Wednesday, August 26, 2009

If They Could Bottle the Pain.....

....They could use it as a weapon of mass destruction.

Right now I am in the throes of a migraine. This is the second one in about 9 days, the first one having stuck around for 3 days. So I have been dealing with this pain for just about half of this past week. It sucks. Really, really sucks.

The only reason I am writing about it right now is because my medication kicked in about an hour ago, and it is not killing me to sit in front of a computer. Also, the only time I can really capture the true nature of such a headache is when I am actually experiencing it.

If you have ever had a migraine, you know just how bad they can be. If you haven't, then you have no idea how bad a "headache" can get. Mine are bad and have gotten worse as the years have gone by. They are truly debilitating. I would rather have a Mexican stomach virus than a migraine. Really. I feel like one half of my head is going to explode, like from my forehead down to my cheekbone is being hit over and over by a sledgehammer. And that is just the actual pain.

I also feel like I am going to vomit, usually for the duration of the headache. I can't stand bright light, loud sounds, or smells. I can't read, watch TV, or listen to music. The sound of my kids laughing and playing makes my eardrums want to pop. I can barely eat. I have a hard time driving, even moving too quickly. And then when I take the medication there is a whole other set of symptoms to handle. Drowsiness, tightness in my chest and jaw, tingling in my neck, heaviness in my head. The pain goes away for a bit, but it often returns. I never truly know if my headache is gone until I make it through about 4 hours without pain.

And I never know what is going to trigger one. Sometimes I can drink 3 glasses of wine. Sometimes a few sips will bring one on. Same with smells. The worst is walking through the perfume section of a department store......I often try to just hold my breath. Bright light, sudden loud sounds, lack of sleep (hello???), stress (again, hello?), weather changes, the list is endless. So I basically live my life and hope that this time the headache won't come.

I have been getting migraines since I was around 10 years old. I don't remember the first one, But I do remember many times where I would be in my dark room, in bed for days. I remember several MRI's, EEG's, and other tests to make sure that there wasn't any other explanation for the headaches. I remember missing an entire week of high school because the headache wouldn't go away. I remember keeping a journal for my headaches, and cutting out all possible migraine triggers from my life. I especially remember when I had to cut out all caffeine.....not a pleasant experience when you are a grad student! I also remember trying any and every medication that was available to try to reduce or eliminate my headaches. It wasn't very much fun. It still isn't.

I feel like my entire life has been a quest to find the right combination of lifestyle changes and pharmaceutical agents. That magic cocktail that would make it all disappear, never again to experience feeling like a searing hot ice pick was driving into my eye socket. It must be similar to what people with mental illness deal with, since most have to cycle through several medication changes and/or adjustments until they find something that works for them. And then there are the side effects. Ugh. The one medication that worked for me, really worked and practically eliminated the headaches was an anti-seizure med. Unfortunately it made me feel like my body was made of lead, I could hardly keep my eyes open, and it slowed my metabolism to the speed of a snail. Since I was going to graduate school full-time, staying awake and having some energy was necessary. And gaining 25 pounds in 3 months wasn't making me love the stuff either. I found another daily med that helped, although not quite as much. But hey, I was willing to take whatever I could get.

Thankfully my headaches have gone away when I was pregnant with each of my kids, especially since I was not allowed to take most migraine meds. I had a couple in each pregnancy, but they were short-lived, and managed with pain medication. But within 3 months of giving birth to each one, the headaches returned, and they were raring to go. I feel like over half of the days in the past 6 weeks I have had a migraine. And I just can't function like this. I just want to crawl into a hole, a dark, quiet hole. I want to sleep through the whole thing. Of course, this could never happen with 3 kids, so I have to find a way to get through the day. Most of the time I am counting down the minutes until everyone is asleep and I can curl up in my bed and try to fall asleep. I can not be a good mom when I have a migraine. All I can do is survive, and try to keep us all above water until the storm passes.

That is where I am right now. Just trying to get through it, and not drag us all down into the ugly muck that I am wading in. I am hoping that I can take some medication, get a half-decent night's sleep, and have a strong cup of coffee in the morning. If the headache is still around, at least it will be easier to face. 'Night y'all.

1 comment:

  1. So, I'm reading this at 4am, because I had a migraine tonight. My magic cocktail this time was 2 Percocet and a Benadryl, a very hot heating pad, and sleeping upright. Doug just woke me up to eat, and I am feeling much better, so I'm optimistic that it will stay away. I feel for you. Yours are worse than I ever get them, but I always describe the pain as feeling like bashing my head against the bathroom floor would make me feel better. And I don't have any definite triggers, either. Smells are the worst. I am with you 100% on the perfume counter thing. Recently it's been allergies for me. I keep having some kind of allergic reaction that first presents as a migraine - hence the Benadryl in my cocktail. Good luck and I hope you feel better. Good night!