I am so troubled with period migraine that I even asked the doctor to get my hysterectomy done (so as to do away with periods),” says 29-year-old Jewel.
Jewel (name changed) has been battling chronic migraine headaches for the past seven years. The pain that starts from the right side of her head grows gradually, extending to the shoulders. “I feel as if there is something pricking my brain. Soon, I would become intolerable towards lights and sounds. Within two hours, the pulsating pain would begin,” she says. Sometimes, the headache is accompanied by nausea, but she says that she never throws up. Usually, the pain starts in the morning and lasts the whole day; sometimes, even three to four days.
Jewel’s case is an example of severe, chronic migraine. She reports chronic migraine attacks up to 15 days a month, while she gets lighter headaches on about five days. This means she can function normally, without a migraine, only for 10 to 12 days.
Menstruation-linked migraine makes her case even more severe. Her head starts throbbing, accompanied by her usual symptoms of migraine, two days before she gets her period, and persists through the entire duration of menses. One can only imagine her desperation when she suggested hysterectomy to her doctor (of course, the doctor did not allow it).
But that’s not it. The persistent migraine is slowly impacting her life. Career-driven, Jewel was employed as a pharma executive, but had to recently quit because of frequent migraine attacks. Her employers were not cooperative because she took too much leave. “You never know what will happen. One evening I would be working on a presentation or report for the next day, and in the morning I would be unable to make it to office because of migraine. Every day is uncertain. I would even be unsure about the next morning. They used to think I was a psychiatric patient,” she says, welling up.
Jewel finds little support and empathy back home, too. During a migraine attack, Jewel prefers to be alone and hence withdraws to a room. “I totally avoid people and would want to be left alone,” she says. However, during such instances, she is labelled “depressed” by her family. Often, she wonders if she would be able to find a suitable and understanding life partner.
From homoeopathy to different allopathy medicines, nothing has come to her rescue. However, Jewel is consulting a new doctor and is hopeful her migraine attacks could be controlled better. Also, she looks to resume work, at a better company.