Patient Contributor

Laura McKee

Migraine and Chronic Illness Patient Stories

Laura is a former primary school teacher, blogger, poet and jeweller living in Sussex. She is a positive-thinking, mum of two teenage boys and is happily married to Joel.


Living With Condition
10 Years
2 Articles

Laura is a chronic migraineur who sadly had to give up her 14 and a half year teaching career after developing a debilitating brain condition in 2014. Looking for a purpose she decided to pursue her life-long love of writing and started a blog: Strength of tears. Initially used to document her journey with chronic illnesses, her blog has evolved into raising awareness of disabilities and the impact chronic illnesses have on family life and especially mental health.

Laura also runs a Twitter account, which shares advice and articles from charities, researchers and other bloggers both in the UK and around the world. Not satisfied with all of this, Laura also started her own business Paprika Jewellery & Accessories after she began making jewellery as a distraction from the pain. She also writes poetry as a way of exploring her own mental health and well-being.

Laura writes about using positive thinking so she and her family can still live their best lives, despite the challenges they face. She hopes to inspire others to find their own sense of purpose.

History with the condition

“In 2009 I was diagnosed with migraine after months of daily pain. With the right balance of treatments, including alternative therapies, I returned to normal life as a young mum and teacher. At 36 I was diagnosed with chronic migraine and a headache specialist confirmed that I’d been living with undiagnosed migraine since puberty.

In 2014 I had what I thought was a migraine attack, but the pain was constant for weeks and nothing my neurologists tried helped. I noticed some new symptoms a few months later and found a specialist ENT surgeon in Cambridge. He diagnosed Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension or IIH, a rare incurable brain condition. When my neurologists found out, they refused to treat me, even for migraines, as they disagreed with the diagnosis.

My symptoms are atypical and similar to the worst migraines I’ve had, but I knew the difference. My condition deteriorated quickly but I was too late for the Cambridge team's medical trial and had to wait 18 months for treatment. I felt like I’d been left to rot by all except my GP who diagnosed me with depression and anxiety. The situation was tough on my husband and sons who'd become my main carers.

Despite 6 major surgeries and some improvement, my conditions are still debilitating; I’m mostly bed-bound with constant pain. My cognitive function has improved but I need mobility aids, such as a stair lift and wheelchair, because of my poor balance. I have a carer each weekday, who are part of our team! We support each other's mental wellbeing and ensure every day is filled with love and laughter.

UK/MED/18/0284 October 2019

Published Articles

A Spotlight on the Children's Views of Chronic Illness Family Life
12 mins
Laura McKee

A Spotlight on the Children's Views of Chronic Illness Family Life

Coming to Terms with Chronic Illness as a Family
10 mins
Laura McKee

Coming to Terms with Chronic Illness as a Family