Lit match approaches firecracker with three tiers of severity from calm green to red hot pain

My Step-By-Step Journey Through A Migraine Attack

Migraine experiences are as individual as your hair color or the sound of your voice. Some migraineurs have warning signs like a brain fog that rolls in letting them know an attack is imminent. Others have no warnings at all. Some have pain that runs its course after an hour or two, and some have an agony that goes on as long as watching The Lord of Rings trilogy — twice. These are just a few examples of different migraine experiences. The mixes and matches of symptoms make the pain possibilities endless. While the migraine experience unites us, individual symptoms can leave us feeling isolated.

My migraine attack patterns

So, I’m the migraineur whose forewarnings include hot twinges in my head and my cycle can last as long as it takes to binge-watch all 25-hours of the Star Wars movies (including Rogue One and Solo) — twice. While my migraines don’t show up the exact same way every single time, I have noticed a method to their madness. Here’s an overview of how my migraines generally go down from beginning to end.

Fatigue with a side of boiling hot twinges

My first thought is, “Why am I so tired?” Suddenly, I feel like I’ve been awake for days consoling a crying newborn — except that my son is in grade school and I don’t have a newborn. Following close behind these feelings of fatigue are tiny twinges of hot pain. They’re located between my jaw hinge and my temple. At this point, I intervene with my home remedies. If those don’t help, I take my prescribed relief medications. If my relief meds provide no relief, then my migraine has begun.

Rising pain

When my head pain starts, it hurts but I can manage daily tasks. The longer it persists, however, those pangs settle onto one side of my head and radiate out from there. Over the next several hours this pain increases. Eventually, I feel like I’m walking around with my own personal deep fryer attached to my brain.

Nausea and chills

With my pain levels quickly approaching red alert, if I can retreat to a dark room to rest this is where my pain takes me. My migraine is reaching its highest pain levels and now my whole body becomes involved. Chills take over and nausea creeps into my stomach. My occasional trips to the bathroom to vomit start.

Height of the pain

This is the hardest part. I’ll be living with pain levels hovering around a 9 on a pain scale of 1-10 (10 needing a trip to the ER). The only freedom I find comes from small increments of sleep and snoozing keeps my pain level from rising. So if my day allows for sleep, I sleep. It’s not easy to doze through the pain, but the pain is pretty exhausting.

Eventually, my migraine will fade. I’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel — and it won’t hurt my eyes. That is until my next one starts and I wonder, “Why am I so tired?”

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