A Bump in the Road

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.

~ Tess

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?



Filed under Health

4 responses to “A Bump in the Road

  1. Hello,
    I read your post with great empathy. I, too, suffer with migraines and today is a confused/slow/unable to think day which I would call a mild migraine, barely any pain, just the confusion. Anyway, I’ve found some help with a few things: (1) you can read my migraine article at celiac.com (still on the home page, just scroll down); (2) I’m reading the book Heal Your Headache. The 1.2.3 Program and am doing my best to follow it; (3) Just came home from a dr. that maintains once my thyroid is correct, I’ll have relief, she switched my Rx to armour thyroid.
    Hopefully you can find some help, even a measure of relief is progress 🙂

    • Jennifer,

      Just got home (with migraine) and read your comment – and then took a trip to your blog (which is beautiful) I’ll read more more soon. I’ll check out Heal Your Headache. Have you tried The Migraine Brain?

      ~ Tess

  2. Hello Tess,
    No, I haven’t read the Migraine Brain. I did hear the author interview on NPR, and they were discussing how to use triptans effectively. Since all the triptans (4 so far) I have tried eventually quit working, I didn’t pursue the book. Did you find the book helpful?
    I don’t have a migraine today – so wonderful. I’ve had so many atypical-for-me headaches in the last two weeks since I went off caffeine. My chiro says I can blame them on caffeine withdrawal. Heal your headache says caffeine is the #1 dietary trigger for migraines.
    Too soon to know if the new thyroid med will do the trick…
    Glad you liked my blog – too many headaches in the last 7 days to post anything new. Hopefully today’s clear head will continue and I can get back to it.
    Hope you are doing well today,

    • Jennifer,

      The triptan section was really minor – the book is much more holistic than that and does a good job looking at migraines from all different angles including lifestyle and how to find patterns in behavior that maybe triggers.

      Good for you giving up the caffeine! I can’t and it isn’t one of my know triggers but I should probably think about giving it up. New bread and aged cheese are at the top of the list. So sad.

      This week has been crazy with clients and migraines – I’m hoping next week will be better.

      Hope today is a good day!

      ~ Tess

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