Last week I had a migraine following a busy day that included my second round interview, lots of train travel, intense work on an unfamiliar laptop, not enough water and walking in the hot London sun. (By the way, if you’d like to know more about my life as a migraine sufferer, I’ve written about it on Any Other Woman.)
Over the last few months, the number of migraine attacks I’ve been having has gone down. This is great, of course. It means that I’m more open to putting-up with it when I do get one and am less likely to make too much of a fuss if I have to spend the whole evening in bed or cancel plans. But it also means I’ve got a bit worse at knowing the warning signs and taking my tablet in time, so I think I’m suffering more (unnecessarily) when I do get one. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose.
My goodness, I hate them. In hindsight, it was obvious that I was going to get one on that day, but I tend to ignore the part of my brain that is telling me that things are not going to end well today. On the day in question, I started to get a headache and feel tired after lunch and so downed a load of water. Then, sitting at an unfamiliar desk in a warm client office, the headache got worst and the heavy, tired feeling I always get got really strong. I fought it by having a weak coffee, thinking I was just overtired from an earlier than usual start and the fact that I hadn’t had my usual caffeine boost due to delayed trains, but no luck. I carried on until the end of the day, trying everything I could and still ignoring that nagging voice telling me that I should just take a tablet because I wasn’t feeling too bad.
By the time I got on the train home, the pain had started so I finally took a tablet and closed my eyes for a while. Oh dear, it was too late. 20 minutes later the migraine had taken hold of me and I could hardly open my eyes. My whole body was focussed on the intense pain over my right eye and within an hour I was concentrating hard not to throw-up over the man sitting opposite me. I took deep breaths, drank more water (slowly) and sit as still as I could. When I realised we were approaching my stop and that I was only a couple of minutes away from home, I put all my effort into standing up, reaching the door and not looking too scary to my fellow passengers. I needed dark, a soft bed and sleep.
When the migraine is peaking my whole body feels so different, it completely takes over. I can be feeling hungry and looking forward to dinner one minute and then suddenly even the idea of opening my mouth makes me shake. All I can do is lie down until the tablet takes the edge off enough that I can fall asleep. The amazing thing about the tablets I take is that if I take them early enough, I don’t get to this stage. You would think that just knowing that would ensure that I would take one in time, wouldn’t you? My excuse is that it can happen so quickly and, to be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to give in.
Once I’d slept for a while – leaving Tom to cook a dinner that I wasn’t going to eat, and have an evening without me – the migraine had started to drop in intensity and I could stand the idea of getting out of bed. I nibbled on the corner of some toast, knowing that if I didn’t eat something then I would feel worse the next morning. When I’m ‘coming down’ from a migraine, it’s such a relief, but the whole process completely takes it out of my body: I can hardly string a sentence together, my body is incredibly heavy and I still don’t have much of an appetite. This part can last for up to 24, which is always fun.
After having migraines for most of my life, I know what to do and I know what’s going to happen. But everytime I have a bit of a break from them and forget about the excruciating pain, it’s almost like my body is trying to teach me a lesson and the pain is worse. Maybe it’s just my perception at the time, I don’t know. What I do know is that maybe it’s time to try and work out what my trigger is, because goodness knows that if I could live without this incredibly annoying shadow hanging over me, it would change my life.