What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

Life Goes On

Darla Peters* of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, remembers the first time she had a migraine. "In Pittsburgh we have a world class amusement park and it's a local custom for the school kids to have a day off to spend at the park. Teachers act as agents and sell tickets at reduced prices for the school picnic which starts early in the morning and goes on until late at night."

Kaleidoscope Eyes

"So, there was this time, the kids were having a blast. They went on a bunch of rides and played some games. We stopped twice to eat the picnic food I'd packed, and then they went back out into the park to do some more fun stuff. Anyway, I remember that at sundown, the lights on all the rides came on and I started to feel really weird.

There was a kind of strange buzzing in my ears and I began seeing all the lights as if I were looking through a kaleidoscope. I sat down on a bench hoping the feeling would pass. One of the mothers I know passed by me and asked me what was wrong. She got another mother to watch my kids while she called my husband to come get me. She was really worried about me and stayed by my side until he arrived.

The next day I saw my doctor and he did some tests. He was pretty sure I'd had a migraine. The funny thing is that after it passed, a whole year went by with not one attack. I even kind of forgot about it—until it came time for the school picnic.

The same thing happened! It took a couple more years until I figured it out: it was the lights on the rides!"

Darla and her husband have it all worked out, now. She takes the kids to the school picnic, and he takes over after work so she can go home before darkness falls and the lights bring on a migraine.

For Karen Alden* of Austin, Texas, it was big, fabulous weddings. "I don't know if it was the crowd, the wedding band, or something else, but every time I'd go to a big wedding party, I'd get a migraine. I even wondered if it might be all the colognes and perfumes that people were wearing. All I know is that if I went to a wedding, I got sick."

Meditation for Calm

"I try to take as many precautions as possible, but I can't avoid my friends' weddings. I doubt they'd understand. What I do is, I bring ear plugs to muffle the noise. I have a nap in the afternoon before an evening wedding, and I meditate before I go. I also watch what I eat at the affair—there's a whole list of foods that give me migraines."

"In the end, I still get migraines after weddings, but they don't last as long and I don't get such severe symptoms like I did before. I think a person has to figure out what triggers the migraines and try to protect himself from that. I know that I need quiet, I need to be well-rested and at peace. I also have to watch what I eat. But every person is different, I think."

* Names have been changed