This is a series for Migraine Awareness Week 2020 (6th-12th September) where I give an insight into the life and experiences of someone suffering from migraines. Migraine Awareness Week is where those with the condition and other supporters raise awareness for migraines as a complex, neurological disorder instead of “just a headache”. This post is the final one for this year, looking into what it’s like to be travelling and suddenly get a migraine.
The most essential thing most migrainers need when they are having an attack is a dark, quiet room; it’s the safest place to be and the quiet and dark room minimises the pain. However, when you’re travelling, this can be problematic. In fact, there are some horrendous moments when you’re travelling on your own and you get an attack. Suddenly, you are expected to find somewhere safe when you’re debilitated and can’t communicate with anyone. For me personally, the stress is added to by my fear of vomiting in public.
This is bad enough when you’re in a country which speaks your language. However, the only time I have had a migraine while on holiday was in the middle of Tokyo with my family.
It was a beautiful, sunny day. We were sat outside of the National Museum of Japan at a restaurant watching the fountains glistening in the sunlight. We had just ordered some food and were enjoying drinks. However, then I started to feel weird. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and had to keep my head down on the table. My mum tried to make me sit up but for some reason I couldn’t.
Then the restaurant owners brought out our food. You would think that being in Japan I would want to taste all of the wonderful, unique food that Japan had to offer. My particular favourites are Udon noodles and lotus roots. But no, in this instance, I was having fried chicken and it was amazing. It was fresh out of the fryer, with beautifully tender chicken and a crisp coating. It would have put KFC to shame. I would go so far as to say it was the best fried chicken I had ever had.
But then I started burning myself on the chicken, because my mouth had gone numb, along with the rest of my arm. I realised the reason I couldn’t look up was because I was suffering from photosensitivity and my eyesight had slowly began to disappear.
So there me and my family were, on the other side of Tokyo to our hotel, with very little understanding of how transport worked (it is quite a different system to the UK) and a person who was temporarily disabled and could possibly experience excruciating pain at any second. None of us could speak Japanese either.
This must have been quite a stressful challenge for my parents. Not going to lie, I wasn’t paying much attention. Migraine symptoms can sometimes make you oblivious to what is occurring around you. I couldn’t see properly, my are was painful but my priority was my annoyance that I was not going to be able to finish the best fried chicken in the world.
Luckily, my Dad was observant and had noticed a taxi place by the train station. Piece of advice for anyone looking after someone with a migraine while travelling– don’t make them take a train. Take the most direct route you can to get that person home. They only have a limited time before severe pain sets in and they are not in a position to comprehend the sensory whirlwind that is a train. A bit of dodgy English and a cab ride later, I was sound asleep in the hotel.
At this moment, I want to give a shout out to my parents who are amazing when it comes to dealing with my migraines. They have taken care of me for countless numbers of migraines, whether its was holding my hair back when I vomited or picking me up from school when I couldn’t make it home on my own. In this regard, I really do have the best parents in the world.
I would like to take a moment to thank the women at Hysteria for allowing me to write this series. This is the second Migraine Awareness Week they have supported me for and I really do appreciate them giving me this platform to raise awareness for Migraines as a neurological condition not just a headache.
MIGRAINES – MORE THAN “JUST A HEADACHE”