On a spring day in May 2019, out of the blue Carol got a headache above her eye that felt like a brain freeze. It was the first day of the worst nine months of her life, sending her to bed nearly 24 hours a day, unable to eat or live her life in any meaningful way.  

Losing over 60 pounds and trying everything from 10 different medications to injections and massages and still not getting any relief, Carol and her husband left Ohio for Florida in search of answers. 

When the doctors in Florida couldn’t help, Carol lost all hope. Her business partner’s brother knew of Dr. Guyuron’s work, and desperate for options she called his office without hesitation and heard back the following day.

Within a week of reviewing her CT scan, Dr. Guyuron called Carol with confidence he could help. Climbing into a bed in the back of her husband’s truck, she and her husband drove 17 hours straight back to Ohio, and met with Dr. Guyuron the very next day.

Waking up from surgery, Carol cautiously tested her head by shaking it back and forth and knew immediately that her headache was gone. To this day, it has not returned. 

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Announcer (00:01):
You are listening to Head On with your host, board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, the pioneer of a life-changing surgery for permanently eliminating migraines, and a specialist in plastic surgery of the face, head and neck.

Eva Sheie (00:19):
Thanks for joining us for this episode of Head On. I’m not Dr. Guyuron. I’m actually Eva. And I’m Dr. Guyuron’s podcast producer, and they’ve asked me to stand in to talk to several special patients, and today I’m very, very honored to have Carol Foster on the podcast. Welcome to Head On, Carol. It’s nice to see you.

Carol (00:40):
Thank you.

Eva Sheie (00:41):
So why don’t you start at the beginning. What happened to you? What was causing your headaches and when was this?

Carol (00:49):
Well, I was never someone who had headaches, and on May 1st, 2019, I got a headache and it felt just like when you drink something cold and like a brain freeze and it wouldn’t go away. Wouldn’t go away. So got with a neurologist and started all kinds of treatments. I mean, we tried probably eight or 10 different medications. We tried injections around the eye and the forehead all around my head. Tried some massages and nothing. I didn’t get any relief at all from, it was every day, seven days a week. And then in November he said there really isn’t anything more that they could do. They’ve tried everything, nothing. So kind of lost hope then. But I was in bed almost 24 hours a day. I lost 65 pounds because I had such an upset stomach from the pain. I couldn’t eat anything. Thank the Lord for my husband because he would come and try to, but even to get up and go to the bathroom, it was so painful and nothing would work. And so my partner at the time had said to me, he had said to him that Carol’s just not going to be able to keep going. These headaches have gotten her in bed, basically 24/7.

Eva Sheie (02:31):
When you say partner, Carol, you’re referring to your business partner?

Carol (02:35):
Yes, my business partner. And he worked at University Hospital, Michael did. And he had said to my partner, Hey, there’s a doctor that used to work here that does migraine surgery where I never even thought to look for a surgeon for a migraine headache. Never entered my head. I would’ve never Googled that. I just never thought of that. So I obviously immediately Ray called me and told me. That day I called his office and he actually called me back the following day. And probably because I was begging also, they had to hear it in my voice, please, anything. And so I was here in Florida and I had talked to him, told him what was going on, and he said, Carol, I’m going to order a CT scan for you there. I want you to have that and then I’ll call you back when I get the results.

So he called me back. It was under a week from the time I had that. And I did a video chat with him actually. And he was explaining how on the CT scan he’d seen something and I had already had CT scans everything through the clinic, and he said he thought that he’d be able to help me. Well, my God, my world finally opened. I mean, I literally was, and this sounds terrible, but I was laying in my bed, wondered how many sleeping pills it would take for me not to be here and that I’m a God-fearing person and I have never dealt with depression. And I even asked my husband if he would help me. I seen no value in my life. I had no quality at life. My grandkids, that’s all they seen was Nana laying in bed. A very active, do everything Nana, in bed.

And I just was so distraught and if I wouldn’t have my belief in God, I probably would’ve taken those sleeping pills because I did. I just prayed for him to take me. And so this was probably the beginning of January when we touched base. And so here, come to find out, this wonderful man was in my backyard the whole time I lived in Aurora. He was in Lyndhurst. So my husband had to make the bed in the back of this truck again in the backseat of the truck and hauled mw 17 hours. It was the most miserable ride here and the most miserable ride home. And we drove it nonstop. I never even got out of the truck to pee or anything. It was just like, I’m out of here.

Eva Sheie (05:34):
Yeah. Didn’t he give you something to sleep the whole time?

Carol (05:37):

Eva Sheie (05:38):
Oh, you were awake for that drive?

Carol (05:41):

Eva Sheie (05:42):
Oh boy.

Carol (05:44):
And so I got home to our home in Aurora and went in the very next day I got there because they said, you just let us know what day when you get here, we’ll get you in. And they did. The very next day I went to his office and I’m very sure he had to see, I was trying to be cheerful and trying to be my normal self, but I’m very sure he’s seen the despair. And he said, I think I can help you. And I said, if I get two or three days a month, I would’ve been happy at that point.

Eva Sheie (06:21):
You would’ve been happy with two or three days of normal a month?

Carol (06:26):
Yes. Without a headache because it was that terrible. I mean, it was that terrible. And he said, I think I can do better than that. And he’s not a man of a lot of words. He is just straight to the business, very kind, very knowledgeable. And so he literally scheduled my surgery. It was so quick, but when I got back to Ohio, it was within a week I was having surgery. And I had an excruciating headache. And I even thought to myself, I said a little prayer to God and said, if you can’t take care of these, take me home. Because I just didn’t even want to wake back up if that headache was there. But I woke up and it was, I’m laying there and I wiggle my head just like this, and I wiggle it a little more, a little more. The headache was gone.

I mean, when he put me out, my headache was horrible when I woke up, it was gone on February 18th. And this has never come back, ever. And the frustrating part is I was, for the first month or two, I was really cautious because your body conditions itself, that pain. And so I didn’t trust my body that it wasn’t going to come back. And in fact, when I went in for the follow-up, he was just so positive it helped me. I’ll tell you, I was so depressed and I never dealt with that before. I said, I’m worried. I said, how long would that last? And he said, hopefully forever. I said, I just don’t want to get that headache back. He said, Carol, we still have plan B, C, and D if it does. So that was very enlightening to me. I don’t know if he understood how helpful that was to me, because most people with migraines, they’re not like that.

They come and go. Mine came and never went away. And so I immediately, after I had my miracle, I called my neurologist because I wanted him to know. I wanted to tell him what a miracle I had here and how my headache’s gone. And if it wasn’t for Michael who had worked with him at University Hospital, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today. And so I think that that man has made a discovery that could help so many more people if they knew about it. Because when I talk to people who suffer from migraines, they’re as uneducated as I was. They wouldn’t think surgery was going to fix it. You don’t look for what you don’t know. And I had done a lot of looking up on migraine headaches, what I could do to help not get them. You know, stay away from the chocolate, stay away from the caffeine. It didn’t make any difference for me.

Eva Sheie (09:42):
Taking chocolate away from anybody would give you a headache.

Carol (09:46):
Well, women need chocolate. Men can’t be around if women don’t have chocolate. That’s just the way it is.

Eva Sheie (09:53):
Did they ever tell you what caused your migraines?

Carol (09:57):
No, but what he did was he went in through my eye and there was a nerve going up here, and he had actually taken some fat from my hips and cushioned that nerve. And he had done some work in my nose because when I went back, he pulled this thing out. How’d you get that up there? But I think it was more like a pinched nerve. I don’t think that’s what they call it, but seems to me it was more of that than the, so-called migraine headache, and he was able to recognize that. He had a little doppler thing that he could put on my forehead and see what was going. He’s a fabulous surgeon. He’s obviously developed something that works because I’m telling you, I woke up with no headache and have not had one since.

Eva Sheie (11:01):
How is your life different now?

Carol (11:04):
Oh, so much better. I still have physical issues, but just living without a headache, it’s living again. I was in an existence. That’s it. My heart was beating, my lungs were pumping, but my brain had pretty much been gone. I mean, there’s no way to think and keep, you’re not even able to really reason things well, because you can’t hold concentration.And you try to eat something. And it made it worse because then you dry heave, which only put more pressure on your head. I mean, it was such a vicious cycle. I just couldn’t even believe it was happening. It was like something from the Twilight Zone.

Eva Sheie (11:50):
And were you on a lot of medication?

Carol (11:53):
I tried a lot of, they’re different. I wasn’t on a lot of medication normally because with my MS, we’ve tried different medications. They didn’t work. So I’m not one to take it if it’s not working. So I, I’m so thankful to that man. I could never repay him for what? Giving my life back. My husband said the same thing. I lost him last April, but he was my cheerleader and my caretaker and my supporter. He just, it made our life back to the way it was. And I had lost it for almost a year. And him and I talked about it afterwards and he said, Carol, I seen the pain you were in and I couldn’t help you to go. He said, I couldn’t help you to cross to the other side because of my selfishness. I knew what you felt. I knew you wanted to be with the Lord. But he said, I couldn’t help you. You never know when you pray and pray and pray. He opened a door for me to see this doctor, and here I am having a much fuller life than I thought I would ever have again at that time.

Eva Sheie (13:19):
And I think He opened a door for me to capture your story so that we can tell it to hundreds or thousands more people.

Carol (13:28):
Right. And I think that he is, like I said, he’s not a man of a lot of words, but I think he has a ton of integrity. And he would not tell you that he could help you if he didn’t think he could. He’s just not that type of doctor that wants the office visit. If he doesn’t think he can help you, he’s going to tell you. I just know he would. And so people don’t have anything to lose, but they have so much to gain.

Eva Sheie (14:09):
So true. Well, tell me about your life in Florida. Who do you see every day? What do you do with your time?

Carol (14:18):
Well, I have my neighbors and well, I unfortunately developed a seizure disorder just recently, so I’m not driving right now, but should be in about a few months. So I have a lot of friends here. So I go out with them. They come over, got my grandkids, my daughter. So like I said, we just came here full time because I sold my business. And when I lost my husband, we did everything together. I mean, I didn’t go to the grocery that he didn’t go with me. So the first few months it was hard, but it’s getting better to go out and not hibernate at home. So with it being nice here, I can get out and walk and I can get out and go to the beach and walk and relax. So I’m just so thankful that I have that quality of life. I really didn’t think I ever would again.

So I am happy where I’m at. I’ll tell you, you can always find someone with worse problems than you have. I’ve always thought that, but I’ll tell you, when I had those headaches, it was like, I don’t know of anybody. But you do become self, you just, you engulf your whole self with it. It really just takes over and runs your whole life, everything. And when I think about my husband, it was just his hard on him to watch the person that he loves deteriorate. And he’s like, honey, you’re losing too much weight. I know, I know.

Eva Sheie (15:55):
Oh, he must have felt so helpless.

Carol (15:58):
Yeah, and it was, I’ll tell you, we both, when I came home with no headache, like I said, when I woke up, I just barely moved my head. I moved it a little farther, a little farther. So I actually got a shake and thought that headache’s gone. There was no residual. In a few days, it was gone when I woke up, it was almost like, do you ever wish for something so hard? And then it’s like you never get what you wish for when you wish that hard. And I was wishing so hard for this headache to go away. It was like, it’s too good to be true. I mean, what a gift. And so you question it. I wasn’t sure it was going to be gone, but it has been because that was in 2020 I think that that surgery was done. And this is 2024.

Eva Sheie (16:56):
Yeah. Four years.

Carol (16:58):
Yeah, four years with zero headache. Amazing.

Eva Sheie (17:03):
It is amazing. I know you’re so grateful. I’m so grateful to you for telling your story and for sharing it with us.

Carol (17:11):
I couldn’t be more grateful to anyone than him. I hope he is teaching someone else what he does because it needs to be passed on. He needs to make sure that someone else understands his thought process.

Eva Sheie (17:31):
I think I told you when he was here in Austin in October, the day that I saw him, he was teaching other doctors. He had six courses that he was teaching in two days. And so I know that he is as passionate about teaching as he is about taking care of people.

Carol (17:50):
Yeah, I think he’s probably, he had said to me, he kind of discovered it by accident he did when he was doing cosmetic surgery, but thank God he was smart enough to see it. Some doctors may not even have put that together, but he did and kept looking. And so a door was certainly open then.

Eva Sheie (18:13):
Well, you and I both know who opened the door.

Carol (18:15):
Yes, exactly. One closes, one opens and may not happen when you think it’s going to. And I’ll tell you this song, Unanswered Prayers. I prayed so hard for the Lord to take me, and He knew that there was going to be a solution. And you go through this stuff and it really humbles me because you’re not that powerful person that you think you are. So successful in business, everything, but you’re really not really all that in a bag of chips. It humbles you too when you go through these kinds of illnesses and stuff. So I don’t know, but I am just so grateful. And I actually called them, or my husband called them when we were almost to Ohio and asked if we could come in the next day. And he took me the very next day, and I mean it went very fast from then. And so grateful to him. He’s a pretty good plastic surgeon too, because he had to lift this one, so I got a lift on this side.

Eva Sheie (19:30):
He could not leave you looking asymmetrical or mismatched.

Carol (19:34):
That’s what he said to me. He said, I tucked this because this one was drooping. And so he said, I didn’t like that. I’m like, well, thank you.

Eva Sheie (19:45):
That’s lovely.

Carol (19:46):
I can see he is a perfectionist and there is no scar, nothing. People are like, I can’t believe he went in through your eyelid. He did.

Eva Sheie (19:58):
If someone’s listening to your story, and you’ve shared a lot of helpful advice already, is there anything that you want to add for someone who might be in the same situation you were and is listening to this?

Carol (20:11):
Don’t give up because there may be an answer out there. Don’t give up. Just keep trying. I said it doesn’t hurt to give him a try. I’m not saying he can help everyone, but you might be the one that he can help too. And you have to research on your own. You have to take it, and like I said, I would’ve never Googled surgery for migraines. It just would’ve never popped in my head. And by luck, because my partner’s brother was at University Hospital and knew him and knew what he did, I wish Ray would’ve told him 10 months earlier, I’d have been in there, but just a cross of fate that that even came up in conversation, my health, and that started the ball and it went very quickly. I am so thankful.

Eva Sheie (21:09):
Absolutely. Thank you for sharing your story with us today.

Carol (21:14):
Oh, you’re welcome. I hope if it helps one person, it’s worth it because no one should have to suffer like that.

Announcer (21:23):
Links to learn more about Dr. Guyuron and anything else mentioned on this podcast are available in the show notes. Head On is a production of The Axis.

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