Breanna's so called life
Hello, I am a 29 year old female. I have been suffering with migraines since puberty. I used to get one or two a month, then one or two a week until they have progressed into what they are now; daily torture for at least 4 years now. The daily “attacks” often begin with neck pain, sensitivity to light, noise and odors. It then proceeds into what the Dr calls an “aura phase” prior to the full headache pain. My most common type of aura are visual symptoms like seeing flashing lights, squiggly lines, or losing vision in small areas; it looks like I have spots on my glasses, but I don’t wear glasses. I also get tingling/numbness on the right side of my face and my right hand, and sometimes I have difficulty understanding and/or expressing speech.
Then the real pain starts, the pain is severe and intense, and is extremely disabling, painful enough to cause me to loose every job I’ve had and cause my ongoing absence from activities with family and friends. I spend most of my time huddled in pain, in the dark. It feels like my brain is being repeatedly whacked with a sledge hammer, to what sounds like a loud fast drum beat. All while wearing a crown of nails and having them pushed down into my skull while the pressure inside my head makes it feel like my brain is going to explode. It gets even worse, like my head is on fire and bursting, when I am anywhere near bright light or noise.
I also feel increased sensitivity to environmental stimuli like lights, sounds, and odor’s. I get nauseous and frequently vomit. My migraine attacks also cause sinus pain, neck pain, dizziness, difficulty with concentration and mental processing, anxiety and other changes in my mood, mostly depression. The final “post-headache phase” is characterized by fatigue, more mood changes, difficulty with concentration, and head pain that occurs with movement, coughing, or straining.
This pain cycle may be triggered by a variety of stimuli; my triggers have been difficult to pinpoint as the pain occurs nearly every day, but I can be absolutely guaranteed to feel extra bad during menstruation or if I eat the wrong foods, and I know I can’t drink alcohol at all. The weather changes play a big part in it too, when the barometric pressure changes, my headaches are even more intense. Too bad I live where we have frequent hurricanes and almost daily “isolated thunderstorms.
Artificial fragrances make it worse too, especially perfumes, air fresheners and cleaning products. Light glare is also a big one, flashing lights are worse. Or, sometimes the pain becomes active spontaneously even during sleep. I experience almost daily, all day and night long, uncontrolled and excruciatingly painful “attacks”. Twenty eight out of every thirty days I am living with this horrible pain. It’s worse in the morning, last’s all day, and hardly lets me sleep. The pain varies in intensity throughout the day, but never really goes away.
In an effort to relieve my pain I have to stay in dark, cool, quiet places, away from stress and activity, away from my family and friends. I try to handle the pain with ice packs to my head and alternating by taking hot baths and showers. Thankfully I have my husband to rub my neck and feet to try to ease my pain. I have not found any medication that effective controls the pain, and choose not to take excessive amounts of heavy duty prescription narcotic pain medication.
I spend most of my life huddled in a ball in bed with an icepack on my forehead and one on the base of my neck. I can’t afford any medical treatment currently, but the pain doesn’t know we’re broke and hasn’t gone away. I had a couple of really great jobs in the same career; as a real estate closing coordinator. I earned a pretty good living before getting sick. Then my migraines started interfering with my work and I lost that great job. I then worked one short term job after another trying everything from waitressing, to selling cars, to working in the mall dressed as a Fairytale character. I tried customer service, sales and office work. I couldn’t find anything that I was able to do.
Eventually the pain became evident even on my resume as I had to explain my frequent job changes, and the variety of jobs I have had just didn’t add up to prospective employers. No one is even willing to give me a chance anymore. My last couple of employers knew about my migraines but hired me anyways, they tried to accommodate me for a while but in the end my migraines caused me to miss so much work I was always fired. I have tried, but I can no longer work.
Prior to these daily migraines I functioned as a normal, healthy adult member of society. I worked full time, participated in activities with family and friends and lead a well rounded and fulfilling life. I was able to care for myself and assist others around me. I took pleasure from hobbies and trying new things. I can no longer do these things because of what I think of as my curse.
Most nights it is impossible for me to even fall sleep due to the pain. I often spend most of the night awake tossing and turning, uncomfortable and exhausted. When I do fall asleep I sleep fitfully, up and down all night. Most nights I am lucky to get four hours of sleep out of nine hours in bed. Occasionally I am able to fall asleep alright, only to be awakened by terrible pain at 3:30 or 4:00 AM. It leaves me exhausted all the time and needing frequent naps throughout the day.
Because of my migraines I can’t read books, which used to be my favorite pastime. I can’t watch TV for more than a little while and I can’t be on the computer for too long.
Sensitivity to light makes it so that I can’t participate in any outdoor activities, I can’t go to the beach or the park, or horseback riding or enjoy anything in the sunshine.
I can’t make any plans in advance because I can never predict how bad I will feel, I might plan to spend some time with my Mom, or my sister, or a friend, only when that time comes, I won’t be able to go because I feel awful. I’ve lost almost all of my friends over the past couple of years because I feel too bad to interact with them. Most of my family can’t understand my disability and they get angry when I miss family events.
I used to live but now migraines have reduced me to existing…
Which are you most sensitive to?