A day in my migraine life.

When headaches happen, my brain feels orange.  Doesn't yours?

When headaches happen, my brain feels orange. Doesn’t yours?

I had been hoping to post today about my side-plank, or long walks, or gardening, but I will instead post about what today was filled with — stabbity in my brain.

I have had migraine headaches for essentially as long as I can remember, though they started to become a serious, prescription medication type issue a little ways into college.

My main experience of migraines is that all audio-visual sensory input is essentially transformed into pain input.  Light is pain.  Sound is pain.  Talking, because it is sound, is also pain.  Other things, like climbing stairs, or any adrenaline-type stress response, also cause sharp stabbing pains.  Depending on how bad it gets, there may or may not be a constant base-level hurt regardless of sensory input, but the primary sign I’m having a migraine — the big constant — is a steady pressure-type feeling inside my head reminding me of the imminent potential of pain as a consequence for any of the above sensations or activities.

The lowest level migraines consist only of that ominous and uncomfortable pressure, requiring me to be vigilant and cautious and tentative, for days, sometimes.  The worst migraines (which are mercifully more rare) have me in a dark room with my hands over my eyes, rolling around on my bed, nauseous,  and feeling like my brain consists of nothing but pain, no room for thoughts.  I go about many of my days powering through a haze of pressure, or of light pain.

Unfortunately, migraine medications are supposed to be taken both rarely (because tolerances can develop) and early (because the worse the headache gets, the less likely it is to respond to medications).  It’s a Hobson’s choice, trying to decide which of the many baby ones will turn into a big bad grownup.  And sometimes the meds work, and sometimes they just don’t.

I have a long list of triggers for headaches, but one of the most reliable is homeostasis.  I am, as it turns out, a delicate flower.  Irregularities in my physical life are often accompanied by migraines.  I get them when I don’t eat at the usual time or don’t eat enough, when I sleep more than eight hours, when I don’t drink enough water, when I’m sick, when I’m hot, or when I travel.  So today, a hot day when I decided to indulge myself by sleeping in… ended up migrainey — ranging between a 1 and a 6, most of the day, on the scale of 1 to 10.

Migraines make me mad, and they make me very sad, because the worst thing they do to me is to steal time.  When my medication fails me, I am powerless to stop the theft.  Today, I wanted to shop, to cook, to do leisurely weekend yoga, and to take care of odds and ends around the house.  I wanted to feel open and active, calm and relaxed, but energetic.  Through my light-to-medium pain haze today, I did manage to walk into town and shop a little bit, even to buy a new plant (ground cherry!) and get groceries.  I managed to watch some entertainment in an air conditioned room.  But I feel robbed of my Saturday, and sad that I won’t be getting it back.

Okay, that all feels a bit Downward-Facing Girl.  Is there an Upward-Facing aspect to my migrainey plight?  Well, I’ll tell you one thing — my times of pain teach me deep, heartfelt appreciation for the times when my brain is migraine-free.  Sometimes waking up the morning after a headache and feeling normal is like the angels singing — like a million bucks — like I have a new superpower!  So I will focus today on letting go of expectations and entitlement for my days, and on gratitude and hope for tomorrow.

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