I’ve had migraines ever since I was very small, I suspect around age 5/6 and I’m 24 now. These were diagnosed as abdominal migraines and I specifically remember my first, as a child on holiday in France with my family. I began to get aura, sharp headache and subsequently ended up vomiting at the beach. My father and siblings also get migraines so I think they were able to identify what was going on. Since then on average I get around two a month.
During secondary school it was pretty tough – I’d get a bad reaction to various lights in the building and not everyone was understanding. There’s a huge amount of people that believe that migraines are only ever just headaches. While at school I had a weekend job as a barista and waitress. During this time I had a migraine during work and my manager insisted I stayed. I tried to explain that carrying/making hot drinks while I have a migraine is not possible or safe.
Since being a child my symptoms have increased a little. I now get first aura then headache and during the headache I get numbness on one side from my baby fingers up my arm into my neck, face. I can even feel my gums and tongue going numb and then I vomit a lot. As you can imagine this isn’t ideal when carrying three lattes to the ladies on table two – so I cried and left of my own accord. I left this job not long after this event.
I made it successfully through secondary school and sixth form. Eventually to take an apprenticeship in IT for an established children’s charity head office. From apprentice I moved to full time administrator and then into a new role as a developer. However it wasn’t all plain sailing. In two years following each other I had a month or so where I was useless. I would have about 3/4 migraines a week knocking me out for more than a day at a time. It also left it impossible for me to work (computer screens + aura = 🙁 ). I was SO worried I’d be fired, I’d make the one and a half hour bus and train trip to work and within five minutes have to leave after the aura started. I was trying SO hard but I couldn’t stay. The stress of work combined with the fear of why is this happening and the upset of just constantly vomiting and being in pain I found really difficult.
Doctors couldn’t come up with a reason and prescribed me preventive medication, which I stopped taking as I didn’t like the effects it had on me. I just take a pill to try and stop the vomiting. During this time I finally found a doctor that was interested, he actively attended talks on migraines and I was so excited that there was finally someone that really was involved. He left the practice in the coming months unfortunately.
The migraines ran their course and I went back to normal. The next year this happened again. I can’t ever thank my employers enough for how they reacted. I was always supported, always believed even though they didn’t really understand. It was a really upsetting time in my life and actually makes me a little emotional to relay. I returned to work to have a health and safety assessment where I was bought a screen glare overlay for my monitor and given other suggestions.
I still struggle with my migraines as I’ve never been able to find an obvious trigger. I try my hardest to not let it make too much of an effect on my life (getting a migraine at a waterpark in Australia wasn’t ideal). Sometimes as long as you can see and you’re not vomiting you just need to push through.
The views and opinions expressed in this ‘Migraine story’ are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Migraine Trust.