See, I told you I’d talk about my migraines at some point.
Yesterday was a bump in the road.
I hate bumps but sometimes the road is all bumps for months on end so I shouldn’t complain too loudly about this last one. It was a little bump.
The thing is – I had work to do and it took me three to four times as long to do it plus I had to rely on a friend and the client for a level of feedback I don’t normally need. Stringing words together yesterday was like trying to move a mountain.
And I didn’t fight through just one day. The day before yesterday was rough and today I’m whipped. You see, a migraine isn’t just a headache.
The headache is simply my version of Stage 3 of a migraine. And Migraine is a very complicated and poorly understood process.
Stage 1, Prodrome, causes me to have trouble concentrating. I feel sluggish and stupid.
Stage 2, Aura, leaves me with language and spatial problems. I have difficulty finding the right word or completing a sentence.
The worst was the day I needed the word ‘faucet’. I could not come up with it to save my life. I was frustrated and angry but it didn’t do any good the word wouldn’t come.
There was also a period of time when things were so bad that I would get lost. I’ve traveled all over the country and have a great sense of direction but I was getting lost in my own city. A city I know so well that I don’t even use a map.
Stage 4, the hangover or postdrom, is my favorite part because I’m exhausted and a little stupid but I know the worst is over.
I once spent ages stuck in Stage 3. Constant headaches and nausea for months on end with no surcease. So the fact that they now end leaves me lighthearted – even if the fun isn’t over because Stage 4 usually lasts a day or so and is directly proportional to the migraine often even if I caught the worst of it with drugs I only escape the pain but not the aftermath.
Like I said – we are not talking about a headache.
Stages 1 and 2 can happen in a few moments or over a couple of days. Sometimes they hang on like a storm cloud on the horizon. Always threatening thunder but never actually arriving. You want the storm because it clears the air – but you dread it all the same. Those stages drain you and make you feel less than human.
I’ve had migraines all my life, but a year and a half ago something changed. My migraines used to be bolts out of the darkness, more frequent than a Blue Moon but not as frequent as a new one. Then all that changed and they became chronic – nearly untreatable and completely unmanageable.
Because so little is known about them, what they are, what they actually do, and what causes them, people have a difficult time relating.
When my migraines became chronic I told my doctors that I’d rather be diagnosed with cancer. It’s something people understand and we have developed cultural norms about how we deal with it. Migraine is something else – we can’t see it or test for it and worse it’s all in our head – so suffers are often treated as having a psychosomatic problem and not a disease.
Yet migraine is a neurological disease. A disease that causes American businesses over $18 million in lost productivity every year.
Today is better and even though none of the drugs helped yesterday I got through it. Tomorrow is a tossup but I’m getting used to that. I’ve learned to forgive myself the bad days, work through the middling ones, and live to the fullest when I have a good one.
Oh, and I tried to find a picture for this but I couldn’t find anything that approximated my level of pain. Everyone looked too pretty. Where were the dark circles, the bad hair, and the hooded eyes?