Juvenile Migraines

This post is not about reading or writing.  It’s about parenting.  It’s about life.  It’s about awareness.

My baby boy, who is almost 10 and staunchly refuses to be called my baby, suffers from juvenile migraines.  It’s hard to say he suffers, because if you know my son than you know he loves life and greets every moment and challenge with everything he has.  But the older he gets the more it becomes clear these things run his life.

He wakes up and dashes to the kitchen to drink iced tea for the caffeine and take an allergy pill, because both of those things may be helping.  He fills a huge water bottle for the day because doctors say that should work.  He wears sunglasses (he owns three pairs) and he is always on alert for symptoms.  It’s clearly always on his mind, somewhere.  I see it all the time.  Those moments, when I see him stop to take a huge drink or remember to flip those glasses down on his head, the moments when he is remembering the pain that could come and hoping this little trick will stand guard against it, those moments break my heart.

His first migraines came when he was about four.  We didn’t know what they were.  All we knew was that daycare was calling because he was vomiting.  It happened three times in two weeks.  The third time, panicked because I didn’t have an answer and my baby was throwing up into a cup in the backseat of my car, I took him to my Dad’s house.  It was there, hiding in the dark under a blanket, sleeping, when someone first said “this looks like a migraine”.  He was diagnosed by his amazing pediatrician less than six months later.  Fast forward to today, when we are running about one migraine per week.

There is nothing that can be done for juvenile migraines.  Like adult migraines there are triggers, which are hard to identify.  There are pills, but they only work after the headache begins.  Since he was in preschool my son has been trained to pay attention to his head.  Every single year I stand back as he tells another teacher about them.  Every year a well-meaning teacher will forget, just once, and have him vomiting into their trashcan or in the restroom.  I don’t blame them.  I know he goes from “my head hurts” to vomiting in about ten minutes.  Sometimes I still miss it, and I have six years of practice.

I love my son.  I want nothing more than to take this from him.  I want him to be at every hockey game and never miss another one because he’s confined to a bed in a dark room with a puke bucket.  I want him to never again have to lay down in a dark spot of the nurse’s office at school.  I want him to never need to know the word “migraine” makes adults snap to attention faster than “headache”.

This post is not about pity.  He doesn’t need that.  This post is not about getting your well-intended suggestions.  We are working on ruling out possible triggers one at a time and treating the problem with essential oils.

This post is about awareness.  If one less person tosses the word “migraine” around, good.  If one more adult opens their eyes to the idea that this is real, and not just something a kid may say to get out of something, that’s even better.

All kinds of kids have all kinds of things brewing under the surface.  As adults the best we can do is help them cope and understand.

Thanks for reading.

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