Migraines: The Bane of My Existence
They start with a black speck in my vision. My right eye to be precise. The speck slowly grows and soon I see black/white squiggly lines dancing through my vision. The shape grows, sort of like a snake unwrapping from a tight coil. This is known as an aura in the migraine world.
The queasiness sets it. (As does my irrational fear that the aura will not go away and I’ll always be half blinded).
The dancing lines last about 20-30 minutes. I stop functioning for these 20-30 minutes – I cannot see probably and the world feels unsafe. If I’m at home, I sit in the bathtub to try to find any tiny bit of comfort. If I’m not home, I sit basically still until it passes.
Within 45 minutes, the throbbing of my left temple starts. I feel like someone is slowly twisting a screw driver through my temple, right into the back of my eye. Even moving from sitting to standing turns the throbbing into excruciating pain.
My only saving grace is my migraines only last for about 6-8 hours.
The very odd time, I am able to work get through them – so long as I don’t dare read. But more often then not, I’m laid up in bed praying to all the gods that the pain stops. If I’m lucky, I can sleep through it. If I’m not so lucky, I make my home on the bathroom floor so I’m close to the porcelene throne for whenever I throw-up.
I can honestly say, parenting a toddler with a migraine might just be an extra special version of hell because I cannot just go curl up in bed.
Migraines run in my family. Interestingly, I started getting them right after my mom and sister died.
As a teenager I was involved in an medical study on migraines in children. I changed my diet, and tracked all my migraines to the 5 minutes. I did an elimination diet and noted foods that caused migraines. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but it was helpful because I started to learn food and lifestyle factors that cause my migraines.
As an adult, for years I took prescription migraine medications when I got an aura – the horrible side effects lasted for days, so I stopped taking them. Years ago, a neurologists tried to get me to take an epilepsy drugs that’s side effects scared that crap out of me. The neurologist’s recommendations scared me enough that I re-did the elimination diet and cut everything out of my diet and added in foods 1 week at a time. If I got a migraine, I knew I couldn’t eat that food. If I didn’t get a migraine it became a safe food. Now, I do not eat
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Sugar substitutes like aspartame
- Caffeine – no coffee for me. Oddly some chai tea lattes brands are safe, and some are not.
- Black, white or green teas – herbal teas only, and the odd green tea that I’ve found over the years.
Now, I stay away from all my trigger foods because if I eat a trigger food, I’m sick within 12 hours. But some of my life-triggers, like the day after stress, are impossible to avoid. And unfortunately, I am probably bound to get those ones for the rest of my life and I will spend the first or second day of any vacation in a hotel room.
Now, aIl I take is extra strength Tylenol and avoid all prescription drugs. Truthfully, I’m not sure the Tylenol does anything, but I figure it’s better then absolutely nothing.
I even avoid talking about migraines and never read about them, as if somehow even just the mention of the world will cause one.
Migraines are the bane of my existence. I’d give almost anything to never have to endure another one.
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Ive had exactly one aura and it scared the life out of me. I thought for sure I was having some horrible eye emergency! It doesn’t help that my mom and maternal grandmother both have severe vision problems. My parents came over to babysit so I could rush to the eye hospital but then my dad described the aura right down to the shape and way it grew. Just an aura, phew! I never did get a migraine that day but I have had a few in my life. Absolutely miserable times. My sympathies to you and anyone else who gets them regularly!
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I actually think the aura is worse then the migraine. I can deal with the pain and get through it. But the fear of my eyesight going scares the absolute life out of me… So glad your dad was able to help you figure out what was going on!
I used to get migraine a few times a week, but now that I am very strict about my diet I usually only get 1 or 2 every few months. Which is better then what it used to be, so I hate to complain.
I used to get them, no longer , i guess hormonal changes perhaps?
But I used to manage them to one a few months by doing a few pranayams, the two most recommened are “ kapalbhati” and “bramhri”.
They are breathing execises, preferably learn it from anyone who teaches “ sivananda yoga”. Wouldnt recommend anyone else. stay away from “ yoga gyms”.
Try them, may help.
I remember my first Aura… I was in between classes in college and I was so confused as to why people’s legs were disappearing from underneath them. I internally started freaking.
Luckily I only get them rarely. Not even once a year. But them I may get a couple really close. I had one a few weeks ago and I started putting a large potential trigger together: HEAT! My first was walking outside between classes when it was really hot out. I’ve had it happen after the Color Run which takes place in hot weather (plus you know, the running) and this last one was during a 90+ degree day while fishing in the sun for a few. I don’t think that ALL of mine are triggered by this, but I did just finally put all of these things together this last time.
I hope you feel better soon and that you can avoid all of the triggers as best you can.
Yes, migraines are truly awful. I had my first one at age 15 and have had them with varying degrees of frequency over the 30+ years since. Mine range from mildly annoying to debilitating, and they can last anywhere from several hours to a few days. (The worst bout I ever had was 6 weeks of daily headaches when my sons were a year old.)
Like you, I have done elimination diets to identify triggers, and there are certain foods I avoid, but even this has never helped me to eliminate 100% of my migraines. For a while, I took a daily preventative medication, but it had some side effects, and with a decrease in frequency to approx. 2 a month, it didn’t seem worthwhile to continue. I am still occasionally hit by one with no warning or apparent cause, and the worst ones are one I wake from a sound sleep with a migraine.
Hope you feel better soon.
Fellow migraine sufferer here. I’m shockingly lucky that ibuprofen seems to knock out most of mine. I’m about to try reducing carbs dramatically to see if that makes any difference for mine though.
I’m so sorry you suffer from migraines!
I get the aura but no headache or only a very slight headache. Mainly caused by lack of sleep ….never found a food trigger. Come in clusters sometimes 3 in a week then none for a couple of months. occasionally have two auras, one after the other, and once three in a row…..bit scary but felt fine after it passed. My daughter, son and mother also get them, infrequently thankfully.
I think I’ve only had one migraine which led to the eye issues I had. It was awful. I’m so sorry these are reoccurring for you. I can’t even imagine dealing with a kid and work with one.
I am so so sorry, these migraines sound awful. Hope you’re feeling better.
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You poor thing. I feel so grateful that I’ve never had one. I think chai mixes can be pretty random or from pure to rather caffeinated which is probably why you notice the difference. It must be awful trying to parent a toddler when you have a migraine. It’s gotta be up there with parenting with gastro!! Here’s to you having as few of these nasties as absolutely possible xx
Can I ask what the rest of your diet consists of other than avoiding the trigger foods? This was a big realisation for me that my whole diet played a role in causing inflammation in the body, not just trigger foods. I’d love to chat with you more about this. x
I swear any time another migraine sufferer talks about their migraines around me, I get the sympathy headache and nausea because I know all too well how crappy migraines are. I’m like you and I know what my trigger foods are, including caffeine (do you ever get people commenting on how they don’t know how you make it through parenthood without caffeine?) and MSG. But my other trigger…hormone changes is the worst. They are unpredictable and I never know if I’m going to be battling only 1 before my period starts or 4 in the span of 3 days. I hate it and I live in constant fear as my period date comes closer. And yeah, parenting a toddler while enduring a migraine is really tough. So from one migraine mom to another, I’m offering you my solidarity.
Have you tried taking magnesium? You mentioned prescription drugs but this is over the counter. You can take a small amount every day as a supplement (lots of people do that anyway!), or loads when you get the Aura. Just make sure its magnesium chelate (also called magnesium diglycinate, glycinate or bisglycinate) because its easier to absorb and doesn’t have laxative effects. It might be worth a try?