Archive for the ‘Migraines’ Category

It starts with a stabbing pain in my left temple. From there, it travels down my neck and into my left shoulder. Finally, it settles to a dull ache.

Acetaminophen handles the shoulder–and sometimes, the temple–but most times I end up reaching for my migraine meds. If it’s bad enough, I’ll even lie down for a nap.

Today was one of those bad days. A lack of sleep was the trigger, and so it was a full-blown assault on the migraine: acetaminophen, meds, and a nap.

The funny thing is, sometimes it doesn’t develop into a migraine. The pain, the ache, and everything else. Sometimes it’s just a massive headache. But I treat it the same way: migraine med, acetaminophen, and a nap. See, my migraines are sometimes so debilitating that I don’t want to bet whether it’s just a headache or in fact a migraine.

And in a sense, I guess there’s really no difference.

They Started in the Early ‘80s

That’s when my daughter and I were both hospitalized with viral meningitis. If there’s one good thing about the viral as opposed to the bacterial version is that while the viral version has a 100% cure rate, the bacterial version has a near-100% fatality rate.

I spent a week in hospital, enjoying the visual and auditory hallucinations that were a result of Percodan, Demerol, and whatever other painkillers I was taking. By the way, don’t ever watch “Salem’s Lot” when you’re tripping on painkillers. It’s way too scary and way too believable. I’ll tell you that for free!

A week after I was released, I experienced a headache that was so severe and crippling that I thought the meningitis was back. A trip to my doctor and a couple of quick tests later, I was relieved to learn it was only a migraine.

“Only” a migraine. That’s rather like hearing your doctor say, “Look on the bright side. Sure, you lost your foot, but at least you still have the other one.”

Look, I may not have had a migraine before, but I knew how bad they could be: my mother was plagued with them all her life. But she had such a high tolerance for pain that she would undergo dental work without any anesthesia, which she was allergic to. She joked about it, saying her technique was a state of mind that allowed her to “transcend dental meditation.”

My father used to say, “Someone could sneak up behind your mother and hit her in the head with an axe, and five minutes later, she’d say, “I think I have a headache.”

Unfortunately, that high tolerance for pain was not in my genes.

Anyway, that was my first experience with migraines and migraine medications. Back in those days, they were so severe that when I felt one coming on—they were generally announced by the classical aura hallucinations—the only treatment was to take my meds and lie down in a totally darkened room with a cold compress on my forehead.

Things gradually improved over the years. That first year, I think I had at least one migraine a week. Today, maybe a couple a month. And medications have improved as well: my prescription is for one pill on the onset of a migraine, followed by a second one two hours later if the first one didn’t help. I rarely have to take a second one.

Tracking My Diet

And I track my diet. No, I’m not “on” a diet; rather I use the word in the way it describes my food intake. I track what I eat and drink, trying to see if any what I consume might trigger my migraines. So far, I’ve managed to deduce that my biggest trigger is simply being alive.

And so I continue to write. My blogs keep me sane and productive, and the fact that I have so many people following this particular blog tells me that I’m reaching people.

I have a big enough ego to think that I might even be helping one of two of you to carry on through the darkness. And that, my friends, makes it all worthwhile.

Thanks for reading.