Migraine in Prison

I have an irrational fear of prison. It’s irrational because I’m not doing anything that could get me incarcerated; it persists because the idea of having chronic migraine while living in prison is my idea of hell.

That’s not an exaggeration. The lights, the sounds, the smells, the crowds… not having easy access to medication (and perhaps not having any access to an effective treatment)… none of the comforts that keep me sane… Having even a single migraine attack in that environment would be horrible, having chronic migraine there is exactly how I envision hell.

Every episode I watched of “Orange is the New Black,” I imagined what it would be like to have a migraine there. Eventually, I stepped outside myself and realized that there have to be many people in prison who have migraine. The thought of anyone enduring even one migraine in such harsh conditions brings tears to my eyes. The idea that someone could have chronic migraine there breaks my heart.

Read more in Prisoners With Migraine on

3 thoughts on “Migraine in Prison”

  1. I was in prison. I started to suffer from basilar type migraines, while i was incarcerated. I did 110 days. Thankfully only 110. I Would suffer from blind hallucinations, color perception problems. Sometimes vertigo, and intense vomiting. Along with a pain level of 10 in one of my temples, lasting several days. It was the beginning of my migraine life. I remember i would ask the CO’s for help only to be given a 200mg Tylenol. It was the most intense thing i ever had to go through. The noise of the chattering and yelling still resonates i my ears. The feeling of not knowing why i am going blind, not knowing why im loosing balance and having muscle coordination loss. The feeling of not knowing whether i was suffering from strokes, or if i was going to make through the next day. I thought i was dying, n a prison cell. All cries of help were being dismissed by the CO. And its not like i could just get up and leave to go to the nearest hospital. I became afraid. I was overwhelmed. I couldnt sleep. I would lay awake on my metal bunk shaking in fear. And when my tier wasn’t on lock down i wouldn’t leave my cell in fear that i would get into a fight.

    Today i am thankful i made it through, and that its “Migraines” and not tumors, or strokes. I still suffer today. And everytime i have an attack, my post traumatic stress kicks in. Every attack takes me back to the time when i was in prison.

  2. I’ve had similar thoughts about chronic pain, which is what I treat in my medical practice. I had read an article about living in Africa with chronic pain – no pain medication, no treatment, no access to medical care – that on top of no water, little food, little shelter, etc. Applies to any 3rd world country.
    Pain is bad enough when you have access to a lot – scary to think about having it with access to nothing much!

  3. Kerrie,
    I often think of such things, too. Find myself in fear of being in a WORSE situation with my SAME migraines. Then my mind goes to, perhaps the natural next step, of wondering about those people who ARE in those situations, suffering with impossible migraines, but without support, meds, shelter?

    Given the percentage of the general population who suffer with migraine, there have to be many of us in prison, in military combat, in the midst of natural disasters, etc.

    During news footage of floods and tsunamis, I know this may sound nuts, but it’s not long before I panic and think “oh my god! – all of their MEDS are washed out to sea; what’ll they DO???” Not just for “migraine people”, but other illnesses requiring daily meds, with possibility of painful/dangerous withdrawal. It freaks me out. Then the weather event is over, and they show one person walking around a flattened, empty village and I think, what if she/he has a migraine?

    I had a neighbor here a few years ago, who grew up in a small village in Iraq. She had great empathy for me because her mom had been laying inside, in the dark, with chronic migraine, for most of my neighbor’s childhood. She had no medicine for it. “My mom was JUST like you,” she said. It was so nice to be understood, but I thought: not exactly – I have a specialist in Boston; the latest meds, and they DO make a difference; and I can switch doctors when I don’t get the help I need, etc., etc…

    Thanks for bringing this up.

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