Take a look at these stats for migraine from the Migraine Trust.
What I would like to do when someone asks me about my migraines is point out the disability factor involved so the one stat on that site that caught my eye is this
“Over half (54%) of migraineurs experience one or more attacks per month, and 13% claim one or more attacks per week (Steiner et al, Cephalalgia, 2003)”
At one time, eons ago it seems, I used to get about three to five migraines a month and when treated with a triptan I had no problems managing them, although occasionally one blew me out of the water. Still, I would not have said migraines disabled me in any way because they were managed.
Now of that 13% some of us get more than fifteen migraines a month, entering that chronic migraine area… and when you consider how many people get migraines that percentage seems a great deal larger… consider discrimination, loss of work hours, disability, lack of treatment. Because once you hit that chronic stage your treatment becomes threefold: a) abortive, which can, but may not abort a migraine and can only be used three times a week, b) preventative(s) of which the aim is to decrease frequency or intensity of migraines but there are literally hundreds to try so find which one or ones, that works is extremely difficult… and it seems when you hit that magical combo it never lasts for more than a few years, because migraines are tricky that way and c) a rescue medication, which can be pain killers or anti-inflammatories which are to be used when the abortive fails or when you have already used the abortive for three times that week, but unfortunately doctors are reluctant to provide this option until the patient becomes desperate and they can, of course, take that away at any time leaving the patient flailing for options.
So one thing that frustrates me is that some people think I am unique in my misfortune.
They wonder why my migraines are so frequent, what makes them so frequent and so forth… to which I have no answer, although I suspect it was when my migraines were beginning to get worse, but I was on absolutely no medication because at the time I was trying to get pregnant (Obviously I had no idea my other health issues made that impossible) and that brief time seemed to make the migraines last longer and compound… until I was at the ten a month point, at which it became obvious I needed a preventative. A contributing factor, of course, was the fact I have Fibromyalgia, which is comorbid with migraines and seem to share similar triggers.
Then I chose to not continue my academic career and chose a job with shift work which made my migraines severely worse. Never got better after that. Slightly better sometimes. But never below ten a month. No matter what speculation I have for why they became chronic the fact is I simply do not know, but I do know I am not unique. By viewing it as something so rare people do not see it as a disability when it gets really bad, they do not see the additional complications that arise with treating that many migraines.
They seem to think that once my apparently incompetent doctors ‘discover’ that reason that the chronic aspect can be eliminated. Now most people sympathize with me if they know what a migraine feels like but that is definitely not the case and most people still wonder as to why they ended up chronic and why I have had such troubles with treatment. Some people assume my situation is unique and carry that thought forward to assume I am doing ‘something’, or not doing something ( like I have no tried every single thing anyone has ever mentioned to me just in case it might have some minor effect), that is directly causing my migraines to be chronic… like they cannot believe that sometimes that is just the case and that millions of other people are in the same boat. If people saw it for the disability it is, and one that does not just vanish, there would not be so many issues with workplaces and treatments from doctors.