I’ve suffered from a severe migraine since I was seven years old. At a time as a child, I couldn’t understand what was happening to me and why my head was unbearable hurting, to the point that during one of a migraine strikes a seven-year-old me said goodbye to my mother thinking that I was dying.
A migraine and its ora
Often people are unaware of the pain and additional effects that accompany a migraine; confusing a migraine with an ordinary headache. Yes, it’s a headache that usually feels like a throbbing, pulsating pain on a side of the head but it comes with nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light and sounds; and on average lasts about 72 hours.
In my case, the migraine that I have is called a chronic migraine with aura. This means that I have it more than 15 days a month, and it strikes with or after some sensory disturbances.
In other words, the migraine I suffer from features additional neurological symptoms along with an excruciating headache. It might sound unusual, but it the world of a migraine it’s a lot more common than many might realise.
The additional disturbances could be seen as an introduction, an announcement that a Migraine is coming! These disturbances strike first and last for about an hour, one follows another. When the disturbances start to slowly subside, that’s when a migraine and the unbearable headache starts and in my case, it can last between one to three days.
Due to these additional neurological symptoms, or aura, I develop visual disturbances which means an appearance of severe blind spots in the field of the eyesight which leave me partially blind.
I then develop numbness in my face, mouth, hands and legs. Followed by painful tingling and cramps in my arms and legs. During such strikes, I can not feel my hands so I can not do anything, including holding my baby.
The next stage of the strike affects my mind and memory, which becomes foggy and disoriented. I tend to ask the same thing over and over, as my mind becomes fixated on the last important thing or task I was doing prior to the migraine strike. I become unable to even use my phone as my mind can not process such basic things as dialling a phone number.
Then, the severe numbness in my mouth leaves me nauseous and unable to pronounce words or put together sentences, leaving me unable to speak. I can only say random sounds, mainly vowels.
My Life with a Migraine
The above-mentioned type of a migraine I get about once or twice a month. I call it a Full Blast.
Sometimes, if I’m lucky and I would manage to take a tablet on time I would only suffer from the neurological disturbances, without a follow-up headache, but this is very rare.
Several times a week, on average two to three, I would get a lighter version of a Full Blast migraine.
The lighter version in my world means speech and vision disturbances followed by a migraine headache which lasts about 4 to 6 hours. In my world, it’s as normal as brushing my teeth as I get it so frequently that it’s become simply a part of my daily life.
At the moment, the anti-migraine drugs available, deal only with a follow-up headache, not preventing the triggers or suppressing the aura, in my case, often not helping or making much of a difference at all, leaving me to suffer in pain for hours. Most of the available drugs don’t work for me, I’ve tried so many…
A migraine and motherhood
At the moment there’s only one set of painkillers that help me but I only have seconds from the start of aura to take a tablet and catch it ‘on time’. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t feel the aura starting and by the time I lose my vision it’s too late and the tablets won’t help.
It is usually advised to stay in a dark and cool room during a migraine, which I do the best I can, but it is not easy to have a luxury of 6 hours rest ( not a luxury of course, as you are going through an unbearable pain) in a quiet dark room when you have to look after your toddler 24/7.
I couldn’t take tablets when I was pregnant or during the follow-up months that I’ve breastfed so you can imagine how painful were the past two and a half years of my life.
The triggers for such migraines vary. From chocolate and cheese to bright flashing lights and changes in the weather.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to recognise the signs of the triggers and sometimes I can feel it’s about to strike. I’ve noticed that I would be more susceptible to migraines when there’s a rapid change in the weather, temperature changes and the jumps in the atmospheric pressure. I’m like a human barometer! In addition to my supernatural weather predicting abilities, the migraine strikes if I’m hungry, dehydrated, lack solid sleep or stressed. So with the birth of my baby boy, and the physical and mental challenges of motherhood has inevitably triggered the worst of migraines for me over the past two years.
It’s beyond words difficult and scary to be home alone with the baby and have a Full Blast migraine. I’ve learned to adapt and deal with it in the best and safest way for my son. I’ve managed to look after my boy through the worst of migraines and I will continue to do so.
I think it’s important to talk more openly about life with a migraine as many people do not realise just what exactly that it is. I often hear people saying they have an ‘a migraine ‘ but it turns out they just have a common headache, which granted is painful but it’s two different things.
A migraine is not an ordinary headache
I’ve come across people who’d use the word ‘a migraine’ to make their headache sound like something more than it actually is, whilst others are simply not aware of the difference between a migraine and a common headache.
I know many people who suffer from awful migraines with aura but they don’t talk about it, especially in the working environment as they feel that people around them do not take ‘migraines’ seriously and often brush it off as a simple headache.
A migraine is a condition, a very painful condition which can make basic things we do daily, rather challenging and at times impossible.
Likely, whether they last a few hours or a couple of days, this strikes come and go, but when they do come, we need for people around us to be understanding of the severity of it. We might not say it, but we feel a lot calmer and safe when there’s someone by our side when we are going through this, especially if it strikes us when we are in a public place.
I remember being partially blind on a crowded train home from work, unable to feel my hands or speak. I was so scared I won’t be able to make through the journey.
Most of the people who suffer from a migraine learn to deal and live with it as normal and suffer in silence. No suffering or pain should be silent. Neither should be this one.
I hope that with people talking more about this nasty condition, we can share knowledge and experience of it and educate those who don’t realise just what it really is and provide a better support for those who suffer from this painful thing.
I had it all my life and I don’t let it run or ruin my life, but boy it’s annoying, not easy and very painful.