Breaking the silence: Destigmatizing Medical Conditions
See it through my eyes
As a child, I had headaches but I didn’t think much of it. When I was in grade five, it was a known thing that I’d get a headache by 3:30 every day.
When I was a little older, I went to the eye doctor. He was checking my eyes and asked me if I was getting headaches to which I responded the affirmative. He told me that those are migraines based on my sensitivity to the light. He suggested that I stay away from certain foods like nuts, seeds, cheese and wines.
Although I became more cautious and tried to avoid those food items, I was too young to understand the magnitude of what the doctor had told me.
Navigating in the dark
When I was in tenth or eleventh grade, my migraines increased dramatically. I couldn’t go a week without missing days of school. They started to come more frequently and increasing in length and intensity.
My pediatrician referred me to see a neurologist who conducted various exams to make sure that there was nothing else serious going on.
My mother wanted me to hold off on starting a prescription medicine. My uncle is a doctor and my aunt gets migraines too. We sent them the prescriptions to look at. They suggested trying to find another solution as this one can make you become more forgetful.
By my first year of CEGEP, I was experiencing waves of extended periods of time where I’d be fine and then missing more than three weeks at a time because of migraines. They became so debilitating that I was bed-bound. My migraines lasted more between 8-12 hours.
Migraines also include experiencing nausea, vertigo and distortion of sight. Usually I’ll experience tell-tale signs that a migraine is setting in.
It was at this point where I started taking medications. They help decrease the frequency and intensity of my migraines. It also causes side effects like brain fog which can be from the medication or the migraines.
Migraines ≠ headaches
People don’t understand the magnitude and implications of having chronic migraines. I will often be told to take Tylenol and move on with my life. This is a pretty universal response that those who experience migraines will receive.
If there was one thing I wish people would know, it would be that migraines and headaches are not the same thing. Migraines can be debilitating. When I get migraines, my eyes and head start hurting. Lights and noise become unbearable. I need to just lay down until it passes.
The name and all identifying details have been withheld for privacy.
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The following information is from the World Health Organization