Monday, October 03, 2005

Let's talk about migraines

Thanks for your good wishes below, folks. I didn't realize I had so many fellow migraine-sufferers here. Continuing our earlier conversation...

I don't take anything prescription for mine, Laurel--I get them once a month, at most, and they usually don't last for more than 2 days. (With the exception of this February/March, when I had a migraine for 10 days straight and truly wanted to die.)

I don't get light effects, although I get very light-sensitive. I usually combat it with sleep, darkness, frozen peas under my neck (more comfortable than ice cubes; our freezer always contains a package of therapeutic peas), hot showers, black tea (caffeine is a vaso-dilator; also effective for asthma attacks for the same reason), lots of water, whatever keeps my blood sugar stead and will stay down, plus lots of foot rubs and spoiling from my husband.

Fat Lady, my heart goes out to you. My husband has had migraines since he was an *infant,* too--I don't know how you two cope with that, but I guess you do adjust over time.

I sometimes get "migraines-lite"--all of the peripherals, sans the blinding pain. I've also developed a knack to play UTI's the same way--all of the symptoms *except* the pain. Makes me wonder if I've killed off some pain receptors somewhere along the way. (That wouldn't break my heart). It also drive my doctors nuts. (One of my pass-times is exasperating doctors.)

My mom's migraines started when my little brother was born (ah, great source of family comedy), and I think hers stopped at menopause. So, the way my family menopauses late, I've only got...a few decades of migraines left. *sigh*

Mine started in Japan, when I was exposed to a fair amount of air and water pollution, I was working 7 days a week, and I fell very ill. (In fact, the physicial and emotional/psychological stress of that job surpassed the thresholds that had been restraining a host of medical problems that I still haven't properly resolved, 13 years later.

I was working in Fukuyama City in Hiroshima Prefecture, in the International Affairs section of the Office of the Mayor. (If you think that is a mouthful, try saying "Fukuyama Shiyakusho, Hishokoko-ka, Kokusai-gakari no Shora-Ebansu de gozaimasu" every time you answer the phone. If you get it right, it sounds like you are climbing a hill and then rolling down the other side.) My boss sent me to the City Hall infirmary, where my langague skills utterly failed me, in my altered-state, when I tried to describe my symptoms to the thoroughly amused nurse. Plus, I had never experienced a migraine, and didn't have a clue what was going on.

I couldn't remember the word for vomite (haku), so I remember telling the nurse that "I have the feeling of my food wanting to come up and go out." She figured out I meant barf.

The nurse was great, gave me a cup of tea, got the concept of migraine across (I forget how, as I can't think of the word for migraine in Japanese at the moment), showed me some acupressure points that helped tremendously, and recommended that I drink a shot of sake every night. Since I was in a high-stress job, I lived by myself, and I come from an extended family of alcoholics, I skipped the drinking alone in my 2-room apartment part, but over the years the acupressure advice has been a life-saver.

I do feel lucky about my migraines--I get them infrequently enough that I don't suffer on the scale that most people with migraines do. On the other hand, migraines are one more reason that I am definitely looking forward to menopause.

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