Monday, March 15, 2010


"Hi, my name is Jill and I’m a migraine sufferer."
"Hi Jill."

Is there migraineurs anon? If there is, I don’t know about it, so I’ve decided to start a blog where I chronicle a life with migraines. It’s not the easiest, but it isn’t the worst either. I try to follow this quote from Ovid:

Be strong and patient; someday this pain will be useful to you.

Not sure what benefit there is, but maybe it will show in time. I remember reading about Virginia Woolf, and how her creativity was given a jump-start at the onset of a migraine. Sometimes I get crazy, creative thoughts or have an epiphany, but usually I just feel pain.

Before we start delving into the World of Migraines, I figure I should present my history with them.

I’m 22 and have been suffering from migraines for the past 11 or 12 years. I remember my first one clearly. I was pretty active as a kid, and played soccer. I had practice one day and wasn’t feeling too great, but my mom got me McDonald’s and off we went. I made it through practice alright, I just remember when I came home I was in debilitating pain and felt incredibly nauseous. All I wanted to do was sleep, but my mom made me take a shower, and I threw up my Happy Meal. I went to bed early, and my mom put on some soft music and fell asleep at 6.30ish with the warm yellow sun setting through my blinds.

They started to get worse in high school and with puberty, and really bad when I was 16 or 17. School got worse with AP classes, and the stress of choosing college. College has been really stressful; I’ve had to withdraw on semester and cut down my workload from 16 credits to 10 this semester because of how difficult they’ve been.

I blame my family. Scientists say they’re passed through the family, and they’re present on both sides so I was fated to get them. My mom’s brother gets them and we talk medicines and triggers all the time. He drives a train; I have no idea how he does that when the loud NYC subway is a trigger for me. My cousin gets them, too, and was in a situation where he could only receive Advil and no triptans or drugs geared for migraines. I have no idea how he lived through that. My father gets them, though he won’t admit it. He gets irritable and lays down in a dark, quiet room, but believes that since he just takes Ibuprofen and a nap they’re not real migraines. Just because they aren’t as bad as mine doesn’t mean they aren’t migraines! Two other cousins that I know of get them, too, and I think a great aunt or someone else had them? One of the cousins is in her thirties or forties and we just found out she has them, and she lives a relatively normal life, with a full family and 9 to 5 job. So do some of my dad’s coworkers, thus he believes I can have this kind of ‘normalcy’ too despite the pain, but I’m not sure if they’re that bad. I have a friend who gets these crazy ocular ones and goes blind, and another who gets seizures. No matter how bad mine are I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that.

I can’t completely blame my genes though. I think I had/still have TMJ I got from knocking my jaw out of alignment in 5th or 6th grade. I was playing soccer, dribbling the ball, when it hit a clump of grass and hit my right jaw, sending me in a daze. I was ok, though. Not too long after I did a weekend lacrosse camp with a friend and was whacked on the same side with the stick. Girl’s lacrosse is hardcore; we don’t wear padding, only mouthguards. I’m sure I don’t have to mention I haven’t picked up a lacrosse stick since. In high school my diet failed. I was vegetarian for a year, and lived only on pizza and Caesar salads, instead of trying to eat healthy. I was addicted to orange sodas, chocolate and coffee. I’d skip meals all the time, and for lunch sometimes only a bag of Cheez-Its would do. Since then, I’ve realized too much chocolate and orange soda period cause them, and I’m trying to eat healthier. Lower my intake of unhealthy foods and eat more veggies. It’s a stretch, and sometimes not the tastiest, but I’ll appreciate it in the long run.

I’ve been to the hospital three times for migraines, and each time was given a different treatment. I’ve tried a lot of medicines on the market, and natural remedies, too. My doctor and I are pretty good friends.

For as much as I hate them, it’s a part of my life and as far as I know there’s nothing I can do to rid myself of them completely so I have to make the most of them. So, on we go on a journey trying to prevent and find new ways to cure and live with them. I know my life isn’t that bad, but being a 22 year old college student sometimes I want to go out on Friday nights with my friends instead of up in bed at 5 PM. So with all the migraine talk, expect a little whining from time to time, too.

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