Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Not that migraines aren't horrible enough without being a mom to top it off, I'm just saying that the combination is a recipe for several hours (or more depending on what type you get) of hell. And, with that I broach the subject of an impediment that I've lived with since 6th grade...
I'm not sure I even knew what was happening to me when I woke up in the middle of a dream where someone was pounding a hammer into my right temple that just wouldn't stop. Apparently, the onset of migraines for those who are so lovingly graced with the randomly striking disability, is quite common, particularly in pre-pubescent girls. Though it's not always the case, hormonal shifts are a factor in the beginning of a life of migraine, the onset of individual migraines and the end of the migraine era in an individual.
Though they were not frequent at the time, I continued to have the hellish headaches during my high school years. I had my first experience with "the aura" (not to be confused with the oracle) while running during track and field in gym class. Suddenly, it was like I was watching an episode of "Cops" where they fuzzify the faces of criminals so you won't recognized them.
This was my introduction to the first indicator of the onset of future headaches - a warning, if you will, to take my medicine, get home and get to bed. But as this was my first time to entertain the "aura"cle, I was pretty sure I had a brain tumor and was dying.
Most of you who will read this have experienced the same thing, so I don't really have to go into the symptoms that follow the aura, but suffice it to say, I'm generally out cold for several hours - completely non-functional.
Enter motherhood. I was lucky in that I don't get migraines while I'm pregnant with the exception of one at the very beginning and one at the very end, so for me, pregnancy was a slight reprieve. However, the stress of being a new mother, the inconsistent sleeping habits, etc. did not lend themselves to migraine prevention. So, just post pregnancy, the incidences of migraine increased dramatically.
Point of misery #1: Having a nursing baby with a migraine. NOT fun. Particularly because the prescription medication is not recommended for nursing mothers. So, you choose between vomiting uncontrollably until becoming dehydrated, or pumping breast milk ahead of time so you can bottle feed.
Point of misery #2: Finding a sympathetic doctor. After going through several doctors and trying several different medications, I settled on one that did the trick (i.e. let me sleep without feeling nauseous until my migraine passed - about 6-12 hours). This was not without years of testing new drugs and other methods of prevention like biofeedback and hearing from one doctor that I was "just unlucky" for not having found an effective medication quickly. (FYI - this was the beginning of the end of my assumption that all doctors are competent. Now they have to earn that status with me.)
Point of misery #3: Having moved across the country with two small children, I needed to find a doctor who could prescribe my (adequately effective) medication. Upon meeting a recommended doctor for the first time, with my 2 year old and 3 month old in tow, she frankly informed me that it would be better to put a bag over my head and go to bed, rather than take the medication that allowed me the luxury of sleep. Um...were you planning on watching my kids for me? I never went back to her. Consequently, one of my requirements for doctors is that they get migraines themselves or have a close family member or friend who gets them.
Point of misery #4: Being stuck somewhere (with or without kids) and having to drive home with incomplete vision. I was often scared to death that I would hit another car on my way home, but I had no choice. I had to get my kids home to safety or get home to my kids. The panic that ensued was horribly disconcerting. Public transportation is a lifesaver in this respect (I LOVE YOU NYC!!! - Best place to get a migraine EVER!!)
Point of misery #5: Having to take care of small kids while having a migraine. A migraine doesn't stop dependent kids from needing to be dropped off or picked up at school, saying "mommy, mommy, mommy" 50,000 times a minute or needing to be fed, or managed so they don't kill each other or stick a finger in a light socket. It's all fine, well and good if you have a nanny or live in close proximity to family or friends who are willing and/or available to help, but that has not been my lot in life.
There are oh, so many more things that are horrible about having migraines as a mom, not including losing hours of your already over-busy life or throwing up in a garbage can on the corner of 96th Street and Amsterdam because you had to pick up your kids from school during a migraine, but I am sure we all have our stories and I digress.
Luckily, My kids are much more self sufficient these days as teenagers, so these same issues don't plague me. I've settled on a routine that minimizes the occurrences of migraine as well. I sleep regularly and sufficiently, I eat and drink regularly, I exercise regularly and I avoid excess with alcohol, caffeine and aged cheeses. When I feel my neck is very stiff, I will take an anti-inflammatory and this usually will cut it off at the pass.
Many others are not quite as lucky. I've heard stories of people who can't hold a job because their migraines are so frequent and long-lasting. I've heard of others who have to go to the hospital every time they get a migraine. So, in some senses, I'm very fortunate.
Yet, I would never discount the hours and days that migraines took me away from my kids and how they endangered our lives. Even worse, there is the distinct possibility that I have passed on this "blessing" to two of my children, who have suffered sporadically from headaches that suspiciously reeked of migraine (not quite the legacy I was hoping for).
If you or someone you know gets migraines, what difficulties have you encountered in being a mom with migraines? How have you coped with these difficulties?