Saturday, July 21, 2012

How does it feel?

I got asked what a migraine feels like recently. It was an interesting question because it's kind of difficult to explain. I feel them so often, you'd think I'd have a clear and succinct answer for a question like that, but really, there are no words. But, I am going to try to put it into words anyway.

My migraines don't all feel the same. They are almost always in the front of my head, and it feels like there is a vise tightening around my forehead. They typically involve pain in, behind, and around my eyes. Occasionally, my eyes feel too large for my eye sockets, and my eyelids hurt them. It's as if my eyeballs are too large for my eyelids. Also on occasion, my eyeballs feel like sandpaper, so when they move from side to side or up and down to focus on different things, it feels like sandpaper scratching across the nerves behind my eyes. Then sometimes, there is just a general burning sensation behind my eyes.

I often get a pain under my left eyebrow, up in the eye socket, right where the brow bone and the nose meet. Pinching that area provides some relief from that particular pain.

This makes it sound like all the pain focuses around my eyes. Oh no, there is plenty of other pain. This is just the part that involves my eyes. Some of the most intense pain happens with movement. When I move, I feel like my brain is loose inside my head, sloshing around, slapping against my skull. Sometimes there is a burning sensation deep inside my brain. Occasionally it's a pounding feeling, but that is rare.

It's a pain that always makes me wonder how a person can't just die simply from feeling such intense pain. If pain alone could kill you, this kind of pain would.

Prior to the pain, and often during the migraine I feel nauseated and tired. Sometimes my hands and face tingle or feel numb. After the migraine, I am just exhausted, and feel "hungover." My head is often sore, and I just want to rest. I typically yawn a lot prior to the pain too, which always alerts me that migraine pain is coming.

While I just feel nauseated before a migraine, I often actually vomit during some of the worst migraines. This is just an effect of the migraine. I am not sure why this happens, but it affects many migraine sufferers.

Aside from the obvious pain, the difficulty with chronic migraines is that I am usually in one phase or another of a migraine, so there is either one coming on or I am just getting over one. It's exhausting. I have learned to just deal with much of the pre-migraine and post-migraine symptoms so that I can have a life in between the painful parts. I don't have a lot of energy, but I yet I want to do as much as I can in between the pain, so I force myself to "act" like I have energy and just go and do anyway.

I've not even begun to describe how sounds, lights, and smells feel like an attack on my senses. I won't go into that, because that's so hard to describe, but let's just say, I have the nose of a bloodhound during a migraine, and you might as well be beating me over the head if you shine a light on me or make noise during a migraine.

I don't know how migraine feels to other people, and I may not have described it well at all, because it's something really difficult to describe to someone who has never felt it. It's the most intense pain I have felt and I can't even imagine pain much worse. I don't have children, but I know women who say they'd rather go through childbirth again than have another migraine. I've had surgeries, dental work, and that kind of thing, and nothing so far is even in the same ballpark as the pain of a migraine. If you've never felt it before, it's my sincere hope that you never have to.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Wonderful Post, my friend. I think this would be a great idea for the 2x monthly Migraine awareness bloggy thing that's still going on. Now, I want to write about how mine feel. I've done it in poem form, but not in prose.

    Take care,


  2. Thanks, Jamie. Once I got started writing, it was easier, but when I first thought "I am going to write what a migraine feels like," it seemed a daunting task! Mere words don't do it justice.

    I look forward to reading what you've written.


  3. My symptoms aren't quite the same as yours, but so similar! I get different "flavors" of migraine, too. I sometimes feel like my brain is too big for my skull, or that my skull has shrunk, squeezing my brain.

    As for the hypersensitivity, I call that my "evil superpowers". I figure it's kind of like being Superman, if he had no control over his powers. I can see EVERYTHING, even in the dark, and the slightest light hurts. I can hear EVERYTHING- the leaf blower being used a block away is shattering to me. I can smell EVERYTHING, and all smells are nauseating.

    Best of luck.