The cause of this week's migraines: the very real possibility that my Mother is trying to kill my Father.
It happened last Sunday evening, when these things always happen. Mum ‘accidentally’ left a pan of olive oil on the hob. We were all minding our own Gin and Tonics when a strange smell sifted through the flat. Before you could say Tanqueray Ten the kitchen was filled with noxious plumes of billowing black smoke. Being the man of the house my Dad raced into the kitchen to take the pan off the hob before it caught fire, but he forgot to hold his breath, so coughed, which meant he inhaled the noxious smoke. Fatal mistake.
A little history about my Dad – he is a bionic man. He’s had pneumonia 8 times in 18 months, he has a folded lung from Asbestos exposure in the Royal Navy, in 2008 he had part of a lung removed, he’s had 15 general anesthetics, there is scarcely a part of his body that hasn’t been replaced. Six months ago he had an operation on his stomach, he’s just had skin cancer removed from his face, and this is the man, the one recovering from pneumonia, who inhaled the smoke. Uh oh. Did you know that what usually kills people in fires isn’t the flames but the smoke? But we all thought nothing of it. Dad gave us a lecture on fire safety, opened every single window and door to fumigate the flat and Mum continued to cook the traditional Sunday Roast. Though, and this is the big clue, while she was stirring the gravy she looked at Dad and said nonchalantly, “Darling, when did you say your life insurance was up?” Do I need more proof that she’s up to something???
Anyway, next morning it became apparent that Dad had suffered pretty serious smoke damage to his lungs and sinus. We whisked him off to his lung specialist who considered admitting him to hospital. Dad came home, however, inhaling steroids, on all sorts on drugs and with lungs that seemed to rattle with each breath and with the worst cough you ever heard. Mum ‘claimed’ to feel terribly guilty. I banned her from the kitchen as my suspicions grew.
But what does all this have to do with migraines? I’m just about to get to that. So, my Agatha Christie obsessed brain was already working overtime. I felt a shadow of one of my less usual right-sided pounding migraines, which I hate, so took a cocktail of drugs and hoped that a good nights sleep would prevent the migraine from kicking in and from having to take any more Triptans. Taking too many Triptans (acute migraine medicine) can, conversely, often lead to migraines and give you what is called Medication Over Use Headache. In essence they actually give you a migraine if you take too many. It’s not fair I know.
Anyway, I was in a beautifully deep sleep when suddenly I was awoken by the sound of Dad violently coughing up blood. I then heard Mum cry, “Call Victoria!” In my over active Writer’s imagination this meant my poor Dad was coughing up pints of blood and the “Call Victoria!” was my now remorseful mother realizing she had gone too far and that I was required to call the ambulance, that was urgently needed to save my Dad’s life. Had she stabbed him? In one swift movement that surprised even myself (honestly, it was like one of those slow motion sequences out of Mission Impossible) I leapt out of bed, grabbed my phone, turned on the lights, pulled on my glasses and my pink fluffy dressing gown (just like Tom Cruise) and raced into my parents' bedroom. My fingers had already started to dial 999.
But what I found was not a room splattered in blood and lungs, but my Dad sitting comfortably on the edge of the bed, coughing yes, and my Mum sitting next to him tenderly patting his back. It turns out she had in fact said, “Can’t you go and cough in the bathroom so you don’t wake up Victoria”. A Mother’s love knows no bounds. I think Dad had told her to piss off. But there had been no mention of ambulances or anything. No blood.
But, the second I had done my Mission Impossible leap out of bed move, it felt as if someone had punched me in the right side of head. I’ve never had a migraine onset quite as fast and quite as violent. I guess it was a combination of being woken so suddenly, and jumping up so violently (it has nothing, whatsoever, to do with having a completely overactive, hysterical imagination that will win me Oscars one day!) If I had had an uninterrupted nights sleep the two days of right-sided migraine would not have developed.
As it was, I stood in my parents bedroom, realized that no one was dying, and the massive right sided pounding took hold and I fell onto the bed next to Dad who resumed his hacking cough. I explained to Mum what I’d thought had occurred. She did feel genuinely bad and spent the rest of the night nursing both me and Dad. So the moral is two-fold: do not leave heating olive oil unattended and, if you get migraines, keep to a regular sleep pattern!
As to whether Mum is trying to kill Dad, she has subsequently discovered that his life insurance lapsed when he turned 75 (two years ago) so I suspect mysterious fires will miraculously cease. But I shall be keeping a close eye on her…
|My parents, once again in the kitchen. I think the look on Mum's face says it all...|
Mere anxiety had not been my migraine trigger this week and you would be guilty of Migrainism* for making that assumption (for it often takes a lot more than simply being ‘anxious’ to trigger a migraine) though one can be forgiven for being nervous about potential murder. Interrupted sleep caused this week’s spiral of migraines. Disturbed sleep patterns are a well-known cause of migraine. Too much sleep, too little sleep; it’s a minefield. Office workers often get migraines at the weekend when they have a lie-in. If you listen to the following radio interview by Pain Concern you will hear the Medical Director (who wears a Bow Tie) of the National Migraine Centre talking about this phenomenon, as well as a sufferer explain the role sleep plays in his migraines. (P.S this is also a really great general over-view on migraines with some handy tips, listen to it!) This month's edition of the Migraine Trusts magazine ‘Migraine News’ also has an interesting article about sleep and migraine.
Talking of loving Mums, this radio interview also features a lovely American Mother who regularly gets three-day migraines. She has two small children and they’ve worked out a system where the kids make scrapbooks and take photos of what they’re doing during the week so they can re-live the events she’s missed when her migraines have gone. This kind of brought tears to my eyes. I think this woman, whoever she is, is truly amazing; so humble and uncomplaining. I also think that the level of pain and disruption to her life is unacceptable. I wish I could help her, I wish someone could help her. Migraines should not be allowed to cause this much disruption! End of rant.
*Migrainism or being a Migrainist is when you treat someone differently because they suffer from migraine.
Next time: Top Tips and My Migraine Rituals