Living with migraines

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NPR’s Patti Neighmond did a story on Morning Edition about newly released guidelines for migraines. She sums up the report as:

If you suffer disabling headaches, go to your doctor to see if you are actually suffering from migraines and if you are a candidate for preventive treatment.

When is a headache a migraine? MPR’s Jon Hallberg:

Migraines are just very different. They last longer, they hurt more, people feel nauseous. They may be on one side of the head, not both. They can have light sensitivity, sound sensitivity. It’s just a miserable experience.

Even if you get a diagnosis, managing migraines isn’t easy. Not all medications work for all people, overuse of medications can cause “rebound” headaches, and Dr. Elizabeth Loder, the chief of the Division of Headache and Pain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said to Kerri Miller last year that migraine is a “stigmatized disorder” possibly because when you get a migraine, people think that they “know what a headache is” and that “works against an understanding that migraines are a severe illness.”

Paula Kamen, migraineur and author of “All In My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache” described having a migraine this way:

It’s a totally absurd experience when you have something that is very disabling but then other people don’t see it as a disability…(Migraine) is a consuming thing with the pain, the self-blame and trying to find a treatment for it.

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host