“TYRANT, BLACKMAILER, KIDNAPPER, BORE”
Migraine sufferers often feel a deep sense of guilt, for migraine is a bore as well as a tyrant and kidnapper. It destroys social plans and devastates work-schedules. Despite its destructive power, however, the ignorant still dismiss it as the product of a fevered (and probably female) imagination: a bit like the vapors. But if you have ever felt it, or seen someone live through it, you know: migraine is the hardest, blackest and most terrifying of everyday pains. Eyes shrink to the size of currants, the face turns deathly pale, the tongue feels like an old gardening glove, the entire body seems to age about 70 years, so only a palsied shuffle to the bathroom is possible. Day light is agonizing, the thirst rages and the vomiting comes almost as a relief, since in the paroxysm of nausea the pain recedes for a few blissful seconds. Above all, the constant feeling of a dagger striking through the eyeball and twisting into the brain can make the sufferer long for death. When at last (sometimes three days later) the pain begins to ebb, and one can slowly creep back into life, it’s like being reborn. Migraine is the focus of many myths. It is emphatically not a recent ailment, or a respond to the stresses of the modern life. It has been with us always. Its very name derives from the ancient Greek for half the skull---migraine is always a one sided headache. The Egyptians had a god for it: no doubt he was more often curse than hymned. Some suggest that migraine sufferers are intellectual types, or particularly conscious personalities. There is little basis for any of this. Migraine affects 7-18% of the population, impartially: the egg heads and the empty-headed are alike. Anxiety, of course, can cause migraine. And fear of an attack can itself be a cause of massive anxiety. Caught is this catch 22 situation, some sufferers no longer dare make any plans, so reluctant are they to let down their family or friends yet again. This...
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