INTRO


Imagine you are a young, blond, slim, attractive, popular, funny, rich, normal woman. You are sitting on the train on your way home from a long day’s work modeling at Vogue. Out of nowhere you suddenly start to smell something very strange, like rotting egg sandwiches. In fact this smell makes you feel quite sick. And will the man sitting next to you please turn down his f’ing Ipod nano! Why has he suddenly turned it up so loud that it’s as if Madonna herself is screaming in your ear holding a megaphone with her scary biceps? You are so busy focusing on the sick egg smell, and the fact that all the noises in the train seem strangely amplified, that you do not notice the large mean man in the black cloak sweep up behind you and viciously ram a dagger into the back of your skull! Oh dear. And then Mr Evil Cloak Man just runs away leaving his massive dagger in the back of your skull. Obviously this starts to hurt a little. Then, his malicious accomplice, the well known torturer Midget Man, jumps up and rams a steel vice around your head and starts tightening it. The dagger was bad enough Midget Man, is this really necessary? He nods and turns the vice one more notch. Your head is literally being crushed, and as typical on public transport, no one is moving a finger to help you. Your eyeball may start bleeding at this point, in fact it might be about to pop out, so could someone please switch the lights off and call your Mum?
 


Ladies and gentleman, I have just described in a metaphorical, alliterative and hopefully amusing manner, how my migraines feel. This is all true; except that I am not a model at Vogue.

Yes, this is going to be a series of monologues about migraines. But don’t stop reading. It’s going to be deeply moving but also terribly funny. Maybe educational. Maybe there will be songs. In an ideal world these monologues would be performed by famous actresses on stages across the globe, à la The Vagina Monologues, whose title I have borrowed (thank you Eve Ensler for your permission which you have not actually granted but I’m sure you would, as I also have a vagina). In my dream world these  monologues would also be part of a hugely successful sitcom/docudrama I’ve written on Chanel 4, or NBC, that catapults my burgeoning writing career into the stratosphere. Thus my years of pain and plight lead to, and amount to… something.

Pointless pain.
And this brings me to, perhaps, one of the most annoying things about migraine. It is a totally pointless pain. See footnote at bottom*. Normally pain is the body's response to an incident. For example, a little child accidentally cuts off his little finger trying to be helpful whilst he cuts up carrots for his mother. He is so focused on carrot chopping he may not notice he has cut off his finger (this is vaguely based on a true story I heard once when I was 7.) But thank God for the body's natural pain response that alerts him to the fact that something pretty major has just gone wrong and needs medical attention. Said little helpful boy will wail, his mother will sweep him and bloody finger top up, take them to the emergency room where they will be fixed and the pain relieved. Not so with migraine. 

There is no accidental dagger cut that causes migraine pain. There is no brain tumor that causes the pain of migraine. There is no sinus blockage that causes migraine. There is no…. you get the point. And I know this will sound mighty odd but I have actually wished - dare I say - kind of tried to make a deal with God once, that I had a benign brain tumour, as this would account for the totally pointless pain I was experiencing, and would help people other than my Mum believe how debilitating this is; and then I could have an operation and never be in pain again. But with a migraine you are in total agony for up to 72 hours (on a bad day) and at the end of it you have nothing to show for what you have been through. No arm in plaster for your friends to sign, no cool operation scar, nothing. It has been a wasted, pointless, 72 hours of your life that you can not have back. Sadly, migraine is a complex brain malfunction that even top neurologists and scientists around the world can not fully explain. Luckily, migraine is not lethal (though those who've had severely acute attacks have, at times, wished otherwise), but this means it hasn’t - thus far - received the research funding it deserves. Obviously this blog will change that overnight. 

I have had migraines (single or plural, capital letter or not, I don’t know?) since I was 18. I’m now 31, though if you have a cute, financially successful, tall, handsome son you can tell him I’m 26. On these pages I will chronicle my journey with migraine over the next year. Join me.


How to enjoy Migraine Monologues:

  • Start at the HOME page for the monologues (blog) proper. 
  • Go to TRIED & TESTED page for my treatments past and present, useful info and recommended reading.
  • Go to THE BASICS for links to posts about basic migraine treatments, theories and advice.
  • Go to ABOUT to be nosey. 

Please see the handy links (top right) for more medical info and for places to go for help if you get migraine. 

P.S. Please seek help if you have persistent headaches of migraines. Don't be ‘British’ and suffer in silence. It's just stupid to suffer in silence. If your G.P. is not helpful, get another one, or get thee to a migraine clinic. Now. Go. 

*Footnote: At the time of printing this information was correct. As far as I know there is no known cure for migraine. And as several junior doctors and G.P.’s have reluctantly informed me “Um, Victoria, I think you know way more about Migraine than I do”, so if there was a cure I think I would know about it. Also, if you think it’s scary that I could know more than your G.P. about migraine you’re right, it is scary and it shouldn’t be that way. But I will be dealing with the medical world and my many weird, varied and freaky experiences with them at another point, obviously in an amusing and heartfelt manner.

Victoria Saxton
Formerly New York, now reluctantly back in London.

10 comments:

  1. Yep... My doctor keeps reccomending I become a doctor or pharmacologist, am however beginning a degree in psychology in september so working my way there. I now tell me doctor how to treat me for the most part. Rather that than not have a clue what was going on like in the early days of my headaches when I was given tramadol without having it explained to me what it was!

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    1. Hello again, yes we are the experts of our migraines and we must never forget that! It really does make such a huge difference doesn't it when you understand what medications and treatment plans you are on and why! Good luck with your studies.... x

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    2. Yea I have to describe my migraines to others in a similar manner. Usually I result to telling them that it feels as if a butcher knife if in the back of my neck and head and that someone is taking a rather large bolt and is driving it into my right temple with a hammer. That usually gets the point across. I don't always feel nausea but will get it when riding in a car or driving or even getting up off the couch too fast during a migraine. The sound is terrible though. I generally do not play the radio in the car or turn the television on at all I just want quiet, silence if possible. I am very sensitive to light. I definitely am impaired when I try to drive during a migraine even at night. Headlights are killer. I wear glasses and I got transition lenses at my last visit to help with sunlight but they don't help in the dark. Well best of wishes. Here's to Good Days!!!

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    3. Hi Kaitlin! Very good description there! Have you heard of Thera Specs? I'll try and find the website a fellow migraineur and her husband set up the company to prevent and help with her migraines..... God I don't know how you even think about driving during a migraine. I also can't even contemplate watching TV - I need to be in a dark room, just listening to an audio book - can't bear music. As you say, here's to good days ahead! xx

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  2. Victoria,
    I just found this site and I want to say thank you. My migraines are a little different. I call it my migraine season because it will start at the end of my menstrual cycle in any given month and it won't stop until the next cycle begins 28 or so days later. I've created a pain scale from 1-5 where a 1 is the constant dull ache that still keeps me functional to a 5 that is the "oh god kill me please" type of pain that I deal with at random times throughout the month. I've been dealing with this for 8 years now and only in the last few years figured out the pattern. Like you, and other visitors to this site I have tried many medications and several doctors to try to find a "cure" but have come up with nothing. I can really relate to your experiences with migraine, especially wanting to write about it. A lot of people really don't understand how debilitating a migraine can be and this is such a good tool to educate people- even migraine sufferers. It's important to know that their are other people out their who literally feel my pain.

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    1. Hello Leah - wow it sounds like you have really been dealing with a lot over the last 8 years. But at least you have finally figured out the pattern and hopefully your pain trigger which I believe is a huge key. And as you say we have to keep going through all the different Dr's and Meds and solutions until we eventually find that right cocktails, blend of treatments and methods that give us a tiny bit of relief. And yes it is so nice to know that we're not alone isn't it! Since starting this blog I've become so much more open about telling people I have migraines and it's so interesting how nearly every person I meet has a story in some way - either a close relative has suffered or they ahve to. But unless you've had one yourself, or seen someone you love go through it....not quite the same is it! Do you live in the UK or USA? x

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  3. Victoria, every day I am reading a little more on here and there is always something that resonates with me. Today it's, 'Don't be so British!'. I have been guilty of this for so long! I can list my symptoms using medical terminology, but I can't remember actually trying to describe how a migraine feels since I was a tiny girl telling my mum it felt as though someone had pencils in my eyes and was pushing really hard. I pretty much demanded my recent neurology referral from my GP - it did not go down at all well and I left the surgery in tears because the doctor was horrible about it all (he didn't like the fact that I dared to suggest the next steps, I guess). I only did it because I have been BULLIED into it by two good friends who are themselves GPs lol. They have been appalled by the fact that I have never had an MRI, never been encouraged to try newly licensed meds etc. and in the end I was more scared of them than of the doctor ;-) I joke, of course; I am lucky to have such good friends. But here's the scary thing. I am generally assumed to be confident and outspoken. I stand up for myself and for others. But migraines have been part of my life for so long that I would no more have asked someone to get rid of them than asked to be 6' tall (I'm 5'2" - nearly, anyway). It has absolutely been something I have just accepted as my lot in life. And I feel embarrassed to make a fuss. Never mind the fact that I am completely incapable of doing ANYTHING for days on end - I sometimes don't even recognise my own face in the mirror or I cry because I know my mum is really important but I can't remember what she looks like. This community is really helping me through my first month on topiramate... I seriously feel like I am losing the plot, but reading some of your posts each day reminds me WHY I have to do this. I hope that, when you have your own bad days, it helps you to know what you have done for others xx

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  4. The Pointless Pain part pretty much brought me to tears. It sums up so very well how I feel about it. Thank you so very much for this entire blog.

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    1. You are more than welcome! Writing this blog has been an incredible experience for me - and therapeutic too! There is such a great community of migraineurs on-line/twitter etc and this blog has opened up that world to me.

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    2. Me too Cindy! It took the professionals 18 months to diagnose my chronic migraines. I was in a constant state of pain for all that time. They think that I was having so many migraines that they kept overlapping, and feeding the cycle of pain I was in. All they could tell me for all that time though was what "wasnt" wrong with me, after MRIs, scans, tests, tests and more tests. Very frustrating. I am thoroughly enjoying reading your website Victoria, its been the most helpful thing I have found in all my months of researching! Thank you for taking the time to do it xx

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