Welcome to ‘The Migraine Diaries’ first blog post. Having suffered from migraines for over 20 years (and that’s just since official diagnosis), I have a lot to say on the subject. I’ll try and keep it helpful and not too self-pitying. I see people every day who struggle with diseases and conditions far worse, and often with more grace than I do.
That said, understanding, coping with and (please, please, please) curing migraines is a cause very special to me.
As I’ve already said, I’ve suffered for a long time. At times they have taken over my life – affecting me both professionally and personally. During a migraine attack I often just accept it, deploy an arsenal of medication and ice-packs and wait for it to pass. Other times I have been curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor, crying my eyes out and feeling truly sorry for myself.
As any migraine sufferer will attest to, having friends and family who understand what you are going through is so important, for a start they’ll stop referring to it as a ‘headache’. It’s so much more than that. They understand why you’ve had to cancel that family engagement or taken to your bed for days at a time. That kind of empathy is priceless.
I’ve noticed that as migraine continues to be accepted by the world at large as an actual condition, friends, relatives and random acquaintances are all too keen to send you interesting articles and news stories on the subject. Some are infinitely more helpful than others….
The Good – Medical Breakthroughs
I’ve gone through a range of medications and treatments over the years. From strong opiate-based painkillers through to the latest range of Triptan drugs which work directly on brain chemistry. I’ve also tried lots of non-medical options such as acupuncture, yoga, herbs etc.
Occasionally, I’ll get an email regarding a new drug that’s being trialled, or treatment that’s proving to be effective. These articles are very helpful and often lead to me doing my own research and discussing with my GP/neurologist.
The Bad – Random Cures
If I had a penny for every person who has been adamant that stopping eating a random food item would completely cure me of migraines, well, I’d have at least two pounds by now.
Yes, I’ve seen the article about the woman who stopped eating corn and drinking milk cured her migraines. I’ve been sent it six times over the past few weeks.
As well-meaning as these people are, it’s not particularly helpful. Most of us living with migraine have been through the exclusion diets – cutting out alcohol, chocolate, MSG, gluten etc etc etc. And for some, they might be lucky enough to find a trigger food. The rest of us will just have to plug on and avoid eating bananas in front of those people who sent the article in the first place – because then it would be our own fault now, wouldn’t it?
The Ugly – You’re Doomed
The third and most disturbing type of article usually bears a headline along the lines of ‘woman misdiagnosed with migraine actually had brain tumour’.
Not to sound overly dramatic, but most of us at some point have wondered if there was something a bit more sinister going on than migraine. After all, how can something so debilitating and painful not be doing lasting damage? Generally, though, GP’s are on the ball with investigating the causes of the condition. That makes it all the more tragic for those people who are misdiagnosed. Seriously though, emailing me every one of these stories is quite frightening. Either you think I have something horribly wrong with me, in which case I would expect more than an emailed Google news story or you’re trying to show me how lucky I am by only having the symptoms of a horrible condition.
Er, I think I’d just prefer to receive the videos of cute dogs or Game of Thrones memes.
Fellow sufferers. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you’re struggling to cope with the condition I recommend visiting The Migraine Trust who have a wealth of information on understanding and coping as well as details on the research and advocacy they do.