not your average zoe

life, love and knitting

migraines and me, a love hate relationship.


My name is Zoe, and I am a migraine sufferer.

If you think that this isn’t a big deal, you’ve never had a migraine.

If you think that a migraine can be cured with a couple of aspirin, you’ve never had a migraine.

If you think that it can be dealth with once a year and forgotten, you’ve never been a persistent migraine sufferer.  In the past 2 years or more I’ve had about 10 a month.

For me, a migraine involves auras (visual disturbances, never the same one twice, but kaelidoscopes, visual drooping and colour distortions), crippling headaches that make me think my head will explode, shakes, hot and cold shivers, burping, yawning and vomiting.  Occasional symptoms also include diarrohea, fainting and sweats.  It’s a joy.

I started getting them when I was about 5, although we didn’t realise what they were until I was about 14 and I mentioned that my glasses weren’t helping my headaches and sometimes they get so bad that I’m sick.  *light bulb moment*

This week I went to see a lovely Neurologist (migraine man in my world) and he told me the following things that blew my mind (but didn’t trigger and head explosions as a migraine might):

  • all headaches are migraines, it’s just the severity that differentiates them
  • people who have headaches do not understand the power and dehabilitation of migraines
  • he considers it to be a potential disabiling condition (me too)
  • a migraine is an electrical pulse in the brain that is distorted and makes things work wrongly, i.e. visual disturbances
  • where the pulse goes dictates the disturbance, ie if it’s the part of your brain that perceives colour/distance/ shape etc that will be affected.
  • noone knows why migraines occur
  • the main triggers (which I knew) are red wine, chocolate, caffiene, cheese, citrus fruits, oestrogen overload, stress, dehydration and tiredness.
  • eyestrain does not cause migraines, but it should still be dealt with as your eyes are working too hard.  Migraines affect your eyes, NOT the other way around. *lightbulb moment*
  • it is in your DNA whether you are likely to suffer.  As my mother and maternal grandfather suffered, it is likely that the 5 genetic triggers in my DNA are the main cause of them,I’m just glad my brother only gets them every few years under extreme circumstances.  The sad thing is that as they got older, mum and grandpa’s migraines got less.  Mine seem to have gotten more.
  • you can NEVER cure migraines, merely prevent and treat.  The only thing to do is to manage your life to lessen the number. *sad light bulb moment*
  • I used to get 10 a month and my current prescriptions have taken them down to about 4.  The doctor said this was fantastic and the best to hope for.  :-{

My personal triggers are:

  1. chocolate
  2. oranges
  3. soft cheese (think brie, camembert etc)
  4. insomnia
  5. stress
  6. blood sugar dips and highs

I had no idea that insomnia might be one until he said that could be the most lethal combination.

The doctor told me to take care of myself more.  Give myself a break.  Not beat myself up for getting them and feeling pathetic when I do, but to enjoy the days when I don’t as a reminder of how I cope.  He said that the best thing to do is to rest, not overload myself, not overdo it and remember to relax often.  High stress jobs are a nono he said – you’ll only be off work suffering in direct ratio to the stress/insomnia etc.  Give myself permission to slow down.

So that’s Migraine Man, therapist, Husband, GP and internal knowitall telling me to calm down, stress less, relax, be kind to myself, not feel that every minute has to be full to bursting with a long todo list to complete, and enjoy the ride, rather than panic about the finish.

Maybe I should listen to them all, instead of just hearing them.

My name is Zoe, and I am a migraine sufferer, on a daily battle to health.

Take care,


PS for more information about migraines visit the Migraine Trust website.  It’s the only charity in Briatin that is purely for migraine sufferers and has some great self help tips.  Remember that alot of the triggers can be controlled – it’s in our hands!  You are not alone!

PPS – these views are purely my own, based on a lifetime of experiences.  Feel free to share your story in the comments below.


Author: Zoe

for more info see my all about me page! tweet @zoedidthat

6 thoughts on “migraines and me, a love hate relationship.

  1. Thank you for sharing that. I say that I ‘fortunately’ (compared to your poor soul) have maybe 2 bad ones a year which is usually brought on by work stress and not getting away from my computer enough. I was very interested to read re. the eye strain. It’s extremely painful and suck the life out of you. I think your Dr is completely right, be sure to remember that when you try and punish yourself for not being able to do all the things you want to do all the time. 🙂

  2. that’s a prescription for knitting if ever i read one!

    (not trying to make light of a serious situation, just trying to add to the voices supporting you in resting, relaxing and nurturing yourself more. x)

  3. I too am a migraine sufferer as are my daughter and son. My mother is the one in our family that passed this lovely gift on to me and then I passed it on to my children. Along with your symptoms – we often suffer severe nausea and vomiting – especially my son. He has had attacks so bad that the violent vomiting has actually broken blood vessels in his face and he looks as though he has red freckles. 😦 I feel for you and have found that Imitrex actually works for me. I did learn a lot from your post – thank you for the valuable info. Feel better!

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