Fighting With My Head

Since college, I have suffered from migraines. And, boy, I have suffered. I remember the first time I got one. I was completely unable to function. I had a paper due the next day. This is back when I used to HAND WRITE my papers and then type them up in the computer lab. Lucky for me, my friend typed up the paper for me while I lay in the dark, confused and disoriented. I had no idea what hit me. Everyone has a bad headache once in awhile. A migraine is not your run-of-the-mill headache. It's a neurological nightmare.

At first, I had them every six months or so, and while an inconvenience, I could usually shut myself away in a dark room for long enough to let it wear off. I tried prescribed migraine medication and it only made me more ill. As time has gone on, the symptoms have strengthened and the their duration has increased. Here's how it usually goes: it starts with light, natural or florescent. Sometimes it can be the contrast between being in a dark room and looking out a very bright window. Other times it is the flash of a camera; headlights on a car; or a flashlight. I know instantly when it is about to start. My left eye freaks out. I start to see light moving. It feels like I'm wearing glasses (and I'm not) and I see a fan reflecting in the lens. I get tunnel vision in both eyes and usually the only thing I can finally see from my left eye is a fuzzy, white blob. I get dizzy. Sound hurts. I can't focus. Sometimes I vomit. If I am lucky, this part lasts for a half hour, but sometimes it takes two to three hours to subside. It is always followed by the sensation that someone has placed metal grips around my head and then decides to squeeze those grips as tightly as possible.

This was hard to deal with in college and when I first started working. People can't see what I'm seeing and therefore they think I'm making it up. The dilemma then, was whether I could hide in my office with the lights off or if I could drive home so I could crawl into bed. Since my second pregnancy, I have experienced a migraine about once every two weeks. Having kids and a busy life makes migraine episodes a real inconvenience. I can't hide. I can't sleep it off. One Sunday morning, I told Andy that I needed to go to back bed and while I hid my head under a pillow, fighting the light and the pounding, Andy placed a crying baby on my back and allowed Caroline to jump up and down next to me. I play a game with my head now. When I feel a headache coming on, if I start to see the light playing games with me, I fight back. I pretend that it's not happening and I drink a Coke and let the caffeine constrict my blood vessels. I wear sunglasses, even inside. Sometimes I win. Most of the time, I lose.

Two years ago, while running, my arm went numb. The numbness lasted for several days. After an MRI and a ton of stress related to thinking I was dying, my doctor told me I could have had a mini-stroke or a migraine. I had no idea at the time that arm numbness is a symptom of something I thought to be a headache. I had the numbness again this week, in my arms, my legs and my lips. My head hurt so badly I thought my eyes were crossing. People asked if this is just "in my head". I suppose it is.

I live in fear of the migraine. It is the boogey man. It is the stranger lurking in the dark (or in my case, the light). I never know when it will strike because I have yet to find a pattern. I'll go back to the doctor's office to see what they say. The hypochondriac in me is worried that I have a brain tumor. Andy reminds me not to let the doctors scare me or talk me into more tests that costs big bucks. I just want the pain to go away.


Ugh. That sounds terrible. I had migraines in college and for the first few years out of it and then someone suggested that I try switching my birth control pill from a different level of hormones each week to one level of a low dose of hormones throughout. I have never had a migraine since. It was actually my mother who made the connection between the pill and the migraines. She is weird like that. I'm sure if you are on the pill, you have already thought of that, but just thought I would throw that one out there just in case.

My hand has been numb and tingly for the past few weeks. It's freaking me out!!!

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