My Silent, Dreadful, Misunderstood Illness
My first Migraine Aura happened when I was 7 and playing in the front yard. I remember it as clear as day. My friend and I were looking at the sun, and all of a sudden I could not see part of her face. I became a little scared and brushed it off as the reflection of the sun. I remember telling my mom I felt funny. Of course she didn’t understand. I don’t recall a headache that day. But terror, pain, and confusion were to soon enter my life as a young child.
At that time, the doctor gave me a little ergot pill. I just remember being afraid all of the time when my next episode would be, and the horrible pain and vomiting I was going to go through. My Mother was always so loving and kind and understanding. She knew I was very sick each time. I vividly remember her putting a blanket to cover my windows, and bringing me the garbage can to throw up in, and the wet rag to put on my forehead. Unfortunately, none of it helped the agony I was going to feel for 3 hours. Yes, for three hours from the time the Aura hit, I felt nothing but fear, pain, sickness and just dreaded that this was happening to me. Would that man in my head that has a hammer and chisel trying to get out, just get out already!
I never have been able to pinpoint when a Migraine would hit me. Was it the rolling TV, the camera flash, or something I ate? For years, and I mean years, I would not allow anyone to take my picture. I guess I had a migraine following someone taking my picture.
For years I would go through days where I would be a happy little girl, and woman to completely letting migraines rule my life. Am I getting one now? Am I going to get one today? What if I get one and my mom can’t get to me?
Another problem I encountered were family members who really did not understand the gravity of what was happening to me. I had an aunt, one who I loved, but she would say to me on a frequent basis, “you tell yourself you are going to get a migraine, and that is why you do.” To this day, as an adult, I’d like to speak with her so she could realize, you don’t cause yourself to have a migraine…there could be some triggers I realize that now, but mine have never been anything in particular. My own personal opinion is that mine have something to do with hormones. Mine happened more frequently when I was an adolescent, then when I was pregnant, and I think during menopause.
However, I will say for me there has been light at the end of the tunnel. My horrible migraines have turned in to Migraines with Aura, but the terrible headache and nausea are not so severe or are not part of the routine. I can even keep working on most occasions. And I don’t live in fear as I did when I was and young child, and younger adult. I am now 52 and unfortunately I still get Migraines and they do seem to come in clusters. I had 2 within this week. Before that it was 6 months.
About a year ago, my Gynecologist wanted me to take hormone therapy. It was a cream to rub in once daily on my wrist. No Thank you! I started having the Aura almost immediately and feeling sick and it quite clearly was linked to the hormone therapy cream. So I stopped taking it.
But, this week, nothing different in my life other than a little stress at work, and BOOM….2 migraines. The very last one I had spent a wonderful Memorial Day weekend cookout with family and friends, came home, crawled in bed to watch a good movie, and boom, just like that..Aura! Took some new medicine Maxalt, and had a slight headache and just felt bad for a while. Usually I accompany my Migraine medicine with a pain pill. However this time, I took only the one 10 milligram Maxalt. First time for me, but I think I will try it again next time.
For years, I took Midrin. And it helped me. Although I hated the taste. Then they stopped making it. So my doctor suggested Imitrex. It gave me heartburn, and with the prior Migraine I had, I had Aura, headache, and violent vomiting for hours. Past my normal 3 hour time period. I had not experienced this in many years. So Imitrex does not work for me. But it appears Maxalt does.
I write this story because I want others to know I do know what a Migraine is. I can relate to you, and I know how it makes you suffer. It affects your daily life, puts everything you are doing at the moment on hold, whether it is driving, having a wonderful time with family, on a vacation, at work or even as a child in school. Oh how I remember being in school and waiting for my father to pick me up after yet another episode.
Awareness is so key because most people don’t understand. Employers should know that some people have an illness that does require you to leave work immediately, and it’s not because you want to get out of working. I recommend to anyone that has REAL Migraine, and diagnosis, to always have a doctors personally written letter explaining the illness to their employer if it is affecting your job.
Explaining Migraine to the non Migraine sufferers out there is a problem and sometimes comical. I love it when a person tries to tell me they have them too! They just take over the counter migraine headache pills and they have “gotten them under control.” I have heard this so much in my lifetime, it is quite comical! Only me and the other real sufferers of migraine know its true magnitude. I describe it as debilitating just like any other other serious illness or disease. I think it should be classified with other illnesses that are known to be serious, and non sufferers should be informed before they relate their headache to mine or yours!