Monday, April 4, 2011

What happens when I get a migraine

Migraines are different for everyone, and some people refer to a bad headache as a migraine. I grew up watching my mom deal with them, and never understood how she felt until I started getting them when I was around 10. They don't really know what causes them, but there are some common triggers. Some of us are greatly affected by changes in weather, for example. Mine vary in severity, from what I think of as a Level 1, where I have a bit of pain that does not really stop me from doing anything, and does not progress. That is what I thought I had early this morning, so I went to work as per usual. However, what was really happening is that I was getting a Level 3 migraine, and here is what happened to me.

By 10:30 I was having nausea and increasing pain. I had two glasses of cold water, went outside for a minute, and then went back to my desk. At 11:20 I decided to take a Maxalt and I thought I would not get any worse so I went to my meeting. By noon, I had ringing in my ears, reduced speech function, and when I closed my eyes, I would see flashes of light. I really wanted to stay until the end of the meeting, and thankfully, it wrapped up early. I went back to my desk and then it was like my body temperature would shoot way up, and then plummet. The pain was getting much worse and I knew I had to go home.

One problem I have when it is getting bad is poor judgement. I knew enough to put my sunglasses on to block the light, but I took the streetcar home. The noise and motion were just about unbearable.
I got home, got my ice pack out of the freezer, wrapped it around my head, put the hot water bottle at back of my neck and laid in the dark. I fell asleep at some point, and when I awoke, Maxalt had worked it's wonders, and I could function again.

Why am I writing this? I guess I partly want to discredit the idea that a migraine is just a bad headache. I need people to understand that when I actually say that I have a migraine, it's pretty damn bad, because for each time I say something, there were 5 times that I didn't, because I was able handle what was happening. But there are times like today when I can not function at all. I can't think, speak or do anything at all. These are the times when people like my sister, my mother and my myself simply have to retreat. We don't want to, and we worry about what we've missed in work and life, but we really have no choice.

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