Suring youth tackles migraines on Capitol Hill

DeKeyser, mom attend ‘Headache on the Hill’ in Washington
Colton DeKeyser, left, met with then-U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble in 2014 during his first “Headache on the Hill” event to discuss chronic migraine disease. (Contributed)
By: 
Eden Witt
Correspondent

SURING — When Suring resident Colton DeKeyser was 10 years old, he woke up one morning feeling an immense amount of pain in his head and stomach. Although Colton did not know why he was feeling this pain, DeKeyser’s mother, J.P. Summers, anticipated that it was from a chronic migraine disease, since she suffered from the disease herself.

The family’s neurologist affirmed that he did in fact have a chronic migraine disease like his mother. Although their family has a history of migraine disease, Summers said that her son and her are the first ones to have a chronic condition.

Earlier that year, Summers had attended her first Headache on the Hill in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness about migraine diseases. After she learned that her son also had a chronic migraine disease, she asked him join her the following year.

“I wanted him to share how living with chronic migraine affected his attendance at school,” Summers said. “I felt it was important to show Colton how an unfortunate circumstance could lead to a positive change with our state’s congressional members.”

She also said that her son has spoken to former U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble regarding the issue of kids suffering from migraines.

“I don’t want kids to be in pain like I am all the time,” Colton said.

Summers said that she is “truly honored and proud to have my son raising migraine awareness on Capitol Hill with me.”

Various things including certain foods like Italian sausage and brats can trigger DeKeyser’s headaches, but the weather is his biggest trigger.

“I do OK when there are no storms,” he said, adding that his migraine attacks are the worst in the winter, when he is unable to go to school for the most part.

Colton said the worst part about his chronic migraine disease is that he misses things with his friends and at school. At first it was hard to catch up at school until his school and mom allowed him to have an IEP (individiaulized education program) that allows him more time to make up work that he misses.

“I don’t worry as much now,” he said.

Summers said that the hardest thing about having a chronic migraine disease for her was not being able to spend as much time with her kids.

“I always felt guilty for spending more time being bed-bound than doing fun activities with my kids,” she said.

Her migraines, which started when she was 35, have also forced her to miss work and spend time in bed.

“I had to constantly remind myself it wasn’t my fault. It was my migraine disease causing all of these unwelcomed changes,” Summers said.

Aside from missing time from school and with his friends, Colton has also faced stigma regarding his migraine disease.

“People think my migraine attacks are not bad, and I’m to trying hard enough to get rid of them,” he said. He also said that medicine does not always rid him of his migraine, which then forces him to spend one to two days in bed at times due to the pain.

Summers said that the hardest thing about having a child with a migraine disease is “feeling completely helpless as you watch your child suffer from debilitating pain or other migraine-related symptoms” without being able to make a difference.

Despite Colton’s migraines, he plans on attending college in the future as well as continuing to play his fifth year of football, which he started after his neurologist said exercise is helpful for those with migraines.

For more information about migraines and chronic headaches, visit the National Headache Foundation  website at headache.org.

Editor’s note: J.P. Summers is a paid Amgen and Novartis spokeswoman. The quotes in this article reflect her personal opinions and were not created or reviewed by Amgen or Novartis.