Migraine is My Mistress
February 6, 2011. Superbowl Sunday. I was sitting in a Las Vegas poker room playing cards and watching the game when I started to feel a tightness in my neck. It was a weird kind of pain. Like someone was squeezing my head at the base of my skull. "This is strange", I thought. "I've never had a headache like this before". As the afternoon continued, the pain intensified from a slight squeezing of my neck muscles to a full-on, vise-grip assault of my temporal and occiptal lobes. Some idiot was poking a white-hot knife into my head and I was seeing flashes of lighting and black spots on my cards. I went in the casino bathroom and threw up.
I gutted it out for 2 weeks, taking Naproxen for pain and Pepto Bismal for nausea. It had the effectiveness of squirt gun on a forest fire. On February 15th, I fainted at work. How embarassing. I got rushed to ER by ambulance and run through the gamut of stroke testing. The ER doc came out and said all tests were normal and I should see a neurologist for migraine.
I've never had a headache in my life? How did this happen? Is he joking? It's just a headache!
Looking back, I think this would be Phase I of the Migraine Journey. Naivete and Denial. I spent the rest of 2011 with a bonehead of a neurologist who kept asking me to "pull his finger" at every appointment. We ran through the standard protocol, antidepressents, opiates, pain killers, etc. Nothing worked on the headache. But I did manage to wreck my stomach. I guess it's a good thing that none of the medications worked. I would have just vomited them up anyway. So I saved a lot of money. The final straw came when I told my doc that I had been throwing up every day for 2 weeks and he stated "There's nothing I can do about that!". Jerk.
2012 I found a new neurologist. We're waiting for Botox to get approved. I'm currently on disability leave from work. After another trip to ER after a fainting episode, my fiance finally helped me realize that staring at a computer for 10 hours a day and trying to manage the stress of bad bosses, running a test lab for a tech company (complete with 21 people to manage) and being "everything to everyone", was not going to help me manage this disease. I needed to re-prioritize my life.
Enter Phase II, Realization
I can't sit at a computer anymore. I can't be in bright fluorescent lights. I can't listen to bosses yelling. I can't concentrate or focus\think. I can't comprehend emails. I can't answer complex technical questions. I can't travel. I can't work as an engineer. It's very hard to accept this. And it's very hard to deal with the people at work who stigmatize me and my disease. They think I'm a lazy slacker who is manipulating the system. I need to accept the fact that they will never understand and I need to start taking care of myself instead of worrying about some stupid corporation.
Phase III: Acceptance
I have resigned myself to the fact that I'm going to be in pain, I'm going to be fatigued. I'm going to be nauseaous. I'm going to vomit, and faint, and cry.
I'm going to feel anger, frustration, depression, sadness, guilt and shame. I'm going to feel anxious and scared. But all these feelings are OK. It's normal to feel this way when you are grieving over to loss of a life.
I'm learning how to have hope. I'm learning how to give myself a break. I'm learning how to cope and where to go for answers. Someday, this will all get better.
Which are you most sensitive to?