Some people have never had a migraine. I started getting them around age thirty. Migraines are weird headaches that can vary in intensity from nasty to I’m-afraid-I’m-going-to-die to I’m-afraid-I’m-not-going-to-die. I suppose the pain could be equated to an elephant sitting on your brain.
A lot of migrainers have an aura. (Yes, migrainer is a made up word. But it should be a real word.) An aura is a weird pre-cursor that your body sends and basically says, “Um, hello, we’re just notifying you that severe pain lies in your immediate future. Have a nice day.” Classic migrainers (like Ariel) have stroke like symptoms—a side of their body goes funky. Numbness, blind spots, tingly, etc.,. I have a non-classic aura. I get “brain drop-cloth.” It’s as if a migraine is a re-decorating session, and my body prepares by draping my brain with cheesecloth. It’s a bit odd as auras go, but much preferable to numbness, partial blindness, and body parts falling off (oops, that’s a different disorder).
We migrainers also have triggers. Individual oddities that bring on the full-orbed migraine experience. A sure-thing, slam-dunk trigger for me is flashing lights. That doesn’t sound too hard to avoid until you consider that televisions are boxes of blinky lights. I strictly limit my tv/movie watching. My other triggers are sleep issues (not enough, at the wrong time, or waking up during the wrong phase), barometric pressure changes, getting overheated, and stress. If I get a trifecta of any of these, then near instant migraine. But I don’t feel sorry for myself—some people actually get migraines from red wine or chocolate. That would be awful. I can do without tv, but chocolate...
Medical marvels do abound, even for migrainers. And they really do work. Ariel does very well on them. They work for me too—I take the lowest dosage, least problematic medication. But I still get the post-migraine, post-medicine experience. My whole body feels like it ran the Boston marathon backwards, I fall asleep, my jaw aches so much it’s hard to eat, and that drop cloth on my brain prevents me from putting two thoughts together in a coherent manner. (Cal will notice that I’m not functioning at full capacity and will ask, “Did you have to take migraine meds today? Two minutes later when I've finished processing his question, I’ll say, “Uh, yep.”) But at least I don’t get the hiccups any more. When I first started taking the medicine, it made me hiccup for hours. You really don’t want to hear about a meeting I went to and hiccupped through the whole thing. It’s an incident best forgotten. Yesterday, I worked on my novel revisions with post-migraine brain. Tomorrow I need to re-read that section. I’m a bit anxious, who knows what I could have done... Gulp.