I’ve spent a lot of my time over the past decade or so learning what a migraine is, what a migraine attack is, and what migraine triggers are. All things I didn’t even know I needed to know at the turn of the century! But knowing what was going on was never enough for me. Knowing I had chronic migraines was one thing, but I had another question: Why? Why after forty-plus years did I suddenly have to deal with round-the-clock head pain?
That’s my favorite question – “Why?” And I asked it a lot from doctors during the time I was experiencing chronic migraines. None of the doctors had answers for me. In fact, they weren’t really concerned about that question at all. Which was frustrating to me, very frustrating. In fact, it was out of this experience that I came up with this quote:
Over the years, I’ve learned more and more about the answer to my question: “Why was I suddenly having chronic, constant migraines?” Recently, I had one of those ‘a-ha’ moments when I finally had an answer to my question. (Although, there are nuances to this question that may never be answered. We can come up with scientific answers to the mechanism that caused the chronic migraines, but there’s still some things left unanswered.)
I’m going to list the factors that I now know contributed to my chronic migraines back in 2001 – 2004. It’s still a big part of my life. Even though I no longer experience chronic migraines, I still have to be mindful of what I eat and where I go. So let me list the stimuli that made up the perfect storm and brought about my chronic migraines.
- Genetics – I’m 99% certain that my mother experienced migraines, although they may have been undiagnosed.
- Chemical sensitivity – This alone accounted for a lot of it. As time passed, it took less and less exposure to trigger a migraine.
- Stress – All of the following happened in the time frame of 2 years starting in 1999: The loss of job by my boyfriend, the loss of a grandmother, moving to a new city and a new job, unnecessarily stressful job environment, my sister’s lung cancer diagnosis, quitting smoking, losing my sister to lung cancer.
- Exposure to chemicals – especially the fact that I had been a smoke and the pollution in Houston.
- Hormones – Changes in hormone levels are known to contribute to migraines. I was in perimenopause during this time frame and no doubt had some wildly fluctuating hormone levels.
If you have chronic migraines, it might help to look a few years back and list all the major life events in your life. You just might see the connection.
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