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Pain Is Pain—Joyce’s Broken Brain

Pain Is Pain — Joyce’s Broken Brain

Pain is one of my bedfellows. Right now, as I type, I’m in pain. The sound of the computer keys is like the tapping of some sinister Morse code on my tender brain. Confession: I am a migraineur — a highfalutin term I’ve always found amusing. My personal migraine comes with light sensitivity, eyeball pressure, throbbing temples, my pulse drumming in my ear, a droopy left eyelid, marble bust syndrome (that’s what I call my achy, stiff neck and shoulders) and translucent squiggles that float across my vision field like plankton in the ocean. Apparently, the pain-sensing nerves that cover my head throw almost daily keg parties. And I’m the guest of honor. 

My neurologic journey started when I was thirty-five and diagnosed with an ovarian tumor. This particular tumor bathed my insides with estrogen. When the mass was surgically removed, my body was thrown into a hormonal storm of sorts. A month later, the migraines started. And, more than ten years later, the migraines continue. Fact: Most migraine sufferers are women. These nasty headaches are often triggered when estrogen levels drop.

Living in pain wreaks havoc on one’s body and mind. There’s the severe fatigue, irritability and isolation. I often keep my headaches a secret. And it’s not easy for people who are not migraineurs to understand what migraine pain is like. However, pain is pain. As Edith Eger said, There’s no hierarchy of suffering. There’s nothing that makes my pain worse or better than yours.” She’s right. As my migraines dramatically worsened this year, I’ve told more people about them. And I’m glad I did. My family and friends buoy me up with support. They cradle my broken brain and stroke my spirit. As my head pounds, I’m hopeful that relief will come soon. And for all of you migraineurs — and suffering humans — out there, please share your pain. There are others who are experiencing it too.

Update: I’ve recently started a new medication that’s helping me. Thank you to my excellent and caring neurologist, Dr. Bridget Mueller. Your work changes lives.