70 Years

I am 70 years old and for as far back as I can remember I have had migraine.

My childhood migraine experience

As a very small child, I had "abdominal migraines" which were days of stomach pain and throwing up. Traveling by car was a nightmare as I was always sick and dizzy by the end of the journey. At age 8, I was prescribed glasses because of the headaches I was always complaining of.

At age 12, I had my first visual aura - zig-zag lines appeared in my vision as I walked through a country lane, followed soon after by the first really powerful headache, creeping from the back of my neck over my head into my left eye, which sent me to bed for two days in a darkened room.

This was the nature of my headaches for the next forty years.

Post-menopausal issues

After menopause, I developed episodes of vertigo and other strange issues with my head - such as pressure, disequilibrium, derealisation, and fewer headaches - in a way this was worse as I never knew when the episodes would end. At least with a headache, there was an endpoint.

A different diagnosis

I was eventually diagnosed with vestibular migraine. I live in the UK and the medical treatment I have received has been pretty poor. I have been offered the usual medications - beta blockers, painkillers but nothing else.

How I manage

I have mostly researched the disease myself and have come up with ways of managing the symptoms. I am currently on a gluten-free diet - I think it works - less daily nausea for one thing - I also take vitamin supplements and did take magnesium for many years but have discontinued this as it caused stomach problems.

Sleep is a big issue for me - too little or too much causes headaches, same with exercise! I wear migraine glasses for watching TV and computer work and these definitely make a difference. I wear sunglasses on sunny days or when the sky is bright. I limit shopping experiences because of chemical smells, too many people, too many objects, and too many flickering lights.

One thing that I have never managed to shake or treat, however, is the anxiety that inevitably comes with this disease. The fear of having a migraine attack, the fear when it comes, and the fear when it leaves because of the fear of another one.

Not letting migraine win

On the bright side, I had a successful academic career and traveled the world. Migraine is a pain in so many ways but it hasn't beaten me yet.

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