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

My Aching Head

Charlie Crenshaw* of Okeechobee, Florida began to suffer from migraine headaches in his late thirties, "I got laid off from my job in the mid-90's, so I was home a lot, kind of nursing my wounds before I went back out on the job market. My wife felt resentful at being the full-time breadwinner, so she'd get home from work and start carping at me about how lazy and no good I was being. Then my dad died."

A Capital 'S'

"That year should have been labeled 'Stress' with a capital S. I started getting headaches right around that time. If I had a good day, my wife would come home and start arguing with me, and that always brought on a migraine attack. Then I'd feel so lousy and weak, I couldn't go out and get a job even if I'd felt motivated to do that.

Charlene and I got divorced soon enough, and right away, it was like a cloud lifted or something. For the first time in a long time, I felt human. I still had migraines, but not nearly as often as I did during my marriage.

I got a job: a good one. I'm still at that job today, climbing up the management pole. It's a funny thing, but when things are going well at work and in my social life, I feel great, but when there's a deadline, or I feel snubbed by friends, here comes that migraine."

Drawn Out Saga

Katie McClellan* of Dearborn, Michigan tells of a long, drawn out saga with migraine headaches. "I had what the doctor called menstrual migraines and boy, those migraines came as regular as my period. I could chart my bleeding according to those sick headaches. They always came on the day before my bleeding started.

My daughter Dinah was the one who figured it out, if you want to know the truth. Dinah started getting her period, so she was conscious of all the trappings of menstruation. She'd see the discarded wrappers from my tampons in the bathroom waste can and she put together that I always had to take to bed the day before. She always was a smart girl.

I saw my doctor after Dinah figured all that out and he said it straight out: 'You have menstrual migraines.'

I hadn't even known there was such a thing.

I'll tell you this—I sure was glad when I got the menopause. Haven't had a headache since."

*Names have been changed