My routine was thrown off balance like a ship tossing in a storm. Sometimes all you can do is hang on, hoping you don’t get tossed overboard. Before I could move forward, I needed to wait out the storm, assess for damage, make repairs, and right the ship.
My experience was foreign to them and they never did understand. Some were even cruel in their responses. Migraines made me an outcast with my new family. I wish that I could set them straight. I wish that they would listen and try to understand life from my perspective. After all, they seem like reasonable people. If they only knew the truth.
There is no one-size-fits-all Migraine. Sometimes a patient will have symptoms that are so unique to appear as though it is not migraine at all. Perhaps you have migraine or know someone who does. To borrow a phrase from autism advocacy…If you’ve met one migraineur, you’ve met one migraineur. That’s how different we are. Even if you didn’t count our personalities, talents, weaknesses, family history, social environment, and all the things that make everyone unique we’re still an ecclectic group.
We didn’t have much to work with — just aspirin and Advil. The idea of preventive therapy or more aggressive abortives were ideas I wouldn’t be introduced to for at least five more years. I had learned enough to know that I needed to treat an attack at the first sign of trouble. Nobody knew about the risks of medication overuse.
Migraineurs have an acrimonious relationship with our own brains. We see our brains as the cause of our troubles, an enemy to be defeated (or destroyed). After all, we are told that it is within our brains that all the trouble starts. Neurotransmitters, coritcal spreading depression, overactive pain receptors, hypersensitivity to stimuli…it all happens in the brain.
A lot of people call Migraine an “invisible illness.” I disagree. It is most certainly not invisible. The problem is that there is not enough awareness about the condition. If more people understood what it is to live with Migraine, then many would recognize the signs. It is not “just a headache”, and inconvenience, or nuisance. It is a serious neurological disorder with no know cause and no cure. There are symptoms all the time, not just during an acute attack.
Just as the workday was ending heavy thunderstorms rolled into town yesterday evening. Soon tornado sirens sounded the warning to take shelter. Without any drama, anxiety, or stress, I picked up a few things and moved to the basement where I called my husband and kids to check in. About the most dramatic event was discovering water leaks in a few places near the baseboards. Moments after my husband arrived home, a second siren signaled the “all clear.”
“BEEP…BEEP…BEEP! This is not a drill. Migraine will commence within 24 hours. You are urged to take shelter and make preparations immediately.” Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a warning like this to let you know when your next migraine attack was about to start? Well, you probably already get a warning and just didn’t know how to recognize it.
Darkness enveloped the room. A halo of ice packs barely dulled the pulsating throb inside my head. The active volcano in my stomach churned, threatening to explode each time the smell of burning sulfur hit my nose. “BOOM!” Sounds, lights, and smells assaulted my nervous system like exploding missiles. Surrendering had been in vain. There was no escaping fireworks on July 4th.
Can you thrive with chronic pain? Millions of people all over the world are living with daily, unrelenting pain. Have you ever wondered how they do it? Maybe you’re thinking “I could never do that!”