This is what ‘normally’ happens in my migraine attacks. (Warning: it’s not pleasant.)
Before the Migraine – otherwise known as the Prodome
I am happy and energetic. I am lively and talking more than usual. I am on top form. In the evening just before I go to bed I am aware of a slight pain over one eye, but not enough to be particularly worried about it. I’ve had some indigestion and in the preceding days I’ve suffered from hiccups. I go to bed and fall asleep.
In the Night
I wake up and I can’t get back to sleep. I need to go to sleep as I have work in the morning. I look at my alarm clock; it’s only 1am – why can’t I fall asleep? I don’t feel ill; I just can’t sleep and my mind is quite active. In the end I take a paracetamol just in case. (Totally pointless as it will have no effect.)
After a while I feel hot. I feel my arms – they are sweating; I throw my duvet off but I’m still hot. I feel cold; I am shivering. I sit up to retrieve the duvet. I feel a bit dizzy. I lay down and I feel hot again. I don’t want to accept this but I think I have a migraine. No, I can’t have a migraine; I can’t miss work. Maybe it will go off. It never has gone away before but I still hope this time may be different.
I have a terrible stomach ache. I have to get up and visit the toilet over and over again.
Now I KNOW I have a migraine. That’s it. I know what’s coming.
I go downstairs to collect my ‘migraine kit’ because I know I will soon be too ill to move.
- Memory Foam Pillow
- Glasses of water
- Flannel to use as a cold compress for my head
- Empty glass and can of Pepsi
I lay the towel on my floor and place the pillow on it along with the bowl. The pillow is there for me to kneel on to protect my knees. I will spend a lot of the day kneeling down on the floor vomiting.
I’ve returned to bed. Now comes the headache. The all encompassing, blinding, searing, intense splitting, crashing, overwhelming, unbearable wish I could die, pain in my head.
I have a neckache. It is so bad I can hardly turn my head. I put some ibuprofen rub on the back of my neck. Come to think of it, I had a really bad neckache yesterday.
I can’t stand the light. I’ve got my blackout blind pulled down and my blackout curtains closed but I still can’t stand the light in the room. I’ve put the flannel over my eyes because I can’t tolerate the light.
I can’t tolerate any noise. Why are people in the house so noisy and selfish? I can hear children shouting in the distance outside and dogs barking, even the birds singing irritate me.
Other people in the house start cooking, the smell is so intense – I can’t bear it. Why don’t they stop?
This is just the beginning. I know that I have to go through this and if I can just make it through to tomorrow things will get better. I get obsessed by my clock; I check it repeatedly throughout the day wishing every minute away.
I notice things in the room and it irritates me. This is hard to describe but I’ve got fixated on a tube of handcream, a normally totally innocuous item. It’s bothering me; the colour and shape and lettering; I can’t stand it. I have to get up and hide it in a drawer.
This is now the main feature of the day. Between 6am and 8am I start vomiting. This isn’t simple easy vomiting though. I am violently sick. The second time I’m sick takes a long time. I keep feeling sick, I kneel on the floor, I can’t be sick, I return to bed. I feel sick, I sit up. I have a blinding headache and feel hot, so unbearably hot. I am sick eventually.
Shivering, I return to bed my teeth chattering, headache lifted, compress on, perhaps four or five minutes pass and the headache has returned, I feel sick again, I have to get up, kneel on the floor and be sick again.
This goes throughout the day as I will be sick on average every twenty minutes. The times will vary as I repeatedly check the clock, try to keep count of how many times I’m sick but will fail.
The vomiting becomes harder. I cannot eat or drink all day. Doctors say keep hydrated but I cannot even keep a sip of water down. I don’t want to drink; I don’t feel thirsty. I want to stop being sick so I have no incentive to drink as I know that it will come straight up again.
Each time I vomit the headache lifts. I have a few minutes to rinse the acid out of my mouth with water, to empty the bowl, to make my cold compress wet, to get back into bed, maybe doze for a couple of minutes. Then I awake, the headache returned, the pain in my stomach back and I know I will have to get up to vomit again.
Pain in my lower abdomen
I have now developed a terrible pain in the lower right side of my abdomen. As I lay in bed the pain is awful. When I walk to the bathroom I have to clutch my side and limp as the pain is so bad. I wonder if I’ve got appendicitis and should phone a doctor.
It’s now midday; I have been sick on average three times an hour for the last six hours. I can hear the children playing in the playground in the school up the road and it drives me insane.
The vomiting is becoming more difficult. I am just bringing up yellow and green bile. Sometimes I bring up froth which is disgusting. The whole thing is disgusting. I feel so sick and it’s so hard. The pain in my gall bladder is excruciating. Sometimes the only way I can make myself sick is to press my gall bladder. Then I can feel the bile going into my stomach. Then I retch and bring it up. It hurts so much. I feel so hot and ill. I can’t believe I can feel this ill and still be alive. I don’t want to be alive, I want to die.
Sometimes when I’m being sick I blackout or nearly blackout. The effort is so much I feel dizzy, my hearing and vision go. I feel myself going and I dig my nail into my wrist to try to make the pain bring me back. This is why I lay on the floor to be sick because if I’m sitting up and I faint I don’t know if I will come round again. I’ve done this before and then the blood can’t get back to my head. If I’m on my own it’s really frightening so I feel safer on the floor.
I have stopped being sick now. I have a break! This never used to happen and has only happened in the past few years. I fall asleep now for a few hours. A horrible form of restless sleep where the headache is still present and thoughts are racing through my mind but still it’s sleep.
I’m awake now and hoping I feel better. I know what will happen but somehow I never give up hope that this time it will be different. It isn’t. The pain is back in my gall bladder, in my lower abdomen, my head is till aching, I’m going to be sick again.
I start being sick all over again. I open the can of Pepsi and pour some out in a glass. I listen to the sound of the bubbles fizzing. It’s so loud.
I’m still being sick and I am so tired. I’m exhausted, I’m so weak and shaky. The glass of Pepsi has slowly been going flat. I am now so thirsty but I can’t risk drinking.
It’s dark now. I have put the landing light on so I can see to be sick. My head is still bad. The effort of retching has strained my throat. I feel like I can’t swallow. I try not to swallow. I have to swallow. I start to panic, but I can’t. I can’t let myself panic. I worry that I will tear my oesophagus.
I am being sick dark browny red bile now. Like coffee grounds. I can’t go on.
I feel sick, my stomach aches, my head is throbbing, my throat hurts so much, I am so exhausted, I refuse to sit up to be sick, I feel so ill, I can’t go on anymore. I risk a sip of the Pepsi.
I wake up; I’ve been asleep. Where am I? I remember, I think the headache has gone. Cautiously I take a sip of the Pepsi. It tastes so good; I am so thirsty that I could drink the whole can, I could drink six cans but I ration myself to two sips, incase it makes me sick again.
Rest of the Night
I doze and wake up every half hour for those delicious sips of sugar filled cola. My back hurts so much from lying in bed all day; I can hardly turn over; all my muscles in my back seem to be in spasm. But it doesn’t matter because the headache has gone, the nausea has gone. I am so happy and I just want the morning to come.
I feel so weak, my back still hurts but nothing matters. I can drink tea, later in the morning I will eat something, maybe a small bowl of cornflakes, maybe a piece of toast. I can get up and sit in a chair. I can draw back the curtains and let the light in. I am so relieved and so grateful that the migraine is over.
Until the next time.
Every day without a migraine is a bonus.
Fellow sufferers – are your migraines like this?
© Michelle @ http://www.5pmfriday.org
[…] I reply well, actually, no, this is what happens when I get a migraine. […]