My worst migraines are extremely painful. They usually require me to retreat to my bedroom (or another dark room) for days. There are times when I can push myself to do other things but it usually doesn’t end well. The only time I have ever passed out from pain (which is considered by most doctors to be a 10/10 on the pain scale) was as a result of migraine. I was driving my car to work, and ran it off the highway after I lost consciousness. Although I more or less always have migraine symptoms, they intensify and become severe about once a week. During these times, I would say my pain usually falls at around an 8. The room spins. Sometimes I develop a bit of a limp or a facial droop because the muscles on the right side of my body weaken. I inject myself with toradol for the pain and phenergan for the nausea and wait out the storm. If this doesn’t cut it, or if strange symptoms pop up, a trip to the ER, round of IV medications administered by a home healthcare nurse, or even hospitalization may be required. This type of intervention, if successful, only allows me to return to my “normal” pain. It does not “cure” my migraine or completely alleviate my pain.
Recently, I was involved in an accident that resulted in a knife wound to my hand [I’m not going to talk about the accident itself because (a) it’s not relevant to my point and (b) I’m protecting the privacy of others who were involved]. The wound is deep (enough that a major nerve was severed) but not wide. It bled a lot, which wasn’t pleasant, but I’d probably cap the pain I experienced at about a 6 (or “Bees!” on the scale below). A few hours later I was all stitched up, and the ordeal was over (discounting upcoming surgery to repair the nerve that supplies feeling to my thumb). Even including the surgery, the time I will spend with a doctor regarding this is injury is hugely dwarfed by the medical care my migraine disease has required.
My point is this: considering every facet of the situation, I would choose this injury over migraine every single time. It’s less painful than my worst migraine episodes. It’s less disabling than migraine (even with the injury being to my dominant hand), and the medical care it requires is shorter term and less complex. It’s because I have experienced both that I can say without a doubt that assuming no damage to vital organs, I would rather be stabbed than endure another of my worst migraines.
This statement is probably shocking to people who have never experienced a migraine, or who have mild episodic migraine. It would have shocked a younger version of myself. Bold as it may be, for me it is true, and I hope it helps people to empathize with those who live with chronic and/or severe episodes of migraine. I hope it raises awareness for the level of pain and disability this illness truly causes. I hope any medical professionals who read this might take their next migraine patient a bit more seriously when they describe the severity of their pain. This Migraine & Headache Awareness Month I want people to start treating migraine like the serious condition it is. I’m sure no one would dream of mocking me for my knife wound, but sadly I can’t say that’s true about my migraine. That needs to change.