Jess served almost a decade in the Navy, including on two submarines: the USS Menhaden and the USS Blueback, which is the U.S. Navy’s last diesel-electric submarine. (It’s now resting half-submerged in a museum in Portland, Oregon.) Jess was also a part of Operation Deep Freeze, a collaborative effort among 40 nations to carry out earth science studies from the North to the South Pole. It took him to “the bottom of the world, down there under the ice.”
For 23 years after he left the Navy, Jess owned and drove a long-haul truck. One day, he decided he had had enough. “I told my wife I’m done with long-haul trucking. I’m tired of being gone,” said Jess. He took up a few local jobs, including rebuilding an air force base runway in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Start of Jess’ Migraines
“I had 22 tons of shell on the truck,” Jess said, describing the incident that led to his migraines. “I made a right-hand turn. My buddy behind me told me the truck rolled over. The guys managed to get the door open, and the seat belt undone. I was dazed and my neck hurt. Just shortly after, the headaches started.” That was almost four years ago.
“It’s just been headache after headache. The light bothers me. It’s a stabbing pain on the left or right side of my head, like someone is sticking a poker through my eye or over my forehead. I have tension in the back of my neck and a lot of pressure, and it feels like my brain is in a vice.”
Jess went to Veterans Affairs where a neurologist started him on a variety of drugs. “I was like Alice in Wonderland in a weird drugged out zone and I wanted no part of that. I was in constant pain. I always wondered, ‘Will I be able to function today?’”
“For three and a half years, I spent most of my time in my recliner with the window shades all closed. I’d keep the house dark.” Jess explained that the slightest movement—picking up the dog’s water bowl, turning around in the shower, or even putting on his shoes—brought excruciating, painful migraines. “Just doing normal things, the headaches would come on and there were periods of dizzy spells. Getting out and going fishing was a killer. I had a pontoon boat and in 45 minutes I could be on this beautiful river trout fishing. But I didn’t drive. I couldn’t live with myself if I harmed another human being because I was negligent driving with these migraines.” Jess, who drove 2.2 million miles as a long-haul truck driver, wouldn’t drive to the local supermarket.
“I’d want to do something, but I felt the pain coming on. So, you do nothing but get back in your recliner. I led a miserable, non-existent life stuck in the living room in a recliner and that’s not me. I am not one for giving up. I am a fighter. I need to be doing things.”
Then Jess Met a New Neurologist
“She said they have this new device for me. She brought out this little box, told me the name of it, gammaCore™ [non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator (nVNS)], and asked if I’d be willing to try it. I said I’d be willing to do anything to get rid of these migraines, and to get off drugs. She put it on the right side of my throat, and I felt a little tugging sensation.”
Jess started using gammaCore nVNS regularly and noticed a significant improvement. The migraines started going away. After 3 or 4 sessions, the headaches were gone.
“One of the drugs I was taking made me groggy and slow moving. I was able to cut back on that drug.” He eliminated another drug entirely. “I’m not drugged out. I’m thinking more clearly. I’m functioning. I wake up saying, ‘Okay, today’s a good day. I am going to get something accomplished.’ With gammaCore, I am able to start doing things and I feel like a human being again.” Jess carries gammaCore with him wherever he goes. “I even have a little leather bag, put the machine in it and I carry it with me. If I feel a headache is coming on, I do a session.”
“gammaCore is doing it,” Jess said. “It’s my go to. gammaCore should be available to everyone.”
To see if gammaCore is right for you, call your VA health care provider or use the MyHealtheVet portal to schedule an appointment. Veterans who are not currently enrolled in the VA health care system may still qualify for migraine treatment through the VA. To apply, visit www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll or call 877-222-8387.
For more information about how gammaCore can help Veterans, contact our dedicated Customer Experience team at 888-903-2673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.