Chronic Migraine, Coping, Symptoms

Life With Migraine

Today is one of those days when I find it hard to believe that this is my life. After a 20-minute pep talk to get off the couch and make lunch, I made it the five steps into the kitchen doorway and collapsed in a heap on the floor. Though protein probably would have helped me feel better, the 15 steps to the refrigerator posed an insurmountable obstacle. As I slumped on the floor, I kept thinking, “Is this really my life?”

It was one of those times that I could observe myself from outside my body. I did not feel sorry for myself or obsess over the unfairness. I just watched, in awe that this relatively young body could be incapable of performing such simple functions. That my neurological system could flame out so dramatically.

Most people think my life is dominated by constant head pain. Yes, the throbbing, stabbing pain often reaches indescribable heights. I also have a mind that works at half-capacity, unable to connect concepts, complete thoughts or find words; a body with so little energy it feels as if all my muscles have been wrung out; nausea that causes my stomach to cramp. Sometimes I black out and wake up drenched in sweat. I so wish migraine were “just a headache.”

After all these years, I can still be surprised by the severity of this illness, astonished by my frequent reality. This really is my life.

News & Research, Society

Michele Bachmann: Raising the Question of The Impact of Migraine

You likely know by now that presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has migraine. Whether her migraine episodes could impede her ability to run the country is one of the major questions now posed by news media. Let me repeat: Migraine, long dismissed as “just a headache,” is being treated as a serious threat to someone’s ability to be president.

Bachmann’s announcement has opened the media to a long-needed public conversation about the severity of migraine. A wide audience is being told that a migraine episode is more debilitating than a bad headache that can be relieved with OTC painkillers. Granted, Bachmann is not helping advance public understanding of migraine by scrambling to downplay the severity of her illness.

The mere fact that having migraine has caused such an uproar is heartening. Yes, many people are scoffing at the idea that “a headache” is a big deal. Others are saying that Bachmann being president would cause anyone to have migraines. Nonetheless, some people are realizing for the first time that a migraine episode is severely debilitating. Such understanding is necessary for migraineurs to receive adequate treatment and compassion, and, ultimately, support funding for migraine research.

(Speaking of opening the conversation, CNN just posted a story highlighting the seriousness of migraine.)