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February 12, 2011 / MrsH

Children’s Migraines

Missie had no less than 5 migraines over the past two days. She’s never experienced anything like it, and after a brief search MrH found that migraines are an uncommon (but known) symptom/effect of bronchitis, which she had just been diagnosed with.  Bronchitis can cause severe headaches in children and adults, severe enough to be migraines.  Who knew?

In the moment, I was absolutely lost as to what to do. For the first one, she just cried and screamed about her head hurting. We threw ibuprofen at her which did nothing, and she eventually fell asleep. It was in the evening so we put her in her bed and hoped she’d sleep and be better in the morning. Unfortunately, she woke up at 5am for a repeat performance.

The hardest, for me, was not knowing how to help her. Besides the fear of something being horribly wrong (she complained of eye pain and stomach pains as well) and being ready to rush her to the ER, I felt powerless. She ended up falling asleep. We woke her up an hour later to go to the urgent care clinic. Did I mention her insurance doesn’t cover anything out of state? And we’re currently on vacation… a 6hr plane trip away from our state.  Two hours later we were finally being seen. By that point she was feeling totally fine, hamming it up with other patients in the waiting room and asking me if we could please go home.  I felt “had,” as if she’d just been fooling us in some crazy search for attention.  But when the next one came on that afternoon I forgot about all those feelings.  She was clearly suffering.  My mom tried to get her to “push the pain out with her thoughts.”  My dad yelled at her for screaming.  Then MrH had a turn and tried empathy and reasoning, but she was so miserable she screamed at him to get away.  After a minute’s break where we all sat in stunned silence, each processing what was happening and what on earth we could do to help her, I knew it was my turn.

I went up to her and she was just screaming anxiously and desperately.  She needed relief.  MrH had hopped on to utilize his online searching abilities and I heard him utter the word migraine.  It clicked for me: she was having a migraine!  Everything I knew about migraines, which is not much since I’ve never had one, flashed in front of me.  So I moved her to a quiet room, closed the blinds, put a cold washcloth on her forehead, and spoke to her in whispers.  We did some breaths from a yoga video she likes to do.  We sat in silence and she slowly calmed down.  The pain was still there but she was calmer, and eventually drifted off into sleep.

Missie had two more migraines that day.  It was a long and awful 24 hours from the onset of the first one to the relief of the final one.  I never had any idea how debilitating these headaches can be.  I wanted to protect my daughter from the pain and fear she experienced.  It took her another full day to even be willing to discuss her experience.  As soon as someone said “no more headache?” or “is your headache still gone?” she’d put up her hand, creating a physical barrier that the words bounced off of.  “We’re not talking about that.”  But tonight she let me in on it.  I used the word migraine, labeling it and describing the symptoms: severe headache, light and sound make it hurt worse, being quiet and calm helps, and your tummy can feel sick.  “Yeah, that’s definitely what I had.  I hope it never comes again.”  Me too, Missie, me too.



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  1. Sarah Bendeich / Feb 12 2011 5:27 am

    Oh poor dear girl (and poor parents too). I’m an occasional migraine sufferer and I just can’t imagine a little child having to endure that pain. But all of those things you mentioned – dark room, cold wet flannel on forehead, and an emphasis on being calm – they’re all the things I’d do for myself. The other thing that helps me is a long warm shower, with the water falling on my head, and of course, sleep.

    Best wishes, for no more pain for your little one!

    • MrsH / Feb 13 2011 10:36 am

      Thank you so much, it was truly awful. I’m really hoping that she won’t have to deal with this again. Thank you for your well wishes and tip!

  2. Kateisfun / Feb 14 2011 1:18 pm

    Oh I am so sorry for Missie! (And for you – it’s so terrible seeing your child in pain and not knowing what to do.) I’ve had migraines for years, starting around age 8 or so (probably hormonally triggered). I hope that she will remain migraine-free after the bronchitis goes away.

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