As I open my eyes my heart sinks at the realisation that I have woken with yet another crippling headache.
Today it is predominantly residing in my jaw, extending across my face and up into my left temple. The pressure of it throbs as a feeling of nausea sweeps across.
I am angry. Another day is ruined, but I’m thankful that today I don’t have work (small mercies).
I used to work full time, more than full time infact, close to 60 hours a week in the hospitality sector. That couldn’t be sustained of course, my health deteriorated, the migraines escalated and my happiness plummeted.
The migraines had been under control; two years of taking a daily suppressant, I’d been able to reduce the headaches from two/three times a week to once a month, (much more manageable).
However, the effect of this was waning and the migraines were returning with a vengeance. Sick days were escalating and more days were being spent in work feeling unwell than not.
I often pondered how others with migraine actually managed to lead a ‘normal’ working life, with so much uncertainty over attendance and the ability to function properly day to day.
For those who don’t suffer from migraine I think it’s difficult to fathom just how debilitating it can be. For employers especially, the sympathy wears thin.
This is not just a headache, nor a really bad headache, it’s a whole different level.
Migraine presents itself in many ways and for me, I often wake from a night’s sleep barely able to open my eyes, the pounding so intense. This immense pain can last for twenty four hours or more, it’s draining and time consuming. Sleeping through the pain is usually my only refuge, attempting to stay awake results in being sick multiple times and unable to concentrate on anything other than the feeling of my head cracking.
Push came to shove when after a prolonged period of feeling unwell, I woke up on my bedroom floor surrounded by three paramedics, a concerned looking boyfriend and our late cat Neo hovering above my face, (having sat besides my head the whole time I’d been out).
Needless to say, I decided it was time for a change.
I left the job. Took some time out and re assessed my options.
Of a few things I was certain:
- I needed flexible working hours
- I needed less hours
- I needed to focus my attention on my own creative projects
- I needed time to work on our home
- I needed quality time spent back with james
- I needed to feel well and healthy
- I needed to find a new source of medication.
And so began my life to date.
I work freelance as a designer/maker and Make-up artist. I support this with two part time jobs, one zero hour contract, the other just eight. I have weekends back for the most part, I have evenings to do as I please, time to cook proper meals, see friends and family and most importantly I have my health and wellbeing.
James suggested that I try acupuncture as an alternative treatment for my migraines.
I took the plunge and discarded my prescribed ‘beta-prograne’ capsules, they’d lost their effect anyway and I wasn’t keen on taking beta blockers on a daily basis anymore.
So began the acupuncture process…
Now, here was a practice that sought to find out the cause of my migraine in order to effectively treat it. Was it stress, my diet? Were there specific triggers, was there another underlying problem?
Eight months in I’m no longer on daily prescribed treatment. I have monthly acupuncture in line with my menstrual cycle, (as my hormonal balance is my trigger) and I’m able to manage the now less frequent migraines with a prescribed pill that I take only when symptoms manifest.
In short, my problem with migraine has become more manageable. Establishing a suitable balance between work and life is never easy, nor is understanding and acceptance from others who don’t quite grasp the severity of the condition.
As my headaches have become less frequent or severe, I have turned to using home remedies to relieve the pain, here is a simple and quick mix that can be used to soothe:
- Fill a bowl with warm water
- Leave a peppermint tea bag to soak in the water for a minute before wringing it out and removing from the bowl
- Add 6 drops of lavender oil
- Add 2 drops of olive oil
- Place a flannel in the bowl for a minute
- Wring out the flannel and Place across the forehand whilst laying down in a quiet, dark space.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the pain eases. (the longer the better)
The process will help to cool and dissolve away the headache.