Here’s a little known fact about me – I suffer from chronic migraines. The first migraine I can remember having was on my first day of secondary school. Poor eleven year old Laura, desperately trying to appear cool and make friends after a horrible time at primary school and what happens? I get taken out of my first class because I am virtually blinded by the aura, feel like I’m going to be sick, can’t feel the left side of my face and every time I turn my head my eyeballs feel like they’re going to pop out. I know this seems hyperbolic but when you’re in the throws of a migraine all you want to do is lie in a darkened room and cry. This particular migraine ended with me throwing up on the head girl, deputy head mistress and my new head of house – Ms Rinks, if you’re reading I am so sorry. Thus, my reputation for making at scene is created.
Another memorable migraine was during my first few days at a new job. Unable to see, move or speak I wedged myself in a corner of the staff room and cried. Eventually I went to the doctors – when I was 17, six full years after my first migraine. I was prescribed Zomitriptan, a little tablet to take at the first sign of a migraine; for me, the aura comes first. The best way I can describe is it is being like when a VCR jammed in the drive – everything becomes distorted and personally it’s as if the fabric of the world is tearing before my eyes, the void filling with a swirling vortex. Sometimes it can take up the whole of my vision – you try to look away but it just moves to the centre of eyeline again. Eventually it migrates to the side of your field of vision and disappears. I know, how melodramatic.
I found this image on Google and don’t know who to credit it too but this is the best artistic impression of a migraine aura I’ve ever seen – if you’ve never had one, imagine this bad boy cropping up in your field of vision:
Migraines ruled my life for a very long time. Not all migraines are hideous events resulting in the puking on of high status teachers – right now, I am tending a niggling, nagging migraine right behind my eyes. I’ve had it for about 4 days now. It’s not the sort of pain that normal paracetamol can touch – it requires lying in a darkened room with a cold flannel on your face for a few hours drinking massive amounts of water. They can be completely debilitating. Chronic migraines are not a registered disability but in my opinion they should be. I can be bed bound for days, unable to move, see or eat. I get them worse than the vast majority of migraine sufferers. Since being put on Zomitriptan things have improved dramatically but its effectiveness depends on them being taken at the onset of symptoms – if I put it off even 20 minutes I could be out for several days. I don’t ever intend to let it get so bad I have to give up work because of it but I know that the possibility is there. Hopefully one day research will help us to understand migraines better and make treatment more effective. Until that happens, next time someone tells you they have a migraine don’t tell them to shake it off, work through it. It doesn’t work.