I’m finally coming out of my migraine attack three days later. I could tell it was going to be a bad one because on Friday, I started getting some pre-migraine indicators.
By Monday afternoon, I knew my migraine would be severe even with Advil Migraine.
If you want to know what it’s been like with migraines, here’s my story.
My First Migraine Attack
I still remember my first migraine attack. It was on Thanksgiving Day and I was 11 years old.
My parents had planned to take the family out to dinner instead of cooking at home.
It was my first buffet at one of the best hotels, so I wanted to make sure I got my money’s worth by starving myself beforehand.
For a 6th grader, my logic made sense. If I didn’t eat all morning, I could stuff my self silly for lunch and eat to my heart’s content.
I needed to make room for all that scrumptious food I was about to eat, so why not skip breakfast?
Unfortunately, by the time we got to the buffet, I was so sick to my stomach I couldn’t even eat a single bite of food.
I spent half the time in the bathroom and the other half, leaning back in my chair with my eyes closed at the table.
When the waiter saw me, he commented “wow, she must’ve had a lot to eat!”
Nope. Instead, I missed out on Thanksgiving dinner and was consumed with guilt.
My parents spent a lot of money on us to eat at the buffet and it wasn’t chump change for them.
That was my first migraine attack which I thought was a fluke until I turned 23.
When I knew Something Was Wrong
At 23, I started to notice my migraines because it was the first time I got a headache and vomited from it.
I didn’t understand how I could have been so healthy and strong, but suddenly suffer from migraines which got progressively worse over time. Way worse.
On average, my migraines could cause me to vomit 10-14 times, but a really bad one may be upward of 30 (while having an upset stomach at the same time!).
I had to go to the hospital more than once because I was so ill. I have tried massage, acupuncture, and more, but they still come back no matter what (well, except when I was pregnant).
I was told over and over again that maybe I had virus, food poisoning, or that my headaches were due to stress.
Now, I’m hearing these headaches are migraines …
The only time I was free of migraines these past 10 or so years is when I became pregnant. It was 9 months of bliss. But once my son was born, they returned with a vengeance.
What It’s Like Living With Migraines
Now that my migraines have increased from once every couple of years to almost weekly, I can say that my quality of life is being impacted.
I am lucky if I only get a couple during the month.
I usually get pre-indicators (but not always) that warn me about an impending migraine.
This week for example, I got a warning sign on Friday, but my migraine did not begin until Monday.
I have to carry a plastic (barf) bag just in case and I always have medicine with me.
When I don’t “catch” the migraine in time, I’m doomed.
I try to take hot showers to relieve the pain, eat ice cream, sip cold water, and rest. Sometimes, I try to walk, but if I am too ill, I wait until it passes because there isn’t much else I can do.
Caffeine has always helped too.
That’s why, if I feel any pre-migraine symptoms I know I need to listen. I also have to be careful of any triggers.
I know a migraine is coming when I start having trouble recalling words or jumble them.
I can also tell because I feel fatigued, dizzy, and get tingles.
Sometimes, I get a sensation that makes me feel like my arm isn’t attached to my body or my brain feels sensitive. It’s hard to explain.
When I get the pre-migraine indicators, I get really worried. I know that certain things can also trigger these migraines, so I try my best to avoid them.
Lack of sleep/broken sleep, not eating on schedule, too much stress, the hot sun, not enough water, and staring at a bright screen in the dark can all trigger my migraines. I also have to be careful of certain foods.
If I have to do a night shift at work, I know it will cause a migraine. When I ride planes, I need to eat a lot beforehand to avoid a migraine. Naps can also cause me one, as well as strong smells like cigarette smoke or someone’s strong body odor.
Then there are the uncontrollable triggers like hormones which cause migraines too, especially before your period and sometimes afterward.
Here’s one woman’s crazy migraine story. She ended up with an accent.
As you may have heard in the news recently, migraines are linked to brain structure changes too.
Getting Help For Migraines
I realize after suffering from all these migraines that I need help. Suffering this type of pain is exhausting but also takes away from school, work, and my family.
There was a time when popping two Ibuprofen at the onset of my headache sometimes offered relief. But now, I find that it isn’t as effective and I need something more.
You aren’t supposed to take more than 8-10 ibuprofen a month I heard because that could cause rebound headaches. So, I feel like I often have to pick and choose my days.
Imagine taking care of a baby with weekly migraines. I don’t want to do that again, so I need to get these migraines under control.
This year, I hope to see a neurologist, so I can come up with a good treatment plan because my current one is no longer working.
Why I’m Telling You
People who don’t experience migraines might not understand why a person might miss work, school, or a family event because of a “headache.”
When you have a migraine that you can’t catch in time , you are so ill it feels like food poisoning (at least to me). It is debilitating and all you want to do is crawl in bed and rest until it’s over.
You feel a lot of guilt because you don’t want to miss another work or school day (especially not a family event), but feel helpless and incapacitated to do anything.
I am telling you this because I want you to know that none of it is intentional. It is not just some “headache” but much more.
Thanks for listening.
Do you have migraines or have you experienced any? When did they start and how do you control them?