Migraine Awareness Month #1: “My First for the First”
I usually prepare myself to write by reading; today is no different, and as I scan the other bloggers’ stories of pain – true stories, unfortunately – I can’t help but feel their pain, fear, dread and depression. I used to avoid “peeking in” too much at the other migraineurs’ description of painful past life; painful daily life; and painful loss of life they discussed with each other. I felt I had to “look away” while they chatted and comforted themselves online: to me, becoming too much a part of all this pain and suffering made me feel that I might lose the tiny bit of footing I still had on my own (few) good days. I was too afraid to reach out for the help and camaraderie that I thought might come from just joining these people – people who were as sick as I was…and, most importantly, would BELIEVE me.
The good news is that I have joined them. I also found that I didn’t get sicker and I didn’t “absorb” their pain like I felt I might. I have absorbed their compassion, their understanding and their force – it is this force that has helped me to be stronger and to allow myself to speak up about all this pain. Being able to talk about a disease that has brought me just as much emotional suffering as physical suffering has to be more than just, “talk” – it is therapeutic. This is my first “talk” about my first migraine (as far as I can remember); here it is:
I know that my first migraine had to have happened at age 10 ½ or 11. It was 1974 but must have been spring because my young mind seemed to have made a mental note of this “event”, recalling that I wasn’t yet 11, because my birthday wouldn’t be until that July.
The most I can recall from that first headache was pain and fear that both escalated as the hours ticked on. I had never felt pain on the scale I was destined to endure that day.
My most vivid scene was sitting on the floor, facing my parents’ recliner, and shoving my head into the hard footstool-part as hard as I could. Although I didn’t know this would help, it must’ve been instinct that told me to keep jamming my skull into that chair in between fits of screaming as my head pounded and thundered under my left eye. I’m not sure how long I sat on the floor like that, but I have another memory of that same incident/attack, but this time in my bed as my mom brought me a dinner of warm chocolate chip cookies with cold milk during a lull in my vomiting. I think she must have felt that I deserved whatever I wanted since I was so scary-sick: desert became dinner.
I woke up early the next morning in what seemed to be round two of the hell I’d endured the day before: I was “sick” again – sweating and pulsing all over as the pain rolled over my head in waves with the puking. I can’t remember how long this all lasted, but I know that it was more than just one day. I was afraid, panicked and wondered if this was what the adults described as what dying must feel like. I didn’t think I would get better, and my worry only increased the relentless pain and dry retching that I thought would now be the only thing I would ever feel again. Depression became another “first” that year.
Although I did continue to get these “bad headaches” (it was a few years before I was given the term, “migraine”), I soon found out that avoiding certain foods and airplane rides (more about that later!!) would allow me plenty of days to still “be a kid”. The headaches occurred only a few times a year at that point, but the depression that started that year with them lingered.
These two “firsts” now show up much more often, and have unfortunately become a description of ME. At age 10 ½, migraine became my “new normal”.
‘National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by www.FightingHeadacheDisorders.com ‘