Last updated: June 2013
My name is Andrea. I'm 38, married, and a mother to 2 kids. I used to be a paramedic, until my migraines took that from me.
The first headache I remember was in the summer. I was about eight. My brother and all the neighborhood kids were outside playing while I looked on from my bed which was right in front of my bedroom window. I was sprawled across the foot of the bed, wishing I could play freeze tag. Man, I loved freeze tag. In my twisted kid logic, I thought I had been given this headache because I was inside that day and not playing outside. I didn't realize that I was inside laying down because I felt too bad to play outside. I don't remember many severe headaches that stand out other than that one, but my head hurt nearly every single day in my childhood and teens. My mom is a migraineur. I remember the high school girl from next door coming to watch my brother and I while my mom would go to the ER sometimes for treatment. I remember her being sick in bed every now and then with migraines. More often than not, she pushed through. I know this now.
When I was about 11 or 12, I had a spell/period/whatever of double you over, want to die vomiting episodes. Nothing was found to be the cause. The doctor couldn't figure it out. He gave me the world's most horrible tasting green liquid medicine to take, my very mean teacher would send me to the even more mean school nurse who would give me the (placebo, I know now) and I would lay in the fetal position crying and throwing up until I finally got to go home. After a few months, these episodes went away.
All through high school, my head hurt every day. I threw up nearly every morning before I went to school. I never thought they were migraines, because I had seen my mom suffer and my aunts suffer and my grandmother suffer. These headaches were nothing like their migraines. They had to be just sinus headaches, I kept telling myself. I think I killed my liver (not really, I hope) with Tylenol Sinus and Motrin. Of course it didn't help. I don't know how the headaches didn't affect my grades. I graduated with honors.
Fast forward a few years and a few mistakes. Ha ha. I'm in the Air Force Reserves Basic Military Training. I'm doing my thing. Aiming High and all that jazz. I'm planning on being a medic on a C-130 and going to nursing school. Then I have a whopper of a migraine in the bathroom in the dorm and pass out. Another airman finds me passed out by the toilet. This is when I am officially diagnosed with migraines at 21. And I laugh at the neurologist. In her face. And I tell her, "I don't have migraines." She asks me, "Why don't you think you have migraines?" "Well, my mother has migraines. My head doesn't hurt anything like that!"
Seventeen years later, my migraines have gotten the last laugh. My headaches have become increasingly hard to stop. The frequency is still about the same. Nearly every day is hard to change, unless they add more days to the calendar, right? HA HA! I am working very hard on accepting my life the way it is now and letting go of what I lost. That is so hard to do. I am still so angry. I will continue to fight, though. What else can we do, but fight for what we have and hope for change?
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?