It's been almost 10 years since I had my first migraine. In my experience, they're one of the most misunderstood, most mysterious ailments you could have. No one - doctors, scientists, laymen - can tell you what triggers them or where they come from. Personally, I have thought mine come from, at any point over those 10 years, caffeine, dehydration, barometric pressure changes, stress, tightened muscles, and tannins. But, what triggers them in each person is little better than an educated guess.
I had my most recent migraine on Tuesday, very ill-timed just 30 minutes before I was heading to Opera in the Park in Central Park. I went but had to leave an hour before the performance started because a second migraine came quickly and I was feeling nauseas and exhausted.
Before I quit drinking any caffeine in early 2001, I was getting a migraine about once a month. After I quit, they slowed to about once every three or four months. Lately though, in the last six months, I've been getting them every four to six weeks again, which is simply way too often.
There is so much many non-sufferers don't understand about migraines. First is just how debilitating they are. The pain is bad enough, but they can affect eyesight (I temporarily lose some of my vision), make you tired (I get completely exhausted for 12-24 hours after one hits), make you nauseas, delirious. They become all-consuming in a way I have not experienced other pain. You can't just "get over it" or ignore it.
Another key misunderstanding is when they come. People can try to blame migraine sufferers for not taking care of themselves, not getting enough sleep, drinking too much alcohol. But these are most likely not triggers (though, with the latter, it could be a trigger if you're drinking wine). Sufferers of migraines come in all shapes, sizes and lifestyles. People who operate on four hours of sleep, do tons of drugs and eat terribly avoid them while others who are rested and eat nutritional meals, avoiding drugs and alcohol, are plagued by them. Monica Seles is one of the most well-known migraine sufferers.
Finally, there is no cure. There are some medicines that seem to mask the pain or can stop some of the pain from starting. I've only found Advil Migraine to have a good effect.
I'll be writing more about migraines - and the most recent articles and research on them. While other medical conditions get all of the donations and funding, I'm hoping that more people will become aware of this debilitating condition and will help more with their hearts and their pocketbooks.