Migraine headaches are no fun. The shooting pains that go through your skull and spear your eyeballs. The nausea that comes from the intense pain. Laying in a dark room praying to fall asleep so you can get maybe a little relief. What’s even less fun than that? Knowing you can expect one of these headaches at least once a month while your already battling horrible cramps, bloating, mood swings, and fatigue. I am a menstrual migraine sufferer.
Migraines are a genetic gift that I was not thrilled to inherit. My great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and sister all battle these horrible headaches. I vividly remember experiencing my first migraine headache at the age of nine. This was also (not coincidentally, I’m sure) about a year before I started my period. My body had already started preparing itself and this was one of the symptoms brought on by varying hormone levels. My mom helped me survive that first migraine. She had me lay down in a dark room and she gave me an ice pack to rest on my head. She told me to visualize the pain moving out of my body. What really helped the most was the half of a Fiorinal she gave me.
As a got older and my cycle finally became regular so did the migraine headaches. They always hit a day or two before my period started. I knew what was happening and I got better and better at dealing with it. Occasionally I would have to leave school early because I couldn’t cope with the pain, but for the most part I could take a Fiorinal my mother kept supplying me with and make it through until I could get home and go to sleep in a dark room.
One summer during my college years I worked as a counselor at a residential camp. A migraine headache hit so intensely that I had to call my mom and have her drive to hours to the camp to bring me some medicine, and help me relax. You would think after all of this time I would have gotten my own prescription for pain medicine, but I never did.
When I was pregnant with my first child the migraines became frequent and intense. What was really bad was that anything stronger than Tylenol wasn’t an option. I just had to struggle through the pain. The first half of my pregnancy I was still in college. I missed a lot of class due to the headaches and morning sickness combined, but luckily I had save all of my easy courses for my last semester and I was okay. After I graduated I went straight into being a stay-at-home mom. When the horrible headaches hit that made me clutch my forehead and sit over a toilet I was so thankful that I didn’t have anywhere I was supposed to be. I asked my obstetrician what to do and she said, “Most people who suffer from migraines suffer more intensely during pregnancy and unfortunately there’s very little we can do about it.”
Thank goodness, since I’ve had a child the menstrual migraines have actually gotten better. This is a good thing since there’s no time for a mom to go lay down in a dark room while her child runs all over the place. I still feel the sharp headache pains about a day before my period starts, but an Advil migraine does the trick until my husband gets home and I can crash. I no longer call my mother for Fiorinal.