Scotty

Photo Essay By Thomas Watson
Scotty

The amazing thing with a migraine

is if I stay really still, completely still, and if I breathe in a way that keeps me really still, with shallow breaths and as little movement as possible—if I get to that point, then the migraine, at least for me, is… well I can barely feel it. So it’s almost a thing of willpower. I feel like I’m hiding from it so well that I can actually ease the pain, a few minutes at a time. Then I’ll have to move or something, and the pain will come back, and I have to focus on bringing it down again, which I can do. It’s this thing that I constantly try to control, and if you can get to that point—that still point—you fall asleep. And sometimes when you wake up, it’s gone.

A lot of times I wake up with a headache, and the headache is the first sign of a migraine. So what I’ll do is, I’ll wake up, I’ll take a shower—the shower gives temporary relief. I only feel better when I’m under the hot water. Then I’ll ride to work, and that’ll make the headache worse. I’ll get to work. I’ll have a light breakfast, a cup of coffee or tea, and I’ll take some painkillers straight away. Within an hour, the headache’s gone, and I can manage for the day. I probably do that three or four times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less.

I get two kinds of migraines and I can tell what they are based on where they are. I get this tension kind on the right side of my neck and up into the back of my skull, and it just sits there in the back right corner of my skull and just pounds. That one is really debilitating, and I know that, even if I eventually get rid of that, I’m going to have that horrible ill feeling for two or three days at least—and if I don’t manage it well, I can have a headache and blurry vision for more than a week. The other one I get is a shorter, sharper, intense migraine where my right eye just feels like someone’s stabbing me with a knife. If I can get into bed and sleep right away, it’ll be gone when I wake up and it won’t have those lasting affects that stay with me for days. So that’s one’s more intense, but at least it doesn’t last as long.

Stress is the main trigger.

What happens when I become stressed is that I get a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders, and that tension creates migraines. And I’ve never really liked massage—I don’t like strangers touching me (I’m very ticklish and things like that)—so I never got any massages until a few years ago. Now I see a masseuse every few weeks, someone I’m comfortable with and who has actually done a lot to prevent me from even getting the types of headaches that turn into migraines. My finally giving in and doing something has helped.

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