Dressage helps teenage rider overcome debilitating migraines

  • A teenage dressage rider who has suffered with debilitating migraines from a young age is fundraising for the medical team that has helped her.

    North Wales-based Izzi Gheorghiu, 17, first experienced migraines aged 11 and was put on daily medication. Two years later when they continued she went on to specialist treatment from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

    “We didn’t know why I was always in so much pain and it resulted in me being off school for weeks at a time. I was struggling for long periods, which was quite difficult. When I started seeing the team at Great Ormond Street they were amazing and helped me understand what was happening,” said Izzi.

    “They put me in a help group with other people my age who were suffering with migraines and it was nice to meet up with other people who were struggling with the same thing I was.”

    Izzi said her migraines could be triggered by emotion and it was suggested she try nerve injections, given at the back of her ear, which can block out pain.

    “Whenever I was feeling any sort of intense sort of emotional trigger, like being particularly upset, it would bring on a migraine so the injection blocks the signal to your brain that tells you you’re in pain,” she said.

    Izzy, who rides at elementary level on the British Dressage Youth Welsh Team Coch with her Welsh section D mare Lucy, said she found dressage helped prevent migraines.

    “It really helps because it’s very much a distraction and I’m really focused on one thing,” she said. “I found whenever I was doing anything to do with the horses or dressage I didn’t have a migraine, so it was a lifesaver.”

    Izzi still has one or two migraines a week which she says are usually brought on by changes in air pressure, but she is no longer on daily medication. As Izzi turns 18 next year she is in her final year of care from the team at Great Ormond Street before she is transferred to adult services, and she is raising funds for the Great Ormond Street charity.

    “I thought it would be nice to try to raise money for the charity while I was competing at the BD Youth Home International (5-8 August). It feels fitting considering dressage has helped me so much, and I thought it was the best way to show my appreciation for everything the Great Ormond Street team has done for me,” said Izzi, who finished ninth individually in the elementary section. Team Coch was eighth.

    Donations can be made via Izzi’s JustGiving page.

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