And I mean that literally. Since I was about eight years old I have had migraines. The older I got the worst they got. At one point I think I was getting them two or three times per week. And what’s worse is I never know when one is coming, unless I get an aura of course, which doesn’t happen every time. There are of course triggers, but I have yet to pinpoint one specifically.
Some triggers include, but are certainly not limited to: stress, sleep patterns, caffeine or lack there of, hormonal changes, dehydration, lack of food, computer screens, food additives, cheese, alcohol, teeth grinding or clenching, weather and barometric pressure changes, neck tension, etc. The list goes on, those are just some of the more common triggers.
I have found that if you don’t experience them or never have experienced a migraine, then you don’t understand the toll they take and the pain they can cause. Migraines usually go through phases, but not always.
Most of the time I skip over Phase 1 and 2, and go straight to the pain. If I am lucky I get an aura about 30 minutes before I start feeling the pain. I usually experience an aura with one out of every five migraines I have, other than that pain is the only symptom to let me know one has been triggered.
For instance, this past Saturday I had a great day with my boyfriend, his parents, and our roommate out on the bikes riding through Maryland and West Virginia. It was about two or three hours into the day when that little twinge behind my eyes started pulsing; yes like a heart beat. Except this heart beat hurts.
Usually I do not know what triggers my migraines, but we were supposed to get some storms that day, and the closer they got, the worse it hurt. There was no way I could make it home on the bike, so I rode back in the truck with Jake’s mom. The entire ride home it seemed to be going away, until I got out of the truck. It was like someone had a knife to my head and was pounding it in with a sledge hammer.
Once we were inside I tried to lay down and block out the light and sound, but it kept getting worse. It hurt so bad that I was in tears and almost yelling out in pain. I went into the bathroom and turned out the lights while I hovered over the toilet, as the pain was making me nauseous. I finally stopped throwing up and went back to lay on the couch. The pain would not subside. I went upstairs a little while later, hoping laying in bed with the covers over my face would help. Nothing helped.
At this point I had tried all my little remedies to make the pain stop: drinking plenty of water, eating, caffeine, my prescription that my neurologist gave me. Nothing. Jake heated up one of those homemade rice bags and put it on my forehead (cold makes my head hurt more). Nothing. I told Jake that if I cannot get this migraine to go away he may have to take me to the Emergency Room.
After seven hours and throwing up everything in my stomach, I finally fell asleep from exhaustion caused by the pain. Two hours later, a little after 9 PM, I woke up. The pain was gone. What lingered were symptoms similar to a hangover and fatigue.
Sadly, I deal with a debilitating migraine like this once or twice a month, but it use to be more. I can usually catch the pain or see an aura early enough that I can stop the migraine in its tracks, which greatly reduces the number of migraines I have. But in order to do this I have to stay alert 24/7 (minus when I’m sleeping) and I carry around a little pink pouch filled with medications, essential oils, and caffeine tablets. This goes with me everywhere; I will not be found without it, ever. I also keep one at work, just in case I somehow forget the other one.
I have had numerous medications, seen many doctors, had MRIs and X-Rays, and have explored various other extremes to help cure me of this habitual pain, but so far the pain continues.
This is my life. Waiting. Waiting for the pain to keep me from life. I have missed work, birthday parties, baby showers, and even wedding festivities. I cannot control the pain like most people think I can. I do not choose when to have a migraine, and I most certainly do not choose to be in unbearable pain. I have stopped telling people that the reason I couldn’t make it is, “because I had a migraine.” For a long time I thought that having kidney stones was some of the worst pain I have ever felt; I was wrong. I wish I could describe the pain, but I know of nothing that compares.
I have a neurologist, who I am pretty sure doesn’t believe me and most of the time the prescription he gave me doesn’t work. There is only so much of a medication I can take within a few hours before I risk an overdose. Sometimes I am afraid that one day I will have an aneurysm or a stroke, or go blind from the auras.
Migraines are not an excuse. They are a chronic disease and Neurological disorder that cause agonizing pain and disrupt everyday life. We do not choose when to have a migraine and the pain is often so excruciating that normal function is not possible. I wish I could be rid of them, but sadly this is my life and the life of 13 percent of adults in the U.S. alone.
If you do have migraines or chronic migraines, like me, here are some remedies (although I cannot guarantee they will work every time or at all):
Update Since Original Post
I have been migraine free for 48 days. For anyone who has chronic migraines, you know what a relief that is. After seeing a neurologist for almost six months, nothing was really helping, just the medication for when a migraine would come on, and sometimes it wouldn’t help at all. One day, in late November 2017, my boyfriend mentioned trying some gaming glasses. Many gammers and people who spend a majority of their day in front of a screen (be it a TV or computer, etc.) wear gaming glasses to prevent their eyes from straining and causing damage. Since I sit in front of a computer screen for 40+ hours/week, it made sense to try them. So I ordered a pair from GUNNAR.
The glasses arrived on December 1, 2017, and I have not had a full blown migraine since. I have had one or two mild headaches, and I just took my medication and they were knocked out before they even started. These glasses, “are carefully formulated to filter and balance light while absorbing 65% of (HEV) blue light emitted from digital devices. By designing our lenses to shift the color spectrum for visual efficiency, the GUNNAR amber lens takes artificial light and precisely tunes it to the physiology of the eye.”
I was able to get mine without a prescription, since I wear contacts, but all of GUNNAR glasses are available with your own prescription as well. I will always use these glasses now. I take them everywhere too, even to the movies. They do have a yellow tint, but after wearing them a little while you don’t even notice.
Now I just need a visor or something to block the blue light from the office lights coming down from above and I’ll be set! But for real, if you sit behind a screen all day and get migraines, try these glasses, they will change your life. No more missing events, or parties, or work. My life (right now anyways) is no longer controlled by my chronic migraines.