Matt Anderson

Sometimes, I think that certain ailments are like a “hard reset” of sorts for the human body. It always seems that stressful situations build up causing my brain to “reboot” in the form of a migraine. When I do get one, they’re bad - really bad. So bad, in fact, that I’m incapable of doing anything. My theory (albeit a bit odd) is that they might be somewhat necessary.

Hear me out.

Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a high-strung guy. You may never guess by meeting me, but I have anxious tendencies and near-constant levels of worry that can sometimes manifest themselves in the physical. I wouldn’t consider myself a chronic migraine sufferer, but I can pretty much guarantee one every couple of months at the least, and they are almost always stress caused.

Lo and behold, a little over a month into the job, I start feeling a bit “off” for a few days. This is what’s known as the Prodrome phase. Symptoms and length of time can vary from person to person, but it typically lasts a few hours to a few days and includes fun symptoms like irritability, depression, fatigue, muscle stiffness, inability to focus, etc. 

When you’re in the Prodrome phase, you never really realize it. You just wonder to yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” I typically feel it for several days, but it’s the next phase that lets me know I was in the first phase all that time.

That is the Aura phase.

All of the sudden, something in my brain goes, “click!” and I feel bizarre. The next, and most undeniable symptom is seeing auras, or partial blindness. In this case, I was at a store talking with the clerk when I felt that “click!” Then I could only see half of the clerk’s face while speaking with her. That moment doesn’t last long, so it means it’s time to get somewhere quick before the next phase kicks in 

That is the Headache phase.

This is the moment where I am out of commission. It’s always about four or five hours, but the severity ranges from “terrible headache” to “this is it – I’m going to die.” So, all I can do is curl up and lay there until it’s over. Usually I try to fall asleep, but it can be severe enough that an elephant tranquilizer couldn’t put me out. Excedrin, an ice pack, darkness and silence are the next few hours of my life, until the next phase comes along.

That is the Postdrome phase

For one or two days after the headache is done, I always feel pretty cruddy, which is where I’m at as I type this. There is always a residual headache that I can feel when I blow my nose, cough or exert any kind of pressure to my head. There is a general malaise and difficulty concentrating coupled with neck and back stiffness. It’s not fun, but at least you know you’re almost out of the woods.

So, back to my theory: why would all this be necessary? 

I think it’s my body’s way of taking the reigns and saying, “That’s it! You’re too stressed out! If you’re not going to slow down, I’ll make you slow down!” I generally take a step back and assess my life situation after a migraine and realize that I am either taking things to seriously, or just need to revaluate how I’m managing my stress levels. 

So, if you are a fellow migraine sufferer, or have some other form of recurring ailment, maybe take a look at your life situation. You might just find that there is a lesson to the pain.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Feel free to reach out at any time

Matt Anderson


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