The Derailing Power of a Migraine

This week I had planned to write about the drawbacks of competition. I had planned to write about how comparing myself to others while running just took away from my own enjoyment. It was going to be beautiful and deep.

Instead, I’m going to write about migraines and how much they suck.

A migraine is the reason this post went up so late, and, yes, I am willing to do a punishment to make up for that, Daniel.

According to Wikipedia, a migraine is a neurological condition characterized by a headache that is often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, and sometimes vomiting. About one third of migraine sufferers will also experience auras, which are “sensory disturbances.” No one is quite sure what causes migraines. It could be environmental triggers, genetics, or a combination of both.

Now that I’ve given you the technical description, let’s talk about how awful migraines actually are. That description does not even begin to scratch the surface.

I spent this week in Seattle for work. This week was stressful to say the least and because I was in a strange hotel I barely got any sleep. I also drank lots of free coffee while at the conference and ate tons of…what’s a diplomatic way to say this….well…lots of crap. I got home yesterday around 7:30. unpacked, took a shower, and then was hit with a migraine.

As I said earlier, migraines can be passed on through genetics. My dad, sister, aunt, and cousin all get migraines so I know I’m genetically predispositioned for them. Combine that with this awful week and it’s not surprising I ended up with a migraine.

It started when I came out of the shower to look at something on my husband, Michael’s, computer. I couldn’t look at the screen. Now I could make out what was on the screen, but I couldn’t focus on anything. I felt like I was drunk, but without the fun, tingly feeling that comes with alcohol. I recoiled from the screen and immediately closed my eyes.

Next came the aura. Auras for me are visual and often come before the headache arrives. The auras look like tiny flashing lights in my vision that clump together into larger shapes. Yesterday the lights were in one straight line right above my right eye. I took some painkillers and waited for the next wave of symptoms, all the time unable to focus on anything.

I started to feel nauseas, but not like normal nausea that just makes your stomach gurgle and your throat gag. This nausea starts at the bottom of your stomach and pulls up, as if your body is trying to reject your entire digestive system. You can feel it in you throat, in your ears, and behind your eyes. Everything feels sick.

I laid down on the couch and covered my head with a blanket to avoid the light, which felt like needles in my eyes. The headache had finally started and, like most migraines, it was only on one side of my head, the right side to be exact. It was sharp and pointed, like a hot nail pressed into the back of my skull.

I stayed on the couch in hopes that the migraine would go away and I could get back to my life, but to no avail. I finally got up and stumbled to bed, but not before the tingles started in my hands. Now when Wikipedia says an aura is a “sensory disturbance,” it means it can be any of your senses, including touch. My auras are generally visual, but I sometimes get numbness or tingling sensations in my fingers or head during migraines. It is bizarre to say the least.

I crashed at 8:30 and woke up at 7:30 this morning, with a freaking migraine. Granted my migraine this morning was manageable. I made it to work and lasted the entire day, but guess what? My post didn’t get written until well after the fact.

Stupid migraines.

-EMS