The Why of “Wrapped In Agony”

So you know…
I wrote the previous post, “Wrapped In Agony”, while in the worst part of a very bad migraine. Wearing sunglasses, just as I am wearing them now. Because the migraine is not done with me yet, though it’s not as bad as it was last night.

If you have never had a migraine, you cannot know how bad they can be. You cannot understand why the phone is turned off, why I do not call, or answer your messages.

“Wrapped in Agony” was my attempt to boil it down to the most visceral of feelings. “Migraine” is just a word. Many people equate a migraine with a bad headache, but it’s not at all “just a bad headache.” A migraine affects many parts of the body simultaneously, and no two migraines are the same, nor do they affect any two people the same.

For me, a migraine is virtually always accompanied by severe light & sound sensitivity. It is as if I’m suddenly blessed with supersonic hearing, and even the tiniest of sounds, things I never would have noticed before, are so loud they cause a great increase in the magnitude of pain in my head, so great that it ripples through my body & muscles I have worked hard to relax suddenly twitch & jump in spasm.

It is the same with light, so I walk around with sunglasses on & my eyes half closed, carefully turning off lights before I walk into a room, and trying to never look into the fridge – that mass of white & glass & light is blindingly painful. I become like the cat – I can see plenty well in the dark.

There is also an aspect of migraines that’s not well understood by those who don’t suffer through them: photo- & phono- phobia. Light & sound themselves trigger fear & anxiety, perhaps as some sort of defense mechanism. The phobia usually turns up in me before the actual sensitivity does, so perhaps it is an “early warning system” of the body – to get out, get away, from the source of the sound or light before it turns to incapacitating pain. I know I have gotten more than a few odd looks when I’ve ran from a room with my hands over my ears.

With the waves of pain intensifying from the sounds we never notice & the lights we usually need, comes wave after wave of nausea, and at times, vomiting.

The pain itself is hard to describe, for yes, it is a headache, but there’s also a terrible sense of pressure in my head & ears, and the ringing in my ears is so loud, but it’s not really ringing, it’s the sound of the blood rushing & pounding in the veins & arteries in my head.

Sometimes, ice on the back of my neck can help – that is why I was laying in the unfortunately hard snow on the deck (and the dog has been going potty out front, so the deck seemed safer!). One ice pack was used up, and one was in someone else’s room & not cold at all, so laying in the snow seemed like a reasonable idea when all else failed.

Yes, there are many medications for migraines, and once in a blue moon one will help. No, doctors don’t know what actually causes migraines, though weather changes, hormonal flux, and food sensitivities can all be “triggers.” It seems that in me, one trigger happens to be wheat. It’s taken me distressingly long to figure this out.

The trigger for this migraine? Eggplant parmesan. Clearly. Wheat & cheese, a potent combination. With “leaky gut syndrome,” the allergans in them leaked their way into my bloodstream, making for one of the worst migraines in a while. Right up there with last week’s migraine, which I initially blamed on hormones & weather but now also realize was instigated by the oh-so-good Asiago cheese bread & black cherry smoothie that was such a treat at Panera’s after I finally won the Battle for the Driveway.

For most people, food is just food. For me, food is not just food. Food can be poison, bringing on days of misery.

Lesson learned.
(Migraine, you can go away now…)

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