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Monday, June 11, 2012

Migraine Awareness Month - Post # 11: "Say WHAT??"

Today's blog prompt for Migraine Awareness Month is:
"What's the most ridiculous thing ever said to you about Migraines, who said it, and under what circumstances? "

Right out of the gates, I'd like to thank my friends and family who call me when there is a news article or a TV episode (for example, on "The Doctors" or "Dr. Oz") about migraine.  It shows that you are thinking of me.  I really appreciate that, and even though most of these programs re-hash the stuff I already know, there may be a chance that I will learn something that will improve my life.  Thank you.  I am blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. I love you all.

However:  Most of the time, when I see people I haven't seen since my affliction with chronic migraine, they ask, "how have you been,"  or "how are you."  I know this is just a social grace, and the answer is supposed to be "great" or "fine."  Except there are some days when I don't feel great OR fine. So I tell them. "I've had chronic migraine since November 2006 and have pain in my head every day." Because my comments are outside the norm, I am met with stares, confusion, and  sometimes, ridiculous comments.  Again, I must say that usually, people are sympathetic, and if they are not, I just brush their comments aside and forget about it.

Usually, these comments range from, "Have you tried Excedrin for Migraine?" (like I haven't already tried that and about 50 other drugs) to  "You really have a headache every day?" (like I would make that up), "Have you found a cause?" (genetics, darlin'), "You can't drink? Not even a little?  Have you tried [vodka, rum, gin, etc]" (Yes, I've tried them all and they still trigger a migraine).  and "Gosh, but you look so good!" Therein lies the rub.  I have an invisible disease.  Thank goodness I don't look sick.  But sometimes, I think that if I DID look sick, maybe people would take this illness more seriously.

For example, my husband and I went to a dinner party Friday night.  I was in Day One of a visit from the Dragon;  AND I'd suffered a concussion the day before (a story for another blog post;  I hit my head and blacked out). I really wanted to go to this party because it was being given by a good friend who had recently remodeled/redecorated a condo after her home was lost in a fire.  I wanted to support my friend and see all the fabulous things she did with her new home.  I could not drive that day because I was too dizzy. I wasn't sure at that point if it was the prodrome of a migraine or the concussion.

My husband and I made it to the open house. My friend gave me the grand tour of her home, and I was wobbly going up the steps.  She asked me what was going on, so I told her.  She was concerned and sympathetic because she knows my history and has seen me when I am in pretty rough shape.  After her tour, I got some dinner and sat in the living room to chat with the other guests. I sat near an acquaintance I hadn't seen in years. She's a nice lady.  Maybe it's the blogging this month, or my effort to learn to speak up to erase the stigma of this invisible disease, but I really didn't feel too hot, so here's how the conversation went:

Nice lady: "How are you? What have you been up to?" 
Me: "Well, I've been disabled by chronic migraine since 2006."
Nice lady:  "Isn't there something they can do?"
Me:  "Well...."
Nice lady:  "You know, I had a headache once, and (blah blah blah)."
I honestly can't remember what she said after that. Maybe it was the concussion. Maybe it was the onset of the migraine.  Or maybe I just didn't want to hear one more inane story about someone else's random experience with her one bad headache just then; OR, maybe she didn't want to hear me perform my "organ recital."  In any case, we acknowledged each other with sympathetic nods, and I began talking to another lady whom I didn't know. About regular stuff.  That was much safer, and I had an enjoyable conversation getting to know someone new.

What's my point in all this rambling? People say things that they think are helpful, or because they are inquisitive, or maybe I've made them uncomfortable. I can't blame people for acting human.  Sometimes those comments come off as being ridiculous, but usually, they mean no harm. So I expect it, deal with it, and move on.

National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger's Challenge is initiated by

Graphic from 


  1. Beautifully said, Jill--and very familiar. Thanks for giving voice to this.

  2. Thanks, Isis. Your affirmation is appreciated!

  3. One of those things we learn to do to cope... Thanks for the reminder. We're all human :)

  4. So true, and well-said. It can be hard to remember and frustrating to deal with, so thanks for the reminder that we're all human.

    1. Thanks, Jamie. I'm glad you were able to use some of my thoughts in your own post!

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