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Getting Acquainted With Migraines Thanks to Fibromyalgia

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Apparently, fibromyalgia and migraines go hand-in-hand. Fibromyalgia amplifies pain, and headaches (including migraines) are a common symptom of fibromyalgia. I’d never experienced a migraine before this year, though I have had my share of nasty headaches. But a migraine is a whole other experience.

A week or so ago, I went out with a friend on a Saturday. We had coffee, chatted, wandered around a few shops, then I went to visit my mum and sister. I got home around dinnertime, already sporting a headache. That evening, I went downhill faster than I could have imagined possible.

We were re-watching an episode of “Stranger Things” with dinner, when I found that actually, the TV was too bright to look at. The lights, set low, were hurting my eyes too. Once the episode finished, I was glad for the quiet. I stayed downstairs for a little bit longer, taking pain relief, drinking water, trying to get rid of the headache and actually enjoy my Saturday evening, but no. I couldn’t take it for much longer – I had to go to bed.

By 8 p.m., I could barely talk. My whole head hurt – my jaw, my eyes. I felt sick. I had to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth in the dark, with my eyes closed. I could barely say goodnight to my partner. I curled up in a ball, lights off, bedroom quiet. A point behind my left eye pulsed. Then came the flashing lights. It was like a firework display going off behind my eyelids. The nausea rose and fell; my body felt tired, the fibromyalgia flared up so that my body hurt too. I read that this is called aura. Migraines with aura can cause such symptoms, including difficulty speaking clearly and seeing flashing lights.

Despite the pain – or perhaps because of it – I couldn’t get straight to sleep. I opened the app Headspace – with a filter on my phone to lessen the glare, and placing it upside down as soon as possible – and spent a few minutes meditating. I focused on my breath, in, out, and my body, to try to take my focus off the pain. It helped enough that I could get to sleep, which is all I wanted.

The next day, I felt drained. It felt like a hangover – my head still hurt, but less. I could open my eyes, talk, move around. But it was never far away, the threat of it getting worse. My body hurt, and I had little energy. I had to take Monday off work, the pain and exhaustion was so bad.

On Tuesday, I had to drive to our other depot, around three and a half hours away, to do an audit. I managed it, but by lunchtime, my head was hurting. I hastily applied Tiger Balm, took ibuprofen, but it was too late. My head ached the entire journey home, stuck in traffic, forced to enter service stations to use the bathroom. I got home at 6 p.m., and was in bed by 7 p.m. I didn’t eat dinner, or talk to my partner, or relax at all. I simply got home, showered and curled up in bed.

I read that migraines can last 72 hours to a week. This migraine, at time of writing, has lasted five days. I have no idea how much longer it will go on. I believe the cause of it is stress – I’ve been super busy at work, with family drama and personal issues going on – and I’m attempting to use meditation to ease it. But it appears that, while my mind might be capable of juggling multiple plates, my body is not. I feel the stress physically – or physiologically – and it has all come to a head, resulting in a fibromyalgia flare and a migraine.

The only things I’ve tried to treat the migraine with – Tiger Balm, ibuprofen – have barely touched it. Since I’m new to migraines, I’d love to know what others use to deal with them.

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Thinkstock photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz.

Originally published: October 26, 2017
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