Saturday, July 23, 2011

Life with migraines

Many of you know that I overcame some major health problems about 6 years ago. Can you believe it was 6 years ago? :) I have a lot to be thankful for, and I remind myself of that often.

That said, and as years go by, I remain keenly aware of the deep connection between mind, body, and soul.

For the past 4 years, I've gotten migraines. Before I started getting them, I just thought they were bad headaches. But wow, they are a full mind/body attack, and I really, really hate them.

No one knows definitively what causes migraines, but there are tons of theories, which probably all have some measure of validity. Stress, hormones, foods (onions and aspartame?), spinal misalignment. I personally think stress has a lot to do with mine, but also having lights flashed in my eyes.

I usually get auras pre-migraine (though not always), and actually consider myself lucky to get them. If you don't know, an aura is some kind of symptomatic tell that occurs before a migraine. For me, I think of them as the heads up that a migraine is either likely to occur or is imminent. If I can take my medicine early during an aura, then the pain of the headache is dramatically lessened.

The crazy part of of auras for me is the visualizations. Mine involve circular, flashing bands of light. This is a visualization I created. :) It starts as a wide circle in my field of vision, then closes in to right where I'm looking. I can see the aura most strongly when I'm looking at a screen of some kind- TV or computer.

Anyway, after the aura wears off is when it gets bad. Let's say I've taken my medicine (God bless you Excedrin Migraine) in time. Then I get a very dull headache, all of the energy drains out of my body, I become extremely sensitive to light and sound, and very nauseous. I also get very, very confused. That is probably the most frustrating part.

If I don't take my medicine in time, then it feels like an ice pick being driven through my eyeball straight through my skull. So... bad. And every other symptom is intensified- especially nausea.

I can usually function after an hour or two if I take my medicine, but if not, then I'm really wasted for the rest of the day. Medicine or no, I still feel exhausted and as though I've been hit by a truck.

It's a strange thing. Migraines are so much more than headaches. They make me think of mini-strokes, honestly. It's a scary thing to feel like you're losing control. It's such a neurological disorder, and hopefully great strides will be made in research and treatment.

Do any of you guys get migraines? What is your preferred treatment? What do you think causes them? Any strange symptoms?


Cris said...

I've had a few bad migraines. One a few weeks ago, and before that the last one was a few years ago. I also have auras and am very thankful for them! I'm beginning to think certain brands of grape juice cause my migraines. The three I've had in the last few years were all on a Sunday, immediately after taking communion. Weird huh? One of them made me lose the ability to speak coherently. I really thought I'd had a stroke. Sorry to hear you have this problem too!

Summer said...

Oh, girl, I fell your pain and am so sorry you have to go through this. The only thing I can do (after meds) is to go into a dark, cool room, in complete silence and sleep for a loooong time. Needless to day, I rarely get this luxury so I just have to deal with the pain which makes me want to gouge my eyes out. And I think poor nutrition and sleep habits contribute to mine, as well as PMS.

SOrry, that was more info than anyone needed to know.