migraine awareness

Migraine Awareness Month: "I learned the hard way…"

We learn a great many things the hard way, through experiences that are often difficult and unpleasant. Of all the things you’re learned the hard way, what sticks in your mind the most?

I like to learn the hard way so there are many many things, but one thing that sticks in my mind is an early lesson before I became a hermit. There was a time I did socialize on the occasional pay day Friday with my boyfriend and some friends after work at the local bar. It was a time when I was struggling with dealing with the onslaught of chronic migraines, work and what remained of my social life. I had not yet shed all the frilly parts of a life for the bare essentials of survival. It reminds me a great deal of the time I was struggling with fibromyalgia and being a full time student, trying to have dreams and ambitions. Its what I call denial. The fight is painful as the disease really. You flail around trying to hold onto things until you realize it is impossible… you need every ounce of energy to just get through the day and the pain. Work being necessary is the only thing that survives the purge and even that just barely. … Later you learn to fill the ragged gaps with what you can, things that fill the void somehow, distract you from the pain and make you feel less hollow; but it is definitely learned the hard way.

So I was flailing around trying to hold onto a semblance of a life. I had gotten through the work day with a migraine that had been reasonable… as in it had not been painful enough for me to treat, so it was a no medication day, which is a damn good day. When my boyfriend wanted to go out I wasn’t feeling awesome but I was determined to go out as well because I hated the way the pain was forcing me to always decline and not spend time with him and others. So I went out. And being out is not a problem. If I can suffer work I can suffer being in a nice cool, dark bar with a few friends. I had a beer, which again isn’t a problem. It wasn’t a good idea but it took the edge off the pain. That was what was a bad idea, because it dulled the pain and I started not just being there I started having a good time. Because I was having a good time I had another beer and the pain seemed to just go away. More people came out and I did what any young person does… I had a blast and had a good time. I began to realize the pain was coming back and so I drank more…. thinking I’ll just out drink the migraine until I can’t feel it anymore and then when I get home I’ll crash and go to sleep and it’ll be a great night sleep.

You can’t out drink a migraine. For one thing I was mixing booze so that was not good and dehydrating. So more dehydrating as the night went on and the migraine just got worse and worse. I stopped drinking but didn’t matter. I came home and was drunk enough I could have slept well if I was tired but I’m not the type to pass out easily (not with my uber insomnia) and a migraine didn’t help… so I just lay there and sobered up while the migraine slowly got worse and worse and worse. By about 4 am the pain was so severe I had to try and treat it, even though I knew having alcohol in me probably wasn’t a good idea, so I tried a triptan rather than anything else. It totally didn’t work, maybe because of the alcohol maybe because the pain… don’t know but I do know the combination means you just can’t treat it. I ended up in the ER 6 am… I don’t recall how they treated me, I think with a toradol shot but I remember being embarrassed because it was my own damned fault and I was still a little drunk. Even that really didn’t work. I just had to ride out the pain. Hydrate. Sleep. And always remember never, ever drink alcohol when you have a migraine, or are getting a migraine because it will get worse and you cannot out drink a migraine.

Some people cannot have alcohol at all or they will get a migraine. I can’t touch wine myself, that stuff will trigger a migraine really, really fast. But I can have a beer (can’t seem to tolerate anything else though) or two on a day where I do not have a migraine with no adverse affects. But I only do when I socialize… so once a year I guess. I sure figured that out the hard way. And it took more than once by the way. Because that day I had a migraine and over indulged but there were other times I had no migraine and had gone out and mixed beverages which triggered a migraine, equally unpleasant to have happen when you are already drunk. I only went out about once a month back then so my tolerance to alcohol was low. Never took me much to get a buzz. So I began to really moderate my drinking and switched to just beer and refusing ‘shooters’ people offered. Found out as long as I went out on good days and never exceeded a limit of three beers, with plenty of water and food I would be fine… the beer actually makes me sleepy and that gives me a good nights sleep, which gives me the opposite of a hang over, as in no headache and no migraine. Assuming I play by the rules. But that’s a good day and those don’t happen often these days.  So I was capable of having a drink without triggering a migraine, which is nice, just had to learn that when I already had a migraine a drop of booze was an aggravator even if at first it didn’t feel like it. You’d think common sense would tell you that… but like I said… denial. I want to go out and feel normal and have fun.  Paid the price for it for sure.  That sort of pain is mind blowing.

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by www.FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.



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