Pitch black. Absolute silence. Drug cocktail. The three things I have to have when the pain strikes. Migraines. I was introduced to this lovely friend four years ago, after my first of three concussions.
I had dealt with headaches before because I got sinus infections monthly, but this was a whole new breed of pain. It’d begin like any other headache, just a small annoyance that I thought I could handle, so I would hold off on taking my medication. Bad idea.
Within minutes I’d be in such agony, my eyes felt as if they were being stabbed by ice picks, my entire head under the wheels of a semi-truck loaded with lead bricks. And that’s just one part of the migraine.
Nausea so bad, you think everything you’ve eaten in the past week is going to come back up. You become so sensitive to light, your phone on the lowest setting seems brighter than the sun. A pin dropping sounds like a gun went off.
During a migraine, your brain goes into full-on panic mode, thinking everything is wrong when literally nothing is wrong and you were just fine. A change in the weather? Don’t even try to enjoy the snow or rain. And good luck on sunny days, it’s so bright that’s a trigger just waiting to happen. I could go on and on about all the different triggers there are. Smells are triggers. Smells.
And for those who are lucky enough not to experience the dreaded aura, let me try to explain just how terrifying it can be. An aura happens up to 30 minutes before the actual migraine begins, kind of like a nifty warning signal your brain attempts to give you in the most frightening way.
It varies for everyone, but the first time I experienced an aura, I thought I was going blind. I literally couldn’t see anything except for a few blurry spots. Sometimes, my brain likes to switch it up and add things to my vision instead. Auras can give people hallucinations or weird flashing lights or even have a prickling skin feeling (seriously, it’s not fun).
Trying to find a treatment that works can be just as frustrating and agonizing as the migraine itself. It’s trial and error with your doctor, until you’ve gone through three to five (or more) medications that do nothing to help, but may give you some other weird side effects like numb your hands or give you really awesome dreams.
You finally find that perfect combination that works for you. Everything is great; it’s like you don’t even have migraines anymore. Until the day it stops working, that is. Begin counting more hours spent in the doctor’s office, attempting to find something that will relieve the pain.
For me, I turned to nerve blocks. That’s a treatmen in which the doctor injects an anesthetic into the head and neck in five different places. I thought shots were uncomfortable, but this goes beyond that. I have to go in every three months to have an anxiety attack while waiting to get needles stuck into my neck.
By far, the worst part of a migraine is that people act like they understand. I’ll may be struggling through class, and let people know ahead of time that I’m not in the best mood due to a migraine (I’m prone to snap at people when my brain is trying to kill me). They might respond with, “Oh, I know how you feel. I think I’ve had a migraine before.”
No, no, honey. You don’t think; you will know if you’ve had one. Perhaps they’ll retort with a quick, “Man up, you’re just whining” (my father is terrible at this one). It’s difficult enough to endure something as horrible as migraines, but when you are suffering without support from family or friends, it’s even more difficult.
Follow Angela Garza on Twitter: @angarza15