Dark With a Ray of Light

I lived in India until I was 44. I suffered from migraines since I was thirteen. All my family and extended family were healthy as oxen and no one could understand my ‘headaches.' They thought I was faking it.

My headaches mostly lasted for 15 or 16 days. In tears, I used to ‘hide’ my headaches, rather than get left out or ridiculed. I cried silently at night because I was both in pain and fear.

Over the years, I discovered that loud sounds and bright lights contributed to my migraine. In those years, we could not afford medical help and no one know about ‘migraine.' I studied with slate and chalk - before computers and could not afford library fees.

Slowly, I started avoiding places of loud sound, and years later when I could finally afford it, I also avoided cinemas - even though I loved movies. I became a loner and aloof, and people called me a loser and counted me out of everything.

After marrying a nurse, all I could do was lock myself in a dark room. Slowly, my wife understood my suffering and arranged for various investigations, including a brain tumor and the like.

Ultimately, I was diagnosed with migraine. Painkillers and injections did not help. My siblings told my wife to ‘give him two slaps and that will set him right...' I am thankful she did not follow that advice. Other than the migraine, we were happy and I was a fun guy to be with.

Eventually, we migrated to New Zealand and the migraine all but vanished. I did get them but only if I went for a movie with a loud sound or fast-changing images. If I ended up with one, my wife and I would silently leave the theatre.

I also learned the cold helped. When I felt a migraine coming on, I would don a jacket but leave my head uncovered and go for a walk. The pain would go away.

I am now in Australia, the migraine comes back in the summer months, but I know what to do now. My message is that for me the cold helped the most, and the noise was the worst trigger.

But the worst of it all was social exclusion, so if you found someone with a headache, gently and genuinely enquire, and they will open up. You might be able to help, with your suggestions as people with migraines will try anything. I would have even agreed to have my head chopped off, the pain was so much. I am glad that I did not...

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