Gwen Hercik enjoys the thrill of reading a good whodunit by James Patterson. The suspense makes the time fly as she follows the plot and tries to figure out who the villain is. But for the past decade, reading, along with spending time with her family and baking–her favorite activities–were limited by her frequent migraine headaches.
That was before Hercik enrolled in a research study of the drug Aimovig at St. Luke’s Center for Neurology.
About 15 percent of Americans suffer migraines; often-debilitating headaches for which there is no cure. They can be triggered by stress, loud noises, certain foods, hormonal changes, caffeine and tobacco, among other things.
“They felt like a band around my head that got tighter and tighter,” said Hercik, a 77-year-old resident of Fountain Hill. Light made them worse, too. “I was miserable and had to go into a dark room.”
Some James Patterson mysteries went unfinished as she suffered from at least two to three migraines a month.
Hercik took over-the-counter and prescription medications that dulled the throbbing symptoms, but didn’t reduce the onset or duration of the migraines. They still came, unexpectedly and intensely, consistently disrupting her life.
After Hercik enrolled in the research study of Aimovig at St. Luke’s Center for Neurology it seemed she had found the key to a perplexing puzzle in a monthly shot she injects into her thigh.
According to Krista Verdi, PAC, Hercik’s physician assistant at St. Luke’s, Aimovig–which was FDA-approved in 2018–is the first in a new class of preventive medications that blocks the trigger of a migraine and has “given many patients their lives back.”
Aimovig is “a remarkable, life-changing medication,” said Verdi, who has seen many of her patients respond favorably to the drug.
Hercik hasn’t had a single headache in several months, for which she praises Aimovig and Verdi.
“I’ve had fewer migraines, and when they come they don’t last as long,” she explained. And, as a bonus, she hasn’t had any side effects from Aimovig to date.
“I’m so thankful I was able to join this study and take this medicine,” Hercik said.
Now she’s able to finish a James Patterson mystery, pain-free, and look forward to reading the next book.
It’s a joy she is finding in this pastime for the first time in many years.
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.