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16 Years of Living with Migraines

l’ve been living with migraines since I was 15 year-old. When the are perpetual, they are called chronic migraines. Chronic migraines are defined by frequency, and are recognised to be having at least 15 headache days a month, with at least 8 days of having headaches with migraine features, for more than 3 months. I was officially diagnosed with Migraines at 19 years old, but the brutal onslaught of headaches started when I was in the tenth grade.

HOW IT STARTED

It was crippling, it would start in the mornings when I woke up to go school, usually being triggered by headache that would start with the fog burning my sinuses so bad, I figured I might die. I would chug pain killers and think (These pill manufacturers are liars! These do NOT work!)

Migraines are a deeply painful, often debilitating form of headache. Migraines can be episodic or chronic. A typical episodic migraine (EM) can linger for hours. Then, several weeks or even months may pass between migraine episodes. Chronic migraines (CM), on the other hand, last longer and occur more frequently.

http://www.healthline.com

To combat the problem then, I stopped going to school early. It sounds bad, but if the sun wasn’t up and the fog wasn’t cleared, I would stay in that house and became a perpetual late bug. I would wear all sorts of loose hairstyles, as the least bit of tension would be sure to drive me mad, and by the time midday rolled around, I would more or less self medicate with a pain killer to make it through the day. Side note, ignorance is a hell of a thing. I used to drink orange juice so much, never ever picking up on the connection between lunch-time and the overdrive.

My friends and I cackled like ducklings none-stop all day, which really didn’t help my cause any, but the real experience would always come at night. Trying to sit in the dark at home with three younger siblings and a mom who very rarely cared to hear it, I would have onslaughts with lights with on in my face without warning. Boy! After a while, my family realised just how dire my situation was, and took pains to avoid the habit, but it didn’t stop my mom from thinking I was just stoosh for avoiding chore that meant ‘sunhot ‘. Aka, me nuh rake yard.

Triggers

When I was finally diagnosed and discovered the perpetual power of extremely dark sunglasses, my world changed. My doctor and I shopped around for a medication strong enough to help me function, and ultimately it was a combination of medicine that would do the trick, but, it meant I needed to avoid specific triggers and take the meds every single day into oblivion or until I stopped having the headaches. This is when the horror of ‘common triggers’ were bestowed upon me. I suddenly found myself having to avoid citrus fruits, chocolate, foods with high sugar contents, alcohol consumption, dehydration and (drumroll please) dairy products (please drink milk for a weeks/months-long marathon).

living with migraines

As if that weren’t bad enough, my environmental triggers encompasses bright lights (natural and unnatural), changes in the weather, heat and cold.

But wait, there’s more!

I also find myself with a good knockout from tiredness, stress, interrupted or lack of sleep, fright and (drumroll again, please) orgasms!

Symptoms

Over the years, my symptoms have remained the same. They are light sensitivity, lack of focus, stabbing pain behind an eye, half a head, nausea, blurred vision, aura and the tell tale sign of a doozy, flashing lights in my vision.

Lifestyle Changes

I have more than twenty headache days a month, and there’s usually a constant underlying hum in my head. Clear, truly clear days are rare. The headaches are an important inclusion into my lifestyle. However, after a year or so on the medication, I felt I wanted to try living without them. I ride out try regular headaches for as long as I can, or until the back of my eyeball starts to twitch. I decided I didn’t want to be on medication constantly, so I avoid my trigger foods like the plaque, or I will have a little bit and just take some pain killers.

Diligence and Preparation

My house is usually pretty well stocked with pain medication (Panadol Ultra) as I go through them pretty heavily. on bad days, I need three to four packs. While they don’t take away my headache completely, they help me to be functional. Also, if I miss the sweet spot where I realise the headache is going to turn into a migraine, I’m usually offed. Lol

I take Magnesium (500MG) supplements which have helped me to have only half as many headache days, and clearer non headache days. Additionally, I keep a pair of really dark sunglasses on my person as long as I’m outside, My devices (laptop, phone and tablet) are always on the lowest level of brightness, ALWAYS!

Pregnancy

For the sixteen years I’ve been living with my migraines, the only break Ive had is during pregnancy. I just realised one day, that weeks had passed and not only were my headaches gone, the hum in my head and what feels like an undercurrent was gone too! I was so happy. Unfortunately though, a little over a year after I had my daughter, they slowly and steadily returned. They are admittedly less severe, but there all the same.

Live with It

As far as the weather, I have no control over that. This summer was particularly hot, and for many sufferers like myself, heat truly became the least of my worries. Just looking outside can land me a stab in my eye and that’s it. Take my meds and chill tf out. The worst summer I had was in 2014. My episode lasted for about three months (I had one this long too from milk!), and I think I still might have some PTSD from that, lol.

So to all the folks who have every asked a person if their migraines are ‘that bad‘, uh… yea they are. Do you have migraines? Let’s talk about em in the comments!

Xo, Shan

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Shandean Reid

Millennial Family Woman, Lifestyle Entrepreneur and Multidisciplinary Writer.

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12 COMMENTS

  • Shelly DS

    That sounds absolutely horrible! It’s great you’ve found ways to cope with it, but I can’t even imagine having 3 headache days let alone 20!

  • I rarely get headaches but when I do, they are horrible so girl I lift my hats off to you.

  • Wendy

    When I started reading this post the first thought that came to mind was how you coped with pregnancy. But it’s good that it gave a break during pregnancy.

    I don’t have migraine but when I have eye pains, my head usually hurts a lot. I can’t imagine a pain greater than that

  • trinimomindmiddle

    I used to get them when I was at school and I had exams, specifically when it was dry season and smoke was perpetually in the air. It physically felt like bricks pounding on my head. Migraines are rough.🥺

  • Stewart Shearer

    16 years? It’s shocking. How did you manage to endure such an intense kind of pain for so many years?

    • The Caffeinated Powerhouse
      AUTHOR

      Thanks for reading, Stewart. You learn to cope. You learn what not to do, even if you wish you could. For example, I and the only one ordering a virgin drink when I’m out with my friends because alcohol is a trigger for me. And as an entrepreneur, some days, simple have to stay indoors out of the light. You just do when at you can and medicate as needed.

  • Kadi: Lost At Thirty

    I’m 32 and still don’t quite know what my triggers are. I’m quite similar to you and have suffered with migraines since a young age.

    I need glasses and so years of migraines and headaches were blamed on my bad eye sight.

    I feel luckier than yourself though as mine are definitely more episodic (cluster migraines) than chronic. I will get a few weeks of them and then they will disappear for a while.

    The only trigger I have found which is completely out of my control is that they are hormone linked to my periods. It’s fun being a woman, isn’t it?

    • The Caffeinated Powerhouse
      AUTHOR

      Wow! Imagine hormonal trigger have to be awful as well. Who needs more issues during that time?!

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