Migraine

When I reblogged my post You Go To School And You Learn to Read And Write last week I noticed that it mentioned my having a migraine, and it seems appropriate to follow that up with this. Those of you who weren’t reading or following my blog in the early days will probably be unaware that I used to do a series of posts that I called Dates To Note – if you’re interested they can be found in the menu above. These ran through 2013 into 2014 but I decided that they had run their course and, apart from one or maybe two reblogs – and a spoof –  there haven’t been any more since then. I have, however, decided to do a new one-off to recognise that this week (4th to the 10th September) is Migraine Awareness Week. I first posted about this in 2013 and recycled that post a year later, but felt it was about time to do something new.

Unfortunately, I know how she feels

Unfortunately, I know how she feels

I’m sure many of you have experience of migraine, either yourself or in someone close to you. I was first diagnosed when I was 15 – to save you the maths, that was around 48 years ago. Since then I’ve had several migraines a year apart from one blissful period in my 20s when I went three years without one, and foolishly hoped I was somehow ‘cured.’ Not so. And the older I got, the more migraines I had and the longer they seemed to last! Five or six a year wasn’t uncommon, and they lingered for up to three days instead of just the one when they first started.

I hope you follow the link above, which takes you to the Migraine Trust’s website. The Migraine Trust organises this week as a means of educating people about migraine, and their website has a lot of helpful information and links. One of the things they encourage you to do is to keep a diary of your migraines and share it with your doctor. I did this when I was first diagnosed with depression, as I seemed to be getting headaches and migraines all the time, and it was very helpful to see what pattern – if any – there was. In particular, the site might help those who say they have a migraine when it is actually a bad headache: believe me, there is a difference and you’ll know it if you’re a fellow sufferer! When I was running the Dates To Note series I always gave a link to the NHS website as this is a very good source of information, and their coverage of migraine is as good as ever.

My diary showed that there was absolutely no pattern to my migraines, which often seemed to occur with no prior warning. Most of mine started the moment I woke up: there was no build up to them throughout the day, as some people experience. That made it difficult to assess, but we managed to find a tenuous link to late night tea and coffee, or eating, before some of my migraines. I cut these out on doctor’s advice, but was never convinced that this made any difference. Like most migraine sufferers I just shut myself away in a darkened room until it felt safe to open the curtains again. Medical science has yet to agree on a set of defined causes for the illness: whilst one of the causes is believed to be emotional factors, such as stress, mine have always been noticeably different from regular headaches, which tend to fall into the category of ‘tension headaches.’ Migraines are believed to be a result of chemical changes in the body affecting the genes, and the genetic effect can mean that they are passed through the generations within a family. My Mum used to suffer badly with migraine and it has always been believed that I inherited this from her.

So how can you explain the fact that I have had far fewer migraines since I retired? I now live a life which, as far as I can possibly make it, is free from stress and tension. And the frequency of migraines has dropped noticeably – go figure! Does this mean that what I have believed for nearly 50 years was wrong? Even if that is the case, I can’t really see how I could have changed my working life to remove stress factors, which were part and parcel of any job I had. But I do find it interesting that a reduction in the number and length of migraines since I retired may somehow be related to that major lifestyle change. Next week, it will be three years since I retired, and I can only recall three or four migraines in that time – when I would probably have endured something like 20 in a similar period whilst working. I’m intending to mark my anniversary with a post or two, but wanted to kick off the celebration of my third post-work birthday a little early to tie in with Migraine Awareness Week. It just seemed a good fit, somehow.

See you soon.

 

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44 thoughts on “Migraine

  1. Wow this is very interesting Clive and it’s lovely to connect. So my story is similar in many ways. I suffer with migraine and tension headaches. Also my migraines got worse as the stress of my job increased. So much so that I had to leave my job and since I have changed my lifestyle and managed stress they have got better. How are yours nowadays? How many do you get a month now compared to when you were working? Stress is such a huge factor in mine. Do you suffer with neck and shoulder pain after a migraine? I haven’t found many people that get tension headaches swell as migraine. Thanks for sharing this post Clive. 🙂

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    • Many find that tension is a factor in migraines, and since I’ve only had 3 or 4 a year since I retired I think there must be some truth in that. Well, for me, anyway! I’m glad things are improving for you too, but it’s a shame you had to make so many major life changes for it! Many thanks for visiting and commenting, hope you have a stress and migraine free day 😊

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  2. I had my first migraine when I was 12…32 years ago. I ended up in the emergency room being prepped for a stroke.They had no idea what else it could be. Loss of vision, slurred words that made no sense and then numbness in my right hand arm…and face.

    It was a migraine. i’ve been having the same kind a few times a year since. I have never found a trigger except for stress. I’ve found a huge difference in them (the severity and the length) if I stay calm. When my son as young I would freak out because who was going to take are of him. Now that he is grown they are not as bad.

    Like you i have no build up. They just hit ruining whatever is going on and i just have to ride them out.

    The one thing that has worked best for prevention is Magnesium. I take 500mg a day and have for years. i’ve tried stopping to see if it’s really helping and I have a migraine within a few days.

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    • I’m sorry to hear that you suffer too. That first experience must have been very scary, a little OTT of them but I suppose it’s best to be on the safe side! Stress does seem to be a factor although I’ve had them at times when I was stress-free so for me it isn’t clear. Pleased to hear you’ve found a way to manage it 😊

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  3. Sadly some thing else we share in common. I had gone a number of years without a migraine until late last year and since then I have had a number.
    Given I am probably the least stressed I have been in years I can’t blame it on that.
    They are no fun and definitely so much more intense than a bad headache.

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  4. Stress will definitely cause migraines and work can definitely cause stress. I’m finding since my cataract surgeries that I have a difficult time dealing with fluorescent lighting and usually end up with a headache if I try to read in that light. Also, I can’t read on my computer screen before I go to bed at night. I link all of this light-sensitivity to my surgery, as I didn’t have headaches before. This was quite interesting, Claude, and I’m hoping your days are now stressless and headache free. Clare

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  5. I have always thought that stress is a factor in migraines. Some foods can be the culprit as well—notably chocolate wine, and wheat. A diary is a good idea, since it would provide you with a ’cause and effect’ record. I’ve had some bad migraines in my life (usually before I retired), but thankfully, hardly ever suffer from them now.

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    • Hi Diane. Stress and diet are indeed both recognised as possible causes of migraine, along with loads of other factors! From the responses to this piece it is clear that many others suffer it as well, for a variety of reasons. I’m pleased to hear that retirement seems to have provided a solution for you too 😊

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  6. Like you, I have suffered with migraines since my teens, like you often there was no warning, pattern or discernable trigger. After 2 yrs of research I decided to have 2 Daith piercings in July. I have not had a single migraine since. I have no scientific evidence for this, it may well be a psychosomatic thing. I don’t care, this is the longest I’ve been migraineless in 30yrs!

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    • I sympathise, that can’t be easy! From the responses I’ve had so far to this post, we sufferers identify many causes for our migraines. If you look at the link to the NHS website, which details all of the potential triggers, you’ll see that I’m well on the way to collecting a full set! I hope it isn’t too awful for you.

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  7. It’s good to read that you have found some relief for such a debilitating condition. I suffered ‘bad heads’ as a teenager and would regularly faint on the stairs at school. I have no doubt these were stress/anxiety related, but I do understand how one’s life is affected. Happy Anniversary! Long may it continue ☺️👏🏻

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  8. I have a similar history, Clive. My mother had frequent migraines as well as tremendous stress. In my teens, mine began, worsened a bit in college, but continued though not as frequent as my mom’s, usually 3 or 4 a year. I got tension or sinus headaches which sometimes turned into migraines, but which I could usually nip in the bud with meds. But my migraines were different, the classic halos around lights, sick to my stomach, even vertigo if I lifted my head too quickly from my pillow kind. And mine also have declined in frequency over the years. I have to avoid red wine and rarely drink it, though white is fine, and a small amount of caffeine actually seems to help me. Weird how that goes. Anyway, congratulations on your anniversary of retirement and fewer headaches! Jo

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    • Hi Jo, sorry to hear you suffer too. I get all of the classic signs too and once they’ve started meds don’t do much to help. I now tend to overcompensate if I feel a headache coming on, just to be on the safe side. Avoiding certain foods or drink has never seemed to make a difference for me – well, that’s what I tell myself! Thanks as always for reading and taking an interest 😊

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      • Hi Clive, yes, meds have never worked for migraines for me, and not always for tension or sinus headache. It really is debilitating…but at least neither of us have as many any more. I may get one, but it’s been a bit more than a year since my last. Fingers crossed it stays away! And yes, I do take an interest in anything you post – it’s lovely having an insightful English friend! 🙂 Jo

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      • I second that, long may we both be clear! Thank you, that’s very sweet of you – and it is reciprocated (which reminds me, I have a saved email message for a post of yours I haven’t read yet. To be rectified!)

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  9. Sounds like they were caused by stress, although caffeine is another culprit. I only have to drink a caffeinated cup of tea and I have a migraine half an hour later. Hence I only drink green tea these days and the migraines have stopped.

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