Ever since I started talking openly about the fact that I am living with migraine disease, I’ve read or heard the same comment (or a riff on it) repeatedly: “People think it’s just a headache, that you should take a Tylenol and get over it.”
But you know what? No one has ever said that to my face—or dared to—and I’m wondering if I’m just extraordinarily lucky in that I have kind, caring, understanding friends and coworkers. Sure, once there was a fellow editor at a work retreat who reportedly rolled her eyes when my boss let the group know that I couldn’t make it to that morning’s meeting due to migraine, but who’s to say what, exactly, she was rolling her eyes at?
But that’s neither here nor there. I want to tell you about this smart, friendly, and totally honest customer I talked with at the bookshop a few weeks ago.
D. comes in pretty regularly and is always friendly and chatty. Some time after the new year, we were alone in the shop and somehow started talking about migraine disease. He actually said the sentence to me that so many of you have heard before, the sentence that I’d never imagined I’d actually hear someone say to my face: “You know, I used to think people were just complaining about migraines. I figured it was just a headache. ‘Just take some Advil,’ I’d think. Until I got one myself.”
I confessed to D. that a, I’d never heard anyone actually admit that he/she believed migraineurs were just being overdramatic and should get over it and that I often wished for one—just one!—migraine to hit all the non-believers.
To my relief, D. has had one and only one migraine (and I hope he’ll never get one again). And I feel grateful that he had that one horrid episode—it was a painful lesson to learn, but through his one day of utter pain and nausea, he learned the lesson that migraine is not just a headache.
Would you wish a migraine on those who deny the disease’s severity? Why or why not?