I created living with migraines as part of a campaign by Teva Pharmaceuticals. I received an American Express gift card for participating.
Living With Migraines:
I started getting headaches when I was about five years old and realized I had chronic migraines around the time I had my second child. It was after his birth that I started researching what I was going through. If you live with migraines, you know how debilitating and alienating it can be.
It feels like no one understands the pain you're going through or the frustration you feel when you can't do the things you want to do. I know that my migraines limit my lifestyle. I feel like I wake up each morning eager to see if whether today will be a migraine day. Of course, even if I don't have a migraine when I wake up there are plenty of hours left in the day to get one, so I'm never fully relieved of the worry.
Migraines have become a way of life for me, and everything revolves around how much pain I am in from one day to the next. I have come to know my body well over the past thirty years, so I am getting much better at knowing when to expect migraines and what can trigger them, in some ways that are helpful, but it's also a little depressing. Knowing that at least one week out of the month I will be in terrible pain and laying on the couch all week doesn't make a girl feel good about the future, but at least, I can try to plan accordingly.
What I've Learned About My Migraines:
When you live with migraines, you start paying more attention to everything that can lead to one and I have discovered a few things in my life that quickly trigger migraines and other things that after hours of exposure will trigger them.
The worst experience I ever had was when my family decided to adopt a cat. I wanted a cat so bad, and the idea of adopting a cat that needed a home was something I'd always wanted to do. Going into shelters always gives me a headache, so I try to avoid staying in any shelter too long, but I didn't have a problem with it that day. I quickly found Elsa, the perfect cat for our family and brought her home. We had her for three days (and I spent hours washing her and treating her for fleas) when it happened. I woke up around 3 am with the worst head pain I had ever felt. My head was throbbing, and I couldn't sit up. As soon as I would sit up I felt like my head was going to explode. I tried to go back to sleep and after about 30 minutes of rest found myself up again. I remember pacing the floors crying and at one point I honestly thought I was dying. I have never felt that way before, but I woke my husband up and told him that he had to take me to the ER because something terrible was happening to me.
After getting a cocktail of drugs that knocked me out for an entire 24 hour period, I awoke to find that the cat was gone. I guess the doctor told my husband that I had experienced an allergic reaction to her that triggered the worst migraine of my life.
After dealing with that experience, I think it did help change my perspective of migraines. Before that I had always considered my migraines to be the worst pain I experience on a regular basis, but after dealing with that I will always be thankful (even during a migraine) that it's not as bad as it could be.
Other than allergies I have found that artificial fruit flavors, garlic, and strong smells can trigger a migraine. I also think hormonal changes as well as low, and high sugar will trigger migraines for me. The most common cause of a migraine is usually the sun. Even with sunglasses if I spend any prolonged period outside I end up with a migraine. So basically, nothing is safe when it comes to preventing migraines for me because it feels like my triggers are everywhere.
My Experience With Migraines:
I usually know a migraine is coming on because I get visual signs. I will see things floating around or rainbow colored worms as I like to call them. It's like I see things moving around in my eyes and I almost always get a migraine when I experience these.
I have also gotten full tunnel vision before a migraine where I can literally only see whatever it is my eyes are focused on, and all of my peripheral vision is gone. That is pretty scary, especially if it happens while I'm driving.
I never know how long my migraines will last. Sometimes they last for 3-4 days and will let up for a few hours during those time periods. It's during those times when I feel like I always have a migraine. That's the thing about migraines; they mess with your head. They can leave you feeling tired, alone, hopeless, and depressed. I guess that's how life is with any chronic pain, but I wouldn't wish migraines on anyone.
When I have a migraine, I am so irritable, and I try to stay in the dark. Sound doesn't bother me nearly as much as smell, but high pitched noises can grate on my nerves. I feel like I spend all of my time telling the kids I have a headache, and now that know just by my body language whether today will be a good day or a bad day.
Thankfully everyone in my house is very caring and they try their best to stay quiet and even offer to rub my head, brush my hair, or anything else they think will make me feel better. I'm grateful for that.