The family migraine connection

Over Memorial Day Weekend, my sister and I trekked up to Pittsburgh for our family reunion. Miracle of miracles: I did not get a migraine in the car ride or in the first three days of the trip! (Usually I have a migraine by the time I am rolling up to my destination after a long road trip.)

I chalk up my success to sharing the driving duties with my sister and to the fact that she packed lots of sandwiches and snacks for us—often I don’t eat or drink enough on the road, getting so hungry and thirsty that I end up scarfing down unhealthy food that makes me feel grody.

I’ve been thinking lately of asking all my extended family (there are a lot of ‘em) to fill out health forms for me. Until a couple of years ago, no doctor had asked for detailed information about my grandparents’, cousins’, aunts’, and uncles’ health—any family questions dealt with my immediate family. The more I talk to my extended family about health issues, the more I learn.

One of my cousins is a few years older than I, and at the reunion she commented that she thought that perhaps a migraine was coming on because she’d started to see blinking lights in the corner of her eye. She described how the lights look similar to the after-image you see when someone has taken your photo with a bright flashbulb. The blinking lights eventually emerge into a series of bright circles that make it hard for her to see. Shortly after the circles appear, the headache comes barreling in.

Talking to a relative about her aura was fascinating to me. I live so much in my own world and often forget how many close friends and family have their own migraine stories to tell. It was interesting to sit back and hear how she describes her own migraine patterns.

Do you talk to family members about their health issues? Have you discovered anything that has made you open your eyes or think twice about your own health?

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