I've suffered from chronic migraine since I was eight years old. To most people a headache is an annoyance, and at most, something that could ruin an otherwise perfect day. But to me a headache is debilitating.
By my freshman year of college I was suffering from a migraine up to 28 days a month. Over the counter medicine and home remedies had stopped and it was time to meet with a neurologist.
I discovered that I suffered from cluster migraines which means that in addition to traditional symptoms (sensitivity to light and sound, nausea) I have separate isolated symptoms to one side of my body. These include nerve pain, muscle tightness and soreness, swelling on one side of my face, throbbing pain in one ear, temple and base of my skull, and the worst symptom is a stabbing pain in one of my eyes.
After meeting with a neurologist, and testing out medications, we found one medication that works and has cut my migraines down from 28 days a month to 10-12.
Everyday I have to make sure that I eat enough, that I don't eat any trigger foods, that I have some caffeine, but not too much, that I eat some red meat, have enough water, enough electrolytes, sodium (but not too much so I don't get high blood pressure-my medication can cause this), and countless other foods that I have to journal. If I happen to have a few too many M&Ms before bed I'm probably going to wake up with a migraine, because chocolate is a trigger.
My life revolves around my migraines. During the semester I have to make sure all my classes are scheduled as early as possible incase I develop a migraine during the day. And I have to stay at least a week ahead on my assignments and readings because most of my migraines last 3-4 days and I won't be able to sit at my computer during that time.
The hardest part about having chronic migraine is that no one really understands what that means. When I say "I have a migraine" or "I have a headache" people don't understand that that means for the next four days I will barely be able to leave my bed. No one understands that I have to go to bed at 10PM every night because the less sleep I get, the more prone I am to getting a migraine I am the next day.
As someone who loves to plan every hour of their day, not being able to control when or where I'll develop a migraine is the worst feeling in the world.
I don't know what 'normal' headaches are like, but I can tell you that migraines are nothing like them. Nonetheless, every headache to me is a bad one, and the next time you hear someone say that they have a headache be kind, because it could be a lot worse than you think.