The Prodrome - Migraineur Savant - This is Me

Migraineur Savant: This is Me.

My name is William. I’m 30 years old and live in Toronto, Canada with my best friend & wife Rachel and our two cats, Sir Butters and Ms. Bailey. I have a good job with good people at a good firm with great advancement possibilities. I grew up in a small city, worked hard and moved to bigger places and things: I have a graduate degree in management from a British red brick university; I speak Mandarin fluently as my second language; In my adult life I have lived on three continents in five different cities. I’ve been a teacher, a scholar, a car washer, a musician, a salesman, an IT startup partner, management in multiple industries, and a migraineur.

Unfortunately, it has been that last role as a migraine sufferer which has dominated my time and senses over the last 2-3 years. It wasn’t always this bad. As a teenager, I remember having high intensity, nauseating torture sessions that happened maybe twice annually, I now understand they were migraines.

When I was 14 years old, I had all of my wisdom teeth removed because the doctors thought the pressure of those teeth growing in was the cause of my migraines, but they didn’t stop. After finishing school and moving to the UK, and then later China, my migraines were still infrequent, around 4 per year. Manageable 

Migraines Begin to Define My Life

Late in my 20s they began to come more frequently and with great intensity. After we moved to Calgary, they seemed to triggered in part by weather, as the Chinook weather phenomenon often brought on migraines. We later moved to Toronto where for the last 3 years my migraines have grown steadily and progressively more frequent. From one migraine attack per quarter, to once per month, to once per week, to 4-5 days per week with migraines. As the migraines became more frequent, I became increasingly depressed and anxious, I would:

  • Lay awake in bed at night unable to sleep, worrying that I might wake up with a migraine and be forced to call in sick;
  • Wake up with a throbbing headache, going through my treatment ritual of an anti-inflammatory drug, an anti-depression drug, pain medication and a bath to soak my head in the dark. Some days that brings the pain and throbbing down enough that I can drive to the office, but usually it isn’t so effective.
  • Going into work with a low-mid intensity headache distracting me and being unable to think clearly: there in body, but not in mind or spirit.
  • My colleagues end up trying to figure out where I left off on my work in my absence. Their workload is increased which inevitably leads to feelings of resentment and greater stress for everyone.

I missed over 50 work days last year. My employer has been very understanding in giving me time and space to focus on my health without the stress of worrying about the firm and my colleagues. Migraines are costing myself and my firm too much time and money. Something has to change. During the time off I have been able to get a better sense of the rhythms to my illness and wellbeing and I’ve learned that I can be productive and happy in the moments in between migraines. These moments brought me to a decision to no longer be imprisoned by my illness.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

I choose to live free.


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