Migraines: Sally's story

goodtoknow fan Sally is a 37 year old mum who lives in Aylesbury, Bucks, and works for a local charity. Her daughter Rosie is 7. Here she tells her story about living and coping with regular migraines

goodtoknow fan Sally is a 37 year old mum of Rosie (7) who lives in Aylesbury, Bucks, and works for a local charity. Here she tells her story about living and coping with regular migraines.

I can vividly remember the first time I had a migraine attack. I was about 8 years old, and was watching TV with my family. I suddenly became aware of the fact that I could only see half of the images on TV, which was scary enough, but then when I looked around the room everything else was really distorted too. It was an incredibly scary experience. I was violently sick shortly afterwards and had to sleep in a dark room until the next day.

I'm now used to regular migraine attacks, although when I say used to that doesn't mean they ever get any easier or less disruptive. They take different forms - sometimes visual, sometimes a severe throbbing pain, sometimes just incredible nausea and sweating, and most recently abdominal migraines, which I've only just discovered even existed. These intense stomach aches follow the same pattern as my "normal" ones and are apparently quite common among migraine sufferers.

The good thing - if there is such a thing - about having regular migraines is that you get to know when one's on its way, and you can alleviate the severity. Mine usually start with a numbness in my left arm (I've convinced myself over the years that this means I'm having a stroke or brain haemorrhage or something equally) but apparently many other sufferers experience the same thing. Going straight into a dark room with a really sugary drink and some pills can usually stop it becoming unbearable.

What's become evident over the years is that stress is one of my major triggers - even rushing around because I'm a few minutes late can mean an attack an hour or so later. I can't say I've noticed that any particular foods are a trigger, although I'm a world champion chocoholic so maybe I've just chosen to ignore that bit! I think it must be a coincidence anyway....

My family and friends are used to my migraines now but it has been distressing for them to witness. I can become very disoriented and slur my speech, so have often been mistaken for having had a few too many. Sometimes I can't remember basic information, like my best friend's name, which can be scary but you get used to it after a while. My little girl Rosie, who's 7, knows how to deal with them now and just cuddles me until I've fallen asleep. What really makes me mad, is when other people say they have a migraine when it's obviously just a headache. Don't get me wrong, headaches are nasty, but they're not the same. I take comfort in the knowledge that allegedly migraines are more common among deep thinkers - Monet, Freud, Lewis Carroll, Elvis and Julius Caesar (to name a few) were apparently all hardcore migraine-sufferers. So next time I feel like an army of giant robots is trying to demolish my skull I'll remind myself it's a good thing. Sort of.

More help and advice

- A medical explanation of migraines - Watch our video on treating migraines - Anna's story: 'I thought I was having a stroke'


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