"OMG I have a migraine" said the Facebook status, or "yeah I'm not in the mood to chat on the phone, I have a migraine", she said. And I felt stabby. Migraine my ass.
Ok, no two are exactly alike (so maybe the examples above were "real" migraine sufferers), but they're similar enough. And in my case, every migraine I've had is bad enough that I wouldn't pick up the phone or type a Facebook status. So I feel a little twinge of rage when people complain of having a migraine, because it's like, if it's a migraine like I get, you do everything to not do anything.
Usually, they start with an "aura", but the type of aura can vary. Sometimes, it's taste. Suddenly, foods taste "off", like plastic, or too bland, or like soil. Other times, it's vision. I don't get squiggles in my vision or hallucinations or even tunnel vision, but it's like the lighting isn't right.
Recently, I went through - nope- am still going through a fun filled migraine swarm. One had the visual aura. I was in church and it was like the light was too dim and the words too small. I struggled to read the Bible. And then as we prayed and I closed my eyes, all I could think was, yikes it is so so so bright! Ouch! so bright and my eyes are closed! Another had a new aura for me, temperature issues. I was freezing (it was 70 in the house, warm to me normally) and I put on a sweater. I took a bath in water so hot it was probably dangerous, but I still had goosebumps while soaking in the near-boiling water. I went to bed under a winter blanket. And then the next morning, it was still 70 degrees and I had ice cream for breakfast I was so hot.
But I don't always get the aura.
Once, the migraine just hit BAM like that. I was teaching a class full of children and had to run out, split second, without warning. That's illegal, you know, leaving children unattended like that, but I didn't have time to call for a substitute. I merely dashed out doors, grimacing in pain, and vomited like mad. I often vomit because the pain gets that bad. That specific migraine was the worst one I ever ever had. It hurt so much I cried but it hurt to cry. The pain was off-the-charts bad.
It's like labor (as in, giving birth). In your head.
I should know. I gave birth twice, and once, without any drugs or intervention or anything. It was...ouch. I remember when I was in triage and the nurse said, "oh I guess you really are in labor, 7cm dilation!" and I had a big contraction, I almost vomited and thought wow, this feels like a migraine in my uterus!
Anyways....Other ones are less painful, but still painful enough. Not cluster or sinus headache painful, nope, more painful, although I've had those headaches too and they suck. But migraines are worse.
I don't always get the aura, so I don't get any warning system. Sometimes, they strike at night and so I sleep through the easier parts and wake up miserable.
Just last night, I had a dream where I went to the ER with a migraine and they gave me some medication and released me. And then it came back and the new doctor came to see me in the waiting room and asked the other waiting patients, "who has had a migraine before?" and a few raised their hands. "ok then, whose migraine went away?" and the same hands went up. "Ok then, ma'am, your migraine will go away so....go home." I was livid because she hadn't treated me. And then, in real life, I woke up.
The room was dark except for the slit of light by the window which was razor-sharp and bright. MY mind felt like it was thinking twenty different thoughts, and full of white noise, kind of like when you have a dangerously high fever. As if there were twenty different people mulling in your ear while a lawnmower buzzed and something hummed. My husband opened the door and it was as loud as a gunshot. I exhaled and focused myself...."advil. water. migraine." I feebly mumbled. I wasn't able to get out of bed on my own to get anything. I had found a comfy spot where the light was only flood-light bright. I closed my eyes and it felt like I was twisting in a circle to the right as everything else in my field of vision twisted left, except, since my eyes were closed, there was no field of vision. It felt like when you are nearly blackout drunk (yeah.....bad college memories) and everything spins, you think uh oh, right before.....you remember nothing more.
The first advil allowed me the ability to walk to the restroom, although it was as much as a struggle as it was (here comes my labor analogy again) when I tried to walk to the restroom not ten minutes after giving birth. I felt like I was some elderly invalid in a walker, except, I lacked the walker. Suddenly, I knew what was going to happen. I leaned down over the toilet and heaved. Nothing. I drank some water and, as expected, vomited. A few times. My body shook in shivers and I tried to whimper in pain and exhaustion. I took another advil (this one stayed down) and sipped a few sips of coffee (caffeine supposedly can help migraines) and went back to lay in my comfy spot, when I realized, wait...is it....residing? Is my migraine over?
Except...rarely is the migraine truly over. After the labor-in-my-head, vice grips tightening, sirens wailing, ratchet is click click clicking (each click more painful) pain of the migraine comes the postdrome.
The postdrome is better than the migraine, yes. It doesn't hurt to touch things. The blanket on my toes doesn't feel like it weighs a thousand pounds and is made of broken glass. A nightlight isn't like a spot light and a whisper isn't a scream. Thank God. But, sudden movement makes me dizzy and brings back the ratchet click click pain momentarily, along with that dizzy-weakness you get if you stand up too fast and your blood pressure goes wonky. Sudden changes in sound or light (someone turns on a light, the radio, whatever) does the same thing, but I can at least tolerate dim lights and quiet sounds. Heck, I can even tolerate normal level sounds and light if I ease my way into it, like a dimmer switch. With postdrome, I feel as dizzy as the worst hangover, as dizzy as when you spin in circles too many times. I feel exhausted (except I'm a weirdo who cannot nap if I tried. I can only nap if severely ill, like pleurisy or severe dysentery) so I kinda just lay there, lacking energy.
Postdrome also gives me mind fog. Not just the occasional brain fart but like....a dangerous brain fog. This most recent migraine of mine, my husband took away my car keys. No joke. He felt I would be a danger to myself and others if I tried to drive, and know what? He's right. I don't think I'd pass the police drunk driving test. I have difficulty forming sentences or making decisions. It's aggravating cause I know I have a brain, a pretty smart one, but it's taken hostage by the postdrome.
So again for those posting "omg i have a migraine" on social media, maybe you do but I want to call bullshit. Sure, I posted "ugh migraine" today on Facebook so am I a hypocrite? Hardly....I posted it after the migraine, while stuck in postdrome. Maybe these folks also post after the fact/in postdrome or maybe in the aura stage. But don't bitch about the severe pain. Because if you can actually open your eyes (ouch, bright!), move your body (ouch, touch hurts), get to the computer/phone (whoa, dizzy), and compose a typed or spoken sentence about your pain (while your head is in the last moments of labor) then wow, you're Superman.