Do you suffer from any side effects during (or before) your period? Most common things we we hear about are cravings, cramps, mood swings - but what about migraines?
That’s the case for one of our Modibodi staff members Sophie, she has been experiencing menstrual migraines since her teen years. We asked her tell us a little bit about how she has learnt to manage them.
“Oh, have you tried taking Panadol?”
A commonly heard response when I tell people I have a migraine.
Thank you for your suggestion, but no, Panadol will not help. I need that extra-strength-knock-me-out-type of medication.
“Maybe you haven’t had enough water today?”
Another common response. I know people are just trying to be helpful but I have lived with these migraines since I was 18 and I know what the trigger is, my period.
Roughly 1 or 2 days before I am due to get my period I make sure I have some of my prescription drugs in my handbag, it could strike at any time – dun dun! I go about my business until I start to feel the warning signs.
Warning sign one - I start to get hungry (this is a hard sign to distinguish as I am usually always keen for a snack)
Warning sign two - partial loss of vision in my left eye. This starts as an irritation to bright lights, I find myself turning down the brightness on my monitor or my phone. Best to take meds now.
Warning sign three - I start to see colours and swirling lines dance across my eyes. This one is a bit trippy, but I can’t rub my eyes and make it go away. The colours are so vivid, like lasers.
Warning sign three - I can then loose complete vision in one or two eyes and this is where the pain kicks in. Prior to this it is painless.
If I have not taken my medication before this sign is likely to last for hours, if not a full day and then day two I will feel drowsy and disorientated.
The pain can be so severe it can cause me to vomit and cry, usually at the same time. It feels like a metal knife is lodged behind my eyes – key point is it is metal, it definitely has a type of metallic feeling. So distinct and precise that I have told my boyfriend that if he could just get a scalpel I could pinpoint exactly where the pain is and cut it out. (NB no home surgery was conducted).
It is a huge inconvenience and strain on my work life, as well as personal life. At least I can somewhat anticipate when it will be. But calling in sick, or being sent home in a taxi with my sunglasses on while crying, is something that I constantly feel guilty about, even if I can’t help it. It is especially hard if my employee has never had a migraine, it’s hard to explain that yes, it is worse than a headache.
While being on the pill I realised that the migraines would come like clockwork. And certain brands would make them worse, or more frequent. So there was a lot of trial and error to figure out which brand of pill worked best with my body.
Now that I am 33 I have come off the pill and the migraines have become less frequent, only 4 times a year, if I’m lucky!
I have tried multiple different suggestions to cure them, more coffee, less coffee, magnesium, less salt, more vegetables, less dairy. I have had people suggest getting a ‘daith ear piercing’ (the piercing of the inner most cartilage fold of the ear) which is meant to replicate acupuncture and may reduce symptoms of a migraine. Everyone seems to have a story or a friend (or a friend of an Auntie’s neighbour’s cousin) that did something obscure and now they are miraculously cured of migraines.
I’ve learnt to manage the pain the best I can, getting to a dark room and taking meds so I can drift off into a sleep. Since starting work at the office and making the switch to Modibodi, I have felt a huge relief that at least the rest of my period won’t be as bad and I will be comfortable. Some days when I'm wearing them I completely forget I have my period - so once I get past the migraine stage it’s smooth sailing!
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If you are experiencing any type of pain or symptoms please consult your doctor or health professional.