Photophobia
Posted by The Migraine Girl—February 9th, 2006

The title of this entry may be unfamiliar to you, but you can probably guess the definition of “photophobia.” Basic vocabulary rules are forming in your head, and you’ve come up with a few options. Scared of…scared of…photographs? Photographers? Photons? Light?

YOU’RE SCARED OF LIGHT?

No. Not quite that. But I am abnormally sensitive to it, and this sensitivity has only worsened over the years. Since I was a wee little thing, my classrooms have been lit with overhead fluorescent lighting, which is proven to be bad lighting for anyone (in terms of energy level and productivity). For us photophobic Migraneurs, the indiscernible flickering of fluorescent lights can trigger an episode. Unfortunately, our eyes and brains do discern the rapidly vibrating blue light when the vast majority of people are fine with it. Thus far, there are no solutions for photophobia, as people think you should treat the cause (in this case, Migraine, which I’m doing my damnedest to treat) and avoid the triggers if possible. For me, this is not possible. It’s come down to my having to ask professors if we can dim all the lights but one row. After I flick the light switches on and off and the beginning of each class session (to my unwittingly ignorant classmates), I sit in the darkest area of the room and don my hat and sunglasses.

Unfortunately, I have to look up from underneath the brim of my worn baseball cap in order to see others while they speak; I have to adjust my reddish-brown-hued (to counteract the blue of the lights) glasses in strange formations so that reflected light from our white working tables doesn’t flash into my eyes. In looking up from under my hat bill, the ever-sore left side of my neck starts to get tired and sore. Soreness of the neck? Yep, another one of my major Migraine triggers. The entire time I’m trying to manipulate my eye shields, I feel like a total drama queen. Logically, I know that people don’t mind my needing to mold the environment a bit in order to adopt to it as healthily as possible. At the same time, I feel as if they’re all thinking, “Oh, god. Here she goes…the Migraine girl, being overdramatic as usual.”

Regardless of my classmates’ opinions, which I’m sure are less intense than I posit here, I am sick of having to adjust myself so that I can sit in class while worrying the whole time that the Migraine is going to rear its ugly head no matter what. Usually it does flare up. As I write, the laptop screen is leaned way back so that the whitish blue light doesn’t glare into my worn out eyeballs. My neck and left shoulder are tight and sore, and once in awhile the throbbing, dull pain worms its way up from my shoulder to my temple and cheek, where I feel a strange fizziness in my jaw. Then it’s back down again to the shoulder until I manage to forget it for a few minutes.

Because I have Chronic Daily Headache in conjunction with Migraine disease, I’m not supposed to take my Relpax until the headache has started progressing. So I’m left with a half-headache almost every day, one that has recently become full-fledged on weekend nights, presumably because my week’s stress has been lifted. (Yes, stress can be a factor as well as the lifting of it.)

I’ve turned from storytelling to complaining, which might be another sign the pain is worsening and I need to get off the computer.

Penny for your thoughts, nonexistent readers!

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About The Migraine Girl

Bookshop owner & migraineur Janet "The Migraine Girl" Geddis moved around a bit in her early 20s before deciding to make Athens, Georgia her home

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