I started getting migraines when I was a teenager. I was at a sweet sixteen disco party, at a nightclub, when I had my first really bad one, complete with pain and nausea. The young boy I was with wanted to get pinned, which in those days was the equivalent of a pre-engagement. I was absolutely not ready for that, nor was I coping well with the flashing disco balls, so I suppose stress and the blinking lights brought it on. I had no idea what had made me feel so sick, at the time, nor did I realize it would be a precursor to other more unique types of headaches. It turned out to be a defining moment in my life. Flickering lights and bright lights, especially with loud noise, have continued to plague me as a trigger to what I soon discovered was a migraine aura. I also experienced progressive numbness on one side of my body, even extending into my tongue, with my earlier headaches, but thankfully, that symptom has subsided and I no longer run to the emergency room, as I once did.

Living with migraine today

Today, the pain is manageable and the worst symptoms are the shortness of breath a day or two before, the blurry vision and the eventual vision loss from the aura which can occur multiple times. One doctor told me if it lasted more than thirty minutes, get to the ER, it could be a stroke. As I get older, it becomes more of a concern.

My twin brother developed cluster migraines which were more horrible. The day my dad passed away, I had to wait for my twin to recover from his migraine before visiting my dad in the hospital, since we were going together. He was in such agony that my dad died before we got there. Not seeing him alive once more, has always troubled me, but migraines are unpredictable, and I could not leave my twin.

Migraine in the family

Both my children have had migraines, although rarely. Both have lost peripheral vision when it starts. I never know exactly how mine will progress or exactly what the aura will be or what the ancillary symptoms will be, either. I do my best to be stoic and try not to let the migraines interfere with my normal life. As a result, I have hidden them from my family, whenever possible, so my husband and family do not really know how debilitating they are for me or how frightened I am of what else it could be. I run to a darkened room, take something to prevent pain and usually fall asleep for a brief period. The day after, I often feel like I was hit with a sledge hammer. I have a high tolerance for pain and continue to try to hide it from everyone. No one truly understands.

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