Star Trek: Generations: What role do Migraine/Headache Disorders play in your family history? Do others live with it? Does this make a difference in how you talk about it?
I suppose it does play a role in how I think about it. In a way it makes me a little angry to be honest. My half brother has chronic migraines and cluster headaches. I think at times he does better than me to deal with them without medication and in ways that impress me a great deal because those method just don’t seem to work for me and I always do the ‘I’ll just push through the pain’ bit… which isn’t effective in the least bit.
But I was episodic up until grad school so until then my migraines, while monthly, were very manageable with triptans, except for the menstrual migraines, which I admit did cause a lot of issues even back then… but I didn’t know they were migraines because they didn’t have the same symptoms (so actually in that sense I guess I was close to the line of chronic but not quite, either way the migraines with aura were treatable). Nevertheless I had maybe six migraines a month and the triptan usually were pretty effective. Tripans don’t work on my brother and his migraines were chronic in university, perhaps before. So at times he managed them well, at times not at all. So right there huge difference in options off the get go.
While I struggled a great deal to finish my Masters because of the chronic migraines, he faced that struggle far earlier. While I had trouble with a few jobs that were not migraine friendly I did find a desk job at a bank and worked there for some time… migraines had a dramatic effect on that but it was just this one job and my education helped get me that job. He had troubles finding a job that worked with his migraines as well and with trying to do school and gaps in employment… this is a lot of problems at the same time. The delay in my migraines going chronic gave me some space to have a bit of a freaking life, well I had the FM but you know I still did fine with that, and to accomplish a few things and to attain a career. But we know chronic migraines take and take and take. I sacrificed my academic career. I have no idea what I will be doing in the future if I cannot hold onto my current career. But they affected my brother before he even had that chance. And that infuriates me on a level I cannot describe. It is a different battle and the same battle all at once.
Migraines just steal time and life and I don’t like seeing my younger brother have to deal with that at all. But you know he is brilliant and creative and I think he is better at thinking of ways to cope than I do at times, even though none of this chronic pain lifestyle is easy by any means. But it illustrates I suppose the difference in struggles to when your migraines are chronic and if they are chronic at a early age that steals a lot of opportunities in life and sort of stalls you. And if they go chronic once you have a career you struggle to maintain that, but also have financial obligations you can never escape and so that traps you. And you know I would be pretty damn happy if I were the only one in my family with this disease because I really don’t like knowing my loved ones are in that sort of pain… or even knowing the long term effects of it. You know? Like knowing how crappy the treatment options are in managing it. Knowing a medication even if it works a little… will just randomly stop working just to screw with your life. Knowing the stigma. Knowing the battle. It is like trying to be optimistic for someone and saying yeah try that… and seeing down the road because you have been there. Yet we are all different and I do have some optimism that he can manage his pain in different ways because different methods Have worked for him and that does make me happy… yet oddly fearful and anxious because I know, and I know he knows, how bad it can get if anything tips the balance… like working and I just worry I suppose that he will end up in the same head space I was. I seriously never want him to go though That. And so I want him and me to find that ideal job that works for us. I don’t even know if that is possible but I want it for the both of us anyway.
I always feel so confined by these migraines. When I worked, I could do nothing else. When I’m not working, still a hermit because it seems a great deal of managing my migraines involves not leaving the house. And it seems so limiting. But I remember a time, long ago when I had a social life. When I did things. When they were just episodic and treatable. And some of the best times in my life were in university as an undergrad. Fibromyalgia definitely caused me some problems as a freshman, don’t get me wrong, but it never crippled me with pain… it just taught me a very strong lesson in learning moderation and limits. lol. The hard way, as always. So I can be very thankful the migraines waited a little bit to pick up speed as they did.
Anyway my father has been diagnosed with chronic migraines as well. He had fibromyalgia as well so that is perhaps how he developed the migraines later in life, quite a few people with FM have migraines. Like we need to add chronic pain conditions. Stack them up and all. And I guess… we really do have a age gap in chronic migraine onset in our family for sure. Although my migraine onset was quite a bit prior to diagnosis and as I said episodic for a year years and my brother had migraines for quite some time. We inherited them differently I suspect as well, got to love genetics.
June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.