And I had a migraine yesterday afternoon.
I'm a bit put off by possibly telling someone I'm experiencing a migraine or that I had to bail out of plans from a migraine because of bad past experiences.
There is stigma with saying, "I have a headache/a migraine, I can't do that right now, sorry."
The person can (in my experience) interpret you as lazy, unwilling to do the job, unfit to do the job. Your friend might see that as you telling them you don't want to hang out anymore and a gap might soon wedge itself between the two of you.
The next time your friend says, "Let's get coffee." And you say, "I have a migraine." They'll kind of scoff and shrug and say, "It's no big deal." But they're tired of it.
I've suffered from migraines since I was in high school; although, back then, I thought they were just "very bad headaches" or "weird vision thingies."
What I was never told was that my migraines would possibly get worse.
And they did.
What started out as having to maybe set myself and my world back an hour--a few hours--came into being something that can now set me back sometimes as long as a week.
And that's with noise, lights, certain smells, ~everything~ bothering me, irritating me, making the pounding in my head feel like an alien is about to burst through. (Seriously, I picture that scene from the movie Alien.)
The medication I mainly take--Imitrex--even bothers me. I can only truly take it twice a week, which is basically ridiculous considering my migraines can attack more often than that. AND, the side effects are horrendous. You feel like you're in a sauna--hot and sticky, sweaty to the max; you're even more nauseous than the migraines make you, which is really saying something; irritable, irritable, irritable; and possibly the worst of them all, you feel sore all over--like bruised--and this can last for days.
No other medicine seems to help me. Unless...I manage to take a pain pill RIGHT when I feel a migraine coming on. But this is tricky because it has to be timed almost perfectly. And life doesn't always have the best timing. What's more, I don't want to feel like I'm becoming dependent on pain pills. What a predicament, huh?
Some symptoms I experience from my migraines are:
- Feeling lightheaded, nauseous
- Heartbeat constantly pounding in ears
- Seeing an aura, visual problems
- PAIN: left temple, behind left eye. Stabbing, searing, throbbing pain
- Sounds echo and are increased. That mixed with my misophonia = a world of trouble
- Exhaustion. Just feel drained all over
What I do instead a lot of the time is try to go about my normal routine in hopes that the migraine will go away. Like it'll just sense that I'm not having its crap that day and leave me alone. Now, I know that this will never work but I still do it. Why? Because I want to be normal.
Still yet, I am my own worst enemy by doing this.
I'll try to stay off the laptop and do other things like knit or read or watch Netflix. But even those things do not help my migraine.
I think a part of me is, even after all these years, still in denial that something can break me down so much. In college, my migraines were a large part of why I was so full of stress and why I started doing badly in school.
I started vomiting in class, having to take naps in class, having to excuse myself because the fluorescent lights were driving me crazy. Every time I worse sunglasses in class, a part of my accommodations, a student would complain that they should be able to wear their shades as well. The stress really got to me. Then the stress would cause me to have a migraine! It was a never-ending cycle.
Migraines are mental, physical, and emotional drains on your body.
What I need to learn is that sometimes those migraines are breaks for me. They could be my body's way of telling me I need to stop stressing. I need time away from the laptop and the television. I need peace and quiet and rest.
Joan Didion wrote a piece, one of my favorites, called "In Bed" where she recounts her own experience with migraines. It's really beautiful and when I found myself reading it for an assignment in college, I knew it was just for me.
At the very end of the piece, after talking about how painful migraines are and how much of a burden they are, Didion explains that once a migraine is gone, it's like everything is new again. She says, at the very end of the personal essay, "I count my blessings."
In a way, migraines make for a clean slate. They create this terrible pain and then this giant calm. Afterwards, we are so grateful that we recognize everything anew. We are ready to take on the world.
That is how I hope to look at my migraines. Silver lining in everything, right? They are hated. They are ugly. They are painful.
But they make me grateful.