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How a Migraine Headache feels

At the time of this writing I have suffered with migraines for about 45 years not knowing, thinking I had sinus headaches.  Or thinking that when I wore red it gave me a headache.  Get a hint we girls usually wore red a certain time of our month.  So for years I stopped wearing red.  Oh how we do things out of not knowing   I took sinus medicine for two or three days thinking that it finally worked after taking it for two or three days.  Actually it was the migraine running it's course.  During these years of migraines with no relief, I went to school suffering with migraines.  Years later I worked suffering with a migraine, performing at minimal ability.  Finally a Doctor I had named Dr. Kent diagnosed that my headaches as migraines.  He was a calm Doctor who seemed  really concerned with his patients.  He gave me a prescription for the migraines.  It worked for a while.  To my disappointment he moved from Michigan.  I think the clinic said he moved to Rhode Isle, I'm not sure though.  After I was diagnosed I did not go back to get a refill on the Rx's.  I switched to homeopathic remedies to treat my migraines they worked for a while.  Sometimes OTC medicine for migraines helped.

Medical definitions give you clinical descriptions of a migraine.  One of their descriptions is you may have an aurora just before you expirence a migraine.   Blurred vision etc.   In the paragraph below is a description of what I feel leading up to a migraine.  Per my doctor I have the classic symptoms of the aurora and the migraine headache.  Sometimes you may or may not have the symptoms.

A day or two before I get a migraine my eyes get a hazy, It seems like I have mucus or a film is over my eyes.  I use to use eye drops thinking that would clear my eyes up which only worked when the drops were immediately inserted into my eyes.  I thought I was losing my vision.  Once I discovered what was happening I realized the drops were unnecessary.  This is the blurred vision symptom.  To better describe it, when I am driving outside on a sunny day it looks like there is a fog outside.  If I am inside it looks like a light haze has filled the room.  Like the haze you see when a room is filled with smokers.  I also get flashes of light.  It is as if when I blink my eyes there is a flash in the corner of my eyes in the each outer corner, like a flash camera.  Once I'm past that stage and the migraine is over my vision is clear and sharp again.

The day before I get a migraine I get hungry and want to snack constantly.  One of my cravings is granola cereal.  It has to be something really crunchy, a little sweet.  Not ice cream or dessert food.  Trail mix will satisfy my cravings.  Raisin Oat meal cookies with nuts will do.

The days of the Migraine

The days of my actual migraine.  It is more than a headache where you can take an aspirin and in a few minutes it goes away.  Migraines are usually located on one side of your head.  The Medical profession states that migraines can switch from one side of your head to the other side.  Mine are always on the left side of my head.  My migraine factor lasts from 2 - 4 days.  Then the aftermath what is called the migraine hangover getting back to normal which I discuss farther down this article. 

A migraine is a strong sharp or pounding, debilitating pain.  Mine is such an intense pain it feels like what I would imagine it is like having surgery on your brain while still awake and without anesthesia.  My migraine is a continuous sharp pain.  It is like having a vice attached to your head being tightened until you scream.  It is like being in a torture chamber.  Analytical thinking is impossible to perform when I have a migraine.  It hurts to even think.  As I look back over my years of suffering I was only able to perform rudimentary tasks at school and at work when I was having a migraine.  I could perform tasks that did not require concentration.  Rudimentary tasks like filing I could perform.  I can complete work that I have done over and over again.  My cognitive thinking is impaired.  I cannot concentrate on a new task.  I cannot focus.  My head feels like an elephant is sitting on it.  My scull feels like it is too small for my brain.  I do not want to talk to anyone.  I don't want to listen to anyone talk to me.  Do not ask me any questions because I am unable to give you a response.  My head hurts too badly to reason what you want to know.  I withdraw into myself.  The pain draws me inside of myself.  The pain is all consuming.  I need a dark room, total silence to lay down curl up and go sleep to get relief.

My other physical symptoms are; I am nauseous.  Rarely do I vomit but for the whole time that I have the migraine my stomach feels queasy.  When my stomach is empty it is worse for me.  With an empty stomach usually I will up-chuck.  My Equilibrium is off, I stumble when I walk.  If I whirl around to change my direction I get dizzy.  If I don't grab a hold of a chair or wall I may actually lose my blance and may even fall.

Sounds and sights that irritate a migraine sufferer

Normal noise bothers me. The TV, radio, any sound.  Even general conversation is too painful and irritating for me.  On my way home from work one day I was listening to a Kenny G CD.   I had left work, sick with a migraine. When the music came to the part where the musical artist used the drumstick that has the brushes on the end of it, scraped the drums with them.  I had to turn off the CD.  That scraping sound irritated me immensely.  It made my flesh crawl.  I wanted to scream.  I refrained from tossing the CD out of the window.   I finished my drive home in silence no radio, windows tightly closed.

Bright lights bother my eyes, it hurts my eyes.  It is difficult to just look at anything

Certain patterns bother me.  I will insert some pictures that give me the willies when I have a migraine. One description of something that bothers me if you can picture it is this. We have patio blocks in my yard, with about a 3 inch space of dirt between each of the blocks. A mole had tunneled between each block back and forth and across. The tunnels of dirt piled up between each blocks freaked me out.   When I looked outside and saw what the mole had done.  I sent my husband out immediately to pat the dirt down.  I began to itch all over after I saw the tunnels of dirt in the spaces between the blocks of the patio.  A pattern of dots, diamonds and grid patterns to are a good example of what I cannot stand to look at while I am suffering with a migraine.  Oh yes, a photo of a lotus pod is a really good example of a pattern that bothers me.  A lotus pod with the seeds or the holes without the seeds give me the heebie-jeebies when I have a migraine.  Sharp edges, or even just an edge, like the edge of a luggage rack on a car in front of me can irritate me, while driving home with a migraine. 

A bright floral pattern on a sofa or couch will drive me crazy. When I was selecting the pattern for the Rattan furniture for my Sun Room. The sales lady tried to talk me into getting a bright floral print material for the cushions. The print was orange, red, yellow, green and blue flowers. Stylized print meaning the flowers were what I would call a cartoon print. I told her I had two men (my husband and son) living in my household and I would not dare put those flowers in my sun room.  If I had selected the flower print cushions, on a migraine day I would want to take all the cushions off the furniture, cart tham out to the yard and make a bonfire out of them.

Now on to the tingling and numbness. The left side of my face tingles and feels numb.  My left arm usually tingles and also feels numb.  This particular symptom scared me.  Thinking that I was having a stroke,  Dr. Kent assured me this is a classic common symptom with a migraine headache.

Currently I am on prescribed medication for migraines.  After I suffered a concussion after I had my last black out spell on my job the home remedies no longer work to ease the pain.  See my page at: http://www.allsharonsfavorites.com/migraineheadachehelp.htm Some of these may help you if you suffer with migraines.

Don't suffer if you have migraines get help!

The Cure for a Migrane

Most migraine suffers long for a dark and quiet room to lay down in.  Even when I take my prescribed medication.  The quickest way for me to  get relief from a migraine headache is to lay down in a darkened quiet room.   I can tolerate moderate activity after taking my meds but I am not at my peek performance.  I can be tolerably sociable.   If you don't know me you will think I am just being quiet.  Still the best and the most rapid recovery for me is to still lay down in a darkened room at the onset of a migraine even after taking my meds.   

After the Migraine

After the intense pain the healthcare field calls it the migraine hangover.  The left side of my brain starts to tingle.  It is a feeling like when your foot falls asleep and that feeling is coming back into your foot.

The day after the migraine I am out of it.  I am lethargic.  I am weak I have no energy.  I feel as if I have just gotten over the flu. I am extreemly tired.  I feel like I am recovering from surgery without the incision. 

My brain feels sore.  My brain feels weak.  Actually it is like I still have the migraine but the severe hard pounding pain is not there.  Like it is there but as a phantom migraine.  I sometimes get a stinging feeling on the lift side of my brain I still feel sick to my stomach but not as intense.

After the migraine pain has subsided my brain feels like it has been beaten with a meat tenderizer.  My brain feel like it has been torn up is the best way to describe it. 

The left side of my head my scalp is sore to the touch.  Anything touching my head hurts.

I have a loss of appetite.  This is counter productive for me to give in to the loss of appetite because I know not eating will trigger a new migraine so I make myself eat. 

Recently I now sometimes develope vertigo right after the intense pain is gone.

My Migraine Triggers

When I was working I drank a 16 ounce thermos of coffee each day. I would make Cappuccino on Saturdays.   I did not have migraine more often then, than I do now.  I only drink coffee once maybe twice a week.  I have eliminated chocolate from my diet.   In the past my migraines were with my cycle and in between.  I got them once or twice a month more often when under extreme stress.  Now I cannot predict them ahead of time.

Coffee is said to be a trigger in some people  Chocolate can also be a trigger.  When I drink coffee I don't drink as much anymore maybe 8 ounces 2 times a week. 

Now I know whan my actual triggers are, extreme heat and lengthy exposure to hot sunlight.  High humity, and when the Barometric pressure drops or rises

In the past I actually I just had not been paying any attention to what my triggers were.  I was listening to other people. When I complained my head hurt there was always, an all knowing person around saying "It's your pressure. It's probably up. I am telling all of these things for you not to listen to people who are not of the health care field.  So I go the doctor in pain and have a check up.   I don't tell him about my head pain but tell him I think my pressure is up because I feel kind of dizzy and my head hurts.  I get a check up my BP 110/70. Nope not the pressure. Then other times when I get a head ache another well meaning soul would fire at me saying: "It's probably something you ate you weren't suppose to." What did you eat today?"  Me not thinking because I had not eaten anything different and it's 92 degrees outside I've been out in the hot sun for 2 hours I don't know. So migraine suffers keep a diary of your migraines note the weather.   What you ate what you were doing so you can keep up with what causes your migraines to assist your doctor in better treating you.

The up coming of an intense thunder storm can trigger a migraine with me.  I discovered when the barometric pressure drops it triggers a migraine.

I know now that hormone changes with me is a trigger for a migraine.

Fasting skipping meals is a definite trigger for me.

(I use to fast every Wednesday as a religious practice for me.  Every Wednesday I would get a migraine because of it. Wednesday are always a busy day for me with Bible study on Wednesday evenings.  I have adjusted my schedule and fast for spiritual reasons on other days.  I will sip a 100% fruit just to stave off the migraines.)

For people who never have migraines they simply do not understand the intensity of the pain nor how debilitating migraines are.   I had a coworker who had to take a trip to the Emergency Room when her migraines became too inense and recieved a shot of Demerol. 

For the most part I just take my medicine a generic of Imetrix along with a 800 mg of Motrin and suffer it through.  The meds take off the edge of the pain some what.  If I take my medicine immedatley it will stop it.  With a repeat dose for the next 3 or 4 days.   

I went 41 days without a migraine from May '10 to July '10.   I thought I would never have any more migraines.  Perhaps as I mature with age I will stop having migraines. . . .   I hope! . . .  Sigh. 

I do hope this page helps anyone who may suffer with migraines to know that they are not alone, and to give anyone who lives with or knows anyone who suffers with migraines a better understanding of a person with migraines goes through.

I must confess I did create this page while suffering with a migraine.  I took my meds they did not work.  I took another dose (As directed by my Neurologist) 2 hours later, the pain started to subside.  At that point I started this web page.   When I finished this page I saw that my activity was working against my medicine.  I then went into a dark room and went to sleep.   Once I woke up the pain has subsided, but not completly gone.  The next day I had to take my meds again.  The medicine helps, but I don't feel bouncy, nor back to normal until the migraine has run it's course even with the meds.

This is just to let you know when a migraine suffer is having a migraine we are not blithering idiots.  Imagine having pain and trying to accomplish a task you know the pain makes it more difficult to complete the task.  If your foot is hurt you limp until it gets better.  So my brain limps until it gets better.  As far as the memory of the migraine goes, for me after all the symptoms are gone, it is as if it never happened until I have the next episode.

This Hot Summer I suffered

Summer time Is my favorite time of the year. I use to be able to deal with 85 degree heat with out any problem as long as I stayed out of the sun and did not participate in out door activity for an extended period of time. Well this summer July I suffered. it did not matter if I went out side or not. I took the Sumatriptan. The head ache would subside. I would feel cruddy in between headaches. every time the weather was forecast the weather reporter would preface his report Migraine suffers are really having a bad time today. He did not have to tell me. Yes I was suffering. After having a wonderful time of no migraines from may through June I was hit for the month of July. So now I am on a daily medication for my migraine. I take Topiramate generic equivalent for Topamax.  I'm still trying to see what dosage is best for me rignt now.  One day maybe I can get off of it all together.  Sigh. 

Daily Meds Topiramate

Summer of 2010. I had such a bad time for the whole month of July on into August, I suffered.  It seemed every three days I had a migraine.  Migraine Marathon. I had planned to go out to flea markets to sell my jewelry.  I was so sick, that was out.  In between the migraines I felt cruddy.  There was no way I could have gone out to do anything.  Now I am on a daily medication Topiramate to prevent migraines.  It is taken at bed time because the medicine makes you drowsy. The medication must be taken with plenty of water so as not to form kidney stones. So far I feel normal.  Two of the side effects are tingling in your hands, feet, face, legs and weight loss.   Usually late in the afternoon I get drowsy from the medication from the night before.  There are more, too many to go on.  I eventually want to get off of this medicine.  Sigh, the field of medicine. For now I cannot complain  I only had one migraine since I have been on the daily medication.  Believe me it is a relief not to have  migraines every time the weather changes something that I have no controll over.  Oh why did I not find this out sooner like 30 years ago.  I am more productive creating my jewelry designs.  Whatever jewelry I do not sell at my recent home store will appear in my Etsy store take a look at my link at;  http://www.allsharonsfavorites.com/apps/etsystore/  and take a look at my Web store at:  http://www.allsharonsfavorites.com/apps/webstore/ 

Images That give me Willes when I Have Migraines

Here are a few things that give me the willies to look at when I have a magraine.  A simple Office light I cannot stand to look at when I have a magraine

 

The next one you know I would not see often is a lotus pod.  Remember the email about the breast rash?  I was about to go home from work with a migraine.  A email poped up Urgent to women I opened it You know the rest, if not google "email about breast rash".  Araagh! I thought I would have a stroke!  The little boogers in my email wiggled.  It took me days to get over that email.  When I recovered I looked it up on snoops.   Someone who had way to much time on their hands did cut and paste with  photos of a lotus pod and a womans breast.  If anyone gives me a floral arrangement with these pods in it, I'm sorry those pods will be removed and I will probably crush them uder my feet then discard them.  Not because of the email but the holes and seed pattern is what bothers me as a migraine suffer.    

     These dried  pods are just ugly to me.   I don't know why anyone would use it in a floral arrangement.

Funny thing, even though I am now on daily meds that prevent migraines, I can still tell when I would have gotten one.  I get some of the symptoms that come with my migraine except the pain.  Those actual images and pictures above would still give me the willies during those times.   I can live with that.