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A Day in the Life of a Person With Migraine

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Migraine! What is it? Before you think it is a type of a headache, let me tell you, it is not “just a headache.” For God’s sake, please stop calling it “just a headache.” Migraine is more than a headache, much more than a disorder, much much more than just pain. Migraine is a way of living. It is life, it is happiness, it is sadness, it is everything. No, I am not exaggerating any bit of it. If you suffer from migraines or live with someone who suffers from them, you would agree with every letter I write.

Migraine is an inherited neurological disorder that is characterized by hyperexcitable brain networks that may be triggered by a variety of stimuli (e.g. alcohol, menstruation, fragrances, light glare), or become active spontaneously (even during sleep), leading to attacks. Thirty-six million Americans, about 12 percent of the population, suffer from migraine headaches. Migraine is three times more common in women than men. Migraine affects 30% of women over a lifetime. (Source: American Migraine Foundation).

You must be wondering why I said “Migraine is a way of living, it is life?” I will tell you why!

Imagine a scenario when you wake up with a crane lifting you off the bed with your head mounted on the hook. Then think of walking to work with an iron ball tied to each of your ankles. Visualize sitting in front of a screen that recklessly shoots light bullets into your eye for at least eight hours a day. Your head pounds at breakneck speed, making you dizzy as you walk back home, now with four iron balls tied to your head. Wait, wait, wait… did you think this is all? No, it doesn’t end here.

Towards twilight you are almost like a zombie. You get back home energy-less, irked, tired, jaded, only wanting to get into your “Palace of Darkness” where silence, darkness and concealment wait for you. So you miss the beautiful sunrise, you miss fun at work, you miss enjoying life with your family, you miss screaming when your favorite team wins a game, you miss dancing to your favorite song, you miss being happy or sad without having to worry about a “hangover” headache… You miss life, because your life is here with you all the time, your migraine.

This is just a normal day in the life of a “migraineur.” Multiply all this by 100; add loads of uneasiness and nausea, photophobia and phonophobia and a pinch of visual aura and verbal disparity — this is what happens when a migraine attack strikes.

“And then a throb hits you on the left side of the head so hard that your head bobs to the right…There’s no way that came from inside your head, you think. That’s no metaphysical crisis. God just punched you in the face.”

– Andrew Levy, “A Brain Wider Than the Sky: A Migraine Diary

Migraine is disabling. Migraine is impairing. Migraine is debilitating. Migraine is frustrating. A lack of funding for migraine research is one of the major factors that has slowed the speed of new developments in the field. No medicine, no approved treatment protocol, no assurance adds to the misery of a migraineur.

“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.”

– J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

So next time you meet someone or see your loved one in agony, remember these are people who are superheroes, even with pain 24/7, are trying to live a life as you do. They are striving to balance family, work, life and their pain. Don’t sympathize but yes, empathize. And only when you understand what their suffering is like, you would be amazed to know how these humans who function at 30 to 60 percent of their capacity throughout their life learn, live and achieve so much more, so gracefully. The flowing cape of migraine indeed makes them superheroes.

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

– Bob Dylan, “Not Dark Yet

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Originally published: April 6, 2016
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