June is Migraine Awareness Month. Migraine is the chronic illness I’ve had for the longest. Although, I’ve finally gotten them under control migraine attacks still affect me. As I’ve gotten older I find that they affect me differently than they did when I was younger.
I’ve gone through many phases with them, from rare occurrences to chronic daily migraine lasting months, as well as Cluster Headaches attacking daily.
I’ve tried treating as needed, and I’ve tried a variety of daily preventative treatments. Very little ever seemed to make a difference as it seems that the biggest triggers for me are stress and hormones.
30 Things About My Life with Migraine
1. My diagnosis is chronic migraines and cluster headaches
2. My migraine attack frequency is currently rarely. Maybe one a month or less.
3. I was diagnosed in 2003 for migraines (I think) and 2010 for cluster headaches
4. My comorbid conditions include fibromyalgia, IBS, hypothyroid, TMJ, endometriosis and probably a few others. I can never seem to remember all of my diagnoses at one time.
5. I treat migraine attacks with Relpax as needed. I’ve tried many treatments over the years and Relpax seems to work best for me. Although, while I was once able to take it without any side effects, I find that more often I feel a bit hung-over after taking it now (fatigued and out of it).
6. My first migraine attack was so long ago I can’t even remember. Migraines have always been a part of my life.
7. My most disabling migraine symptoms are extreme head pain, sensitivity to light, and nausea.
8. My strangest migraine symptom is general weakness. Often this is the first sign of a migraine coming on. Before I feel pain in my head, I’ll feel generally weak and tight.
9. My biggest migraine triggers are stress and bright or flashing lights. Looking back I realize that the periods I dealt with the most migraine attacks (or chronic migraine) were times when I was dealing with the most stress in my life. Keeping stress in check has helped keep the migraines at bay. Bright or flashing lights (florescent lights) can often trigger a migraine without any other mitigating circumstances, taking me from happy and enjoying life to in massive pain with nausea in moments.
10. I know a migraine attack is coming on when I can’t tell I’m wearing my sunglasses inside. Another sure sign is that I just feel tight all over, especially from my shoulders up. That tightness, if allowed to go unchecked, will invariably turn into a full-blown head-pounding migraine.
11. The most frustrating part about having a migraine attack is that it gets in the way of things I want to do.
12. During a migraine attack, I worry most about when it will end. Every time the migraines or headaches come back I worry that it’s another cluster and I’ll be stuck with them for months on end.
13. When I think about migraine between attacks, I think that I’m really thankful I don’t have one.
14. When I tell someone I have migraine, the response is usually “if I had a migraine I couldn’t stand up.” I often work through migraines, or continue as if things are normal (until I can’t). Such is life with chronic migraines, you learn to push through.
15. When someone tells me they have migraine, I think that really sucks. I hate that you live with them too and hope it goes away soon for you.
16. When I see commercials about migraine treatments, I think “if only it were that easy.” Like most commercials for medications they make it look so easy. As if you’ll just take this magic treatment and all will be perfect again and there will be no side effects. That’s rarely the case.
17. My best coping tools are my sunglasses and a Coke. I remember when I was a kid and my mom would get migraine attacks. She’d take an Excedrin and drink a Coke. That was my treatment of choice for many years until I experienced my first period of chronic migraine. Then, I took too many NSAIDs and caused an ulcer. Now I can’t take most OTC treatments anymore. But, I still find that a Coke can often help. The caffeine helps with blood-flow and also somehow calms my stomach.
18. I find comfort in quiet. Too much noise and too many inputs is just stressful. Enjoying quiet, especially in nature is so soothing.
19. I get angry when people dismiss someone’s migraine experience as “not bad enough” or “not real”. We are all unique. I’ve seen migraine attacks do some strange things to people, from blind them to cause black-outs. I’ve worked through migraines and I’ve had to immediately crawl into bed in a dark room. Just because someone is working or having a conversation while they have a migraine, doesn’t mean they aren’t in pain.
20. I like it when people say: “Is there anything I can do?” or “what do you need?”
21. Something kind someone can do for me during a migraine attack is bring me a Coke. It doesn’t always work but it often helps.
22. The best thing(s) a doctor has ever said to me about migraine is “here’s something we can try…..”
23. The hardest thing to accept about having migraine is that they will always be there.
24. Migraine has taught me that I can push through. When you live with chronic pain of any kind eventually you learn to push through. I can’t always push through, but most of the time I can keep going.
25. The quotation, motto, mantra, or scripture that gets me through an attack is “It is what it is.”
26. If I could go back to the early days of my diagnosis, I would tell myself that stress has effects we often don’t realize. If you can learn how to manage (or avoid) stress, you can control a great deal, including limiting migraine attacks and the symptoms of other chronic illnesses. Enjoy the little things in life and just relax.
27. The people who support me most are my partner and my mom. They are there for me when I need it and always willing to help.
28. The thing I most wish people understood about migraine is that it’s not one-size fits all, or even most. We are all different and our symptoms, triggers, and treatments vary.
29. Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is important to me because too often those of us with migraines fly under the radar. We can either hide it or we don’t show up when we have one so no one sees it.
30. One more thing I’d like to say about life with migraine is that it is survivable. It’s not fun, it sucks, but we can get through it.