I started getting migraines when I was about 14 years old. The first time, my father came in my room to find me writhing on the floor. It is my understanding that I howled. My father squeezed my head, vise-like, between his magical hands.

He got me to relax, so I could sleep off the pain.

But my migraines continued, relentlessly, for decades — until they stopped.

Animation of an MRI brain scan, starting at th...
Image via Wikipediauntil they stopped.

After I had Tech Support, my migraines disappeared completely.

I joked that having a baby was a miracle migraine cure. I could eat bleu cheese again. I could eat chocolate and drink red wine — not that I’ve ever been a big red wine fan, but I could have chocolate – as well as lots of other foods that had been considered verboten for so long.

And then it happened.

The headaches came back.

Once a month like uninvited guests, frequently appearing at 5 am, they came with clunky shoes and suitcases and set up shop with their giant hammers inside my head. Sometimes they wouldn’t leave for two or three days.

Once, Tech Support came home from school to find me on the floor, crying and banging my head against the wood floor.

I’m pretty sure I ruined him for life scared him.

Because he called my husband.

When my husband came home, I begged him to kill me.

I asked him to buy a gun and kill me.

To please buy a rifle and put it in my mouth and pull the trigger.

I said all of this in front of Tech Support.

(Which was probably not good.)

But I couldn’t help myself.

(I never claimed to be strong.)

As my husband stabbed my leg with IMITREX, he told me to make an appointment with my doctor.

I got an MRI.

Everything looked good.

I was incredulous.

How was that possible?

How could my brain hurt that much and be perfectly fine?

So I became really good friends with my neurologist who put me on Topomax, which has been a wonder drug for me.

My migraines stopped almost immediately. I take the lowest possible dose of the medication –15 mg in a “sprinkle capsule” — a dose not infrequently prescribed for children.

The hardest thing about being on Topomax is that is kills my appetite.

And it is really hard to go grocery shopping when nothing looks appealing.

So our refrigerator is nearly always empty.

It is difficult to cook meals – something I used to love to do. I remember fussing over chicken enchiladas with tomatoes and cilantro, a little yellow rice. Spooning spinach salad with onions and pomegranate seeds, taking care about plating them on my rainbow-color Fiesta Ware plates.

Tech Support took Health class last year where he learned how important it is to eat three healthy meals a day.

Now he worries about my lack of calories like a Jewish grandmother.

“Taste this,” he implores pushing a forkful of something at my face. “You have to eat, Mom!”

Sometimes I try a bite.

But sometimes I don’t eat anything.

Not a single morsel. All day.

It’s very hard to eat when you feel full.

I know a lot of people who suffer from migraines, and everyone has a slightly different variation on a theme. Some people get a visual aura. If they can catch the headache during this phase, they can sometimes abort it. I think of them as the lucky ones. Some people get ocular headaches. No real pain, just weird visual symptoms. Some people see blue dots. Some people see swirls. Some people vomit. Some people don’t. Some people have migraines and are laid out for days.

That is something beyond my comprehension; I cannot imagine living with that kind of pain.

But I know people do.

So I’ll keep taking my Topomax, keep hoping that I won’t be laid up with an axe-to-the-skull-splitting-migraine while simultaneously praying I’m not cultivating a kidney stone the size of my fist that will one day need to be surgically removed.

Because that can be one of the unfortunate side effects of Topomax.

You can get kidney stones.

And it is my understanding that kidney stones suck way worse than migraines.

Have you ever had a migraine? What are your triggers? And what do you do for relief?

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