10 Things Never to Say To a Migraine Sufferer

Friday, 25 September 2015

I am a migraine sufferer. This is true. And I get a lot of them. If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is people who have no idea what I go through, telling me what to do, how to treat it or how I should just deal with it. Migraine sufferers are you with me? So I read this article about things you should not ask a Migraine sufferer. It was quite amusing. I decided to write something similar. I especially find it fascinating when people, who do not get migraines, and are not doctors tell me exactly how to treat my problem. My favourite to date; my friends mother told me that I should wrap my head in raw potatoes and put my feet in ice water… ya excellent. 
So here are my top 10 things never to say to a migraine sufferer;

Oh I had a Migraine once. (but I changed A,B and C and I don’t get them anymore)
No you didn’t. Migraine’s are recognised as a disease in the U.S. It is a neurological disease and attacks can last for 72 hours  - it is a hereditary thing, if you got one, it is likely you will get another in your life (sorry) and yes I understand that perhaps you had a really bad headache once but a migraine and a headache are not the same. In the U.S. 80% of people get tension headaches and only 12% get migraines and 2% are chronic migraine suffers!

I read something about a cure? (You should do Botox.)
I think its lovely when people try to help me, the chances that there is a miraculous cure after all this time… are rare. Let us get to the Botox, of course I have spoken to my doctor about this, do you think I enjoy my suffering? Here are the facts; Botox takes a minimum of three months before you see full results (that is three months of injections into your neck, forehead and temples) and then you have to maintain it, so every month at £349.40 (that is the injection and the service at the lowest price I could find, and NHS does not always pay for it), for the rest of my life? That is IF its a success, not all patients respond positively to the treatment. There are mixed reviews on results, I have read about people who are on similar medication as me who have tried botox and had two weeks worth of solid migraines… No thanks. I get that it will work for some, and I am so happy for them but I will not try something so extreme till I know for sure it is safe and there are no long term side effects. 

Do some exercise
When I have a migraine, light, sound and smell raises the bar of my migraines. The day before a migraine, my sense of smell is on super alert! Anyone who has skipped a shower or who is wearing a funky scent… stay away! Once my vision starts to fuzz and it gets to a certain point, I might as well go and lie next to the toilet because I am going to be violently ill… for a very long time… and then once I have sat there I probably will not be able to get up… so no exercise is not a good idea when I am having an attack. Exercise can also be a trigger for some sufferers! Every migraine sufferer has unique triggers.

I wish I could sleep in all day like you do
Trust me, wasting my life away in bed because I have another migraine is really not the way I want to spend my life. This is quite a sore topic. The amount of my past I look back on and recall myself hiding in my room trying to overcome the agony, I wish I could get those days back. 

Drink some coffee.
Not only is coffee a (more common than not) trigger for some migraine sufferers, drinking something hot with caffeine would catapult a migraine into a stage four clinger… Caffeine, is added to some pain medication for headaches to open the blood capillaries in the brain, a migraine needs a different fix.

You still get migraines?
Yup. And I will for the rest of my life. It is about managing the problem as best I can, and helping people accept me. Maybe one day there will be a solution. I feel like The Migraine Diet and a routine seems to help a lot but I still get them, I always will. 

Why don’t you try A, B C?
Hello? I am 30 years old. I have tried everything! Should I start from the beginning? I have been to neurologists, as they once thought it was a tumour, I was 14, this was scary. I have been to a Naturopath when I was placed on a strict diet and literally carried around a bag of herbal lotions, potions and pills to take all day – this did not work at ALL. I have been for monthly sessions of acupuncture, trigger therapy, massage therapy where they clicked my spine and neck and strapped me up with tape. I have done yoga, gone to the gym, run, skipped, swam and done nothing for days! Been a vegetarian, been a vegan, done the blood type diet, partied my butt off to see if it actually did make a difference… migraine punishment. I have done the nose spray, the wafer the injection, worn the pressure bracelet and done the cold pack and the neck brace… trust me… I have done the lot.

I have an (insert OTC headache pills) in my bag if you need?
Thank you, you have no idea how sweet this is. If only it was this simple and two Myprodol would fix me in one go. Alas… I am on daily preventative medication and the pills I take for migraines are so intense they basically give me a hangover. They are brutal, the side effects are extreme but they are the only medication I have found that works that does not induce more migraines (this is actually a thing, if a migraine sufferer takes the wrong medication they are likely to have a recurring migraine, this is called a Medication Induced Migraine, see here).

But I thought you had a migraine yesterday/the other day?
Pain is only one part of a migraine sufferers life. A "migraine attack” can differ from patient to patient. For me, on occasion, I can feel one coming. I have to be very careful and tentative to my body’s needs. There are signs I have noticed, now I look out for them. If I am lucky it might go away, if not, I take my medication as soon as that needle sharp pain starts and the following day I have the migraine fog. It is a combination of the migraine hangover and the medication. It feels like I have flu, a cold achy body, all smells are heightened and I am drowsy and quite out of it. I will go to work (because I have to) but I cannot be with a crowd or in a loud space, it is hard. This is a three day affair, the medication makes me really irritable and my fuse really short and all my emotions are heightened - its a strange place to be as people often think I am being rude or unaccommodating. The truth is I am trying to deal with an illness that is quite hard to cope with. 

Its because you’re a woman… 
So… if you are a man and you have a migraine, what does that mean for your manhood? Men get migraines, children (of both sexes) get migraines too! Migraines are a genetic disease. The differences between our hormones can trigger Migraines in those people with the genetic capacity for the disease – in both men and women. Unfortunately for us ladies, our reproductive hormones are designed to fluctuate (yay.), and lucky for men their hormones are meant to remain more stable. Hormones are only a small part of the Migraine picture though, and only one of thousands of potential triggers. Next time, consider asking the Migraineur about their particular triggers instead. 

At the ripe old age of 30 with an average of 8 migraines a month on a good month, I’m pretty pleased with myself. Of course I have a bad week and sometimes I have a good week and sometimes I want to eat or live without a care in the world, I just need to make sure I am prepared and the people around me understand and more importantly support me and what I am about to go though. 


PS. We are people too 


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