When Owen first started suffering from migraines, we had no idea what was going on.
It was a scary and uncertain time.
And though we are still not out of the woods (though migraines can hit at any time) we have begun to manage the ups and downs of his migraines.
We are learning as we go.
I should mention that migraines need to be diagnosed and you should always consult with your doctor. Particularly with children under the age of 18 – ask a doctor. This story is my personal experience with Owen’s suffering.
Migraines and Kids – Managing the Ups and Downs:
Owen’s first migraine hit late spring, when allergies were acting up for many and when windows were open for the first time. It was a cool afternoon, breezy, but comfortable.
Owen came in from playing out front with his neighbor buddies. It was getting late. Dusk maybe.
“Mom, my head hurts,” he said.
I’m sure I was busy putting away the dishes or preparing for the next day. “Okay,” I told him. “Um, let me get you something for it.”
He got panicky. “No Mom. My head really hurts. I think I have to go upstairs.”
The tone in his voice worried me. He never walked himself upstairs without prompting. Heck, he never stopped playing with the neighbors without a nudge or two.
“Okay,” I said. “I’m coming up.”
That night, we tried everything, but we could not find Owen relief from the pain of his headache.
I called our doctor frantically but got only instructions that ‘may’ help him. With headaches, she said, we never really know what will work. We just have to try different things until we figure out what works for each person.
That night, Owen took a hot shower. We tried warm compresses. We tried pain relief medicine. But nothing worked.
Finally, the pain became more than he could bear and he was sick to his stomach. Only then was he able to finally sleep for a bit. When he woke, his pain was more manageable.
After this first experience, several others followed.
Sometimes his pain would come mid-day. Sometimes it would come in the evening or early morning.
We never knew. We never knew.
We never knew when Owen would be hit with a headache so bad that he would be sick to his stomach and then forced to rest for the remainder of the day.
The uncertainty put us all on edge.
Would practice be missed? Would homework be skipped? Would Mom or Dad be busy comforting Owen and not be able to help Maddy or Cora with work or activities?
We tracked and recorded when Owen’s headaches occurred and what we did to help him. As is the case with many migraine sufferers, patterns were hard to distinguish.
He’d have a migraine every other week for two months and then not have one for six weeks. Then two weeks later he’d have another at different times of the day with no clear triggers.
What we did know was that we needed to be open and communicative with friends and with Owen.
Friends shared stories of their own children suffering from similar pain and what worked to keep the pain at bay.
Owen was quick to tell us when he felt a migraine coming on so we could get him pain medicine and water and put him in a comfortable place until it hit.
Studies show that 88% of young migraine sufferers feel misunderstood and anxious when asked about their migraines, even by those who love them most. So we wanted our boy to know that we were listening with open ears and open minds.
Sometimes the migraine came on like a bulldozer. Other times, it passed over him mercifully.
We never ended up finding out what caused our Owen’s migraines, but what we did find was a way to manage the ups and downs that migraines bring to a family. And we’re still learning–every day.
Migraines are an extremely disruptive and debilitating condition that impacts an estimated 36 million sufferers in the US. For families like ours, one of the biggest hurdles is simply trying to understand what our loved ones are going through when they mutter those awful four words: I have a migraine.
Excedrin® has created The Migraine Experience, the world’s first migraine simulator to drive empathy and understanding of the condition, by giving non-sufferers the chance to safely experience the symptoms of a migraine using augmented reality.
You guys. This site is amazing. It’s incredible. It’s something that both sufferers and non-sufferers should visit to learn more about what loved ones experience each time they are hit with a migraine. Visit here: The Migraine Experience.
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