My struggle with migraines

I just wanted to write a short update (well it started out as short) to describe how suffering with migraines interferes with having a normal life. I’ve had an attack today, and as it happens it’s Migraine Awareness Week, which is run by the Migraine Trust at migrainetrust.org. Quite frankly, migraines are the main reason that I have missed more than my fair share of days at work (something which I am constantly in trouble for).

Put simply, migraines ruin my life.

A typical attack can occasionally be preceded with very minor symptoms, like light sensitivity, which if I notice early enough (sadly I don’t very often) can sometimes mean I take my medication in time to stave it off. Most of the time, however, I wake up with huge sections missing from my field of vision. I.e. I am semi-BLIND. These “missing” sections actually resemble the grey static that you used to see on TV (before the digital age, that is) – with black and white geometric patterns zig-zagging their way around the edges.

At the same time, I feel incredibly nauseous (the whole world is after all moving, flickering and flashing), sometimes I am actually sick, and I have a headache so bad that I wish I could knock myself out to avoid feeling the pain.  The headache itself is usually behind and around one or other of my eyes (it can be either, and it can move from one side to the other and back during the course of a single attack), down the side of my face, and down my neck.  I have a numbness/tingling sensations in my extremities; notably my hands, feet and tongue.  I also get very scatty-brained, and can not properly form a sentence or organise my thoughts to communicate coherently (both verbally and written – I’ve got into trouble saying and doing the wrong things that way also).

Emotionally I feel like I’m letting myself and everybody down, my work colleagues, my friends, my family.  When I try and talk to people about my condition it comes across as me winging or moaning, and I end up pissing people off.  Consequently I feel very worried, upset and angry at the same time as having the physical/medical symptoms, and I can end up being on the defensive, and can come across as aggressive.  It’s never my intention.

I have a plethora of drugs which are an attempt to manage this condition.  I take pizotifen every single day as a prophylactic, and I have both sumitriptan (Imigran) and Migraleve to relieve an attack. They don’t always work.

Finally, in general I feel the need to shy away from friends, be distant to work colleagues, ignore a large number of my family; because after all “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Even before starting my MBA studies, now finished, I didn’t have much of a social life. Staying inside and studying was actually not the problem, but a sort of solution to the fact that I didn’t want to risk going out with people. Going out and having a good time releases endorphins in the brain – and that’s one of my (many) triggers. Having fun can bring on an attack. Lucky me. That’s why I stay in.

For more information on this condition please take a look at the Migraine Awareness Week pages and the Migraine Trust FAQ.

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