Life After the Semicolon; Living with Chronic Migraine

Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc. is pleased to present Part 1 of Greta A. Tramwood’s emotional story.

Hi, how are you? You’re good? that’s great… how am I, you ask? I’m fine … well, I’m not really fine, I’m not even OK. Not even close to OK.

You see, on Dec 9th, 2017 the migraine gods decided to drop a hand grenade on my life.  Just like that, one minute I was walking down the long, institutional-like hallway at my university, when I felt a vice grip latch onto my forehead, my vision went blurry, I felt nauseated & got a sinking feeling in the bit of my stomach.  I looked at my colleague. She was looking at me, she looked very worried and concerned, she asked me if I was ‘OK’. She said my skin looked grey. I told her I was in the middle of teaching and I was on my way back to wrap up the class and let my students go home early.  It was the last day of classes for the Fall term.

As my colleague drove me home, I remember feeling simultaneously exhausted while frantically worrying about grading final papers and submitting final marks on time.  My husband made arrangements to get driven back to my abandoned car so that he could drive it home. As all of this was happening, I had no idea that my life was never going to be the same again.

About a week after the vice grip got a hold of my head, I had an attack. I don’t know what other word there is that can describe what happened to by body.  Out of nowhere, the room started spinning, my eyesight went from blurry to double vision, I couldn’t walk, it literally felt like someone had me by my hair and was shaking and swinging me around the room. I crawled to my bathroom and began vomiting. My head filled up with so much pressure, I thought it was going to pop off my shoulders. And then on top of being violently ill, I got a panic attack.  Tears streamed down my face, I was terrified, I had no idea what was happening to me. My friend who had come over to visit me called 911. I was carried down the stairs by the paramedics and strapped into a gurney.  I was screaming in pain in between bouts of vomiting, all while they were trying to give me an injection of anti-nausea meds.  Hours later at the emergency department, after a CT scan, they ended up loading me up with morphine. To be honest, it was the only thing that stopped the world from violently spinning out of control.  They discharged me early the next morning only to have me show up as soon as all the meds wore off. After several attempts to send me home, they finally admitted me. I was discharged 1 week later even though I was unable to walk. My husband carried me from his car to our bedroom. What is more, I spent the next 3 long, harrowing months with the curtains closed, in the dark, in the silence, just barely holding on.  I grasped the sides of my bed sheets in a feeble attempt to stop the room from spinning, as I watched the dim glow the sun made against my closed curtains. I watched the sun rise and set, rise and set, rise and set, day in and day out for three long months, cringing in agony and existing from moment to moment. 

These are the darkest hours of my life. I visited the idea of overdosing on all my meds once a week for three months; “If I am still like this in 7 days, then fuck it”. And, every week, I felt the same – spinning, falling, panicking, stabbing and throbbing head pain, sensory overload, stomach pain, vomiting, sweating, too hot, too cold. The dark wasn’t dark enough, the silence wasn’t quiet enough. The isolation crushed my spirit; the exhaustion drained my soul. My former life slipped away from me and all I could do was cry. My cheeks were raw from crying for hours and hours at a time. Unable to distract myself by watching Netflix because screens were too bright and any movement would send me right back into being violently sick, I stared into the dark, the sun illuminated my room just enough to make out the shapes of my furniture. I stared into the dark and cried. The thoughts of ending my life intruded my mind; these thoughts brought me a sense of relief. 

Just between you and me, the only reason I am still here on this earth is because I did not want my husband to experience the pain and trauma it would cause him to find my dead body. And for that reason, I endured the pain, the fear, and the unknow for from December 2017 until March 2018.

The semicolon initiative is a grassroots movement where people who have survived suicide get a semicolon tattooed onto their body. The semicolon signifies that unlike the period which is analogues to the end of a sentence, there is more to be said, more to be lived.

Join us next week to see how Greta’s story continues.

Disclaimer – This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding migraine and headache disease and all medical conditions.

4 responses to “Life After the Semicolon; Living with Chronic Migraine”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story with us Greta!! I feel the same way, suicide would kill my husband’s and children’s spirits and ruin them mentally and I couldn’t do that to them, But it doesn’t stop the suicidal thoughts from happening. Especially during long stretches of attacks or when I am “inconveniencing” someone and they complain about it non-stop. But I don’t want to die, I don’t want to miss out on my kids biggest milestones. I’ll take the pain and all the disorienting neurological symptoms if it means witnessing my future grandchildren being born. Those types of thoughts are what pulls me through. That and telling my story so others know that they are not alone, just like yours. It’s a slippery slope and I’m thankful for my therapist and our weekly sessions. Thank you Greta!


  2. Thank you, Greta. ❤️


    1. How I can relate to your story. Endless endless spinning attacks and migraines with neurological symptoms, balance problems issues walking wiping out my 30s. I am now just 40 and hanging on still. I admire your courage to keep fighting. Keep fighting.


  3. I actually cried at this. I’ve never cried from reading anything,ever. It resonates.


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