Saturday, 26 May 2012

School Boy Error – running out of Migraine Meds

“They can’t get it,” said Dad with his usual deadpan/Eeyore face which always makes it impossible to tell if he’s joking or not.

“What? I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“I said, THEY CAN NOT GET IT FOR YOU,” repeated Dad as if talking to a deaf eighty year old. “They tried all their sources but they just couldn’t find it.”

“No, that’s not right. They always get it for me. There has to be some mistake.”

“No mistake Darling, don’t you watch the news?”

“I watch Home & Away and Neighbours, why is that relevant?!”

“There’s some difficulty getting certain prescription medications at the moment, it was all over the news last night.” And with that he pulled out my green repeat prescription slip from his coat pocket, instead of a nice big bad of meds, and the room starting to spin.

“Oh God oh God oh God oh God” I was trying, and partly succeeding, not to panic. I heard Dad yell to Mum:

“Jill, I think you better come here, Victoria looks like she might have some kind of fit.”

Mum duly arrived and told me not to panic, adding “Don’t you watch the news? There was this poor Cancer patient who couldn’t get her medications so just be grateful.”  I downed a whole bottle of Rescue Remedy and was secretly very glad that it was Dad who had gone to our trusty Lloyds pharmacy to try and pick up my prescription and not me. It’s unheard of for them not to be able to get my regular dose of Zomig nasal sprays (the triptan drug that can stop a migraine in its tracks.) I’ve been using them since 2004. If I had gone to pick up the prescription and been told it “was not possible to get” I would probably have done something fairly embarrassing such as: 1. Shouted that this was surely illegal in the Queen’s own country. 2 Burst into tears and sobbed hysterically. 3 Sung what I deemed an appropriate medley from my favourite Musicals. Two of these three scenarios have occured in pharmacies across the globe, I’ll leave you to guess which…

So, I sat in my bedroom and mentally pulled myself together like every great heroine. Surely, there would be one pharmacy in London that could fill my prescription before the next migraine hit? You see, I was in this blind non-panic because I had committed a classic school boy error – I had run out of my main migraine medication. I had no Zomig’s left! None at all.  And just so you understand, if I don’t take a triptan as soon as I feel a migraine coming on I can be in deep shit, to put it mildly, for up to 72 hours. Discovering triptans completely changed my life. Sadly they don’t work for everyone and they don’t always work for me. I use Sumatriptan injections for mega migraines, and when those don’t hit the spot I know I’m in for 3 days of fun! (By the way, I did have 2 Sumatriptan injections left but you can’t exactly give yourself an injection on the tube! I also save these for special occasions.)***

A Zomig nasal spray! 

Anyway, you’d think being a migraine pro of 13 years this could never happen to me. I normally send in my repeat prescription when I have two Zomig’s left to avoid just this type of situation but this time I got caught short. I wanted to set out on my Zomig quest immediately but realized I was due at my physio in Central London.  But this was actually perfect as it meant Saint Jill (otherwise known at Mum) could take over the quest while I had mild hysteria and did an hour of orthopedic rehab. There are also a plethora of industrial pharmacies near my physio, including a hospital, so I felt fairly confident the quest would be successful but would you believe it….

Oh my God…just joking, she got some. But the pharmacists did say they were finding it very difficult to get a lot of drugs, so it really could have been as bad as I was imagining it to be in my overactive, catastrophizing imagination!

So, before you judge me too harshly for getting into this situation, I got the new batch of 6 Zomig sprays last Wednesday and have already used up 3. It’s frighteningly easy how quickly they evaporate. When I get a fresh batch I even try to hide one from myself (I do realize that’s impossible but you get what I mean.) I put two in my bedside drawer for nighttime migraines, two in various handbags and the final one in my ‘medicine cabinet’. Isn’t that interesting! And to make matters worse tomorrow I’m going away for a week so had been meaning to stockpile. So I then had to make a special trip to the GP. I wasn’t sure whether to lie and make up some random excuse such as “My friends Dog ate them all which is why I need another load already!” (Which is partially true, Hello Parsley!) Or just be honest. I was honest and it was fine in case you’re wondering. Though I did go to Lloyds pharmacy first, to check they could actually get and set aside a box of Zomig for me. Otherwise I was considering importing them illeaglly via eBay. 

Anyway, hopefully this cautionary tale has reminded you all of the mild heart attacks, hysteria and deeply unattractive sweat patches (which are not good for migraines) that can ensue if you’re silly enough to run out of your medications. Don’t be like me. Get thee to the pharmacy.


For your mild interest - here is the reason my prescription was hard to fill.


  1. Hi Victoria,
    I use zomig orodispersibles and have never used a nasal spray (except Otrivine to unblock a stuffy nose). Is it similar, and can you use the spray more than once.
    Im just trying to see if you can get more doses out of a prescription for a spray than a pill.
    Liked the post by the way!

  2. Hi Gill, my mum actually uses those too, think you still get the same 6 in the pack if that's what you mean? I think one advantage is, I think, it gets into your system slightly faster..but if one triptans works for you then I guess we should stick to it! Hope you're well x

  3. Poor you. I'm really glad to hear you now have some supply. It's an outrageous situation.

    I wonder if that's why my GP switched me from Maxalt Melts to tablets...he'd also suggested Zomig spray to try, but then strangely gave me the tablets.At the time I was convinced it was due to cost, but maybe it is also due to availability.


  4. If you look on the BASH guidelines they have the prices of everything...good amo! p.s My mum and sister prefer the zomig tablets but I like the sprays...

  5. I went back and asked for Maxalt Melts - which were given with some reticence (I know they are expensive),and just 6 of them. The Maxalt tablets made half my lip and face go numb!

  6. Zomig nasal sprays are like heaven in a...nasal spray. They changed my life! I now have them sequestered everywhere as when I run out, I too suffer terribly. However, I do find that Imigran Recovery (you can get these over the counter) work well on the less severe migraines...Amanda


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