She sounds groggy, she talks slowly and she wears her sunglasses constantly. Jackie Ruhland has been dealing with severe and chronic migraines for more than a year and a half.
After a brain surgery to remove a tumor, Ruhland developed debilitating migraines. The aches forced her to stay at home with the shades drawn. She stopped driving and her husband drives her to all of her specialists and all of her treatments to deal with the pain.
Ruhland has tried nearly everything. She’s visited countless specialists, she's tried botox and infusions. She’s now exhausting her last hope. She’s at Stylin’ Tattoo in Cheektowaga, hoping a migraine relief piercing will work for her.
Online searches reveal a daith piercing, or an ear cartilage fold piercing, has been successful in proving a little bit of migraine relief. Kat Mierzwa, a body piercer at Stylin’ Tattoo, refined the piercing for the shop. Through months of research and trial, Mierzwa has pierced nearly 87 people using her altered daith piercing method. So far, the store has a success rate of nearly 90%.
The nerves that facilitate a migraine sit in the ear. The piercing works as a nerve disruptor. “It’s a circuit. By inserting an object you've now disrupted that, it will function formally on either side of the disruption but where it comes to the control point it has now been severed it can no longer talk to itself,” says Mierzwa.
Ruhland has spent the last year spending most of her time inside with the shades drawn because of the severity and frequency of her migraines. “This means hopefully my family and I can open some curtain and blinds and live in the light. We could go more places. I could see my older son. Right now, my husband and my son do everything together. I stay at home,” says Ruhland about missed opportunities to enjoy her family.
Jackie spends about 20 minutes in a room with Kat, trying different pressure points on her ear. “It felt like I was being poked. Then she got to a point and it felt like something was soothing my temple. I could feel it in one and then it felt like someone was rubbing both my temples,” says Ruhland, describing how the piercing spot was found.
Immediately after her piercing, Jackie feels relief. “It really is…it’s just wonderful. I can’t thank her enough.”
Stylin’ Tattoo follows up with all of their piercing patients with pain logs. They’re cataloging as much data as they can to improve and continue their migraine relief piercings.
If you’re looking to try a piercing for yourself, you can visit their Facebook page or call (716) 836-3530.