They really do. I should know--I've had three in the past week.
I can't think of one nice thing to say about them. Wait...nope. Nada. If someone told me that migraines happen when little invisible demons sit on your head and start using it as an anvil, I would believe it. If I were told that migraines were evil spirits slamming about in my skull, I would believe that too. Nothing that hurts so bad can be good.
If you've never, ever had a migraine, then you are incredibly lucky. I've had them since around 18, although I can remember one humdinger of a cluster headache(which is its own special form of hell) in 8th grade. And how is that for sucking, that I remember a freakin' headache from when I was thirteen, but I can't remember if I ate breakfast?
Most of my migraines start with the aura. Sufferers have different auras, but mine are mostly the flashing light sort, like if you look into a bright light and then look away. At first I just have that sensation, like I just had a flashbulb go off near my eyes, and it is merely annoying. I then start to have visual hallucinations called fortification spectra or teichopsia--fancy words for flashing squiggly lines. Pretty quickly I start to feel as though I am blind in one eye, and the pain hasn't even started. That steam roller happens about thirty minutes after the aura goes away.
When the pain hits, you don't want to move. It hurts when you move. There may be throbbing of the head, or sensitivity to light, or both. My head starts to feel a little squishy, and if I press on my skull there's a momentary pause in the pain. Except that I can't keep up the pressure, and when I remove my fingers, the pain slams into me again. Ice packs help sometimes; they numb things a bit. Heating pads help with the muscle tension; I find myself clenching my teeth together sometimes, just to fight through, until I could get home. I used to just lay in bed in my darkened room, suffering. No more.
I got mad at the migraines. It sounds kind of silly, to be mad at a seemingly random health condition. I was missing work, which is stressful enough. I was missing weddings, and birthday parties, and dancing. Fun stuff. Things that I wanted to see. I was missing my own life because of these horrible migraines.
And that would simply not do.
So I went to see a doctor. I got medication. Mouth guards. I got injections. Nerve blocks. I got MRIs and CT scans, to eliminate other possible causes. Most importantly, I got information. Not always good information, because back then, doctors knew next to nothing about migraines. Lucky for me, there was lots of research going on, and I was able to hear about the results. I started keeping track of when my migraines were happening, what time of day, etc. Most of my migraines, it turns out, are hormonal, but I also have them due to stress, or changes in barometric pressure, or allergies.
Armed with that information, I started experimenting with what I thought might work. I talked to other people, people I didn't even know, which was difficult, but necessary. I was even a "Migraine Mentor", a program that Astra Zeneca(an extremely large pharmaceutical company) had begun, so I could talk to even more people, in different parts of the country, about their migraines. It seemed like everyone who experienced migraines had a way of dealing with them that didn't necessarily involve medication. One lady even told me that she put her feet in the toilet, because the cold water shocked the migraine away!
Slowly, I started getting things under control, even with all the other ailments I've had, like Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. I went days without migraines, then a couple of months. My way may not work for everyone, but it's worked for me. I stopped most of the medications over the years, and now just deal with good old Excedrin and an extra cup of coffee. The important thing for me is that the migraines don't win. As long as I am able to fight my way through to the other side, I call it a victory.
Do you have migraines? If so, how do you deal with them?