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When I have a bad migraine
(note: I'm not calling it a headache), I just want to crawl into my bed and
hibernate. I don't mean under the covers either. I mean physically slice into
my mattress, like Han Solo does to the Tom Tom in "The Empire Strikes Back," so no one can find me, and I can come out
when I am human again.
I've had migraines so bad I've vomited for 12 hours
straight. I am grateful to have a husband who does not listen to me when I ask
him to get the power drill and just poke a hole in my head so the pressure can
come out. My brain feels like a helium balloon that is only getting bigger, not
smaller, and if I could only puncture it I'd feel so much better as the air
whizzed past my brain.
The pain is real. Unfortunately, not everyone believes me.
I remember having teachers in middle school and high school tell
me to shake it off. "It's just a little
headache," "Stop being such a baby," "Don't use cramps and hormones as an excuse," I often heard.
Problem was, I didn't complain about cramps. I was complaining about a
blinding pain that wouldn't go away. It was this dismissive attitude that
stopped me from getting diagnosed for more than nine years.
A recent article by Joe
Fassler in The Atlantic talks
about how women's pain is taken less seriously than men's. Fassler quotes a paper
by Diane Hoffman and Anita Tarzian that was published by the Social Science
Research Network and which reported that women are "more likely to be treated
less aggressively in their initial encounters with the health-care system until
they 'prove that they are as sick as male patients.'"
This is often referred to
as "Yentl Syndrome." Like we really needed to prove we handle more pain than
men. I mean, we survive childbirth! Why do people think we aren't in pain? Just
because women chose to give birth naturally doesn't mean it doesn't hurt ... a lot.
Epidurals and anesthesiologist were invented for a reason, and it's not because
a woman was exaggerating her pain.
Migraines are not fun. They are not simple. And they
sure aren't a condition we make up to get a day off to stay in bed.
Now that we
have established they are real, let's shake things up a bit. Let's throw kids
into the mix. Oh yes, those beautiful, bouncing, loud, bundles of joy we
brought into the world. The reason we get up in the morning, whether we want to
It took years for my boys to understand that when mommy says
her head hurts, she isn't joking. My oldest, who is now 6, tries to help me
out by entertaining his 3-year-old brother so I can sleep. All rules go out the
window when mommy has a migraine. Watch all the TV you want. Grab the Kindles
and play Angry Birds. Do anything that is safe and will keep you quiet so
mommy can take her medicine and wait for it to kick in while she waits in a
dark, quiet room.
I'm grateful that my boys can do this for me now, but there
was a time when they were babies that I just had to deal. I'd call on friends
to come help. My husband would stay home. But, more than anything, I just had to
figure out how to take better care of myself.
So first, what I want you to know about your migraine: I believe you. You're in a lot of pain.
Exercise. As my neurologist likes to remind me,
this is low hanging fruit. Work out every day, and your body will take better
care of you.
Massage. Any excuse to get a massage is a good
one, but when I started getting a massage once a week (thanks to incredible
insurance) I felt better and my migraines decreased significantly.
Take your meds. I am always temped to wait it
out and see how my migraine develops. Maybe, just maybe, I can get rid of it.
Nope. Take it at the first sign so you and your kids will be better off. There
is no need to be in more pain than you have to be.