The onset of my migraine journey was set ablaze when I started having recurrent headaches in the month of June. I thought it was headache brought about by stress from school, unstable relationship or even lack of sufficient sleep. So I thought if I reduced stress, settle my relationship problems, then the headache will eventually wear off.
Unknown to me I was in for a lot of surprise as none of that worked for me. Not the change in sleep pattern, not the stability of relationship. Nada. The headache got worse actually. I remember I got back home towards the ending of Ramadan. After Ramadan was over, a week after Eid Ul Fitr, I had a break down where I screamed out in pain due to the headache. It had given me a lot of sleepless nights.
Prior to that, I had met a Doctor at the school clinic, where I told him about my headache and as usual, being a medical student everything is automatically related to you overstressing yourself. The Doctor advised me on taking up sleep therapy, sleep hygiene, eat fruits and veggies. Gave me some pain meds and off I was, hoping that would be the end of my headache. But sadly, it wasn’t.
In the course of my breakdown, I was still having sleepless nights due to the pain. It was quite excruciating. My family were worried. I was taken to a clinic, given blood tonics. I was told once again that I was overstressing myself. I was reading without taking any rest (which I knew was not right, because c’mon I hardly read!).
In the course of all of this, I still made my own research. On Google, they told me all sorts of things; sleep hygiene came up again, possible triggers which
they identified could be causing the headache, which they identified as “Migraine”. A brief knowledge about Migraine is that it is a mild to severe throbbing sensation accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraine literally has no cure, the only thing you can do is to find the trigger. Anything that brings about these symptoms are categorised as “Auras” which could be food, noise, light, sound, inadequate sleep, perfume, hormonal imbalance, etc. The pain is usally on one side of the head. Migraines could be cluster headaches or even tension headaches.
Google advised that I kept a headache journal, where I track all the things that I did or ate. Reduce my exposure to light. Go for walks in the mornings, which I did.
This night, I couldn’t sleep through out the night, I stayed up all night looking up remedies or possible cause of my headache. I was advised to go for a walk, something that had to do with sunlight exposure. That morning, I went for a really long walk around my neighbourhood. Quite a confusing one. At some point I thought I got lost. But I did find my way. The headache was so excruciating that I thought of something as extreme as Brain Cancer. Paranoia fuelled by Google.
But in the end, I feel Google gave me a guide that kinda did help me. I went to the school hospital after i had gone to a hospital in Kaduna, but the treatment was inconclusive because I had to go back to school the next day. I met the same Doctor and he wrote me an even stronger prescription “Cocodamol”. From the sound of that, it is evident that Codeine is a key ingredient in that. If you don’t know, the use of Codeine has been banned in Nigeria.
So I got back and I made my research on the drug before heading to a pharmacy to get it. I read that it could easily become addictive. So I already had an idea that I had to limit my usage of it. So I went to the Post office, asked the pharmacist if he had the drug. The guy gives me this weary look. And I just immediately gave him the prescription. Before deciding to give me the drugs he said something about
how he was going to give me the drugs just because i looked “responsible” meaning I did not look like someone who would abuse drugs or codeine. It was funny because I wasn’t even dressing my best. Like the headache was excruciating the last thing on my mind was my appearance.
Nonetheless, you guessed right. The medicine did not work for me. I thought of going back to the Doctor, but you know I was tired. Tired of waiting, explaining myself to the Doctor. When I met the Doctor for the last time, I requested to see a Psychiatrist because I felt maybe it was psychological; the pain I was feeling. The doctor was trying to treat me and I also was trying to be my own Doctor.
I requested to see a Psychiatrist, to which he affirmed to. He welcomed the idea actually, but I wasn’t opportuned to see one. My exams were coming up, the appointment with the psychiatrist collided with my exams, unfortunately.
If all these drugs and Doctor’s visit did not help me, then what did? Or do I still suffer from this said headache?
No. I don’t. I was on a no sunlight exposure journey, when I had to meet with a friend one evening. This friend of mine, has actually helped me a lot in my “Cephalgia journey”, he goes by the name Abdulmajid Imran; one of the few gems I met in 2018, and I am so glad to have met him. He, being a Doctor, a graduate of 2018, at the prestigious University of Ahmadu Bello, helped me a lot. He motivated me to keep seeing a Doctor. Sometimes I would tell him how I was just tired. But he gave me immense support, even with regards to my medical journey. The idea of me meeting a Psychiatrist was brought about by him. At every step of my cephalgia journey, he was right there. He is the co-founder of a Mental Health Support Group which goes by “Invictus Mentalia“. His doggedness in seeing that people receive the proper mental health care is immeasurable. One of the reasons why he even came to see me, was so we could discuss and see if we could find the root cause of my headache together. His support has been of utmost importance. The power of keeping good company can never be underestimated.
Those times, I would stay in all day inside my room, luckily for me, it was close to exam time, I could afford to do that. I refrained from going to the library due to sun exposure. The headache was still there, but I sort of tried living with it. This evening, I had stayed in all day in my room, until when I was about leaving the room to see this great friend of mine. I got dressed, sprayed perfume, and I remember clearly, I was feeling much less of a headache before then. But lo and behold, I went out and came back with a headache. I was disappointed. I wondered what could possibly be the cause. The next morning, I freshened up. And then I sprayed perfume once again. My line of arabian perfumes. I would spray this, then that and then the last one. As I sprayed them, I got thinking, “What if these perfumes were my headache triggers?” I thought back to the night before when I hadn’t applied perfume all day and wasn’t feeling much of the headache. At
that point I was about to light an incense stick, which
I did eventually. I thought I had already sprayed the perfume. How about I keep a headache journal today. And then see what happens. The next day, I did not
put on any of my Arabian perfume, less headache. By the 2nd or 3rd day of the discovery, my headache had completely gone away. With no trace whatsoever.
It was quite unbelievable that my migraine was triggered by a perfume. The perfumes I put on a daily basis. It explains everything perfectly though. I have always had a hypersensitive airway. Perfumes, I put on everyday, it only made sense! They were the cause of my allergy.
From this you understand, that being reluctant, waiting for a Doctor to figure out what is wrong with you on his/her own is just not always ideal. I feel you should make your own research too to help the Doctor in drawing up a diagnosis. If I had depended on the Doctors, I wonder what my state would have been by now. I started having these headaches in June, I
only realised the cause of it in October? 4-5months of excruciating pain. No one should have to go through that. I see tweets of people suffering from migraine; Make your research! Try to find out what is the cause of this headache of yours. Don’t solely rely on drugs, sometimes like in my case the drugs don’t work.
Sometimes, I purposely put on arabian perfumes just to affirm my claims. Sometimes it is soo unbelievable even to me. So, before I got my own perfume that works for me, i would use the arabian perfume and like you guessed right, I would always end up with a headache. An excruciating one.
Finding the right perfume for me has not been easy. I recently just got one. But one thing is for sure; Arabian perfumes are not my amigos.
Another point of note is the importance of exercise in our lives. Before I got back home from school due to the strike, my friend, Ummulkhair who is also my coursemate, motivated me to start going for evening walks. Which we went together. Then we had no running shoes, we would go with slip ons. We made promises that we would come back with running shoes. The moment I came back I made sure I got running shoes. I started running with my sisters. The amazing thing about this exercise is that before hand I was experiencing pain around my abdominal region. I consulted a doctor, he said it was nothing to worry about. The moment I started exercising, the pain disappeared and all other pain that came along. Exercises are important. Start little, with walks. With your friends like I started with my dear friend, Ummulkhair (Mother of good) and she really did brought good into my life by motivating me to go for runs.
To my female similitudes out there, I cannot begin to explain to you the importance of knowing how your period works. I know we don’t like talking about this. But it is of utmost importance. It saves you alot of trouble. Less stress. You get to understand your body. Some women associate headaches with the onset of their menses. These things are sometimes unbelievable, but the thought of knowing your body is just doing its job, is enough to bring you peace. Know your period days. Track it. Your ovulation time. It will save you a lot of stress.
Take care of yourself. Don’t leave the care solely in the hands of doctors. They are capable, but they need you to do your part too.
Alrighty. Stay healthy people! And remember; Be Owlsome!!