Migraines have to be one of the most cruel of all ailments, at least in my experience.
Even before the pain of the headache hits, the effects begin. My thoughts are slower, thicker, jumbled. My eyes feel funny, eyelids get lazy, and an ‘aura’ may appear. Quick movements can cause dizziness or instability, even just quickly moving my eyes. A feeling not unlike motion sickness sometimes comes with it.
Then the pain. Sometimes it rises slowly. Sometimes it hits like a freight train. Either way, it’s unbearable. It’s unlike a regular headache… The migraine is intense and all-encompassing.
Light hurts. Sound hurts. Thinking hurts. Being, just being, hurts.
Eyes ache. Stomach churns. Head pounds. Ears ring.
Face hurts and almost feels puffy. Sometimes my tongue goes numb on one side. Sometimes I get tingling in my hands. The worst migraines are the ones when I feel like I can’t talk properly – the words won’t form in my head or in my mouth.
One cannot just “rest” or “veg” with a migraine. The things I would normally find restful, like listening to music, reading, watching tv or a movie, writing… Those things all make the migraine worse.
Sleep is really just about the only thing I can do with a migraine, and trying to go to sleep even hurts. Sleep, in a silent room, the darker the better.
You can only hope that sleep comes fast, that the pain subsides quickly, and that your brain will work again when you wake up.
My son asked me when he had his first migraine (when he was 10), “Mom, am I going to die?”
I told him he wouldn’t die, but I knew exactly how he felt, lying there in the dark with his head on the cold bathroom floor, not sure if throwing up would feel better or worse, but finding some tiny relief from the chill of the tile on his forehead.
How many minutes have I wondered if throwing up really would help my head feel better, knowing full well that it could go either way?
How many hours have I fought to keep from throwing up long enough for the pain meds to kick in, so I wouldn’t vomit them up and have to take them again, and wait even longer for relief?
How many days have I waited on the edge of agony and sleep, just hoping the pain would go away so I could at least think, or finally drift off to rest?
How many weeks have I slept locked away in the silence and the dark with cold compresses across my eyes?
Does it tally up to months or years of “lost time”?
Migraines are horrible thieves, and cruel torture masters.
Note: I live in one of the 3 areas in Canada where residents are most prone to experience migraines. Here, it is due to geography and weather (Chinook winds). I’m working through preventative measures, and I’m much more able to manage the pain aspect of migraines now than when I moved here 5 years ago. The vice-grip on my head is less easily managed, and the sluggish thoughts, mini-stroke symptoms don’t seem to be as simply treated. This is just a collection of my thoughts after suffering a 4-day migraine recently.