Word Count: 1326
Time to Read: 5 min. 18 sec.
What is a migraine? It is a one-sided headache mostly concentrated towards the left side of your brain. The severity varies from person to person, region to region and from race to race. The causes also vary. There has been no cure for this dreaded throbbing monster headache!
Why have I decided to talk about it? Because I suffer from migraine from time to time. It is hereditary. I got it from mom when she was around my age. My migraine triggered suddenly when I turned around 30 years. I did not know the cause but mom would every time tell me – I was not getting sufficient sleep. How true was that at that time, I did not know.
What I have learned about migraine over the years is that it is a neurovascular disease. This means, the blood vessels carrying blood to your brain get constricted. This temporary restriction of blood flow causes the onset of a migraine.
My Migraine symptoms – When mom told me my cause was due to less sleep – I was not sure where she was shooting in the dark or she knew the cause. Over the years I did not ask nor did I take any heed. I had to find the cause so that I could avert it in the future.
It always starts with blurry vision mostly on the left eye. You cannot see clearly. Your fingers go numb as if ants were running on them. This numbness travels slowly up towards your arms and on your face. Some instances, it may start on your face going around your lips and even gums!
When it subsides, the one-sides headache slowly begins. The most severe attack makes you want to bang your head against the wall!
When it started during the early years, I cried. I cried miserably praying to God to make it stop. The attack would happen anytime and on a few occasions in the middle of the night. My parents were helpless. Mom knew what exactly it was and given anti-headache tablets like Metacin, Crocin, etc. rarely helped.
The most severe attacks also involved getting nausea and even vomiting in the most extreme cases. I have vomited even when my stomach was empty! Even when having a few drops of water would trigger my vomiting.
Vomiting causes massive dehydrating and loss of body salts. For diarrhoea and chronic dehydration, there is a powder called Electeral – it can be mixed with water to be had in sips. It gives you some relief. Doctor’s prescription isn’t required for this.
Stress, tension and high BP was another reason. Though I rarely took stress, tension and I was even slow to anger but not immune to it. There were times when I would lose my head at work, if it continued for days (which is rare) then it was like proactively inviting my arch nemeses.
This throbbing one-sided headache lasts for at least 24 hours. Unlike a common headache, it does not dissipate immediately after taking a tablet. Migraine dissipates slowly in reduced severity. Then there is something that I call a residual migraine.
Residual migraine is when you think that it is gone but still there maintaining a faint presence. Luckily, you can do your regular office work and household chores.
Sleeping was one of the ways to overcome it. But, not everyone is lucky to feel sleepy in such a situation.
During the initial years, I did visit the doctor to cure it. But even he told me that this just temporary.
I needed a long term solution.
How I deal with my migraine:
So my experiment began. I purposely deprived myself of sleep for a few days to test mom’s theory. Guess what? She was right!
From then on, my quest to take sufficient sleep began. I made certain I take my full lot consisting of 8 hours of sleep. This was not possible every day since I had to go to work. So, I came up with an idea, I would monitor my sleep hours.
I kept track of what time I slept and when I woke up. If I realised I took less sleep last night, then I made sure I recover maximum sleep today. Some times, I maintain a lenient balance, i.e. taking 7 hours of sleep irregularly and then compensating for it on bank holidays and weekends.
Did it work? Yes, it did. This gave me the confidence to control my arch nemeses!
For many years, I managed to control my migraine. But, new trouble began, I still had migraine attacks despite taking sufficient sleep. What could be the cause this time?
I found it very surprising to know the second cause was due to hunger. Now I had to make certain, I do not stay hungry and keep eating at the onset of hunger.
Migraine made me paranoid. When I sensed I was hungry, I would go and eat something-anything. Depending on the time of my attack, I would eat whatever could satiate me. This also included junk food. I had no choice.
One of my friends came up with a not-so-always-workable-solution: he suggested to dissolve disperin – a paracetamol tablet in water and to drink it. It helped. Whenever I sensed despite my efforts that migraine was in proximity I took the tablet. I kept a strip handy just in case and carried it to work.
What will surprise you is this was a temporary solution. I detected a third cause and that was low blood sugar levels. I don’t have a sweet tooth. But after this discovery, I had little to no choice but to munch on chocolates or anything sweet. This helped a great deal. Having an extra intake of sweet apart from your regular intake was fine.
My other office colleague came up with a solution and that was having a very strong coffee. I took cappuccino from the vending machine and gulp down 3-4 cups with added sugar. It helped but not every time.
However, not all solutions are bound to work. Even at work, I hated it. I hated it when my illness strikes me at work and I am unable to function at my peak. What I failed to understand was how was it possible for me to get a migraine attack despite taking sufficient sleep, eating well and even maintaining an excellent blood sugar level (no, I would not check my blood sugar levels. I would monitor my sugar intake which was separate from my regular intake.)
I was desperate for a solution.
For the past 2-3 years, I have been actively practising meditation. This has drastically reduced my migraine attack. I make sure that I don’t get obsessed with meditating. It helps keep it bay but is not the cure. I have had mild migraine attacks from time to time. These mild attacks last a few hours.
Nearly 10 years later:
How am I doing? I admit I do get mild migraine attacks from time to time but it is rare. With this low-intensity attack, I can work in my office. I hated whenever I got an attack in the office because that seriously affected my productivity. Honestly, I would not mind a mild attack and not every time!
The attack comes a certain number of times a year. I don’t keep count but it does happen after a gap of several months.
What prompted me to blog about this is because today (13 August 2020) I had a severe attack. It was caused due to hunger and less sleep. I guess I did not eat nor sleep well last night! Surprisingly, I used to have the very same quantity (sleep and food) past many days.
Oh well! Lesson learnt!
Migraine may attack unexpectedly, I learnt to somehow control it because I am in the habit of controlling my environment. (I am not a control freak). But this is this.