Migraineur: The Unsung Heroine / Hero

It may be hard for the typical sufferer of migraine and other headache disorders to see themselves as heroines or heroes. It is society that seems—although subliminally—to be saying that they are anything but that. They are weak, unreliable, irritable, drug over-users or seekers. But we should re-examine this at face value.

Most people would not argue that those who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor are heroes or heroines. Many of their stories are similar, where an individual risk his or her own life, ignores the pain of their own wounds, to help or save others.

Imagine that a gunshot wound, and I am sure this can vary between each one, has a pain level of a 7-10/10. The military hero or heroine will ignore that pain and focus on the needs of their comrades. Now imagine the typical migraine sufferer. This is often the wife, mother, daughter or girlfriend (of course men have migraines too) who wakes up with a migraine that is a level 9/10. If it only occurred once a year, they would feel free to write that day off and just stay in bed with their blankets pulled over their heads. But if it happens on more days than not, they usually choose to bite their lip, get out of bed and focus on the needs of others in the face of overwhelming pain. Some of them go to work and tolerate the bright lights, loud noises, perfumes of their co-workers or even a loud and obnoxious boss. They do it because they have to pay the mortgage to keep a roof over their family’s head. This level of valor is no different than the solider pushing through the pain to help others on the battlefield.

There should be a medal of honor just for migraine sufferers. They have a disease that is not their fault. They have to suffer as the effectiveness of treatments is limited at this time. They are stigmatized and their dreams are often thwarted. They, and their families must see them for the heroines and heroes they really are.

J. Michael Jones, MPAS-C