Sunday, 1 September 2013

The matter of migraine

Migraine. Not a headache. Not something that goes away when you take two paracetamol. Not a headache. Not a convenient excuse to phone in sick with.  Not a headache.

Migraine. Losing my eyesight. Not being able to put my head on a pillow. Vomiting. Feeling like my head will explode from the pressure. Drugs. A lot of drugs. Injections in my head. Lying in the dark. Hospitalisation. Confusion. Exhaustion. Sometimes seizures.

Definitely not a headache.

Migraine. Nothing to do with chocolate, red wine or cheese. Nothing to do with my periods, my weight, or stress levels. Nothing to do with being tired, or trying to do too much. Nothing to do with going on Guide camp, or Brownie holiday.

Migraine. It’s great that paracetamol/ lavender oil/ a cold compress/ ibuprofen/ a migraine stick/ not eating  cheese, dairy, wheat, alcohol, yeast, chocolate... etc/ yoga/ standing on your head/ talking about it/ not talking about it/ lying down in a darkened room/ exercise/ resting/ not making a fuss/ getting on with things/ taking some time out... works for you. Sadly I need drugs. Strong drugs: Sumatriptan, Polychloraperazine, ibuprofen, clobazam. Occipital nerve blocker injections. And when and if they work, sleep. A lot of sleep. A sick bucket. The dark. The quiet.  And sometimes none of that works.

In the UK today 190,000 people will have a migraine. And that’s just the ones we know about. I don’t have one today *hurrah* But I might do tomorrow. Although I try not to think like that.

I have what’s called chronic migraine that means without intervention I have 15 or more days pain per month. It started after a bout of what we think was meningitis in 2011. Either that or that was the first migraine. Only last week my partner said that his parents came to visit me while I was in hospital. No clue. Apparently my Mum spoke to me around the same time and I was talking slurred gibberish. No clue about that either.

Anyone can get migraine – children, teens, adults. It doesn't discriminate. Sadly, many of us with migraine are discriminated against – support from the medical profession is notoriously hard to find, it’s difficult to gain support at school, college or work when many, many people use ‘migraines’ as shorthand for a headache. And that’s not to put down the effect a rotten headache can have on you. But there is a difference between that and migraine.

1st – 7th September is National Migraine Awareness week – awareness and understanding of migraine is incredibly low yet more people suffer with migraine that with Asthma, Epilepsy and Diabetes combined.  Why not get involved – join in the discussion on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #morethanjustaheadache. Or just go onto the Migraine Trust’s website and have a look at how migraine affects 1 in 7 of the UK population. The travelling diary is particularly good.

Migraine. Not a headache.


Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

This is such a good post Penjy, I was suffering yesterday and wanted to die at one point I felt so ghastly.

It really frustrates me the number of people who refer to bad headaches as migraines and expect migraine sufferers to soldier on during an attack and not realise that it is physically impossible.

Linda McCall said...

Great post. I get so frustrated when people insinuate that it's just a headache. It's particularly irritating when they try and give me advice and trot out the usual 'don't eat chocolate or cheese', like I've not tried that in the 39 years that I've been suffering. I get them in varying degrees, and there are times when they are so bad that I have felt almost suicidal. So yes, they are much more than just a headache. Sadly, people just don't understand it unless they've suffered one themselves.


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