My Invisible Disabilities: Part 1

MigraineImage by makelessnoise via Flickr

I've talked a lot about my son's disabilities over the past 4+ years of blogging, but rarely mention my own. I think it's because I like to pretend they aren't disabling.


Being a migraneur (one who suffers from migraine headaches) is an ongoing battle. Starting in middle school, I've been plagued with migraine headaches nearly every week of my life, some weeks even more. The only time I recall being migraine-free was the first 2 trimesters of my first pregnancy.

I found out about Imitrex when it first came on the market in the 90s. I'd had a migraine for 3 days, and ended up sitting at the doctor in a heap of tears and pain. He told me to hang tight, turned off the lights in the exam room, and stepped out into the hallway where he summoned a nurse, and told her to get an Imitrex injection immediately.

For the first time in my life, a medication got rid of my headache AND the other migraine side effects (nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, speech difficulties, motor impairment). It was amazing. It also felt like someone had place my heart in a vice grip for about 15 minutes.

Turns out you can't use Imitrex too often because of the side effects. I had one doctor tell me I'd end up having a heart attack if I used Imitrex as often as I needed it. So, I embarked on a journey to prevent the migraines.

After trying a whole host of pharmaceutical approaches to preventing migraines, I gave up. Nothing was working, the side effects were sometimes worse than the pain. I even tried acupuncture, which provided relief for a few months, then they were back.

So, I continue to get migraine headaches, usually a few times each week. If I catch them early, I can keep them at bay with ice packs and OTC meds. If not, I turn to the Imitrex or Frova. If they're really off-the-hook, I have to add pain meds to the mix.

But, no one can tell by looking at me that I suffer from this regularly disabling condition. I don't have a forehead tattoo alerting them, and I don't wear a t-shirt that says, "I have migraines, what's your excuse?" (Although, perhaps I should.)

Fortunately, I no longer work outside the home. Unfortunately, I do need to parent and homeschool my children. The great thing about homeschooling, for our family, has been the flexibility to accommodate our special needs without the usual battles of advocacy. I no longer have to explain to employers that I don't have the kind of headaches where you pop a couple of Advil, and go about your day.

Being a migraneur is one of the disabilities I live with. The other is Fibromyalgia. That one has been even harder for me to accept. I'll save it for another post.

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