Who could do better than Joan Dideon on the topic of migraine?
And yet here I am, sharing my thoughts.
First, migraine. It's a headache, yes, but it encompasses a largish category of neurological symptoms and takes a variety of devilishly unpleasant forms.
"That no one dies of migraine seems,
to someone deep into an attack,
an ambiguous blessing."
– Joan Dideon
It starts, often, with a visual disturbance. Flashes or jaggedy streaks of light, tunnel vision, or small blind spots.
Followed by perhaps a period of violent sensitivity to light or sound or smell.
Alarming stroke-like symptoms sometimes show up: surred speech, vomiting, dizziness, for instance. Or weakness or tingling on one side of the whole body.
Migraines arrive as a result of some weird blip of electrical impulses and vascular spasms (or something) in the brain.
The mechanism is "not completely understood," though there is a strong genetic component. Every few years there's a breakthrough in understanding. I used to keep up.
My father and his mother and her grandmother all suffered from migraines. My first came to me as yet another unwelcome side-effect of being a girl.
Age 13: here you go, missy, a bouquet of body changes that usher in decades of unwelcome public commentary and oh, bonus! a debilitating headache on either side of this other physical indignity that seems like an illness.
For years, medical consultation usually ended with, "Well, you can look forward to having them diminish as you get older."
I remember how it happened, actually, but the point is that I have waited patiently but the migraine train is still damn running on my tracks.
Recently I found myself a new doctor. A young one, whom I can only hope to outlast.
And so begins the search for effective treatment. I am happy to report that the MRI reveals that my brain is right where I left it. Even better -- no inappropriate growths are evident.
Young doc and I have embarked on a series of prescription medications. We are steering away from the ones that make me numb, tingly, or which impel me ask Jeff to keep a close watch on me.
Young doc has updates and a handful of suggestions to try. Which we discuss by e-mail. Brave new world. We have high hopes and a neurologist to visit.