I Want Everyone to Have One Migraine

I Want Everyone to Have One Migraine

I used to say that I would rather have a broken arm in a cast for six weeks than have a Migraine (and I broke quite a few bones as a kid). I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. We all have our threshold in listening to well-meaning people who want to give you unsolicited advice. As my Migraines got worse and worse, everyone wanted to tell me what to do, yet they had never had one themselves.

I started to change my thinking on not wishing a Migraine on my worst enemy. Not that I have any enemies, but if I did I would want that person to suffer worse than I do. I not only want any enemies to have Migraines, I want my close friends and family to have at least one in their lifetime.

It sounds mean, but I’m not the first person to say it. The Migraine Girl eloquently wrote about it a while ago here, I’m sure you’ve thought about it too, be honest.

I have an amazing support system, so even if they’ve never experienced one, they are incredibly sympathetic. In the past few years, my Dad has developed Ocular Migraines. He gets the crazy flashing and zig-zagging pattern that I get before most Migraines. However, when the aura is gone, he’s never hit by a truckful of pain. The aura last 15-30 minutes for him and then he can move on with his day. He knows one of his triggers is red wine, which is hard since he makes wine as a hobby. He moderates and can generally keep it under control.

One of my best friends, goes above and beyond to help me when I’ve been in a Migraine slump. She lives in the ‘burbs, so I don’t get to see her as often. When she and her husband bought a new house she made sure that she had a room in her house set up just for me. Lots of blankets, dark curtains and blinds. It’s been incredibly comforting to know that if I visit, I have a cave to go to if the pain is unbearable.

However, my precious bestie experienced a four-day Migraine. She had just given birth to her second son (I’m the godmother!). I was having some bad Migraines around that time and she understood when it took me over a week to meet the baby. In the meantime, we talked and she mentioned that she was having severe headaches. She felt silly talking about it to me. She had a C-Section so I asked if she was on painkillers, thinking rebound headaches might be her problem. She was taking them sparingly, so that wasn’t it.

In my mind I had wondered if she had an epidural which was causing her pain, but I didn’t want to keep playing doctor with her. I didn’t want to seem like the crazy lady who thinks everyone has Migraine. There could have been a dozen explanations. I have no clue how a woman gives birth and then walks out of the hospital days later. I’d be curled into a ball for a week. She had a doctor’s appointment the next day, so I didn’t push it.

She called later and said that she was having Migraines caused by the epidural she received. The needle punctured her spinal cord and fluid was seeping out. One tell-tale sign after a spinal tap, epidural or lumbar puncture is that you get relief when you are lying down. The cure is a blood patch, which entails taking blood from another part of the body to close the hole in the spinal cord. She said she felt immediate relief.

I was so glad that she got relief and I was incredibly sympathetic. I have no idea how she was handling a newborn, a 2 ½ year old, tons of visitors AND having these headaches. She’s a strong woman! When I finally got to see her and my godson in person, she told me that in a weird way, she was glad she experienced a Migraine. She now understands the nausea, plus sensitivity to noise and light. I mean she understood it before as shown by dedicating one room in her house that shielded me from all of those things. She now understands now how painful and debilitating a Migraine is. She marveled at how I deal with these on a daily basis. I’ve learned coping mechanisms over time, but she was in unbelievable pain of that nature for four days.

Since that has happened, I have thought more that I wish every person had one Migraine in their life. If they had, they would never make a random comment about what you should do to fix your head. People would never downplay how debilitating Migraines are. It would make the invisible so much more visible because people would talk about it more. So yes, I wish everyone had a Migraine once in their life.

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

Comments

View Comments (13)
  • Jessica Madore
    3 years ago

    I’ve often wished that the doctors & nurses taking care of me would experience a migraine like mine, since they often seem to have the least compassion for migraine sufferers. As for your friend, kudos to her for setting up a room for you! How did she manage a newborn & all of that with a spinal headache?! Wow I’ve had them several times (lots of spinal taps for diagnostic purposes) and needed blood patches and let me tell you from experience….if you think migraines hurt…spinal tap headaches are like migraines x10 sometimes. I was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri once and they inserted a shunt in my spinal cord that over-drained my spinal fluid causing me to have a constant spinal headache for more than 2 weeks straight. I spent the time in a hospital delirious, begging for them to kill me until they could remove the shunt. Turned out the PTC diagnosis was wrong and I wasn’t having high pressure. All I can say is I just wish that anyone who offers well meaning advice or treatment should experience at least one good migraine in life before doing either. Otherwise I think they have no real place to say a word other than “God Bless You & I’m Sorry you have to deal with them.

  • jns192 moderator
    3 years ago

    Jessica,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you have been through and awful lot and just know that you will come out stronger at the end. As a chronic migraineur, I couldn’t imagine what the spinal tap headaches feel like. I am so sorry you had to endure this.
    Please know that you are not alone and our community is here for you.
    Warm regards,
    Jillian (Migraine.com Team)

  • yirogers
    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this story.

  • tammay
    3 years ago

    I totally understand the idea of wanting people to understand what it’s really like to have a migraine. What’s sad is that sometimes people in your life who have experienced them don’t seem to understand when you do or they forget because they haven’t had one for a while. My mom started to get migraines in her 60’s, well after I had been experiencing them for years. I thought that she would be more understanding but I still here from her how I should “disconnect myself from the pain” when I tell her that I have one. And she is a retired nurse, so not something I would expect her to say.

    Tam

  • Crystalrz4
    3 years ago

    I also liked this article very much. I have always said that I do not wish for anyone to have a migraine. However, there have been times that I wished that I had the ability to allow someone else to feel what I’m going through when I am in the throes of one. So many times throughout my life, doctors, nurses and other medical staff have refused to believe that either my migraines are real, that I have migraines or assume that I’m just over reacting, or a drug seeker, (Even with my medical records there and a detail note from my neurologist/migraine specialist, with instructions of what type of migraines I have, and what combinations/amounts of medications are needed to stop them. They would completely ignore their Top Specialist’s instructions, in lieu of their idea of what should be done for me.)

    So I have had this wish for many years now, that for all those doubters and naysayers, that if I could but reach out and touch their arm, momentarily, so that they could “FEEL” what I’m experiencing, perhaps they’d understand then. “The Pain,” that so many times is so overwhelming, it can’t be explained in plain words, as they couldn’t paint an accurate representation of the agony being suffered. Wherein being able to reach over and put your hand on the doctor’s arm, for just a moment, might finally give him/her a true understanding of what we have to live with and why we need help.

  • mindzfuleez217
    3 years ago

    Katie, thanks for sharing what none of us migraineurs could or would put into words. The most important of these is the Golden part of what it means to have compassion, empathy and understanding. The replies along the same concept are about supporting eachother without assuming that others can relate to our migraines, or how we individually experience pain at any level. I have vestibular migraines with aura, at times they’ve been disabling. Medication treatments were non effective as they exaburated symptoms in my other conditions. Often my response to others in my life who have had good intentions with what they believe to be encouragment has been the same challenge as your post represents:”Unless you have the condition, (or any of) then you cannot feel what I feel.”
    No, wouldn’t wish migraines or any other condition on anyone..instead I pray for healing

  • Janet
    3 years ago

    Ditto!

  • Trenell Adkins
    3 years ago

    Thats true..people who have regular headaches don’t understand the cluster headaches. .The pounding the all day head freezes,,and I don’t even drink slurpees..I’ve been suffering since 11…everyday since 1995..still can’t work as of 2010..I’m a young 45 year old male..hurts only on the left side above the eye..

  • dizzyblonde
    3 years ago

    I have thought about this very thing several times just this week. There are two people in particular that that I thought if they could only understand first hand how I feel…maybe it would get rid of some inappropriate comments they make.

    My mom already has a lot of pain issues herself and I think she resents the fact that I’m doing more than sitting around, taking nothing but opiates, and complaining. I inherited my tendency to get migraines from her side of the family and there are several Migraineurs on her side. But she won’t admit I get them from her side of the family. I’m not blaming her – genetics can’t be helped!

    The second person is my husband. He is the type of person that doesn’t understand situations where there isn’t a treatment that cures the condition and then you move on. He gets tired of my ups and downs. There are days that he is very angry and I get no support from him.

    BUT there was one time recently when it rained, he had a lot of stress at work, and there were numerous other types of potential triggers in place and he actually got a migraine!!! This included pain, nausea, digestive issues, etc. I have to tell you he acted very pitiful about it!! I just simply told him those symptoms were a normal day for me. Tylenol helped him a lot, and that wouldn’t have done much for me. But he acted like he needed lots of help and support. I’m just not sure it registered with him how he treats me according to a different standard. I think he is used to me being strong and he was brought up by a very strong willed mother.

    I don’t really wish someone ill health, but more understanding and empathy would be nice. I’m not sure that everyone is capable of this even if they have their own pain issues.

    So my thoughts are:
    ~ If you find someone supportive, appreciate them today!
    ~ If not, I’ve been working on not taking it personal. And keep looking for new friends.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Dizzyblonde,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. My husband, too, gets the occasional migraine and it can be very weird to be on the flip side and also see how someone reacts to something we deal with on a frequent basis. It’s not that the pain gets better for us, but I think we learn coping techniques as we get them more often, and so have no choice but to learn to be strong!
    Also, I think those with other pain issues can maybe still have trouble relating to migraines–we have so many other symptoms and the pain behaves differently than many other types of chronic pain. It’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges!
    I love your final thoughts–very true words!
    Be well,
    Lisa

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    3 years ago

    Hey Katie,
    Great article. I’m still undecided on this, but I would say if someone were to experience a migraine it would be helpful if it was a profoundly debilitating type with a lot of the other symptoms. I know that sounds mean, but what frustrates me the most is sometimes how people who may get milder migraines (since they can be for some people, including myself in the past) still have trouble understanding the depths of pain and disability that is experienced with a severe attack.

    On the flip side, I wish I could experience some other conditions, like autism for example, for a short period of time so I could understand them better from the point of view of the sufferer.

    Anyway I’m really glad to read you have such a great friend!
    Lisa

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    3 years ago

    Katie,
    Yep, would be good to know! But I think ultimately what we need is more empathy, and people who LISTEN and ASK QUESTIONS with no judgement. I’m not sure if having a migraine would help people empathize, though it is a nice fantasy to indulge in!
    -Lisa

  • Katie M. Golden moderator author
    3 years ago

    Lisa,
    Thanks for the feedback. You bring up an interesting point that I’ve never thought about before- living with a different disease for just a day. What would it be like to have ALS or Parkinson’s?
    -Katie

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