Tag Archives: Migraine

A Migraine Account


This week is Migraine Awareness Week here in the UK. So I’m taking some time from my usual schedule of book blogging to make a more personal post.

Over 8 Million people in the UK suffer from migraines. That means that there are more sufferers of migraine than there are of epilepsy, asthma, and diabetes combined. However migraine if still not understood fully by doctors and awareness of the real effects of migraine is low in the general population.

Migraine is characterised by severe or cluster headaches but can also include nausea, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light, vomiting, lethargy,  speech disturbances, auditory disturbances, pins and needles, weakness, dizziness, and vertigo. In rare cases sufferers can become disorientated, suffer memory loss, fainting and paralysis.

When you look at that list of possible symptoms my migraines actually seem pretty mild, but they still effect me enough to not be able to do anything but lie in a dark room when I am in the middle of an attack.

My migraines started when I was about 10. Initially I used to call them fuzzy feelings as the main thing I noticed at the time was the pins and needles around my mouth and in my hands. I get these less rarely now but still find them rather upsetting. Gradually my migraine have got worse. Now a ‘standard’ migraine starts with me feeling kind of spaced out, or detached. Followed by spreading zig-zag lights starting in one corner of my right eye and spreading until it is close to impossible to see- especially as by this point I have such high sensitivity to light that it’s painful to keep my eyes open.

During this time I will occasionally get problems with my speech- usually getting stuck on one word, sometimes I will be nauseous too, and I usually feel a little faint. Actually it usually feels like it would be a relief to faint.

I went from a few a year, to one a month, up to 1 or 2 a week. Once I got to one a month I started taking preventative drugs (sanomigran) which helped for a bit, but then the frequency would start increasing again so I upped my dose, and again. Then the doctor decided to switch from sanomigran to amitryptaline. Which lets face it is an anti-depresent, not something I really wanted to take, but I felt I had little choice. I was lucky if I was managing to get a couple of weeks at work uninterrupted by migraines, and that was with migraines over the weekend. So I accepted the amitryptaline, then upped the dose, and again. I’m dreading amitryptaline stopping working, I’m not allowed up up my dose again.

There are other things too. I gave up tuna, that seemed to help. If I get enough sleep that seems to help, or if I’m not stressed. (However if I don’t get enough sleep, or am stressed it’s usually when I relax that I get the migraines).

Work wise I’ve been quite lucky. I had a lot of trouble with migraines my first year but my manager was (and is) very understanding. Obviously when I had lots it was frustrating for her, but she understood that I was trying to sort things out- and eventually *fingers crossed* I did. In fact the only trouble I’ve had with work other than having to take time off was when one member of staff suggested I just had a headache, and I must have known it was coming. I was on a bus to work when my migraine struck. I literally couldn’t have called a moment sooner. There is no warning with my migraines, they just appear. I understood I’d put her in a difficult position because I was meant to be in work in the next half hour; and when you work with kids staff numbers really matter. If I’d gone to work though I would have been unsafe. I was literally on the phone in tears, apologising.

When the same member of staff actually saw me with a migraine however I think she understood. So maybe it came good in the end?

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If you would like to find out more about migraine visit The Migraine Trust. Where you can also donate money to help fund research into migraine and raise awareness.

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Could you give up a friend?


Migraine Barbie has Snapped!

Image by Deborah Leigh (Migraine Chick) via Flickr

I get these awful terrible migraines. A regular migraine consists of blinding headache, pins and needles in my hands, flashing lights in my vision, aversion to any type of light and sometimes slurred speech, it’s a nasty horrible experience. Last week I got the worst migraine I have got in the last few years. On top of the usual I felt physically sick, I had pins and needles down my right arm and leg, and around my mouth, I could barely move and was really upset. This came on while I was at work, starting just like a bad headache, by the end of my break (which was an hour) I couldn’t move, I had to get someone else to tell my manager where I was because the thought of walking down the stairs in that state was unthinkable, I was sure I would fall. Even when I felt able to move again I asked another member of staff to help me down the stairs just in case.

Now what does this have to do with reading you might ask? Well today the other member of staff suggested that my migraines might be triggered by how much I read, I suppose it makes sense. They say reading can strain your eyes (especially if your eyesight wasn’t right to begin with, like mine), and most of the people I know of who suffer from migraine (and I mean real migraine, not headache) are big readers. Could it be a coincidence, I don’t know. Anyway this colleague suggested that I try giving up reading, just for a month or two to see if it helped. I can completely see the sense in what she says, I really can, and in the grand scheme of things a month isn’t really a long time is it? I know it makes sense but could I actually do it. The idea of giving up my books is like the idea of giving up a best friend, I wouldn’t die without them but I can’t imagine a life where I would be happy without them. Maybe, just maybe I could give up if it guaranteed that I would never get a migraine again, but I’d be more likely to say I really should give up reading everytime I got a migraine but forget about it with the sight of the next book I wanted to read.

So is there anything that could make you give up your books (or something else you love)?

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