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When you have migraine, light hurts. Every piercing ray is too bright. The glowing sun. Evil fluorescent lights. Inescapable electronic screens. Even ordinary lights around the house. Lights leave us reaching for the off switch and pulling the shades closed tight.
Once upon a time, television was my distraction of choice. Through many long days of chronic migraine pain, it hypnotized and help numb. I could keep the volume low and park myself in front of the screen to (somewhat) keep from focusing on my throbbing head. But last February when the pain of my intractable migraine spiked beyond what I previously knew possible, the TV became yet another trigger — too bright and too loud.
As I sit here on my couch in Georgia caught firmly within the clutches of a monster migraine, my family is getting home from an Alaskan adventure. They flew cross-country to Seattle, explored the city on land and sea, boarded a cruise ship in Vancouver and sailed to Alaska. There, they rode a helicopter to a glacier, went on a whale watching expedition and zip-lined over a lush forest. While they took what they described as the “trip of a lifetime,” I was here just trying to make it through the day.
The pain will never end. I have failed. I can’t do this again. This is my fault. I’m overwhelmed. I’m hopeless. I’m helpless. I can’t figure this out. I can’t fix this. These are the thoughts that play in my head on repeat during a migraine attack when pain escalates. What do you tell yourself during an attack?
Every year in February, advocates for migraine and headache disease come together in Washington, DC for an event known as Headache on the Hill. During HOH, advocates of all kinds — migraine and headache patients, caregivers, doctors and specialists, and more — work together to lobby and meet with Congress.