My first migraine happened when I was 6 years old. My Mom and Dad were going out, somewhere requiring her to wear pretty earrings and her perfume. We lived a ways from "the city" but my Dad drove out to McDonalds to buy my brother and I our favorite food: chicken McNuggets. (Remember when they came in the styrofoam boxes? Yeah, those were the good ol' days.)
Before I bit into that little round goodness of processed meat product, I knew something was wrong with me. I felt nauseous. The world around me felt hot and swimmy. This pain train was coming and I didn't know what was going to hit me. Half a nugget in, I was on the tracks. Throbbing pain on one side of my head, sick stomach, panic that my head would feel like this forever. I still remember my Mom's cool hand on my forehead and the smell of her perfume, her reassurance that if I slept it would get better. So I slept. I don't remember if my parents still went out that night. I do know that I still can't look at McNuggets without this memory and I know that sleep brought me relief. FYI: the nugget did not cause my migraine, genetics and imbalanced biochemistry did, in case you're reading McDonald's Corporation.
31 years later and it still happens. I no longer panic but everything else remains the same. The auras before the migraine, letting me know my day or night is about to be ruined. The searing pain on one side of my head, usually my right. The inability to have lights on without wanting to curl up in a ball and scream. Worst of all, the urge to separate from everyone around me. I just want to lay my pained head on a freezing cold ice pack wrapped in a dish towel and beg for sleep in my cool, quiet bedroom.
They don't happen as frequently as they did when I was a kid (I was up to at least once a week by the time I was in high school.) I think healthier (not all the time but better) eating, more insight into my triggers and some other environmental changes have contributed to my lessening calendar of ice pack date nights. The last month has been tough because I decided to wean off a common preventative prescription that I refer to as "Dopamax" because it turned this otherwise smart and organized woman into a wandering mess of incomplete sentences, made my arms and hands feel as if they were being mildly electrocuted and also a constant feeling of "I'm about to puke." I'll take the migraines, thankyouverymuch. FYI: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. yeah, you put some shitty products out into the world. I put up with it for almost a year and finally decided to risk more frequent migraines.
And they're here. I have Imitrex to treat the 10 out of 10 on the pain scale attacks but I try to limit my use of this drug, too. It's expensive even with insurance and I have a sneaking suspicion that my 20 years of usage is not favorable. So my plan now is cleaner eating, more water, less fluorescent lighting, plenty of rest and vitamins.
I shared all of this for two reasons: (1) it's a part of my history and my now - and it seems strange to not write about it and (2) if you have anyone in your life that gets these, please be patient with them. They don't want to be curled up in a dark bedroom. They would rather be out living life but it just hurts too much for that period in time.
Now if you don't mind, I'm going to chug a bottle of water and try to get a good night's sleep so that tomorrow I don't see the inside of a pitch black bedroom during an otherwise beautiful day.