Migraine Awareness Month #8: “Let There Be Light”
“Most Migraineurs have issues with light sensitivity. What do you do to cope with it?”
I’m not really sure what I do to cope with light sensitivity. “Light Sensitivity” is a subject that brings up a little denial in me: I grew up mostly in warmer climates, spent LOTS of time in the sun, and consider myself an outdoor person. In fact, my eyes aren’t even light sensitive – my brain is… and the sun is light, right?
The answer is yes – the sun is a form of light, and it does trigger my migraines if given half a chance. Too much of it combined with too much heat (you could always sprinkle in a few hormones to step-up the process!) WILL equal a bad day. But it’s also a fact that the sun is something I can get away from; it’s good for me in small amounts; and it’s natural and non-polluting. More than I can say for those “other” types of light…
So I write this little info-mercial not so much about the sun: after all, I LOVE it, it LOVES me – no problem… Also, there are plenty of cloudy days, and I really like those too (except in November & January – uggggggg) – they give me a sense of “cozy”, allowing me to stay in and write, clean house, or just do nothing – guilt-free.
Not every day can be ‘fun in the sun’.
But a lot of days can sure be “torture in the store”. As you can probably already tell from some of my previous posts, I have a viable and incessant hatred of fluorescent lighting. I can safely say that I’ve never liked it; don’t plan on ever liking it; and think it should ALL be banned (instead of the other way around – banning incandescents… more about that in my next rant) – FOREVER!
The reason why is simple (unlike my thoughts & feelings about these seething, horrible bulbs – of all sizes now!): besides hormones – which really are my worst trigger, “The Master Key”, I call them – fluorescents are the most inhumane of any of the triggers that come to my mind. These lights are EVERYWHERE – in almost every office, store, doctor’s office, hospital and school. Making a list of where fluorescents aren’t would probably be the easiest and shortest. I can’t come up with anything positive to say about them; at least the other triggers are fun – until you get the “migraine part”. There is no fun and nothing but misery in any sentence – or building – where these “things” are installed. Even the “earth-friendly” blurbs about these lights aren’t FUN – all versions of these “bright-offenders” are filled with powdered mercury, and to date, I’ve seen very little information offered about this fact. Most of us just toss the expended lights right into the trash, never realizing that we are poisoning ourselves in the process.
Is my vendetta showing? Sorry – It comes from a sincere lesson learned with just how many things I can no longer do: I am now unable to work, shop, go back to school, visit friends or doctors, or spend any real time anywhere these lights exist/persist. The fluorescents have even helped to perpetuate the migraine stigma that is already so prevalent and “stuck” to everything being said/spread about our disease. More times than I can count, I’ve walked into doctor’s offices with my sunglasses on, and the first thing they’ve asked is, “Do you have a headache today?” I’ve also gotten the “look” from the doctors and nurses themselves (even in Neurologist’s offices!) and have made the move of just sitting in their waiting rooms with the lights off. Then I get the “other” question once the “doc” walks in: “Oh, I’m sorry – did you want these off?” …Then, “the look” again. I’ve come to learn that once a doctor or neurologist asks why I’m wearing sunglasses, I know the rest of the appointment probably won’t go well…
Ok – on to what I do about the lights. Here’s a short list of my coping measures:
- Hope the lights “go away” (Ha ha – right/sure/when you-know-what freezes over…) or are banned (??).
- Pray for a cure so that I can hang out in these miserable lights like everyone else (it would be nice to go to the store without running through the aisles like a plucked goose!).
- Sit in darkened doctor’s office’s exam rooms praying they won’t ask me, “why?”.
- My last coping tool is actually a real one, and has given me REAL hope. I recently purchased migraine-specific tint glasses – TheraSpecs – invented, marketed, tested and worn by actual Migraineurs (I know – cool, huh?). These specs were brought to life by someone actually as exasperated as me and have been proven to tone down the fluorescent “flicker” that only our brains can see!! I’ve only had them a little over a month, but it seems like a definite “go” even in the short time I’ve worn them. Maybe a small light at the end of a tunnel I’m not even halfway through yet…
“National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by www.FightingHeadacheDisorders.com “