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To Those Who Think Migraines 'Can't Be That Bad'

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Migraines, believe it or not, are a chronic illness, and are the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide. I write a lot about my depression and anxiety, but have never written about my migraines and headaches. They go hand in hand.

October 27, 2014 I was involved in a rollover car accident. I was left hanging upside down in my vehicle until emergency personnel could extricate me. I was then taken by ambulance to the ER. No scans were done, despite my continuous complaint of head pain and hematoma on my forehead. My parents were told to watch me and that I would be fine in a few days.

I wasn’t fine. I’m still not fine.

Every day since October 27, 2014 I have had a headache. My neurologist diagnosed me with chronic tension headaches. My only way of explaining how this feels is, “Go put your head in a vice and crank it until you can’t bear it anymore, then leave it at that pressure.” On top of this, I was diagnosed with chronic migraines, which are debilitating. They can last days on end and usually result in me sleeping a great length of time before I feel “well” again. When I tell people I truly have had a headache since that day in October, I don’t think they believe me, that I must have had some relief, because I go out, I work, I go to school. But I haven’t. I truly have not had relief from the vice grip around my head in over two years, except for when I am sleeping, and maybe that is why I have come to love sleep so much.

A doctor once told me, “You are working, so they obviously can’t be that bad.” (Needless to say, I don’t see this doctor any longer, and see a fabulous neurologist at Mayo Clinic.)

Wrong. I am working because I have goals. I am working and going to school because I have dreams and I don’t believe I was put on this earth to have migraines and pain and die. I believe I have migraines so when I treat my patients, I can show them empathy towards their pain. I can believe their pain when no one else has, or will. I am working because I have no choice. I don’t want sympathy. I just want people to be aware that migraines are real. Although they are invisible, they impact me and others every single day. They qualify people for disability every single day. So next time you think they “can’t be that bad,” think again.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 2, 2016
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