On Monday evening I had a migraine & I still have a headache today. Its kind of the equivalent to a really heady hangover. I've had migraines since I was a teenager, a gift from my parents I guess as my father was a chronic sufferer & my mother also experienced them. On average I would estimate I get twelve per year (1 per month) of that twelve I would put mine into 3 categories.
The first category is when I am able to spot the symptoms & "Catch" before its too late. I can usually spot the signs that one is coming. For me its patchy/blurred vision & strange affect on my depth perception. This is is called the "aura" and can make the most medial of tasks like driving rather difficult. If I medicate at this point my eyes usually clear up, there are no further symptoms and I can go about my day.
The second category is when I am not able to catch the migraine at the point of the visual aura, usually its because I'm doing something that doesn't make me notice the visual symptoms (working at my desk with my glasses on or sitting in a movie theatre are both good examples). For these if I am able to medicate at the onset of the headache & other symptoms and put my self in a dark quiet room & fall asleep I can usually avoid the brunt of it by sleeping it off. I put Mondays incident in this category, I will still wake up feeling like I have had too much to drink and have a dull headache for 2-3 days
The final third is where I do not catch it at the first 2 stages. For it to get this bad for me its usually BAD. I need to be home, I need to be in a dark room & I need silence (always a challenge with 6 children). I've been caught out at work once & had to be driven home, so usually when I am at the second stage & know I cannot avoid what's coming (ie no meds) I leave wherever I am. I then have what I call a "full Blown" migraine I liken it to a constant pounding pressure in my head, a high sensitivity to light and sound and with nausea & eventually vomiting. It feels like your head is slowly blowing up like a balloon that never pops, I tend to thrash around in bed as no position is comfortable. I find an ice pack or wet towel from the freezer for my head is about all that will help once I'm past the point of my meds working. One of my most severe migraines got to this point & I managed to crawl into the shower & turn on the cold water before passing out, mamma bare found me half frozen and I ended up getting hospitalised.
When it finally subsides (usually after I have thrown up or passed out) I will generally sleep for 24 hours and be pretty much a write off for another 48 hours after that. I'll usually have an "after headache" which feels like a hangover and I'll also not be thinking straight for a day or so.
After many years I know my triggers. For me its a combination of dietary & emotional. If I combine any one of a number of foods when I am tired or stressed it will usually end in a migraine. I have had the odd occasion where a knock to the head has also caused one. On my naughty list of foods are onion (in particular salad/Spanish onion), dark chocolate corn chips (Have onion powder) & a few others but it will usually only affect me if I eat the food on an empty stomach in the afternoon when tired or stressed I can happily eat chocolate of an evening after dinner or even for breakfast and be fine. However on Monday I got home from work, had 2 pieces of chocolate from a block and within 90 minutes was suffering migraine symptoms, I was tired (after a big weekend) and hadn't eaten since lunch time. That was all it took.
I used to take pretty strong medications that would leave me groggy and pretty much useless for the rest of the day. It was also very difficult to keep down a tablet when you are feeling nauseous. This meant no matter what stage I caught the symptoms at I would still not be able to function for the rest of the day. It also meant if I was later in the stage of pain I would throw up the tablet and have no relief. Luckily when Mamma Bare and I married I switched to her GP I raised this issue with him and he suggested I try over the counter aspirin (in a higher dose of 3-4 dissolved tablets) as many believe migraine is a issue with blood pressure in the brain and because of its affects on blood clotting and blood thinning it help areas that have too much blood (aka my skull). I have used them ever since, I realise there are probably other issues associated with taking so many tablets a year but they work better for me than prescription pain meds.
I hope none of my children have the same issue. Migraines are apparently equal in numbers amongst children but increases with girls in their teens and adulthood resulting in something like a 75/25 female to male ratio.
Until next time I'll continue to pick onion out of my food and wait till after dinner for chocolate........