I've been casually throwing about the term 'migraineur' without a second thought. It's just a handy word and, because I'm quite lazy, far quicker than saying "I get migraines", "I suffer with migraines" when talking about... migraines.
When I've been doing the odd bout of public speaking I have noticed that the medical professionals in the crowd, and the charities I was talking about/to, slightly wince when I used the word 'migraineur'. Why?
Some-one with Diabetes calls themselves a Diabetic. Though, that is the only equivalent I can think of off the top of my head. A person suffering with Epilepsy doesn't say 'I'm an Epileptuer', do they? I guess they say 'I'm an Epileptic'? Though (wait, another example just occurred!) people with Autism might be described as Autistic.
The above diseases do, I believe, have similarities to migraine. There is no cure, that I know of, for any and all have massive buckets of stigma attached. So, using the above examples, why is it so wrong to say - this is a person with migraine, a migraineur?
Well, I was really forced to think about my casual sprinkling of the term here and there in our recent Migraine Monologues Book Club chat. We had read 'A Brain Wider Than The Sky' by Andrew Levy - and he refers to himself as a migraineur throughout the book. One of the Book Club members drew our attention to this - and a fascinating discussion about the term began. Some realised that, like me, they'd been using it without really thinking about what the term encapsulates. Saying 'I'm a migraineur' slightly defines you, it irrevocably associates you with the condition. When you're in the throws of Chronic Migraine it does feel like there is no line between where you (as a person) end and the migraine begin. But if you were to introduce yourself at a party, what is the very first thing you'd say to a stranger? Would it really be "Hi, I'm Victoria. I'm a migraineur"? This would be like every alcoholic in the world introducing themselves straight up as "Hi, I'm Bob. I'm an alcoholic." I'm fairly confident this doesn't happen.
For we are more than the conditions that pervade our lives. When you've spent three days solid in bed with a migraine, however, you can't begin to imagine ever having outside interests or time/energy to do the things that you enjoy, that make up you. But there's the key... you do have other interests, hopes, books you love, TV shows you're addicted to, friends etc that have nothing to do with migraine. And those are all quite shallow examples of what makes up a person. So, defining yourself as a migraineur confines you to one aspect of your life.
Since our Book Club chat I've been quite careful to say "I'm someone who suffers with migraines", or "I'm a migraine patient"...or anything else than migraineur. And it hasn't been as hard as I thought and somehow, does make me feel a bit removed from the migraines - as well as more eloquent. I do think, however, that I'll soon slip back into using migraineur as it's just so damn handy - and I know, in myself, that I'm more than this girl who gets lots of migraines.
I decided to look up the phrase and was, actually, pleasantly surprised by what the Merriam Webster online dictionary had to say:
Definition of MIGRAINEUR
: an individual who experiences migraines
Origin of MIGRAINEUR
probably from migraine + -eur (as in entrepreneur)
First Known Use: 1970
I've decided to believe (though this is probably not accurate at all) that the word entrepreneur has really been tacked onto the word migraine. I, therefore, am a migraine entrepreneur - venturing out into pastures unknown, researching this condition, trying to live my life to the fullest despite what the buggery M throws my way. So migraine + entrepreneur = migraineur. If this is so, then I'm happy to call myself a migraineur. Are you?