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Life as a Child with Migraines -Founder of National Migraine Association Shares His Story

Under: Migraine & Headache, Pediatric Migraine

Often migraines in children are dismissed by parents, teachers family members and friends who don’t understand the overall effect they have on a child.

Below is an excerpt from an interview with The National Migraine Association (M.A.G.N.U.M) Founder and Executive Director Michael John Coleman discussing his childhood experiences with migraine disease.  He grew up with debilitating migraines and has dedicated his life to bringing public awareness to the fact that MIGRAINE is a true biologic neurological disease.  His non-profit organization was formed in 1995 to educate and  assist migraine sufferers, their families, and coworkers worldwide.   His story below will give you an idea of what a child with migraines experiences. 

Dancing With Migraine Disease As A Youth

By Michael John Coleman

I still remember clearly the first time a Migraine disrupted my life, I was just six years old and in the first grade. I looked sick enough that the teacher asked me to put my head down on my desk. I still recall looking through the tall classroom windows, with the blinds drawn all the way up and dark battleship-gray fluffy-bellied clouds looming as part of an approaching autumn thunderstorm. Unbeknown to me at the time was that atmospheric pressure changes, induced by weather fronts, was a major Migraine trigger, a fact I will learn later in life. I marveled as the clouds seamed to hover over one side of the playground, and the bright and painful afternoon sunlight on the opposite side of a baseball field, a chiaroscuro effect.

To this day, dramatic skies play a dominant roll in the landscapes I produce as an artist. The pain of my Migraines throughout my life has been like being tortured by invisible terrorists. An acute severe Migraine is difficult to explain to a non-suffer. Put it this way; after enduring the so-called ‘headaches,’ you don’t fear other things, such as dentists and bullies. But you do fear having to explain to your childhood friends why you don’t want to go out to play basketball. Better to play in pain than say “I have a headache”, as that just invites bullying because kids just don’t understand what they have not experienced.

Growing up didn’t make things any easier as Migraines became more aggressive as I entered puberty. However, I learned tricks to cope socially. In a Washington, DC suburb high school I had some great friends, only a few knew I had sick headaches (as they where often called ‘back in the day’). The pain was horrible, the flickering Florissant lights in the classrooms felt like I was being hit on the head with each flutter. No one else understood, so many teachers opened the blinds on sunny days, and within 15 minutes, the glaring sunlight would beckon the Migraine’s aura, as it would come dancing into my line of sight. Never painful the aura, but it was like Alice’s Cheshirecat, as it loved taunting me, letting me know I was not going to make it through the class.

The nausea would come next. That sick feeling in your gut wanted to make me vomit, but not in front of my classmates. The pounding would start, like being hit by a baseball bat every 30 or 40 seconds. It was amazing that I passed my classes! The pain would get so bad that I would grab a clump of my hair and pull as hard as I could to distract myself from the pain. I felt like I was going to rip a patch of scalp from my head, but luckily for me I still have all my hair. I would suffer wave after wave of nausea, and I felt as if I could just vomit, I would feel so much better. But never in the classroom in front of the healthy kids, no never that.

Never that because sick people are weak in the eyes of a high school child, and weakness makes you a target of abuse.Luckily for me it was the 70’s and illegal drugs where cool, so I would make a B-line to the boys room when the bell rang. I looked like I had been up all night, in a cold sweat, and would kick the door open and head right for a toilet.

Often the pain was so bad I would be shaking, and in the spirit of Ragan in the Exorcist spew projectile vomit across the bathroom floor. Not a pretty sight. Others would walk in behind me and as I sat on the floor throwing up into a toilet I could often here my peers comment, “Hey, Coleman’s so wasted, he’s cool man!” Like I said, lucky for me, it was the 70’s, so I was “in” and never did I let them know I was really severely ill. After severe vomiting, I feel a bit better, at least for a short while, until about half way through my next class the fun would begin again.

I had many friends back then that never had experienced head-pain of any type, and I still know many people like that today, that never understand suffering. Or oddly enough, never even figure out I am in violent pain so often. It’s amazing me as an adult today to know so many good and decent people who don’t have a clue what person in pain deals with.

As an adult, the pain and suffering I have lived though is freighting, and what is more freighting is knowing that there are millions of others who face this and lose millions of days, weeks, and even years of their lives to Migraine disease. It is only through good disease education, good treatment, proper treatment, and fighting to reclaim my life back that I feel alive today. It amazes me that I still marvel at those dramatic summer thunderclouds with all their beauty, knowing that the barometric pressure change they bring with them may make me horribly ill. But at least know there are things I can do to fight back. – official website MAGNUM

If you are a young person visiting this site, his childhood experiences may sound familiar to you. We hope you feel better knowing that you are not alone. However, if you are not getting medical care now, please make sure you sit down with your parents and ask for help. You don’t have to try to ‘live with’ this horrible disease.


MAGNUM on MigreLief:   “M.A.G.N.U.M has personally met with the makers of MigreLief® and asked to review their product research and approach prior to making this available to the Migraine community.  It is effective for many migraine sufferers, and is being used by top headache clinics and doctors around the country.“ –National Migraine Association

Migraine Headache Relief  Option For Kids:  If you are a parent of a child who suffers migraines; classic, chronic, episodic, abdominal, basilar, acephalgic, hemiplegic, or any type whatsoever, consider MigreLief, or Children’s MigreLief (same original formula with pill sizes and doses reduced for ages 2 – 12).  MigreLief’s triple therapy ingredients (Magnesium, Riboflavin (B-2) and Puracol Feverfew, a proprietary from of the herb Feverfew, have all been proven to prevent, or reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.