Today, the three little girls will not be woken up by a flood of kisses. Nobody comes, only the alarm clocks ring one after the other. The youngest decides to come and see. She arrives slowly, touches the sheets, feels the bed. Supermom is there, under the duvet. But she is devastated. The kryptonite has hit her. Like a meteorite, it fell on her head in the middle of the night. So the battle has begun without the heroine being ready to fight. She moves weakly. She makes a sound, then another. Everything is confused. The little girl understands. She knows: the migraine has struck again.
Dad finally arrives to help her fight it. Quickly, a glass of water, a pill, and a biscuit to make it all go away, to regain strength, to avoid nausea. Now we have to wait, wait for the desired effect. But time passes and Dad has other battles to fight, and the girls have a school to go to.
So Supermom gets up. She feels like an alien on this planet. She understands every word but not the meaning of the sentences. She hears sounds that others cannot distinguish. She smells odors that others do not. The light seems so bright! You have to turn everything off. You have to whisper. No more humming. “No metallic noise, please! “. All her senses are heightened. She smells and feels everything, to the point of disgust. She only wants to go to bed. But she has to drive. But she has to smile. Act as if nothing had happened. That’s what’s at stake: not showing weakness. After all, they are all Supermoms here. They too have overcome difficulties this morning. A whim here, an argument there. The breakfasts to prepare and be on time, above all! Don’t fail, show your energy!
Just a few days
So Supermom smiles. She is quick not to talk too much. The mask of pain betrays her. “How are you ? Are you sure you’re ok ? “Yes, yes. I’ll be fine”. She’ll go home, lie down in the dark. In three days it will be over. Three days is how long it takes for the kryptonite to wear off.
Why this text
I wrote this text while participating in a writer’s workshop. It reflects my day-to-day life as a migraine sufferer...
I wrote this text as I suffer from chronic migraine, a headache disorder with recurrent headaches that are moderate to severe.
Episodes usually affect one side of my head, like a knife stabbed in one of my eyes, with a pulsating pain, and last from one to three days and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with my daily activities. My body slows down, I cannot think, barely talk, unable to understand when someone explains something to me. I feel useless, diminished, it is like a handicap as I usually have the full spectrum of symptoms: nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. I cannot stand anything, from perfume to food smells, lights even inside my home, standing is difficult, leaning forward is unbearable, everything provoke even more pain.
Some people affected have aura which can be a short period of visual disturbance that signals that the headache will soon occur. Occasionally, aura can occur with little or no headache following, but not everyone has this symptom. Just after giving birth of my 3rd child, I had a migraine with aura which I could describe as if I was looking through water: my eyes could only see “wavy” things, the outlines of objects – or people – took wavy forms… Some aura can also be flashes of light or blind spots, or other disturbances, such as tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg and difficulty speaking, but I have not experienced these.
Who has migraine attack?
Migraine is believed to be due to a mixture of environmental triggers and genetic factors. About two-thirds of cases run in families (my grandmother, and my mother were also subject to migraine attacks). Changing hormone levels plays a major role for me (at least one migraine every month!), and I read that migraine affects two to three times more women than men. The risk of migraine usually decreases during pregnancy and after menopause – I am getting there, fingers crossed!
How migraine attacks occur
The mechanisms are not fully known. They are, however, believed to involve the nerves and blood vessels of the brain. Medicine tries to treat the symptoms rather than the causes, as they are difficult to understand at the moment.
The migraine attack can be described in 4 stages:
One or two days before a migraine, you might notice subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine, including:
- Mood changes, from depression to euphoria
- Food cravings (chocolate!)
- Neck stiffness
- Increased urination
- Fluid retention
- Frequent yawning
For some people, an aura might occur before or during migraines. Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system. They’re usually visual but can also include other disturbances. Each symptom usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes and can last up to 60 minutes.
Examples of migraine auras include:
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
A migraine usually lasts from 4 to 72 hours if untreated. How often migraines occur varies from person to person. Migraines might occur rarely or strike several times a month.
During a migraine, you might have:
- Pain usually on one side of your head, but often on both sides
- Pain that throbs or pulses
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
After a migraine attack, you might feel drained, confused and washed out for up to a day. Some people report feeling elated. Sudden head movement might bring on the pain again briefly.