A Tribute To Migraine Sufferers Everywhere


A Tribute To Migraine Sufferers EverywhereWelcome to 2024 and another year of fighting off migraine triggers, hunting in vain for that one medication that finally works, and turning down yet another suggestion of “just pop an ibuprofen” from well-meaning (or not) friends! The weather is cooler and the temperature swings and possible winter storms are here, so I want to write a small tribute to those of you who, like me, suffer from migraines. 

Here’s to those of us with this insidious neurological illness that people rarely seem to take seriously.

I salute you as we march forward into the new year, and I hope that you find the holy grail of medication, supplements, and diet that might help you to mitigate or improve your migraines over the course of the year. And I sincerely wish that what helpful items you already have in your medicine cabinet don’t lose their effectiveness this year. 

I’d like to address the variability of migraines and maybe shed some light on how they affect us all differently. Maybe this will help others understand just a little of how one migraine sufferer experiences them completely differently from another and allow people to gain a little empathy for the migraineurs in their lives. 

I’ll use myself as a case study.

I began having migraines when I was a child, just before puberty hit. I can still remember those monstrous headaches and how they confused child-me because of what happened when they came on. As a little girl, I would experience a visual aura that caused me a strange form of tunnel vision, and when my doctor diagnosed me with migraines, he told me that the aura was an important sign of oncoming migraines and I should always try to get my prescription medication as soon as I noticed an aura. Unfortunately, another symptom of my childhood migraines was the need to vomit. I would throw-up every 30 minutes on the dot, like clockwork, for two hours before falling into a deep sleep. I needed every minute of that sleep time in order to recover from my migraines. In hindsight, I realized that my migraines as a child felt worse in some ways because my aura was usually accompanied almost immediately by the blindsiding pain of migraine and I wasn’t able to take my abortive medication in time to prevent the worst of it. 

As I got older, my migraines changed, especially through puberty and into young adulthood. Where child-me had no ability to function through a migraine, teen-me started having migraines that no longer caused the nausea and vomiting. In fact, teen-me was able to change abortive meds and find a combination that worked usually within an hour to obliterate the worst of the headache. The pain was still incredibly intense, and I did sometimes still have visual aura with it, but at least I could somewhat function throughout, even as I waited for medication to kick in. 

Now as an adult, my migraines rarely include visual aura. I’ve learned to recognize a few triggers (like weather shifts and pressure changes), and I can sometimes even predict when I’ll likely get a migraine. The pain is still there, still debilitating to varying degrees, and still leaves me feeling like a limp rag once the medication has kicked in and the migraine has gone. My husband even knows me well enough that he can hear a change in my voice when I’m speaking and will ask me if I’ve taken my migraine meds, which with my migraine-induced brain fog (yay for new side effects in “old” age!) always comes as a surprise until I realize I’ve been suffering for no reason. 

Even my postdrome phase has changed over time. As a child, I could bounce back from migraines after a long nap and felt generally okay. As an adult, however, even after migraine medication has done its job, I find myself struggling with the dreaded “migraine hangover” symptoms, including fatigue and a sensation of my brain being fuzzy. I struggle with simple tasks sometimes, and I need longer sleep after the migraine is gone to feel fully myself again.

Like a lot of migraine sufferers I know, I develop extreme sensitivities to light and sound when I have a migraine. There are certain scents that will trigger migraines if I’m particularly sensitive at the moment, and sunshine is my arch nemesis when I’m even feeling remotely head-achy. 

What amazes me is how differently migraine sufferers experience this disease.

Some people, like me, still function – perhaps not well, but adequately – during an attack and can continue daily tasks until their medication kicks in. Others need that dimly lit room complete with a bed, pillow, cold compress, and no noise in order to manage their symptoms. There’s just so much variability with this illness, and it’s impossible to know exactly the extent to which a migraine sufferer will be affected. 

So, as I close out my small shout-out to those of us who deal with migraines, just know that I’m rooting for you to find a solution that helps improve your life, decreases your migraines, and maybe even gets rid of them altogether. (And if you find a miracle solution, please let me know!) I wouldn’t wish migraines on my worst enemy, and I only wish there was some way to help people understand what it was like to get these mammoth headaches without actually inflicting pain on them because I truly believe it would help others recognize that a migraine is not just a headache. 

If I ever complain of a migraine, just give me sympathy and don’t ask if I’ve tried X, Y, or Z remedy. I probably already have. Best of luck in 2024, migraine sufferers!  

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Rachel Lowe
Rachel is wife to Daniel and mom to two boys. You can find her with a cup of coffee in hand and a book waiting for her to read. Her "to be read" pile is enormous, and she loves to find great deals at McKay's Used Books. She enjoys window shopping, going to open houses, and spending time on free or cheap adventures with her family. She's always on the lookout for the next free donut day or opportunity to get another book in whatever series she's currently reading!


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