I experienced my first migraine the first day of seventh grade. It was seventh period of a very, very long day at a new school. I was taking wood shop--not my choice--and the shop teacher was going over the safety guidelines of the equipment. When he got to the jigsaw, he held up his hand.

He was missing a finger.

That was it. My peripheral vision went wiggly. I could barely see at all. I lost the feeling in the right side of my body. (Scary.) And 20 minutes later, I felt like steel spikes were going through my head.

What I didn't realize at the time was that this would be the first of many migraines.

My mom took me to a neurologist, who had me keep a headache diary. As it turns out there was a correlation....student council elections (migraine), final exams (migraine), first appt with a gynecologist (male)....well, you can see there was a pattern. The thing is, even with the calendar showing a pattern, the headaches always came as a surprise.

Over the years I've tried multiple drugs...Midrin, Imitrex...but found they left me as unable to function as the migraine.

One migraine proved to be significant. It occurred when I was planning an event for the educational consultants I worked for. About an hour before, I passed my friend, Elsa-the-Poet's classroom, and she spoke with me as she normally did, in Spanish.

To clarify, I speak Spanish. However, on this day I couldn't understand a word she said. I asked her to repeat, and again, her words had no meaning.

It wasn't long after that the usual symptoms of wiggly vision and numbness set in, but that day I realized there was a cognitive precursor to the headaches. And I began to recognize it.

These days, I still suffer from migraines. The thing is, now that I've learned to recognize that "something that happens in my brain" before the headache happens, I have time to identify what is stressing me and completely unplug or deal with it and can stop the migraine before the "steel post through the skull" sensation occurs. (Once the pain starts, it is too late and you are down.)

Bach's Rescue Remedy and inhaling rosemary essential oil are great tools during that small window of opportunity when the first signs hit. As is stepping away from my computer (if that is a factor) and making sure I'm not sitting in a place where light is causing an uncomfortable contrast ratio.

The thing is that I wonder if all migraines are detectable. Surely my experience isn't that different from everyone else's. After all, a schoolteacher invented Airborne as a preemptive strike for catching viruses, what if I could come up with something for headaches?
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall