You may have experienced this before: the feeling of an alien creature latching onto the base of your skull, sending pain shooting into your cranium and through your brain, or maybe it feels like a crazed sociopath suddenly plunged an ice pick into your head, lodging it firmly behind one of your eyes. Maybe it feels like your neck is in a vise or that your shoulders are in perma-flex mode. Or maybe, that’s just how a migraine feels to me.
I first started getting migraines before I turned ten, had my first doozy of a migraine on my twelfth birthday, and continued to have them now and again throughout the rest of junior high and high school – each one easily managed by OTC pain medication.
In college, they became regular occurrences, at least once a month if not more, and I could sort of track when I was “due” for another one. However, since I treated my body horribly in college – little sleep, too much caffeine and junk food, and not enough water and good stuff – I figured that was just my lot until I finished college and could take better care of myself.
Then I graduated and was poor and most months I could either choose to pay my rent, pay Sallie Mae, or buy food, so I ended up eating a lot of Ramen and other packaged pasta meals, and I still drank too much coffee because I worked odd hours at a childcare facility. So yeah, I still had regular migraines, but I attributed them to stress and unhealthy habits.
Even when I started a different job and my life took on a semblance of normalcy, and I was no longer strapped for cash and could take better care of myself physically, I realized that the migraines weren’t going away, and I made a promise to myself then and there that I would do what I could to naturally get rid of them.
I started being more aware of my body, noticing what was going on in my life around the times that my migraines would kick in. I noticed the pattern of migraines being about mid-way through my cycle and again right before or after I would start my period. Aha! So it was hormonal related, I discovered, and further discussion with my mother confirmed this as she no longer got the hereditary migraines now that she had gone through menopause.
Well, damn. I didn’t want to wait another twenty-five to thirty years to stop having migraines. But I still did what I could to manage them naturally, trying to sleep regularly and to drink enough water and to manage my stress levels. But those hormones, not a lot I could do about those!
Finally, I went to my doctor about them. She gave me a prescription and recommended some mineral supplements. Then I told her that my grandmother passed away from a stroke/brain aneurysm and she immediately signed me up for an MRI. Fortunately, the MRI came back normal, but I am still back to square one to some extent as I still have migraines. (I kind of have one brewing right now, actually.)
To some extent, I have accepted the fact that migraines will probably be a part of my life until my hormones change with menopause. Until then, I have the challenge of keeping my body healthy – and that is a worthy cause – and being aware of what triggers my migraines besides hormones. What I can do when I feel a headache coming on is not to ignore it, thinking that it will go away, but to take the medicine my doctor prescribed me, drink plenty of water, and sip a mug of mint tea. If I’m lucky, maybe I can get Mr. Dormouse to massage my neck and shoulders. (He’s great to have on hand for those.)
Who else suffers from migraines? What have you found that helps them go away? Do you know what causes yours?