October 11, 2007


I added a new word to my vocabulary last night, but I'm not as thrilled as you might think. I'm apparently a migraineur, whether I like it or not. I mean, I already knew I got migraines--not much to like there. But migraineur makes it sound as though I'm a purveyor, like I cause the stupid things.

The phrase I added along with migraineur is migraine variant, which is much more useful. It means all those migraines I get without the headache. Didn't know you could get migraines that don't hurt? Neither did I until a few years ago. That was when I discovered that I wasn't getting 3-4 migraines a year. I was getting 3-4 of them a week.

Sure, they didn't hurt (unless I had a tension headache on top of them, which did happen). I was just photosensitive, sleepy, and unable to think beyond about two steps of complexity. The surface of the world sort of rippled with light. My face was numb and my fingers were cold. I didn't hurt; I just felt like crap. Then I took a nice little beta blocker (adrenaline antagonist) for a year, which made them mostly go away.

Last night I was reading a post on Science Blogs about Alice in Wonderland syndrome, in which people feel like they've been obeying the "Eat me" and "Drink me" signs. Their bodies seem to have changed dimensions. My reaction was "Wait. You mean not everyone feels that way? So why am I waving to my feet right now?" Then the article mentioned a link to migraines, and I knew why I'd felt like crap for the last few weeks. It explained the two days of dizziness and sleepiness over my birthday and a whole host of other weird symptoms that didn't quite fit allergies or a virus.

Sigh. So now I have three choices.

(1) I can rearrange my life to avoid adrenaline. I suspect my very stressful spring and summer have a lot to do with undoing the progress the beta blockers made. But I've learned so much since I've taken on my more stressful job, and I've accomplished things I don't want to turn my back on. This is my least favorite choice.

(2) I can try to rebuild my response to stressors--stop producing so much adrenaline. I've taken so much of my life apart and put it back together that this seems possible, but I'm not sure. I've been shy since birth, phobic since not long after, and somewhat emotionally abused. Weird to say, but I've never really not been stressed, except when I was on the beta blockers. Even then, I was producing adrenaline, I just wasn't sensitive to it. Still, I think it's worth a try, at least until "not being stressed" becomes just one more thing on my to do list.

Then it's back to (3), my lovely little blue beta blockers. They're not bad, really. I just have to remember to take a deep breath every time I sit or stand up. They only made me pass out once (not a recommended work activity, by the way).

One way or another, migraineur no more.


Anonymous said...

Good for you, Steph. I know Kat had a hell of a time until she figured out that all of these other symptoms were migranes without the crippling pain.

Though, no adrenaline, eh? So no more hanging out with Kelly.... Hmmm. Nope, I don't see it. Beta-blockers it is.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Sorry, no more useless adrenaline. If I expend it actually doing something, it shouldn't cause a migraine.

And, really, Kelly generates adrenaline pretty much for himself. I mostly get to sit back and be amused.