This is your mind on . . .


MRI of a Full-Blown Migraine

Today’s Topic: Brains and How They Sometimes Don’t Work

Isn’t it beautiful? Looks like something that could have been done by one of our contemporary artists, depicting a monster of some sort, branching out, seeking entry any way that it can. The casual observer, having no idea what she is looking at, could be mesmerized by the successive branches, the way that they crawl, unabated. In a way, it reminds me of Sigourney Weaver’s Alien: not in its form but in its relentlessness. If only I had one of those wonderful guns that she had in one of those movies (don’t remember if it was 1, 2, or 3) so that I could blast the living hell out of it; of course, that would mean blasting the living hell out of my head . . .

But if you’ve ever experience a real migraine, you might concur that that option might not seem like a bad idea.

I’ve suffered from migraines since I was a teenager. I’ve gone through periods during which they have been debilitating, lasting for weeks, and then periods in which they have been dormant. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. Medical science will tell you that women suffer from migraines more than men; I would like to add that that is probably because women have to deal with inanity more than men, but we shall not go there today as I do not have the stamina for that argument.

Common triggers for migraines include caffeine, but caffeine is also used as a curative for migraines. Explain the logic in that. One time, while my doctors were trying to find something to relieve the pain of my migraines they gave me something called cafergot, which made me so deathly ill that I threw up for hours, which tends to defeat the purpose of alleviating pain (have you ever thrown up with a migraine? Just try bending over with a migraine . . .).

Other triggers can include chocolate, peanuts, red wine, stress, sleeplessness, certain fragrances, bright lights, MSG, pot, and loud noises.

I love peanut butter and good chocolate. I suffer from bouts of insomnia. I used to work with a woman who bathed herself in Giorgio perfume. My dogs know when I have a migraine and bark in unison at air. I love Chinese food, which usually contains MSG. When I worked, I never turned on the overhead lights, and always caught crap about it because no one believed that it triggered my headaches; they just thought that I was being eccentric, which I am, but I wasn’t.

One of the worst migraines I ever had lasted for weeks and weeks. I imagined the worst scenarios. I had a CT scan of my head, and a CT scan of my sinuses to see if perhaps they were impacted. That was one of the most painful tests I have ever endured, mostly because I was in pain from the migraine, and the test involved putting myself face down for the test . . . lovely. In the end, the doctors decided that the migraine was probably caused by my body readjusting itself post-partum (I had just had my second child), and my hormones were out of whack.

But about four years ago, I finally found a pain management group that treats my back pain and my migraines. I’m now on a maintenance medication to try to prevent the migraines, and then I have a relief medication that I can take at the onset of a migraine. This usually works, the key word being usually. Sometimes, though, there are still the rare ones that knock me off my feet for a few days.

This one now is the result of being off my maintenance medication for a week (a snafu in my mail order for my refills), and compounded stress. In fact, I just realized that I’m typing with squinted eyes, which means that I probably should sign off for now. I just wanted to share the beautiful artwork with you and let you know that yes, I’m around, but now, I won’t be writing one of my usual blongs.

More sometime later. Peace.