This has been the most frustrating and painful few days. I did not do one thing that was productive – with good reason. I try and keep my complaints to a minimum because I realize life can be much worse than it is. Usually I can go with the flow and be fairly spontaneous, but professionally I am very much a planner. A planner that lives with migraines. They are not always debilitating, some are far worse than others. But this last one?! Let’s just say “migraine, life interrupted!” It decided to take me on a three-day roller coaster over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
I’ve had migraines and tension headaches as long as I can remember, I think since I was 19 years old. The first time I got one I was at an action movie. I didn’t have a clue what was going on, I just got physically sick and my head felt like it was being kicked in. Since then I’ve been on something to manage the pain as well as try to minimize the frequency but nothing has ever made them diminish. Over the years as drugs have improved, the duration of my migraines have improved. Still, I have accepted migraines and the side-effect inducing drugs as a fact of life.
During an episode I try and push through unless I get sick and dizzy. Otherwise I dim my lights, try not to look at monitors much, remove myself from noise…I do all I can not to let these things stop me from my quality of life. When they are crippling it is not that easy. Everything is on hold. That is also when it gets frightening for me. I have an aunt who died in her 40s with a brain aneurysm. It’s a very complicated story, but I did not have the opportunity to know her that well. She was a beautiful woman – witty, full of energy and a petite bundle of style and fierce independence. I was completely enamored of her. Months before she died she had been unjustifiably beaten by members of a Midwestern police force. I never knew and never asked if her aneurysm was the result of what happened to her very tiny frame or if the aneurysm was lying in wait, undetected. Because the symptoms of migraines and aneurysms are so similar, I tend to get nervous when I get knocked on my back and when my medication does not work to treat the symptoms. When I’m dizzy and my vision is not quite what it should be, I think about my aunt. When I can barely stand the feel of the pillow against my head and the sound of my own voice above a whisper feels like a hammer to my head, I think of my aunt. I wonder if what I am feeling is the worst migraine yet, or if it’s an aneurysm. It may not be rational but I will probably always have this lifelong fear. I have a small window of relief only when I am able to have an MRI every couple of years.
I know I am one of millions who live with migraines and have life interrupted. I would love to hear some of the successful migraine life hacks you’ve tried. My goal is to put the prescription drugs behind me. So far I’ve tried lavender, peppermint, apple cider vinegar and ginger. None of the remedies have worked. Maybe there is no silver bullet but I am hopeful there is a better way. Thanks for letting me share my fear with you.