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OK, I Have Migraine; Now What?

Cartoon sketch of a person handing three balloons to another man. The balloons read "You're On the Team!!" "Lucky You!!" and "Join the Fun!!" The man receiving the balloons simply stares at them. Illustration by Earle Levenstein.

To continue the gripping tale of my lifetime as target of a relentless, undiagnosed, assault by an army of aches, pains, nightmares, anxieties and internal disorder.

Then—you'll recall—Bingo! I hit the jackpot. No red flag; my brain just went into business for itself; a blizzard of thoughts; words; scenes; voices. Out of control; unhinged.

To my Internist it was a stroke; classic; ordered an MRI.

Long story short; the MRI was negative and an hour later I sat watching a neurologist examine the image, review my medical history, then listen and nod as I related the story of my life.

He smiled reassuringly.

You have migraine; it might scare the hell out of you, but it doesn't kill. That frightening episode was a deja vu; just migraine saying hello.

Upside? Finally; in my fifties; I'd been diagnosed. Downside? I had migraine; not simply a murderous headache, but an affliction that attacks just about every part of the body.

My questions?

Is there a cure for migraine? Answer: fageddaboutit, kid; you've got it and that's that. Migraine's been around for centuries; still waiting for the magic bullet.

Did I inherit migraine? Not me. In my family, I'm the Lone Ranger.

Treatment? Lots of drugs floating around; mainly mitigating the pains of migraine headaches. The mob waiting in line? Wired up seven days a week, ready to rumble. Migraine never sleeps.

Frankly; far as I know, migraine's never been seen. Certainly, never subjected to research. Not a particle; a speck anywhere in our blood. Clearly, those of us diagnosed with migraine share the very same symptoms; migraine is real; it's not imagined. Problem is, we know what it isn't; we just don't know what it is.

Where do I come out?

Well, for me; personally; diagnosed with migraine and living with migraine forever, I have more than a suspicion that migraine attacks aren't random. They don't just come out of the blue. There's a relationship at work; a sequence; that triggers the action; and enough time has passed so that I've become certain that there's a connection between the feeling I've referred to and the attack that follows.

For me, the trigger is an emotionally-loaded date; a significant birth; a death; unexpressed feelings; an unresolved issue; being blind-sided by not remembering the anniversary of a heart-wrenching event.

My experience; nothing can trigger a migraine for me more surely than me, myself; and the only way to address that is to be aware and engaged; to deal with my issues immediately; now. Later is too late.

Finally; the big question: Is a migraine treatment on the horizon?

Well, if—as I believe—it's me who lights the fuse, then it just has to be me who cuts migraine off at the pass.

Can I do it?

Nearly. Almost.

I mean, really close.

But…no cigar.


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