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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Migraine in the Membrane - And They Suck!

At the risk of sounding like a public service announcement, I'm going to just come right out and say it.

I hate migraine headaches.  I absolutely hate them. 

Last night, I probably had what I consider to be the mother lode of all things migraine.  To make matters worse, I was right in the middle of a shift at work when I felt the sharp, pounding pain of a migraine headache seeping in.

One minute, I'm pricing video games, and the next, I feel like the people on the cover of the "Grand Theft Auto V" game just shot me in the front of the head!  Anyone who has ever gone through a migraine headache knows what I am talking about.  The sharp pains that come all of a sudden physically immobilizes you in your tracks.  It's brutal.  Absolutely brutal.

It is a frustrating part of life for me.  Every two weeks like clockwork, I always happen to get a migraine headache.  So, I suppose you could say that I average a total of twenty-one migraines per year.  That may not seem like such a huge number to some of you reading this, but if you are like myself - one of the one billion people in the world who suffer from migraines - they can be quite debilitating.

Oh, sure, my migraines don't impact my ability to work or do everyday activities.  In my case the longest I have ever had one was eight hours.  And if I have a supply of Advil on hand, they can dissipate in just two hours.  But some people have symptoms for as long as three whole days.  And if you are one of those people who have 72-hour migraines, you definitely have my sympathies.

But as I said before, I had never suffered a migraine that was as bad as the one I had last night.  It was throbbing so bad that it caused me to walk slightly abnormal and I was feeling nauseated.  I really thought that I was going to pass out or throw up or both.  Now, nausea and trouble walking are unfortunately common symptoms of a classic migraine, so there wasn't much I could do except let the symptoms go away on their own (with help from Advil, of course).  On the other hand, I did feel some relief knowing that the agony that I was feeling wasn't caused by something else (food poisoning, the flu, stroke, heart attack).

(Yeah, I admit that I become quite the hypochondriac whenever I feel pain.  I have a low tolerance for pain.  I refuse to get piercings or tattoos done as a result!)

I don't really remember when I got my first migraine headache, but they have been something that I have always remembered having.  I know that I probably missed a few days of school because of migraine headaches, and I am fairly sure that on a couple of occasions, I've had to go home early from work because the pain got too great.

But I suppose it was inevitable that I would be stricken with the curse of the migraine.  After all, one of my sisters gets them almost as often as I do.  And our dad is also a migraine sufferer, as was our late grandfather on our dad's side.  Basically, if you wanted proof that migraines were a genetic trait passed along from generation to generation, my family is a shining example of that. 

You know, come to think of it, my dad's side is where I seem to get all the genetic defects.  Migraines, poorly developed foot arches, male pattern baldness.  Gee...thanks, Dad!  Really, thank you.

But really, there is some truth to that.  Of all the migraine cases that happen in the world, about 67% of them are within families.  So, chances are that if you suffer from migraines, you'll have someone else in your family who does as well.

I also seem to be a bit of a minority when it comes to the demographics of migraine sufferers.  Migraines tend to happen more often with females.  Approximately one-fifth of all females in the world will have at least one migraine in their lives.  In men, that number is only one-ninth.  But hey, I suppose in that case, I beat the odds.  Just a shame it was in the migraine lottery and not Lotto 6/49.

By the way, did you know that the word migraine comes from the Greek word "hemikrania", which translates to "pain on one side of the head".  It's true.  Although my migraines are different every time, I have to say that I get the majority of them at the frontal lobe, usually in the right hand side.  I would assume that they take place on the right hand side as I always have blurred vision in that eye prior to one taking place.  I believe that stage is known as the "aura phase".

Yeah, it's quite interesting what you find when you research migraine headaches.  Apparently there are several different stages that take place in the life of a migraine.  They are the prodrome, aura, pain, and postdrome.  I won't go into detail about each one, but let's just say that the aura phase is the warning sign, and the pain phase is hell for anyone.

So, what triggers migraine headaches?  Stress is a big one.  And I would probably hazard a guess that stress played a part in almost every one that I have had these past few months anyway.  But fatigue, hunger, and even exposure to bright light can be factors in causing migraines.

Thankfully, treating migraines is quite simple.  You just have to take pain relieving medicine each time you feel one coming on.  But for those who get them every other day, or those who actually miss a lot of work because of them, there are apparently surgical procedures that one can undergo in order to correct them.

Thankfully, I am nowhere near that point.  I just get them every two weeks like clockwork.  I can almost eerily time when the next one will be coming.  Maybe I have a Richter scale in my head!

Or maybe I'm pregnant.  Yeah.  That's gotta be it.  ;)

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