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My migraines and how it affects my daily life

My migraines and how it affects my daily life

I had my first migraine when I was nine in 2006. I remember playing with my sisters and suddenly felt a throbbing against my left temple. Sweat began gathering on my forehead and the back of my neck. I couldn’t stand up straight. Then, I decided to lay down on our couch. But, the pain just keeps getting worse. So, I began to cry.

As a nine-year-old girl, it was scary to feel that kind of pain because I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t know the triggers back then. So, I never knew what to avoid. Growing up, I would go to doctors and they would do CT scans of my head, and time and time and again, they couldn’t find anything wrong.

For the longest time, I’d just bear the migraines and try to learn how to get past them on my own. As I grew up, I would research triggers which allowed me to avoid them and keep track of the pain. My triggers include the heat, flashing lights, booming sounds, and so much more. And, as much as I could I would try to avoid them.

I was celebrating post-Christmas with my family and felt the pain coming. But, I ignored it anyway. I ended up crying inside my room, staying there for the entirety of the night.

It is important to note that headaches and migraines are different.

Headaches cause pain in the head, face, or upper neck. It varies in frequency and intensity. Experts classify headaches into two main groups — primary and secondary. Primary headaches refer to independent conditions. It causes pain in the head, face, or neck. Meanwhile, secondary headaches occur as a result of another medical condition. This includes infection, stress, or medication overuse. 

Migraines, on the other hand, is a chronic condition. It is a type of primary headache disorder that causes severe pain and other symptoms. Headaches are only one symptom of migraines, ranging in severity. It causes intense, throbbing headaches that last from a few hours to several days. Usually, it affects one side of the head. However, some people experience pain on both sides. 

I was already feeling unwell when I was on my way to the office. But, the heat from the sun and the brightness beaming down on me triggered the migraines and left me in pain. I tried to relieve myself with the cold air conditioning in the office. Although it was still painful, it was bearable.

According to experts, a migraine occurs in four distinct phases. 

The premonitory phase.

This includes nonpainful symptoms which occur hours or days before the headache arrives. Symptoms include unexplainable mood changes, food cravings, neck stiffness, frequent yawning, constipation or diarrhea, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smells. Personally, this is when my triggers happen. 

The aura phase.

Aura refers to sensory disturbances. It occurs before or during a migraine attack. These can also affect a person’s vision, touch, or speech. 

Visual auras cause symptoms like:

  • flashing lights
  • zig-zagging lines
  • blurred vision
  • blind spots that expand over time

Sensory auras cause symptoms like:

  • numbness or tingling that starts in the arm and radiates to the face

Motor auras affect a person’s ability to communicate and think clearly. The symptoms include:

  • slurred or jumbled speech
  • difficulty understanding what others say
  • difficulty writing words or sentences
  • having trouble thinking clearly

Sometimes, my vision blurs and it gives me vertigo, making me so nauseous that I would even vomit. There are times that I would slur or jumble my speech which makes it difficult to communicate with other people. This becomes one of the reasons why I choose to stay silent during a migraine attack.

The headache phase.

Migraines range from mild to severe. Physical activity and exposure to light, sound, and smells worsen the pain. I only feel the pain in my left temple and behind my left eye. When my migraine becomes too severe for me to handle, I sometimes get rushed to the emergency room where I seek medical treatment. These are the only times that I would receive morphine, a pain medication of the opiate family. Although morphine helps, it is actually a highly addictive prescription that I would like to avoid. 

This was the time when the pain of the migraine was too severe for me to handle. My mom sent me to the emergency room where doctors administered morphine through the IV. Then, they sent me home when I started feeling better. However, they asked me to come back the next day for a CT scan. When doctors looked at the scan, they didn’t find anything wrong.

The postdrome phase.

This occurs after the headache subsides. It makes people feel exhausted, confused, and/or generally unwell. This can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Personally, it just makes me feel exhausted, drained, and unable to work.

My migraines and how it affects my daily life

Having a daily routine.

My migraines have made me feel cautious about my everyday actions. To avoid migraines, I work as a freelance writer. That way, I handle my own time and I could work on my own terms. However, I don’t have a certain time to do anything. I would wake up whenever I could because being sleep-deprived causes me to become sensitive to triggers. So, it’s not necessarily a daily routine as much as I would have a specific thing that I’d do after I wake up. 

During the pandemic, I had a lot of migraines that were triggered by stress. So, I would stay a lot of my time inside my room. This has become my default to this day.

Certain food and drinks could also trigger migraines. However, I sometimes don’t avoid them due to not having a reaction to them. Still, I try my hardest to stick to a healthy diet to avoid significant contributors to developing migraines. These would include dehydration, an increase in blood pressure, and a few others. 

I would have a cold shower once or twice a day, too. Since cold showers ease the pain of migraines, I’ve begun regularly taking them even during cold weather. If I have to leave the comfort of my own home, I’d shower before I leave and shower again before I go to sleep. Aside from that, I would also drink cold beverages. Since dehydration causes a migraine or sometimes makes it worse, I would drink plenty of cold liquids to avoid them. 

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Aside from the pandemic making me stay inside my home, the migraines have also made me do so. I began drinking lots of cold water to help myself avoid the migraines. Then, the post-effects of my migraines would leave my body feeling exhausted and drained. It makes my entire body feel painful despite having recovered from the migraines.

Getting a new haircut and planning an outfit a few days ahead.

In February 2021, I cut my hair into a pixie cut and realized that I don’t get too many migraines as it stops the head from getting trapped within my thick hair. So, I recently cut them all off again to avoid one of the main triggers of my migraines. That way, the heat won’t affect me too much and I’d still look cute. 

Recently, I experienced an entire week of painful migraines. So, I decided to have a pixie cut to avoid the heat getting trapped in my thick hair.

Speaking of looking cute, I would only get out a few days within a week and plan my outfits a few days ahead. For example, I have a trip on Monday, June 27 and I would only come home on Tuesday, June 28. I would plan my outfits a week before, around Thursday, June 23.

Even with the clothing I wear, I try to give myself a little leeway to avoid migraines. Everybody has always referred to fashion and function as rivals. But, the thing is, you can actually play into functional fashion. You can play around with whatever clothing you wish to wear and have it play the role that you need it to.

Saying no to invites.

As I’ve mentioned, I only get out a few days within one week. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even go out at all. This way, I could avoid the pain of the migraines that have ruled my life for a long time. And, even as a twenty-something adult, I would say no to invites to avoid migraines. But, if I really want to go out, I’d plan my entire week around it. That way, I have time to prepare for it and time to recover.

What do I do for migraine relief?

When I have a migraine, I’d place something cold on my left temple or on my left eye. A cold water bottle works most of the time. Sometimes, I would even go for a cold shower to ease the pain.

And, I know what you’re thinking, what about medication? The thing is, pain relief medicine doesn’t usually work on my migraines. So, one of the only relief I can give myself when I’m inside my own home is sleeping in a cold and dark room. However, that doesn’t work every time. Sometimes, I would wake up and still feel the migraine throbbing against both my left temple and under my left eye. 

What about when I’m outside? Well, that’s the tricky part. That’s why as much as possible, I just don’t leave the house. But, when I really have to be outside, I would immediately try to find a way to go home. I would find someone that could pick me up from wherever I am and drop me off at home where I could do the relief on my own. If I don’t try to go home as soon as I can, vertigo and nausea will come, and it would be harder to handle then.

Migraines have ruled my life for a long time. So, if you feel annoyed whenever I say no to your invites, please do understand that I just don’t want to be in pain. I try to get past it as much as I can. Trust me, I’ve been trying.

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