Ezri Stime likes colors around her head, not in them.
Ezri began having migraines the summer she was nine. Her vision would fill with different colors and shapes –pink rectangles in top left corner, red or green ovals in the center. Then the headache set in, with nausea and stomach pain, sensitivity to light and sound, fatigue. “All I wanted to do was sleep,” Ezri says.
“A red or green oval means my migraine will go away soon,” she explains. “With a pink rectangle it usually lasts a day.” Some headaches lasted two days.
Her mom Katie brought Ezri to pediatrician Ben Flannery, MD. “I had no idea migraines were even a thing in kids at all, and he knew all about them,” Katie says. “He knew the symptoms, had seen it before, and gave us medicine to treat the migraines when they happen.”
Dr. Flannery referred Ezri to a pediatric neurologist to consider additional medication to prevent migraines. The neurologist “echoed all the same things Dr. Flannery had recommended,” Katie says. “That was reassuring.”
Ezri’s also adapting her habits – diet, exercise, sleep, stress – to help manage her headaches without more medication. This full range of treatment has helped make Ezri’s headaches less frequent and less severe.
Ezri feels more in control, too. “I have a little basket next to my bed with my medicine, water and food, because I have to take it with food. If I wake up in the night and feel it coming on, I can take my medicine myself without having to wake up my mom.”
Katie is an oncology nurse, “so I always think the worst,” she says. “Dr. Flannery was very respectful of my perspective as a parent and as a nurse. I try very hard not to take over an appointment [with nursing questions], and to act like a patient.”
Ezri likes that Dr. Flannery “never pays any attention to the parents” during clinic visits. “Other doctors just ask you the same questions over and over and just talk to the parents,” she says. “Dr. Flannery is super interactive and super nice, and he asks me the questions.”
Migraines can be hereditary. After Ezri’s diagnosis, “we found out that my husband’s dad, his aunt, and cousins all got migraines starting in puberty,” Katie says. “It started to make sense.”
Ezri’s advice to other kids coping with pain? “Ask your parents if you can stay home, drink lots of water and take medicine every chance you have.” Her favorite: Grape ibuprofen. The worst? “Yucky bubble gum Tylenol.”
Not all colors are equal, after all.