It occurred to me that migraines are as much a part of your life as certain family members that always manage to give you a headache without even trying. There’s one in every family. No use pretending they don’t exist. They’re as real as the migraine headache that is sure to attack next time the weather changes.
Like the arrival of a rude uncle, whenever migraines attack you put on a brave face. “Sure, come on in,” you say, cracking into a grin. All the time thinking, How long will you stay this time…? He spins around, and demands a hug. You grudgingly agree, and the whiff of his musky aftershave triggers a migraine the size of Texas.
You must come more often…
You make a show of not being disturbed by the first migraine symptoms– dull throbbing pain on one side of your head, stiff neck, while your uncle slaps you hard on the back and hollers an off-colored joke in your ear, waiting for your reaction. “Good one, uncle!” You think you might vomit.
Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!
It seems that you’re the only one who suffers migraines. Nobody else seems bothered by the uninvited guest. Nobody notices the agony that you hope is etched onto your face. You try to excuse yourself, nonchalantly, smiling weakly and saying that you feel the beginnings of a severe migraine attack. “Can we get together another day?” you ask, thinking perhaps sometime next century… But your uncle bellows, “What’s the matter-got a headache? You don’t look sick!”
Is it just me…?
The migraine lingers, and so does your uncle. As he sinks deeper into your couch cushions, flicking on the television, your migraine headache also seems to have taken up permanent residency in your brain. The throbbing intensifies, flashes of light cause blinding pain behind your eyes, and the sound of laughter nearby echoes painfully inside your head. Your stomach sinks with nausea. No, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. And neither is your migraine.
You can do this.
The phone rings. You try to have a normal conversation, but your uncle-migraine screams in the background, making it impossible to concentrate. You grow irritable, and you hardly recognize your own voice as you cut the phone call short and hang up. You will have to apologize later for your rudeness, but now is not the time to dwell on that. Uncle Migraine wants to talk about migraine remedies…
You didn’t just say that.
“You know,” he says, “you should really smile more. That’s why you’re so unhappy- you don’t smile enough.”
“When are you going to have another child? That’s the best cure for migraines- pregnancy.” (This, from your uncle.)
“If you lost weight, your headaches would go away.”
“Did I ever tell you that I used to get migraines, too? I stopped eating tomatoes, and that did it for me. You don’t eat tomatoes, do you?”
“It could be a brain tumor, you know. Or meningitis. Better get that checked out.”
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Migraine, migraine, go away, come again…never.
At long last, your migraine makes the first signs of diminishing, slowly relaxing its death grip on your skull, while your uncle stretches and excuses himself to the bathroom. A few minutes later, he reappears, makes a few more jabbing comments, and saunters haltingly to the door. You will him to leave, silently sending him thought rays, Please, please, please…
Not without another hug! This time, bone crushing, the thick musk smothers you again. You can barely breathe. Migraines go away, but their aftereffects linger like the trail of bad cologne.
Time to recuperate.
Turn off the lights, close the blinds, lie down on your bed, and most importantly, unplug the phone. (You wouldn’t put it past uncle to call you right now from his smartphone, thwarting your chances of recovery.) Empty your mind, close your eyes, put the whole experience behind you, and suffer quietly as your headache slowly ebbs away. You are back.
Until we meet again, uncle…but not if I see you first.
Read more about migraines:
The Four Phases of Migraine Headache Attacks
Helping Others Understand Migraines- 8 Communication Tips
Image credits: Michal Marcol, Ambro