scalp felt as if someone were peeling a facial off - the old plastic-feeling kind - over and over and over.  I kept touching my skin but nothing was actually peeling off but I could feel the muscle twitches.   And Holy Lord my eyeballs.....

I finished this an hour ago and my top teeth still ache.  Babygirl feels fine.

The instructions say we need to do this once a day for at least a month to see if it works.  Yippee skippy.


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