Sunday, March 11, 2012

Welcome Back Cookie


Like most bloggers, I have a routine that I use to get ready to write. I grab a cup of coffee and fire up my laptop.  I check my usual social media sites - LinkedIn, Facebook, Google + and Twitter - and I check my email. Then I’m usually ready to settle down and start writing.

But I knew that wasn’t the case on Friday. You see, I woke up with a headache. And for me, headaches come in two varieties – the kind where you can pop two Tylenol and keep on going, and the kind where all you can do is spend the next two or three days in a dark, quiet room. Friday’s headache was of the latter variety.

Those of you who are familiar with the “headache from hell” don’t need me to tell you what I was experiencing was a migraine. According to Wikipedia, migraine is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by moderate to severe headaches and nausea. It is about three times more common in women than in men.

The typical migraine headache is unilateral (affecting one half of the head), pulsating in nature, and lasting from two to 72 hours. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light, sound or smells. The symptoms are generally aggravated by routine activity.

Migraines affect more than 10% of people worldwide. In the U.S., about 6% of men and 18% of women experience a migraine in a given year. However, these figures vary substantially with age. 

Below the age of 12, approximately 5% of children suffer from migraine attacks with little apparent difference between boys and girls. A rapid growth in incidence for girls occurs after puberty and increases throughout early adulthood.

By middle age, 25% of women experience a migraine at least once a year compared to less than 10% of men.  After menopause, incidence in women tends decline dramatically, so that after age 70, equal numbers of men and women suffer attacks with prevalence returning to about 5%.

All of this is my way of saying I know that I am not the only one who suffers from excruciating headaches. I am sure that many of you also deal with the same issue.

My way of dealing with it is to basically “ride it out”. Once it becomes apparent that an over-the-counter medication is not going to kick my headache, I generally retreat to my bedroom for up to 72 hours – the amount of time necessary for the migraine to run its course. Of course, I get to experience all the wonderful symptoms too – nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light, sound and smells. 

But eventually, I do emerge feeling somewhat like Persephone must have felt when she returned from Hades each spring. And knowing that I will most likely be returning to my own personal hell sometime in the future.

Image via www.californiaheadache.com

16 comments:

  1. Ugh...I've suffered from them since I was SIX years old...yup, 6! I get all of the same symptoms, even get the aura. The only medication that helped me was an anti-seizure med called Dilantin. But it has awful side effects, I couldn't stay on it. So now, like you, I just ride it out.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that. I didn't start to get them until after puberty, and aura is one symptom I do not experience.

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  2. Thanks :) I don't know about you, but I find that people who haven't experienced a migraine just don't get it!

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    1. A co-worker who also got migraines as a child told me that she couldn't understand how people got headaches and kept up with their normal routines. It wasn't until she was an adult that she realized she didn't get "normal" headaches.

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  3. TW gets terrible migraines that last the full 3 days. Two days on one side and then it moves to the other side for the 3rd and sometimes the worst day. They usually came at "that time of the month." When she was going to acupuncture, she got far fewer of them and she'd get them w/o the nausea. lIke you, she rides them out since the Tripans are for younger people, who don't have to worry about the side effects, like heart problems. Now she gets headaches when the weather changes and for the most part, they're not so bad. She never had the auras until recently. She's sorry that her friends have to go through the same hell.

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    1. Sorry to hear that TW gets migraines too. I think it's something many people don't talk about because if you've never had one then you really don't understand what they're like.

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  4. Mario's mom here: I feel so bad for anyone who suffers from Migrains. I never had them but would get bad headaches, and they were bad enough.

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    1. Thank you Mary. A lot of women get migraines, and sometimes it helps just to talk to people who understand.

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  5. Oh no - that is not the way you want to spend a weekend! I'm glad you're feeling better. I've only experienced a couple of migranes in my life, but that was enough to give me a lot of sympathy for people that suffer with them. Glad you're feeling better!

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    1. Thanks Amy - I'm always up for a little sympathy! ;-)

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  6. Ugh... I'm so sorry to hear about your migraine! I'm glad you're feeling better.

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  7. Ugh, sorry to hear that's how you spent your weekend. Add me to the list of those that deal with them. After 30 or so years of experiencing them, though, I have found ways to minimize getting them (mostly diet) as well as the havoc they wreak when they do come around (catch 'em early enough, pop a few hundred Excedrin migraine and I'm good to go.)

    I have found that rubbing red Tiger Balm on my forehead in copious amounts can help lessen some of the side effects. That makes taking the meds easier since it helps reduce the possibility of throwing them up as soon as you get them down...

    Hope you're feeling better now and that you don't have another one for a long, long time. :)

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    1. Red Tiger Balm - I'll have to check that out. Right now I'm still dealing with that yucky hungover feeling, but at least the pain is gone.

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  8. Ginger & cardmon teas help with the nausea -- I learned that trick from a former nurse.
    The Persephone analogy is excellent, Vicki. Because that's what it really feels like.

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    1. Thanks for the tip about Ginger & cardamom teas. I do sip ginger ale when I don't feel well for the same reason.

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  9. nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

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