Written By Alexandria M. Srbinovski for Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc.
It was a spring day in April and I was only only 28 years old. I woke up around 2am with a horrible migraine- a pain that I never had before. I remember sitting on the end of the couch as the pain seeped so far into my skull that the sharp jagged stabbing pains felt like knives into the right side of my head. I screamed out loud crying to my boyfriend to take me to the ER and it wasn’t long before I was in a hospital bed with an IV getting a “migraine cocktail” and Doctors told me I had chronic migraine with aura. As the years went by and Excedrin wouldn’t help anymore, my headaches worsened and so did the symptoms. The attacks got worse and days turned into weeks. It took me 7 primary doctors and 2 years to finally see a neurologist and migraine specialist.
My life completely spun out of control, I lost a few jobs and employers didn’t believe me when I said I had a “ migraine.” I felt trapped in my own body and mind and sometimes my own family didn’t understand me. It was heartbreaking for my mom to see me go through this pain. I got into endless arguments trying to explain what a migraine is to my parents, grandparents and relatives. They only saw me from the outside but didn’t know the struggle of what it was like in my shoes. I tried cbd bath bombs, acupuncture, ginger-tumeric concoctions, gluten free diets, salt rock caves, and the list goes on. It took awhile for my family to see that this was a real-thing. Migraines are vicious snakes that bite you like a shark and linger on until they feel like leaving your body after they have sucked everything out of you and drained you from every ounce of energy you have. They don’t care if you made plans with a friend for coffee and they don’t care if you have been up at work at 7am to teach a third grade class. They take away your vision, they make you dizzy, unbalanced, vomit for hours, and make your eye look like you got hit by a softball or stung by a bee.
This was the beginning of a journey I would soon call my own. This was a journey unlike ever before.. It has been 3 years now since I first suffered my first migraine. I have recently started the Aimovig shots. I have taken 4 injections and I remember going into UIC more frightened than ever before holding my moms hand like a 2 year old child. I was very embarrassed to tell any of my friends about this because I was scared of how they would look at me and I didn’t want them to treat me differently. I am lucky to have a community of supporters. My family has been there with me through all of this. They have seen me on my good days and my bad days. They have held my hand and driven me to appointments and just listened to me cry and say the word migraine on an average of 100x per day. I am so lucky that sometimes they are there to just listen to me complain, cry about my Triptans and ask me what they can do for me. Sometimes hearing the words “ What can I do for you?” is all you need to hear! The best gift my boyfriend could have gotten me for Christmas was an ice cap for my migraine attacks. Without my “community” which is my family, they are my number one supporters and my number one team, I could not imagine ever having to do this without their support. Along with my family, is my boyfriend who is my cheerleader and biggest fan. He is always there to lift me up and make me look at the bright side of things. I am also lucky to have an amazing circle of girlfriends who I can count on for laughs and socializing to get my mind off of the migraine triggers.
Last year I was waiting to see my neurologist, I was sitting in the waiting room sitting next to a woman that my social butterfly self sparked up a conversation with. She told me she suffered from MS. I felt like god had put her in my path to see that every person is fighting a battle but some worse than others. My chronic migraine problem was bad but not nearly as bad as having MS and being wheelchair bound. I left the hospital that day realizing that things could be much worse. This was a wake up call for me to take my “migraine free “ days and make the most out of them whether that is being able to do zumba, cook, play with my dog and basically try to live as much of a normal life as much as I can. It has taken me some time now to realize that this chronic illness is a disability. It has ruined so many days of work and holidays and special moments with my family… I can sit here and complain and talk about all of the horrible things of suffering from chronic migraine disease- but the good news is that having this illness makes you appreciate the simple things in life and it makes you realize how special it is to be able to see things from a different perspective. Be Grateful for your community, big or small… it is your community to embrace and love. What I have learned is that “ When life gives you a hundred reasons to break down and cry, show life that you have a million reasons to smile and laugh. Stay strong.”