We are proud to share another story of a prominent patient voice as part of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month: Erica Carrasco. In this post, Erica shares her personal breakthroughs with hemiplegic migraine—including the relief she found with TheraSpecs—as well as the advocacy work she does for other people with the headache disorder.
It can be quite common and incredibly frustrating for patients to see specialist after specialist and not receive the appropriate diagnosis for their condition. This is exactly the situation in which Erica Carrasco found herself back in 2004 as she began seeking answers for what she now knows as migraine.
"My doctors could not figure out what my collection of symptoms meant. These seemingly random symptoms did not check every box, and I became a 'difficult' patient almost instantly," she said. "Not because of my attitude or personality, but because my symptoms were atypical, and I was not responding to medications."
Over the course of her migraine journey, she had been misdiagnosed with countless other conditions and endured dozens of medical tests with little to no answers. That changed in 2009, when she was finally given a name to her condition: hemiplegic migraine. Attacks associated with this specific subtype of migraine frequently include symptoms that mimic a stroke as well as other more traditional migraine-like features.
Another of these debilitating symptoms was light sensitivity, which became a significant predictor of how she would feel during and after her attacks. In fact, it affected Erica so much that, whenever she was in a car, she closed her eyes and buried her head under a jacket to block the sunlight. Not surprisingly, this stunted her participation in many beloved activities.
Thankfully, Erica became aware of the relief offered by TheraSpecs migraine glasses.
"I take them wherever I go!" she said. "With my outdoor TheraSpecs glasses I am able to sit at football games and enjoy my night under the bright lights. I use my indoor TheraSpecs glasses at the first eye twitch or sensitivity, which is normally when I am writing a blog post or working on my budget on the computer."
Erica with her dog Oso and pair of Outdoor Classic TheraSpecs.
All this ultimately allowed her to be more in control of her migraine.
"I am in charge of my health now, and though it is not without frustration, my ability to keep moving forward with positivity gets stronger over time."
Today, Erica continues to spread this message of empowerment to other patients through her advocacy work. It started with her leadership role in what is now called the International Hemiplegic Migraine Foundation and eventually led to high-profile recognition as part of the Amgen and Novartis campaign, Speak Your Migraine.
Realizing the importance of and her own passion for sharing her story, she subsequently created her personal blog, AchySmile.com. In addition to providing critical migraine-specific information, she also invites other individuals to write about their journey with the headache disorder. In early 2018, Achy Smile earned a prestigious partnership with the American Migraine Foundation.
Erica also encourages others to get involved within the migraine community, whether it is through social media, their own blog or joining advocacy organizations. She hopes her work will continue to inspire patients across the globe.
"Advocacy is now part of my life’s mission. I may not be able to do it 24/7 due to illness, but I do what I can; and I hope that by telling my story and my family’s story, we can give a little hope and help other people with migraine feel less alone."
The TheraSpecs team commends Erica for her tremendous work raising awareness for migraine as well as her continued support of our company.