Maybe, it's a Migraine
Last updated: June 2023
I'm uncontrollably laughing and making jokes... I know a migraine is coming. I enjoy my last few minutes of happiness before the crippling pain takes over my body.
The pain usually starts in my neck, creeping into my jaw, eventually making its way to my eyes and forehead. My neck pain never seems to dissipate, but there are days, very few, where my head doesn't ache.
I used to not be able to prepare myself and others for one of my migraines; I thought there was no warning. I realized I sometimes get a sudden burst of energy, causing uncontrollable laughter or goofy actions. Other times, I slam into a wall of fatigue. Then the pain tramples me.
I have had migraines since I was 12 (I am 18 now) and there still hasn't been a reason or medicine discovered for me specifically. My neurologist first prescribed me topamax which caused my migraines to double in pain. Not only was my head exploding, but I was hit with every side effect. I lost my ability to think. I could hardly speak or read. I was constantly crying for no reason. Obviously, that was not the medication for me.
I visit the neurologist every 3 months. I was prescribed Propanolol (Inderal), a beta blocker, which seemed to help those who reacted as poorly as I to Topamax. Propanolol seemed to work... I was cured! I was naive to believe such pain could be masked by just one pill. As the days went by, the migraines came back. I went back to the neurologist and was prescribed a higher dosage of Propanolol. It worked for 2 months, then it didn't. This pattern has been continuing for almost a year now.
Currently, I am at the highest dosage recommended (220 mg) for a person my age and size. I am almost through the second month and I already feel the migraines returning. What's next? A downward spiral into the blinding life of my migraines.
There are certain types of migraines I have-
The icepick: I feel like an icepick is stabbing into one of my eyes and experience a freezing feeling in my forehead. I usually lose vision in that eye, seeing only white.
The tunnel vision: I can only focus on what is in front of me, yet I have no idea what is going on. I can hear and see, but I can't process any of it. I feel trapped.
The maniac: I get a crazy amount of energy and I can't stop cracking jokes. This most definitely means the maniac is coming. I get a sharp pain piercing through my eyes. All noises are amplified and I can't help but fidget and wince in pain, yet my mind is still fully functional.
The Knockout: Sometimes I experience such unbearable pain and all I want to do is lay down. I usually have to make it through a school day or the drive home, which is always difficult because of my pounding head. The pain is so extreme, I can't keep my eyes open. As soon as I hit the hay, I'm asleep for hours.
The Out of Body: These used to be my most common type of migraine. I feel like I'm myself in a movie; I see everything going on around me, but not through my eyes. I feel stuck and speechless. Words won't come out and I would end up places with no recollection of the trip there.
The Rain Drops: Another old friend of mine, the light show. I usually get these in the car. I feel perfectly fine, then it hits me. I see little circles (slightly resemble raindrops) bouncing to a beat. I can't move at all, my body is too heavy to move from the neck down. The circles move in and out, up and down. Then the restraints on my body are lifted and the rain drops wash away. I realize the beat of the music was actually the throbbing of my head.
These are the migraines I have been suffering with for years, but hardly anyone believes me. The doctors couldn't find a reason for my migraines, but could only confirm they were very real. I seem fine most of the time because I have gotten used to the once incapacitating pain. Now, I just deal with everyone's assumptions that I am just tired or maybe I didn't study hard enough. It never occurs to anyone that maybe I can't comprehend what is happening around me. Maybe I can't make the words come out because all I can focus on is the ticking of the clock, or the cricket down the hall. Maybe, it's a migraine.
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?