Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Embarrassing Migraine Moment

I've had migraines for as long as I can remember; and Mom and I hypothesize that I've had then since birth. That means that I've had plenty of embarrassing moments  However, there's one that sticks out in my memory.

My status migranous hit me during my 8th grade year. They (the migraines) continued to progress through the years. Come my sophomore year, I was passing out up to 10 times a day (because of the pain) during a bad pain spike. I'd regain consciousness quickly, within a second or so, but it would take a while before I could function at even minimum capacity again.

One day, during a not-so-hot day, I was in that really awkward place of not being in bad enough pain to stay home, but in enough pain that I wasn't going to get much in the way of learning done that day. Still, I'd missed enough school with the bad migraine days that I really couldn't afford to miss more school, so I went. I survived 1st period: Orchestra. After all, I'd been playing for 9 years already and could do a lot of the stuff we were practicing on auto-pilot. So that was good. However, then came English.

Mrs. A ruled Honors English with an iron fist. She was probably the strictest teacher I've ever had, including conductors, so that says something. Well, Mrs. A was in a bad mood that day to begin with, before we even started the period; not good. Then, to add fuel to the flame, our class was rather apathetic that day, and not really fully engaged in the lesson.

Mrs. A would have none of that. She told the class that if we were as asleep as we seemed, then maybe jumping jacks would wake us up. Thus the entire class was forced to do I forget how many jumping jacks. I asked for a reprieve, as I had the pretty-bad migraine, and got The Look from her. So I forced myself to try and do jumping jacks with the rest of class, as instructed.

Well, I think that I managed 3 jumping jacks before I passed out cold on the floor.

I was told later by one of my classmates that Mrs A didn't notice that I'd passed out and was flat on the floor until the rest of the class stopped doing the ordered jumping jacks and were just standing there staring at unconscious me. The really sad part of that was that I was in the front row.

Once Mrs A did notice, she basically yelled at me for passing out during the jumping jacks exercise, and then kicked me out of class and sent me to the nurse's office by myself where I went and curled up in a ball on the farthest cot from the door.

So not only did I end up passing out in English that day, but from then on, Mrs A treated me like I was some kind of spun glass figurine or something. For a kid trying to fit in as much as possible, she sure did make me stick out like a sore thumb for the rest of the year.

It was not only horribly embarrassing, it was also very frustrating for me, as it was so typical. Migraine is an invisible disease, and thus I look healthy as can be, even when I'm  at a 9.5/10 on the pain scale. And since I looked healthy, Mrs A didn't listen to a reasonable request to accommodate my need to stay sitting down that day. It was only after she got a visual aid (my unconscious body on the floor of her classroom) that she took me seriously.

I shouldn't have to pass out cold, throw up repeatedly like a friend of mine, or anything else for our disease to be acknowledged. There needs to be a concerted effort to raise awareness that we suffer from a disease, not just a headache. The general public need to understand the difference, and it, sadly, often takes drastic action to get the message across. 

June is Migraine Awareness Month, and I encourage all of you to just take moment and remember that a headache is a symptom, and Migraine a syndrome. If you can learn the distinction between the two, and maybe educate just one person, together, we can make the world a more accommodating place for those who suffer with this debilitating disease.

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