Migraines are not in and of themselves awesome to experience. They are a neurological condition and pain can be invited to that party, but not necessarily. It is a mind-blowing experience and not a positive one. So why would migraines make migraineurs so awesome, you wonder? We experience a very difficult experience, sometimes very often. I think that makes us very strong people, and very supportive people as well. We develop strong communities and make great friends in those communities. Here are some other things:
1. A super sense of smell — During a migraine attack, some of us have osmophobia, known as a very strong sensitivity to odors. We can smell your perfume a block away. We can smell those stinky socks you took off in the other room. It is so profound an ability, we might be able to smell what you had for dinner two days ago. The only thing that messes with this trick is that some people also get olfactory hallucinations; in other words, they can smell things that are not there. Like burning toast and sewer. Or rancid goat breath. Sometimes it is really hard to label phantom smells. And since we have a super smell machine, we might look all over for phantom smells. Nevertheless, superhuman smelling makes migraineurs awesome. Misplace your sandwich? We are on it! Think the milk is a little off? We will know it.
2. Superhuman pain tolerance — I’m not one to brag or anything but I can stand, communicate and even move while my head is imploding. This is a skill mastered with chronic migraines, which are classified as more than 15 migraines per month. Once you reach migraine warrior class, I mean chronic, you have to function in some capacity with them, in order to have a life. So we develop an astonishing pain tolerance. We are talking functioning on a seven or eight on the pain scale. Not so much when we hit 9, but I doubt many people can master that class of functionality. Not saying this skill is awesome in itself, but we need it… we really need it.
3. We can sense weather changes — Some of us may have a sense of an impending storm and other barometric shifts. It really rather smacks us right in the brain noodle. I sense… oh my god, that hurts like hell… yeah, a storm is coming. It’s useful if I’m there when you are having an outside gathering. I am your weather alert.
4. Some of us hallucinate without drugs — Yes, many of us get the “perks” of hallucinations without having to take drugs. We might have migraine auras and see flashing lights, translucent raindrops falling from the sky, cascading multi-colored sparks of color falling over our vision. We might see warping motion of objects that are not moving. We might have hallucinations involved with Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) that cause our body to morph larger or smaller to our perception or the world to get bigger or smaller. I have persistent migraine auras, so I have auras with or without the actual migraine. Most people find auras very unpleasant and disruptive; however, since I get them so often I tend to just enjoy the varied light show. They can be very visually disruptive given we generally need to see and AIWS in particular can be very severe. It is just an experience that we may not share with others. It is unique. It is indescribable. Sometimes entrancing and sometimes extremely disruptive. Sometimes visual and sometimes tactile.
5. We rock the sunglasses and hats — For those of us with an excessive loathing for light due to photophobia, we do not leave the house without sunglasses and/or a hat. And we rock it. Some of us actually wear FL-41 specially tinted glasses for inside that specifically help with photophobia indoors, and can be used outdoors in sunglass form. People often give us a double-take. Wearing sunglasses inside, are we just that cool? No, but coolness is a side effect I’m good with.
6. We live in moderation — You won’t find us getting carried away, because we have to watch our migraine triggers. Too much sleep. Not enough sleep. We likely will not, for example, go to a loud bar and get very intoxicated because a) a loud bar could be a trigger by itself and b) alcohol can be a horrible trigger. I personally learned this lesson in my early 20s when I was first diagnosed. And a migraine when you are intoxicated? Not recommended. So we learn moderation. Keep it mellow. At times that means work-wise as well.
7. We are always prepared — Yes, we are always prepared for impending doom. Since we must live our lives, when we do anything we are prepared for an attack anywhere we go. Migraine balms, medications, heavy-duty sunglasses, hat and maybe some icy cold patches. For example, we may want to get our rock on at a concert, but the loud noises are a massive factor, so we prepare and bring our migraine emergency kit and earplugs. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
8. We are spontaneous — Because a migraine may hit at any time, we do not do plans very well. We often cancel plans and feel exceptionally guilty about this. But, my friends, we do spontaneous very well. Because those low pain days or migraine-free days? We want to take advantage of them. We live for them. We want to experience our lives during them. Like now. Like, let’s get out there right now and do something — in moderation, that won’t trigger a migraine, of course.
9. We are great at diets and supplements — Many of us have tried so many restrictive diets to help with our migraines, and we are great with them. We know paleo, high protein, Mediterranean diet, anti-inflammatory diet and the ketogenic diet. We likely can recommend recipes. Have helpful recommendations. Tell you if we happened to lose weight, and let’s just say if we gain weight on every preventative med we are put on, we will probably consider that to be a plus. Since many of us have tried and are on numerous vitamins and supplements, we are a fountain of knowledge on them. We know what they are for, what they help with and even what the potential side effects are. We know all the good migraine ones.
10. We are empathetic — We understand pain. We understand pain that knocks you out all day. Or even for days. We understand pain that sends you to the ER. We understand pain that people don’t quite understand or can’t quite relate to. We understand it when pain becomes chronic, people understand it even less. So we empathize with suffering. We know how difficult it is to manage and cope with invisible disabilities and chronic pain of any sort