30 Things Meme

30 Things about John’s Life with Chronic Migraine

This is a reader-submitted story.

1. My diagnosis is: chronic migraine
2. My migraine attack frequency is: daily, sometimes twice a day. Typically, if I take a triptan, what has started out as a 5 will decrease to a 3 or so (although the pain never disappears). I have to hoard my triptans sometimes, though, since I don’t have enough for bad months (like in the spring and fall), so at those times, I’m left with no fallback plan.
3. I was diagnosed in: 1990
4. My comorbid conditions include: bipolar disorder
5. I take 3 medications/supplements each day for prevention and 7 (not all at the same time; I cycle) medications/supplements to treat an acute attack
6. My first migraine attack was: when I was 18.
7. My most disabling migraine symptoms are: head pain. If I’m at work, my photophobia makes the fluorescent lights difficult. In severe cases, vomiting makes it hard to deal with life.
8. My strangest migraine symptoms are: memory issues. I’m also very atypical in that I usually get bilateral head pain.
9. My biggest migraine triggers are: dehydration, weather changes, irregular sleep, and smells (perfume and cigarette smoke are at the top of that list)
10. I know a migraine attack is coming on when: the pain starts. I don’t get auras, so I sometimes have no warning. I can tell if the migraine is going to be bad or not (usually), but only because I’ve been getting them for more than 30 years. Sometimes my cognitive symptoms start first, and that makes treatment harder, because I have difficulty identifying the symptoms as migraine-related.
11. The most frustrating part about having a migraine attack is: my lack of ability to function normally, both at home (with my kids and socially) and at work (I’m a college teacher, so I really can’t take days off during the semester.)
12. During a migraine attack, I worry most about: getting through my classes for the day and then driving home. I have a 90-mile commute.
13. When I think about migraine between attacks, I think: I don’t think, I worry, all the time, about getting my next attack, how bad it will be, and how it will affect my life.
14. When I tell someone I have migraine, the response is usually: sympathetic. This has changed over the years. I used to get yelled at by my bosses for needing to take time off (this was before I became a teacher). Now, people have heard a lot about chronic pain, and even if they can’t truly understand it, they realize that it can be disabling.
15. When someone tells me they have migraine, I think: total empathy.
16. When I see commercials about migraine treatments, I think: It’s good to raise awareness. However, I’ve probably tried it, so it doesn’t give me any new hope for treatment of my own migraine.
17. My best coping tools are: medications and dark rooms.
18. I find comfort in: close friends and the hope for future treatments
19. I get angry when people say: “Oh, I understand, I had a headache once!”
20. I like it when people say: “What can I do for you?”
21. Something kind someone can do for me during a migraine attack is: help me find a dark room (and sometimes an icepack).
22. The best thing(s) a doctor has ever said to me about migraine is: “If this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. There’s a lot still out there.”
23. The hardest thing to accept about having migraine is: that I need to keep my hope for effective treatment alive.
24. Migraine has taught me: I’m stronger than I think I am. I guess the way I worded it that way kind of signifies that I haven’t fully internalized it yet, but I’m getting there.
25. The quotation, motto, mantra, or scripture that gets me through an attack is: No mud, no lotus.
26. If I could go back to the early days of my diagnosis, I would tell myself: Don’t give up hope.
27. The people who support me most are: My closest friends and (surprisingly, given my history) my boss.
28. The thing I most wish people understood about migraine is: that it is way more than just a headache.
29. Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is important to me because: it helps raise awareness about the true nature of migraine.
30. One more thing I’d like to say about life with migraine is: that I started meditating two weeks ago, not just for migraine, but for bipolar, and general relaxation and self-esteem. It’s too early to tell if it is going to do any good for the first three of those goals, but my self-esteem has improved just from having maintained a daily practice. I’d tried quite a few times before, but never managed more than two or three days in a row. I’m trying to enjoy meditating just for its own sake, but I can’t help thinking that it might eventually help my migraine.

MHAMgiveawayReader-submitted stories solely represent the personal point of view, experience, and opinion of the author, not of The Daily Headache or Kerrie Smyres. Follow this link to learn how to share YOUR 30 Things about living with a headache disorder.

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