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Memorable Migraines, Episode 1: My first migraine?

I have started writing spottily recollected stories of particularly important migraine episodes in my life. I realized that, like much of what I write on this blog, my stories are quite personal but maybe you’ll be able to relate.

Here goes–post 1.

Pittsburgh, PA. Early 90s. At my grandparents’ home in Wilkinsburg.

It’s been nearly eighteen years since I was extremely sick one summer day at my grandparents’ house in Pittsburgh, yet I remember it clearly. Only in retrospect do I believe that I was not suffering from some strange one day flu (which I’d thought at the time) but from what may have been my first migraine attack.

It was a hot, hot summer day in 1993. My sister, my dad, and I were in Pittsburgh during our yearly pilgrimage to the North to visit family. I was staying on the un-air-conditioned third floor of my grandparents’ house; it was daytime, yet I lay on the bed by myself, hungry but not able to stomach anything.

I remember hearing my grandmother slowly ascend the flights of stairs to get to me. She’d brought something bland for me to eat, I think, and she had a cool washcloth to put on my brow. After she went downstairs again, I could feel myself being hyperaware of all the sights and sounds. I could hear kids playing (maybe my cousins in the backyard?) and could smell the delicious meal my grandma was making in the kitchen. The room seemed bright, bright, bright, and my stomach rumbled with hunger.

And then I started thinking about what I wanted to eat. I started to imagine a hot dog and a cheeseburger from my favorite diner in all the land, a 1950s joint on Lake Erie, where I’d been just a few days before. This I remember clearly: simply imagining the food was enough to make me sick to my stomach.

A few hours later, it was nighttime and I fell asleep. The next day I woke up feeling fine.

Migraine runs in both my mother’s and my father’s sides of the family; chances are my grandmother knew what I was dealing with. I cannot recall if she made mention of the word “headache” or “migraine” or if she said much to me at all apart from soothing me. I do recall feeling uncomfortably hot, lonely, and wishing more than anything to be home with my mom.


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.


  • Jeanine Bescos
    9 years ago

    My first migraine happened when I was 7. It was the year I discovered hard boiled eggs at Easter. I ate several – got a headache, & ended up getting “sick.” My mom tried to tell me that I had just eaten too much candy. My response was “I’m a kid, I eat candy for a living…..the only thing different was my eating the eggs!” It was a long time before I ate eggs again. What do you think happened. Yep – another migraine! I became a devoted Excedrin fan in High School. I probably wouldn’t have survived without it. I was acutely aware of the aura, & took whatever steps I could to just function. (My mom still didn’t believe that I suffered from migraines.) As time passed I became less aware of the aura, & have suffered a bit more because of it. I hope to improve the situation now with the help of other migraine sufferers out there…..

    9 years ago

    The earliest one I can remember I was 5 or 6, I remember being curled up in a ball on my mom’s lap in a reclining chair next to a tall floor lamp. I remember her rocking me as I had my arms around my head crying and moaning in pain. I remember a lamp that was bright and painful, not realizing it was making it worse (it was nighttime) I remember my mom asking me what it felt like and visually, in my head, it felt like I was slamming my head into a telephone pole over and over….that’s what I told her. I was eventually taken to the bathroom where I vomited and fell asleep on the cold floor. That became my thing because there wasn’t any meds then to give a child..throw up, fall asleep on the cold bathroom floor and it would be over.

  • Laura
    9 years ago

    I did not have my first one until I was in peri-menopause. Whereas my mother’s ended with menopause, that is when mine began. Before that I used to get similar symptoms that could be relieved by eating. But once I hit peri-menopause, no amount of food could stop the pain, fatigue and light headedness that were soon accompanied by a host of other symptoms and now have progressed to daily headaches.

  • David Prater
    9 years ago

    My first was when I was 2 years old. I remember quite a lot from it despite being so young, like the fact that there was a rainbow outside of the kitchen window that the rest of the family was looking at and I couldn’t focus my eyes enough to see. My mother was pouring eye drops in my eye, but to her credit all I really had the capacity to tell her was that my eye hurt very bad. I ended up in the hospital and diagnosed then. It’s been 32 years since then and I still get them quite often but at least now I know things to lessen the pain.

  • Monica Darcy Myers
    9 years ago

    I used to get symptoms like that when we would visit my grandparents and spend the day at the lake. But, the first time I experienced a migrain for what would be the normal migraine for me, was when I was in the sixth grade. I was walking home from school. My perifial vision was gone. I felt like I was floating. By the time I got home my head started hurting. I went to bed and worried all evening about my spelling test that I was supposed to have. It was almost a delirium all night long with the pain and the words spinning round my head. Woke up in the morning just fine, and failed my spelling test that day. 🙁

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