Saturday, May 26, 2018

Migraines

Do you get migraines?  If so, you're one of the estimated nearly ONE BILLION people worldwide who suffers from them.

I get them.  Those are the days when moving is difficult.  When light causes terrible pain.  (How can something that doesn't have form hurt so much?)  I'm nauseous.  All I want to do is lie in a fetal position in a dark room, jamming my fist into my right eye socket.  Scooping out a section of my brain with a spoon seems very appealing. No anesthesia necessary.



It's no surprise, then, that I was very interested in attending a recent screening of "Out of My Head", a documentary film about migraines.  The filmmakers interviewed doctors, migraine sufferers, and their families/caregivers to show how devastating migraines can be, as well as to illustrate some of the difficulties in treating migraines, since they don't present the same way in all people.   A few facts from the film:

*  Migraines are passed along maternal lines. 

*  75% of migraine sufferers are women.

*  Many neurologists don't want to treat migraine sufferers because there's no "cure", no definitive and permanent way to solve the issue.

*  Funding for migraine research is not commensurate with the number of people they afflict nor the $100+ millions of dollars lost due to worker absences on account of migraines.  At the time of filming, only $20million was allocated to funding research.  

* A migraine is more than a headache, though for some it results in enhanced creative output.   Apparently Georgia O'Keefe suffered from migraines and painted things as she saw them during a migraine.  During the Q&A afterwards with the filmmakers, some audience members shared their stories about creativity arising from their pain.

* Your head and your gut are incredibly connected.  Twenty percent of migraine sufferers have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and 20% of IBS patients have migraines. There's also abdominal migraine, which typically afflicts children, and manifests as nausea and vomiting when no other symptoms are present.  My eldest struggled with this.  

A new drug targeting migraine prevention, called Aimoveg, has just been approved by the FDA.  It's the first drug of its kind.  It will definitely provide relief to some.  Hopefully its success will spur other large pharmaceutical companies to invest in migraine prevention medication.  

Do you get migraines?  I hope not.  But if you do, you're not alone.  Learn more and/or be part of the broader migraine community at the American Migraine Foundation. And, there are still opportunities to see "Out of My Head" in the NY metropolitan area and beyond.

(Graphic taken from American Migraine Foundation website)

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