I was 14 when I began getting headaches. I had never really gotten headaches as a kid, and then suddenly, I gradually began getting them. At first they started off as these annoyances, just a little piece of irritation about once every week or two. Then they began to get more frequent and worse as the year went on. By the time I was 15, I was getting full blown migraines that would completely immobilize me.
My mother did what any mother would in that situation: worry. After talking to my doctor about it, he gave me the diagnosis of migraines. It didn’t put my mother to ease at all, and I even ended up getting an MRI done about year later, when the migraines only seemed to get worse. The results showed that there was nothing wrong, and we were simply told “she’s just one of those people that get migraines”.
It never sit well with her, but I learned to adjust to my new life. My doctor prescribed me some medication for it (which would become one of the worst things to ever happen to me, but that’s for a different blog), and I learned how to deal with pain on a whole new level.
It turns out, I did get my answer to where these migraines come from when I was about 21 years old. I grew up away from my biological father and his family, so there was a whole family history that I knew nothing about. Then, when I was about 19, an aunt of mine got in contact with me via MySpace (insert my old age dinosaur roar here). Two years later when I was pregnant, I moved to where my grandparents and aunt were and found out some interesting things: including migraines run rampant in the women in that side of the family. All of them had migraines: my grandmother, my aunt, my cousin, and a few others. So, in the end, it’s a genetics problem.
And based on what I saw with them and what I’ve been experiencing since, they get worse. I can only hope I am about at the peak of how bad they can get because there are way too many times I find myself unable to move under the covers in my room, shouting at the kids if they make a sound louder than the floorboards creaking under their feet.
Now, I have an incredibly high pain tolerance. I’ve broken both of my arms, gotten a few scars the hard way, been burned, beat up, and have a knack for hurting myself. But nothing has hurt me so bad, with the exception of childbirth, that I couldn’t handle to pain. Migraines, however, are a completely different kind of pain, and unless you’ve had one yourself, you could never really understand what it’s like.
I dealt with one earlier today, one that had started last night. I had taken medication for it when my husband got home from work, but it turns out this just had to be one of those stubborn ones. It was a slight throb when I woke up for work, and I was hopeful that my coffee and some moving around would help get rid of it. Alas, it was too much to hope for.
By lunch time, my head was throbbing and my concentration was shot. Because that’s the kind of thing a migraine does, it’s more than just pain. It messes with your ability to concentrate and think, it blurs your vision and in a strange way, blinds you. The way I’ve always described it is I can see, but my brain can’t register what it is I’m seeing. So not only do I have the blurred vision, but I don’t even really know what I’m seeing. It brings on waves of nausea, and if it gets too bad, it can send you to the toilet to empty all of your stomach’s contents. Sometimes, there are even chills involved.
This was one that I had to leave work early for because I had the concentration loss and blurred vision already. The loss of sight registration was beginning along with the nausea, and the longer I stayed at work, the worse it was going to get. The entire right side of my head was throbbing and it wasn’t improving at all. By the time I got home, I wasn’t seeing much and a dark room accompanied by a nap was my only chance at having any kind of decent night.
There are only a few things that can fend off these monsters. Medication (mine are stubborn and medication will only work about 80% of the time), sleep in a completely dark and quiet room, caffeine, sometimes moving around, and if it’s a weather related migraine, then the storm causing it opens up the heavens. Each migraine has a different solution, and you just have to cycle through until you find the magic number. There have even been some days when none of these worked, and I just had to suffer for days. It’s not a very pleasant experience.
I remember my manager at my first job rolled her eyes at me quite a few times when I complained about my head hurting and expressing the want to go home early. Then, she got one for the first time at work and suddenly, she understood. “I don’t know how you can work with one of these” is what she had said to me. And to be honest, I don’t know how I did it either.
It’s cliche to say, but a migraine is not just another headache. I’ve had both over the years, and headaches are mere annoyances. I can work and keep going with a headache, but once the migraine moves in, I have to start prepping myself for what feels like the worst. In the event that I’m at work and I feel it might get bad, I need to rush to get the hardest of the day’s work done just in case I might have to take it easy or even leave. You don’t have to do stuff like that when you have a regular headache.
To those of you suffering with migraines, I’m with you. I understand how terrible they can be. And to those of you who don’t, try to take it easy on someone if they tell you they have a migraine. They may look pissed off or unpleasant, but in reality, they are fighting a battle you could never understand and the fact they are still on their feet is an accomplishment. Don’t hold their seemingly unfriendliness against them. It may not be an open wound, but it’s still a pain ruling their current existence nontheless.