All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

Since I woke up with a migraine this morning

with 2 comments

I’ve been wasting time on the interwebs reading up on headache types. Here’s some interesting info about migraines from the Excedrin website (, particularly the part about women, and what goes through my mind as I read it:

Characteristics of a Migraine

Many scientists now believe that serotonin is the main culprit (I like this word choice! That evil bastard, serotonin. . .) in the chemical reactions that occur during a migraine. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that can constrict blood vessels and stimulate pain receptors. Levels of serotonin are unusually high just before a migraine and unusually low during the migraine attack. (I dunno ‘bout all that, but if you say so, scientists.)

Attacks can occur any time, day or night, though they often occur first thing in the morning. (Yessiree!) Routine activity, exercise, or slight head movement makes the pain worse.  (Yep, it sure does.) Some patients report that the simple act of trying to lift their heads off the pillow results in excruciating pain. (I KNOW!!!!!!) Symptoms may appear up to several hours before the headache, or the pain may strike without any warning. Some people feel irritable during migraine attacks and seek solitude, often in a darkened room. (and you thought I was being anti-social.) Following an attack, many people feel washed out and listless. (No kidding. . .)

Signs of an impending attack

When a migraine is on its way, some people say they can feel it coming. It’s like their bodies have a built-in warning system. Getting to know these warning signs can help you take action at the best time — before the pain begins. (I have yet to get so in touch with my body. . . )

The signs can be subtle. You might have a change in mood — either up or down — or not feel like eating. (Me want cookies, please. Now!!!) You might feel washed out and tired. You might even feel dizzy or numb. (or empty inside. . .?) Either way, if you notice any changes that seem out of the ordinary, there’s a chance that a migraine may soon follow. (Sounds like I found a new excuse to be moody.)

As the pain gets closer, your body may also send visual warning signs. You might see flashing lights, bright zigzagging lines, or a blind spot. Experts call this special type of headache “migraine with aura.”  (Very rare for me.)

Migraines & Women 

Suffering in silence: a closer look at migraines and women

The statistics are disturbing (I do not like this word choice.): migraine headaches are three times more common in women than men (because we’re better), and an estimated 20 percent of all American women say they’ve experienced a migraine at some point in their lives. (I’d like to meet a woman who remembers having only ONE migraine in her life.)

“Unfortunately, many women minimize or downplay migraine headache pain because they don’t want to be considered overly emotional or weak,” explains Fred Sheftell, MD, author of Headache Relief for Women and Director, New England Center for Headache. (Really??  It has never crossed my mind to not mention the fact that my brain is being crucified against the left side of my head.) “The problem with suffering in silence is that the pain is very real and can be very severe. (Acknowledged.) Too often, women migraine sufferers end up feeling frustrated, angry, and even guilty.”  (Ummmm, no. Rather, I feel like, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I wouldn’t classify that as “frustrated, angry or guilty.”)

In an effort to relieve their migraine headache pain, more than 70 percent of women with headaches say they use over-the-counter pain medications (you don’t say???). “Neither my husband nor my children can fully appreciate the pain I experience when I have a migraine attack,” noted one long-time sufferer. (Sometimes, amen.)

While studies confirm that migraines cause a greater impact on family and social activities for women than men, migraine pain also takes a greater toll on women in the workplace. Women are twice as likely to report reduced productivity or absenteeism from work or school compared to men.  (You know, I never thought to call off work because of a migraine, but I have been late because of one. Sounds like a good excuse, though. Duly noted, Excedrin, duly noted.)

Migraines and hormones

Women commonly report migraines in association with hormonal changes including menarche, menopause, menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth. Scientists believe migraines in women correlate with hormonal fluctuations, including the rise and fall of estrogen levels during the month. (Does that mean that because I’m more of a woman than most, I can handle this ridiculous pain???)

More stress, more migraines

Many experts note that as technology continues to accelerate the pace of life at home and work, managing stress will become more challenging for women. As a result, they warn that migraine may become even more prevalent among women. (Hmmmm. . . apparently, this blog MIGHT just be the cause of my migraine.)


Data on file, American Association for the Study of Headache (AASH).
Mayo Clinic Health Letter 1989 Jan; 7(1):3-4.
Austin, E., “Migraine Mania,” Shape 1994 Dec;14(4):34,37.
Houck, C., “No More Migraines,” Woman’s Day 1994 Apr 26;57(8):36,40.
Rapoport A., Sheftell F., Headache Relief for Women 1995

Helpful Resources

Even so, I am grateful for you, Excedrin-makers.


Written by Written Straw

March 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

Posted in Life

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. This post made me feel bipolar. Sad to hear about your suffering during migranes, but laughing at your comments.


    March 15, 2011 at 10:39 am

  2. […] a comment » I wanted to post a brief update to my previous blog titled “Since I woke up with a migraine this morning” (March 15, 2011). Apparently, it’s a very popular post on my site, so it seems only […]

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