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Today’s Prompt: There are lots of myths and misconceptions about Migraine. Which one tops your list as the biggest and most common? What can we do to get the truth out there?
The myth that tops my list is the incorrect belief that “migraine” is defined as “a really bad headache”. That’s simply not true. Head injuries, brain tumors, tension-type headaches can also be “really bad headaches” which also cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
I wish I had a nickel for every time someone tried to empathize with me during a Migraine attack by saying, “I had one of those once” or “I used to get those but ____ made them go away.” Both comments (if made by those not diagnosed with Migraines) are accompanied by a glib, non-chalant attitude, blank stare and a monotone voice. Authentic Migraine veterans turn off the lights, guide me to the nearest soft chair, tell everyone to quiet down, and fill me with offers of an ice pack, 7-up, meds, or a ride home.
I can describe the symptoms all day long, but until you experience one for yourself it is difficult to understand what a Migraine attack feels like. The hardest part to explain is how long they last. Migraines usually start hours before the pain sets in. By the time I realize I am having an attack, the process is well underway. Even if I can abort the attack before the pain phase starts, I still experience hours of irritability, anxiety, pain, and “brain fog” followed by at least 12 more hours of blurred vision, light sensitivity and slowing of my cognitive and motor functions. I have at least 24 hours of reduced productivity for every attack, with or without pain.
I have a crazy idea that someday Migraine patients and their loved ones will have easy access to support groups and training classes…like a cross between Lamaze and AA. There are “pregnancy bellies” to help fathers and other loved ones know what a pregnant mom experiences. There are also “drunk glasses” to demonstrate the effects of alcohol on your senses. I’d love to see something like this developed for wider use in “making Migraines visible”.
I’m no fan of government involvement in the private lives of its citizens. However, I do think that a nationwide public awareness campaign may be necessary to counteract the myths and prejudices related to Migraines. I’d prefer this continue to be a grassroots effort, fueled by generous contributions to non-profit organizations devoted to Migraine research and advocacy.
I’m also a realist. Migraines can and do create a level of disability that prevents the most severely impacted patients from engaging in the intensity of effort required to make an impact. That is why the Migraine community needs strong advocates who are not disabled by this disease to speak for us when we are too weak to do it for ourselves. It is for this reason that I am in favor of a Congressional hearing on the impact of headaches and migraines. If you have not exercised your right to petition the government regarding this matter and believe as I do that we deserve strong, unimpaired voices speaking on our behalf, then I urge you to visit the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and sign the petition.
“National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by www.FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.