Ooh my head!

Migraine is a neurological disease, [1] of which the most common symptom is an intense and disabling episodic headache. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head. Absent serious head injuries, stroke, and tumors, the recurring severity of the pain indicates a vascular headache rather than a tension headache. Migraines are often accompanied by photophobia (hypersensitivity to light), phonophobia (hypersensitivity to sound) and nausea. (Wikipedia)

I have had migraines for a long time. I vaguely remember having them on rare occasions in my teens and in college. But I distinctly remember having them during my early years of teaching, in my mid 20s while at the other high school. They got so bad my second year of teaching that I would go home during the last period of the day. One week I went home early daily. My triggers are stress, neck problems, or certain qualities of light(s).

My migraines follow a specific pattern. It begins with an aura, various floaters in one or both eyes followed by tunnel vision, blurred vision and light sensitivity. I then become nauseous and tired, sometimes dizzy. My head feels very heavy. Then the pain begins. Sometimes it feels like someone drove a stake through the top of my head, like Jael did to the general in the story of Deborah from the Book of Judges. Usually, I feel a dull throbbing on one side of my head. I can’t cough or sneeze without the pain radiating throughout my entire skull. I can’t concentrate. My mood usually becomes irritable and/or lackadaisical.

Because of my allergy to every medication in the aspirin family (this includes ibuprofen, unfortunately), I can only take Tylenol. I take two extra-strength but in the last two days, I’ve taken three caplets. I also take a nap with a lavender aromatherapy eye pillow, if I’m at home. When at work, I’ll don my sunglasses and try to keep my office quiet.

I have had three migraines since Saturday morning. I woke up Saturday morning, eager to do a 5-mile training run with my half-marathon teammates. As always, I rose at dawn and decided to mop the kitchen floor before they arrived. By the time, my first teammate arrived, the aura was in both eyes. Our run ended up being only two miles and I slept for two hours in an effort to alleviate the pain. While in Long Beach at a teaching conference, I was dutifully reading PowerPoint slides during a UCLA professor’s lecture on leadership when the aura began in both (!) eyes. Because I had already checked out of my hotel room, I took Tylenol and took a quick stroll outdoors in my sunglasses before returning to the conference. This morning, I returned to work. It wasn’t long before another migraine, this one with minimal aura, began as I stared at my computer screen.

My neck is stiff and sore so I know I haven’t been sleeping on it well. Ironically, I am finally getting sufficient sleep. My depression and anxiety symptoms have subsided. I can only hope my migraines do, too.

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