Left with Chronic Migraine and unable to walk after the Boston Marathon attack, Lynn Julian Crisci returned a year later to run in that same marathon — and crossed the finish line in triumph! Now her goal is to spread her message of hope to others suffering from chronic pain: “Don’t stop searching for a treatment that works!”
—BY LINDSAY BOSSLETT
Lynn and her boyfriend, Doug, were sitting at an outdoor café to watch the runners in the 2013 Boston Marathon when everything changed. In the now infamous terrorist attack on the race, two explosive devices were detonated — and one went off just a few stores down from where Boston natives Lynn and Doug were sitting.
Lynn grabbed her dog and the three took off running; she didn’t realize how badly the concussive force of the blast had affected her until later, once the shock had worn off.
“It turns out I had a severe head injury,” Lynn, 41, recalls. “One of the effects of that was Chronic Migraine. I had had a few migraines here and there growing up, but all of a sudden I went from one or two a year to four migraines a week. They never fully went away.”
A short time later, the Boston Athletic Association, which coordinates the Boston Marathon, contacted everyone who had been injured in the attack and told them they were eligible for a free bib to run in the 2014 race.
“I was devastated at first,” Lynn remembers. “I wasn’t a runner to begin with, and now I was practically bedridden by my migraines and was barely able to walk a mile. It just felt like yet one more thing I couldn’t do since the attack, one more opportunity I was going to miss.” That moment is what made Lynn realize she needed to change her perspective on her condition.
I said to myself that if I never did anything — if I never tried — I had a 100% chance of failing,” she says. “So why not give myself the chance of success, even if it was small?”
“I was willing to try anything!”
So Lynn started working out on a treadmill and saw her doctor about her migraines. At first he prescribed triptans, but the medication didn’t work.
“If I took my medication more than twice a week, I risked getting a rebound headache,” Lynn says. “So I was always gambling when I felt symptoms come on — should I take the pill for this one? What if the next one is worse and I’ve already used up my doses?”
Luckily, because her migraines were considered chronic, Lynn’s doctor told her she was eligible for a preventive injectable treatment. “I was willing to try anything — and I’m so glad I did,” she says.
“Everything’s getting better and better”
Lynn now gets injections every three months. “The headaches slowly start to come back after a few weeks, but my doctor told me to stick with it, and as I’ve gotten more injections the headaches are getting less and less frequent. I’m hopeful it’s going to keep getting better and better.”
Lynn also stuck with her treadmill routine, slowly building up over the months with the help of a physical therapist. On the day of the race, with Doug and her service dog at her side, Lynn pushed through — and six and a half hours later earned her marathon medal.
“That was the best feeling in the world,” Lynn says. “Now I really do know I can do anything I put my mind to. Whenever something feels impossible I can say — you ran a marathon, despite Chronic Migraine! Nothing can hold you back!”
PHOTO BY NIKKI COLE