The Migraine

by Bill Brenner on March 25, 2010

Every time the author gets a migraine, he’s reminded of how every day used to be.

Mood music:


Yesterday I came home from work with a slight headache. It was a hectic day, so I chalked it up to coming down from the whirlwind.

As I made the kids’ lunches for the next school day and cooked supper, it got worse. By the time I settled in to play a game of Battleship with Sean, it was a migraine.

I spent the next nine hours in bed. The ice pack was useless. I felt like throwing up. Finally, I drifted off to sleep and that ended it. I woke up at 4:30 a.m., a half hour later than usual, and the head still hurt, though not at migraine levels.

As I write this, my ears feel clogged but I’m otherwise fine.

Funny thing about migraines. They create black holes in your life and you lose out on precious moments, like playing a game of Battleship with the kids. Sean was winning big-time at the point I had to break away. He had sunk three of my ships and I sunk only one of his. Duncan took over for me when I went to bed, and I’m not sure who prevailed in the end. I am sure Sean wouldn’t have done as well if his Dad wasn’t distracted by pain.

I also missed my Wednesday-night Arise group, which really pissed me off. I get so much from that group, and to miss out is to miss out big-time.

I used to get migraines all the time as a child. The Prednisone I took for Crohn’s Disease would give me the kind of brain pain that sent me to the bathroom throwing up. Entire evenings were shot to hell, often multiple times a week. School work suffered. It was almost as bad as the Chrohn’s Disease itself. Well, not quite as bad, but pretty bad.

I don’t get them anywhere near as much today, but I probably get a good one every other month. Every time I do, it takes me back to what life was like before I found Faith and Recovery.

All the nights I spent alone in my basement, and then on the couch because I was too mentally spent to do anything else — I find myself back there.

Those too were black hole moments. Life was put on hold and I missed out on many, many things.

I’ll tell you one good thing about the migraines I get today: They remind me that there’s no turning back on the life I’ve since built. When I wake up and the pain is gone, it’s one of the best feelings on Earth.

Today I’ll take Erin’s advice and call the doctor for a medicine I can take when a Migraine is coming on.

Erin has had more than her fair share of migraines over the years, but she found a medication that helps. I should listen to her more often.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

JJ March 25, 2010 at 6:30 am

🙁 I sympathize whole-heartedly. For more than a year, I had the kind that came on with visual disturbances and left me nauseated and practically in tears from a pain that wouldn’t go away. Even a full night’s sleep didn’t help.

I started having migraines in October of 2006 (I remember the first one vividly). I had never really had headaches, so I had no clue what was going on. It wasn’t until about two years later that I finally waved the white flag, went to a doctor and learned that migraines were a different type of ‘thing’, not really a headache.

I’m still trying to figure out what triggers them. Rolfing/myofascial manipulation helps a lot. I can almost feel it originating from a place on my neck; a spot I recently realized is the exact site of a cyst removed many years ago. :/ Now I wonder if there’s a connection and I’m exploring that.

For now, I take Imitrex (or something similar) when needed. I (literally) don’t leave home without it now. Sucks to be tied to a pill, but it’s the lesser of two evils when the other option is those black hole moments we hate.


Paul M. March 25, 2010 at 8:35 am

Hey there:

I get so much identification from your writing! I am not sure if the headaches I get are migraines, or a semi-monthly accumulation of sleep deprivation that catches up to me.

But the lost time and the gratitude when it is over is the same.

Whenever I am sick, part of me feels like when I used to be ‘sick’ but was really just using. Makes me grateful to be really sick and not back there!

The best compliment I can give another addict is, “You’re sharing made me want to do this [recovery].” Well, YOU make me want to blog!


PS What’s the Arise group? Yo can answer me on FB or via email.

Guy March 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

I had a period of about 3-4 years when I had migraines. Much like what JJ describes, I got auras (visual disturbances) just prior. I lived with a couple doses of Imitrex on hand at all times. Then, for some unknown reason, they quit.

I’m blessed, I know.

Believe me, I understand your pain and know what it is like.

Erin Brenner March 26, 2010 at 4:48 am

As Bill said, I’ve had more than my share of migraines and continue to get them (anyone want my excess?). I’ve learned a few things over the years:

–I have multiple triggers for migraines: lack of sleep, muscular issues, hormones, stress, food, the list goes on. Keeping them all in check is nigh on impossible but worth shooting for.

–Keeping a record of when I get migraines and what was going on helped me identify the triggers.

–One trigger is related to shoulder/back pain. When my rib cage is out of alignment, muscles tighten. If it goes on long enough, the tightening travels up my neck and blossoms into a migraine. I see a chiropractor weekly to put me back together, and that alone has reduced my migraines dramatically.

–For me at least, it isn’t the presence of one trigger or another but rather the amount of trigger presence. I think of it like a thermometer. One or more triggers send the temperature up until it reaches a critical mass and I get a migraine. It could be just one trigger that creates a migraine; it could be several. So while I can’t control all my triggers, when I know one is out of control, say stress, I can focus harder on keeping the others in check, such as getting enough sleep.

sarah May 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

I suffer from migraines myself. I have had debilitating neck/back pain all week that triggered a terrible migraine. I took my medicine and slept from 5p-6am. My headache was gone but the neck pain remains. Why I have this neck pain I don’t knowm…

What medicine do you take for your migraine? The only thing that works for me is relpax if I don’t vomit it up…of course my insurance doesn’t it!

billbrenner1970 May 6, 2011 at 11:09 am

Sarah: I take Zomig. Seems to work.

Melinda S.Warner, Ed.D., ABPdN September 26, 2012 at 10:03 am

Carolyn Bernstein, M.D. practices out of the pain center of the BIDMC at One Brookline Place, Brookline. She is a classically trained neurologist, who then went on to specialize in treating migraines. She uses or has people in her office who use both Eastern and Western Medicine. There are no ringing phones, bright lights, Muzak, etc., etc. in her office. I love this lady! I’m down from almost daily pain to once or twice a month.

Dave Marcus August 21, 2013 at 11:00 am

Less Def Leppard, more Pantera and Slayer.

Joe August 21, 2013 at 11:16 am

Randy and I both get them, as does Michael. One thing that will really help in the long run as well as identifying triggers is identifying the symptoms that precede a migraine. For me it’s odd patterns on the edge of my vision, or a feeling not unlike the beginnings of motion sickness. For Michael, it’s a small ache behind the eye.

If you can see them coming and differentiate between a regular headache and a oncoming migraine, there are a number of medicines that will make life so much better.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: