June 1st, 2012
This is an awareness month, right? So it should be quite appropriate that the post for the beginning of the month starts with next to no awareness! It’s hard for me to tell the story of my first Migraine because I wasn’t aware enough to notice it. I have had majorly dramatic Migraines, and many of them, but my experience didn’t start out that way. It was more of a series of maybes, and a gradually building awareness.
Maybe the 1st – #1: From around age 7 to 10 I had recurrent unexplained stomach aches, great hollow, gnawing, aching pain that wasn’t nausea and wasn’t cramps and wasn’t bloating or anything to do with digestion. The pediatrician was baffled. I worried that he thought I was faking. They disappeared without having been diagnosed. It wasn’t until at least 30 years later that I read about abdominal Migraines in children. Aha?
Maybe the 1st – #2: I was 14 and an adult friend had taken me and her son to a play in Manhattan. Riding the train home afterwards I remember laying my head back on the seat with heavy pain and pressure in my forehead, and saying “I think I have a sinus headache”. Again it was decades before I learned that most so-called sinus headaches (in the absence of a sinus infection) are actually Migraines. Aha?
First awareness? – #3: At 17 I had surgery at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx (Exploratory surgery for more undiagnosed abdominal issues. Completely unnecessary surgery, as it turned out, for my earliest IBS attacks – another story for another time). Driving home, we passed the Montefiore Headache Center. It was 1976. The Headache Center was several decades old already – the first Headache center in the world, I believe. I asked my parents what they did in a headache center, and they said they assumed there were doctors who helped people with extremely severe and frequent headaches. I remember thinking, I will probably need that someday. So even though I don’t clearly remember a Migraine that occurred before that time, at 17, I already knew.
First naming – #4: In my mid-twenties I was in law school and working harder than I ever had before, under a fair degree of stress and sleeping irregularly. I remember one April 15 in the office of the law journal I helped to edit, my friends were trying to finish their tax returns and my head was pounding, I went into the bathroom to vomit, and I remember thinking “this is a Migraine.” I don’t know where I got that knowledge; I must have read something about Migraine. I do remember that the hideous sickness was familiar to me at that time, though I hadn’t always had a name for it. I commuted to school, and a friend gave me his dorm room key and let me go sleep the Migraine off in his room. From that time on they got more frequent and the serious ones, the throwing up in the street, tear my head from my shoulders, scream and cry ones, they started then.
Glad to get this written on the first, anyway. I will have to come back and link it on the second, or I will have a Migraine soon. Not a first, not a worst, and almost certainly not a last (more’s the pity), but one I can probably avoid by getting some sleep.
Be well, my friends.
- Megan Oltman
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