JSC students suffer migraines

They can be debilitating, disruptive, and just miserably painful.  They are also relatively common among college students, 10 percent of whom suffer from migraines, according to the National Institutes of Health.

These throbbing and disabling headaches often leave students shut indoors and missing class time.

Ellen Johnson, a resident assistant in Governors South, suffers from ocular migraines weekly. “It’s the same thing as a migraine,” says Johnson. “It’s just focused in your eye, so it feels like your eyes are just in extreme pain, and it doesn’t matter if your eyes are closed or open… Even if you’re trying to go to sleep and you close your eyes it still hurts.”

In Johnson’s case schoolwork is hard to keep up with when she’s suffering from ocular migraines weekly, “I’ve missed class on a few occasions because of migraines,” said Johnson.

Johnson is not against the idea of procrastination. She’s been known to pull all-nighters to write a paper due the next day. A poster hangs on her wall that reads “Procrastinators Creed,” a clever play on words from Johnson’s favorite video game “Assassins Creed.”
However Johnson is not a fan of forced procrastination due to her migraines. “I was going to write a marketing paper at night, but I got an ocular migraine, so I had to write it a few hours before class,” she said.

As a sophomore, Johnson is enjoying her position as an RA and won staff choice earlier this year on her first bulletin board for her hall. However her migraines have affected her duty as a RA a few times this semester. “There have been instances where it’s kind of made me crabby,” said Johnson. “People come to me, and I’m kind of rude when I don’t mean to be… they’re telling me something and all I can focus on is the migraine.”

Johnson has come to learn that most professors are flexible when it comes to migraines. “Most of them (professors) are okay with it, “she said. “Only a couple times they’ve suggested that I still go to class, but most of them understand. I think it’s more believable if I say I have a migraine than I’m sick, because some people just say I’m sick when they’re trying to just skip class.”
When calling out with a migraine Johnson worries that professors think she’s lying. “They think it’s the same thing as a headache where you can take an ibuprofen and be better in five minutes. It’s not usually the case,” said Johnson.

Remedies are hard find when it comes to migraines but Johnson has come to find one that helps. “I looked it up online, and there was this thing that said if you put a hot or a cold compress on your face it helps, so I heated up the rice thing I have,” Johnson said with a laugh.“ I woke the next morning with it on my face still.”

Treatment isn’t the only way to help avoid migraines. “There can be a lot of different triggers for these kind of headaches,” said Kim Dacek, Johnson State College’s new family nurse practitioner. “There’s a high incidence of migraines amongst the young population… They can be related to hormone changes, life style changes, being on campus, being new to the environment.”

For any real prevention Dacek says, “Understanding what their triggers are, and avoiding them is best.” Knowing triggers is what is important for not missing class or assignments. “Nobody wants to live with a headache, so try to get to the bottom of it,” Dacek said.

Maya Viens, another migraine sufferer, gets them on and off weekly. “It’s this pain that starts in my temples and the front of my head,” says Viens, “and goes all the way to the back of my head.” Once she feels this pain spreading she knows she’s in for a rough few hours. “When I have a bad migraine I can’t really do any homework or school work.” Viens says, “If I have one in class, I don’t do any work because I can’t think, my head hurts.”

Viens now takes medication for her migraines, which is helping her, but they still affect her mood and the people around her. “I definitely ignore people because I don’t want to talk to anyone because my head hurts… I’m usually pretty cranky and grumpy,” Viens said.