Updated: Jan 19, 2021
“I hope your headache feels better!”
“You can handle it, it can’t be that bad.”
“Yeah, I get bad headaches too.”
“Have you taken Tylenol?”
“I have some Tylenol for you in my car.”
A common misconception with chronic migraine is that they are a headache.
If only they were that simple.
A headache is manageable.
Usually a headache is not an indication of a greater underlying problem.
A headache is not altered vision.
A headache is not severe photo-and phonophobia.
A headache does not trigger nausea.
The most frustrating thing about living with chronic migraines is cancelling plans because I cannot get out of bed; open my curtains; eat; watch tv to distract me from the pain; speak in coherent sentences.
“it’s just a headache”
As of right now there is no set cure for migraines. Dealing with the pain some days is easier than others. Some days start off seemingly "normal" but then a migraine can be triggered and I can be bed bound for the next two days.
Migraine is a neurological disease with extremely incapacitating neurological symptoms. It’s typically a severe throbbing recurring pain, usually on one side of the head. But in about 1/3 of attacks, both sides are affected. In some cases, other disabling symptoms are present without head pain. Attacks are often accompanied by one or more of the following disabling symptoms: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face. About 25% of migraine sufferers also have a visual disturbance called an aura, which usually lasts less than an hour. In 15-20% of attacks, other neurological symptoms occur before the actual head pain. Attacks usually last between 4 and 72 hours.
Having Migraine puts me at a larger risk of strokes, seizures, heart complications, depression and GAD.
I wish they were just headaches
Words and artwork by Artist in Residence Caitling Smits.