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The air is clearer on the other side of the fog: Recovering from Migraine Pain

Updated on August 25, 2013

Exploring the stages of migraine pain.

This article will explain my experiences with migraine pain. Everyone suffers differently. These are ways I've learned how to cope with the pain, feeling of being in a fog and stages of a migraine (before, during, after).

What can be done to help migraine suffering?

We will explore options in search of healing.

Bright flashes of light often proceed migraines.

Source

First signs of a migraine are often bright flashes of light.

This photo was taken during a snowstorm. Some of the brighter snowflakes resemble the flashes of light I see when a migraine is coming on. Some look like zig zags and others look like lightning bolts that cover my vision during the onset of migraine pain.

My history with migraines.

I believe my first migraine hit when I was around 20 years old.

Laying in bed one day, unable to get up because of the sick feeling in my stomach, I thought I was just hungry and needed to eat breakfast.

The light coming in from my bedroom windows was as bright as lightning. Even covering my head with a blanket could not spare me from the brutal piercing pain I felt directly above my forehead. Opening my eyes was not an option that day or for the next three. Over the course of the migraine headache, I endured physical sickness as well as excruciating pain. To explain to my employer when I called in sick what I was feeling like, wasn't good enough. No one could possibly understand why this pain wasn't easily cured with a Tylenol or Aspirin.

For me, the migraine symptoms lasted into the next week. I suffered dizziness, nausea and a feeling of being in a fog.

Would I ever get back to normal?

That was the first migraine I ever had, but didn't know it at the time.

Twelve years later, at the age of 32, I was sitting in my car in my driveway. I had just arrived home from grocery shopping. My children were in the back seat. I suddenly could not see. I had these zig zag lines going across my left eye. I felt blind. I thought maybe my eyeball had been scorched looking in to the bright lights at the grocery store. It just didn't make sense. I felt no pain. I was just simply blind in that eye. It was almost painful to look out of, not because it actually hurt, but because it made everything in the outside world look fuzzy like static on a television.

No pain ever came from that migraine. I was blinded for three days and it went away.

Then it happened. Nearly ten years later, a third time. This time much worse. My face went numb, water dribbled down the side of my jaw as I tried to take a vitamin. I felt no pain at first. By the time I arrived at the hospital, they administered morphene. I felt like a war victim, the pain burning and searing through the back of my skull as if a part of my skull was missing.

For days I couldn't eat. I was violently sick. It wasn't light this time but noise. Even a spoken whisper was too much for my ears to bear.

My discharge papers read, "hemiplegic migraine with paralysis".

Everything looks foggy when I'm suffering from a migraine.

Source

After gallbladder surgery.

For months after, I didn't feel quite right. Ultimately I had gallbladder surgery.

During a time I should have felt better, once again I became struck with a sudden excruciating pain. This time on the top of my head. I couldn't open my eyes. I couldn't stand without becoming sick. In fact, when I did try to get up about of bed, I fell completely over to the floor.

The pain was horrendous. It felt like someone had taken a hammer and beaten me over the top of my skull. Throbbing, aching, almost like a toothache, but worse!

Back to the emergency room, in my pajamas this time, barely able to move my feet. The pain ricocheted through every nerve from my head to my toes. I could not open my eyes. Light once again became enemy number one.

The doctors tried a new technique. This time administering a concoction of strong migraine medication and Benadryl. In three hours, I was up, dressed, and waiting in the parking garage for my ride home.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Yesterday, I suffered a very minor migraine. I knew it was coming on since Friday.

I saw bright white spots, like flashes of lights, and periodic lightning bolts in front of me as I tried to do work on the computer.

All voices and noise echoed through my head as if someone was up close to my face shouting at me. I immediately took some migraine pain relief and hoped for the best. I made it an early night. Luckily, it only lasted two days this time. I caught it just in time.

I want to share with my readers exactly how I have grown to know when I'm getting a migraine, what I do about it, and how I prevent it from becoming worse.

Triggers.

The first step in overcoming migraines is to know your triggers.

Triggers are different from person to person.

For me, my migraines are triggered from the following:

  • Loud noises, consistently lasting a while (not an isolated one-time loud noise)
  • Chocolate
  • Wine
  • Stress
  • Bad posture due to arthritis in my neck (inflammation)
  • Hormones
  • Rainy and stormy weather

Have you ever suffered from a migraine?

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Hemiplegic Migraines

Some migraines are hereditary which I found out in December 2012. I was diagnosed with my first Hemiplegic Migraine with paralysis.

Doctors will say learning to cope with stress will help decrease migraines.

I say from experience, taking preventative steps will help more.

Symptoms.

Over time, I have grown accustomed to looking for warning signs before a migraine becomes out-of-control.

While in the hospital the last time for a migraine, I asked the doctors if I should be on a regular migraine prevention medication. They told me no. They think my migraines are isolated. Some people have migraines every month. Thankfully, I do not, but my heart goes out to migraine sufferers. I know how it feels. Migraines are destructive.

These are some symptoms I experience before a migraine:

  • Stiff neck
  • Tension, usually from stress
  • Minor headache
  • Bright flashes of light
  • Constant zig zag lines over one eye
  • Lightning bolt flashes
  • Night sweats (usually the night before the migraine pain begins)

During a migraine, my symptoms usually change.

  • Aversion to light or noise
  • Aversion to smell and warped sense of smell
  • Excruciating headache on top of my skull or in the back of my skull
  • Sick feeling
  • Unable to look at a computer screen, television, or read from pages in a book

After a migraine, these are symtpoms I experience.

  • Lethargy
  • Feeling of being in a fog
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling like I just worked a double shift or ran a marathon
  • Extreme fatigue in my limbs
  • Residual headache
  • Residual light and noise aversion
  • Blurry vision
  • Dark circles under my eyes
  • Shakiness


Vitamins that help with migraine prevention.

Source

Taking preventative steps before the migraine starts.

Suggested Preventatives
Daily vitamins. Some that seem to help me are Magnesium, Vitamin B, stress formula, and Vitamin D3.
Decrease inflammation with natural posture exercises. When I sit at a computer for long periods of time, I make sure to keep my neck bent slightly forward, and I use a pillow behind my lower back in my chair to help keep my posture alligned.
If you start seeing spots or feel the slightest head pain, try taking Advil Migraine or Excedrin Migraine. Excedrin has caffeine in it and it may give you the shakes if you take it on an empty stomach.

What migraine strategies have worked for me.

I think I've become successful at warding off and minimizing migraine pain.

Obviously, these tried techniques are good for me, but may not be for everyone. This is just helpful advice I wish to pass on to people who suffer with migraines.

When I was 20, I didn't know what I experienced was a migraine, so I had no knowledge that I would become a migraine sufferer later in life.

Now after suffering from a few and being hospitalized for them, I have learned how to cope with them and watched for signs my body was shouting at me.

When I start to experience symptoms, whether it be bright lights or zig zags, I immediately take migraine medication. This is usually enough to prevent the migraine. However, this past Friday it proved to be not enough. The reason I think this happened was because I was subjected to constant loud noise all day. Loud noises are a migraine trigger for me. So despite my best efforts in minimizing triggers, I was exposed to a trigger and could not prevent the migraine from coming on.

By Saturday night, I was in bed early suffering from excruciating pain.

Friday night I also experienced night sweats. I woke up sweating in an air-conditioned room. That should have been a tell-tale sign I would soon be doomed. (I had half of my thyroid out two years ago. I do suffer periodically with night sweats from hormones and I sweat more during the initial stage of a migraine.)

Using the technique taught to me in the hospital, I took two Advil Migraine. After two hours, I got worse. I then took two Tylenol and one Benadryl. Again, this is not medical advice. It's just what works for me and advice from my doctor as to what is safe for me. This may not be safe for everyone. Ask your doctor before attempting to self-treat.

By Sunday morning, today, my migraine was almost completely gone. I still have a residual pain across the top of my skull, but I can function through it. Also, I am feeling lethargic and tired. I noticed this morning I was still in a fog. That since has passed.

I take anti-inflammatory medication every day to cope with arthritis in my neck. When I feel neck pain, I do the exercises I learned at physical therapy after being paralyzed from the Hemiplegic Migraine. It helps loosen up my muscles and helps prevent pain.

My hope for the future.

I hope for the future that I can cope and self-treat without expensive hospitalizations.

I've been taking a daily regimen of vitamins that I feel have counter-acted the onset of early stage migraine symptoms.

When I was in the hospital, routine blood work showed my magnesium levels were low. I've since discovered that magnesium deficiency is not uncommon.

According to WebMD, magnesium is useful for treating chronic fatigue, leg cramps, migraine headaches, and weak bones. There are many other illnesses that magnesium is suggested for.

I believe that magnesium has helped me recover. Prior to my hospitalization, one of the symptoms I was complaining about was leg cramps during daily walking exercises. It got to the point where I was unable to walk a mile around the park track. I'd have to stop and try to knead the cramps out of my leg before going back home. Since taking magnesium, I've been able to do more walking and I am cured of leg cramps.

Some people are opposed to taking vitamins. I have a friend that thinks they are of no use. But in an effort to feel better, I whole heartedly believe that anything we can take naturally that helps us heal is one step closer in taking back our health and lifestyle.


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    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Hi IslandBites! Yes, they are dreadful. It's raining here, and usually storms trigger a migraine on me, but today thankfully I'm good.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Migraines are awful. I also get occasional migraines (less frequent as I get older). When I have migraine, I can't stand any light.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Thank you thewritingowl! Both of my children have had headaches with the zig zags. My son's eyes were tested because they thought he was starting to have migraines in his eyes which I had never heard of before. It's just an awful thing. I never knew my bio father, and I have a hunch that's where I inherited this from.

    • thewritingowl profile image

      Mary Kelly Godley 4 years ago from Ireland

      I get an occasional migraine, I always get the Zig Zags, followed by blurred vision, and an intense feeling of pressure on top of my head followed by the headache. I find Solpadeine can help ward it off if its not a bad one. As a child I used to be physically sick with them too usually for a day, followed by another day to recover. I never realized until recent years that it was actually migraines I was having as nobody ever suggested that this what it was until I read an article about it. Article voted up. So many people suffer from migraines and are just not aware that that is what they have.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Thank you Rose! My family took a trip to the beach this afternoon and my migraine started coming back. Luckily I was able to stop it before it got worse. I really puts a damper on everything.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      My heart really goes out to you! I have had throbbing headaches before, especially when there is some sort of barometric pressure changes in the weather. I can't imagine how horrible migraine sufferers feel but I know several people that are sufferers. My cousin suffered from migraines every time she came in contact with certain smells especially perfume. One friend suffered horribly for years until they discovered that the cause of her migraines had something to do with some sort of displacement in her jaw. She was already an adult but it was remedied with special braces on her teeth. Another friend suffered severely from migraines until it was discovered that she had a small brain lesion. There are many reasons why people suffer from migraines but once the cause is found, hopefully proper treatment can be had. Take care! Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Thank you! It's a terrible suffering to be plagued by migraines! That haze we suffer through cannot be explained unless someone has gone through it.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      O mmmmigraines...have had them since age 18 ; inherited from my Momma.

      Long story short I became addicted to prescription drugs and would Dr. hop and ER hop to get more meds. (I have written about my drug addiction here on HP).

      I would get to another town and have no memory of how I got there. I had one migraine after another; never was free of the pain.

      I finally woke up one day and said, this is not living; I need relief from the pain and this haze I was in.

      I was prescribed a beta blocker and within about six months my life turned around. I have not taken any addictive pain killers since then. I may have one or two sometimes three a year...what a difference it has made for my life.

      I am no longer taken the beta blockers either. I just am sure to watch what I eat and to avoid extremely bright light...those seem to be my triggers now.

      Best wishes to you in your pursuit to become pain free.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning. ps