Growing up, I always struggled with headaches daily to the point of my friends and family being annoyed that I “always have a headache.” The dull aches each day turned into multiple migraines a week and my first semester of college, I had to drop half of my classes because of the migraines I developed. That semester, I had a migraine that made one whole half of my body go numb, my face slump to one side and I was shaking and screaming in pain. After many tests and trips to doctors, they determined I have episodic migraines with stroke-like symptoms. They also said there seemed to be bleeding in my brain from that first horrible migraine that made me go numb. I missed so much from school and failed so many classes from having all the migraines and they put me on so many different medications, I felt like a guinea pig being experimented on and the side-effects were just as debilitating as the migraines.
I finally found a combination of medications that work for me and have identified my triggers and can sense when I feel one coming on so I can take my meds and attack it before it gets me. It’s been three years now dealing with these types of migraines and I just finished my first semester back to school and it was a total success! I received A’s for both my summer classes and for the first time, I feel like I have a handle on my migraines and that they will not control me or dictate my life. I still can only work part-time and go to school part-time because stress is one of my biggest triggers, but I have learned to accept my limits and that I will be accomplishing my goals slower than others because of my condition.
The most frustrating thing people say to me though is, “well you just have to push through it if you really want it enough”or “it’s just headache” and people often compare where they are with where I’m at and put me down for not seeming to work as hard or as much as they do. It feels so lonely that no one understands how excruciating the pain is and that you really can’t do a single thing until it passes. It’s been hard but I let them continue to think they are better and let it go because my health and avoiding my usual monthly trips to the hospital is more important to me.
Little things like never missing a class or day of work due to migraines are accomplishments to me. Any bit of progress or proof that my migraines are under control make my day. Waking up without a headache is even something I celebrate. Now, I’m actually excited for what I will accomplish in college even though it’s going to be a bit harder and slower paced. I have also spent lots of time educating friends and family about my condition so I have support from people who care about me and understand my limits and even help me avoid my triggers. That has definitely helped me feel less alone even though they may still never understand how severe the pain is because they haven’t experienced themselves. Either way, keep pushing on within your own time and limits and know there are people right there with you who feel just like you do!