My Migraine Story: My First Migraine
*Maggie, 29, New York City
I’ll never forget my first migraine. I’m sure many migraine sufferers can tell you the same story… the first migraine experience is something you can never erase from your memory. The first time I experienced a migraine headache was something beyond what I could ever imagine. I had heard of migraine headache before, but as someone who never even got bad headaches, I was literally and figuratively blindsided.
When a Migraine Comes Out of Nowhere
As an advertising professional in my late twenties, late nights were a pretty common occurrence for me. The days before I had my first migraine, I had spent several late nights at the office preparing for a big presentation. The day of the presentation came and I caught a train from New York Penn Station to Washington D.C. to show off my work to a big client. My presentation took place in the morning, and I thought I hit it out of the park. It was when we took a quick lunch break that my mood suddenly changed.
I remember trying to read the menu in the restaurant when I told my coworker, “Something really weird is going on. I can’t see anything out of my left eye.” I squinted as we spoke and she said, “Have you had a migraine before? I know sometimes people lose their vision before they have a migraine.” I laughed and tried to brush off her comment. I didn’t have migraines. Other people had migraines.
Migraines on the Job
When we returned to our client’s office, the reality that something major was happening to me set in. I had lost vision in both of my eyes. My coworker walked me to the break room where I laid my head on the table for about four hours. She periodically came to check on me. I just kept telling her that I felt like I was having period cramps in my head… it was the only way I could think of to describe it.
More than anything in the world, I needed to lie down. I needed to be away from light and sound and any other stimulation. But as my coworkers continued on with their meeting (OUR meeting that I was missing), my only option was to be as still as possible with my head on the break room table.
Learning to Deal with Migraines
I was beyond embarrassed. My clients said they understood, but I was never invited to another meeting at their office. My first migraine was both physically and emotionally traumatic for me. I later learned that an out-of-whack sleeping and eating pattern can trigger migraine headache, and that was exactly what I’d been doing. I’m grateful that I had my coworker to look after me that day, but I wish there had been more workplace support. I honestly don’t know how people with frequent migraines handle the stress of having migraines at work.