Migraine Awareness Month #1: Your First for the First

National Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge, Day 1: Share the story of your first Migraine, what it was like, if you knew what it was, what you did, how you felt.

Though I’ve had headaches all my life, they weren’t diagnosed as migraine until 2002 and it took me a few years to believe that headaches that weren’t one-sided, didn’t have a visual aura, and didn’t make me throw up were actually migraine. I don’t remember my first migraine — either it happened before I’m able to remember or it blends in with all the rest of the headaches — but I do remember the first migraine that was obviously triggered by an odor.

My fifth grade teacher left the door to the workroom open one afternoon and the smell or rose-scented potpourri wafted into the classroom. That smell is so vivid that even now, as I remember how much my head hurt and how nauseated I was, I’m convinced artificial rose scent is wafting in the air around me. I can clearly picture the classroom and where I was sitting. I went to the nurse, who let me lie down for a bit, then sent me back to class. To her it was, after all, “just a headache.”

I wish I could tell her it was one of many debilitating migraine attacks that I’ve had in my lifetime with this chronic neurological disorder. I sometimes wonder if I would be so disabled today if anyone had a clue about my “headaches” when I was young. While I don’t dwell on this — its not like migraine treatment 25 years ago was particularly effective — I beg parents, teachers, school nurses and doctors to take a child’s complaint of headache seriously. Anyone who spends time with children should know that “migraine” is not synonymous with “bad headache,” that headaches aren’t just an excuse not to go to class, and that painkillers don’t always do the trick.

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by Fighting Headache Disorders.