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Miriam Edelstein

Singing after Migraines

Holy Name Headache Treatment Program - Miriam Edelstein

Miriam Edelstein was only 22 years old but when her friends asked if she wanted to go out at night, her first question was what time they would be getting home. She knew that if she didn't get to bed by 10:30 she would probably wake up with a blinding migraine. It just wasn't worth staying out.

A music education major heading into her senior year at Caldwell University in New Jersey, Miriam was having a difficult time keeping up with her school work while suffering with such debilitating migraines. She sings opera and is a dedicated student but had been hospitalized with migraines several times that summer while working at a sleep-away camp for teenagers. She had also missed many classes the previous semester and, despite Caldwell being so accommodating, was afraid she just wouldn't be able to complete her requirements, especially her senior recital in April.

"I was living my entire life around migraines – getting to bed at a certain time and not eating foods like cheese, chocolate, soda and coffee – I just didn't know if I could do all the stuff that was expected of me," Miriam said. "My migraines had gotten so bad, I was getting them almost every day and then I started getting dizzy from them."

Miriam's neurologist suggested she see a headache specialist but a number of calls to a recommended physician in New York City were never returned. Then her uncle saw an article in a local newspaper about a high school girl who was helped by Dr. James Charles, a neurologist at Holy Name Medical Center and a renowned specialist in migraines.

"At my first appointment with Dr. Charles he spent about three hours with me – asking me questions that no one had ever asked – like how it felt to sing with a migraine and if I had severe motion sickness as a child," Miriam said. "I felt like he really understood what I was going through. A lot of the other emergency room doctors didn't believe me, but he did and told me he could fix this."

Dr. Charles sent Miriam to Holy Name Medical Center for two days of infusion therapy.

"I ended up with the same nurse for both days and she was so great – like Dr. Charles, she believed me and I didn't feel I had to defend myself," Miriam said. "She calmed me down and made me feel like I was going to be okay."

Within days of her treatment, her migraines started to dissipate. And so did her anxiety about going to sleep. She had always been nervous that she would wake up with a migraine, the types that were more powerful – causing severe pain, nausea and sensitivity to light – than those that developed during the day.

"By the time I saw Miriam, she was experiencing 25 headaches a month," Dr. Charles said. "Now most days are completely headache free and on the few days she has some minor discomfort, it's manageable."

Miriam had been living with migraines since she was a senior in high school and after undergoing a number of tests, including a spinal tap to rule out other causes for her symptoms, she had become skeptical that anyone would be able to help her. She was told the headaches were due to anxiety or that the pain wasn't so severe. She found herself just trying to "get through life instead of really living it," she said.

"Now I'm really enjoying my life," Miriam said. "I'm so grateful to Dr. Charles. Whenever I see him we talk for a while, and he helped me get back to living my life. I invited him to my recital – I want to share this with him."

Learn more about Headache Treatment Program at Holy Name