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One of my bad attacks

Description of one of my bad attacks

I wrote this based off notes I scribbled during a particularly intense migraine attack in mid-2014. Sadly, the memories of such attacks are strong, so I relied on my own recollections to fill in the details. Don’t read if you are already feeling sick to your stomach!

My head throbs gently if I am perfectly still, but if I go to sit up or—god forbid—stand up, the throbbing intensifies painfully. It feels as if all the blood in my body is in my head, pulsating painfully. If I’m particularly unlucky, bile will rise to my throat as I try to fight off the nausea that accompanies my worst attacks.

I stumble to the bathroom, no longer able to hold in the pee that I’ve been trying to ignore for the better part of the morning. I knew it would come to this, this having to actually get up and move.  Before I climbed out of the bed, I glanced at my phone’s glaring screen to see that it has only been 30 minutes since I took my medication—I have, at minimum, 30 more minutes until I can hope to find relief.  That is, if the drugs work this time.

Please don’t throw up, please don’t throw up, I chant inside my head as I walk the ten feet to the bathroom, fumbling with the waist of my pants, wishing now that I hadn’t waited so long to get up to use the bathroom because now I’m in emergency mode. I walk right into the sharp corner of the sink—my balance and depth perception are both off. I’m never the most balanced and self-aware, but during an attack I might as well have a blindfold on.  The pain to my thigh pierces and I’m grateful for it: it’s a temporary distraction from the agony in my head.

I sit down hard on the toilet seat—it seems I’ve misjudged the distance down to it and ended up sitting down with more force than necessary.  My head is spinning.  Don’t throw up, don’t throw up, I keep thinking as I pee, wondering if the pills I took thirty minutes back would come back up if I got sick or if they were already being absorbed by my digestive system.

Being in this much discomfort makes me worry that it will get worse. I think back to some of those awful, awful attacks I am grateful not to experience too often these days. I remember the days before my diagnosis and corresponding treatment, days when I would get migraines so terrible I would take cat naps on the cool tile of the bathroom floor in between vomiting sessions, wishing for a cool cloth on my head.  I know it’s bad to worry when you’re already so sick, but I can’t help it.

What if I throw up the medicine?

What if I don’t throw up the medicine but it still doesn’t work anyway?

What if I should’ve taken the other medication but now that I’ve taken this one I have no other treatment choice?

What if it gets worse and I have to go to the ER?

How am I going to afford an ER bill?

Where is my current insurance card? Does my insurance cover ER visits? Why don’t I just know these things? Surely a grown-up would know these things.

What if I end up in the ER and they don’t listen to me and they give me that awful, awful IV drug they gave me that one time, the one that made me feel like my arms and legs were somehow nauseated themselves?

How am I going to get back to the bed?

Should I bring this garbage can from the bathroom back to the bedroom in case I am sick in there?

Oh no, there are tissues and stuff in this garbage can. If I end up throwing up in it, it’s going to be such a mess to clean up.

And on, and on.


Thankfully, these types of anxiety– and nausea-ridden attacks aren’t as frequent as they used to be for me, but it does seem that as soon as I think of them as something in my past, I get one just like this.

Have you ever re-imagined a particular migraine attack? Do you think it would help non-migraineurs to understand you better to write the nitty-gritty details down all at once? Would it help you? 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Bettey Robinson
    4 years ago

    Your story is right on I have these migraines and the vomiting lasts for hours.if I vomited really rib bruising my head pain would lessen for a couple minutes. I go on for 36 to 48 hours. My family has learned to just leave me be. They will check on me every so often. I still think a release valve at the base off to the right of the skull. There have been times my husband has hidden the sharp instruments. Its sounds bad but I am glad to know I’m not nuts.

  • Anne
    4 years ago

    OMG – that’s been me so many times trying not to throw up my medication. I get really dizzy too – the day after an attack as well. Sometimes, I know an attack is coming if I start dropping things I’m holding.

  • Suzanne Key
    4 years ago

    Your description of your worst migraine is so spot on for many of my worst migraines. I am usually home alone when mine occur and my bathroom is about 25 feet away and believe me it feels like it’s a mile away sometimes. I have suffered for 25 years now with chronic migraines and I don’t wish this hell on anyone else !

  • 100dollarheadache
    4 years ago

    I voiced to text below and some words need correction in spelling.

  • 100dollarheadache
    4 years ago

    Every time I get a Migraine I say, “that was the worse Migraine I ever had”. Throwing up violently to the point of painful dry heaves and dehydration. The worst occasion I can recall is picking up concert tickets for my daughter at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Lighting set off my aura which led to vomiting and piercing pain and sight problems.My Triptan needle and zoomig tablets were in my car. Being so disoriented, I was unable to find my car.As time passed my symptoms worsened rapidly.I was vomiting in the corner of garage when a security vehicle approached.The guard seemed to assume I had been drinking and I could understand that. Dizziness,vomiting, weakness and stumbling. I told him I can not find my car. He insisted I could not drive but I explain that I could not find my car and I need my medicine I suffer from chronic Migraine. As he drove me around finally I found my car. I immediately went to my glove compartment injected the trip to needle into my leg. I believe at this point he started to believe my story. It was about 6 p.m. on a Saturday night when I found my car. I told the security guard I just need to stay on my cock for a while and recover. He insisted I do not leave the premises until I felt better. I literally passed out and slept for six and a half hours in my car. I awoke very confused dizzy and hungover. It took me another 30 minutes to get myself together at this point it was 1 a.m.. I had a 45 minute ride ahead of me to Rhode Island. The ride was very difficult in the glare from his car’s headlights was blinding. It was one of the most difficult drive home I ever had. In hindsight I probably should have stayed in my car and recovered much longer. I basically going to bed about 230 in the morning. I slept 12 hours to 2 o’clock the next afternoon. I was still suffering from symptoms of migraine hangover light sensitivity sound sensitivity and dehydration. I’ve had some real bad episodes but in recent memory this was one of the worst. Like I said every my crane I get I say that was the worst migraine I’ve ever had. It feels like I have been in a car accident the next day as if I had head trauma or concussion symptoms. X628 migraines a month I lose about 15 days of the month. Everyday when I awake the first thing I think is am I going to get a migraine today.

  • Suzanne Key
    4 years ago

    I am so sorry you had such an awful experience in a parking garage no less ! Because we all still try to have a life, these kind of experiences happen ! I don’t have as many away from home because I can no longer drive due to vision loss. My family has found me on the bathroom floor many times. I’ll keep you in my prayers and pray you don’t have another experience like this again !

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh, 100dollarheadache, that’s just awful. I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles. Having a migraine that terrible at home is bad enough, but to be away from the house (in a parking garage, no less, one of the least friendly and warm places imaginable) is torture. I’m grateful the security guard helped you, even if it did take him a bit to realize you were not just a wasted concert-goer.

    It sounds like you have significant anxiety as related to your migraines. Are you under the care of a migraine or headache specialist who can help you get the severity and number of attacks under control? This article might help:

    As far as the anxiety goes, I really want to recommend that you talk with your therapist (or find one)–it can work wonders for chronically ill and stressed people to have a non-judgmental, listening person who is there 1 hour out of the week (or the month) just to focus solely on you. Gentle exercise, the joint-freeing series in yoga practice, and mindfulness might also help.

    I feel for you and hope you find relief. Thanks for sharing your story. Let us know how you’re doing.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Maureen
    4 years ago

    Yes, I think it helps non-migraineurs, especially if you go beyond the “ice pick” metaphor, because as real and true to life as that description is, it seems to have become a cliche. My first migraine was like a axe in my face. Another time was like I had woken up with broken glass filling my head. And a common one is that I feel like instead of having a towel wrapped around my wet hair, there is a towel stuffed on the inside of my head. I think these descriptions have helped my close family members understand a little more.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Your metaphors are spot-on, Maureen. I’ve definitely have had the towel stuffed on the inside of my head and the broken glass filling up my head before. Great descriptions. I, too, agree that the “ice pick” comparison has gotten used so much that, even though it’s accurate for many of us, it has lost its oomph.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Teresa
    4 years ago

    You hit the nail on the head with that description of the nausea I feel and the type of pain that accompanies it for me. I finally had a doctor that explained why the pain moves like it does on my head. When I move, the pain feels like a wave washing over my head from back to front, and my doc told me that is because it traveling along the occipital nerve, it is just unusual to be that sensitive to actually feel the pain travel along the nerve. I also have used another analogy to explain my typical temple migraines to non-migraineurs. I tell them to remember their worst brain freeze ever, and imagine that pain not going away for hours to even days. It is pain coming from the same nerve after all.

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