Migraine – the beast

I am a migraine sufferer and have been since I was 24. My non-medical opinion attributes it to the spinals I received during childbirth. It has gotten better over the years in some respects but mostly because I understand it better than I did in the beginning. Knowledge is power.

In the beginning it was a lot of aura’s and vomiting. Thinking I was dying. I was not dying just suffering. I suffered repeatedly over the course of my reproductive years, not until I was past that mark (thanks to fibroids and surgery) did they subside at all. Then they became manageable. A few times a month, pop a rizatriptan and I could work my way through it. Then I started adding magnesium and exercise and things got really good.

I read a book in my 40’s by Dr. Oliver Sacks simply entitled “Migraine” it was a turning point in my understanding of this complex condition. His book is as relevant today as when it was written. At least for me.

Why write this today? Because I woke up to a migraine. Yes, as I awoke with a relentless pain behind my eye, usually my right eye, I realized I should have seen it coming. Yesterday, I had heartburn constantly which is often a precursor to a migraine episode.

But I didn’t pay attention and take something then, I waited for the actual pain to arrive. And it did. I felt as though I could not walk, my head felt heavy and my traditional right side was affected. Not only my head because this is a neurological condition, not a headache. For this who suffer, you understand, for those who do not, I understand and am grateful you don’t.

I endured the throbbing and let the dogs out at 515 a little earlier than normal but I answer the call. I prepared them breakfast and conned the sick one to eat and prepared a coffee to try and ward off my own dilemma. I took my coffee in the living room and laid on the couch, willing it to go away on its own. No dice, but I did sleep for another hour. Second sleep Marc calls it.

I awoke at 7 and stumbled to the bathroom and found my meds. I took that 10mg pill with coffee and waited for results. Soon the tingling in the arm subsided, my nasal passages relaxed, and the sneezing subsided. Another hour or so and I am sure I will be able to resume my day.

My personal migraine story/saga is ongoing and knowledge has made me better prepared to fight. Over the years the migraine itself has changed form and like the chameleon it is…always keeps me on my toes.

It started years ago, I was at work and it hit me. I seriously thought I was going blind. I suffered broken vision in my right eye. I remember like it was yesterday and it was 36 years ago and ironically my daughter is 36. Coincidence? I think not. It was often accompanied by vomiting, nausea and much laying in the dark. I could count on 7-12 days a month that were sacrificed due to the beast.

And then the demon went on a brief hiatus. The demon slept and and only crawled out of its cave periodically as if to remind me it was still there. And then perimenopause (yes I actually put that in print) happened and the beast decided the hiatus was over. It returned with a vengeance. Many times I thought I was actually having a stroke and I would lay in my bed waiting to die. The form changed I no longer had auras they had been replaced with tingling arms and full body pain (usually on my right side which is my dominant side), digestive issues and the accompanying head pressure/pain. In time I realized that this was my new form and in my late 40’s I actually asked to try a prescribed medication, which was Rizatriptan that I am currently prescribed. It does work well for me. I laughingly call it “Putting on the Ritz” yes, humor doesn’t work for everyone but it does for me.

It was at that point that I decided migraine was not going to win, we needed a truce. I needed to function and this was not allowed to slow me down. So when the beast arrives, I take a pill and wait (which for me is incredibly difficult as we all want instant results) and eventually I return to my version of relief and resume life. My arms slowly stop tingling and my myriad of other pain that accompany a visit from the beast diminish. My energy returns, my brain fog clears and sometimes I am greeted with almost a surge of energy simply from the removal of pain. Mostly, I am grateful. Grateful it is manageable, grateful it isn’t worse, grateful I have found a way through it.. many do not.

I guess I write this for those who don’t suffer and for those who do. Knowledge is power. Compassion is contagious.

Be kind, understanding and compassionate. Migraine is a wily foe, not to be trifled with casually.

In solidarity with all Migraine Warriors,

Until Next Time,



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