Imagine what it’s like to wake up every morning with a headache……
My morning is like this, every morning because I suffer from chronic migraines. Some days are better than others. I can wake up with headaches in the morning that can also last for weeks at a time. If I have a bad migraine, I have to take to my bed, I can’t move without the pain reverberating around my head, I become very sensitive to sound, so the house has to be silent, which is unfair on my family.
Over the last few months, the severity of my headaches and migraines have worsened to the point where it is seriously affecting my professional and student life. I am studying to be a nurse, and have had to miss days of placement because my migraines have been so bad, or I have been late handing in assignments or essays. I have also missed shifts with my part-time work. The pain from my migraine often makes it feel like my head is about to explode from the constant built up of pressure, and as a result I also get blurred vision which can be very dangerous.
I take medication every day. I’m 21 and I’m worried about what will happen to my liver with the amount of tablets I am taking, but if I stop taking them, I hate to imagine what my life would be like. I take nine tablets every night. When I get a migraine, it goes up to 15 or 16 tablets. When the migraines are really bad, I need to get injections. And all of these I have to pay for myself. I am on the Drug Payment Scheme, so I pay a maximum of €144 a month, apart from one medication that I have to pay for separately. My mum is a diabetic and she receives her diabetes medication for free through the Long Term Illness Scheme. It would be of a greater and fairer benefit to someone like myself with chronic migraine received the same care and consideration.
Self-care is very important in managing my migraines. I don’t drink, I make sure I stay well hydrated, eat well, get a decent sleep and try not to get stressed.
I don’t live the life of a 21 year old, because it is just not worth it. If I go out to a nightclub with my friends, I know that I will probably end up with a migraine the next day because I haven’t had enough sleep, and that it might last for days. How is that worth it? People ask me “What do you do for fun?” and my idea of fun is a quiet night in or going to the cinema. I’ll plan a fun night out but then have to cancel it because I’m too ill. I’m lucky in that I have very understanding friends!
Besides the obvious severe pain that I go through on a regular basis, it has being the ignorance of other people, and their lack of acceptance to my life changing condition that bothers me also. People often complain about headaches and I have had people say to me in the past “ah it’s only a headache, I get them” or “it’s only a migraine”, but they have no idea how debilitating these are for me. Because it’s not visible, no one understands.
I don’t feel migraine is thought about enough as a disability. You can’t see it. You don’t know that I have it. Because it is not visible, no one understands. Yet, for me the burden of living with migraine is incredibly debilitating, impacting on my day to day study, family and social life, preventing me from living the life of a regular 21 year old.