Migraine Experience

Man having a headache at home

Since childhood I am suffering from migraines. I can remember them happening as early as I was 4 years old. In the early years I threw up a lot during my headaches. But after a while I’ve learned not to eat anything other than sugar and plain yoghurt when I felt that the pain was coming. I can tell whenever I am going to have a migraine attack. There are various symptoms I experience before and during the attack. Those that one experiences before are called auras. In my case I sometimes smell garlic even though there is nothing around that could cause it. There is also a slight metallic taste in on my tongue. But most definitely I see colorful blobs of light fly around (similar to ones perceived on orthostatic hypotension but stays for a longer period of time), it is actually a great sight if you didn’t know that the migraine attack is coming afterwards. Also a general uneasiness, intolerance to strong smells, high pitched sound and bright light are general symptom that start before the migraine and don’t end until the attack happens and the pain resolves completely.

The main symptom of the attack is of course the pain but additionally some random symptom may appear. It happened only once, but I experienced transient partial paralysis (it’s apparently called hemiplegia) during a severe attack. There is sometimes tingling sensation in hands and legs, irritated feeling on the scalp, neck stiffness and other weird stuff.

The pain that accompanies an attack varies in its strength significantly. At the beginning it starts mildly, grows to moderate where it is not possible to work anymore. Any kind of physical activity, even non-strenuous things like slowly walking up the stairs, or going to the toilet increases the pain to an unbearable level. This level of pain is enough not to function properly. But sometimes it doesn’t stop there, it peaks to a very severe level, where I lose even hope for living. But I also feel immortal during those pains, not in a positive way. It feels like the pain will be eternal, it will never stop and I will live forever to endure it. During those times I want to cut myself or bang my head against the wall so that the pain stops. In fact, I’ve actually tried both of those dumb methods at some time, and none of them actually helped as would be expected. One would think that someone living his life on reason and science would not resort to such things, but it is impossible to think in those situations. Thinking raises the pain level. You just want it to stop no matter what the consequences. I even begin to curse the god in which I don’t believe in with all the power of my vocabulary. I believe that anyone who experiences such a pain would not be able to think of her as anything but malevolent if (s)he thinks that god actually exists.

How can I compare this pain to anything else? I may not have experienced the pain that cancer patients get, but I have experienced a herniated disc which caused my whole left leg to totally not work. You could practically stick a knife on my leg and I wouldn’t feel it. And the pain that I felt during that time was not even close to an average migraine pain I get. I would choose hernia pain any day over migraines. Of course I am talking only about the intensity of the pain. Otherwise hernia may cause you to lose function of your legs permanently, therefore it definitely is not something to be preferred. Luckily I have regained function of my leg for the most part.

Lastly another weird thing is that I can’t lay down during an attack. When I try, I can bear the increase of pain only for seconds. I still don’t know what the reason is, but this destroys any kind of chance of sleeping through the pain. It’s like my body for some reason wants the pain. I have actually looked into this. Sinus problems were apparently the first thing that comes to mind if you have such a complaint. But apparently that was not the case. I also suspected some kind of lesion or tumor in the brain or the spinal cord, but again that was also not the case. I really don’t know what I did do to deserve this. My migraine is genetic, so my sister, mother and women on the mother’s side have it, but all of them experience it to a lesser extent. Every one of them can actually sleep through it, although with breaks and low quality. Relatively simple medication helps them, but not me as you will see on a later post.

Unfortunately I have been suffering from this very frequently since my childhood. Nearly 4-5 times a month is the average rate. And this has been the case consistently until the last two years. Of course I have used various medications through my life. I will talk about this and other stuff I do during my attacks to alleviate the pain in another post.